It's actually called "highlining" and while it may look completely nuts to you and me, it's an extreme sport popular with lots of adrenaline junkies. (You may know it best from the documentary about Philippe Petit called Man on Wire). A woman named Faith Dickey from Texas—pause for WOO-HOO HOME STATE break—holds a record for this sport and TLG Magazine recently got a pretty interesting interview with her.
TLG asked Dickey about the Volvo commercial, seen above, which now has more than nine million views:
F: It was kind of random. Even though I held the female world record throughout the first three years that I was highlining, nobody really acknowledged it or really seemed to notice my achievements. Any publication that covered highlining tended to talk about the men's records and it just so happened that the idea for the Volvo commercial came about and they were looking for a female highliner. At first they called me and asked if I thought it would be possible to carry out the stunt and I was like, 'Sure, let's try it!' The idea behind the commercial was to demonstrate the precision of the trucks and with it being Volvo we were working with; safety is one of the things they always promote. So the stunt definitely was far safer than what I do in my free time. Anything that could have gone wrong with that commercial would have been caused by my own stupidity or having a sudden Charley Horse in the middle of the shoot. Despite the safety measures that were taken, I think it still looked really crazy to the paramedics who were on standby because they'd never seen anything like it before. It felt more like a stunt or performance than it did a normal highlining experience.
Yeah that's great, but how do you handle being ABSOLUTELYFUCKINGTERRIFIED OMG because you are walking on a teeny wire between two things way the fuck up in the air, lady?
It's not an easy thing to be in control of, but highlining, for me, is the best example of how to control fear. I definitely think fear is biological, I don't it is something we can ever be totally rid of but we can definitely be logical about it. I also believe that panic never serves anyone well. I had this really awful car accident about a month and a half ago when I was driving home to Texas to see my family for Thanksgiving and my car slid on ice, causing it to crash into a wall and flip over and roll. The period of time in which the accident took place felt really long and so I had time to think. My first reaction when I felt I was sliding (I was driving around 70mph at the time) was to think, 'fuck! fuck! fuck! I'm out of control!' Everyone talks about how your life flashes before your eyes and maybe it was my highline training but I just realised that I had no control over the situation, I thought; I might die. It crossed my mind that I might be in a hospital after the accident or I might not even be around…but it felt like total acceptance. I completely relaxed and let the accident happen, and I was fine. I walked away. My car was totally destroyed but I had very minor injuries.
So the media calls people like her adrenaline junkies. I call her awesomely insane, but that's splitting hairs. What has she to say about that?
F: Well, I've met a lot of base jumpers and base jumping was something I had thought about pursuing but have since changed my mind because it is so high risk. Many of the base jumpers I've talked to don't seem to have the same kind of self-reflective, self-transformational experiences from base jumping that highliners have from highlining. A lot of the base jumpers that I've been around tend to like to party and do coke, they're very extreme! Base is almost like a drug for them, it's like they're self medicating rather than doing it for the self-reflective aspect. Because Base is so high risk I often wonder if jumpers become somehow desensitized to death and injuries when they experience their friends ill fates so frequently. I would tend to say the pursuit of adrenaline entirely depends on the person, and since I am not a base jumper much of this is speculation, however this term adrenaline junkie doesn't fit to my own experiences of highlining.
Dickey says she believes in the idea of positive energy. "For example I've hitchhiked in Europe a lot and that experience really proved to me that when I started to feel negative, I would wait a really long time. But if I stayed positive, most often someone would always pick me up."
HITCHHIKED. Forget walking on a rope between two giant, speeding big rigs; we all know how godawful the end result of hitchhiking can be.
I happen to love her irrationally. And I swear it's not because she's another fabulous, fearless, badass Texas lady.
The full interview is here.