Contortion is his game

Blade Marshall

Photo By Vic Cantu

On any given day around Chico you might see a thin young man standing or sitting on the ground, strangely twisting his body into impossible positions. His feet might be pointing exactly backward, or his leg could be twisted behind his back, touching his head. Don’t be alarmed, it’s only 19-year-old Blade Marshall, an amateur contortionist, practicing his hobby.

Why do you do it?

It relieves stress for me and amuses people. I also take donations to help me out in life. It’s a pretty unique thing to do here in Chico. I’m not the greatest, but I’m pretty good even though I’ve got a lot to work on.

Where do you perform?

I do it randomly around Chico, but it’s best where there are crowds of people such as One-Mile park. I also like the Thursday Night Market, though I can’t officially take donations there since I’m not a paying vendor.

How did you get started doing this?

Thirteen years ago, when I was only 6, I found that I could put my legs behind my head. My parents told me I was doing something not normal and I just kept doing that and a lot more. Now I practice both at home and around town about three days a week. I don’t take formal lessons since I can’t afford them, but I take advice from other contortionists.

How far would you like to go with this talent?

I don’t want to make it my career, even though I could make a huge amount of money with it. It’s not what makes me happiest, but it keeps me motivated. I want to use it as a hobby until I’m old and weak.

What do other people think of your ability?

Some like it and others hate it. Some parents don’t want their kids to see me. They’re afraid that if their kids try to imitate me they’ll get hurt. But that won’t happen. You get better by getting your body used to different positions. My friends like the fact that it’s so unusual and they encourage me. On the other hand, my parents are concerned about possible injuries, so my mother got me some safety equipment like knee pads and cardboard mats to prevent the cuts I get on my knees and back.

What are your plans now in life?

Right now I live with my dad and am slowly getting into adulthood. I graduated from Pleasant Valley High and am attending Butte College. I eventually want to transfer to a California State University. I’d really like to pursue a career in digital arts because I like creating unique things that you don’t see in the world. I have put lots of my work on the website