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Thursday, May 13, 2004 03:03 pm

Moon shot

It was a stunt Jim McGill had performed more than 100 times, and never ever had anything gone wrong. It was a simple feat, really, involving a bottle rocket, only instead of launching the firework from a bottle, McGill launched it from his buttocks.

Sadly, on Mother's Day, one rocket misfired, and McGill ended up in the hospital.

He's the first to admit the incident sounds funny, but he's in severe pain. So please, no wisecracks.

"This whole thing has been one major pain in the ass," he says.

McGill, 49, is the stunt boy for Ray Lytle's "Morning Disaster" show on WQLZ (FM 92.7), where he's known as "Jim the Photographer." He was performing his bottle rocket exhibition to entertain a crowd waiting for a station-sponsored concert to begin.

He was taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center, where he underwent an operation to repair injuries to his bottom. "The surgeon told me he lost count of how many stitches he put in," McGill says.

He was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, and is now at home enduring what he calls a "slow, painful recovery." Unable to even climb the stairs to his bedroom, he's limited to lying on the couch with nothing to entertain himself.

If he could make it to his computer, he would see that he has generated almost 18,000 hits on FARK.com, where a link to the State Journal-Register's news story about his mishap is tagged "dumbass."

One FARK contributor called the incident "the shot heard 'round the moon." Another suggested that the rocket was launched "to destroy the Klingons circling Uranus."

McGill isn't laughing. At least not boisterously. For now, laughter is on his long list of prohibited activities.

His friend Suzie has been taking care of him -- including applying various ointments to the burned areas of his body. "So you know that's a true friend," McGill says.

On the bright side, this injury may allow him more time to work on his master's degree. He says he's taking a correspondence course in religion.

If that doesn't jive with his on-air persona, well, that's fine, McGill says. "I play a character on the radio," he says. "Actually, I'm a really nice guy."

But when he mentions that Suzie will be out of town for the weekend, and he needs to find someone else to take care of him, he switches back to his Jim the Photographer mode.

"I'm looking for somebody with small fingers," he says. "Must be female, at least 17 years old."

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