The Great Nippulini - 5/1/03

 

Q. Your act is a pretty unique one.  What made you decide to try and lift something with your nipples that first time?

 

A. I'd seen the pierced weightlifting act done in a video.  The act looked a little too mild in my opinion.  I figured it was faked after my father (of all people) dared me to hang a 2lb key chain from my nipple.  At that time, the piercing was at 6 gauge.  The guy in the video had 10 gauge (smaller).  At that point I wanted to do this act.  I started stretching my piercings to larger sizes and would hang things heavier and heavier.

 

Q. What drove you to want to move on to bigger and heavier items?

 

A. I felt the need to implement bigger and heavier items to separate myself from the standard ten-in-one show performers that would feature a pierced weightlifting act as condiment to their show.  To be honest, I want to be known as the man with the world's strongest nipples. You can't do that by using 3lb irons in a nipple act.

 

Q. Did you attend any kind of special courses along the way to further your ability?

 

A. Not really.  I have no formal training in sideshow or performance art.  It just naturally happened when I got on stage for the first time.  It sort of flowed out nicely.  I have a very boisterous personality anyway, and I like the energy of being on stage.  I have also been piercing professionally for over 10 years.  That much experience helps one to know more about what really happens when you do this type of act.

 

Q. Did you intend to enter the sideshow business all along or did things just kind of fall into place?

 

A. Being in the sideshow business was just something that happened in my path along life really.  Doing what I do isn't something that can be considered mainstream entertainment at the least.  Street performing, opening for bands, doing hot rod events, and an occasional festival is pretty much where one could expect to see my show.

 

Q. What was your very first performance in front of a live audience like?

 

A. I had NO material at my first show.  I got up on stage and just started talking about piercing, made a couple of jokes while I was setting up, then once the stuff was hanging, everybody was floored.

 

Q. What kind of reaction did you receive?

 

A. Well, that first show was at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival Cabaret Nite.  About 90 percent of the audience was made up of performers, so I got a really nice response.  When people freak out while seeing my show I take it as a HUGE compliment.  The fact that I had THAT much of an impact on their lives simply by just being me is a nice feeling.

 

Q. Now on to the act itself.  First and foremost does it hurt?

 

A. "Does it hurt?"  must be the most asked question I get.  Heavier items are more intense, but not necessarily painful.  There's a LOT more to it than just threshold of pain, although I have an extremely high tolerance for it.  Mostly it is just psychological.

 

Q. Outside of the psychological aspect, what does it feel like when you are lifting or pulling objects.

 

A. If anyone works out, you might understand what I mean: when you push a certain number of reps, and increase your load your muscles feel a burn.  It's kind of like that.  It's almost indescribable, you have to know.  It's like trying to tell someone what being bald feels like.

 

Q. Have you noticed any long-term effects from the act?

 

A. No, my nipples aren't getting stretched out, if that's what you're asking.  When I'm not doing shows, I wear very lightweight jewelry in the piercings, so the nipples stay closer to my chest.  It keeps them stronger.

 

Q. Since your show is based solely on this one particular act do you find it hard to keep an audience entertained throughout the entire show?

 

A. Keeping an audience captivated by the same act throughout the show was tough at first. That's where the heavier items come in, the cart towing, cup crushing, bench grinders and such.  I've added so many components to the show, that it's not just hanging and pulling things with my nipples.  I do as much as I can with them.  I'm sure down the road I'll be adding more stunts and variations.  Also there is a good amount of funny material that keeps things from slowing down.

 

Q. How do you decide what types of items to lift in your show?

 

A. In order for an item to make it into my collection, it must fall into three categories: weight, balance, and recognition.  If it's too light, it doesn't make the cut.  It must be balanced enough for my nipples to take the load more evenly.  Recognition is the fun part.  I want the crowd to know what that stuff is, and that itís commonly known as really heavy items.  Most of the stuff many people may already own, so they know what the weight of it should feel like.  I shouldn't have to explain it to people what a bowling ball or an anvil is.

 

Q. Have you ever tried to lift something that was too heavy?

 

A. No.  I have a very scientific process of knowing the strength of my nipples.  Plus I test everything out in my home before I take it on stage.  I may say this onstage as a joke, but I am quite serious, safety is my main concern.   That's why I hand out safety goggles to the front row during my grinder/sparking act.

 

Q. Every live audience seems to have a least one heckler.  What kinds of things have you heard/seen and how do you deal with it during your show?

 

A. Actually, I have never had a true heckler.  My jokes are really bad, so people feel pity for me, comedian wise.  Other than that, once the props are hanging and the act is in motion, nobody can say a word because they're either gaping at the show or cringing and hiding their eyes.

 

Q. What do you say to a promoter to make him or her understand what you do and why he or she should hire you?

 

A. I have a press kit and portfolio with me wherever I go.  Plus, most of the venues that I work with have seen my act before.  The pictures pretty much speak for themselves.  I'm also working on putting out my own video.

 

Q. Do you find it hard to make them understand the true value of your show?

 

A. Naw.  Once they see the pictures and my show history, it's pretty easy to get.  They understand it must be a good show, but 9 times out of 10, they will book me but not watch the show.

 

Q. What kind of reactions do you usually get from promoters after you have performed a show for them for the first time?

 

A. They like how I handle a crowd.  They dig that I can capture people like that, but they always think I'm crazy.  That could be a good thing, couldn't it?

Q. Is there one show that you will never forget?

 

A. My worst show had a turnout of three people.  That night, I went out, got drunk and found myself at a traveling circus. I still had all my stuff in my car, so I just asked the folks there if they could squeeze me in for a show.  That was an excellent show, so it kind of captures both ends of that question.

Q. Iíve heard that you will be attempting a world record for most amount lifted soon.  Can you offer any insight?

 

A. Yes.  As soon as a venue is decided upon, the date will be set and the press releases will go out.  The stunt will be captured on film and by the media, witnessed by officials from the department of weights and measures, and then be submitted to the world record organization.  The record for this category has not been made, but I will be breaking my own personal record by lifting 45 pounds.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

 

A. Other than the standard "Don't try this at home, kids", come on down to a show.  Not just my show, but ANY sideshow.  This is a part of history that's coming around full circle with a new generation of performers.  I am lucky enough to be in this generation.  Keep your minds open, they work better that way.

Q. Finally, is there anyone you would like to thank?

 

A. Other than my family and friends that are always available to help, my thanks go out to everyone who's been able to make this type of performance art available and keep alive.

 

Interview by Derek Rose

 

For more information on The Great Nippulini visit his site at www.greatnippulini.com

 

Each month we will try and interview a new performer for the site.  Because of the logistics of it face to face interviews are tough to come by.  A good percentage of the interviews we will be doing will be via e-mail or telephone.  If you are interested in being interviewed for the site drop us a line.

 

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