The photo shoot I did a while back of my friend Brian proved just how capricious the photo gods are. Now, you wouldn't think it'd be difficult to take a shot of a man who eats fire and cracks jokes for a living, because he's used to having a camera pointed at him more than almost anyone else I know. And you might also assume that he can light things on fire like a pro, because, well, he is one. And if you know me at all, you might also know my superpower of lighting fires — even in a pouring rain, I can get a fire going. (I'm damn handy to take on camping trips.) The two of us should have put a pyromaniac to shame.
But noooo… that pesky science got in the way.
I'd originally wanted Brian to look as if he were drinking the fire from the Mason jar. Seems simple enough — pour fuel in heat-proof glass jar, light fuel, raise jar to mouth, press shutter, and call it a day. However, we rapidly discovered that if you only pour a little fuel inside a deep jar, it doesn't get enough oxygen to catch light and burn. Hey, what do you want from us? We're artists, not chemists.
So we added more fuel. Still not enough air.
Even more fuel. No love.
So MORE fuel is surely the answer, right?!
Eventually we'd added enough fuel to make Brian veto even trying to light it on fire, for fear the glass jar would explode when hot. Since 1 — he's the fire professional, and 2 — it was his face the jar was near, I allowed as how he might have a point.
After some thought, we came up with the idea of adding water to the fuel in the jar, in the hopes of bringing the fuel closer to the opening of the jar, and thus the air. This wasn't a bad idea, except for the water mixing with the fuel (lighter fluid, for the curious), which made it difficult to light. Wiser heads probably should've called it a night and left it alone, but now we had a grudge match against this fuel.
Brian came up with the idea of adding alcohol to our concoction, and that did the trick — a spectacular tower of flame erupted from the jar. Which looked awesome, but meant I had to scrap my original idea of having him drink fire from the jar, thanks to our chemistry experiment.
So instead, I settled for having him sit just holding the jar, and started praying to the photo gods that they'd reward our persistence (and stupidity) by giving me a shot.