Unfortunately you won’t be able to see him walking a tightrope up in the sky today, but if you’re interested you will have a chance to meet stuntster and artist Philippe Petit tonight at St. John the Divine.
Petit is most famous for his tightrope walks between the towering tips of skyscrapers in the city. His multiple walks on a rope stretched between the tops of the World Trade Center towers in 1974 earned him international fame, and became the subject of a documentary called Man on Wire.
St. John will be showing the documentary tonight at 7 p.m. before opening a question and answer period with Petit himself. It is a benefit screening, so it’s not quite clear whether you have to pay $20, or whether that’s a suggested donation a la Met. But Petit might just be worth the money. Aside from what he calls “artistic crimes” like the tightrope walking, St. John reports that his activities as an Artist in Residence there have included “writing, drawing, close-up magic and street juggling, and the study of lock-picking, French wine, and 18th century timber framing.” He was once also seen bullfighting in Peru – the indisputable mark of a true Renaissance man.
If you can’t scrape together the money, you can find the documentary and Petit’s book of the same title online, or you can wait for what could be a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to see Petit again later this year. Gothamist reports that Petit is planning yet another tightrope walk for sometime this fall. Infinitely better than the movie, and free!