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KerryJK
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Note this is in no way a discussion on the perfect EA physique (even if such a thing existed), just an observational thing.

In a magic club meeting recently I got talking with one of the members about escape artists, and he commented that escape artists tended to be "big blokes"; I however have found the reverse to be true, if anything (perhaps because excess bulk hinders flexibility?).. anyway, it got me thinking.

It's fair to say that everyone who undertakes this art with any seriousness is physically fit, because it's a physical discipline; Houdini, while of small build, took his strength and fitness very seriously indeed.

The biggest (physically) EA I can think of is the late Pete McCahon, though he was very much one of a kind. Out of the artists here on the café, Steven Chance is the owner of a powerhouse physique, but in general the escape artists I've seen have tended not to be big men. Toned, yes; muscled, yes; fit, definitely; just not often bulky.

Personally I train lean for flexibility and endurance; since getting seriously into escapes from a performance POV I lost a lot of weight, sacrificing bulk for a leaner, more flexible physique, although I'll admit this also has to do with looking better in a dress. But I'd love to hear the views on the rest of you on the topic. I re-iterate, this isn't a quest to find the perfect body; more an exploration of different artist's approach to the subject.
drwilson
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I'm 5' 5", sort of Houdini-sized. A friend of mine who was a wrestler in high school told me it was a great sport because no matter how you were built, there was a way to take advange of that. To some extent I think that would be true of escapes.

If you were tall, thin, and lithe, you could seem to just writhe out of those ropes and chains. If you are built like a fireplug, it looks like strength and dexterity. If you are built like a linebacker it would be easy to gain a lot of slack by tensing muscles.

I think the most serious requirement for escapes, besides basic fitness, is a commanding stage presence. You have to control those volunteers securing you and be prepared for challengers. Perhaps this explains some of the interpersonal firestorms you see in this area of the Café! It might also account for the impression that escape artists are "big blokes." They might be the size of astronauts and submariners, but they have a commanding presence, compared to, say, comedy-club magicians.

Yours,

Paul
pastorclyde
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I'm 5'7" and weigh in at 191 lbs (about 10 higher than desired.) I work out according to the escape I'm working toward. Right now its endurance running. I'm letting the abs go since I need the stomach to serve as a balloon during deep breathing. I'll get back on them once this escape is over.

Hope this helps...

Clyde
Kondini
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I think you have hit a nail pretty square on this,,,the outward image as perceaved on what an ea should look like,,,this would be at least half way there in getting your public to believe that you are what you say you are.

I spent many, many years in this image production,,took advice from publicity agents and listened to comments such as "He dosn`t even look the part" etc etc.
As time past I met many entertainers who had taken this on board not only in the escape / magic world but also in the field of music.
The most impressive was Striesland (Can`t spell sorry) Who had her nose altered and other ops which she considered would give her a better edge,,this had nothing to do with her natural singing talants it was clearly a presentation thing which rightly or wrongly bugged her to the extent of taking action.

In the world of escape performers there seems to be a lean towards the stocky outward look, proberly due to the escape illusion of power,fitness,the human struggle or fight for freedom illusion, how it`s perceived, so its natural to expect an escape artist to be able to handle him or her self.

Of course, there are the exceptions to the rule,,,David Deval had a body more like Tommy Coopers, Alan Alan is small and wirey etc etc. I feel it`s down to our own perception. Example Steve Baker looks the part,,,,,why ?

As for myself at 5`6" (Audience comment was "Biult like a brick ****house") Self improvement (Which increased the fee) Was to start shaving my head (Again not my idea, but one that over the years has made big bucks). Well judge for yourself see the pic on my site and decide for yourself,,,is this the correct portrayal or not.

Great observation Helen and yes these little points make the end result successfull or otherwise.
DavidEscapes
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Hi Everyone

There was a good thread over ay the sideshow community about this. I will go and dig it out in a minute.

I dropped quite a bit of muscle after a couple of injuries, followed by an operation to repair some shoulder damage, so I need to put it back on again in the next couple of months. I certainly think body image is important, though most of the sideshow people seemed to think it wasn't.

Here ya go:

http://com2.runboard.com/bthesideshowcommunity.fmainchat.t54
David Victor - The artist formally (and still occasionally) known as David Straitjacket.

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Kondini
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Hi D,
Held over, back in the morning !!
Yes I agree Sideshow image is anything goes providing you can deliver the goods but with ea image on a stand alone stage I think this is somewhat different.
KerryJK
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Wow.. 5'5, 5'6, 5'7 ... I'm 5'10 (170 lbs), I feel like a giant!
Kondini
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Did you fall asleep in a Greenhouse ?

Still Fact>>> Little fellows like me go for tall women.
DavidEscapes
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Personally I have always thought body image was just as important for sideshow, after all you are seen to be pushing boundaries of physical possibility, and anything that says, "hey this guys just like me", makes the statement that they can do it too.

You're all midgets Smile 6 foot and still growing (if those drugs I ordered from my email inbox do the job the claim.)

Hi Ken, I'm on my way down to London tommorrow, shows in Battersea park Saturday evening. fun fun fun.

Helen's growing fast! Did you order the same pills too? Is that a picture of you in a normal sized house?
David Victor - The artist formally (and still occasionally) known as David Straitjacket.

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KerryJK
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Nah, e-mail pills are no good; what you need is a good set of stilletto heels, or alternatively that big hat Paul has in his AV. I do have a 6'4 assistant, so I don't look quite so big stood next to him.

David, I do associate your sort of punk rock sideshow act with that thinner, Iggy Pop sort of physique (I'm a big fan of Sebastion "Wasp Boy/Bastard Son Of Tommy Cooper" Vittorini, who makes a big feature of his skinny build and as Wasp Boy takes it to extremes via corsetry) though as that thread states, there's a lot more variety depending on the gimmick of the performer; I guess really the called-for image is "interesting looking", the description Salvador Dali said he strove for.

Kondini's shaved head and bushy tache is a memorable image; you have your carrot-top hair, tartan trousers and impish smile, Paul his snake oil salesman gimmick, Chance his bulging biceps, Steve Baker his handsome features and so on.
Come to think of it, we're quite a varied bunch, aren't we?
The Donster
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Thought Kondini was already Married ?
DavidEscapes
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You mean the bushy tache right?
David Victor - The artist formally (and still occasionally) known as David Straitjacket.

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Cliffg37
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Helen I want you to know that even though we have never met, I have always looked up to you. I am 5 seven and a half on a good day. I am also very possibly the heaviest person in this thread (Helen & Clyde included). I do not let that stop me. Am I a contortionist? no. Can I still twist enough to pick a pair of handcuffs? yes. It is all in the presentation.
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
AJP807
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Hey Cliff, 245lbs according to my bathroom scale. Can you top that?
Tony Parisi
The Donster
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I know someone who can top 245 lbs.
DavidEscapes
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Who are you calling carrot top Helen, I am blond G*&*^m you! Don't make me come to leeds and put chilli powder in your knickers Smile

I do go for the Iggy, punk type look though, that much I'll admit.
David Victor - The artist formally (and still occasionally) known as David Straitjacket.

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Cliffg37
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Uh Tony,

Not to act like I am proud to be overweight, but I either top you by a wee bit, or we tie. But you are probebly 6'4"
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
ufo
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While I am by no stretch of anyone's imagination, a picture of physical perfection..(LOL)....I think that shape is important in shaping audience impact for an escape act. If it is to be believed that you are capable of feats of strength, force, and agility, endurance, you must (in my opinion) like any actor playing any part...look somewhat believable. This is why Pee-Wee Herman NOR Marlon Brando could get cast as an excape artist. There are many ways to project that believable ability from stage besides being "ripped" but some appearance of "wellness and fitness", is necessary.

-Ed
"What's your drug?" she asked. "Hope" he said, "The most addicting one of all."
thorndyke
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Uhm Tom Gallo is billed as the world's heaviest escape artist on a circus poster I have. From the one photo of him I've seen I'd have to go along with that description! Hardeen was a powerfully built man, but too tall for the WTC. Don Virgo was a scrawny build kind of guy, and once slipped one wrist out of a fully closed model 100! Kind of freaked me out to see that. I girl I once worked with used to annoy the hell out me by idly playing with her Peerless cuffs....snapping it on her wrist then pulling her hand out like it wasn't even a closed cuff. She had no interest in performing escapes though.
RickSilmser
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I'm 48 years old and still have a 34 inch waist at 6 feet and 175. Ms.Held...my ex. wife is 6 feet 1 inch tall...(can Welsh women be considered amazons ?) My wife now is only 5 feet 4 inches tall and thinks that Steve Baker is a cutie as well.

~Rick~
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