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Topic: When to call yourself an escape artist ?
Message: Posted by: Mind Freak (May 26, 2005 11:56PM)
Any input greatly appreciated!
When is it safe to call yourself an escape artist, and how do you know when you are ready for the big time? I assume you just don't jump into the fire! But how would you know if you are good enough to begin with?

Roger :)
Message: Posted by: Roslyn (May 27, 2005 02:54AM)
Ok, when I first started learning escapes I found there are two types of EA. The first one is the purest. A member of the "I don't use gaffed props" brigade. The second is the performer, someone who's primary aim is to entertain.

Now break down the title. The first part is "escape". This is the easy bit. Learn to get out of stuff and you can call yourself an escapist or even an escapologist. BUT, to earn the rank of artist you must transform what you have learnt as an escapist and produce an entertaining routine/act/show or what ever. The emphasis here is art.

So to be a true escape artist you must be a performance artist that uses escapes as their medium to evoke reaction, emotion and spread your message. On this board you will find both. You will also find other people on here who aren't performing EA's bu have a great interest in Houdini and the history of the art. Also people who can produce restraints and other products you could not have even dreamed of, who may or may not be escape artists.

Then of course you have the masters. People like Steve Baker, Norm Bigelow and Kondini who have been doing this stuff for so long there isn't much they haven't seen or done.

I hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (May 27, 2005 04:06AM)
The sound of applause the signing of contracts,the repeat gigs,the growing bank account etc (Don`t forget the screaming teen girls who will stalk you everywhere!) When this starts to happen you will know you can call yourself an ea!!!

This will be out of your control,,,you will never make it happen,,it`s a slow process but these signs will tell you.

Oh yes,,,,you do jump into the fire,but only providing that you can get out in one piece and pick up a fat fee for doing it.
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (May 27, 2005 05:53AM)
A good guideline from the 'title' standpoint is: how do you present yourself?

Bill Brewe once told me, "If you do straight magic, call yourself a magician. If you do anything else, call yourself anything BUT a magician."

The same applies to escapes. If you do a show that's all escapes, or the bulk of your show is escapes, call yourself an escape artist. If you do a show that's only partly escapes, and want to avoid the 'challenge' hassle, call yourself a magician, illusionist or ANYTHING BUT an escape artist.

As reflected in the above posts, though, keep in mind that when you call yourself an escape artist, you need to be good enough to carry the mantle and deal with possible challenge requests (either by meeting the challenge or artfully circumventing the issue while still looking good). That takes time and experience.

When I was younger, I called myself an escape artist and held my own rather well. Now that I am older, stiffer and in dubious health; I call myself a 'mountebank,' doing escapes with a medieval slant as part of a routine of Ren-faire style magic.

Message: Posted by: Roslyn (May 27, 2005 06:19AM)
For those, like myself, who may not know what a Mountebank is I found this on Dictionary.com

mountebank MOUN-tuh-bank, noun:
1. An itinerant quack, as one who peddles medicine, who stands on a platform to appeal to the audience.
2. A charlatan; a boastful pretender to knowledge or a skill.

Mountebank comes from the Italian montambanco, montimbanco, from the phrase monta in banco, literally "mounts on bench" (i.e. "gets up on a bench").

This is such a great word. Thanks Steve
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (May 27, 2005 06:56AM)
Hey Doc, my Rennie moniker is Sir Tarnish, Rascal, Rogue, and Mountebank! Iíve use the mountebank title with almost every character Iíve developed (except the red-neck guy), even doing modern magic since the early 70's. I just like the way the word sounds!

Mumblepeas, the mildly marvelous mountebank!
Harry Murphy, Mountebank par excellent!!

Back in the day (60ís and 70ís) I called myself an Escape Artist with nothing more than a few hundred feet of rope, an Abbottís straightjacket, and a homemade Milk Can. With that and some brass I was booked at Auto Thrill Shows, County Fairs, and Carnivals. The only challenge I could even think about taking on was a rope challenge (and would probably not done the one that David got hit with in China!). I never bothered with handcuffs or chains back in the day.

Steve and Kondini have the best outlook on the subject. Me? Iím a mountebank who continually has to get out of trouble!
Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 27, 2005 07:22AM)
And to continue Konini's ones.

When the Cops fear you
When you start getting strange pains in your body
When people want to burn you at the stake...
Message: Posted by: pastorclyde (May 27, 2005 08:05AM)
In this great land you can call yourself anything you want. Living up to its expectations is something else however.

I can call myself a tightrope walker but I'd better be prepared for some high level balancing! Same is true here. I find, especially in repeat venues, people are "waiting for me." They have their own cuffs, locks, ropes, chains, restraints, ideas, challenges.... People love to put their best against yours so be ready. When you succeed in escaping, they LOVE it and usually issue a promise that they will see you again with a better challenge. For example, in two weeks I'm appearing for the third time at the same venue within a year. This requires a completely new show and I know I'll have a hundred or so locks there ready to be faced. Two men from that area have frequented my other shows in that area as if to "study up on me" so that they will be prepared when I return. Its an adrenaline junkies dream!

Everything you have heard from others is true. Though anyone doing an escape might call themselves an escape artist, Kondini gives some clear symptoms you can look for to distinquish between an escape artist and a successful escape artist. Not to brag, but to explain, I've never had the financial freedom (even though the ministry is more important to me than the pay) nor the fuss made over me as I have in response to doing escapes. When your contractor sends a seven-seater plane to pick you up for a gig and has you home again after the show and you are the lone passenger, something pretty cool is taking place. And believe it or not, even though I'm a pastor I find that women ease their way into your path and are suddenly available... be careful! A sure downfall!

A person can be very good at escapes but if they do it only behind closed doors they are not a performing ARTIST. If they perform well but only do escapes as a side line, they aren't really an ESCAPE artist.

So, call yourself what you will but know that others will measure you by the guideline you choose.

Message: Posted by: Wolflock (May 27, 2005 09:20AM)
Very good words Clyde. Between You an Kondini, There is a lifetimes worth of wisdom given right here in this thread.
Message: Posted by: pastorclyde (May 27, 2005 10:56AM)
While working I become convicted to retract some of what I stated. The way things were put I did a disservice to those who give endless hours freely to audiences who are unable to chase after them or others. By that I mean those who freely perform before nursing homes, hospitals, church groups and organizations.

When I was addressing "success" as an escape artist I was trying to say that you are successful when you have something the audience wants. How much you are paid or whether women (or men for the lady EAs here) chase after you is not a good measure.

In contrast, I am not a successful card shark. I cannot do the flourishes and movements that people like Shawn and others are able to do. I can call myself a card whatever but I don't have anything in that area that an audience would want to see.

So, having clarified that I beg the forgiveness of those who have couragesously served audiences out of the love of performing and love for the audience.