Daredevils: Now & Then
Posted Date : Sun, Apr 15, 2012, 2 : 52 PM
Daredevils: Now & Then
People often feel that their lives are too tedious and monotonous and look for ways to insert a little excitement. Of course, how everyone does this is up to each person individually: some go on exotic vacations, others go on impulse shopping sprees. Extreme sports are always a popular choice for those who are more athletic and prone to an outdoor life. However, there is one class of individuals that outdo all others: the daredevils.
A daredevil performs very risky and exciting stunts, similar to those of a stuntman. However, a stuntman does those dangerous acts as a means to an end, usually for it to be filmed and included in a movie or TV show. A daredevil, on the other hand, does it solely for the thrill it provides. He usually performs his stunts in front of a live audience who get to share in the excitement by living out their daredevil fantasies vicariously through the performer.
Most people claim that you need to be a little insane in order to be a daredevil. For the most part, that is true, and no actual daredevils are likely to contradict that statement. Stuntmen usually employ as many safety features as possible when they do their dangerous stunts because they know that they can be later removed with the help of editing. A daredevil, on the other hand, does it live, in front of large groups of people. There are no hidden safety cables, no mattresses to land on; the daredevil lays it all on the line every time he gets to perform in front of a crowd. In a monotonous world of 9 to 5 jobs and a safety conscious environment, the daredevil is as close as you can get to a true superhero.
The Daredevils of Yesterday
One of the true pioneers of the daredevil performance often gets neglected because he is considered by most as a magician. That man is Harry Houdini. While it is true that Houdini was also skilled in card tricks and other magic elements, the thing that really made him a star was his escaping acts. He was a master escapologist and most of his acts have been adopted and modified by other performers over the years and are still being used to this day. Escapism acts are at a crossroads between magic and daredevil performance. There is no illusion or deception involved in most of them, but there is the need for true skill. Houdini’s acts, at least, always contained a very real amount of danger in them. One of his most famous performances was his water escape routine, where Harry Houdini would be locked inside a box, upside down and placed in a tank of water. His escapes always thrilled the audiences and it was later revealed that the trick really involved Houdini being trapped under water, mostly relying on his ability to hold his breath for over 3 minutes. Another trick of his involved being buried alive under six feet of dirt. Many people tend not to consider escapologists as true daredevils because they think that everything is an illusion and the performer in never in any real danger. However, in the buried alive act, Houdini was actually placed under the dirt and it was so dangerous that it nearly cost him his life on a number of occasions.