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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All tied up! » » Help needed for new escape artist (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Acextreme
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Hello, I want to start performing in the exciting arena of escapology. However, I am also a total noob in this department. I am willing to put in whatever is necessary but I need some help.

First, how would you advise me on where to begin? Naturally, I am interested in straits-jacket escapes as that's kind of the de-facto standard to be in any escapologist's repertoire. I got myself the Dixie Dooley's DVD on Escapology and had gone through it. I think the 100-feet rope challenge is good too, so is some other classics that he taught within. But somehow I feel that he's not concise enough when dealing with the straits-jacket & hand-cuffs section as well as many other escapes. Is there any better resources and materials somewhere else that I ought to look into? Please recommend...

Second, I intend to put together a 30-60 minutes escapology act but need help in finding exciting and impressive escape routines. Some of the items I thought are interesting are the 100-feet rope challenge, Siberian-chain escape, Houdini Rope Tie, Spirit Rope Tie, straits-jacket escape, etc. If you noticed, since the only material I had on the fine art of escapology is the Dixie Dooley's DVDs, thus all of what I know came from that. And because I have a very limited knowledge, I need help in selecting escape routines. I did my research on this subject on the internet but was lost in the process but all the various variations of straits-jackets and the likes. If you can help in any way like letting me know what kind of escapes routines are out there on the market, or what materials/resources I should read, please kindly point me to that. I will take all effort to learn this art.

I know this kind of questions are kinda noob-ish to all the pros out there but please be kind and patient with me. Thanks in advance for your help. Any help is greatly appreciated. You definitely have my gratefulness. And have a blissful white Christmas this coming week.
Acextreme
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Oh, and any views on the Jay Leslie's "Strait Jacket Escape" DVD? How does it fare? Is it a very concise resource on everything that you need to know about escaping from a strait jacket?

Thanks! Smile
Cliffg37
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If you seriously want advice on how to do escapes, you have started off with good material. Remember, it won't be very good for you unitl you put your style to it. If you go to visit Steve Baker, he has two books out on the subject of putting together a show and making it work. I's say they are quite valuable. look for him at http://www.mrescape.com

good luck
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drwilson
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There aren't very many good books on escapes, which is both good news and bad news. The good news is that you could put together a very complete library for a fraction of what you might spend on, say, card trick books. The bad news is that you will have to fill in the gaps with your own style, personality, and creativity. Actually, that's good news too.

I like the Novak books (a series of eight books) available from Cannon's. I also like the Hades Encyclopedia of Escapes, also available from Cannon's. I recommend the Jay Leslie Strait Jacket video; it is very helpful.

While you are at it, sign up for WEAR 2007:

http://www.ibmring362.org/WEAR2007.html

Yours,

Paul
ufo
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I second the good Dr's recommendations on the titles he listed. Another thing to keep in mind is that doing a whole show of escapes is very tricky indeed. You must avoid the "see I can get out of ropes, and now I can get out of chain, and now I can get out of a strait jacket, and now I can get out of a box, and now I can get out of a different box with another rope, etc, etc,"
The repeated "tying-securing" process can look very much the same and become quite tedious to an audience if it doesn't carry some kind of dramatic weight to keep thier interest building. Read all the books, watch all the videos and do sign up for WEAR '07!
"What's your drug?" she asked. "Hope" he said, "The most addicting one of all."
Margarette
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Quote:
On 2006-12-20 18:56, Acextreme wrote:

I know this kind of questions are kinda noob-ish to all the pros out there but please be kind and patient with me.


Asking questions is how we learn. Look at my signature!

If you will be venturing into handcuffs, there are quite a few books out there...the Alex Nichols books, the Dick Norman book, and Joe Lauher's Handcuff Annuals. The HMTK, available from Cannon's, is a great way to learn how to open handcuffs without the key.

In putting together routines into an act, you need to examine a few things: 1) how do I want to portray myself (comedy, serious, etc. and the subdivisions of those), 2) how do I want the audience to connect to me as a performer, 3) how can I connect all these routines together to make them flow.

The main thing to realize about escapes is that they aren't a magic trick. It takes skill...and practice...lots of practice. Yes, I do know a lot of magic tricks do take skill and practice, too. I can only speak for myself, but I enjoy the handcuffs and locks & chain escapes. In order to expand my knowledge, I took a locksmithing class. Learning how to pick open a lock is something that takes time to learn to do. Now, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will be successful. Now, in addition to doing magic and escapes and building jails, I'm also a licensed locksmith!

Margarette
The only stupid question is the one not asked.
Acextreme
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Quote:
On 2006-12-21 09:38, ufo wrote:
I second the good Dr's recommendations on the titles he listed. Another thing to keep in mind is that doing a whole show of escapes is very tricky indeed. You must avoid the "see I can get out of ropes, and now I can get out of chain, and now I can get out of a strait jacket, and now I can get out of a box, and now I can get out of a different box with another rope, etc, etc,"
The repeated "tying-securing" process can look very much the same and become quite tedious to an audience if it doesn't carry some kind of dramatic weight to keep thier interest building. Read all the books, watch all the videos and do sign up for WEAR '07!


I understand what you are getting at. So how do we escape such a predicament? Afterall, that's exactly what we are doing to the audience, isn't it?
Acextreme
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@ drwilson

I think that's a good thing too. I will look into the Novak series and the Encyclopedia of Escapes. Now, about the Jay Leslie's Strait Jacket Escape, can you elaborate more on that. I want to know about various kinds of strait jackets, gimmicked or non-gimmicked, and what are the advantageous of various types before jumping in and buy one. Is it very concise and comprehensive? Does it educate me on all that I need to know about strait jackets?



@Margarette

I wanted to do handcuffs too, but I just found out that over here in Singapore, handcuffs are considered weapons and are prohibited by law against individuals owning one. Oh my God, we have a very stringent law system here, don't we? I am in the process of searching if there's a possibility for me to obtain a license so that I can perform this in my show.

Then, maybe chain escapes is the only other option I have should handcuffs be impossible to perform. I don't know if they allow gimmicked cuffs here; I am also in the middle of searching for an answer. Any routines that you think can be a great substitute for handcuffs? Maybe the "quick release chain handcuffs" or what Dixie calls the "Shanghai Shackles"?
Russell_LA
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I am also a beginner, starting to learn and figure out directions I want to explore. Personally, I have just started reading the Steve Baker books and think they are good texts. His books talk about developing an escape act, style, and many aspects of working with escapes in a variety of venues. They are more about your act than a direct "how to" text. They discuss territory Margarrette mentions above concerning presentation and style. Actually, I think the Baker books can be helpful to a performer in almost any field. He's a man with years of experience, and he's put a lot of knowledge into those books.

I find the Jay Leslie DVD helpful. He presents the information in a very straightforward manner. He does show a variety of jackets, and discusses the differences. He talks you through various techniques and discusses them in an easy-to-understand method. He doesn't escape from every jacket known to man but he discusses methods you can use and adapt with practice to whatever you might encounter. The video also captures Jay's enthusiasm for what he does. (I have met Jay, he's a great guy!)

Hope that helps...

Russell
"You cannot kill the boogeyman."
- Halloween
drwilson
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Jay Leslie goes through various kinds of gaffed jackets, and some excellent techniques for dealing with nongaffed jackets. If you are not sure what jacket to get, get the Jay Leslie DVD and the Novak straitjacket book, and you will know most of what you can learn on the subject without actually escaping from various jackets.

If you are just escaping from a straitjacket with no time or danger element involved, there is no real reason for a gaffed jacket. Even in this case, though, there are many different styles, each with its own look and particular advantages and disadvantages.

How to build a show that is dramatic, interesting, and conveys what you want to convey is a difficult subject that is not easily learned from books. There is no substitute for learning by experience. After you have learned from some of your own mistakes, it is worthwhile looking around for a teacher.

I was very fortunate to have taken Harley Newman's stunt workshop. Everyone who has seen me perform both before the workshop and after has asked me what the *** Harley did to me in that workshop. When you are ready, perhaps you will have an opportunity to learn from a great teacher like Harley.

Yours,

Paul
Acextreme
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Oh, on the subject of strait jackets, I was looking at the posey roller buckle style that cannon carries. And I noticed that there are belly loops, which I believe is to prevent you from bringing your arms above your head, which is one of the most common method to escape and is taught in the Dixie Dooley's DVDs. And I have been thinking, how do I escape from that then? Does the Jay Leslie DVDs or the Novak books talk about this?

Well, I did notice that Cannon's lecture might touch on this belly loop thing while I was browsing Cannon's site. However, if those 2 materials covers this, then I can hold back the purchase of the lecture to a later date. Afterall, I am also affected by the laws of economics since I don't have unlimited money and have to consider the opportunity cost and such... Smile
Doc Allgood
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I also have to recommend the French Transport Chains by Steve Baker. I got mine in and have been playing with them nonstop. They are perfect for an in-and-out routine and great for building report with the audience. His worksmanship is exceptional and you get a pretty decent amount of stuff for the nominal price. It would be a good option instead of handcuffs, as well.

Also, for the straitjacket, Cannons sells a roller-buckle jacket with no belly or side loops. The roller buckles make it much easier for the audience to put you in the jacket and also helps you get a little more slack.
Harley Newman
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It's very rare to find an audience member who even knows that belly loops exist. And the ones that do, pretty much don't care.

They want to be entertained, which has a zero correlation to your preferred SJ, or how many kinds of cuff you can pick. Zero. They don't care if there's a gimmick or not. They just want a Kick-*ss show. And that's what you should give them.

And Doc, thanks for the good words. You're a prize!

May everybody here have a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate! And a happy and profitable new year!
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Kondini
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Back to the original post>>>>> Just because you feel you would like to get into escapology as an entertainment does not meen that its suited to you or you to it. Save yourself a small fortune by going out and doing a simple escape in front of an audience before making that comittment.

The feeling of response and acceptance as an escapologist by the crowd may be less than you envisage.

On the other hand it could well be your forte,,,,,then would be the time to invest in this very difficult line of entertainment.

Good luck

Ken.
Acextreme
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Yup, I thought about that too, Kondini. I intend to put up a 15 minute show and then put it to the test by performing on the streets. If it fits me, then I will look into adding more items.

Thanks for everyone's help and drwilson's PM. I have read through everything and got plenty of things to think about after reading all your advices. Greatly appreciated. Smile
Russell_LA
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Good luck, and please keep us posted on your progress.

Knock 'em dead!
Russell
"You cannot kill the boogeyman."
- Halloween
RyanCarder
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If anyone of you people are just starting out with the art of escapology and need advice on anything from what ropes, to manipulating handcuffs , or any other questions please feel free to IM me at TheCuffKing on AIM. I can make video tutorials if those would help anyone.
jeremysweiss
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For people starting out, the main thing they need to know about is not about how to do an escape, which escape to do, what gimmick to buy or what video/book to own. The main thing you need to know about is DRAMA. Everyone coming into that space, be it a theater, a street show or at a person's house, knows that you are going to get out of that predicament. Especially if they are coming to see "The Amazing Escap-o, the Mediocre"

You have to make escapes enjoyable to watch. That can be by adding a sense of danger and tension which will culminate in a relief (e.g. hanging upside down as the rope burns). Or it can be funny and goofy (e.g. Leslie and Harry Anderson's SJ vs Rope tie competition) or both--e.g. Penn and Teller's SJ escape to Casey at the Bat).

Jay Marshall was known for his thumb tie (among other things). Think about that. A thumb tie? What the h**l is a thumb tie and why on earth would the audience care about two thumbs tied together with pipe cleaners? how on earth is THAT problem ever going to come up? But he made it amazing.

There is PLENTY of advice out there on straightjackets and handcuffs--gimmicked or not. You can get all you need from Cannon's, Mickey Hades, Novack, etc. You can buy (amazing)stuff from Ian Mccoll. You can study locksmithing. You can build it yourself. But nothing will make your an escape artist other than presentation. If you have the right presentation, you can hold an audience SPELLBOUND while your two thumbs are PIPE-CLEANER BOUND. The key is to figure out an interesting, coherent presentation with a gripping angle.

I am no expert. I have studied escapes for years and I am just now starting to perform. I have been given some great advice by Harley and Paul and Kondini (all who have written above) and the advice that they gave me (which has been the most valuable to me) is the advice I just gave you. I have one escape that is my closer. It brings down the house--because it sucks the audience in.
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ufo
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AMEN Jeremy
*Thats what I was refering too about staging the show and avoiding dull repetition. Craft a show with a flow of logic and excitement for the audience. Harley (as usual) is absolutely right about what audiences care about!
"What's your drug?" she asked. "Hope" he said, "The most addicting one of all."
Acextreme
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I have thought through what you said. Just to clarify some points, wouldn't getting the audience up on the stage as a challenge and tie you with a 100 foot of rope generate that kind of interest that you are referring to? Or maybe having an audience member count the seconds that goes by as you attempt to free yourself from a SJ, with the addition of suspenseful music playing in the background?

I was wondering how anyone with a little presentation such as above could actually make escapes boring? To me, escapes seems like an artform that is interesting and intriguing to watch. Just looking at someone attempting it is fun to watch, isn't it?
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