Max Cassilly’s ‘Falling Awake’ and the next chapter of his father's legacy at City Museum
Bound in a straitjacket. Wrapped in 50 feet of chain. Tied in ropes.
Then, connected to a wooden yoke, sealed in a canvas bag and locked in a shipping crate.
All part of a day’s work for local “Doctor of Escapology,” Judas Lynch, whose current pirate-themed escape act will be on display at the City Museum’s first age-21+ event, “Falling Awake,” next Thursday night.
Lynch, also known as Stewart Minor, was on the path to priesthood before he gave up that life to become a mime. After training with someone he found in the yellow pages under “Saint Louis Mime Entertainment,” he started experimenting with different methods of escape, fiddling with handcuffs, locks and the like.
"I'm always drawn to types of entertainment that people know of but never get to experience."
“I’m always drawn to types of entertainment that people know of but never get to experience,” Lynch said. “I find that escapology is also one of those. A lot of people know what an escape artist is, who Harry Houdini is, but have never had the opportunity to experience an escape artist. So I picked it up, and started giving people that opportunity.”
Lynch is one of 15 acts that will be a part of the creepy night at City Museum next week. It’s a new leaf for Max Cassilly, the front man of another act that will perform and is hosting the event, Captured Planet, and son of late City Museum founder Bob Cassilly.
“We want to take City Museum to the next level,” Cassilly said. “City Museum, squared, if you will. We’re going to have a couple of bands, a maze, strobe lights, fog machines. We’re going to make it Halloween at City Museum but also create works of art, projections of a creepy nature.”
A human pin-cushion, a knife-thrower, a man who hammers objects into his nose and other “freak show”-style acts will be hidden around the museum for visitors to find until they get to an ambient-sound dance party on the third floor, featuring local bands such as 18andCounting and Kid Scientist.
The adult-only event is an outgrowth of what Cassilly thought his dad wanted to happen at the museum. Cassilly hopes to create more events like this in the future.
"When people don't call it a museum, I get a little bit offended. Those people tend to be the most 'art respectful:' 'This is not a museum!' But I'm like, 'This is a museum,' just reconfigured a bit so that stuff is actually a bit more fun."
“We like it a little more if the art's hands-on,” Cassilly said. “You can climb it. You forget that you’re actually on art. When people don’t call it a museum, I get a little bit offended. Those people tend to be the most ‘art respectful:’ ‘This is not a museum!’ But I’m like, ‘This is a museum’… just reconfigured a bit so that stuff is actually a bit more fun.”
“Toward the end, City Museum was [my dad’s] baby; he loved it,” Cassilly said of his father. “It was becoming more of an afterthought to Cementland."
Cementland was Bob Cassilly's next big project and also where he died in a bulldozer accident in September 2011. The project has not been completed and is still in probate to this day.
Cassilly’s father was actually a bit of a Harry Houdini fan himself. “He would tell stories of his escapes,” Cassilly said. “He was like superman.”
Next Thursday, Lynch will pull a Houdini and escape from a straitjacket as he is hoisted several stories high as part of the immersive museum experience.
“I think that’s something that is engrained in American being, to get free, to overcome situations,” Lynch said. “I feel like that’s what being an escape artist is…being able to present that to people watching you.”
What: Falling Awake: City Museum hosts an immersive museum experience
When: Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: City Museum, 750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103
“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, and Kelly Moffitt. The show is sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.