Man vs electricity: meet the Lords of Lightning


Mouths agape, a crowd stare speechless at a man with lightning bolts firing from his head and hands. I am at the Light Festival in Brussels, Belgium, and the Lords of Lightning, as the show is known, is the creation of New Zealand electrician Carlos Van Camp.

HHHThe display is indeed stunning to watch. The secret to the Lords’ power is Tesla Coils. The one they use are two metres wide, on which performers stand while thick purple bolts fly around them.

“It’s a very strange feeling,” says Darryl J. Carrington one of the performers to The Baltic Review. “I was not particularly nervous during the performance, I am a circus performer so I am often exposed to risk. It doesn’t hurt but the noise is really loud”. 

So, how can Darryl J. Carrington stand atop these massively charged structures and walk away unscathed? He wears a conductive suit made of very small metal links connected together which protects him from the high voltage. Electricity runs through the suit rather than through his body, and discharges out of his hands and head. It is this danger that entices the crowd. Nevertheless, a layer of clothing separates the suit from the skin across most of the body, with clips holding the headpiece to a metal helmet and away from the face.

With his metal suit the performer Darryl J. Carrington looks like a knight about to engage in combat. “Maybe I am the prince charmer,” says Carrington amused, triggering the reaction of a girl who whispers from behind, “Yes, Shrek!”. We all burst out laughing.

The massive voltage generated by the Tesla Coil rips surrounding air molecules into charged ions, allowing a current to flow through the air. The machine draws 20–25,000 Watts. This is similar to what it is believed happens in nature. The Lords of Lightning has become one of the most unique and fascinating shows on the planet; quite literally raising the hairs off the necks of anyone who witnesses it. For more information visit the Lords of Lightning – UK Facebook Page.

Bibbi Abruzzini
Bibbi Abruzzini is a foreign correspondent for the BALTIC REVIEW and international news agencies in South Asia. She is Italian, grew up in Brussels and has reported from several countries, including Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, France, India, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, Tunisia,Turkey and the US - writing largely about social and development issues.

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