Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment


  • Another Annie Oakley Wild West Showcase in the can.

    Another Western Arts Showcase at Annie Oakley Festival is in the can and it was a great time for all! In our new space at York Woods, the festival was well attended and may have a breath of fresh air to keep it going for the next half century.

    David Crain, Gery Deer, Luke Taylor, Kirk Bass and Chris Camp take a moment for a photo at The Whip Artistry Studio on the day before the Annie Oakley events.  (Photo Copyright 2014 GLD Enterprises)

    David Crain, Gery Deer, Luke Taylor, Kirk Bass and Chris Camp take a moment for a photo at The Whip Artistry Studio on the day before the Annie Oakley events.

    Of course, the event actually began the day before with a meeting of the whips at The Whip Aristry Studio (http://www.thewhipstudio.com) in Jamestown, Ohio. Gery Deer’s long-running whip arts school played host to Chris Camp, Luke Taylor, his dad Chuck, Kirk Bass, David Crain, and of course, Gery. Everyone checked out the mini-museum at the studio but Luke probably spent the most time there, taking pictures and looking over nearly 20 years of studio history. He even convinced Gery to take the Zorro/Catwoman Morgan out of its case and give him a chance to try it out. Of course, everyone wanted to try it out.

    There were new tricks being tried out and David brought some of his latest nylon whip creations with some beautifully turned new handles for Gery’s four-foot studio whips. Chris Camp tested out a couple of new tricks and most everyone just relaxed, shared whip stories and talked about their year.

    As the day got later, the group migrated to Gery’s childhood home, the Deer family farm, just a few minutes away. There, they relaxed, ate and talked in the rehearsal hall of The Brothers & Co. until they moved outside for more whip cracking.

    The next morning, it was time to hit the road for Darke County and the Annie Oakley Festival. As we mentioned in earlier promotional material, we reduced the Showcase from three days down to one, capturing the essence of the weekend’s activities within about 7 hours. Most of the crew and equipment traveled aboard The Brothers & Co. tour bus, “Noah’s Ark,” making the 2-hour ride right on time, even with a slight detour due to a road closure on highway 49.

    As we pulled into York Woods, about six miles northeast of Greenville in Ansonia, Ohio, we were greeted at the gate with great anticipation. With everyone’s help, we had the entire outdoor performance and contest space assembled in just under an hour, right down to the sound system and target equipment.

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    Rich Hoffman, Hollie Bradley, Chris Camp and Luke Taylor await their turn at the whip speed and accuracy competitions at Annie Oakley Festival. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    We started the day at 1 p.m. with the first set of whip competitions, beginning with the classic speed and accuracy program. Newcomer Hollie Bradley, from Kettering, Ohio, was as brave as any seasoned veteran as she jumped in to compete against some of the best. Barbara Deer served as official time keeper and recorded the results with newly-created, specializes whip contest score sheets. With some high expectations, the big winner was Chris Camp, with a score of 13:47, followed by Luke Taylor in second, and Gery Deer taking third.

    Our own Speed Switch Accuracy contest is a favorite because it requires the contestants to perform with both hands. Contestants begin at one end of the target range, using, for example, the left hand to cut only the left-hand targets. Then, they come back the other direction cutting only the right side targets with the right hand. It’s a challenging prospect, but everyone did well!

    First place in the Speed Switch whip contest was Rich Hoffman, followed by Gery Deer in second place and Chris Camp bringing it in for third.

    Next came the two most anticipated contests of the day, the International Bullwhip Fast Draw and the Indiana Jones-styled, Turning, Long Whip Fast Draw. In the standard fast draw, contestants are required to use only a bullwhip, no stock whips or minis. Contestants face off in a two-person heat with a

    Richard and Donna Best - BLackLightning Wild West Show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    Richard and Donna Best – BLackLightning Wild West Show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    whip that must be at least 6 feet long and remain coiled in the hand until the announcer yells, “Draw!” Everyone did well, and with a single target to hit, the competition was fierce! In the end, as they say, there can be only one, and this year’s winner was Melodee Bass, wife and performing partner of Kirk Bass (Bass Blades) the co-producer of the event and resident thrown weapons expert.

    Finally, the contest everyone was anticipating with, well, fear and confusion. The Indy-styled turning fast draw was a brand-new competition, based on the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Jones hears the click of the pistol, turns and draws his trusty, 10-foot Morgan from his snapped holster, to thwack the gun from the hand of the bad guy! Umm, right.

    Anyway, we tried it and it was surprisingly fun to watch. It was probably more fun watching people try to figure it out beforehand. Handling an eight-foot bullwhip from a snapped holster to a targeted cut is no easy task but everyone did a great job and the audiences were having just as much fun as the competitors. When all was said and done, young Luke Taylor was the last one standing at the end of the contest. Luke has the title as “Turning, Holstered Fast Draw Champion of the World!” Congratulations to all of our competitors.

    The Brothers & Co. Hosted the evening performance at the Showcase.  (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    The Brothers & Co. Hosted the evening performance at the Showcase. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    With that, everyone got the chance to relax, practice, hang out and do some whip cracking and roping. But not everyone was idle. Ohio western performer Richard Best and his wife Donna (Black Lightning Wild West Show) enlisted the whip pros in the group to help out with a new world record attempt for the Guinness Book. We can’t release what it is just yet, but, suffice to say it was very well executed. Rich Hoffman filmed the attempt while Gery Deer served as the media representative and Chris Camp as a professional witness. We hope to bring you the results and details soon!

    Finally, it was time for the Grand Wild West Show, hosted by The Brothers & Co. Entertainers, all of whom had been relaxing throughout the day, patiently waiting for their turn on stage. Gery Deer, pulling triple duty as producer, director and performer, led the Boys in Black on stage with Gary Deer Jr., Ed Jones, and Jim Karns kicking out some great country tunes, followed by a variety of performances. Richard and Donna Best started the show off with some great roping and assisted whip work, followed by Luke Taylor and his one-man, rhythm whips set to music. Chris Camp delivered a fan favorite, as usual, with Hollie Bradley helping out as target girl for the show.

    Newcomer Hollie Bradley during her work with Chris Camp in the evening show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    Newcomer Hollie Bradley during her work with Chris Camp in the evening show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

    At the end of the day the shows went well, the new venue at York Woods was ideal for our needs and we’re looking forward to next year. Thanks to all who came out to see us and be sure to check out the photos on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheWhipArtistryStudio

    Our special thanks to the Annie Oakley Festival Committee, Gary Deer & Sons, GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing, WDTN-TV2/Living Dayton, The Brothers & Co., Chris Camp (The Whip Guy), Bass Blades, and Production Manager Debra Bays (photography, Brothers show production).


  • Whip contests at Annie Oakley Showcase July 26, open registration

    westernmovie031Greenville, OH - The 12th Annual Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase is scheduled to begin at 1PM, Saturday July 26th at the new event location of York Woods in Greenville, Ohio, during Annie Oakley Festival. In addition to Wild West Arts performances ranging from trick roping to precision knife throwing, the event also features some of the only public bullwhip competitions held anywhere in the United States.

    The exhibition whip contests are open to outside participation pending registration the day of the event. “We’ve opened it up to anyone to participate but we do have some restrictions,” says event producer, Gery L. Deer, director of The Whip Artistry Studio, the country’s only permanent, non-combative whip training school.

    “This is an exhibition competition, so it’s more for the spectators than the competitors and there are no ‘big’ prizes. A few people have donated whips and whip-related items but there’s no cash to be won. It’s mainly bragging rights from one of the longest-running whip contests in the country.”

    Deer points out that some of the best names in whip artistry will be on hand beginning with himself, a champion speed and accuracy competitor and 25-year veteran professional performer. Joining him will be “The Whip Guy,” whip artist Chris Camp, champion knife thrower and whip handler, Kirk Bass, and a host of others. The contests are based on long-standing events, many of which have gone by the wayside over the years.

    GLDINDY

    This year’s Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase features a contest straight from an Indiana Jones movie!

    The Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase started in 2002 as the Ohio regional convention for the former Wild West Arts Club (WWAC). Today, the event is the staple of western entertainment and competition at Annie Oakley Festival, a Darke County, Ohio favorite for more than half a century. Whip contests will be as follows:

    Classic Whip Speed & Accuracy – This is the age-old speed and accuracy competition modeled after those held at the international conventions of the former WWAC. Five target stands hold two foam cups each, on opposite sides and with each stand set for a different height. The event is timed and mistakes add seconds to each score with the lowest time is the ultimate goal.

    Whip Speed Switch – Similar to the Classic Speed & Accuracy, but competitors must use both hands, up one side and down the other targeting left-hand targets with the left hand and vice versa.

    The Original Bullwhip Fast Draw – This is a contest that originated with The Whip Artistry Studio and Annie Oakley events. Created by whip maker Paul Nolan, whip master Gery Deer and western re-enactor Chris Curtis, this is the most popular contest of the day. Competitors are paired in heats as they try to be the fastest draw with their whip from a “holstered” position and first to cut the target.

    The Raiders Fast Draw – This is a new contest for this year and a variation of the original fast draw. Taken from the opening scenes of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” competitors use an 8 or 10-foot bullwhip and are required to face away from each other with their whips completely holstered in a cross-draw position. When signaled, they turn and throw at the target, each trying to be the fastest.

    IMG_3582All of the contests will be held outdoors and followed at 2:30 by a matinee performance featuring whip artist Gery L. Deer, the knife throwing skills of Bass Blades and more. The Grand Wild West Showcase will begin at 5:30 PM, hosted by The Brothers & Co. Entertainers music and variety show.

    Participation is limited, first come, first served and, due to safety considerations, event producer has final say in whether a competitor may participate. Those interested in competing must meet eligibility guidelines as follows: 18 or older, must have their own (approved) whip equipment and register no later than 12:30PM the day of the contest. For more information contact the production office of GLD Enterprises at (937) 902-4857 or go online to ohiowesternarts.org.

    Video from the 2013 Bullwhip Fast Draw …


  • Tripple candle snuff explained

    The Whip Artistry Studio: April 15, 2014 – While candle snuffing might seem cliche to many whip artists, studio director, Gery L. Deer, has made it into an art form. His multi-candle snuffs may not be noticed by Guinness Book, but they take skill and practice.

    “The first time I did what we call the ‘candle whippers ™’ routine on national television, I was inundated with questions about which popper I used, or how to glue the candle to the holder, or some other nonsense,” Deer remembers. “The simple fact is, there is no trick to candle snuffing. Anyone can scoop the flame off by splashing the popper into the wax, but to gently snuff the candle out with the wind of the crack takes far more time and patience to learn.”

    In the video shown on this page, Gery is being filmed by videographer Rich Hoffman in a continues, one-shot. Rich is sitting just beyond the stool on which the triple candle setup is arranged.

    Gery set up three, ordinary candles in a triangle configuration, about 4 inches apart from each other. The two votive candles are left over from a world-record attempt by Gery’s friend Robert Dante at the 2013 Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase.  One of them is sitting on a tin root beer mug and the other flat on the mat that’s covering the top of the wooden stool on which the candles are resting. The third candle is a stick-type, utility candle sitting in a cheap, sterling silver holder.

    Arranged in a triangle, shortest to tallest, the candles are not secured to the surface or holder in any way. The goal was to snuff each candle, one at a time, smoothly, and carefully, regardless of their position or height.

    “It doesn’t matter what kind of popper or whip you use for candle snuffing,” Gery says. “Your level of skill is what matters and how much time you’re willing to put in on it. You also have to keep in mind that the whip should never touch the wax or wick of the candle. Only moving air is necessary to achieve the proper results.”

    The whip being used here is a 6-foot, Indiana Jones style, natural tan (turned brown with age) bullwhip made by Joe Strain around 2001. It’s a rough and rugged piece of equipment and Gery’s favorite whip. It’s his “go to” for just about everything. There’s nothing special about the whip at all. It’s got about a 24-inch fall on it (white hide) and about a 5-inch popper made of upholstery nylon.

    Whip candle snuffing was first done on film in the 1920s by actor Douglas Fairbanks. In “Don Q: Son of Zorro,” Fairbanks snuffed a single flame from a candle held by a bystander. In 1998, Anthony Hopkins appeared to leisurely snuff out candles on a candelabra with a relaxed, practiced hand. Unlike Fairbanks, however, Hopkins’ candles were tricked out by the prop masters with air tubes so all he had to do with crack the whip and the prop guys did the rest, off camera. For this demonstration, the video is unedited and there were students, professionals and bystanders at the studio watching as it was shot.

    Enjoy!


  • IMG_0324Bullwhip Lesson with Gery L. Deer: Candle Snuffing

    April 2014 – For many years, The Whip Artistry Studio director, Gery L. Deer, has been asked to produce some “how to” videos and here is the first of those. Here, Gery teaches whip student, Hollie Bradley, how to snuff out a candle with a whip. This is one of the most common whip tricks, dating back (on film) to Douglas Fairbanks in “Don Q: Son of Zorro” (1925).

    Here, Gery teaches Hollie the art of the direct candle snuff, using basic, vertical utility candles and a 5 1/2 foot, 8-plait, single-belly kangaroo whip with an ordinary nylon popper (not polypropylene). The direct candle snuff uses the circus crack (cattleman’s crack) to blow the candle out straight across, rather than the easier ‘scoop vacuum’ version, using a variation of the sidearm crack. This was the very first time Hollie ever tried the candle snuff. Great job, Hollie! (Our thanks to Rich Hoffman for the video clip!)




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