this is "nightline." >> tonight, performers pushing the limits. it was a disaster caught on cell phone video. now we have exclusive access as he gets ready to give it another shot. life or death stunts are more popular than ever. even when they go terribly wrong. but are some ricking too much to entertain? >> all right, let's do it. plus, researwe're searching models of the mid west. hoping to go from the heartland to the heart of fashion. these scouts found carly clawson in a missouri mall, ashton kutcher in a washington in iowa. who's that hot debate guy? he stole headlines and hearts as the candidates went to town. and now his identity has been
revealed. but first, the "nightline 5." >> think your heartburn pill works fast? take the zantac challenge. zantac works in as little ace 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. zantac for faster relief for your money back. take the zantac challenge. what's up? i'm ted. rudy and i have a lot of ritu rituals. >> stay, stay. >> taking care of our teeth is one of them. when i brush he gets a milk bone brushing chew. just another way to keep ourselves healthy. >> i'll go change. >> number one in just 60 >> number one in just 60 seconds. >> number one in just 60 seconds. alaska. finally. the search for brown bears begins. denali highway. low on gas. pit stop. fill up. double points. yep, that's cold. tired. day 2. coffee. eggs. double points. beautiful. majestic... nothing. where are you, bear? warm. warmer. warmer. yes.
performers to go to dangerous extreme. when they say they live to spain, they mean it. here's my "nightline" coanchor juju chang for our series "pushing the limits." >> reporter: in the blink of an eye a routine rehearsal goes horribly wrong. >> get him down! >> reporter: illusionist spencer is chained, shackled, submerged in a tank of water, attempting to free himself. suddenly he blacks out. colleagues and crew members standing by rush to save him. his near-death experience garnering national headlines. >> that magician who had a brush with death -- >> frantic efforts to save an escape artist -- >> reporter: high-adrenaline feats can go wrong. last year the human chandelier, eight young women spinning by their hair, came crashing to the ground. and just a few months ago an acrobat slips and plunged over 25 feet to the ground. >> given that you almost died
last time, are you questioning your sanity or your iq? >> i'm a performer, shoate must go on. >> reporter: high noon in northern new jersey, a large crowd gathering to watch spencer risk his life again. >> give it up one more time for spencer! >> reporter: it's billed as completely unscripted and unpredictable entertainment. all to thrill increasingly skeptical audiences. pushing the drama and danger to its outer limits. so it's easy to wonder if his near-death episodes are just show antics. >> four bars go across the top. of the box. keeping the top closed. and a lock. >> reporter: this is the first time he's attempting the stunt outside. >> physically, how do you train for it? >> so i have asthma. so for me, i just -- >> this is the perfect thing. >> for me it as big focus on breathing. >> reporter: risking one's life seems to come with the territory for spencer, and perhaps the crucial ingredient for audiences
who have come to expect it. >> you used your death-defying video as a marketing ploy for today. what draws people to that december-defying danger? >> there's an old quote. people do not enjoy watching somebody else, another human being, get hurt or injured. or killed. but they love to be on the spot where it happens. >> over 25 feet of galvanized chain. eight hardened american steel padlocks. smith and wesson handcuffs. and ankle shackles. >> reporter: as he's being chained spencer begins slowing his breathing and lowering his heart rate. the average person can hold their breath for 25 to 30 seconds. but spencer will have to hold his brett fath for long as it t. he begins to lower himself into the water. taking his final breath. and submerging his body under water.
using two pieces of metal, he begins picking the locks. 1:13. already three of the locks have been removed. 1:45 in. he's finished unshackling his ankles. after holding his breath for two minutes, he unlocks his wrists, leaving the four locks on top of the box the only things between him and a breath of fresh air. one. two. holding his breath for nearly three minutes, he has only one lock left. >> let him hear you one more time! [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: he begins fumbling with the last lock. worried, they begin to lower the box to the ground. the guys rush to free him from the box.
>> you okay? you okay? are you okay? you okay? >> what -- fine, fine, fine, fine. >> what's wrong? >> i feel fine. >> are you cold? you're shaking. >> reporter: paramedics come over. >> love you, spencer! [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: they're taking him to the hospital. it starts to make you question, are these undue risks? risks they shouldn't take? >> it doesn't matter if it's undue, they're not going to stop doing them. >> reporter: skeptics saying the mishap was part of the publicity stunt. writing on social media, can we believe illusionists? what people do to become famous. lol, great acting.
a second brush with death in the span of just a few months might seem hard to believe. >> the supernaturalist! >> reporter: vegas-based illusionist criss angel is the mastermind of this trick and the supernaturalist's multi-city kickoff which they present promoting. >> people might say, you're getting publicity risking a man's life. >> this is not the type of publicity i want. >> reporter: at the coney island sideshow, risk of bodily harm is ever-present. ray valens is the resident sword swallower. during the course of a typical show day, ray will swallow a spinal cord abo sword about 25 times. >> someone who says i'm risking my health swallowing swords would be absolutely right. >> reporter: internal bleeding, a punctured esophagus, perforated lungs, and death can all happen if something goes awry. adam reelman teaches sideshow acts. >> the most dangerous thing in a
side see show is sword swallowing. >> reporter: danger is part of the attraction. they start slow with bent coat hangers. when they master that they charge on to the heavy artillery. >> oh my god. >> reporter: practice makes perfect. but can any amount of practice make these stunts safer? >> that's it. you're good. >> the body will begin to shut down. >> reporter: we caught up with spencer the day after his water torture stunt landed him in the hospital. so walk us through what happened. >> started getting lightheaded, a headache. i remember opening the last lock but then for whatever reason not fully getting it. >> reporter: what he finds most agonizing is the failure. >> i take pride in what i do. if i fail at one of my presentations then i fail as a performer. >> reporter: for spencer and others like him this tango with death is part of the job. >> isn't this mother nature's way of tell yogto stop this? >> i want to keep on, i don't want to disappoint the audience. >> reporter: juju chang in new
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many of the world's most beautiful people are here in new york for fashion week. but while some came from london or paris, a growing group hails from the heartland. turns out middle america is actually a gold mine for untapped potential. tonight abc's maria schiavo campo joins the hunt for the next supermodel. >> she's tall, long legs, she's cute. >> in the blue? >> reporter: marian and jeff are high-fashion model scouts, scoping crowds in small-town malls. >> you like her? >> yeah. >> reporter: on the hunt for fashion's next it girl or guy. >> do you model already? >> no, ma'am. >> you're so beautiful.
you both are. how old are you? >> 17. >> can i give you a card? >> reporter: with a glance they know if a girl has runway potential. >> you're so beautiful. >> thank you. >> i'd love to talk to your parents, talk to you about it, have them go to our website. nice to meet you, i hope to hear from you. >> thank you. >> she's at an age she could really pursue this on a bigger scale. she's absolutely beautiful. >> reporter: mary and jeff say the midwest is an untapped gold mine for supermodels in the making. >> would you be interested in modelling? >> reporter: the husband and wife team's business took off when mary discovered this guy at an iowa bar. yep. that's ashton kutcher. >> tell me about ashton. what stood out? >> i remember thinking he was gorgeous. really beautiful. and big personality. extremely confident. right out of the gate. i was like, whoa!
yeah. >> reporter: here's ashton at his humble beginning. his first modeling job. selling $20 jeans for montgomery ward. and then there's supermodel carly clause. one of the highest-paid models in the world. found in a missouri mall model search. >> carly at the time was 13 years old. 5'6". a few years later she'd had this major growth spurt. at that point i think she was maybe 5'9". >> three inches and you were like, yes! >> yeah. yes. >> reporter: they run their mom and pop operation out of their basement in darden prairie, missouri. >> this is our active roster of models that we have that are traveling around the world, different markets. >> yeah, probably out of those 15 -- >> probably three will work out. >> reporter: mary and jeff say their latest discovery, 20-year-old elijah harrison -- >> do you have a farmer's tan?
>> reporter: and 18-year-old hazel crew, are on the verge of something big. >> go get it. sheep are so dumb. >> reporter: hazel still lives in iowa with her family on this 125-year-old sheep farm. at nearly 6 feet tall with legs for days, hazel just walked her first runway shows in paris for designe erers scaparelli and ro and russo. >> you can't hold back, be that shy sheep farmer. >> reporter: hazel is on her way. elijah is about to take his first step, a trip to new york city. mary and jeff have set up a meeting with an agent, the same one who launched channing tatum's career. that's a lot of pressure for a guy they found four months ago the a gas station in hannibal, missouri. >> he walked in front of us. we both were like -- didn't really say much to each other, just jumped out of the car and went in.
>> which is always the best sign. >> where you both agree? >> yes, and we don't even have to talk. >> i noticed this guy just kind of checking me out. and i'm like, dude. what's your problem? >> he had the height, he had the build. really chiseled. >> i had never thought about a career in fashion or the fashion industry. >> the right person looks at him and says, i love this guy. boom. it can go like this. >> come over this way a little. >> reporter: mary and jeff are spending months of their time preparing alijah. >> be a little more relaxed. >> like that. just how you are right now. >> reporter: and investing thousands of dollars in test shoots. >> it looks tense. maybe dig in deep. find something that's like, oom, know what i mean? >> reporter: with no guaranteed commission unless he gets signed in new york and starts booking work. >> he's so -- fearless. >> reporter: the stakes are high for him too.
he dropped out of school and quit his job just to give modeling a shot. >> i think we got it. >> yeah. good job. >> that's a wrap. >> yes! >> reporter: a few days later, alijah boards the second plane he's ever been on and arrives in new york for the first time. his father don by his side. >> i certainly wasn't going to let my youngster come all the way to new york city all by himself. i haven't travel ad round too much. the biggest city i've been too is st. louis. my dream is to travel the world. this might be my first step. >> it is pretty overwhelming. this is so different than anything i've ever seen or been a part of. i have so many feelings going on. a little nervous. excited. anxious. like when they say it's delayed they're not kidding. >> reporter: it's time for the meeting with the agent that could change his whole life. >> let me see your hair. >> reporter: at soul art
management, jason canner is the guy he's been waiting to meet. >> my name's alijah harrison, 20 years old, from hannibal, missouri. >> reporter: he struts his stuff. >> okay, guys. >> let's go in the office. >> have a chitchat. >> the shape that you're in is perfect. so there's nothing to change. just i want to know exactly how tall you are and get you going with testing. we definitely want to sign you. >> right on. >> cool. >> congratulations. >> yeah, thanks. >> cool. >> welcome. >> thank you. >> the trajectory that alijah harrison could have would be shows for either versace, calvin klein, louis vuitton, tommy hilfiger would be interested in the states. >> it's like a dream. >> it was just a sweet moment. those are the moments that you don't forget. that's why we love what we do. >> reporter: it's just the beginning for alijah. but for mary and jeff they're
already thinking about their next big find. >> in the back of your mind you are thinking, when's the next scouting trip? even right now on my watch it says, taylor swift, denver. we're always thinking of where we're going to find the next person. >> yeah. >> reporter: for "nightline," maria-campo in new york. and next, at the big gop debate it seemed there wasn't anybody who could agree on anything. but online the vote was unanimous. tonight, how this guy won the internet and his intriguing identity revealed. what if one sit-up could prevent heart disease? one. wishful thinking, right? but there is one step you can take to help prevent another serious disease. pneumococcal pneumonia. if you are 50 or older, one dose of the prevnar 13® vaccine can help protect you from pneumococcal pneumonia, an illness that can cause coughing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and may even put you in the hospital. even if you have already been vaccinated with another pneumonia vaccine,
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faced off last night, one face drew unexpected attention offstage. who was that mystery man setting hearts aflut over twitter? >> the simple fact is -- >> excuse me one second. >> no. >> reporter: at last night's gop debate hosted by cnn the gotcha moments came early and often. >> rand paul shouldn't even ob this stage, he's number 11, he's got 1% in the polls. >> reporter: in politics it's all about the numbers. >> hillary clinton. >> hillary clinton. >> hillary clinton. >> reporter: hillary clinton was mentioned 32 times. trump stood silence for 37 minutes. and an unprecedented 23 million viewers tuned in. but to many last night's big winner wasn't even on stage, he was that unnamed fellow with hollywood looks and perfectly coifed person behind jake tapper. trending on twitter. one viewer writing, the hottie behind yank tapper makes politics worth watching. today mystery man revealed as 24-year-old greg caruso, seen
here, an aspiring filmmaker and son of millionaire developer rick caruso. proving that money and good looks may not buy you love our votes but it doesn't hurt. don't miss him on "gma" tomorrow. as for last night's debate it was groucho marx who said, politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere. thanks for watching abc news. as always we're online 24/7 on our "nightline" field goal page and abcnews.com.