Lucas Wilson is hanging upside down, wrapped in 17 feet of steel chain with his long red hair dangling wildly.
His arms are contorted and his feet are tied, but after writhing and twisting in the air, he escapes from his straitjacket in 43 seconds.
The feat earned him a new Guinness world record—and he has plenty of witnesses.
As a contestant on a March episode of Canada’s Got Talent—a show that searches for the country’s next superstar—Wilson described what was going on in his mind while performing in front of a live audience with thousands more watching on television at home.
“I’m slightly spinning a bit. I’m shaking. A straitjacket is a very strange thing. There’s different sensations being taken away from you, you can’t move, you feel claustrophobic,” he said.
During his escape, every move was synchronized to the song Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil’ Wayne.
“I knew all the lyrics to the song and how many seconds they were in, and at what point in time I needed to be out of the straitjacket in order to break the world record. I’m really concentrating on all these tiny little details,” he said.
“Once I’m on stage, all my nerves go away. I find I’m most nervous in the waiting process. The hardest part was trying to face the camera.”
Wilson has been practising this performance for over a year in his hometown of Port Dover, Ont., getting comfortable hanging upside down. Being in a straitjacket now feels like second nature, as strange as that sounds, he said.
“When I practised it was in front of two or three people on the front lawn of my house. The Avon lady came one day and I scared the crap out of her. To go from that to millions being able to see this is amazing,” said the lanky 22-year-old, who has been fascinated by magic since he was four.
Wilson remembers getting dragged to see a live Sailor Moon show with his sisters as a kid. He wasn’t excited about going, but he saw something that changed his life forever.
“Before the show was a magic act. A magician came out and did all these tricks. I said that day that I was going to be a magician when I grow up,” Wilson said.
But success didn’t come easy for Wilson, who failed to place in his first talent competition.
“They said I wasn’t talented,” he said. “Most people when they hit a wall like that would stop, but I decided to keep going.”
While honing his skills as an illusionist, Wilson took a two-year program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., for theatre arts technical productions.
“It was kind of like magic, all the backstage work. My show went from a magic show to very weird theatrical things. It progressed and became stronger,” Wilson said.
Now, Wilson takes his unique act all across Southwestern Ontario, performing in schools, libraries and fairs.
“It’s amazing waking up in the morning and thinking I’m not really going to work. I’m performing at a school for 400 kids who are screaming and yelling because they all love magic,” he said.
Throughout his career, Wilson idolized Harry Houdini and looks to honour his legacy through his performances.
“Without Harry Houdini, this straitjacket stunt wouldn’t exist. In a way I’m challenging him and thinking, if he were alive, this is what he would be doing,” he said.
At the moment, Wilson is focusing on the next round of Canada’s Got Talent where he’ll be looking to add more danger in the coming weeks by combining three Houdini stunts into one.
But he also has his sights set on establishing more world records—like most escapes from a straitjacket in eight hours.
“Every single day, no matter what I’m doing, whether I’m performing or not, there’s a straitjacket hanging in my room. I get somebody to help me get in to it, put it on and I try something new with it. Maybe one day I’ll try to get out of it sitting down or one day I’ll try to get out of it while (lying down) planking,” he said with a laugh.