Chris Cross is a Newcastle-based contortionist and escapeologist and funnily enough we happened to meet him at the London Edge event we covered down south. Following the event we caught up with Chris to talk about his weird career.
“I put fear on my toast in the morning”
S] What’s been the best experience so far in your career?
CX] I Love doing all the big stunts, the TV stuff is cool too, I enjoy travelling to places such as Dubai and Bangkok – you know like all around the world. I’ve met lots of idols of mine too which is breath-taking at times. I don’t think you can get a better experience and feeling than nailing a kick-ass show and being onstage and the feeling afterwards…
S] You have such a varied list of clients, can you tell us about the best and most challenging clients to work for?
CX] Small crowds are tough – bigger the crowd the better and easier it is for me. I bounce off people’s energy and banter. If there’s only like 30 or 40 people it’s shit but if you give me like 500 people and we’re having a fu***ng party then it’s different. I work for whoever pays up – simple as that really. The fetish clubs are totally different to the corporate and black-tie events but I just learn to adapt my show for the right crowd I guess. I’ve performed in some mental places though and for some crazy people too.
S] It looks painless when you work – have you developed a threshold for pain over your time as a contortionist and escapeologist?
CX] You’d be sharply surprised I’m afraid! I am used to the pain and I can take it, however, each time I do the contortion tricks they wear away the cartilage between my bones, especially around the scapular area, until eventually it will all wear away and at that point my bones will just grind on each other leading to arthritis. I’ve chipped my knee cap, fractured my ankle, wrist and elbow too whilst trying out new stupid stunts.
S] So, if someone is double-jointed or just incredibly flexible and they see your act and are inspired – what do you say to them?
CX] I’d probably tell them to ‘f-off’. No, I’ve got a wide enough clientele now to worry so much about competition so I’d probably just watch them get on with it and see how they get on – would be interesting though.
S] If you could perform in front of any one dead or alive, who would you pick, where would it be and why would you pick them?
CX] Okay, three-person-answer. Sorry it just has to be. Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson and Harry Houdini. I’m obsessed with those guys – they are looking down on me in my office from the walls as I speak. three geniuses in their own right and the best performers and showmen to have ever lived.
S] Chris, in the event of a zombie outbreak, what weapon (or bone in your case…) would you use?
CX] Maybe a sex toy that had been owned by Emma Bunton back when she was Baby Spice. It would be cool to not use a weapon but have super powers too though mind – like one of the X-Men.
S] Can you tell us what experiences inspired you to come up with your acts – you don’t only do contortion work, you are also an escapologist and you do a rather wonderful Edward Scissorhands tribute?
CX] Prison. Not Really. I started out as a magician when I was 10-years-old, I was performing close-up magic in all the Newcastle nightclubs and stripclubs when I was 13, then I naturally progressed to cabaret magic. Once on the stage I met a whole host of other performers who I was inspired by. I do stand-up, magic, contortion, escape, walkabout acts and more. People that I really admire include: Rob Roy Collins, Gamorjobat, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Dan Sylvester The Jester, Blaine and Loki to name a few.
S] You are only young Chris – how supportive are your family about your work?
CX] I’m 20, though I don’t look a day over 30. My mum and step-dad weren’t great to be honest, they supported it a bit but it was my grandparents who stuck by me the most and they still do.
S] You are obviously very successful as an artist, how does this side of your life fit in with everything else?
CX] It is my life. That’s it. I’m a self-employed entertainer with a real passion for both performing and business. I live to work and I work to live. I wouldn’t have it any other way. On stage I use my mother tongue, right now is just secondary.
S] How will you be expanding your act in the future – do you have some more ideas?
CX] More compering and hosting gigs as opposed to just fucking up m body. Then again I do adore the big, dangerous, spectacular stunts that I’ve thought of doing in the past – I may still do some crazy s*it yet.
S] What’s the most exciting thing about your career?
CX] There’s lots of perks such as free booze, cigs, a beautiful girlfriend, decent gear and free stuff but more importantly I have a great time doing what I love and I make money too – can’t get much better than that. Take your average person doing a nine-to-five every day…that’s 1/3 of their life, another 1/3 is chilling and party time, the final 1/3 is sleeping. What I do is have 2/3 of partying and having a great time then 1/3 of sleeping. I honestly love and enjoy what I do and I’m not stuck in a dead-end job taking orders from above for 50 years. I’m fine – can’t ask for too much more than that in life can you?
S] You’ve supported Bloc Party and worked at Global Gathering and London Edge in the past – so, what are your most exciting plans as we head into 2010?
CX] Well I am going to Christchurch in New Zealand for three weeks throughout January and February. I’m booked to perform at The World Buskers’ Festival out there – I can’t wait. I’m going to do a mini tour of the US too, probably later next year or even the year after but I’m looking forward to it already. There’s lots of cool and crazy stuff in the pipeline – keep an eye on my website and Facebook group for all news and updates.
S] Just because we were wondering – when you are doing your straightjacket escape act, can you explain the thoughts that usually go through your head in the opening minutes when you are suspended?
CX] Yeah, in the upside down escapes I’m just thinking ‘F**k my ankles hurt’ and I’m also thinking that my head is getting very red and messy, I’m not bothered about falling. I fuck fear in the face and put it on my toast in the morning.