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By Josh Bailie

Arts & Life Editor

Ryan Stock sets an example for anyone trying to establish a niche. He’s made a career out of his passion: pushing boundaries.

Stock is the Canadian star of Guinea Pig, a Discovery Channel show where he experiments with the limits of his body, from being submerged in freezing water to simply putting his tongue in a mousetrap.

He was in Toronto last week to promote the third season of Guinea Pig.

The show has experts explain the stunts and their results, so as much as it’s for shock value, it’s for science.

“We’re doing stupid things in an intelligent way,” Stock said.

Stock’s passion has burgeoned into freak show material — he’s a former circus performer — but behind the jaw-dropping exterior of nose drilling, there’s a heart-lifting recipe for personal success.

Stock and his contortionist partner and fiancée, AmberLynn Walker, used to live in a walk-in closet. They barely got by doing street shows and fringe festivals. The two got their break by sending daily emails to casting calls and night clubs, but that’s all gravy, they just love what they’re doing.

“If we lost the show tomorrow we would still do this,” Walker said.

“I’ve always been the kid backflipping off the playground, eating ants under the tree and doing things to creep out other kids,” Stock said. “It’s a passion.”

So here, inside one of the world’s approximately 70 sword swallowers, is exactly more of what society needs: Individuals doing what they love with little concern for money or other people’s thoughts.

“People will go into a certain career because of money or because their friend or their dad or whatever did it. If everybody did what they felt a passion to do then everybody will be successful,” Stock said.

Maybe it’s those who don’t follow passions who are the weird ones.

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