Kinetic artist Justen Pohl breaks leg, builds a steampunk wheelchair
It's inconvenient anytime someone gets in a T-bone collision, breaks their leg in multiple places, and is pinned in the passenger seat as the car starts on fire. It's doubly inconvenient if you make your living as a hula hooper and aerialist. That's just what happened to local kinetic arts entertainer Justen Pohl on March 5.
However, a broken leg has not stopped Pohl. By mid-March, he could be found at his Ham Lake home assembling a steampunk-themed wheelchair with the help of friends and family. The project began so he could still participate in a previously scheduled gig for the International Special Events Society (ISES). If you don't have use of your legs, you can still perform with twin LED hula hoops on each arm, after all.
Pohl (28), along with body painter/business partner Heather Zehr (25), are the driving force behind Enticing Entertainment, a Twin Cities-based company that specializes in hula hooping and aerial acts, as well as snake charming, stilt walking, and sword swallowing. They also have things covered if you need a few mermaids/mermen, human statues, contortionists, and bagpipers, among many other things.
Pohl, performing at an event
While there are a lot of accomplished subgroups of kinetic performers in the Twin Cities -- such as Hoop Twin Cities (HTC) or the Minneapolis Fire Collective (MFC) -- Enticing Entertainment brings diverse elements together to create cohesive event-based performances on a specific theme. "There's a core group of about five to ten people we're always working with," says Pohl, "and then we bring in different acts."
Since founding Enticing Entertainment, Pohl and Zehr have produced events for a variety of clients, from large corporations such as Bluestem Brands, Inc. and Medtronic to various clubs. Pohl also recently took the stage with his aerialist partner, José Bueno, in Theater Latté Da and Hennepin Theater Trust's production of Aida.
As one might expect, becoming a professional kinetic performer does not unfold along a straight or predictable path. "I used to work in real estate," says Pohl. He started hula hooping as a hobby. It was a slippery slope that led to fire hooping, then other prop work, and finally on to aerialist feats. Ultimately, a trip to Burning Man in 2011 was the turning point that led Pohl to commit to his passion full-time.
While the broken leg heals, Pohl and Zehr continue to organize events through Enticing Entertainment, and are preparing for Pohl's return to the stage. Regarding that leg: "I can't put any weight on it for two months, but with physical therapy, I could have a full recovery in four months, " says Pohl.
"I can't sit still," he adds.
Editor's note: LUSH will be hosting a benefit party for Pohl 10 p.m. Saturday, April 27. The evening will feature sets by performers from Enticing Entertainment. There will be a $5 cover.