This morning I watched a man put a giant hook through his nose, clamp cow bells to his eye lids and chew a light bulb to bits.
No, it wasn't Leonard Asper. It wasn`t even the Canwest programming executive who just ordered more episodes of Howie Do It. It was Ryan Stock, the 26-year-old daredevil host of Discovery Channel's outrageous Guinea Pig.
Stock and his partner in crime, AmberLynn Walker, met with a few reporters this morning at a suitably creepy place--CTV's Masonic Temple on Yonge Street. These two kids were made for each other. Stock was performing magic tricks at an Edmonton festival several years ago when he spotted magician`s assistant Walker doing balloon tricks. She`s also a contortionist who can wiggle her way through a tennis racket. It was a love match.
They gave us a taste of the act they've been performing recently in Vegas and all over the world (including stops on The Hour, Adam Sandler`s The Gong Show and MTV Live). It was definitely extreme performance art of the "do not try this at home" variety.
First the dude lit a blowtorch and then put the flame out with his tongue. He used to do this with a cigarette, he told us, but then, well, cigarettes are bad for you.
He then stuck a hook in his nose and then curved it out of his mouth. Then a bigger hook. Then AmberLynn introduced a trick with what they call, in front of the kids anyway, "pocket balloons." Stock can stick a condom in one nostril, pull it out of another, pull it from his nose to his mouth, inflate it through his nostril, etc. He says he hasn't had a cold all winter. His nose is also STD free.
More horrifying was when he pointed a running drill at his face and inserted the bit deep inside his nose. Amber held up the X-Ray of the bit venturing that close to the part where his head connects to his spine. Talk about cordless!
He also ate a light bulb. Relax, it was one of the old kind, we don't want them any more anyway. First he breaks off the metal end, then he crunches the glass up in his mouth with his teeth and swallows it down. Calls it a light snack. Washes it down with Windex. (Really blue Gatorade; the guy isn`t completely off his nut).
Glass is just sand, he says, and he just reduces it back to sand. As painful as it is to watch, it is no longer painful for him to consume, although the painful part comes, he joked, the next morning. I think he was kidding.
Things got a bit sick when he hung a series of cow bells from his eyelids. `More cowbell,`he called out to AmberLynn. A bunch of other stuff went down the dudes ears, eyes, nose and throat, including a very long sword. "There are only 70 people left in the world today who still actually do this," he informed us. Doubt the other 69 go so far as to stick two swords down their throat, then juggle three of the biggest Ginsu knives you've ever seen. Just a little something Ryan cooked up out in the garage practicing.
AmberLynn usually sticks around to call 911 when he is working out a new trick. Sometimes things go wrong, like the time out in the backyard when he attempted to practice a little knife throwing with his feet. Damn handle of one of the knives caught the ground and Stock sliced his foot in half. The had to call a toe truck.
Back to the press session. A cordless electric chain saw was started. Buddy doesn't just juggle this sucker--it isn't weighted properly for that, we were informed--he sticks it in his mouth and holds it over his head. While it is running. Business end in his teeth.
He added two pieces of rubber to clamp down on, but still, as he suggested, one slip and he's playing The Joker in the next Batman movie.
The Edmonton native admits he was the kind of kid who was jumping off the roof of his parent`s house at an early age. His parents, he says, have always encouraged him to do all this stuff that would scare the crap out of anybody else`s parents. Maybe it helps that his dad is a Baptist minister, a man of prayer.
Guinea Pig, which is in its third season, airs Saturday nights at 11 p.m. on the Discovery Channel. On it, Stock makes Jesse James--the former Monster Garage dude whose series Jesse James is a Dead Man starts in May--look like Stephane Dion.
The series is part Mythbusters, part Mercer, part Evil Knevil, with Stock doing everything from experiencing a motorcycle crash to taking on a 300-pound wrestler to jumping out of an airplane at 30,000 feet. That one was a tad chilly, he says. The free fall part took well over two minutes. It still sounds less terrifying than half the stuff he made us watch him do this morning.
Stock has built his pain threshold up to an extreme level. He knows Kung Fu, for real, not in a Keanu Reeves way. We`re told he stretches his body to the breaking point--something to do with a 4000-pound car--to set a new Guinness World Record on the last episode this season. (There are 10 new episodes, which should take the show into March.) He also has several tattoos on his arms, including two pincushion dolls. They`re there to cover up the scars from all the real knife, sword and pin stabs he`s taken on his forearms over the years. He didn`t tell us if he`d ever been knifed in the back, but, then again, this is his third season on television.