Aby Martin is used to being the guinea pig. As the youngest of the three Martin sisters, she is always the first in line to be punched, shot at, thrown from a roof, or dropped from the ceiling. Her father, Anderson Martin, jokingly refers to her as “dead weight” because she is so often the crash-test dummy (sometimes literally in the driver’s seat of a soon-to-be-crumpled car) when he’s trying to teach his girls about the family trade — movie stunt performance. Yet even the adventuresome 24-year-old is timid about today’s lesson: How To Get Kicked In The Crotch.
“I don’t want to do it,” she says, pouting in a long blond ponytail, yoga pants and tank top.
“You’re doing it,” says her father, on his knees before her, sweat rolling off his nose as he jury-rigs ankle cuffs to a pelvic harness he’s just strapped to his baby. “A stunt person is called in to be ready for anything.”
Late-morning sun pours in through the open bay door of Anderson’s dusty, 4,500-square-foot warehouse along the main drag of Carrollton, Georgia, a bedroom community about an hour outside of Atlanta. Ropes and harnesses are strung from the rafters. Air mats, pads and sheets of cardboard are spread across the concrete floor. Aby’s older sisters, Ashley Rae Trisler and Alex Duke, look on from the sidelines, giggling as their father rises — fairly confident that the makeshift device he’s concocted is in place.
He’s run a black strap from one ankle cuff up the inside of Aby’s leg, through a loop in the pelvic harness and down to the opposite ankle cuff, forming an inverted “V” between her legs. The entire apparatus is snug enough to slip seamlessly beneath a pair of pants or a long skirt. The idea is that when an actor or fellow stunt artist steps up to punt Aby’s privates, the point of the “V” will catch the leg inches short of her body and distribute the impact down to her legs and ankles. And in this instance, the kicker will be played by her father.
“Ready?” he says. ”
No,” says Aby. “I don’t like this.”
Heedless, Anderson lurches forward and starts to lift his leg in a deliberate slo-mo. Aby cringes and he stops.
Of course, the whole point of this exercise is that once the behind-the-scenes precautions are taken, it’s time for the stunt artist to become an actor.
“You’re scared,” he says. “It’s not like you have balls.”
“That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt,” she says.
“Well,” he says, “that’s why we use this device.”
Perhaps Aby is skittish because her neck is still sore from having been body-slammed for multiple takes last week on a super-secretive drama series. (Her father scolded her for making the rookie mistake of letting her head flop — “But that’s what the director wanted!”). Or maybe it’s her broken and dislocated nose from a softball mishap last month (“I never get that seriously hurt while I work”). Or, it could be the fact that last fall, she had to be punched in the crotch by actor Skyler Gisondo in a Wally World melee for the blockbuster Vacation reboot (for a punch there is no fail-safe apparatus, just a little padding and a lot of praying).
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