It's been just over two weeks since Key West escape artist Michael Patrick left the slammer. He'd served 60 days after being found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor, following his greatest escape to date: Announcing it was the 80th anniversary of Harry Houdini's birth, Patrick jumped fifteen feet into the ocean and never resurfaced — until the next day, at which point an entire Coast Guard rescue team had been called out to retrieve his corpse. He's been banned from the Key's daily Sunset Celebration, where he has performed off and on for fourteen years.
Patrick is laying low in Orlando, Still smoldering over his incarceration. "People were in there for cocaine and all sorts of drugs. Felons had bail half of mine and lower," says Patrick, who had not expected such negative fallout. "I'd be standing in the chow line, and people'd say, 'Can you get out of this now?'"
The idea for the stunt came after he attended an escape artist's convention. "I thought, you know, getting out of a straightjacket is one thing, but going underwater and disappearing without a trace whatsoever . . . even the escape artists don't know how I did it."
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Now there's $60,000 judgment against him (the cost of the emergency rescue teams, which included a helicopter and divers). Patrick hasn't decided whether to appeal the case or not, but either way, he says, he's out of here. "You know, I love [Key West] -- I love the energy there, but it's horrible, the city is totally against me now."
As for his next trick? "It'll probably be in a bigger town, I'll tell you that."