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PARIS (Reuters) - Thrill-seekers in France tired of the usual array of white-knuckle sports are turning to a bizarre new service to get their adrenaline rush -- designer abduction.
For 900 euros ($1,226), clients of Ultime Realite ("Ultimate Reality"), a firm in eastern France, can buy a basic kidnap package where they're bundled away, bound and gagged, and kept incarcerated for four hours.
Alternatively, they can opt for a more elaborate tailor-made psychodrama, involving an escape or helicopter chase for example, where costs can quickly escalate.
"Basically, anything is possible. I identify what the customer wants and then try to put it into action," said Georges Cexus, 28, who set up the company in the middle of January.
Once the scenario has been established, clients sign a contract and liability waiver, but have no idea when the kidnappers will strike in order to maximize the surprise.
But Cexus said the maximum incarceration time is 11 hours, beyond which clients might find the novelty tends to wear off.
After just a few weeks in business, Ultime Realite says it is already getting up to two requests a day, the majority from top-level executives seeking an extreme alternative to bungee jumping or skydiving.
Others are hoping to confront deep-rooted phobias, such as one potential client who says he wants to be buried alive.
For those searching for the ultimate nightmare, the company is also hoping to branch out beyond kidnappings and is looking into options such as spending a night in a morgue, or attending your own funeral.
"Let's say it will really be about bringing to life the client's worst fear, the thing that's lurking in the back of his mind and he's never dared talk about," said Cexus.
While paying "victims" might find the experience cathartic, however, there's little guarantee of how innocent bystanders might react to witnessing a kidnapping in broad daylight.
A spokesperson for the French police said they had no legal objections to the service, but the company would need to warn local authorities beforehand so they were prepared for any emergency calls.
"With regard to the police and penal code, there's no reason for us to ban this service, as the victim is consenting which means there's no crime," the spokesperson said.
Reporting by Vicky Buffery, editing by Paul Casciato