A (Google-Aided) Search for a Real-Life Kenny Powers

Kenny Powers was a 1970s stuntman who ghost-stunted for the more famous Canadian stuntman/daredevil Ken Carter during a famous failed jump in 1976. Ken Carter publicly promised to jump the Saint Lawrence River in a Lincoln Continental augmented with rockets; the process of building the car and ramp was documented in a Canadian documentary called The Devil at Your Heels. Carter got ABC to pay him $250,000 to broadcast the stunt on Wide World of Sports, but as the date approached, he realized the jump was likely impossible and chickened out. (Evel Knievel visited the site and personally judged the potential for success highly fucking unlikely.) Carter rescheduled and canceled it twice more, probably figuring out that he could have been planning the broadcast of his own public suicide. In 1979 he got to within the final five seconds of the countdown before copping out. The vigilant film crew sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada and led by director Robert Fortier decided to hire another driver to attempt the jump when they realized Carter was never going to do it. That driver was an American named Kenny Powers. Maybe he was a little more foolhardy, maybe he had a little more guts, or maybe he just had a lot more balls, but it was Kenny Powers who finally stepped up to the pedal of the jet-car in a yellow jumpsuit. The car shattered as it accelerated and its parachute deployed. Powers survived with eight broken vertebrae, and any further attempts at the stunt were permanently postponed. The Devil at Your Heels won a 1981 Genie Award for best documentary. You can watch the whole documentary on YouTube on the Canadian National Film Board’s channel.

There is also a real-life Kenny Powers who is a gospel singer and part of the Mountaintop Praise crew in Beaver, Kentucky. You can see him here singing a song about Jesus called “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” He is a total Kenny Powers, in that he gives it his half-assed all. Be sure to hold out until the synth horns kick in.

When I searched “Eastbound, Russian,” the computer thought I would enjoy this video of trees out the window of a car in Estonia with a soundtrack of rippling ambient wind that climaxes in a sighting of an eastbound diesel freight train. Why yes, I would, computer. I would very much. In fact I enjoyed it so much I watched several more Russian trainspotter videos until I was in a meditative state thinking about how train wheels grinding on steel tracks sounds just like those Arvo Pärt string pieces that Stanley Kubrick used to such terrifying effect in 2001.

Slow worm comin’ round the bend.


Speaking of existential horrors …

When betting on a horse race in Dubai, always bet on the 10th horse. It won’t win, but winning is for losers.

A guy re-creating Stevie’s megaphone speech from Season 2 in Mexico while doing doughnuts in a Smart Car.

Kenny Powers in Cabo.

Here’s YouTube user “kennypowers4” posting a video of bros tasering a bro while “All Mixed Up” by 311 plays on TV in the background. Goes right in the time capsule.

YouTube user KennyPowers951 doing butterfly knife tricks in a skull skirt in a wood-paneled basement for a hot minute.

And here are some Southern bros giving their friend a mullet to celebrate Season 3 of Eastbound & Down. Everything about the fussy way these guys interact and debate what hairstyles and bangs look like during the hair-cutting process is adorable, especially when the main one yells, “PULL UP A PICTURE OF A MULLET ON GOOGLE!” One of them starts rapping “Three Legged Dog” from Chris Lilley’s show Angry Boys. Your move, other dude-collectives of HBO comedy megafans.

This is a Match.com profile video by a guy dressed as Kenny Powers. Almost too real.

A clip from Danny McBride and Jody Hill’s breakthrough film The Foot Fist Way, wherein the concept of “Myrtle Beach drunk” is first introduced.

“You’re a man no matter what happens to ya.”

Filed Under: Eastbound & Down, HBO, Kenny Effin Powers, Kenny Powers, S*&t We Found On Youtube

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert