January 20, 2013
November 26, 2012
Q: What’s the Russian Suicide Chair, what’s it like to sit in, and why the hell did you do it?
HOPPER: You sit inside a circle of 20 sticks of dynamite. The explosion creates a vacuum, like the eye of a hurricane, inside. Dynamite won’t blow in on itself. But if three in a row don’t go off, you’ll be sucked out and killed. Also, you can’t raise your head above a certain level or it will be blown off. I asked a stunt daredevil named Ollie Anderson to set up my experience. I got into the middle and hoped like hell it worked. I had to hold my ears. I felt a little disoriented afterwards, but besides that I felt fine. I was alive.
I did it because I was at the end of a “run.” I was doing a Happening at Rice University, a show of my photographs and paintings. I set up a whole video situation so the audience couldn’t actually see me. After the presentation I told them if that if they wanted to see me in person, they had to be bussed to the Big H Drive-In Speedway outside of town where, in the Russian suicide chair, I was going to blow myself up after the auto race. I was also really mad. I thought there were people trying to make a hit on me because of various things that I’d been involved in; that this would be the perfect time for them to do it; that they could stop chasing me around and actually get rid of me. It would take care of everything very nicely. But … if I got through it, then obviously they were going to let me go.
Once, I’d wanted to start out “Easy Rider” with the suicide chair. Captain America would get in a tissue paper coffin designed like the American Flag. Billy would push the plunger and the explosion would suck off the American flag tissue paper. Then Peter would stand up and wave to the audience. The whole effect would establish us as trick riders in a carnival. Then we’d made the coke deal in Mexico and go to Mardi Gras. Later, I decided Hey, fuck it, I’m going to do it myself. So I did. I thought it was a good idea. I still think it is. Art on the edge. Put your life on the line.
Q: Is it better to burn out or fade away?
HOPPER: I like the direct cut.
In 1983 Dennis Hopper went to Rice University in Houston, Texas ostensibly to screen his latest film Out Of The Blue. But little known to anyone, other than Hopper and a handful of his buddies, he had another agenda entirely. While he did indeed screen his movie, Hopper had actually come to Houston to blow himself up.
After screening Out Of The Blue, Hopper arranged to have the audience driven by a fleet of school buses to a racetrack on the outskirts of Houston, the Big H Speedway. Hopper and the buses arrived at the speedway just as the races were ending and a voice was announcing over the public address system “stick around folks and watch a famous Hollywood film personality perform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act. That’s right, folks, he’ll sit in a chair with six sticks of dynamite and light the fuse.”
Was famous Hollywood personality Dennis Hopper about to go out with a bang?
Hopper apparently learned this stunt when he was a kid after seeing it performed in a traveling roadshow. If you place the dynamite pointing outwards the explosion creates a vacuum in the middle and the person performing the stunt is, if all goes according to plan, unharmed.
After bullshitting for awhile with the crowd and his friends, a drunk and stoned Hopper climbed into the “death chair’ and lit the dynamite.
Rice News correspondent describes the scene:
Dennis Hopper, at one with the shock wave, was thrown headlong in a halo of fire. For a single, timeless instant he looked like Wile E. Coyote, frazzled and splayed by his own petard. Then billowing smoke hid the scene. We all rushed forward, past the police, into the expanding cloud of smoke, excited, apprehensive, and no less expectant than we had been before the explosion. Were we looking for Hopper or pieces we could take home as souvenirs? Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again. At the moment, though, none of that mattered. He had been through the thunder, the light, and the heat, and he was still in one piece. And when Dennis Hopper staggered out of that cloud of smoke his eyes were glazed with the thrill of victory and spinout.
September 28, 2012
May 22, 2012
i’ve watched this video 420 times.
March 19, 2012
November 20, 2011
make sure your lil nephews & nieces aren’t around