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Stories Blog

One thing I try to do is write a little story about the subjects I photograph. If I don’t know the real story sometimes I just make one up.

Fire Dancer

Karyn Planett

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea  2009

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea  2009

Sparks flew as the Baining fire dancers kicked glowing coals with their bare feet. Even though most people in New Guinea have calloused feet the size of hubcaps, I’m sure not many could withstand the intense heat of this bonfire.

The male dancers appeared virtually naked sporting only a bark cloth headdress and a disk that is reportedly sewn onto their penises. I can only imagine!

Steeled, supposedly, by three days of eating only betel nuts—no water, no food, no trips to the bathroom—each of the five men dashed through the burning flames for more than three hours, seemingly unscathed.

I, on the other hand, sported a rosy blush across my face cooked by the blistering heat of the palm frond–fueled inferno raging mere feet away. It didn’t matter because I risked it all, even lying face down in a muddy god-knows-what with ants in the rain to get the shot. And I did.