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Harley Newman
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Profile of Harley Newman
Airport security is going to get worse, before it gets better. Most of us here, with the specialized knowledge we already have, could probably take out an airplane with things from our pockets. But we're entertainers, and generally nice people, and not mean. So we won't.

This of course, has nothing to do with the ways we have to deal with airport security.

A few years ago, one of my friends had some shows in Moscow, with a schedule of exiting the plane, doing the shows, and getting back on the plane. He did some fire things, and didn't have the time to go shopping for fluids. So he used a little food coloring, a Scope bottle, and sealed it up with an instant-setting glue. And he got away with it. Nowadays, he wouldn't.

I was flying somewhere a few months ago, and needed to perform, a few minutes after I got off the plane. I tried to take a sword-swallowing sword in a violin case, with other props. The security people wouldn't let me. I said, "It has no edge, no blade, it can't cut or stab," and swallowed it for them. They said, "It's a sword, check it." I need not further discuss here, the level of intellegence I observed on that occasion.

A couple of years ago, on my way home from Beirut, I was stopped for a changeover in Paris (at the airport terminal that collapsed last year), and heard my name called. They took me in a glorified golf cart, to a warehouse a couple of miles away. There, in the middle of a huge open space, stood my ladder of swords (a slightly oversized box). With a bunch of security guys standing around the edges, they asked me to go in and open the case. I gladly did, and of course, had to demo the thing, and then they were happy and took me back. For the inconvenience, they gave me a travel kit, and escorted me to the front of the line. When the guy they gave me to, asked whether I'd packed my bags, or taken anything from anyone I didn't know, I had to tell them about the travel kit, and pointed to the previous security guy. They searched it, and me, but eventually I got on the plane.

Does anybody else have security stories?
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain
Freak Prodigy
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I don't but I do have a question,

Is there anything in place for Performance Artists like us nowadays?

Most performers take there small props on the plane, mentioned about [swords for swallowing]...since we NEED them to make our money we guard these things with our life.

If you checked these said props and the airport lost them, whitch in turn caused you to loose your gig, could a lawsuit arise from that situation?

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Profile of Kondini
UK Airports have become like the Inland Revenue,,,accountable to no one.Trips to the USA are understandably tight with shoes off, scan the lot attitude (Which I consider OK)So to purchase your props on arrival seems the best way forward or box them up way prior to departure so they are there waiting for you at the gig end.
The Jobs worth award type of Customs Officer of course will strip you and examine your bum but most when explained that you are a weirdo performer will wave you on through !

The crazy non existant security within EU flights and the Channel Tunnel make the mind boggle,,,but hardly surpriseing when you consider that over 400,000 illegal immigrants are at present in the UK (Guess they must have got in somehow !).

Ken,,,,So to get your props around the world all you have to do is disguise them as a Pole or put them in the back of a Trans Atlantic truck!
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Profile of mota
Taking off shoes are one thing...

Just be glad that guy with the shoe bomb didn't hide it in his underwear.
Harley Newman
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If there's something in place for us, I haven't been able to find it, and I've gone through quite a few channels. We pretty much need to check most of our stuff, most of the time.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain
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Profile of Keairao
Haven't had any airport security problems (because I haven't been on a plane in about 10 years), but did have subway problems.
We were on our way to do a suspension show in Toronto (hometown) and figured we could just take all the gear on the subway instead of renting a car (none of us has a vehicle at present). So here we are on the subway with a bunch of big cases, looking like freaks (all heavily tattoo'd and pierced) The TTC special constable decides he's going to give us a hard time, even though we're just sitting there talking about the show not bothering anyone. He makes us open up our kits, sees needles, scissors, hooks, scalpels, sutures, and all sorts of fun medical supplies, not to mention a good 50m of rope and some scary looking rigs. It took us a good long time to explain what we did, where we were going and why we were allowed to have this stuff. Even had to show him paramedic ID (which he thought was fake) and scars from previous suspensions (along with the removal of a lot of clothing). It was a pain in the a**
I tried to explain to the guy that we would make realy lousy terrorists, because we stand out from the crowd so much that security guards are always bugging us and people in general keep a pretty close eye on us. That seemed to make things worse. It was the last time we took the subway on the way to a gig. If I ever do it again, I'll be sure to wear my uniform to avoid hassle. We also make sure to bring pictures and promo items with us, easily accesseble, for any future problems. They seem to take you more seriously if you hand them a business card and flyer for the show.
Moral of the story - don't travel with 'questionable' items if you look different.

Also, thanks for this thread, We may be doing some air travel soon, and now that we've expanded into the realm of sideshow, we have a lot more gear (swords, torches, etc). You guys have brought up a lot of good points that I will be sure to remember when the time comes.
Caveat Lector
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I fly across country for shows on a very regular basis. The airline security does not care about our needs as performers, nor should they. I make it a point to arrive the day before my show when flying so that I can get everything I might need. This also allows time incase they misplace my show gear. I write up a letter with a manifest on it that describes in detail everything that is in the case and what it is for. Since most of my shows are generally sideshow and magic combined I have a lot of fragile and unusual items in my cases. Take the extra time to thank them for doing their jobs on the letter, this sometimes could make the difference in how they handle your equipment. The reality is that you are going to have to pack most of your gear. If this bothers you too much then you should not take the gig or just drive to the show.
Corrupting the art of magic, one show at a time
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