Hadji Ali was a vaudeville performance artist, thought to be of Egyptian descent, who was famous for acts of controlled regurgitation. His bestknown feats included water spouting, smoke swallowing, and nut and handkerchief swallowing followed by disgorgement in an order chosen by the audience. Alis most famous stunt, and the highlight of his act, was drinking copious amounts of water followed by kerosene, and then acting by turns as a human flamethrower and fire extinguisher as he expelled the two liquids onto a theatrical prop. While these stunts were performed, a panel of audience members was invited to watch the show up close to verify that no trickery was employed.
Hadji Ali was born into a workingclass family in approximately 1887 or 1892, depending on the source consulted, probably in Egypt. His fame was as a practitioner of a recognized vaudeville subgenre known as a regurgitation act, involving the swallowing of material or objects and their regurgitation in various ways. Ali became aware as a child that he possessed an unusual gastric ability. He explained in response to audience questions at a performance held at St. Marys Hospital in Niagara Falls, New York, in May1601926, that while swimming in the Nile as a tenyearold boy, he naturally discovered that he could swallow a large amount of water and blow it out like a whale spouting. He continued to develop and refine the ability as he grew older. A more dramatic version of these events was provided by Alis daughter, Almina Ali, in an interview in England after his death. She stated that his abilities were first learned through a single incident while bathing in the Nile, he inadvertently sw