A new stunt show will roar into the Orange County Fair on Wednesday for a five-day run of adrenaline-packed performances boasting high-flying thrills, extreme motorcycle exploits, aerial acrobatics and other daring feats in the Action Sports Arena.
Daredevils and Wheels, as the show is appropriately labeled, will seek to wow audiences with a series of gravity-defying endeavors, including skyscraping sway poles and the “Globe of Death” steel ball.
The show is staged by the Nerveless Nocks, a Florida-based family affair that traces its roots to 1840 and claims to be Switzerland’s original circus.
Though the family’s methods for thrilling audiences have changed over the years to keep up with the latest tastes and technology, the passion to perform — and the nerve to do so — has endured through the generations.
“People always say, ‘Are you scared doing those stunts?’ ” said Michelangelo Nock, the company’s president and chief executive. “Absolutely. I’m human … but you just get used to your environment. You respect the danger and you practice a lot. I try to teach my kids the same way my parents taught me.”
Of course, all the practice in the world can’t prepare for every circumstance — like the time Nock was performing a helicopter trapeze act and found himself hanging on for dear life as the pilot, new to that sort of thing, whipped him back and forth hundreds of feet above the ground.
“When we landed, I fell to my knees,” Nock recalled with a laugh. “I saw the pilot putting his thumbs up like, ‘Good show!’ I just looked at him like, ‘I don’t think so.’ ”
The world of stunts and spectacle is in Nock’s blood. His parents were talented performers with acrobatic skills and steely nerves that wowed audiences across the globe.
According to family lore, the group’s name was inspired by a comment from none other than Queen Elizabeth II. After seeing the troupe perform in 1954, the story goes, “she said, ‘You’re simply nerveless,’ ” Nock said.
“We’ve used it ever since,” he said.
The family’s predisposition to perform continues with Nock’s daughter, Angelina, who will be front and center during the show’s run at the Orange County Fair.
Like her father, Angelina’s introduction to high-flying feats came at a young age.
“It kind of was a normal thing to me,” said Angelina, 26. “I didn’t really think it was too different until I started going to school and realized, ‘Oh, your parents don’t do crazy things like mine.’ That opened my eyes.”
“I know people ask, ‘Are you crazy?’ but it just feels right to me,” she added. “Honestly, it’s been in our family for so long.”
For the fair, the Nocks will be joined by the BMX Freestyle Team, which will bring its own brand of fast-paced thrills.
Robert Castillo, who runs the team, said the performances will be “like the X Games in your face.”
“They [the audience] are going to be able to see these guys doing backflips and 360s and pretty much every style of BMX trick in our sport,” he said. “It’s a show, obviously, not a competition, but these guys ride at a pretty high level.”
Castillo, who lives in Corona, said he’s excited to bring the show to Costa Mesa, which has a vibrant BMX culture and is home to the reknowned Sheep Hills BMX park.
“We’re really fortunate,” he said. “BMX is huge out here … so to go there and do the show, we’re pretty stoked.”
IF YOU GO
What: Daredevils and Wheels stunt show
Where: Action Sports Arena, OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
When: Wednesday to July 22
Cost: Tickets start at $12.50 Onsite parking is $10 for cars.