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Spotlight Iowa City: A delicate balance

BY TRAVIS VARNER | OCTOBER 08, 2009 7:20 AM

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Kenny Weets analyzed the 20-pound cardinal-red chair he was about to balance on his chin.

He picked up the object, cautiously. He observed the distribution of its weight. He lifted it, slowly, until one of the dense metal legs reached his chin.

Then, moving his arms away, the chair perched there, on his face, for five seconds. Six seconds. Seven seconds. Wiggling. Shaking. Weets shifted his weight, moving beneath the suspended seat to account for the opposing force: gravity. After seven seconds, it dropped into Weets’ arms.

For this UI senior, balancing various items atop his face is nothing new.

At 6, Weets taught himself how to engage in this curious hobby after seeing some perform the stunts on talent shows.

“It all started when I was a child,” the stocky, 23-year-old Filipino said. “It was from all these random things on TV, circus things, or magic shows. It looked easy, and I tried it.”

Weets recalled the first time he ever attempted the stunt. He was bored, raking leaves at his mother’s request. He looked at the rake, and tried it out.

Developing the talent through the years, Weets has since mastered the ability to balance microphone stands, stepladders, yardsticks, rakes, shovels, and even a classroom desk.

First-year graduate student Andrew Stessman recalled the first time Weets balanced a broom on his chin.

“What the heck is he doing, and why is he doing this?” Stessman remembered wondering. “He was really giddy and excited about it, and just started moving to bigger and bigger objects.”

Weets’ sister, Melissa Weets, 22, said she thinks the talent is cool, but as the objects gradually increase, so does her fear.

“When he moved to chairs, I thought he was being stupid,” Melissa Weets said. “I worried they would probably fall on his face.”

Surprisingly, Kenny Weets has never succumbed to injury while performing the stunt.

“Once in a while a chair … like the leg will be a little too round and my chin will get a little moist, and it will just slide off,” Weets said. “I would catch it and bump it on my arm, [but] no broken teeth, no cuts, no scrapes.”

Weets said he rarely practices, and it only takes him about a week, or a couple of 10-minute sessions, to master a new object.

The communication-studies major has advice for those who want to balance a new hobby into their schedules: Feet must be shoulder-width apart, and a stiff back is required. Head must be straight back, and equilibrium between tension and relaxation is crucial.

Despite the entertainment factor, Weets said he would never perform on a variety or talent show.

“You are not going to see me on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ ” Weets said. “It’s just for fun.”


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