There are many things you can say about Chris Cross; that he’s a shrinking violet is not one of them. Coming across as some devil-may-care, ‘just arsing about’ Geordie answer to Russell Brand, Cross not so much intrudes into the audience’s personal space, he actively bounds across it, tweaks the audience’s nipples and invites them to lick his own in return. Sitting towards the back of the room is no guarantee of safety either.
That’s when he’s not telling straight men to kiss each other; that, willingly or not, they actually do says much about Cross’s strength of personality and the brutal realities of audience peer pressure, especially in a pub venue late in the evening. ‘They’ve been great; they could have been you,’ Cross says at one point, demanding plenty of noise as his two most recent ‘volunteers’ return to their seats. A relieved audience is happy to oblige; just because, at the time, Cross is tied tightly into a straitjacket, doesn’t mean they feel safe.
Cross is the kind of performer who delights in throwing himself out of the plane without bothering with any kind of parachute; his recent challenge to Mike Tyson (getting the former boxer to put him in the strait jacket), feels typical of the man - being both inspired attention-grabber and ‘crazy sh*t’. Yet his innate success is down to being able, against all the odds, to come across as pretty unthreatening - the scruffy puppy you can’t help but love despite it having just pissed over the living room carpet.
Make no mistake, however; Cross is an experienced, skilled and exceptionally talented performer, whether it’s confounding with some close magic tricks — which he dismisses as not even being part of his show — and his focus on contortionism and impressive escapology. Seeing Cross actively dislocate his shoulders is not for the faint-hearted, but the rush of seeing him succeed is undeniable. Once seen, Mr Cross will never be forgotten.