The Great Flaming Escape

When local escape artist/magician Dylan Ace approached Miami hotels and nightclubs for a place to perform his act, small-minded management types had serious insurance concerns. You see, his show will include a stunt where the 20-year-old baby-faced Kendall native hangs 100 feet in the air upside down, by a burning rope, while attempting to free himself from a straitjacket. Of course it's a stunt he hasn't actually performed before, and as of this writing, he's never practiced being suspended upside down. Naturally the chickenshit managers told him no go.

That is, until Ace approached the Miccosukee Tribe and proposed executing the stunt in their casino's parking lot at the edge of the Everglades. The management there was refreshingly easy to deal with, the young Ace reports, and seemed open to the idea. "We won't promote your show," they told him. "Just don't mess up the floor in case you fall." A quick handshake and a wink later, and now Dylan Ace, Sunset High class of 2000, up-and-coming magician, has a gig. He will carry out his death-defying act Friday, May 24, rigged to a crane outside of the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center.

While Ace is new to this stunt, he isn't a greenhorn in the dark arts of magic. In fact the young man has been an illusionist since he was eight years old. He got his start when he befriended the Great Fantazio, an Argentine master magician who regularly performed on The Ed Sullivan Show and eventually settled in Coral Gables. Fantazio showed Ace a few basic tricks, and the boy was off. By the time he was twelve, he was winning international magic contests and performing with pop stars and comedians -- even Julio Iglesias. Not bad for the young son of a Cuban-born postal worker and a hairdresser.

With the burning-rope/straitjacket escape, Ace (his real name, he says) hopes to take his act to the next level. A devotee of the great Harry Houdini, he wants to move from doing mere magic tricks onstage to perfecting more daring escapes. He also wants to free himself of the stilted magician-in-a-tuxedo stereotype. Instead he performs dressed as a young hipster, MTV-style.

Despite the fact that Ace has yet to do a full run-through of the stunt, and he describes the feeling of being bound in a straitjacket as "horrible," he is unabashedly confident he will emerge unscathed. He's so sure he'll survive that he hasn't made funeral arrangements. Instead he's booked to perform as part of the International Stars of Magic show the next night, Saturday, May 25, at the Miccosukee Resort's Entertainment Dome.

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Juan Carlos Rodriguez