Cambridge magician JezO’s greatest trick yet: Driving blindfolded in a car rigged to explode
Entertainer and events organiser JezO – the president of The Pentacle Magic Club, Cambridge – is known for creating memorable moments
But he topped the lot when drove a Mini blindfolded around a course he had memorised... with a ‘bomb’ in the back, rigged to explode whether he’d completed it or not.
Along the way were jumps and flaming barrels to negotiate. If a world in lockdown needs a bit of excitement, that’s exactly what we’ll get when the stunt is broadcast as part of a magic show on December 6.
The Cambridge Pentacle Magic Club should have been bringing its annual magic show to The Junction once again this year. However, for obvious reasons, the show has been cancelled.
Keen for the show to go on at all costs, however, club members have been performing tricks for the online magic show - tickets are now on sale.
They have been rehearsing and working out new and exciting magic around Cambridge, filming ‘guerilla-style’ with some iconic landmarks as a backdrop.
JezO’s blindfold drive – a challenge that was first attempted by Beverley Gray and John Davenport in 1973 in a Triumph Spitfire on Midsummer Common – has surely been his most outlandish to date.
Driving around a course fully blindfolded, the stunt was carried out in the presence of a film crew and safety personnel, with no spectators present, save for our photographer, who was invited along to capture the dangerous stunt.
JezO, 34, said: “It’s been a lot of work for months to make this work. I designed the course during the first lockdown, and I’ve been memorising it ever since.
“In the first lockdown, I was working on a completely different effect of memorising an entire deck of cards, and it just went from there. The fact that we were able to add explosions just makes everything better anyway!
“There was no way of overriding this bomb...”
He added: “In 1973, the club did it originally – not with the explosion – on Midsummer Common, at Midsummer Fair, in a white soft-top convertible. Then in 1997, my dad [Bondini] did it in Lapland, on a ski-doo, but did it as a race. Both did it blindfolded.
“So the only way to go was to make it more dramatic, and as the president of the magic club – and because I was trying to help The Junction and do some PR for our club as well – that’s kind of how it happened.”
JezO (real name Jez Bond) said the event was thrilling: “The timer was set at 64 seconds, and it was all done by counting. I knew that once we got past the two barrels of fire on either side of the car that the final jump was coming up. The fastest I’d done it up till then was 57 seconds, so it gave me a bit of leeway.”
On the day, JezO completed the challenge in around a minute.
A number of precautions were understandably in place. “Everything was fire-proofed and there was no real skin exposed,” explained JezO.
“There were safety things in there; it was solely based on a theatrical pyrotechnic, with the added element of petrol in a bag on top.
“We took out everything that could burn inside, so the car was completely stripped – I just had a racing seat and a harness with a quick release.
"Because of the way I got round the course with counting, if I knew that I wasn’t going to make it, I would have basically hit the brake release and got out. That’s why we went with a soft top so I could jump over the side.”
The car was purchased for JezO by Wallis & Son in Barton, which also carried out the safety work.
JezO, through his events company, has worked closely with the garage for years – Wallis & Son also found him and his staff work during lockdown helping to return repaired and serviced vehicles.
JezO said he asked Wallis & Son for the loan of one of its wedding cars for the stunt, but unsurprisingly the boss, Elliot Wallis, was not keen. Instead Elliot said he would buy him a car for the stunt so JezO wouldn’t “trash” one of his cars.
Despite being blown up, the Mini Cooper has not been completely written off and now JezO and Wallis & Son are asking the people of Cambridge to come up with new ideas for stunts.
“They’ve managed to get it started,” said JezO, “and they want to do this going forward to raise money for charity. It’s sitting in their showroom, this burnt-out wreck.”
One idea, JezO explained, is to put the car on two punts on the Cam and set fire to the punts with him in chains inside the car. The challenge would be for JezO to escape and get the car off the punts before it sinks.
JezO, who once ‘sawed’ former South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen in half in Cambourne, also did Britain’s Got Talent with his dad this year.
“I strapped Dad to a Catherine wheel and threw knives at him,” said JezO, adding: “We didn’t make it to the semis but we did get through the judges’ round.”
The blindfold driving stunt will be part of an online show which will be broadcast on December 6 at 6pm. In an effort to help The Junction, the proceeds from ticket sales will be split 50/50 with the venue.
Tickets are £12 per household and can be purchased at junction.co.uk.
Email JezO with any ideas for future stunts involving the Mini at email@example.com, or visit jezo.co.uk.
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