As a means to survive, four year old Stephen Wright, used to swallow his pocket money in an effort to keep it safe and out of sight from the other orphans in the home in Glasgow, Scotland.
He would simply cough it back up later when he needed it, unaware of how unusual and potentially dangerous his actions were.
Now, he is better known world wide as Stevie Starr and he makes a career of being a professional regurgitator. He brought his bizarre act to the Algonquin Commons Theatre on March 1.
“At that age I had no idea there was any danger in it. So I just swallowed it and coughed and it came right back up,” said Starr in an interview after the show.
In his act, he swallows various items, such as coins, light bulbs, balloons, nails, billiard balls, dry sugar, live goldfish and then regurgitates them.
His unusual talent paired with his charming personality earned him a spot as a finalist on both America and Britain’s Got Talent.
“I’ve been checked by doctors, professors, scientists, the history channel, the discovery channel. And they understand swallowing and bringing back up, but they have no idea how I can control it,” said Starr.
During the show, Starr invited several members of the audience, filled with mostly Algonquin students, to come up on stage and assist him. Tasks taken on by audience members included feeding Starr various coins and holding a glass full of two live goldfish for him to later drink.
He has never described exactly how he manages to swallow and regurgitate various items, and the implausibility of some of his regurgitations have led some to believe that he may be an illusionist.
Those who got up close and personal with Starr swear that it was all completely real and not an illusion at all.
Not only did he swallow Sandra Peralta’s ring, he did the same to eight other women in the audience.
When Starr regurgitated them back up, he claimed that they would be “shinier than ever before!”
“He swallowed my ring and brought it back up right in front of me,” said Peralta, first-year early childhood education student, who has been a fan of Starr after watching him on America’s Got Talent.
Melissa Marleau, a first-year student in the child and youth worker program, had never seen Star on TV before and didn’t know what to expect when her roommate invited her to the show. She was brought up on stage by Starr to perform a card trick.
“He told me to pick a card, feed him the deck of cards, and he brought up my card,” she said after the show.
Starr says that he’s lucky to have such a successful career and lucky to be able to travel the world and perform at all different kinds of venues, like clubs, theatres, colleges and universities.
He says that one of his favourite things about his talent is playing tricks on ordinary people who aren’t expecting it. During the show he told stories of regurgitating his boarding pass before entering a flight and coughing up change at the cash of the grocery store.
“It’s just good fun,” he said “its good for me because there is no competition. That’s the beauty about it. There is nobody else doing it in the world and in that way, I am very lucky.”