Feature

The human firecracker

When John Fletcher isn't playing bass guitar in his rock band, he wraps himself in firecrackers—and sets them off.

John Fletcher has an explosive pastime, says Carrie Porter in The Wall Street Journal. When not playing bass guitar in his rock band, he wraps himself in firecrackers—and sets them off. Fletcher has been doing his act for charity events and festivals in Michigan since 1999. First he dons a suit of body armor made of five layers of compressed leather and, if he remembers, puts in earplugs (“I’ve done it so many times, it’s not going to make a difference”). Then his assistants dress him in a leather vest and chaps, to which about 12,000 firecrackers have been duct-taped. With a flick of his Bic lighter, he’s in business. Fletcher’s firecracker fetish began when he attached 100 firecrackers to himself and blew them up to add excitement to his rock act. “That was pretty much a walk in the park. So I just kept adding more firecrackers.” Fletcher estimates he’s exploded more than 300,000 of them; along the way he’s suffered burned legs, a bruised kidney, and five broken ribs. He’s only 47, but he’s already thinking about retirement. “This takes a lot out of me. I can’t do this much longer. Everything tastes like firecrackers for a week.”

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