Dean Gunnarson has been an Inside Magic Favorite for decades. He is death-defying and fearless and, soon, a cartoon.
Mr. Gunnarson recently went to Kickstarter to announce plans to launch a comic book, The World’s Most Daring Escape Artist. The book will be a 32-page anthology written by Lovern Kindzierski, author of the acclaimed Shame trilogy. Mr. Kindzierski has written for Marvel, Heavy Metal, Dark Horse and Penny Farthing Press. Renowned British comic book artist, Simon Bisley, will create the artwork and award-winning British artist, Glenn Farby will illustrate the cover.
Mr. Gunnarson is currently starring on the OLN show tamely titled Escape or Die. The show is a fascinating look into the hours of preparation that goes into the escapes staged around the world.
The comic book will include stories behind three of Mr. Gunnarson’s most famous escapes: The Russian Death Tank, The Shark Bait Escape and The Snake Temple.
The campaign is just starting out but looks like it is off to a great start. We hope it gets fully funded and look forward to the book.
Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson is bringing his Canadian TV Show “Escape or Die” to The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia.
We assume the asylum (referred to by those in the know as TALA) is no longer functioning as an institution but it is the subject of historic preservation efforts. Mr. Gunnarson’s visit will help in those efforts through ticket sales.
“The ten dollars per seat actually stays at the asylum for further preservation efforts, so it’s definitely going to a good thing, and we figured, who wouldn’t want to be on international TV?” said Rebecca Jordan Gleason, TALA Operations Manager.
The hospital also raises funds through “haunted” tours and holiday-themed events. Check out their spooky website for more information about the facilities and Mr. Gunnarson’s appearance. You can visit Mr. Gunnarson’s website at AlwaysEscaping.com and the Escape or Die site here.
The headlines coming across our teletype here at the Inside Magic News Room confirmed that Criss Angel succeeded in his “Houdini Death escape” at the lovely Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Anxious editors stood hunched over the clicking wire machines as they typed out the news that Las Vegas magician and television star Criss Angel entertained “a crowd of hundreds of fans from a 75-foot crane, while restrained in a regulation straitjacket with a 50 lb. weight hanging from of his neck by a noose.”
One of the grizzled old copy editors dropped his filterless cig into his coffee mug. “Well, I’ll be . . .” he said to no one as he reviewed the news feed.
Yessir, It was quite a day around the horseshoe-shaped city desk here at Inside Magic.
According to local news reports, Mr. Angel was “suspended upside down by his feet, arms constricted in a straitjacket, dangling from a 75-foot-high crane, with a 50-pound weight hanging from a noose around his neck, Angel wiggled and swung his way to freedom, seeming to rock to the beat of loud electro-rock music.”
The performer dedicated his performance to America’s veterans in keeping with the spirit of the day.
How did the 46 year-old feel?
“My legs are just spent,” he said. “I spent a lot more time up there than I would have liked to.”
Mr. Angel told reporters he succeed only half the time in rehearsals.
One school child told the local paper, “It seems almost impossible to get out of that, so it must be magic. I thought it was scary, cause he could fall and hurt himself really badly.”
Mr. Angel is performing his new touring show, Mindfreak Live at Foxwoods Thursday through Saturday.
His latest escape attempt defies both belief and the naturally imprinted sense of self-preservation. Mr. Gunnarson's had him miles high in the frigid mountains of Xining, China. (Think Superman's crystal home or Wolverine's den).
He intended to be locked and chained by the Chinese military inside a tomb of ice on a frozen lake high in the mountains. His goal: to escape within 100 seconds before a bus explodes and drops on him.
From the press release:
Locked and chained by the Chinese military inside of a tomb of ice on a frozen lake high in the mountains in China. A ten ton bus loaded with explosives will be raised above him by a crane and then, Gunnarson will have exactly 100 seconds (an important number in China) before the bus will explode and drop on him from a timer, crushing the ice tomb and him if he is inside. Dean will attempt this escape on a frozen lake that is the largest in all of China. It is located about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m (10,515 feet) above sea level in a depression of the Tibetan Plateau in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, located between Tibet and Mongolia. This escape is extremely dangerous because of the cold but even more so from the high evaluation and lack of oxygen this high up.
Mr. Gunnarson told Inside Magic that he has been training in the thin air but it brought on altitude sickness. “The lack of air and trying to do even small things just leaves me grasping for breath. This is like nothing I have ever encountered before.”
If he lives, the Chinese government will award him the title "World's Greatest Escape Artist." If he fails, he will likely not be given the title of World's Greatest Escape Artist. We're just guessing about this. The Chinese press did not discuss what happens if the bus explodes and lands on him whilst still chained.
As loyal readers of Inside Magic know, Mr. Gunnarson is a very scary man. He seems so nice and gentlemanly but there's a crazy side to him. He does stunts that are anything but sure-fire or fixed. Check out his mistiming while trying to escape from a roller coaster track. That escape (sort of) was in China as well. We hope he has correctly converted the 100 seconds into the metric equivalent and escapes unharmed. The roller coaster collision shattered his ankle and fibia.
According to press accounts, this is Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson’s first tour of Australia and judging from the favorable press, it will certainly not be his last.
But then again, as an escape artist with a penchant for pushing the envelope with no concern for paper cuts, Mr. Gunnarson comes harrowingly close to making every performance his last.
Inside Magic readers will no doubt recall Mr. Gunnarson’s near-death experience in China last year. He was able to free himself of the shackles and came very close to clearing the hurtling roller-coaster and landing safely on a stunt cushion.
Somewhere we heard that Force is equal to Mass times Acceleration.
We don’t know if that is true or if it is just the kooky theories cooked up by the crazy kids in their college classes.
But assuming there is a positive correlation between mass, acceleration and force, a steel framed roller coaster traveling at 62 miles per hour would likely bring a significantly larger force to bear on a human leg than would the human leg impose on said roller coaster.
The must-read web site Wild about Harry reports that next stop on the Houdini: Art and Magic tour is Los Angeles, California.
Even 85 years after his passing, the showman still packs ’em in. The show was boffo at The Jewish Museum in New York and organizers appear to be doubling down on the presentation by adding a retrospective of Jewish Magicians entitled, Masters of Illusions: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age.
The exhibition’s home in Los Angeles will be at the appropriately fancy Skirball Cultural Center. The doors will spring open on April 28, 2011.
But wait, there’s even more. According to Wild About Harry, “[o]ne notable change to the Houdini Art and Magic exhibition will be the inclusion of John Gaughan’s authentic working replica of Houdini’s Water Torture Cell. The Gaughan replica will ONLY be displayed at this L.A. stop.”
The web site promises full coverage of the exhibition, the comings and goings of noted guests and special side events. Look for lectures featuring Joshua Jay, Mike Caveney, Max Maven, and Marvyn (“Mr. Electric”) Roy.
Be sure to keep the site on your favorites list for the latest news.
We told you about his plan to survive two days below ground. Locked in a coffin, buried under tons of dirt, and, to make it harder, a committee would bind his arms and legs with shackles before placing him in the aforementioned coffin in the ground.
He hoped to escape where many have failed. Even Houdini believed the escape was too dangerous.
Well, he made it out alive and convinced he does not want to be buried when the time comes for the divine recycling.
“I know one thing for sure, when my soul is done with my body I don’t ever want to be buried again,” Dean Gunnarson said. “I’m going to see Pete (Kilcollins) to cremate me and they can sprinkle my ashes on some flowers.”
Pete Kilcollins brought Dean to the Buried Alive stunt site in a hearse used in the Kilcollins’ cremation business.
Dean wanted to erupt from the freshly packed soil at precisely 1:26 p.m. on October 31st to link his emergence from the grave with Harry Houdini’s passing from this life in 1926.
According to The Sun, after Dean dug through the topsoil to daylight, he collapsed momentarily.
His estimation of the stunt matched Houdini’s: “It was pure hell digging my way up,” a dirt-covered Gunnarson said. “The weight was crushing and I couldn’t breathe. It was tough.”
Readers know we have a tough time watching underwater or underground escapes. The elements of earth and sea do not always cooperate with a performer: currents shift, burial plots cave in. Like a lion tamer, the escape artist can perform only if the adversary behaves or at least behaves predictably.
Michael Griffin will sink to the bottom of the strong-willed Ohio River at noon today.
A committee will bind him in shackles, chains, and more chains all locked to a 20 pound cinder block designed to pull him from the surface to the river bed where he will either escape or stay forever.
If you are in the Marietta, Ohio area, you can see the stunt at the Public dock located at the ends of Front and Post Streets by the Lafayette Hotel.
And speaking of the Lafayette Hotel, Michael is performing a full show tomorrow (Saturday) night at 8:00 pm. He hopes the escape will give an enticing taste of what will be served in full courses tomorrow night.
But other than promoting his show, why would Michael Griffin risk his life?
As a special sneak preview for his show Saturday night 8:00PM Oct 30 at the historic Lafayette Hotel http://www.thelafayettehotel.com.Why is Michael Griffin willing to challenge death by drowning handcuffed, shackled and weighted down?
We hear Michael wants to perform the escape to show people what a real escape artist does for a living. Once he sinks into the rapid current of the watery boundary between Ohio and West Virginia, his survival depends on his ability to stay calm and execute the escape. There are no camera angles, no re-takes, no stooges or hidden assistants with keys and spare canisters of air.
In short, Michael Griffin will perform a very real escape with very real risks before a very real audience. Not, he points out, some scene created for TV, “a Chris Angel style camera tricks and paid stooges.”
This Friday, October 29th, Inside Magic Favorite and world-renown escape artist Dean Gunnarson will go for broke.
We have mentioned several times that Dean Gunnarson is nuts and should be stopped before he kills himself again. (Recall that one of his first coffin escapes ended in him dying but resuscitated by incredible medical professionals). His newest stunt could bring incredible fame or posthumous second-guessing.
Here are the details of what he hopes to accomplish:
Dean will be chained, locked, and bound and placed inside a steel coffin;
The lid will be locked on and wrapped in even more chains and locks on the outside;
The coffin, with Dean securely locked inside, will be lowered 6 feet underground;
Dean will be buried alive with over 3 tons of dirt dumped on top of him.
He will remain within the coffin and beneath the 6,000 pounds of dirt for two days; and,
Dean will then attempt to escape on Sunday Halloween Day around 1:26 P.M. The exact day and time the Great Houdini died in 1926.
We should point out that he will not have access to water, food, or similar accoutrements.
Dean said his boyhood wish was to die on the same day as his mentor, Houdini.
Of course, Houdini would not have performed the stunt in the first place. The great escape artist tried it out with assistants at the ready. He nearly died. Houdini wrote in his diary that the escape was “very dangerous” and that “the weight of the earth is killing.”
“I know that from a physical and mental stand point this will be my most challenging escape ever,” said Gunnarson. “The last time I was locked in a coffin I died. (He was underwater for nearly 4 minutes before the coffin was raised back out of the murky waters and rescuers found his blue lifeless body). I never wanted to be in another one and I never have. I will have to conquer all my personnel fears and demons to make this escape on Halloween.”
I have been back in China performing more big and dangerous escapes for the last ten days.
As you know, on July 26th I was hit by a speeding Roller Coaster while filming my TV special in Beijing.
Two months to the day after having my foot crushed as I leaped almost clear of the coaster, I was in Chengdu, China attempting, yes, another and even more dangerous Coaster escape.
I was chained and handcuffed to the tracks of one of China’s newest and fastest roller coaster. This time I was doing it on a live television show, with a live audience, swarms of media representatives, and, of course, a broken foot.
The escape was to promote many upcoming escapes I will be performing throughout the 61st Anniversary of National Day.
The National Day is actually a week, running from October first through the seventh.
On this day, the Chinese celebrate their victory over the evil democratic Chinese that were forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949 after they lost the civil war.
(So what better way to celebrate this Historic day then to bring in an escape artist that liberates himself from constant live and death manacles and symbolizes Freedom?)