Yesterday was our last day at The Royal Show. We arrived early to check the hoist for the much promoted aerial straitjacket escape and, once the crew started to arrive, it was discovered that there was no power to the winch motor. A few calls to the onsite electricians and, only a few hours later, an extension cord was sorted out and we were able to test the winch. The height was only 8m, but I was hoisted directly above an immovable piece of metal barricade. This served two purposes: It made it look like I wasn't really as high as I was, and if I fell it would ensure I wouldn't land on the soft grass but get snapped in two instead...
Regardless, we had a quick rehearsal and prepared our show. We had two 30 minute performances so we added two "warm up" escapes to fill the time. Unfortunately, at the last minute we were told we couldn't do our first show on the stage because a band would be setting up so they could begin immediately after we finished... the showbiz pecking order is clear! We were relocated to a temporary platform in front of the stage for our 12.30pm show, while we did our 3.00pm show back on the big stage.
However, being on the smaller stage had it's pros and cons. It was much quicker to get volunteers up, and it enable Lee Cohen to get some good pics with Sue-Anne's camera. (Take a look in the mini gallery here.)
For the rope escape, I replaced the rope I normally use with the abseiling rope I used to use to be hoisted up for the straitjacket. It's much thicker and heavier than my old rope and presented all manner of new challenges. I made the escape under a cloth held over me by the volunteers.
In the chain escape I was handcuffed, then tied and padlocked in any way the volunteers chose (and they always seem to begin by padlocking the chain around my neck!) The keyholes on the padlocks were also taped over to prevent me from picking them.
Finally, the straitjacket was put on quite brutally each time, with the spectator really getting into pulling on the straps very roughly! Once I was hoisted upside down by my ankles with the blood rushing to my head, I couldn't wait to get out of that thing!
My challenge for each escape was to get out of my restraints in less time than it took for the volunteers to put me in. If they tied me up in 1 minute, that was my time limit. The faster they tied, the less time I had. Of course, the longer they spent on the tying process, the more difficult it became for me to free myself... so it was quite a risky venture, but thankfully it all went off very successfully and the large crowds who came to see the escapes certainly seemed to enjoy it.