“Keep the curtains closed! 'Spyderman' is in town!”
Alain Robert, a French phrase meaning 'Spiderman', is also the name of a Frenchman who is famous for climbing up the outside of tall buildings, not dissimilar to the fictitious comic-book hero Spyder-Man but without the requirement of shooting great wads of spooge from the palms of his hands.
From the early age of four he has been scaling towering structures around the world using only his bare hands and no safety equipment, which has led many commentators to speculate that his balls are made of a very solid metallic alloy. To date, he has climbed to the summit of approximately 60,000 buildings in various countries, only to be arrested by the local police at the top on account of it being illegal in most jurisdictions to peer through windows without first gaining written permission from the building manager. He was once sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in Japan, but escaped after only the first day when he climbed the wall of his cell. When the confused jailor couldn't see him in his cell and opened the door to search the room, Alain silently dropped down from the ceiling behind him and made his escape. To this day he is still a wanted man in Japan and avoids any travel to that country.
Career (if 'career' is the right word for getting into trouble monkeying around on the outside of tall buildings)
Alain's climbing exploits started at age four when his parents locked him out of the building of their 60th-floor apartment so that they could have some quiet-time together without the annoying little child disturbing them. So the precocious youngster decided to go round to his girlfriend's house instead, climbing up the drainpipe and into her second-storey bedroom window. Thus began his fascination with free-climbing.
In his early adult life Alain transformed his house into a multi-storied monstrosity so he could continue to practice free-climbing at home. Eventually his house reached 80 stories in height at which point he stopped when the neighbors began complaining about him always looking into their backyards when trying to have a nice private family barbecue.
Alain's working life was cut short when he refused to use the elevator and insisted on climbing the outside of his office building every morning. Finally the cost of replacing the window every day became too much for his boss and he was fired from his IT help desk job.
Finding himself in need of income while still satisfying his craving for building climbing, Alain released a series of pictorial coffee-table books entitled Views from the Outside of a Building which were translated into several languages including Australian. Most of the pictures in the books were of either startled or indifferent office workers, or of hotel guests caught in the act.
Following an unsuccessful book publishing career Alain started offering tandem climbs to the public, whereby he would strap a small child or midget to his back while climbing a skyscraper of their choice. The cost of bailing himself and his passenger out of jail every time though made this an unprofitable venture.
In the end he bought shares in a powdered chalk factory which remains the primary source of his income today.
Over his career Alain Robert has sustained numerous injuries relating to his chosen profession of getting to the top of buildings in the most dangerous manner possible. Some of his more notable injuries include:
- Stubbed his toe on the bit of concrete where the pavement meets the road at the base of the Eiffel Tower in France while on his way to another climb. He wasn't able to attempt the ascent that day but recovered in time for the next weekend's attempt.
- Punched in the nose through an open window by an irate hotel guest on the 24th floor of Fawlty Towers. He was still able to manage to climb to the roof trailing blood where the local constabulary were waiting with a box of tissues.
- Stung multiple times by a swarm of angry bees that had made their home near the top of the Leaning Tower of Pizza. He suffered swelling to 80 percent of his body and went into a coma for two days. Ever since he has kept his distance from pizza.
- Abducted by King Kong at the top of the Empire State Building and carried back to his lair. Suffered some trauma to the waist.
Possible reasons why Alain Robert climbs buildings
Sane and rational people who make their way up buildings in the way that their architects intended (and usually on the inside) are often left wondering what possesses a man like Alain Robert to do what he does. The internet has collected a vast number of theories; here are a few of the most (un)likely:
- To get to the top. This may seem obvious at first, and it is. Much like a pioneering mountain climber, glory can only be achieved by reaching the pinnacle and being the first man to stand in that place. The only difference is that mountains don't have elevator shafts and stairwells offering an alternative means of gaining access to the roof.
- So he can spy on couples doing it in their hotel rooms. The photographic evidence did actually contribute to a sealed-section chapter in Volume 3 of Views from the Outside of a Building however its inclusion was only at the behest of his publishers who felt they needed something to help boost sales. The only effect it had was to get it banned from sale in 23 countries, none of which were in Europe.
- Better than another afternoon with the wife. Not many people who aren't Alain Robert know who Alain Robert's wife is so this should be taken as wild speculation at best. Is there something about the lure of a fear-inducing slippery surface 500 feet above the ground that drags him away from an afternoon of sipping wine and eating something fried in garlic in the garden surrounded by his family? One may never know for sure.
- Doesn't trust stairs or elevators. This could be the most compelling theory yet for Alain Robert's avoidance of traditional means of ascending a building. Why this should be is even more of a mystery as the fear of stairs or elevators has not been recognized by any leading authority on irrational fears. In fact the CEO of The International Elevator Corporation, who should know all about this stuff, has gone on record to say that elevators are "totally the safest and most reliable means of transport available and not one has ever crashed resulting in horrible death." It should be noted that he was subsequently jailed for perjury.
Probable reasons why Alain Robert will stop
Having left his indelible mark on the world of building climbing (and preferably not on the ground hundreds of feet below him) there will come a time when Alain Robert must hang up his chalk bag and become one of the normal people. From a selection of the top 100 reasons that Alain Robert will stop given by a survey of random mammals, the computer randomly chose a handful as the top contenders:
- Lack of television coverage. This is the death-knell for any hobby whose existence relies on the public giving it any regard whatsoever. Alain will consider producing a reality show where climbers compete to be the first to get to the top of a skyscraper but it will all be in French and the rest of the world except Canada won't understand it.
- A giant bird will swoop down and carry him off to her nest. With the new city center developments happening in Jurassic Park and the economic recovery since the last several incidents, Alain Robert will be invited by management to christen the new Hammond Industries HQ building by climbing to its top. It is only then he will wish he had watched the movies before accepting the challenge.
- Loves his wife. While he was off cavorting with other buildings around the world, Alain Robert's wife was secretly climbing buildings of her own. It is only when he is shown photos snapped by a private investigator that he realizes he can't live without her and they both promise never to climb buildings again.
- Takes up cave exploration. What's safer than being 1000 feet above ground? Obviously 1000 feet under it. After being subjected to too much gravity over his lifetime, Alain Robert develops gravity sickness and is only able to cancel its effects by spending an equivalent amount of time and depth underground. On his return to the surface he finds that a nuclear war has leveled all the buildings in the world.