Snake Oil Productions,
professional variety entertainment and other modern conveniences.
proprietress, designer, performer, producer, makeup artist,
stitcher, props-fabricator, illustrator
Updated 10/30/2006 .
WHIPFLASH! WHEEL OF DEATH
Wheel of Death is the largest addition to the "WhipFlash!"
family of death-defying and entertaining
feats, this 91-inch (almost 7 ft) spinning wheel is the inspirational
grandchild of the old vaudeville knife-throwing Wheels of Death.
NOTE: 2007: The Wheel of Death is officially retired and gone.
It will be missed.
every effort to heighten the audience's enjoyment, excitement,
comic value, and faith in vaudeville values, Lauren Muney and
Jim Frank of WhipFlash!
and Snake Oil Productions created this huge monstrosity. "Wheels
of Death" were traditionally used in vaudeville and Old
West shows, to place a small woman on the disk and spin her,
with the man taking targets from around her lithe body without
harming his delicate assistant. The difficulty arises when the
audience realizes that when the 'expert' takes aim, it's done
in different timing to when the disk actually spins - and therefore
her body might be in the way at almost all times.
by Lauren, it took her 6 months to work up the courage to show
her drawings to Jim; the courage needed was to tell him that
it was HE would should be mounting a huge spinning disk.
first problems arose when Lauren tried to phone every old knife-throwing
act she knew - most of whom were in their 80's and 90's. None
of these acts had any problems with devising a Wheel of Death,
after all, their lady assistants (who where the ones strapped
to the Wheel) were only 80 lbs!! The Wheel needed by
to be 91 inches across and hold the weight of a 6' 3",
200-lb man. Since WhipFlash!'s twist on the old routine was
so unusual, Lauren and Jim had to work very hard to create the
huge monstrosity that no one had seen before.
Jim built the disk
in the largest flat space available - a deck of a house. A challenge
every step, not only did the disk require an engineer to get
it off of the 15- ft high deck, but the Wheel itself required
some physics ingenuity. Harkening back to Renaissance-style
creative techniques, Jim devised a special way of working with
mass and forces so that the Wheel's axle would spin freely.
With a little help from some armorers (craftsmen who create
full suits of armor), the axle was finished and the Wheel could
be put to use. Lauren's painting skills, using a famous design
by Leonardo da Vinci, called "Vitruvius", finished
the unspoken rule about having the lovely female assistant on
the receiving end of any trick, "WhipFlash!"
turns the tables as massive Jim is forced to strap onto the
huge spinning Wheel. Adding to the craziness are the flowers
Lauren tries to cut while trying not to touch Jim's body with
her whip, which is reaching velocities exceeding the speed of
Adding to the excitement,
Jim frequently does this routine in a kilt. A kilt? You mean,
a DRESS? Jim is placed UPSIDE DOWN on a spinning wheel in nothing
but a skirt? Surely, the audience gets to see what's up HIS
sleeve, and a little bit more.
Lauren is the lucky one who removes targets from around
Jim's body. Audience members provide the "motor" -- hand-turning the Wheel. A
genuine crowd-pleaser, every second.