Strange Jobs: Escape Artist
Try to think of a job where you get handcuffed, locked in a box, and thrown in a river. Can you imagine anything like that? Most people work in offices, hospitals, factories, or schools. Escape artists, however, work in coffins, burning buildings, steel boxes, and many other unusual places. People such as Dean Gunnarson of Winnipeg use their skills with chains and locks to entertain people in circuses and private performances.
Escape artists are part of a profession called escapology. The practice of trying to escape from restraints like handcuffs or chains has been around for a long time. In the 1800’s, people began to perform escapes as part of circus acts. The most famous escapologist was Harry Houdini, who could escape from locked boxes while wearing handcuffs and perform all kinds of other amazing feats. He earned a living by doing his escapes in front of people as part of circus acts or on his own.
A Canadian escapologist is now becoming almost as famous as Harry Houdini. Dean Gunnarson grew up in Winnipeg and began practicing to become an escapologist while he was still a teenager. His success really began after he took part in a television program in which he performed one of Harry Houdini’s old tricks by escaping from a large can that was filled with water. That program made him famous, and soon the hosts of other television programs were talking about him. Soon, he was doing stunts that even Houdini had never done. He has received several awards and world records, including the “World’s Most Daring Escape Artist” from Ripley’s Believe it or Not in 2013.
Dean Gunnarson earns money from his work as an escapologist, but he also gives a lot of performances for charity. Instead of taking the money for himself, he often performs at events for groups like the Cancer Society or the Variety Club. He has performed in many different countries, including China, Italy, and Venezuela, and his escapes have been shown on television around the world.
Working as an escape artist can take people to many different places and types of work. Some escape artists work in circuses, where their basic living costs are covered, but they frequently have to move from one city to another. Others manage to get regular performances in places like concert halls and theatres. Some escape artists work at other jobs, such as teaching or library work, while they prepare for a few months per year of travelling around the world with their acts. Working in a circus provides the most reliable income for escape artists, but skilled escapologists can often earn a good living on their own.
There is no specialized education for becoming an escape artist, but practicing and studying the methods of famous escapologists can help to improve anyone’s skills. Having a flexible body, being physically healthy, and being unafraid of small, dark spaces are some of the main things an escape artist needs. For the right person, escapology can be an exciting and rewarding career.