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Shows That Won’t Be Touring the USA (Hot Water)

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Dec. 28th, 2011 | 04:25 pm

Todd Various says, “Have you seen the German fire show? It kicks ass.” There’s no good place in my own show schedule to plan it, so when I see them start up, I walk away in mid-conversation and start pushing to the front of their audience – I’ll sit on the ground, which Macedonians won’t do, so I might as well get to the inner circle. It’s easy to get through, because the crowd is moving backwards.

Rapidly.

Because Eddie Egal, head German, is backing them up WITH A FLAMETHROWER.

If you’re a fan of street performers, or hang out with hippies, or have gone to Burning Man, you’ve probably seen a fire show in Canada, Australia, or the USA. The crowd is at a prescribed distance, fire permits have been issued, fuel is stored separately from the equipment, etc. Then some greasy dreadlocked guys spin poi, girls in leather bikinis or bellydance gear wave some fire fans, they all pass the hat and go smoke up backstage.

This is Eastern Europe. Macedonia. Where open-pit construction sites are demarcated with twine and 8-year-old street vendors hawk belts and sunglasses. At one side of the public square, the Germans have set up a mad scientist’s lab with fireball tubes along a 14-foot high scaffolding proscenium. Stage left, a fire cannon points mostly up but also towards the audience, and a be-goggled Eddie and two sidekicks in lab coats complete the whole steampunk setup. THERE ARE PROPANE TANKS EVERYWHERE.

You know how in the States you can’t smoke a cigarette within 15 feet of a propane tank? While the female “scientist” pours fire from a watering can and the male “scientist” inspects the audience with a large magnifying glass, Crazy Eddie strides through tanks and pointing the FLAMETHROWER! IT’S A FLAMETHROWER! WITH A STEAM WHISTLE! mostly up but also at the audience.

They keep moving back.

Eddie drops burning solid chemical pellets on the ground to mark the front row. Children—children!—poke at the pellets until Eddie waves the FLAMETHROWER! OH MY GOD IT’S A FLAMETHROWER! at them.

I wish I had a flamethrower for the kids in my audience.

The show is a long buildup to one stunt. There’s an open framework the size of a shower stall on the central platform. First, they mount a rose in the center of the shower, fire the flame cannons at it, then extinguish the charred rose with water from tubes rigged around the shower.

Then they water down the female scientist, mask and glove her, and set her up in the shower. Fire, water, 170BPM trance music, she strips out of the lab suit and dances in a thong bikini while water and fire rain over, around and through her. The fire cannons shoot. I think there’s another flamethrower section. Then they pass the hat.

Back in the green room tent, Eddie says to the other performers, “Wednesday night, anyone who wants can try the fire shower.”

I say, “I’ll bring my bathing suit.”

* * *

They pull me out of the front row like I’m an audience volunteer. I’m in a white cotton t-shirt and denim miniskirt, fabrics chosen to not melt to my body. The mad scientists flame the rose, the audience oohs, I look nervous.

I’m fucking nervous.

Crazy Eddie douses me with a bucket of water. I act aghast, but the water’s not freezing, it’s been 105F all day in Skopje. He hits me with another bucket, making sure to get my hair. Later, it turns out he’s missed my upper inner thighs, my skirt acting as a little denim umbrella.

The scientists order me into the shower stall. The water tubes start firing, and I’m wet through. The trance music kicks in, and I start dancing. The flame cannons go off, firing from alternate sides—it feels warm but not hot with the water going at the same time. The only place it’s hurting is where the fire is licking my inner thighs and not in a good thinking-about-Tom-Selleck-as-Magnum way. I strip off my shirt and skirt to the bikini underneath, and I hope the crowd goes wild—really, I can’t tell, they aren’t louder than the whoosh of flaming propane. Crazy Eddie fires the flamethrower into the shower from either side, his goggles gleaming.

I know there’s 45 seconds left in the music when I’m hit from the bottom right by a sustained 4-second burst of flame. If you’ve ever been on fire, four seconds is eternity. You could watch Breaking Dawn and still have time for a popcorn refill and a discussion of Mormonism. I scream, and only my friends know it’s real. But it’s still a show, and it’s not my show, so I keep dancing. The music winds down, and the scientists help me back down the steps and present me with a rose. I deliver the hat line, and we all collect from the crowd.

Later, I say, “What was up with that cannon on the right?”

Crazy Eddie shrugs. “The button stuck.”

[A shower framework sprays water from all sides on a redheaded girl dancing in a maroon bikini. Flame cannons spray bursts of fire on her at the same time. The fire at bottom left is larger--the button on the flame cannon is stuck.]

[Image: A shower framework sprays water from all sides on a girl dancing in a maroon bikini. Flame cannons spray bursts of fire on her at the same time. The fire at bottom left is larger—the button on the flame cannon is stuck.]


whipchick loved the fire shower...but not enough to do it twice.

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Comments {13}

Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Dec. 29th, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
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This all sounded so dangerous. I shudder to think what bad accidents could happen.
I applaud your risk-taking however to do something so cool-if only ever one time!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 5th, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) It was very cool to do it...once :)

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sikander7

Brave

from: sikander7
date: Dec. 30th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
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Wow, very impressive. Also interesting that in many countries in the world the notion of safety is somewhat arbitrary.

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whipchick

Re: Brave

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 5th, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) Yeah, I'm always astonished at Eastern Europe and random open construction sites!

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imafarmgirl

(no subject)

from: imafarmgirl
date: Dec. 31st, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
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For real? If so that is totally crazy.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 5th, 2012 04:28 am (UTC)
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Totally - that's me in the picture, which I know is not the most helpful thing for you, but yeah, I really did it :)

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java_fiend

(no subject)

from: java_fiend
date: Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Woah. You are a brave, brave, brave soul. There is no way in hell I'd climb in for a flamethrower shower! lol...

I hope your leg is okay and you didn't sustain any permanent damage to it. Yikes. That's scary stuff.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jan. 5th, 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
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Thanks - it ended up feeling like a mild sunburn, not too bad at all! I will say, though, two nights later they had a different performer guest in the shower, and at the beginning of the show they couldn't find her in the audience, so they came towards me, and I cravenly shrieked like a little girl, "It's not me, it's not me, it's TONYA'S turn!"

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java_fiend

(no subject)

from: java_fiend
date: Jan. 7th, 2012 03:36 pm (UTC)
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LOL... I so don't blame you. Glad it didn't end up being too horrible! Scary stuff though!

By the way, I wasn't able to get into the GR the other day but wanted to wish you a very happy birthday. I hope it was a great one for you!

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A Karmic Sandbox

(no subject)

from: karmasoup
date: Jan. 27th, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Yikes, glad you're okay. I've worked 10 years out at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, were some of the fire acts are germans, and they are a bit more nuts than most. Most of us spin fire of some sort... poi, stick, fans, lassoos, whips, etc. Once a year now (down from our prevous bi-annual schedule... got to be too much to pull off twice) around mid-April, we host Festival of the Fire Gods parties at our house, where we've got enough acreage that folks can fan out with room to move, and the drums won't disturb anybody. I usually invite some 400+, and generally get about half that to show up... we're about at the point of the year now where I need to start planning for it... wonder where your travels will have you in a couple months?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Feb. 1st, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
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Awesome! You probably know Ron, Riki and Jef, who perform as The Tortuga Twins? And Doug and Jose, who are Don Juan and Miguel?

April's pretty open right now :) Here's what I do - www.angelsintheair.com. Note portable rig :)

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A Karmic Sandbox

(no subject)

from: karmasoup
date: Feb. 1st, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
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I know more OF them than I actually know them personally. There are so many people out there that's impossible to really get to know everyone. They call me "Angel," I think because they don't know my name, and I'm not sure that's a distinction particular to me.... I think it applies to most any pretty girl with endowment of epic proportions. They do come over and play my game a few times a year, which is always a hoot for everyone involved, and anyone around at the time. They love bantering with me, because I lay pretty thick on the double entendre, and I say things that would make a sailor blush... we feed off each other really naturally, so it's a good time, with lots of players and tons of tips, but, we've never really connected outside the work environment.

I was really disappointed this year, though, because, they asked a friend who works at the same company I work for to ask "the Hi-Striker girl" if she wouldn't mind working it for them at their next stop, since they own that game there. I think they knew they could only get away with asking me this this year, because I'd taken the year off, so there wouldn't be any conflict of interest, but the guy they asked thought they meant the girl who filled in for me this year, and she said she couldn't go. I didn't find out until after the fact, and was really ticked to have missed out on that opportunity. Nothing reels em in quite like a 38H set of lungs, with a devilish wit to match... I'm sure I would have made them a ton of money.

*sigh* Another year, perhaps.

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Jemima Pauler

(no subject)

from: jem0000000
date: Jan. 28th, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)
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Wow. You are a very brave person.... but, you know, slightly insane too?

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