Jeffery R. Werner thinks of photographers as the “custodians of history,” so his nickname of “The da Vinci of Daredevil Photography” is quite the compliment.
Werner has traveled for 30 years in search of the world’s most amazing stunts. We know about him because he was in Kingman, Arizona for Doug Danger‘s “I Dare You” jump over a jumbo jet. When you watch Danger’s feat on video, it is over in a few seconds. But stare at it in Werner’s book and it makes you freeze and appreciate how insane Danger’s accomplishment really was.
Doug seemingly hangs in the air forever.
A coffee table book is the ideal vehicle for adrenaline junkies to savor their favorite daredevils making the impossible possible. When retelling the jumbo jet story, Doug likes to jokingly complain that he wasn’t even served a complimentary drink on his flight. Usually this gets a laugh from the radio DJs.
Evel Knievel was well known for jumping his motorcycle over busses. Daredevil Steve Hudis thought the opposite might be funny — jumping a bus over motorcycles! This surreal act was conducted for the same stuntmasters who dreamed up Doug’s airplane extravaganza — the “I Dare You” specials on UPN television.
In front of 55,000 people at the Houston Astrodome, daredevils Spanky Spangler and Randy Hill crashed in midair above a row of junk cars for cushioning. Their 1981 head-on crash was the equivalent of hitting a brick wall at 120 mph!
Spangler and Hill tried to duplicate their midair spectacle in San Antonio in 1993, but things went horribly wrong. Instead of colliding at their front bumpers, Spangler’s car crashed down on Hill’s roof and crushed him.
A remorseful Spangler is interviewed in the book, calling his friend Hill’s death the equivalent of “losing his right arm.”
British daredevil Eddie Kidd took two years to get permission from the Chinese government to leap over the Great Wall. The wondrous Wall itself isn’t much of an obstacle — averaging 25 feet in height, 15 to 30 feet in width at the base, and 12 feet width at the top — but Doug Danger learned how easy it is to almost die over a few measley cars.
Kidd had a 600 foot drop and the Yangtze River to worry about, with only a “crude bamboo ramp” and a safety cushion of cardboard boxes to stop him. According to Werner, Kidd hit the bamboo “with only inches to spare.”
Six pairs of handcuffs and two leg irons might excite bondage fans, but the rest of us are shaking our heads about what motivates Rick Meisel to perform the “World’s Cleanest Escape Act.”
The chained-up Meisel scrunches himself inside a washing machine and churns around with the suds. I can’t even open my own washing machine — from the outside — while it is in the middle of a cycle. So this is absolutely an impressive feat. Even if he does admit surgically altering his body to be more accommodating to the shape of the drum.
Werner categorizes Washing Machine Boy in his “Beyond Reality” section, which truly could be renamed “Psychotic Entertainers.” Another genius, Jesse Caigoy from the Phillippines, picks up razor blades with his eyelids and walks barefoot on a balance beam made from sharpened machete blades. With the blade edge perpendicular to his foot.
Caigoy calls himself “Mr. Pain.” This a case where the photography may be beautiful, but the picture itself will give you hives.
Werner, the first still photographer to be inducted into the StuntWorld Hall of Fame, dedicates his first book to same daredevil legend worshipped by Doug Danger and most of the other stunt performers featured in his book.
“A man can fall many times in life, but he’s never a failure until he refuses to get up.”
—- Evel Knievel
The author also once dreamed of zipping up in a leather jumpsuit. “Then there was the Minnesota teenager who after watching Knievel, yearned only for a motorcycle of his own. Even a Vespa, for Chrissakes,” he writes. “But his mother put the kibosh on that, citing a neighborhood kid who’d been injured in a motorcycle accident and that was that. Well, not quite.”
The young Minnesota kid got to live an adventurous life, after all. And even better, he gets to walk away unscathed from every fiery crash and death-defying jump!
For information on ordering the Incredible Stunts coffee table book, click here!