TAEM- The world of entertainment is as vast and varied as the many kinds of media by which it is enjoyed. Our publication, The Arts and Entertainment Magazine, explores new avenues of this immense field to keep our readers well informed.
One area of the industry deals with magic, mysticism, and illusion. In delving into this area, we chanced upon an expert to reveal this world to our readers, escape artist Curtis Lovell II. Curtis, please tell our readers what prompted you to take up this challenging career.
CL- As a child in Columbus, Ohio, I tried different hobbies, looking for books on how to build a rocket ship to the moon, for example. In my search I came across books on magic and escapes, which I found really exciting. A few weeks later I saw a magician at a school assembly program, and I quickly fell in love with the world of magic and escapes. I read many books on the great escape artist Harry Houdini. (BTW, I didn’t totally give up on being an astronaut – I got a rockin’ pair of Moon Boots!)
When I was a teenager, I came across a pair of handcuffs. I locked myself in them – Oops! No key! I had about 2 hours before my mother got home. I flipped through books that explained the art of handcuff lock-picking, and I got out of those ‘cuffs in just over an hour. A few months later, I went on a local news program to display my skills, and by then it took me about 2 minutes to escape. The news reporter asked if I could get out in 20 seconds – a week later I accepted her challenge and escaped in 10 seconds flat!
TAEM- Who was your greatest influence to pursue this career?
CL- I was fortunate to grow up in a time where we had lots of after school activities and school assemblies. I often saw magicians, mimes and ventriloquists. I met up with a few local magicians and become buddies with them. They were totally cool in my eyes. Also, I have always admired the work of Harry Houdini. I read many of his books – in fact the library couldn’t keep its collection up to date fast enough for me. David Copperfield was hitting the scene during my teen years, and I thought he was truly amazing.
TAEM- What was the most dangerous illusion that you have performed? What happened?
CL- As I progressed in my career, I left the world of magic behind and got into daring escapes. I have been buried alive twice, a stunt that my childhood hero Houdini performed once then claimed it was too dangerous to ever repeat.
I was chained and dropped by helicopter into the Singapore River 18 times. I have been locked into boxes of water, shackled and tossed into swimming pools. All of these escapes have had an element of danger to them. It’s hard to say which is the most dangerous because my life is at risk in each one.
TAEM- What type of training prepared you for the rigors that you faced in your acts?
CL- I can’t reveal too much about my training, but I would say that I’m in good health; I know my body’s limits and have learned how to press them to the max; I eat a proper diet; and I have proper advisors for my escapes. All of these are important matters in my daredevil-ish work.
TAEM- Tell us about the first time that you performed, and the confidence that you gained from it.
CL- I have always viewed the world as a stage, so I have been performing all my life. LOL! Early on, I recall performing for my family, friends and at school functions. I received great feedback, and I learned discipline and an understanding of the stage. It built my confidence to communicate in public, as well as the guts to present myself in front of large crowds.
TAEM- We understand that you are an admirer of actor Tony Curtis and appeared in the opening number of his show. Please tell us about his connection to your work, and how you were received by him?
CL- WOW, that was truly a highlight in my career. A few years back I was contacted by the Jules Verne Festival, asking me to be an opening act for an award presentation to Tony Curtis after the screening of his 1950’s classic Houdini. I have always admired Harry Houdini, and Tony Curtis brought him to life for me. I watched that movie over and over. To me, Tony Curtis was Houdini.
I performed an underwater escape at the award presentation, a straitjacket escape at the VIP dinner, and we appeared on a few local news stations together. He was a wonderful person and a true Hollywood Star. My mother even flew to Hollywood to see this performance. We had many conversations over the three-day period, and he got a huge kick out of both of us having the name Curtis. He said he admired my performances and it was my turn to be in the Hollywood limelight. He said it was an honor to work alongside me, but the pleasure was all mine.
CL- I have appeared on national and international television, including the networks USA, E! Entertainment and Spike TV. I have guest appeared on MANswers, The Simple Life with Paris Hilton, Living in LA LA Land, Gene Simmons Family Jewels and a few others. Reality TV is its own magical world, my website has links and video’s to the appearances. www.CurtisLovell.com
TAEM- What pitfalls did you need to avoid in your acts, and was there a time that you were physically in danger?
CL- When I’m performing an escape, I need to stay a step ahead, and I need to have complete control of my mind. I don’t allow the emotion of fear to overcome me. I must stay focused or pay the ultimate price. Also, I must be aware that other people may accidentally interfere – miss a cue, improperly secure the handcuffs or lift the crane’s arm too soon. Once I was smashed in the head by a steel plate when the crane operator missed his cue and jerked the cables a bit too soon. Blood gushed from my forehead as I was hanging in mid-air.
TAEM- You have performed for many charity benefits and for audiences around the world. Please tell us about these experiences.
CL- A few years back, I was an opening act for the Guard A Heart fundraiser honoring Larry King. I performed a Straitjacket escape that evening. But prior to that night, I met him in the greenroom at a morning news station when he was promoting his book and I was promoting a show. We chatted a bit and ate carrots and cookies together. My mother was star struck, but I tried to play slick, but secretly, I was star struck as well.
Also, I have performed in Singapore, Spain, China, the Philippines and a few other countries. I have always been welcomed and well-received in those countries. Performing internationally is always an experience of a lifetime and an honor.
TAEM- Please describe the recognitions that you have received for your performances, and the press revues that you received for them.
CL- The best recognition is from my fans and other entertainers. I am very thankful for those. I have captured the eye of the press a few times, which is very nice. Here are a few headlines:
CBS News “Modern Day Houdini.”
Washington Times: “Houdini Factor.”
LA Citizen Magazine: “I’m fully convinced, he is the HOUDINI, the premiere escape artist, of our time.”
The Press-Telegram: “How many people can say they have cut Paris Hilton in half? I believe only Curtis can.”
TAEM- Tell us about any upcoming events, and what dangerous illusions will you explore in future performances?
CL- I am working on several projects. One project is an art project titled The Escapist – which captures my escapes in an artistic manner in different media. It includes a collection of photographs of past performances. old keys and locks that I have collected around the world and had them infused with gold and jewels. I have been working on this for several years and hopefully it will be displayed this fall.
Also, I have always wanted to obtain a world record, and I have wanted Ellen DeGeneres to strap me into a straitjacket. Since the age of 15, I have been thinking about breaking the current world record of 194 straitjacket escapes, and I have been mentally and physically preparing for the attempt over the past 5 years. I plan to be strapped into a straitjacket — and escape — at least 195 times in a period of 8 hours during my attempt to break the world record.
For my next new daring escape, I am working on an idea involving ice cold water, a straitjacket and a crane….. More info at a later date…
TAEM- Where can event managers contact you for shows that they are assembling?
CL- I am always eager to work on new and exciting projects. Anyone who wants to contact me can do so through my website CurtisLovell.com. Here is the direct link http://www.curtislovell.com/contact.html
I also love it when fans and lovers of the magic arts contact me via Facebook. Go to www.Facebook.com/CurtisLovellii to check out my page.
TAEM- Curtis, my hat is off to you and our magazine is humbled by your performances. You are well known as the ‘Houdini of Our Time,’ a recognition that has been well earned. We want to thank you for your time with our interview and hope that you keep us informed of your upcoming events. We look forward to share them with all of our readers in future issues.