Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Galluping into the face of certain doom

Posted by Kimberly on November 18, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
November 18, 2007 (1,068 words)

The course of history has produced a number of note-worthy magicians whose names conjure up, pardon the pun, images of fantasy, amazing tricks or death-defying thrills: Houdini, David Blaine, David Copperfield and Robert Gallup.

It is the latter that is currently resident in Macau, spending a week setting up his show at the Sands theatre at the end of this month.

In the business of magic from a very young age, when he performed regular shows in Las Vegas, the now 43-year-old chose to go down the route of incorporating extreme magic and death-defying stunts into his repertoire as a means of challenging himself.

“I created the extreme magic and deadly escapes as a natural progression of who I was and the performer that I became,” he said.

“I’ve been performing magic on stage in Vegas since I was 15 years old and my extreme magic was pushing my magic further and further because doing it for so long, I was tired of the old stuff.

“I wanted something new and fresh, more energetic and dynamic,” he added.

Gallup’s interest in extreme sports such as sky-diving and rock climbing led him create stunts that combined both the “magic” element in terms of escapology and the extreme nature of those sports. For example, one of his stunts involves shackling himself up in chains and locks within a steel drum filled with water. This is placed within another steel drum, also filled with water. Gallup is afford just 30 seconds to break free of both before his ability to breathe is severely affected.

“It [the drum escape] took me three years to develop the escape and even though it’s not the biggest escape I’ve ever done it is still today one of the most dangerous.

“There’s the thrill and excitement of taking something that’s impossible an crazy and figuring out how to do it and survive,” he said.

It is this sort of deadly stunt that led to a delay of ten years in the marriage of Gallup and his then-girlfriend, whom he has recently married.

“Finally she said yes, but to be honest she’s never really been happy about the deadly escapes. The magic she likes. That was one of the reasons for the ten years before we got married,” said, adding that they have come to an understanding.

“Whenever I do the death-defying escapes or large escapes like the one I did at the Great Wall, I can’t tell her about it beforehand, I have to call her afterwards,” he said.

Based on the above statement, it’s reasonable to assume that his wife isn’t aware of Gallup’s other death-defying stunt he intends to pull off at his Macau show: the one that involves steel spikes, a burning rope and a few heart-stopping seconds.

That’s every heart in the audience, mind you, not just Gallup’s! Because, as he readily admitted, he hasn’t got a death wish.

“I’m happily married and like going home to my wife. It makes the challenge so much more real to know the consequences could be death.

“For me I want to push myself to that place,” he said.

He explained the process of creating one of his stunts, explaining that there were two stages to the stunts.

“It’s like a very complicated puzzle that I have to figure out. That is the first part. The second part, equally exciting, is actually being able to perform it live on stage,” he said.

Then there’s the difference between his usual Las Vegas-style performance and the one he’ll be doing here.

“Another challenge is to take a show that is normally performed in 10,000 feet stadiums to make it fit theatrically inside the Sands theatre.

“For that we have the Sands crew as well as my crew coming from Australia, US, Europe and Hong Kong.

“So together there’ll be about 50 of us working for one week to bring the show to Sands,” he said, adding that “because the show has to be slightly changed to fit that has an effect on the magic show so we have to rehearse to make sure the magic works and I don’t die!”

Yet even when he makes that statement, the evidence of his excitement at being in such a dangerous situation is palpable.

“To do something that nobody in the world has ever done before and, to be honest, would not do except for me.

‘Even though I understand how to do the puzzle, I know there’s the possibility that everytime I perform it something could go wrong.

“And if I don’t unfold the puzzle quickly, everytime, every performance, I realise I could die.

“The excitement and challenge of being able to unfold the puzzle and live is like an adrenaline rush, it’s so exciting,” he said.

Asked his thoughts on the expectations of today’s magic show audience, he said, “because of all those special effects in movies and on television, people’s expectations have become very high.

“And now it’s possible to do so many amazing things with just computer technology.

“So for somebody like me, a theatrical performer on stage, it is very difficult t compete with what people expect to see on television and the movies,” he said.

Of course, one would assume that it was this reason that led Gallup to create the show he performs, but he quickly added, “[the extreme magic and deadly escapes] became a natural progression of me, not because of the movies, because that was the way I wanted to present my art.”

Coming back to the idea of a death wish, Gallup elaborated on his statement of not having a death wish.

“I would like to pretend that I’m a great man and never get scared but I do. I really get scared.

“What I’m most scared of is not the things I already know, but the things I don’t know.

“The problem with certain deadly escapes there is always something that come sup that I couldn’t possibly understand, or predict or anticipate,” he said.

Robert Gallup’s ‘Extreme Magic and Deadly Escapes’ show will be performed at the Sands Theatre, Macao, between November 29 and December 2. Between Thursday and Saturday, the show times will be 7.30pm and 10.00pm, while Sunday’s show will be at 6.30pm and 9.00pm. Tickets are available to be purchased at Sands Macao and Venetian Macao box offices at a cost of $450/350.



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