David Straitjacket - EscapologyEscapology

From an early age David showed an inclination towards escapes, experimenting with rope challenges when he was as young as seven, as well as spending hours in the library pouring over old books on circus sideshow stunts, restraints, and the techniques employed by the escape artists of the early 20th Century.

David has been described as a modern Houdini, a title he shrugs off.

“Things have changed a lot since Houdini’s time, restraints are much more secure, locks are more complicated, and audiences are far less patient. Back in his day the audience would wait patiently while he took upwards of an hour to escape from a single pair of cuffs, nowadays my world record stands at 5.25 seconds for an escape from regulation police handcuffs, in many ways Houdini had it very easy indeed! …

I am not saying that I am better or worse than Houdini, just that nowadays an escape artist’s job is very different, and the price of failure is much higher. If Houdini ever failed in an escape attempt, who would know? Perhaps just the people gathered to watch, if I ever did fail the internet would ensure that everyone can find out, literally within hours, or even minutes.”

David’s only failure came when he was 7 years old. During an attempt where he allowed his cousins to tie him to a chair with a length of rope borrowed from his uncles shed, his cousin tied the rope tightly around his neck, cutting the blood supply off to his brain and rendering him unconscious within seconds.

As the saying goes, don’t try this at home, it really can kill.

A few milestones of David’s career

1984 – David’s first escape: David was just seven when he and his cousins decided they would play a game. After ‘borrowing’ some rope from his uncles shed they took turns in tying each other to chairs. David was by far the best at this game and soon learned that there was pretty much nothing his cousins could do to restrain him.

1990 – Sea Cadets: At thirteen David joined the Sea Cadets. Part of the fun was getting to stay on real naval bases for short breaks. On one stay the new enlistee’s were bullying the young cadets. Making them do all their work and generally pushing them around. After David refused to do the dishes for one pair of guys, they decided to tie him to the sink, promising that he would not be let free until he had decided to comply.

The two guys tied David with four different pieces of rope, using all the sailing knots they knew. They then left the kitchens laughing, telling David they would be back in an hour.

It was a 100 yard walk from the kitchens to the games room where they were going to amuse themselves while their victim struggled, they made it about halfway there before David ran up to them, handed them the ropes, and told them they would still be doing the dishes themselves. Dumbstruck, they left him alone after this!

1996 – First Straitjacket: By this time David was performing part time, however there were no escapes in the show. He got his first straitjacket in 1996. It was cheap, but looked the part. The first time he tried to escape it tore in half, which was a problem! After sewing it back together and re-enforcing every seam, David had something that could really be used to restrain someone.

After mastering technique to escape from the restraint, David immediately added it to his act, it got a great response, and went on to become a mainstay of David’s shows.

Some more recent challenges

Barbed wire – Sky One Primetime Television: David was approached Sky One who asked if he was interested in performing an escape on their new show ‘Britain’s Wildest’. The escape was filmed… Continued

The Big Record: To raise money for the Tsunami appeal, David broke three Guinness world records in just one day, at the Arndale Centre, Manchester. Find out more here: World records

Chair escape challenge, China: David’s first tour of China started with a press conference. At he conference a reporter surprised David by challenging him to a rope escape  David agreed and a chair was brought onto the stage along with a long length of climbing rope. Several of the reporters tied David up as best they could, of course they were no match for his skills. The escape was broadcast on local TV that evening, Along with an announcement that David would take any challenge during his tour, boy did those challenges come!

Handcuff escape challenge, China: David successfully released himself from a set of high security handcuffs provided by the Chinese police. David was fully searched, and the cuffs had their keyholes carefully plugged and taped shut. To the amazement of the police (who gave him a standing ovation) he released himself in under 1 minute. David was presented with the cuffs by the sergeant. Again, this was broadcast on Chinese television.

Hoju Jitsu rope escape challenge, China: Probably the hardest escape David has ever attempted was the Hoju Jitsu rope challenge. Hoju Jitsu is a martial arts rope tying technique, developed by the Japanese police in the 1800’s. Expert practitioners can restrain a person better than… Continued

Underwater escape challenge, China: In one of the most dangerous escapes ever attempted, David had three different pairs of cuff’s locked onto him by the Chinese police and was bound in 20 feet of chain which was secured with two padlocks, again, supplied by the Chinese police. After locking David up, the police took all the keys. David was then driven out to the centre of the lake which served as a backdrop for the shows.

After jumping from the boat and dragged to the bottom of the deep lake by the weight of the chains David managed to free himself in 2 minutes. He surfaced, gasping for air, holding up the handcuffs and padlocks. The heavy chain is still at the bottom!

This escape was witnessed by 25,000 people, and broadcast live on television all over the Far East.

Restraint stocks challenge – People’s History Museum: The museum opened their ‘Crime & Punishment’ exhibition in August 2005… Continued

World Record: During a tour of Wuhan, China, David set a new world record for ‘The heaviest person stood on someone’s chest while they lie on broken glass’. David withstood the weight of 151 kg strongman John Evans standing on his chest for 10 seconds while he lay bare backed on 100 broken bottles. David achieved this feat without injury.

Moscow - During a series of shows in Moscow David was challenged to a rope escape by two Russian workers. After successfully escaping he was awarded a trophy and honoured with a place in the Russian Book of Records. He is one of only two people from outside Russia to appear in this book.

Curteis - Jewellery company Curteis challenged David escape from 10kg of solid gold chain. Valued at around £110,000 ($200,000)… Continued

World Record: David set a brand new Guinness World Record for the fastest ever escape from Straitjacket & Chains while suspended. During an appearance on one of the UK’s highest rated TV shows. The New Paul O’Grady Show.

Infusion - David was recently chained and padlocked into the most extreme  rollercoaster in the UK, Infusion… Continued

Jensen - David recently escaped from an underwater tank on a live broadcast of the Dutch primetime television show ‘Jensen’… Continued

Want to challenge David to an escape at your event? Then contact him directly at: david@davidescapes.com

You can download David's full press pack, CV & promo photos by clicking here

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