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.
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?)
Dean Gunnarson's exploits are known to magicians and escape afficianados around the world. Now, with the release of still images of his nearly fatal encounter with a speeding roller coaster, he has received notice and press coverage beyond expectation.
Early this morning, we received word from Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson, that things did not go as planned in his planned escape from the tracks of a speeding roller-coaster in Beijing.
The Toronto Sun had coverage this afternoon filling in the details of what must have been a horrific event.
Dean Gunnarson is insane but also very safe. That is to say, when he hangs by his toes over the Hoover Dam, he makes sure the wind speed is in the single digits and he has no butter or slippery goo on his boots. Despite his devotion to safety, he has had several near catastrophes over his career.
He began with hypothermia and near drowning in the frigid waters of Canada where the water and cold robbed him of a chance to escape from his shackles or the locked wooden casket. He's pulled, broken, snapped, and twisted body parts with verve much to the delight of fans and his medical professionals.
Still, as we have admitted on this magic news outlet and to professional mental health workers, his stuff scares us silly.
He had freed himself and was attempting to dive to safety when the roller-coaster car, which was travelling at nearly 100 km/h, clipped his right foot.
He sustained a broken bone in his foot and some internal bleeding.
He was in hospital Tuesday in Beijing but was hoping to return to Canada by Wednesday.
In his news release, Gunnarson said he believed hot and humid conditions, with a temperature of 36 C, contributed to him losing the extra split second he needed to completely avoid the bullet roller-coaster car.
The 46-year-old Manitoba resident – who has performed death-defying escapes around the world since he was in his teens – said this escape was a little too close for comfort.
"I have always said I don't do card tricks or pull bunnies out of a hat," Gunnarson said in his news release. "I push the envelope in an extreme way that tries to do the impossible with every great escape I have ever attempted. I like to keep things close but this was beyond close. It was near death."
The escape was part of Gunnarson's Bound for Danger world tour and was being shot for inclusion in a magic special on Chinese television.
This autumn, Gunnarson is planning an escape in which he will be locked inside a steel coffin and buried six feet underground for 48 hours.
After two days, he will attempt to escape on Halloween, the anniversary of the death in 1926 of legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.
Houdini wrote, "No one wants to see a man die, but they want to be there when it happens."
We received the following open letter to the Chinese Magic Community from Inside Magic Favorite Walter “Zaney” Blaney.
We debated whether to include the domain name for the offending web site. We did not want to give the pirates more traffic. We can attest, however, the site is as Mr. Blaney describes. They do indeed have David Copperfield performing Mr. Blaney’s world-famous Ladder Levitation. The image to the left is from the listing for the knock-off hoop. We pixelated the domain name the pirates used to prevent folks from copying their images. Ironies abound.
We fully support Mr. Blaney in his crusade against those who steal, knock-off, copy, or even “improve” on the inventions of our best magical minds. Mr. Blaney has always fought on behalf of all magic inventors — not just himself.
Some would suggest it is a losing cause. We think it is one of the most important causes in our craft and well worth fighting.
The peripatetic and personable team of Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster are on the ground giving the bird’s eye view of the low-down in Beijing, China.
How is it going over there?
From their latest entry, it sounds like Beijing may have found the secret to pulling off a great Magic convention.
Compare the reviews of prior FISMs.
This one is shaping up to be a humdinger.
Even though no magic was performed during the welcome banquet, Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster write it was still magical.
Yes, there was absolutely no magic in the dinner show, but we were treated to what appeared to be the absolute best in many facets of Chinese entertainment. Most people I spoke to afterwards said they wouldn’t have changed a thing and rated the first day of FISM 2009 a 9 out of 10.
That is high praise from real magicians who make their living entertaining real people all around the world. They’ve seen some lesser FISM iterations and have a perfect perspective.