Physics Instructor Lies on Bed of Nails While Motorcyclists Jump Over His Body

Jason Thomas’ alter ego, Burnaby Q. Orbax, breaks 22nd Guinness World Record as part of Monsters of Schlock sideshow

Jason Thomas or Burnaby Q. Orbax of the Monsters of Schlock

Jason Thomas, a.k.a. Burnaby Q. Orbax

The Monsters of Schlock have broken another Guinness World Record — No. 22 to be exact, which involved a stunt involving a bed of nails and 50 motorcyclists.

Earlier this month, Jason Thomas booked off three weeks from his full-time job as a U of G physics instructor and headed to the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. There, his alter ego Burnaby Q. Orbax has performed three shows a day along with his twin brother, Sweet Pepper Klopek (a registered name), in their vaudevillian stunt show described as Looney Tunes meets the Three Stooges. It’s their eighth annual appearance at the exhibition and will culminate with a Halloween performance.

This year’s show-stopper was their latest record-breaking attempt: Thomas laid on a bed of nails while 50 motorcyclists took turns jumping over his body.

The previous record was 31 jumps for the stunt. “We’re just all in to decimate these records,” says Thomas, B.Sc. ’00 and M.Sc. ’02. They did so, with 70 jumps recorded in two minutes.

The 2014 edition of Guinness World Records featured the duo six times, including the most baking trays buckled over the head (55) by a team of two. They’re also mentioned in Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Niagara Falls, where Klopek lives.

For their most recent record-breaker this past summer, the twins teamed up with Arizona inventor Ray Webb. A retired electrical engineer, Webb built the world’s largest tattoo machine, about the size of an office desk. Thomas used the machine at the Hell City Tattoo Convention in Phoenix to inscribe a design on his brother’s thigh in 30 minutes.

For that feat — and an earlier tattooing stunt performed while the brothers rode a roller coaster — Thomas calls himself “the world’s most extreme tattooer.”

He sports his own share of professionally done tattoos. The depiction of a hammer and nails on the back of his right hand is a nod to another record-breaking stunt: hammering the most four-inch-long nails in and out of his nasal cavity (13) in 30 seconds.

He holds another record for towing a 9,000-pound truck using two shark hooks in his back. Klopek has a record for springing 47 mouse traps on his tongue.

Rather than looking to set endurance records, they’re the sprinters of the stunt world, aiming to perform rapid-fire feats within a minute or so.

“They’ve all worked out well, no major problems,” says Thomas. “It all seems really dangerous to people, but it’s a level of danger we’re trained to do.”

For a physics instructor, there’s even something instructive about all the mayhem.

In an episode filmed this summer for Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, Thomas discusses how the linear drive shaft works in the giant tattoo machine.

You find physics principles everywhere, he says. That applies whether it’s Orbax inserting hooks into his forearms to lift a 45-kilogram weight or Thomas explaining to a first-year class how a figure skater uses conservation of angular momentum to speed up or slow down during a spin.

“For a subject people consider boring, it explains so much about the world around them,” says Thomas.

He began teaching as a sessional instructor on campus in 2009, and currently teaches two introductory courses to a total of about 2,300 students.

The brothers’ vaudeville show is especially popular with university and college crowds. They’ve performed across Canada and in Europe. Says Thomas: “I enjoy playing to British audiences because they get the jokes.”