The girl in a bottle: Model student drops out of university to join circus freak show – now she contorts into a bell jar and hammers nails into her nose for a living
13:57 GMT, 31 May 2012
An academically gifted young woman who excelled throughout school has quit her university course to fulfil her dream of becoming a freak show performer.
As a young and ambitious student, Danielle Martin, 24, would compete with her two school friends to see who could get the best grades, describing herself as a 'goody two-shoes'.
Now, Danielle earns her living hammering nails into her nose, jumping barefoot on shards of broken glass and climbing up a ladder made of Samurai swords – all in the name of entertainment.
' I was the quiet one that worked hard to be top of the class,' said Danielle.
Bottled up: Gifted student Danielle Martin, 24, said her parents thought she would pursue academia, but she always harboured a dream to perform
Geek to freak: A trip to the Circus of Horrors with her mother when she was 13 inspired Danielle to follow her dream. 'My mother wanted me to be a doctor,' she says. 'But she was the one to introduce me to the circus!'
'As an only child I wanted to please my family with my grades and make them proud of me. They expected me to stick to academia and have a sensible career but my true passion is being on stage and shocking people.'
Danielle, from Dartford in Kent, went to an all-girls school called Blackfen, where she gained a mixture of A*s, As and the rest B grades in her GCSEs.
Outside of education Danielle would spend all her spare time and pocket money on acting and dance classes.
She said: 'My family would always make it clear to me that dancing and acting were very much a hobby.'
When Danielle was 13, her mum Ruth
Goldsmith, 54, took her to see the Circus of Horrors, a horror-themed
rock-and-roll circus freak show, which got to the semi-finals in last
year's Britain's Got Talent.
Danielle said: 'She knew I would love it and she was right. I went back every year to see them perform.
performer: Danielle, from Kent, was an academically gifted young woman,
who excelled throughout school – but says her true passion is being on
stage and 'shocking people'
'One year I was luckily enough to go backstage and get my programme signed by the ringmaster, Dok Haze.
'I said to him “when I grow up I am going to come and work for you”'.
Danielle's impressive GCSE results she continued onto college to study
biology and art and design, with her mother dream of her becoming a doctor.
Despite having glandular fever while studying for her A-Levels, Danielle still achieved high grades in her exams, including an A in art.
After college Danielle made plans to go onto higher education to study for an Art and Design degree; however, as soon as she started the course she knew her heart wasn't in it and when she was 19, she left the course.
She followed her dream and took a diploma in Performing Arts at the Reynolds Academy in London.
'Three years later I applied to the Circus of Horrors,' said Danielle.
'It was tough interview as I had to squeeze myself in to a two foot jar.'
Gifted: Danielle excelled at school and used to compete with friends for top grades
Her success at that interview marked the beginning of a new career for Danielle. She went all over the country with the Circus of Horrors performing at their shows as the 'Girl in the Bottle' – contorting her body into a small glass, bell jar.
'My mum can blame herself in a way; she was the one that got me hooked on the Circus of Horror's show.' claims Danielle.
Recently Danielle has created her own freak show and calls herself Daniella D'Ville.
Her performances are a mixture of burlesque and freaky acts including lying on a bed of nails – handmade by Danielle – jumping on bits of broken glass, swallowing razor blades, hammering a nail into her nose and climbing a ladder of swords.
Danielle claims that she has never had to seek medical attention after one of her performances and has only got the odd cut on her feet and back.
'I have two to three gigs a week usually in clubs around London and will perform for 20 minutes each time,' explains Danielle.
'I am currently training with Iona Luvsandorj, a semi-finalist contortionist from Britain's Got Talent in 2008, so I can add even more weird and wonderful acts to my shows.'
Danielle says her mother has now grown used to her daughter's eccentric performances, and even asked Danielle to show her nail-in-the-nose act at a dinner party.
But while Danielle is happy to continue with her freak shows for the time being, she doesn't believe her academic days are over.
'I want to go back to university to finish a degree.
'The hard part is deciding what to study: Biology or Circus.'