(My wife and I are the people in this video who are holding hands while on fire. Such activities come highly recommended.)
I met Dr. Danger last Friday on the night of my wedding. I’d just picked up my old friend Terry Trash, the front man for local band Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks, and needed another person to witness the marriage at the courthouse. Trash said there was a stuntman staying in a trailer outside of his house who would help. We picked up Dr. Danger ten minutes later and headed downtown.
It was clear the good doctor was a hospitable and helpful man. He spoke with a tremendous honesty that’s rare these days and was prone to statements like, “This is all really a quest for peace and respect.” I liked him immediately. So did my fiancé and the judge who married us a half-hour later.
As we headed downtown after the ceremony Dr. Danger spoke of his life. He’d traveled hundreds of thousands of miles from one demolition derby or monster-truck show to the next, blowing up cars and lighting roller derby girls and other things on fire along the way. He'd been on CBS, in National Geographic and at Evil Kneivel's funeral. I'd never met a real daredevil before and I couldn't help wondering how a life of blowing things up, launching cars through burning heaps of wreckage and other asundry madness had created a man so gentle and intelligent. It was intriguing.
“If you guys aren’t doing anything this weekend, I’d love to light you on fire,” he said. “We’d be honored,” we said. He showed up two days later with several gallons of gas, a bus-load of gear and enough fire extinguishers to let everybody know he meant business. He also found an interfaith minister who was happy to stand inside a ring of fire and a small film crew willing to get to work on a Sunday afternoon with no more than a few hours notice.
Here’s the thing about getting lit on fire: It’s way more fun than you could ever imagine. You have to wedge your body into layers of wet coveralls and fireproof head coverings, and it’s hard to tell if it’s water, accelerant or sweat that’s running down your back. You also get to smear pudding all over your body so the flames don’t evaporate your skin. And when the good doctor says “run,” you better run. The fire is very real and you’ve got precious little time before it tears through fabric and into tender flesh.
Dr. Danger has pitched this idea to a reality-show production company as “Extreme Weddings With Dr. Danger.” The company has sent him paperwork to start moving forward with that. I'm not certain, but he might even light your wedding on fire if you ask him nicely. I wish him the best of luck in everything he does. He’s a great guy, and a lot of fun to hang out with.
Performance: Contemporary Photography from the Douglas Nielsen Collection. Presenting more than 100 works from the private collection… More