Jupiter Courier News Oct. 25th, 2011
JUPITER — Some of the antics performed by stunt entertainer Cynthia Morrison aka “Cindini” are featured inside the October 2011 release of My Year of Living Fearlessly. Morrison is mentor to the author of this publication while leading her through some scary situations involving such dangerous elements as Fire and broken Glass along with flinging steel blades. Why would a Shakespeare professor and writer want to experience such challenges?
The author shared some reasons why. “Sadly, somewhere along the way, I seem to have lost my sense of adventure. The world is always a scary place, but, when I was younger, I had the courage to face it. As I grew up, I got lazy. It was easier to avoid my fears than it was to confront them, so eventually I got complacent. It didn’t happen overnight; in fact, it was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it had happened until just now when my mom dropped the “small life’ bombshell. But sitting here hearing her say it, I know she’s right. I’ve allowed too much of my life to be dictated by fear, and I don’t want to live that way anymore. Clearly, something has to change, but I have no idea how to do that. It’s not like I can just declare myself fearless”
Over the course of fifty-two weeks, author Amber Karlins places herself in fifty-two anxiety-riddled situations, including a stand-up comedy competition, a fire-eating lesson, an up-close and personal alligator encounter, and an evening spent alone in a haunted hotel. The result is a book, My Year of Living Fearlessly with hilarious misadventures, heart palpitations and triumphs that not only remind her who she is, but also what we can accomplish when we refuse to allow fear and insecurities to define who we are and what we can do. Morrison says she will continue to entice Karlins to participate in a match of Bloodless Bullfighting to experience the exhilerating Joy. The Book is available through Barnes and Noble Bookstores.
PALM BEACH POST
By Anne Rodgers Saturday, February 16, 2008
February's Gutsy Gal is in a class all her own.
Forget "normal" activities that get your blood racing like sky diving, windsurfing and bungee jumping. Cynthia Morrison has created a whole other realm of risky business. The former powerlifter pulls cars with her hair, walks on glass, allows herself to be buried in sand while bound in a straitjacket and even catches bullets. "Insanity can be strangely liberating," she'll tell you, but the 48-year-old West Palm Beach woman hardly comes across as crazy in person. The youngest of three kids, she's calm and quiet, deliberate in her speech...
Powerlifting was the first step down the road less taken; she competed nationally and won trophies but retired in 1994. A brochure for the Miami Highland Games with a picture of a man heaving a telephone pole led her to explore that world. She bought a 6-foot pole and starting throwing it, and entered the Key Biscayne competition the next year. There she met the director of Scotland's Traditional Highland Games, who told her women would never be allowed there. But she knocked on the right doors, and the directors eventually decided she'd attract good PR. In the summer of 1994, she became their first woman competitor. "They wanted mileage from the media, but I just wanted to throw trees and stones," she said. "It was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The competitors were very open-armed and welcoming. These are the strongest men in the world, remember, so it's not like they have any confidence problems." Cynthia's notoriety led to a job at a Renaissance fair doing a Highland Games demonstration. While there, she found a magazine advertising a jousting school in California. "I'd watched Ivanhoe on TV and I wanted to do it," she said. "I called the teacher and asked if he'd ever trained women. He hadn't, but said he didn't have a problem with it. So I made my way to California, attended the school (in '97) and then I traveled to tournaments, mostly out West, but also to Germany." In 1999 and 2000, Cynthia won the International Women's Jousting Competition held in Estes Park, Colo., then retired from competition in 2001 and formed her own troupe here, the Palm Beach Jousting Club, whose half-dozen members practice in Caloosa.
As for the straitjacket obsession - well, that started in 1998. At a Renaissance festival magic show to buy Braveheart-style blue paint, Cynthia was approached by a magician who tried to sell her some card and coin tricks. ("I personally have no interest in magic," she said.) "You seem hard to impress," he told her. "What can I do to impress you?" "Go hang from the roof in a straitjacket and escape," she told him. "That's too insane," was his reply. "Why don't you do it?" When Cynthia said she didn't have a straitjacket, he offered one, and it became a face-to-face challenge. "He let me borrow it for a week; I'd make guys put it on me to practice," she said. "I didn't ask anyone the secret. I do things the hard way, I guess." A week later, she went back and did a simple straitjacket escape for the magician - and a crowd gathered. "They all applauded, and the magician announced, 'Ladies and gentleman! The escape artist!' " The fair was searching for an intermission act to entertain crowds at the biweekly wrestling shows, so Cynthia began doing escapes regularly. Now she has endless variations: She hangs from cranes, is buried underground, locked in a bank vault and submerged underwater - all while wrapped in a straitjacket. But ... how do you get out underwater? "You work fast," she smiles, offering no additional details. Then how about the buried-in-sand escape? "It's manual manipulation," she said, recalling one Singer Island escape she did eight months ago, setting a record release time of 2 minutes, 5 seconds. "First, you gotta do your head. You take a deep breath right before they put those last few shovelfuls over your head. The first thing you want to get out is your head. I had a scarf over my face. You have to realize, beach sand is very heavy." But ... how does she do it? "I wiggled my way out," she said. Clearly, watching Cynthia's escapes in person is the key. Look for her occasionally at Clematis by Night, Lake Worth festivals, Halloween carnivals and private functions. Or at the Florida Renaissance Festival in Deerfield Beach's Quiet Water Park, which continues through March 9. "I'll do knife-throwing there - at my human target," Cynthia said calmly. "I'll also walk on glass and do my fire-eater stuff. The upside-down straitjacket and jail breaks are more for publicity stunts to draw attention to my skill." What possesses Cynthia to do all this? "Probably the danger," she said, "the challenge involved." When she catches bullets for example - a stunt that has killed 17 people - she said her palms get sweaty, her body shakes, and she has a heightened awareness. What's she thinking in those moments? "I'm just hoping everything goes OK," she said.
Cynthia likes the challenge to herself, the wondering of "can she do it?" Is she strong enough, fast enough, dextrous enough? "I'm not interested in jumping out of an airplane. Or even roller-coaster rides. There's no personal challenge involved with that. It's just getting slung around. It does nothing for me." So what's next? "I want to break my hair-pull record, which is 5,020 pounds (a Rolls-Royce). I've approached the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department twice to perform a publicity stunt with their armored vehicle named The Hulk. But I've gotten no response." For this feat, Cynthia uses a head harness, which is a metal ring that her ponytail is threaded through. At the other end of the metal ring is a rope that is attached to the tow line. "My doctor advised me against it because it can pull your entire scalp off," Cynthia said. "So what I did is I tucked my head and held my scalp like this. (She illustrates by grabbing the back of her head, elbows bent and close together.) Once I did that, I said I'm ready for bigger and better things." But arranging such unique gigs is tricky. "I'd like to pull a Humvee or a boat or a train," she said, "but you can't just walk into Amtrak and say, 'Hey, can I attach my hair to your engine out here?' It's not very welcomed for liability reasons." You can see her dilemma. That's why, for strength, bravery and unprecedented intestinal fortitude, Cynthia Morrison gets the nod as Charm's Gutsy Gal of the month.