Featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Strongman Scroll Work
Chris Rider, better known by the strongman pseudonym “Haircules,” shapes cold metal into beautiful pieces of art with just his hands.
Rider’s strongman pursuits began after he ripped a phonebook in half the first time he tried it. He was immediately hooked on old-time strength feats. Rider has worked to bring the strongman craft into modern times. Today’s strongmen can be seen rolling frying pans into tubes, twisting drop-forged steel wrenches, bending metal spikes, curling iron bars, tearing full decks of playing cards, and ripping phone books apart.
His name comes from his ability to use his long red hair to pull trucks and airplanes, and to break chains. Bending coins and wrenches is common fare for Rider, but he’s also adept at scroll work. Scrollwork, bending iron into shape, has been a strongman art since the glory days of the carnival and vaudeville, with performers like the Mighty Atom renowned for their ability to take a piece of straight steel and bend it into loops with their strength.
While the ability to bend a long metal bar at the center indeed takes strength, the multiple tight bends of a piece of scroll work are far more difficult. Rider doesn’t just rely on his brute strength for his art, but uses traditional strongman techniques to use his body efficiently while bending an eight-foot piece of steel into a backpack-sized sculpture—all in the span of just a few minutes!