Art & Design
Posted by Melanie Dimmitt
19. Dec, 2013
Having started their international tour with a sold-out-season at Sydney’s Opera House, seven of the world’s greatest illusionists will come full-circle and materialise at the Arts Centre in January. I caught escapologist Andrew Basso, dubbed ‘the natural successor of Houdini’, for a quick chat.
Are you yet to out-do the master? I ask the Italian star. Ever respectful of his idol, Basso replies simply. “It was difficult then and it’s difficult today.” Difficult is an understatement – his opens the show with the world’s fastest straightjacket escape while dangling upside-down.
This is the first time Basso and fellow illusionists, including The Anti-Conjurer, The Trickster, and The Enchantress, have shared a stage. “It’s exciting, a totally new approach to magic.” It looks terrifying, but he assures me The Illusionists is for everyone, saying this is the secret to its huge success. But does he still get scared? “Enough to keep my adrenaline high. I like it.”
A magician never reveals their tricks, but there must be a panic procedure if things go wrong, right? “I have a professional team. They’ve had to run on stage and rescue me from the tank.” he explains, referring to the Chinese water torture cell.“I call them ‘my angels.”
There is definitely someone watching over this thrill seeker, who last year narrowly escaped being hit by a speeding car while chained inside a nailed-shut coffin. “I was in flames seconds after,” he says enthusiastically, despite having nearly lost his hands.
Back home, Basso heads the Prestige Magic Academy – a real-life Hogwarts. He misses his students, but enjoys sharing his craft on tour. Always looking for a new challenge, Basso’s next goal is to escape from a maximum-security jail. “I have plans for the craziest and most difficult death-defying escape of all time,” he tells me. “I’m just waiting for the chance to perform it.”
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