The Hot Docs film festival has come to a close, leaving documentary lovers full up on some of the best films that the genre has to offer. I was invited to a rooftop screening of the film Beauty Day – before there was Jackass, there was Cap’n Video and the lunacy of Ralph Zavadil.
Broadcast through the mid 1990′s on Niagara access cable television, Zavadil put himself through a gamut of crazy stunts, including telephone poll ‘shledding’, riding around on a chain saw powered skateboard, and snorting raw eggs. However, the episode that garnered the most attention was when Cap’n Video wanted to demonstrate a ‘fun’ way of opening the pool after winter. Dressed in a wetsuit he mounted a 14 ft ladder to the fence with bungee cords, climbed to the top and launched off towards the pool. Unfortunately, the bungee cords sprung back and Zavadil did not get the leverage he needed to make it into the pool, landing on the concrete and breaking his neck. This accident did not stop Zavadil and after recovery he continued his self-produced show until an “Easter” stunt involving a live rabbit, eggs, chocolate and puppies got him thrown off the air.
We get to know the real Ralph Zavadil who says “it tore a chunk out of my heart to not be able to broadcast my idiocity to the idiociters out there”. Beauty Day aims to figure out just what motivates one to do such insane things, yet captures Ralph Zavadil as a nutty, endearing personality whose Cap’n Video persona unabashedly channels the crazy in all of us.