I’m not sure when I started getting bored of going downtown all the time, but it was within the past two to five years. The occasional person that I would see didn’t really make it worthwhile to go down there, but I have this super funny friend named Aaron who always has something interesting going on. The only reason I would go down there was to run into him and hope he had just been doing something no one else had ever done, or for sure never had as much fun doing.
One time I saw him and he told me he woke up in a field that morning without his wallet, and the last thing he remembered was talking shit at the Jackalope[bar.] He wasn’t even upset about it.
Somehow he got invited to some giant party at a castle out in the middle of nowhere.
Another time I saw him and he had just run into a woman carrying around a raccoon. He showed me a picture of her cradling it in her arms like a baby, and I thought it was adorable. Then he explained to me that the raccoon was dead.
Basically Aaron always has something going on, so when I realized that I hadn’t seen him in awhile I texted him one night and said ‘Hey! I miss you! Where are you?’
He responded with ‘I’ve been on tour with this daredevil crew getting set on fire for the past few months.’
He didn’t make it sound like it was a big deal, and to be honest I wasn’t even surprised. My response was ‘Of course you are. Get in touch when you get back home.’ Why no exclamation points? Because having known Aaron for awhile, it was as if he had said he was visiting family somewhere.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe it or wasn’t interested; it was because I KNEW it was true and that he would give me details when he got back to Austin.
A few weeks later I got this cryptic text from him: ‘show up in front of Club Deville at 10:15pm. At 10:30 get back as far as you can.’
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to follow those directions regardless of who sends them. I might have thought a little bit more about it if it wasn’t from Aaron, but it was him so I didn’t question it.
A bunch of us walked down to Club Deville to see what was up. We knew what was going to happen but had never seen it done yet. I’m not sure how to describe watching one of your friends get set on fire and then run down the street. There was of course the initial ‘Oh my god! This is crazy dangerous!!’ reaction. Then of course there was the inevitable ‘Oh my fucking god, that was so fucking awesome!!’ reaction. Then there were the after effects of smelling gasoline which made the whole night spectacular.
Since then I’ve seen Aaron get set on fire and race people on foot (coined the ‘Hell Race’ by Aaron,) do a jump in a car that ended in an explosion, ride in a school bus that was racing another bus that eventually flipped over and caught on fire, set himself on fire in my parking lot for my neighbor’s four year old kid’s birthday, and then again just because my friend Blaine was here visiting.
I’ve been meaning to write this interview for months, but this is perfect timing because Aaron has some cool stuff coming up in September that I’d like to help him get the word out about.
I hung out with Aaron the other night and while we ate pork chops I asked him some questions about his new hobby.
Me: When and where were you born?
Aaron: March 22, 1980 in Valdosta Georgia, about a ½ hour outside of Florida.
Me: That explains a lot.
Aaron: What does that mean?
Me: Nothing. So I’m curious if you have a team of people helping you do this stuff? If so where did you find them, and what are the qualifications for being on the team?
Aaron: So far it‘s me and my friend Rooster that I met a couple of years back. Anytime I need a stunt done he’s always there on top of shit. He’s always got my back. As far as the qualifications for future team members, they have to be able to drop whatever they’re doing and be ready. They have to be all in at a moment’s notice.
Me: So currently you have Rooster as your only team member?
Aaron: Yes. For right now, yes.
Me: What stunts have you done, and which ones do you plan to do in the future?
Aaron: I’ve jumped a car into a stack of cars. I’ve gotten into a bus and rolled it, then blew it up. I’ve been lit on fire about 46 times in the last year. Stunts I want to try in the future? Any of them. Anything. I actually want to jump a bus into something! I really want to do that!
Me: What about some kind of tightrope thing?
Aaron: Over the Grand Canyon?
Me: Where are you doing this stuff? I know a bunch of us saw you at the Thunderhill Speedway last year.
Aaron: Yeah, that was pretty fucked up. I didn’t find out until later that the announcer was telling people that if they were scared of seeing death or injury they needed to leave the bleachers immediately. Meanwhile, I’m in a car with no roll cage getting ready to do a jump into a stack of cars. I’m glad I didn’t hear that.
Me: That was SUPER fucked up. I was like ‘Well, I’m going to be here to watch my friend either completely pull this off, or I’m going to be here to watch my friend totally fuck it up and I’ll see him die. Either way, I’m not leaving.’
Aaron: Yeah, I had NO idea they were telling people to leave if they didn’t want to see someone die. That was pretty fucked up. Fuck. Anyway, I do stuff at racetracks usually because they have insurance and shit. I do parties..I’m getting ready to do Evel Knievel days. I just do the stunts to do them. I got invited to Torque Fest in Dubuque, Iowa.
Me: Did you say ‘Twerk Fest?’
Me: I could have sworn you said ‘Twerk Fest’ and that wouldn’t have surprised me at all!
Aaron: Fuck yeah! I’d light that shit up!
Me: What influenced you to do something like this? I know that you had told me awhile ago that when you were a kid you wanted to do it. I’m assuming it was when you were a little kid, right? Most little boys want to become dare devils, but you’re actually doing it as an adult. What in the hell possessed you?
Aaron: When I was about 16 I got into my first car accident. It wasn’t some minor accident, either. We had come around this 90 degree corner doing about 80 miles per hour, and we slid out of control into a fence. We went down the fence front to back, end over end all the way down, and then we all had to climb out of my passenger side. We got out of the car and I was the only one that said ‘Holy shit! We should steal my mom’s car and do that again!! That shit was amazing!!’ About a month after that I was in another car accident where we were going down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. The kid driving was drunk so I asked him ‘Hey, man. Are you alright to drive?’ Right when he said ‘Man, I’ve NEVER been in an accident’ we hit a ditch, and we flipped. I was on the roof one minute, and then we landed back on the wheels. After that we had to walk about five miles to my mom’s house and act like we hadn’t just been in a wreck. I had to play it off like we had been walking by choice. I came up with some lame excuse that we had found a car that we were hanging out by and hoped someone would come by and give us a ride. It was the dumbest excuse I could come up with, but I was 16. What the hell, you know?
Me: What about influences? I would think the most obvious one would be Evel Knievel, huh?
Aaron: I knew who he was, but I honestly never followed anyone doing this stuff, or followed anyone doing stunts until I actually wanted to do it.
Me: So basically you being a crazy teenager involved in major car wrecks is what motivated you to grow up and want to be in major car wrecks for fun? The adrenaline rush?
Aaron: Yeah. Pretty much! I was like ‘Man, THAT was fucking FUN.’ I have my own style of doing stunts. I got taught by one guy, but now I do stuff crazier than he or anybody else who ever showed me stuff ever does, so that’s cool. I’m the first guy to ever do certain things and it’s kind of cool that no one has ever done it.
Me: I’ve always wanted to know what you feel like before you do these stunts. What exactly is going through your mind?
Aaron: Before I do it…I feel like it has to be done, no matter what. No matter how I’m feeling, it’s getting done. I really don’t think about it. It’s just ‘you’re going to do it. It’s going to be fine. Whatever. It’s going to happen.’ And when I’m actually doing it, it just feels normal. I’m not scared, I don’t have butterflies. Just normal. It’s weird to say, but it’s just normal. Like waking up in the morning.
Me: What are you hoping to do in the future with all of this activity?
Aaron: I’ve never really thought of it, because to me it’s just a hobby. I don’t want to do it full time, or do movies or anything like that. I’ve talked to other daredevils who say they would love to work with me doing stuff in the future, and that’s a really good feeling. I don’t need to be on tv or in the movies. I don’t give a fuck about that. I’m fucking famous in my own head! I don’t need no bullshit like that! I’ve done a whole lot of crazy shit in this town, so I’ve got stories and shit!’
Me: Yeah, I always wondered what exactly you were trying to do with all of this. If you were looking to make a career out of it, and whatnot.
Aaron: Not really. I would like to be a Guinness World Record holder or something like that. I think that would be cool if someone had to attempt to top that. But other than that I don’t really strive to be the best or anything like that. It’s just fun.
Me: This might surprise people a little, but I know you’ve been managing to use your hobby to benefit charities. I’m honestly surprised myself. I was pretty sure you were just doing this to shock and amaze us drunks.
Aaron: One of the things I’ve been doing is setting myself on fire for some charities lately. One is the Austin Toy Fair this guy Austin does once or twice a year.
(At this point Aaron said something to me about Star Wars, and I had no idea what he was talking about. Something about toys and Stormtroopers. I didn’t get clarification because well, you know, I don’t care about that stuff. The important thing I got out of it is that it’s part of the ‘Make a Wish Foundation.’)
Aaron continued: The other one is called ‘Project Awareness’ which is for kids with autism. Soon I’ll be posing for a male pin-up calendar. I haven’t figured out what we’re going to be using it for. I wanted to do it for kids, but then somebody said we should do it for some kind of women’s charity since being pin-ups is kind of a girl thing to do.
Me: What are some of your other interests? Besides girls. We all know you’re a charmer. What else do you get up to when you’re not doing a bunch of weird shit?
Aaron: Wait. What? Besides girls? (There’s a super long silence on my recorder. It’s pretty funny.) Uhm. Ah… oh right. Making my skateboard decks….(more silence while he watches tv)
Aaron: (More tv watching)….Oh. Yeah. I just actually designed two skateboard decks, and I’d love to do more in the future. Let’s see…what else..my dog Sweet Pea…
I’m still working at the tattoo convention
I don’t know. All kinds of stuff. I’ve been booking bands, all kinds of cool shit. I’m happy now, and in a really good place.
Me: Last question. What in the fuck does your family think about you doing all of this stunt stuff?
Aaron: They think it’s cool. I’m not one of those people that calls their parents every day to tell them the slightest thing.
Me: Oh, you mean people like me?
Aaron: Exactly. I’ll send my mom a text saying something like ‘Hey, mom. Getting ready to get lit on fire.’ And she’ll say something moms say like ‘Oh god, be careful! Wear a sweater!’
She’s pretty cool. She knows I’m wild as hell, and she worries a lot but she knows I can take care of myself. I tell her not to worry because that’s when I get hurt. I tell that to everyone. ‘Don’t worry about me because that’s when I get hurt.’ It’s like a jinx.
Aaron will be at the release of the skate decks he designed for Born Loco Skate Company (http://www.bornlocoskate.com/) on September the 21st at The Gypsy Lounge, 1504 E 6th St Austin, TX. Pasadena Napalm Division and Dead Horse will be playing as well as being presented with their own custom decks designed by Aaron. Blood Royale will also be playing that night.
If you need to reach Aaron because you feel the need to see/or set him on fire, contact him at email@example.com