One day after Ning attempts to escape from “The Water Vault”, both of us will attempt our most dangerous stunt ever – “Ultimate Inversion”!
We will attempt the world’s first ever tandem upside down double strait jacket escape where we will be suspended upside down from a single burning rope, by our ankles, one below the other, 50ft above the ground. The iconic dome of the National Museum will serve as the backdrop for the stunt as we are suspended upside down from the burning rope just in front of the dome.
We came up with this stunt because we needed a spectacle that could close the Singapore Night Festival. Being at night and out in the open, a suspended stunt with fire was a natural choice. However, being a world class festival with many international acts brought in over the years, there was a need to do something radically different.
Since 2009, we have worked with different versions of the suspended upside down strait jacket escape made famous by Houdini and performed by all the top escape artists in the world.
Over the years, I have redesigned our rigging to make the stunt look better and to be as safe as possible. One distinguishing feature of our rigging is that we can finish the escape and dismount immediately without having to untie ropes or lanyards around our ankles or having crew members spend 30 seconds trying to unhook or disengage our feet from the rigging.
In the last two years, we performed versions where the rope holding the rigging is set on fire. I performed it for our 3D TV show taping in 2011 and Ning performed an upside double strait jacket escape from a burning rope 35ft in the air in Resorts World Genting last year.
So, the thought process was how to present this escape but make it different and more spectacular. The idea we then developed for us to do a tandem escape. Right from the start, it was decided to have us both be suspended from a single rig and not just have both of us performing the escape at the same time from two different rigs.
We came up with different variations but the final choice was to have us suspended one below the other like trapeze artists. In addition, just to make the escape a bit more difficult, we will both be strapped in two strait jackets each.
The theme of “two” is prevalent in this escape. Imagine the visual image of two people in two strait jackets hanging upside down, one below the other, from a single burning rope. All this is 50ft high up in the air in the still of the light.
Technically, there are two very challenging aspects of the stunt. First, the technical design of the rigging is crucial to the success, safety and aesthetic presentation of the stunt. Having two people suspended from a single rigging that is also set on fire requires well thought out technical design and just as sound fabrication. Movement and sway created by both performers on the rigging creates stress and instability. All this makes it very dangerous.
As I said with Ning’s underwater tank escape, any type of stunt that involves a significant height, being suspended upside down and from a burning rope is dangerous and cannot be 100% safe. If you are reading this and are thinking of performing such an escape, don’t. If you are thinking of doing such an escape but are not sure how to approach it, it means you definitely are not ready to attempt anything like this.
The second technical aspect of this tandem escape is the fact that we have to work together and be aware of each others movements and actions to ensure that we do not create too much instability for each other. Our ankles are merely hooked onto bars on the rigging and are not tied down or secured in any other way. With Ning hanging below me, there will be a certain degree of “pendulum effect” and the winds at the high height will also cause significant sway.
The design of the rigging is critical. I can’t go into the details of the design here as it is a proprietary design and a trade secret. However, there are so many features that have to be incorporated in the design yet it cannot be over-engineered. Simplicity is the hallmark of any good design but the challenge is to ensure that the rigging can handle all variables. The rigging is being custom manufactured to our specifications and will be made from heavy gauge stainless steel.
Testing and rehearsals will be challenging because the nature of rigging will be more than 12ft long and we will need at least 17ft of clearance from the ground to set it up completely. We have several options available to us and hope to share photos of the double inversion rig closer to date.
For the strait jackets themselves, we are going with two different models of jackets made from heavy canvas and leather straps. We have chosen to go with the classic leather trim design as a throwback to Harry Houdini. The inner strait jackets have been modified by removing the arm strap and double-stitching the sleeves closed.
Stay tuned for updates and we hope to see you there!
“Ultimate Inversion” Mega Stunt
Date: 31 Aug 2013 (Sat)
Show time: 10pm
Venue: National Museum