By Chris Illich
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the professional sideshow artist Sweet Pepper of Monsters of Schlock. The group was just in Vancouver performing at Fright Fest, where they broke their 22nd Guinness World Record.
Sweet Pepper and the Monsters of Schlock will be performing at Detour Music Hall as part of the Golden Horseshoe 10th Anniversary Party on December 5.
What is the obsession and fascination with Guinness World Records? How many do you have between the two of you? Why did you choose that particular stunt?
We just got our 22nd Guinness World Record, which was for the most motorbikes driven over a man while lying on a bed of nails in two minutes. It was big enough, we were doing a run at the PNE in Vancouver, we do a big PR stunt every year and that was the biggest, most spectacular record we could think of at the time for a lot of international press.
That was already a record that was set and you were trying to break it?
Correct. It was held by our friend the Space Cowboy and it was beaten by a gentleman in Italy last year. He did it with 31, and we had to beat that, but we did it with 70 in a minute and fourty seconds.
How come they were only able to get 31, while you were able to double that total?
Because we’re way better. We did have a lot of riders though. There was no limit on the amount of riders, so we ended up having 13 which really helped.
What is it about a Guinness World Record that screams ‘We have to do this!’ Why do these hold so much weight in your world?
There’s a personal satisfaction and gratification. For what we do, in sideshow circles we’re a big deal but that’s a very small circle. So it’s nice to be recognized for what you do outside of those circles and community. In Europe and India, Guinness is still a huge thing, it’s not so big here anymore, it’s well liked here, but for us it’s like participating in the Olympics and winning a medal, only for really stupid things. It’s nice to get that recognition and be realized as the best in the world for something that you did even though no one really wants to do the things we do, but that doesn’t matter, we’re the best at what we do, even if we’re not sure what we do.
It must drive more people to come and see that you’re funny people doing a sideshow and breaking records, in that it’s not so much about the stunts themselves, right?
Well the show is way more important than the actual stunts. It’s been nice, the last couple of years we’ve been doing book signings at Chapters just through the Guinness thing, so that’s brought out a whole new door for fans, because kids get the book at Christmas and they’ve seen us in the books and they like getting pictures, and they’re trying to do records, safe ones hopefully, and its kind of neat. The first record we broke was when I did the mousetraps on my tongue and that got us to Italy to do the Guinness show and to LA as well, so that opened up the doors for international TV work. I don’t know how to book a show in Italy, so it’s nice to go do the biggest show on one of their biggest channels just because of Guinness World Records.
And you just tried to raise funds for a TV show through a crowd-funding site, but it didn’t quite pan out. Are you still going through with it?
Yes, it’s being pitched around, and all kinds of scripted sitcom, reality, all kinds of formats. The kickstarter failed, but it brought out a lot of attention to the pilot, which was good. Even though it didn’t work out, we got a lot of calls from production companies who wanted to potentially work together. So we have our fingers crossed that someone will help us get it off the ground.