took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Behind every world record attempt is the expertise of professionals in their field.
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Most candles lit in the mouth: 5
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most candles lit in the mouth.
I think I know you. And I think I know most other
people. I presume you'd all use candles to light an area so you can see
what you're doing. Yes, I would do that too, but only if I didn't have
more important uses for the candles. The single most important thing I
can do with candles is almost letting them ease down my throat.
But not so fast! I'd need to control the movement
of the candles, and make sure I didn't injure myself because I would
want them to do me a favour – earn me one more world record. And that's
precisely what I set out to do. I was about to get more intimate with
common candles than I'd ever thought I would.
A world record-breaking event was approaching and
I was determined to take part, being the obsessed type I am. Exactly
what I'd do was still uncertain, but I had time to think it over
because this was fast becoming more important than anything else for
the year. At first, ideas floated in and out of my mind, but seeing
decorative candles in a gift shop really triggered my thoughts.
Quickly, I had a brilliant idea – or so I thought. I wanted to support
dripping candles in my mouth, even though I recoiled at the thought of
molten wax splashing across my eyeballs and setting instantly.
Nevertheless, I was going to pursue this challenge. I could only hope
I'd get it over with without cooking the surfaces of my eyeballs with
heated wax. To me, the risk was worth it for another world record. I'd
made up my mind.
Until then, I knew as much or as little about
household candles as most people. Maybe even less; I knew so little
about the average candle you'd be correct to call me downright
ignorant. But I was intelligent enough to know that one turned them
upside-down to light the wick, then stood them in a base of sorts and
enjoyed the flickering light they produced. Preparing for this world
record attempt meant I'd learn a whole lot about candles, which, until
then, I'd been oblivious to. And that wouldn't surprise those who know
me – I tend to be delightfully ignorant about most things until I
decide to use them for a world record attempt.
The rules stated that I needed to use standard
candles. Over the years, I've learned to investigate every term and
phrase issued in these rules, to make very sure I am acting within
their limitations. My first task was to work out what 'standard
candles' were. In souvenir shops, I discovered, the most pretty candles
for sale were often of a lower melting point than traditional household
candle wax, and they contained special additives to enhance their
burning characteristics for our pleasure. Differing grades of wax for
commercial and domestic use give varying qualities of light emission
and so forth, I found out. The candle-maker I questioned was terribly
informative, but little did he suspect that the candles I'd choose
would be gripped in my teeth for fun and attention. After nearly an
hour in his shop, I left, happy that I knew just what to buy.
Back at home, I shut the curtains and licked my
lips with excitement. No. I wasn't anticipating a tasty snack; I was
dreading the wax I knew was about to get smeared in between my teeth
and over my gums. I smirked, but knew I had to do it. Closing my eyes,
I strained my mouth open so wide, I heard my jaws crack like an ice
block being shattered. It hurt, but, being the strange person I am, it
did not deter me. I inserted the first white household candle which
flopped to one side, then the next and the next. Without an option, I
began supporting the unstable candles with my teeth, needing to grip
them tighter as they leaned further apart. Ironically, the more I
closed my jaws slowly, the deeper my incisors sunk into the wax,
thereby defeating the purpose of applying pressure with my teeth. I
could feel wax oozing over my teeth, slowly covering them like some
hideous jelly. I stopped.
But that was senseless! I had to move to get the
candles out anyway, so I reluctantly continued to grip them and then
reached for the matches. Stop, I reminded myself. Hot wax. I needed
goggles. Out came the candles, leaving flakes of sticky wax on my teeth
and lips, and I leaped to the bathroom basin. Like a crazed man, I
rinsed and rinsed my mouth until my cheek muscles were pulsing with
pain. I couldn't bear the thought of eating domestic candle wax. Then I
realised what I was doing it for: I had to find goggles.
Within minutes, I was back in my kitchen – the
venue of numerous of my world record attempts, placing those bitten
candles back in my gaping mouth as gently as I could. This time,
though, each was alight. The goggles would protect me, so I needn't pay
much attention to the danger. I spent what felt, and tasted, like an
hour there, playing with the lit candles. Gradually, I began to feel in
control, and I reassured myself I could do this, no matter how much I
wasn't looking forward to snacking on decidedly unappetising wax.
In the bathroom, I used one over-worked toothpick to rid every one of my teeth of any trace of wax I could see or feel. The mess had got all over, it seemed. But I took the time to cleanse my mouth and then brushed my teeth so hard, any dentist would have been in a panic – or maybe excited about the work coming their way.
Over the next
few weeks, I practised several times, on each occasion dreading the
taste and feel of the oily white ooze. But I tried not to lose sight of
my goal: my next world record. I think that's what kept me motivated;
almost peculiarly fixated, even though I was hesitant to grip any
candle in my teeth.
By the time the world record event arrived, I was
ready with a handful of attempts. This would be just one, and the one I
was looking forward to the least. But the mental image of myself
holding a world record certificate was a strong lure, and one I could
not forsake. So I entered the venue with my pack of candles under my
arm, worried but also excited. My assistants weren't as excited as me;
perhaps they were embarrassed that I was going to do something awkward!
A breeze was developing, so I chose to make my
attempt indoors, overlooking a sports track. In front of a group of
children looking on with wrinkled noses, I flung the goggles over my
head and spread the box of candles across the table. One by one, I
placed them, lit them, and positioned them in my wide open mouth.
Shutting my eyes in disgust, I clenched my jaws tightly and could feel
the tips of my teeth sinking deep into the oily wax. Trying not to
think, I waited for the timekeeper to count down.
And soon enough, I was able to release the load.
The candles flopped this way and that, falling to the floor. Helpers
and I gathered them all and blew out the ailing flames. But my thoughts
were elsewhere. I lunged forward, just as the photographer was taking
photo after photo, and out of my mouth came a pool of wax-infested
saliva. All over the table. Thankfully, a plastic bag was lying just
where the bubbly expulsion landed, although seeing it could not have
been pleasant for anybody. The children exclaimed but I was too
concerned with my wax problem to care. This was a world record attempt,
I told them in my mind, so you should be prepared for anything!
Within minutes, I'd all but satisfied myself that
I was wax-free. I'd spat until my mouth was dry, and now I had to smile
at the audience. Lovely. But I did it. The photographer took more
photos and I finished the attempt by completing the required paperwork
as fast as I could. All that time, my tongue was catching on the roof
of my mouth, making it difficult for me to speak clearly; I was still
carrying wax in my head, I realised with disappointment.
As quickly as it had all begun, it was over and I
was once again in dreamland... dreaming of whether I would receive a
world record certificate attesting to my coveted ability of being able
to hold a cluster of burning candles in my mouth. To me, this was an
achievement to puff my chest out for. It was global recognition I
desired in print, and attention I was prepared to eat wax for.