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.
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.
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.”
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?)
Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson is one of the fittest folks we know. That’s one advantage of being an escape artist. A recent study by the non-profit (but not by choice) Inside Magic Foundation showed a direct and correlative relationship between the physical fitness of an escape artist and his or her longevity.
To wit: Houdini was the gold standard of fitness for his time. His career lasted for decades, throughout and despite spectacular physical injuries and infections.
On the other hand, Tommy “Binge” Hardy II began his escape career on July 4, 1952 and ended six hours later. It actually took firefighters only four-and-a-half hours to unlock the wheezing and whimpering performer from the portable toilet from which he was to escape.
The Interlake Spectatorof Manitoba, Canada carries the inspiring story of Dean Gunnarson’s visit to a local school to deliver an important message for the kids. "It's important kids learn how important physical activity is," Mr. Gunnarson told those at the Arborg Middle School’s Physical Activity Day. As The Spectator noted, Dean Gunnarson’s “performances require him to hold his breath to escape from certain death.”
We love the turn of the phrase “escape from certain death.” It reminds us of our favorite Houdini poster for The Milk Can Escape, “Failure Means a Drowning Death.”
Dean Gunnarson performed some effects and then escaped from what looks like a rope tie or chain escape. He also shared his secret for success. He told students of his vow in junior high school to live healthy; no smoking, no drugs or alcohol. He made these choices precisely because he wanted to be an escape artist. “These are the decisions I made in junior high school," he said. "You have to be in good shape. What I do is very physical."
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."