Bellingham performance artist will go for grotesque world record

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 7, 2012 

JUSTIN THERRIEN

Demonstrating the technique, Justin Therrien, aka JustinCredible, pulls tubing/string through his nose and mouth on Friday, April 27, 2012 in Bellingham. Therrien will attempt to break the world record of 19 feet, 6.6 inches.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

On May 15, if all goes well, Justin Therrien of Bellingham will set a new world record.

It won't be official until photographs and video footage of his accomplishment, along with affidavits signed by witnesses, are sent to Guinness World Records for verification. That shouldn't be a problem, because Therrien is serious, organized and confident about his quest.

The record he aspires to break is both simple to understand and mind-numbing to contemplate: "Longest string passed through the nose and mouth in one minute."

Asked why he's seeking such a record, Therrien offered a rather formal reply: "The dignity and the pride of being the best at something in the world."

There's another reason: It's what he does.

To many people, Justin Therrien is more familiar by his stage name, JustinCredible. Known for his sometimes grotesque sideshow acts, he performs at public markets, birthday parties and other gatherings. He even has his own troupe, the JustinCredible Sideshow, complete with a good-size tent and plans to take his show on the road.

Therrien, 28, has skirted the mainstream ever since he was a kid in a small town east of Los Angeles.

"I like the strange and the unusual," he said.

Early on, he got into punk rock and looked the part with tattoos, body piercings and a bright-green mohawk. These days, his appearance is much more standard - short reddish hair, casual clothes - save for his shiny nose ring.

As a young man he lived in a backyard treehouse for a while before hitching rides up the coast about six years ago to stay with a friend in Oak Harbor. The sounds of Seattle grunge music played in his head and the beauty of the Northwest cemented his newfound love for the area.

"It was way better than the suburbs of Southern California," he said.

Therrien's friend moved away, but he stayed, living in Anacortes and Alger before moving to Bellingham last summer. While in Anacortes he would juggle as he pedaled a unicycle - two skills he learned in California - so it seemed natural that he would hear about the Bellingham Circus Guild, a group of people who teach and perform circus skills.

Therrien joined a juggling club and began expanding his repertoire. He now eats light bulbs, and he lies on a bed of nails while a colleague breaks a cement block on his chest, among other tricks.

While being interviewed at a downtown coffee shop, he casually inserted the stem of a spoon fully up one nostril. His eyes didn't even water.

Therrien also swallows swords. To do that, he studied anatomy, researched the trick, learned to repress his gag reflex, and conferred with a sword swallower from Seattle.

"It's the real thing," he said. "It's dull, but it's still sharp enough to injure you."

Therrien figures the nose-and-mouth string record is right up his nasal alley because of several tricks he already performs.

In one trick, he acts surprised to find a piece of deflated balloon barely visible in a nostril. He tugs on it and commences to extract numerous colored balloons tied in a row.

In another trick, he inserts a tube up his nose and pulls it out from the back of his mouth. Once enough length of tube extends from both his nose and his mouth, assistants hold each end taut while Therrien runs back and forth as the tube slides through his head.

He calls that trick "mental floss."

WORLD RECORD

The current nose-and-mouth string record is 19 feet, 6.6 inches. Luo Yan of China set the mark last March on an Italian TV show that specializes in such endeavors.

Luo Yan used a rubber tube 6 millimeters in diameter. Therrien plans to use latex tubing, instead of string.

"Twine might be a little bit chafing," he explained.

The latex tubing comes in 25-foot sections. Therrien plans to tie several together, with the hope of shattering the record.

"The knots slow you down a little bit," he added.

According to the rules, the tubing can sit in water until it's time to start.

"I thought it'd be funny to do it with spaghetti sauce," said Therrien, who is known for leavening his stunts with humor. "It looks like a long noodle."

RECORD ATTEMPT

What: Justin Therrien, aka JustinCredible, attempts the world record for "longest string passed through the nose and mouth in one minute."

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.

Where: Bellingham Circus Guild's Vaudevillingham show, at Depot Market Square.

Admission: Free, donations encouraged.

Guild details: bellinghamcircusguild.com.

Reach DEAN KAHN atdean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2291.

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