Below are some of the questions David is most commonly asked, along with his answers.
If you have any questions you want answered please email David directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org Please allow a while for David to answer though.
Q: Is your surname really Straitjacket?
A: Yes, my parents were very foresighted.
Q: For how long have you trained?
I was a circus juggler for ages, but that got boring very quickly, I went to college and studied performing arts, then onto circus school for a year, I have worked as a salesman, trapeze artist, stiltwalker, tightrope walker, street performer, even fronted a band for a while. I guess it’s all on the job training really.
I was escaping as a hobby even as far back as childhood. My party trick (from about 7 years old) was to let all the kids tie me up anyway they wanted, and I would attempt to escape. It won me a lot of sweets! I was also playing with locks for the first time. I learned to open the cheap combination locks that all the kids had on their bikes. My trick was to change peoples combinations then put the lock back as I found it. It was endless fun watching friends (and a few childhood enemies) unable to unlock their own bikes. Of course I always, well almost always, stepped in and helped out before the joke turned sour.
As a kid I was also taking my first looks at the world of sideshow, which I found fascinating. I saw a sword swallower on TV and was amazed. My father, having worked backstage at a few circuses, understood a little of what was involved and explained some of the secrets. He didn’t know everything by any means, but it was enough to get me started when I began learning the stunt as an adult.
Q: Can you tell me about some of the escape challenges you have taken on?
A short list of the challenges from the last year includes being challenged to escape from a martial arts rope tie by two great hulking monsters, their arms were the size of my entire body, and they REALLY knew how to tie a person up. I have also broken several world records for charity events, been chained, cuffed and dropped into lakes, handcuffed by the Chinese police, handcuffed by restraint experts, tied up in barbed wire and more.
Q: How do you prepare for large scale stunts?
If the escape/stunt is something I have never done before, the first step is research. I need to know if it is possible, and what the dangers are. Then I need to work out how I am going to minimise those dangers, and create a safety net for myself. No stunt is ever going to be 100% safe, but measures can be put in place to keep the danger to a minimum. After that I need to prepare physically and mentally. For instance I am unusual amongst escape artists in that I don’t like enclosed spaces, I am not exactly phobic, but at the same time I am not comfortable either! So for any stunt which involves being trapped in something (say a metal barrel) I will spend quite a while retraining myself to relax and keep my mind clear while enclosed. Each stunt is different, and each has its own training requirements.
Q: Why do you do it?
A: It’s probably genetic, one day science will cure me, and I will get a proper job. Possibly in telesales.
Q: What made you decide to do this stuff?
A: I couldn’t get ahead in advertising.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: No, I am immune to all feeling. What do you think!
Q: Are you parents proud of you?
A: Yes, but they think I am a doctor, and it’s getting pretty hard to keep up the pretence. My regular trips to the emergency room help me to keep it up though. You can learn a lot there if you listen carefully.
Q: Who is in charge, you or Nikki (David’s partner, and assistant)?
A: Err.. I would say me, but Nikki might read this! She’s the one you see moving stuff on and off stage during the shows, she controls the props, the stage management and often the volunteers. Without her there would be no show.
Q: How did your work with Christian aid come about?
A: By pure fluke actually. I was sitting on a train from Euston to Manchester, returning home after a show in London, when I heard a couple of people opposite me talking about straitjacket escapes. I introduced myself and told them that I had a big straitjacket escape record planned, and it all fell into place from there.