Kristen Johnson

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Kristen Johnson
Born?
Glens Falls, New York

Kristen Johnson (born in Glens Falls, New York) is an award-winning escape artist who works with her husband magician Kevin Ridgeway. As a successful performer in her own right she stands out in the male-dominated world of magic and she is one of a very small number of women to achieve prominence in the field of escapology. She was the featured magician on the cover of the June 2009 issue of the magicians' magazine The Linking Ring. She is billed as "The World's Premier Female Escape Artist".


Performing on Turkey television show

With her husband magician Kevin Ridgeway, they work under the names Living Illusions, Ridgeway & Johnson and Breathless. The couple have a strong Christian faith and under the Living Illusions name, have performed in connection with many faith based events and organizations, such as the Will Graham Celebration with evangelist Billy Graham's grandson in May 2008. As their act became more successful they expanded into doing larger venues, fairs and festivals with a show under the name of Ridgeway & Johnson. In 2007 they launched a full-length touring theater show under the name Breathless, which has played across the United States.

Contents

Early life

Kristen was born in Glens Falls, NY and grew up in Carmel, Indiana.[1] Her mother, Sunny Johnson, was also a performer, being best known as a clown although she also did magic.[2] Sunny, who was featured on the front cover of the The Linking Ring magazine in March 2002, still lives Carmel, where she owns a clowning supplies company.[3] Kristen began learning magic when she was a teenager and used it to earn money to help pay her way through college.[2]

Performing career

With her husband magician Kevin Ridgeway, they work under the names Living Illusions, Ridgeway & Johnson and Breathless. The couple have a strong Christian faith and under the Living Illusions name, have performed in connection with many faith based events and organizations, such as the Will Graham Celebration with evangelist Billy Graham's grandson in May 2008. As their act became more successful they expanded into doing larger venues, fairs and festivals with a show under the name of Ridgeway & Johnson. In 2007 they launched a full-length touring theater show under the name Breathless, which has played across the United States.

Kristen's signature escape is the Full View Water Torture Cell - in which she is chained up and locked inside a water filled tank from which she escapes in full view of the audience. The full view aspect differentiates it from Houdini's water torture cell escape, which required a curtain to be drawn to obscure him from the audience while he escaped. She performed the original version of the stunt as part of the Worldwide Escape Artist's Relay in 2005, which was an attempt to set a world record for the largest number of escapes performed in a day.

In addition to the only "Full View Water Torture Cell" she also includes other escapes and stunts including passing through a 747 jet turbine engine.

On October 29, 2006 Kristen received the Masters Award by Thomas Blacke of Escape Masters magazine at the 4th Annual International Escape Convention. She was one of only two artists to have performed at the first four international escape artist conventions that had been held.

Kristen's Water cell stunt requires her to hold her breath while she picks a series of locks that fasten chains and secure the lid of the cell. She averages 2 minutes and 48 seconds underwater on one breath, however she has occasionally taken up to 3 minutes and 18 seconds to free herself. She ends her shows with this escape and has performed it as often as 30 times in ten days. She offers a $10,000 challenge to anyone who can prove that she takes a second breath, uses an underwater breathing apparatus or a key once she has dropped below the water. Escapologist and convention organizer Mark Cannon has stated that this escape "is fast becoming one of the most talked-about stunts in the world of escapology". And Wayne N. Kawamoto from About: magic has written: "Her escape was the most dramatic and involving that I have ever witnessed. Johnson set a high bar for the other performers that will be difficult to match."

Kristen has been featured on The Travel Channel's Inside the Houdini Museum. This show documented Houdini and modern day escape artists. Kristen was the only female selected for the show, in which she performed her Spike Escape and, together with her husband, a version of Origami. She has been mentioned on the front page of The L.A. Times in a story about the re-emergence of escape artists. On March 17, 2008, Kristen performed her Full View Water Torture Cell during a Half Time Show for the New Orleans Hornets game. Kristen was featured on the television show, Mucizeler Gecesi, in Istanbul, Turkey in May, 2008 where she performed her Full View Water Torture Cell, her Rope Tie escape and her Diamond Plated Steel Box for a live studio audience.

Bill Taylor from The Toronto Star wrote that "In the past six years, she's performed the escape almost 500 times and has her eyes on Houdini's record, which is believed to be around 1,000 times."

On Friday 16 January 2009 she performed her Water Torture Cell escape during a halftime show of a basketball game featuring the Detroit Pistons versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. After removing her chains, she lost consciousness while attempting to open the top of the cell. She had to be rescued by assistants who appeared to have no emergency safety escape plan.[4] Just one week later she was back at it, doing her signature escape for 4,000 people at Ford Park Event Center in Beaumont, TX. This was Kristen's 600th attempt.

References

  1. Famous Carmel Illusionist Returns Home
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kristen Johnson
  3. Cover page The Linking Ring Vol. 82 No. 3 (March 1977)
  4. Magician nearly drowns herself performing stunt from LiveLeak.com

External links

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