Leeds street performer's Houdini act

Street performer Rob Roy Collins ditched a career in law in exchange for an unpredictable life escaping from a 20ft long metal chain.

Muscle man Rob, 32, of Beeston, Leeds, travels the world entertaining the crowds and estimates he has performed in front of more than a million people over the past nine years.

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The centrepiece of his 40-minute bare-chested, street act involves wriggling free, Houdini-style, from a five-times padlocked steel chain, while handcuffed and standing on a 12 ft ladder.

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He also incorporates, acrobatics, balancing, handstands and plenty of banter with the crowd.

Now Rob is using the skills he has honed on the street to become a motivational speaker.

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"It's about how to communicate, how to win people over, how to create rapport, how to confront reservation. It's practical not theoretical. I can use these skills to create and survive. Confidence is the main thing," he said.

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Rob began street performing with his brother Liam, who last year got as far as the semi-finals of TV's Britain's Got Talent with a disco dance act.

"I was in the middle of a law degree and I had loads of work experience planned with various firms over the summer and I sacked it all off to go and perform in Leicester Square. That was the moment I realised I wasn't going to be a lawyer," he said.

After finishing his degree he travelled to Australia and set about learning all about street performance and creating his own unique act.

"I bought 20m of chain, a set of handcuffs and got my mates to chain me up. Then I was good to go.

"I had seen other great street performers and I wanted to be like that. I wasn't sure how I was going to get there. But I just knew I would. I wasn't a natural entertainer, or comedian. It was the psychology behind it that hooked me in., working out the different ways of getting a reaction from a crowd.

"The first few times I think I only made a few dollars but the

important thing was that people had stopped to watch me."

Despite travelling all over the world to perform York, London and Edinburgh remain his favourite places to work a crowd and British audiences are still the best, he says.

In Covent Garden Rob can easily be performing in front of up to 1,000 people for each performance. In Briggate, in Leeds, where he also regularly performs it might be 400. His biggest tip was in Japan where a businessman gave him the equivalent of a 50 note.

It is these skills which he hopes to convey in his business seminar: 'I quit law to become a street performer.'

* For more information visit: www.robroycollins.com

Update: Five arrests after Bradford to Leeds police chase crash