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AN INTERVIEW WITH A GUY IN A WHEELCHAIR

With a few exceptions, people in wheelchairs generally tend to stay on the ground. Getting thrown into mosh pits and crowd surfing on top of gigantic crowds of people at metal festivals isn't the type of behavior most people think of when they think of the chair-bound. Ivor, however, has become something of a legend in the metal community over the last 12 years for doing just those things. Fucking metal.

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So you're the guy that flies around in a wheelchair at festivals. How do you get up there anyway?
Ivor: Well, I just ask some people if they want to lift me and before you know it I'm in the air heading towards the stage. My first time was in '98 at Stonehenge Festival. I always go to metal festivals because there's enough big, tough guys walking around at them to lift me up. I've been doing it for 12 years now. Only at outdoor festivals though, indoors I end up slamming into the light construction.

The first time you did this, did you want to go crowdsurfing or were you thrown into the air by others?
I had a few beers and really wanted to do it, and the next thing I knew I was in the air.

What do people say after you've finished your flight?
Usually something pretty cliché actually, like, "that was very cool." Bands sometimes stop playing during their performance, or they forget their lines. A singer once came up to me and said, "I've never seen anything like that in 25 years."

Have you ever been invited to a show as a support act?
Well, there was a band that asked, but I refused. If I had been single, I think I would have done it.

When you're up in the air, do you spin your wheels to simulate driving over people's heads?
No, I hold my wheels actually. When I fall back I manage to regain myself in a normal sitting position by holding them. By balancing myself the crowdsurfing will last longer and that's my goal--staying up there as long as possible.

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Have you ever tried to drive from the stage for a kind of stage dive crowd surf?
Technically, that's not possible. There's usually a free space of two meters between the public and the stage for security and to make sure other stage divers make a soft landing. At Stonehenge the security always helps me get back to the audience after they've pushed me towards the stage.

How many injuries have you caused?
I haven't wounded anybody. It's more likely somebody has suffered a nosebleed by someone else's elbow or something.

Have you ever injured yourself?
Never. I did fall out of my wheelchair once. My wheelchair went to the left and I was pushed to the right. Eventually I got it back somewhere near the stage. People were pushing it in my direction. In '99 I surfed on top of an audience of 5000 people. I enjoyed every second. The security saw me and asked if I was OK, but I was having so much fun. Then they gave me a T-shirt. Actually, in '99, I did get a black eye.

Do you fall out of your chair often? How do you manage to stay in anyway?
If I fall out or not depends on the people below me. If one of them slips or stumbles then my chances of falling are much bigger. If they stay in balance things will be fine.

Do you seduce a lot of women with your performance?
I don't think I've ever seduced anyone with my crowdsurfing. Whenever a girl has liked me it was for other reasons. People do give me a beer quit often though.

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Besides your flight performance, any other tricks?
Until two years ago I went into moshpits. They pushed me into the pit and the others had to avoid me. It's a sport you know. And when you're finished and still alive, you go again.

Do people ever make fun of you because you're in a wheelchair?
They once tried to remove the wheels while I was still in the chair, but that was more in a playful manner. There were no mean intentions. In general, I know how to take revenge.

It's useless to ask you if you see your disability as an obstacle for a festival visit, right?
Small festivals are OK. At big festivals, you're always in search of the toilet. When you finally find one, it's too late. In festivals in a meadow I get stuck in the mud after an hour of rain.

These toilets, how often is it you don't make it in time?
At every festival I immediately check where the toilets are, so I know where I'll need to go. Also, I'll use the fences around the festival site if I think the toilets are too far. And yes, it has gone wrong in the past. Imagine being on your way to the toilet and tripping over something. So I always have clean clothes with me.

Have you ever peed your pants when you got stuck in the mud because of the rain?
There's always cool people around who help me through the mud.

Is there anything else you'd like to see at a festival for people in wheelchairs?
Yeah--do something about the toilets. I don't necessarily have to sit on the front of the stage. I will only end up with a stiff neck. And when there's a wheelchair platform, stick a restroom nearby, that would be convenient. In some areas with grass or mud it would be nice if there were some wooden planks wheelchair users can use to cross.

INTERVIEW BY ALICE SOUGUIR
PHOTO BY MIRA BORN