On December 3, 1983, Georges Christen bent in half 250 eight-inch
iron nails (and 7mm width) astonishing a whole country in the process.
Nowadays, 250 nails are child's play for the Luxembourg-born Christen.
He doesn't even use gloves anymore. He's one of the leading strongmen
in the Guiness Book of World Records.
In 1989 he bent 368 eight-inch nails and tore through a stack of
120 playing cards, breaking his own record.
With only his teeth, he can keep a Cessna Sport plane from taking
off. His teeth have also pulled trucks, busses, railroad cars, horse-drawn
wagons, and ships. At Luxembourg's famous Schobermesse he made a huge
Ferris wheel turn - again, with his teeth.
Despite all his records, his ability to rip in half 1,344-page telephone
books and break iron chains with his teeth, Georges Christen remains
a likable young man.
Where did all this nail-bending start?
Like many things in life, says Christen, you get a crazy idea, and
it takes on a life of its own. He was already bending nails as a teenager
- smaller nails, that is.
One day he saw a man on French television who bent 50 nails, setting
a record. "I can do better than that," he told himself,
setting himself a goal of bending 75. After a bit of training, the
man who was always getting caught up in crazy ideas launched his career
by bending 250 nails in 73 minutes.
Nails, playing cards, telephone books
In 1984 he improved his record in Austria and bent 269 nails in one
hour. At the same time, he beat another record set by his countryman
John Grün at the turn of the century. Instead of 104 playing
cards, he tore through 110. Then in 1985 at the Berlin Funkaustelling
he made it through 115. The result of his latest feat of tearing through
120 cards can be seen in the Guiness World Record museum in London.
How did he get the idea of tearing cards? Quite simply, he just wanted
to try. He tore through his first deck of 55 at the first go. Then
he tried 50, then 60, 70, 80, until he finally got his record.
At that point he had to set himself a new goal. Having turned his
hobby into a profession, he couldn't run the risk of boring his audience
with the same old tricks. So he turned to ripping apart telephone
books. Since then, he has gone through thousands. It's no problem
to rip ten or more at one session. "Too bad there's nothing thicker,"
says Christen disappointedly. "There's only the 'Larousse' French
dictionary, but it would be a shame to rip apart such a precious book,
and besides, it would be too expensive in the long run."
The railroad car
Again, not to tire his audience, he came up with a new idea, simultaneously
ripping apart a 1,344-page phone book, while breaking an iron chain
linked between his teeth and his feet. The hard part was concentrating
on both tasks at the same time. But a professional is a professional.
The next step was even more crazy. On August 18, 1985, he pulled
a 22-ton railroad car 110 yards - with his teeth. Just to prove he
wasn't pulling the car downhill, he pulled it back in the other direction
as well. Asked if the feat wasn't too dangerous, he said that he'd
never risk life or limb just for a record.
Hot water bottles and Cessnas
What he does find dangerous, though, is blowing up hot water bottles
until they burst. He needs 40 seconds and a lot of air. He has to
make sure that the compressed air doesn't rush back into his lungs.
The pressure would tear them apart. But of course, Christen masters
this trick as well has he does his others. When he is doing this stunt,
it is as interesting to watch the faces in the audience as it is to
watch him actually doing it, because while waiting for the explosion,
some forget to breathe, or they'll drop their glass of beer.
But the ultimate feat came in September, 1987, when Christen made
the whole world stand up and take notice: he stopped a fully-revved
110-horsepower Cessna plane from taking off - with his teeth.
The bed of nails
Christen says the most difficult thing of all is ripping apart playing
cards, because their small size gives him no real grip.
To learn a new trick, the most important things one needs are skill
and perseverance. But he manages to learn them in a short time.
His next trick was to lay shirtless on a bed of nails with someone
smashing a 440-lb. block of granite on his chest.
Now, Christen is enjoying overseas fame, with an appearance on Japanese
During an anniversary performance at a circus, Christen bit into
the side of a table and carried it with his teeth into the ring. But
that's not all. A young lady was sitting on it. He pulled a 13-ton
bus over 55 yards. He also held in his teeth a bridge over which 250
walked across in succession.
The amazing feats of strength continue: with both arms and his teeth
he kept three Cessna planes from taking off. In 1991 Christen pulled
a 100-ton ship 100 yards upstream. Finally, he turned a 65-ton 150-foot
high Ferris Wheel with his teeth.
Georges Christen has set 16 records. He is able to lift a 220-lb
barrel 120 times in seven minutes. He pulls water skiers along a river,
sits on a horse-drawn wagon and hauls the horses with his teeth, lies
on shards of glass with a 2,200-lb. weight on his body.
He has become a well-known performer with his Powershow in Europe,
America and Asia.
He speaks fluent English, French, German and of course the language
of his native Luxembourg. There, he is a national hero. He still has
many plans, and without doubt will fulfill them all.
But Christen is known not only for his strength, but also for his
easy-going, humble manner. You won't find another like him on the
face of the earth.
But does he still enjoy it?
You bet he does. His unusual profession was, is, and will stay his
passion, and he can't imagine a life without it. Christen has never
done any muscle training, and doesn't think much of bodybuilding.
He does not take anabolic steroids, protein or vitamin supplements,
and since 1986, has been a vegetarian. So he does not, like many might
think, eat ten steaks a day.
A test of strength
Christen says he has mostly good memories of his life so far. There
have only been a couple of embarrassing situations. One was at the
Luxembourg Schobermesse, where a punching bag served as a test of
strength. He destroyed the entire set-up with one blow.. During an
auto show, he wanted to look at a car and by accident removed the