David Leslie «Rocket Movie» 1987.
(1987, 32 mins) A Love Story. Takes you back to that hot summer night when David Leslie attempted to launch himself over a mountain of watermelons ona Soho street before a crowd of 2000 dazzled spectators. The story unfolds with the narration of veteran stunt coordinator Gary Zeller (DAWN OF THE DEAD, RAGTIME, SCANNERS) who "put his reputation on the line" to collaborate with the Impact Addict. Filmmaker Larry Fessenden brings to this stunning documentary all the passion and drama of that spectacular night: As James Brown look-alike Jack Dingas pumps the crowd with an American anthem, our Rocket man climbs aboard his bastard craft and bids farewell to the woman he loves--only to end that night in a near fatal fiery crash.
In his first stunt in 1986, Leslie propelled a little rocket off a 40-foot ramp on Broome street, supposedly to fly over a pile of 1000 watermelons and land in a net. Supposedly. He was running inside the rocket--the Flintstones version of Evel Knievel--so naturally he crashed. Later he said that the moment he left the ramp had been the most exciting of his life, the thing he'd been born to do. On Chinese New Year 1987, he wore a tiger suit fashioned out of 10,000 firecrackers, which exploded to reveal a rabbit suit underneath. In May 1987, he jumped from two stories up onto a steel plate in the courtyard of Café Bustelo, swathed in bubble wrap and white Christmas-tree lights. In June 1987, he went three-rounds on the Staten Island Ferry with Olympic-silver medalist Riddick Bowe (who declined to knock Leslie out though the artist had asked him to). Then, in October 1987, he donned the bubble wrap once more for a Franklin Furnace benefit, dropped through the roof of a martial arts school set, and had the members kick-slam him around the stage.
Now he was going to "retire," he said in his commercial for this "final act of excess and abandon"--because hype is inseparable from such an act--Leslie promised that like a boxer going out for his last fight, he'd "pull out a little something extra." For days he'd been installing cliffs, trees, and a plastic waterfall up the side of P.S. 122. Atop one cliff sat a billboard for Exterminator Chili. Like network television, his events and videos have sponsors. "I attempt to bounce male media's message off a funhouse mirror," Leslie says at the beginning of THE ROCKET MOVIE.