Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment


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  • 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).


  • 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!


  • Wild West artists descend on The Whip Artistry Studio

    Filming some demo material for Richard and Donna Best.

    Filming some demo material for Richard and Donna Best.

    Saturday, April 12, 2014 – The Whip Artistry Studio played host to a half-dozen Wild West arts practitioners who met up to enjoy the company, the arts and the preservation of their crafts. Studio director, whip artist Gery L. Deer was joined by nylon whip maker David Crain of Heartbeat Artistry, who arranged the gathering for the benefit of Richard Best, of the Black Lightning Wild West Show.

    Richard and his wife Donna traveled down from northern Ohio. They’ve known Gery Deer for more than a decade and have worked with him for many years at the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, Ohio. Originally, Crain and Best chose the Studio simply as a meeting point but managed to arrange for some video to be taken by another patron of the studio, Rich Hoffman of Middletown, Ohio.

    Hoffman is a whip practitioner himself and the author of the books, “The Symposium of Justice,” and “Tail of the Dragon.” In 2009, he and Gery produced a film short that won them Best Experimental Micro Film at the Indy Gathering film festival in Cleveland. They’ve worked on several projects together and have discussed a new film project in the near future.

    “The Whip Artistry Studio” – with Gery L. Deer and David Crain. Video by Rich Hoffman:

    Also in attendance was roper, musician Doug Smith, of Medway, Ohio. Doug was one of the founders of the Annie Oakley event, running the roping activities for several years. He attended this particular meeting of the Western arts to catch up with one of his roping students, Hollie Bradley. Hollie is just getting started as an up-and-coming trick roper and recently started whip lessons under Gery L. Deer at The Whip Artistry Studio.

    Here are some photos and video from the day’s activities. Thanks to Debra Bays, Rich Hoffman and all who participated in a great day! Watch for information on other Wild West activities from The Whip Artistry Studio and GLD Enterprises.


  • Spotlight! The black, Fraser “Brothers & Co.” stockwhip.

    GLD_FRAS_BLK_TWAS6About a dozen years ago, The Whip Artistry Studio director, Gery L. Deer, commissioned a black stockwhip from whip maker Janine Fraser. As the majority of his work to that point had been done with bullwhips, he had only one stockwhip in his collection and decided on one of Janine’s for their look and weight. What she made was truly a work of art and function.

    After all of these years, this is still Gery’s favorite stockwhip and it has become known as “The Brothers & Co.” whip because it’s always seen on the costume he wears for his family variety show. He is regularly asked about the whip, by audience members and whip enthusiasts alike, so here is some detail about the whip and some new-close up photos.

    With a 19 ½-inch handle and a thong of 72 ½ inches, this is an impressive piece (92 inches long, from handle butt to point knot). The whip is black kangaroo with a Scobie Hitch knot on the handle butt and a variation checkerboard-herring bone braid. The fall hitch, at the point, is just slightly over ½-inch in diameter holding tightly in place a ¼-inch wide, 20-inch long, whitehide fall, dyed black to match the thong. It’s important to note that this is the original fall and has only been shortened a few inches over the years from wear and use.

    The weight of this whip barely registers, about the same as an iPhone 4! It has a beautifully braided, 12-plait handle that starts out at the butt at just under 2 ½-inches in diameter and tapers to 1 3/8 inches at the thong. Janine’s signature, engraved metal band adorns the handle about 5-inches up from the butt. This particular whip sports Gery’s initials opposite the “FRASER” engraving.

    Of the handle material, Fraser tells us, “The handle is drilled cane and shaved down with a spoke save and draw knife (old school stuff mate).” The craftsmanship of Fraser’s work has always been top-of-the-line. Gery has four Fraser whips all together and the others are solid brown, but this is his favorite.

    “I call it, ‘The Brothers & Co.’ whip because it’s been on the costume I wear with the group since I got it,” Gery noted. The Brothers & Co. is a country music and variety show that he and his family created in 1995. “I have used it in countless whip shows of my own, but as of 2007, it’s been worked exclusively with the Brothers show.”

    TWAS Director, Whip Artist Gery L. Deer in his "The Brothers & Co"

    TWAS Director, Whip Artist Gery L. Deer in his “The Brothers & Co”

    Gery said he originally asked for a black whip because of his stage and costuming at the time, primarily dark colors with black and brown equipment. “I do a double Queensland crossover and other two-whip routines where I intentionally use one of Janine’s stocks in one hand and an Indy Jones-style bullwhip of the same color in the other. It looks great to show these two styles used simultaneously, particularly when I’m doing my dual-whip crossover candle routine.”

    After many years of stage performance and educational use, the Brothers stockwhip will soon be retired from active performance. “To me, it’s one-of-a-kind and cannot be replaced so, naturally, I want to protect it,” Gery said. “It will go on display with one of Antonio Bandares’s whips from Zorro and my Alex Green signature whip.”

    Gery said the whip will still appear in a few more shows because it will be a while before he can retire it anyway, because he’ll have to find an equally interesting piece to add to his Brothers costume. “So far, I have found nothing that comes close to the look and handling of my black Fraser whip. It’s going to be tough to replace on stage, and I’m going to miss having it with me for those shows. It’s still the best stockwhip I have ever used.”




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