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Wayne Kawamoto

Curtis Lovell Conquers "Buried Alive"

By November 5, 2008

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Apparently, David Blaine holds no lock on death defying stunts. This past Halloween, escape artist Curtis Lovell II successfully escaped after being buried alive.

Echoing a feat once performed by Houdini, Lovell was cuffed and shackled and placed into a pine coffin with a plexiglass front and some 200 pounds of dirt were shoveled onto Lovell's "grave." Lovell made his escape in 16-minutes. The stunt was part of the Halloween Haunt event held in Grand Terrace, California.

I had an opportunity to speak with Lovell about his recent feat.

Wayne Kawamoto: Why did you choose to perform "Buried Alive?"

Curtis Lovell II: I can recall as a teenager wanting to perform the buried alive stunt when I read about it in a Houdini book. As a teen, I phoned a few graveyards in my city and the responses were not too productive. But, ten plus years later, I finally received a "yes" from Steve Berry, acting city manager for Grand Terrace, and I was finally on my way to create my own version of the "buried alive" stunt on Halloween.

WK: What challenges did you encounter while planning the feat?

CL: There were a handful of challenges while planning a feat of this magnitude. Of course, I surround myself with the pros: Mark Cannon and Joe Fox, for insight and educated advice.

Cliff Gerstman, my local pal and escape artist in the Long Beach area, oversaw the feat and advised me. He helped me overcome many issues such as how much weight the coffin can hold and what type of dirt we should use. Another issue was trying to get a coffin built with a plexiglass front that was sturdy and well built. A few builders did not want the liability.

WK: What challenges did you encounter while performing the feat?

CL: There were a few challenges I encountered that I did not really foresee. My wrists swelled up and I could not work the cuffs as planned. Another issue was the dirt falling into my eyes when I popped the coffin lid open. The padlock was submerged in dirt on the outside of the coffin which made it hard to open.

WK: What's next?

CL: I have a few smaller fund raising events planned with my "Cube of Death" (water torture cell) and something unofficial at this point with Tony Curtis who played Houdini in the classic movie.

My next major stunt is already in motion. It is going to be centered around art and magic and will take place in an art gallery in Hollywood, California. It is a feat that will take about 24 hours to accomplish.

In the next two years, my goal is to accomplish my "are you crazy enough?" stunt that will take place at the Queen Mary in Long Beach CA. This will be a highlight of my career and a definite breath taker for the magic community.

More Reading:
Profile: Harry Houdini


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