Entertainer traces roots to OTC training

Entertainer traces roots to OTC training

Monday, February 10, 2014

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Mark MIller
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Ben Blaques time at OTC was well spent and helped contribute to creating a death-defying act that he has taken to the East Coast.

Blaque, a Kickapoo graduate, took classes in auto refinishing, drafting as well as welding, before following the entertainment bug.

"I love to build things, make stuff for cars. I was also interested in performing since high school," Blaque said.

His passion eventually led him to a job with magician Kirby Van Burch in Branson where he worked on the stage crew. Van Buren also gave him some small parts on stage.

"I started out horrible. It was not like being in a high school play. People were paying to see this," he remembered.

Blaque would videotape his performances and critique them, looking for ways to make the act more thrilling and daring. He started incorporating a crossbow in the act, shooting balloons or the strings attached to the balloon.

"I was building props for Kirby and would try to build stuff but my welding skills were not good. It was a big roadblock," he said.

So Blaque called OTC welding program Jim Bridwell, lead instructor in the OTC Welding Technology program.

Bridwell agreed to drive to Branson and show Blaque some techniques.

"He picked it up pretty fast," Bridwell said.

After the lessons, Blaque said the welding began to flow.

Then came Blaque big break. He won a spot on the Americas Got Talent television show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-4JL03z0zE

While he didn't win, he's had plenty of new offers and is now in the process of opening a theater of his own in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

And there, he hopes to debut his most dangerous act, for which he built the props.

It involves him hanging upside down and it the path of a pair of giant jaws held apart by a burning rope. Across the room is a key that unlocks the shackles that hold Blaque's ankles in place. He must get the key and get out before the rope burns through and releases the steel jaws.

"Think Venus flytrap," he said with a smile.

Blaque recently returned to OTC to talk to welding students about his time at the college.

"OTC helped me create a world of what I wanted to be in life. Those classes I took helped me design and build my own props. Without that, I would never have been able to afford to do this," he said.