The Escape Artist
Kristen Johnson grew up in a very eclectic home. Her father an engineer in management for one of the largest most prominent companies in America and her mother an entertainer. Her father’s work caused the family to relocate many times. By the time Kristen turned 18 she had lived in 7 states and attended 4 high schools before graduating. Her mother, well known in the magic community and across the country as an accomplished performer passed on to Kristen without Kristen even knowing it, the entertainment bug.
Kristen went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Relations and Political Science. After college she became very successful working for a number of Fortune 500 companies. It wasn’t until her mother’s bout with cancer when Kristen stepped in to help out by running the family business that she fully embraced her entertainment heritage and finally realized that performing was in her blood.
During that time she met another accomplished magician by the name of Kevin Ridgeway. Magic being the common denominator, friendship ensued although they would not formally perform together until years later. After Kristen and Kevin had both become working entertainers they finally got together with the vision to create a dynamic, high energy production geared toward young people. After they realized how well they connected with the X Generation, Kevin mentioned to Kristen, “If we can attract and hold the attention of teenagers, we can attract everyone.” In September 2000, Kristen and Kevin were married in Australia while they were there performing during the Summer Olympics festivities. It was then that they began planning to make the leap from performing regionally to nationally and their first major touring show Living Illusions was created.
News of the cutting edge touring show, Living Illusions, traveled fast. Before they knew it offers to perform were pouring in from all across the country. Their first big break occurred when they were asked to perform on the Discovery Channel feature Inside the Houdini Museum, a television special documentary based on the life of Harry Houdini. Kristen was the only female featured on the special which ended up airing numerous times on both the Discovery & Travel Channel. For the special, Kristen performed the Spike Escape, where she was handcuffed beneath a bed or 13 razor sharp spikes with only seconds to escape before they came crashing down. After the TV special she set out to master every type of escape known to magicians. She learned Straight Jacket escapes, Rope escapes, Handcuff escapes, and finally the granddaddy escape of them all, the death defying Water Torture Cell escape immortalized by the Great Harry Houdini. In 2006 along with Kevin, she was bestowed the Master Award, the highest award given at the 4th Annual International Escape Artist Convention where they debuted their futuristic Full View Water Torture Cell Escape to their peers, the only escape of its kind in the world.
Kristen, now a real Escapologist is considered the World’s Premier Female Escape Artist. Her performances are in big demand all over the globe. In one 12 month period alone, from mid 2008 to mid 2009, her escapes were featured on numerous TV shows and networks worldwide including Turkey’s Kanal 1 hit show Mucizeler Gecesi, aired in both Europe and Asia, Inside Edition, CNN Headline News, Fox’s My Network TV Hollywood taped series Masters of Illusions, Canada’s CityTV, The Fuji Network show Unbelievable which was viewed by over 20 million people in Japan.
Even with Kristen’s demanding touring schedule she still accepts a few speaking engagements every year for teenage girls and women’s events. The topic she is most passionate about is Self Esteem. Since her family was constantly moving from state to state Kristen was always the new kid in school and felt very much an outsider. The fact that she wore braces and glasses also didn’t do much for self image as she viewed herself as an ugly duckling. Kristen when asked will often use one of her escapes to drive home the inspirational message she delivers.
Kristen lives in the Indianapolis area with Kevin Ridgeway, her husband of nine years. She enjoys traveling to exotic places, riding their matching Buell motorcycles and playing with their two Chinese Crested dogs, Elmsley and Ting-Ting.