Jack Lepiarz is going to take a crack at setting a Guinness world record. Well, not Jack exactly, but his alter ego, Jacques Ze Whipper.
The 27-year-old Emerson grad and reporter for WBUR grew up in a circus family — his father was a clown with the Big Apple Circus. Jack has been performing since he was 6, and this fall marks his eighth season at King Richard’s Faire in Carver.
Each weekend, Jack puts down his reporter’s notebook, picks up his whip, and heads for the Renaissance fair where he transforms into Jacques Ze Whipper for six shows a day.
Flaming whips, bad puns, sassy attitude, songs — yes, he takes requests! — are all part of the act. There’s a badly drawn-on mustache and a worse French accent.
The record he will be attempting to set on Sept. 19 is for most bullwhip cracks in one minute with one hand (currently 257). He spoke to us recently while he was traveling to Carver and the 80-acre site that has been the home of King Richard’s Faire for 34 years.
Q. With so many cracks so fast, how do you possibly count?
A. When you are actually attempting it, you can’t count every one. What I will do is count every other one so I get a sense of where I’m at. It will give me a rough estimate. We have to record it [on video] so we get an exact count.
Q. So is there some person from Guinness driving around the country counting whip cracks?
A. There won’t be a Guinness adjudicator on site. You let Guinness know that you are going to do this; they tell you the criteria you need to follow in order to break it, and then what you do is record it and you send it to them.
Q. How do you prepare for something like this?
A. All of the rules are from Guinness. The whip has to be a certain length, the handle has to be a certain length. It takes a lot of muscle and I’m going to have to switch hands in the middle of it, maybe more than once so that I make sure my arm doesn’t fall off.
Q. How much is strength and how much is technique?
A. The forearms you can work with the whip all day and you’ll get great forearm muscles, but the triceps you actually have to take a dumbbell and do those reps, which I hate to do. I hate going to the gym, but for this I’m doing it.
Q. Where did the idea of the Guinness record come from?
A. This is something I’ve known about probably for six or seven years. I think I was 20 and thinking about breaking this record, and that sort of got shelved for a little while. The guy who holds this record [Adam Winrich], he has something like 16 Guinness records for whipping. The reason I’m going for this one is because this is one of maybe two or three that I think I can actually break. The record with two whips, I’m never, never going to get anywhere near.
Q. What don’t people understand about cracking a bullwhip? Could I pick up a bullwhip today and crack it by accident, or do you need years of training?
A. You probably could. Cracking a whip is actually not that hard. What I actually found most difficult when I was learning is cracking it and not hitting yourself.