Eddie Diijon would tell you the common human flea is more intelligent than any other species of flea. And after he told you about his former flea circus, you may be left scratching your head.
In a past life, Diijon, now 85, retired, and living in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was a world-class entertainer, with acts that specialized in the strange and mysterious.
His most famous act was his flea circus, in which he had fleas perform various circus tricks such as chariot races, or having a flea pull 160,000 times their own weight.
If you’re sceptical of it all, you wouldn’t be the first to be, but that’s half the allure of his show.
Diijon’s flea act took him around the world, landing him on The David Letterman Show five consecutive times, a fact he’s proud of, as well as being featured at the Canadian National Exhibition.
Diijon also performed a variety of other acts as which took him around the globe, earning him a name as successful magician, who still has a following today.
One of his other successful acts was as a tarot card reader, touring with a hypnotic show. In his career as a tarot reader he’s read for some big names, including JC Moore, several times for Madonna, Paul Anka, and for Jack Layton — yes, former head of the NDP.
He said he thinks he’s done more than 50,000 performances.
Diijon, now retired, has given up some of the secrets to how he trained his fleas. The secret, he said, is to break their habit to jump.
To do this, he would put the fleas into a small sealed glass tube for a couple weeks. When the fleas jumped, they would bang into the top of the glass. Eventually, they stopped jumping.
Next Diijon has to carefully put a harness on the fleas — and these fleas were in style — Diijon made them out of gold. Gold was more malleable he said.
For some of his famous tricks, like having a flea he named the Amazing Armando juggle a cork ball, Diijon would have to get creative. His secret? Diijon used to dip the cork ball in Listerine. The substance was repulsive to flea, so it would naturally kick the cork away.
“So I kept doing that until it learned how to juggle.”
Diijon said he still has a small following to this day, and every once in a while somebody will ask him to do a performance, though his flea act has been retired for around 12 years. This weekend he will be in Hamilton for a psychic fair at the Crown Plaza Hotel.
The entertainer performed a real-life escape act of sorts in 2017, when he was pinned between a car and the inside railing of Silks Country Kitchen after an elderly woman drove through the window where he was sat eating breakfast.
Diijon told Lake Report (then Advance) reporter Penny Coles that he thought his neck may have been broken when the incident happened. Luckily, himself and another man at the table walked away without serious injuries.
“I was having a corned beef sandwich,” And I was sitting beside the window, and this woman came crashing through the window.”
“But I still go back to Silks because I enjoy their corned beef sandwiches — but I don’t sit near the window.”
Diijon ended up in Niagara after moving to Toronto from Hong Kong. He used to take drives down into the country to explore.
“When I hit Niagara-on-the-Lake, right away I fell in love with it, and I thought ‘this is the place I want to be.’ And it was a good decision.”
Diijon has lived in town for 18 years now. From stories of being attacked by the 14K Triads in Hong Kong and being rescued by Two Gerka soldiers, his flea circus, tarot reading and corned beef close encounters, Diijon has certainly earned himself a name as one of this town’s unique locals.
Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t just home to world-class wineries. Some of its residents have also left distinguished marks on the globe in astounding ways. Local Spotlight will be a regular feature about some of the town's impressive locals, their careers, family lives and the paths that led them to one of the most beautiful places to live in the world.