Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wicked Faire 2010 & The Escape That Almost Didn't Happen

In this long overdue post, I'm finally going to describe my experience at Wicked Faire 2010 (www.WickedFaire.com). I spent three fantabulous days in the the bowels of New Jersey with a hotel full of some truly awesome people. Although impossible to completely describe, it comes down to being part Renaissance Faire, part Geek Con, part Fetish Con, all-kickass.

I started my weekend getting fixated behind my table, performing close-up magic and pimping my midnight Friday night and Saturday night shows. During this, the great people at the Con Goer Vid Cast interviewed me and did the best job of getting my spoon bending routine on film that I've ever seen, along with being interviewed by the cutest feline correspondent I've seen. (http://www.vidgle.com/podcast/2010/03/12/con-goer-wicked-faire-2010-features-daniel-greenwolf/comment-page-1/#comment-129)

The Friday Night show was well received, despite going up against a Shadowcast of Repo: The Genetic Opera (which is a pretty big deal at WWRF).

During this show, I realized that headset mics make me feel like I'm doing something important. To this day, I have no idea why. It also makes me want to start talking about bottle-nosed dolphins and calling myself "Greg". Unfortunately, that is a lot easier to explain to myself.

Saturday, however, seemed to be the more interesting day for me. As not only did I have my idiotic escape to face at Midnight, I had the nervousness of the Charity Munchausen Project in the afternoon. For those who don't know, the Munchausen Project is a game that is based in improvisational storytelling and responding to the other players. The other players on the panel were Voltaire (www.Voltaire.net), Donna Lynch of Ego Likeness (www.egolikeness.com), writer Hugh Casey (hughcasey.livejournal.com), our illustrious host Zachary M. (www.thepointyearedartisan.com), and the astounding Jeff Mach (The Man Running The Whole Shindig). The back and forth that ensued was apparently epic for all those who beheld it and, in an almost ironic use of the term... you truly had to be there.

One other highlight of the Saturday for me was being able to see Coyote Run (www.CoyoteRun.com) in concert after many years. I had met David Doersch and an earlier incarnation of the band at Rites of Spring many moons ago, so seeing the places they have gone creatively in that time was quite pleasing to the ears and eyes.

Which brings us to Saturday evening and the escape (that I call "Gasp"). For those who have not heard of this, what I do is have 2 people tie me up in 110 feet of rope. I then have a plastic trash bag placed in a cloth bag so one can't claw at it and have the plastic bag placed over my head and tied to my neck so I have about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes to escape from the ropes before I lose enough air to pass out.

I figured, since I was at Wicked Faire, a place where many of the top bondage experts in the US came to sell their wares, lecture, and generally be a part, I would have 2 bondage experts do the tying. This itself was a challenge as the first two experts I approached said that they didn't feel comfortable doing it. An idea that already set me at ill ease. But after a bit of searching and asking around, two pros by the names of Murphy Blue and Ogre agreed. Step One- Done.

Step two was making sure the EMTs were on site in case something went wrong. I spoke to the head EMT, Scott, who informed me that they would be checking my blood pressure before I did the escape to make sure I didn't stroke out during the attempt. Also, being a big guy like I am, they would have the whole team on site. We all agreed. Step Two- Done... or so I thought.

Step Three was working with the sound man (who did a fantastic job, despite a small hiccup that I'll talk about in a second) and trying to psych myself up while also calming myself down so I could focus on what I had ahead of me. Going over every step with my wife and the experts so we were all on the same page as to when things would happen. Anything goes awry, and I'd have to cancel the escape. So far, so good.

So, it gets to Midnight AND... no EMTs. I ask one of the staff if they could locate them because I can't start without them on site. They call in and at first, it seems like there was an emergency at the other main stage. The hall where I was doing the escape was filling up and I was starting to get very nervous, when it came in that the EMTs were at the other main stage expecting me to be there so they rushed to my stage. A small hiccup, but it got me really spooked.

Then the escape begins. The experts start tying me up and, as I'm talking, I remember that the EMTs hadn't taken my blood pressure. WHILE the bondage experts are tying me up, the EMTs decide to take my BP then, which is of course through the roof at that point. They were not happy. I told them to give me a minute so I could calm down and get my BP down to do this. They give me a minute and take my BP again... still too high. They not only warn me to stop the escape, but when I refused to stop, they threatened to cut me out of the ropes and have me arrested (I know... redundant, right?) to keep me from endangering myself. After a bit of an emotional back and forth, I convince Scott to give me a few minutes to calm down so I can get my BP down to do the escape. So, while being watched by a few hundred people, tied up in a lot of rope, I stood there chanting to myself, eyes closed, controlling my breathing. The EMTs came back in and took my pulse... it was borderline for them, but they allowed it. So it was now or never.

My wife Rachel steps in front of me with the bag in hand, in tears. I tell her it'll be okay, and that I needed her now. She then commented that "She had better get sex after this" which was the exact break in tension everyone in the crowd (especially myself) needed. After a good laugh, the crowd went quiet, Rachel threw the bag over my head and tied it to my neck and the music started. Unfortunately, the sound guy played the wrong song, which wasn't a big deal, but it did throw me off for a second mentally.

At the beginning of the escape, I did the one thing I should never do inside the plastic bag, I sucked in the last air in the bag through my nose... which caused the bag to stick right to my sweat-covered face. That tiny bit of air was meant to be a safety net in case it took longer to escape than I planned. Because of my nervousness, I had used it in the starting 10 seconds in the bag. I was now escaping without a net.

10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds go by... not making much progress. Then I start to undo the ropes and around the 70 second mark, I have my hands free, but the ropes are still around my body and I refused to take off the bag until the ropes were entirely off my body. Then somewhere around 1 minute 26 seconds, I get the ropes off, take the bag off... thankfully for me, the audience was as excited as myself. I couldn't hear my own scream over the cheers, and I knew I had done something right here.

After it was all done, the EMTs took my BP and it was through the roof, so they sat me down and hooked me up to Oxygen while I did the after-show meet and greet with the audience. I got to keep the oxygen tube as a macabre souvenir. I had Scott, the head EMT, sign a tag and attached it to the tube. It's now hanging in my bedroom.

Sunday morning, I was greeted with various rumors that I had been arrested, had gone to the hospital, and other things by people who weren't at the escape first hand. Rumors that I thought were absolutely glorious. It's just amazing how a story grows in less than 12 hours (makes you think about the Bible, really).

After saying my goodbyes to all of the amazing people at Wicked Faire, Rachel and I made our way home from NJ to CT (where we learned that Popeye's chicken may indeed be more dangerous to a human being than any escape) and we anxiously await Wicked Faire 2011: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong. Ooooh my brain is already a-brewing.


  1. Very cool Thanks for sharing!
    Lloyd III

  2. Very happy you got to do your show & very glad you made it out ok... BUT... if you had died so I couldn't watch your show again in the future, I'd have kicked your ass! I'm selfish that way. Just keep that in mind.