This article is republished with permission from the original in The Safe Shop.

Struggling to escape handcuffs, locks and chains whilst dangling from a helicopter isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but it’s all in a day’s work for the impressively flexible performers who practice escapology.

Escapology – the art of escaping from restraints and confined spaces – has been performed for a long time and was originally a skill used by illusionists as part of a routine, rather than being an overt act in itself. In the mid-19th century the Davenport brothers used escapology techniques whilst demonstrating supposed psychic powers – escaping was not central to the routine but merely helped them to perform other illusions.

It was not until the 1890s that escapology became a performance in itself, when an illusionist called Harry Houdini found global fame with a repertoire of amazing escape acts. Houdini was a pioneer who made escapology a recognised entertainment, and his performances – which included escaping from straitjackets, padlocks, handcuffs, prison cells and even sealed milk cans – have inspired generations of escape artists.

We asked three of today’s leading escapologists — Rob Roy Collins, Chris Cross and Roslyn Walker — about Houdini’s legacy, and to tell us more about their own fantastic performances.

See the full article here.

Rob Roy Collins

Who are your inspirations from the world of escapology, Rob?

It’s quite obvious – Houdini. The fact that he is still so famous a century on says so much about him. What I love most about him is not just his ability to perform escapology stunts, but his ability to sell himself. His ability to rouse such excitement about his stunts wherever he went. He was the best PR guru I’ve ever come across!
You recently made it into the Guinness Book of Records – how was that?

It was fun. I was supposed to be setting a record for a stunt I have already done but without Guinness adjudication – an upside down escape from a straitjacket hanging from a helicopter. We were stopped by red tape at the eleventh hour so had to come up with an alternative very quickly. So hanging from a crane 20 metres above water I set a new world record for the fastest escape from cling film. My record also made it into this year’s book.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in taking up escapology?
Practice and safety. The world of escapology is littered with horror stories of escapes going wrong and people being injured, or worse. If the person has practiced enough and has all safety precautions thoroughly in place then this should not happen. And don’t be afraid of failure.