Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two new books promise great escapes

Speaking of escapology, two new books on the subject have recently appeared on Amazon. First up is How to Hack Handcuffs Like Houdini: For Magicians, Law Enforcement & Urban Survivalist by Shawn C. Evans. Here's the description:

Do you know that you can open a pair of standard handcuffs with a drinking straw? Do you know the 3 “universal” handcuff keys that all escapologists should have in their toolkit? Do you know which handcuff key is ideal to use with sleight-of-hand techniques? Written for Magicians, Law Enforcement and Urban Survivalist, this book describes in detail the novel methods to “hack” open handcuffs --- from picking & shimming with household items, to the interesting use of HIPS devices. Chapter 1: Short History of Handcuffs. Chapter 2: Handcuff Nomenclature. Chapter 3: Escape / Hacking Methods Chapter 4: Handcuff Keys. Chapter 5: Single vs. Double Lock. Chapter 6: Shimming Techniques. Chapter 7: Picking Techniques. Chapter 8: HIPS Devices. Chapter 9: GOAH Stage Method. Chapter 10: Tricked Handcuffs.

The author is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of psychology and a life-long student of magic. He has created over 65 marketed magic effects and currently operates the website: www.mimesis-magic.com. The author is known as the coin guy who “splits” cards and is the sole craftsman who makes all the gaffed & gimmick cards for the popular Mimesis Card Workshop.

The second book is Escape or Die: An escape artist unlocks the secret to cheating death by Anthony Martin, "founder of Ambassador in Chains ministry." This one seems to be a biography mixed with the motivational. Here's the description:

Few sane people would want to be locked in shackles, enclosed in a box, and thrown from a plane at 15,000 feet for fun. But for renowned escape artist Anthony Martin, whose fascination with locks began as a young boy, it’s all in a day’s work.

Whether shackled in a bag with a python, padlocked in a cage beneath a frozen lake, or buried in a coffin under a ton of sand, Anthony regularly faces the risk of serious injury or death. However, unlike Houdini, who used illusion, Anthony’s exploits are all true escapes.

Interweaving stories of his over thirty years of daredevil feats with lessons he’s learned in the “school of hard locks,” Anthony unlocks the mystery of life after death—something Houdini had sought in séances to no avail. What happens when we die? Once we pass through the door of death, what’s on the other side?

Through fascinating parallels with his death-defying adventures, Anthony reveals the keys to making the greatest escape. With the lessons he shares in Escape or Die, you’ll be well-equipped to take a leap of faith and defeat death once and for all.

Not sure what the author here means about Houdini's escapes being "illusion" and not "true escapes", but maybe that's all part of the whole motivational thingy.

12 comments:

  1. Martin always states that he never uses tricked cuffs Locks apparatus etc. So he implying that he is better than Houdini because his escapes are "real" whereas Houdini used, at times, effects such as the USD, Milk Can etc that had gaffs to aid his escape. So another escape artist trying to promote himself by throwing a dig at Houdini.

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    1. That's annoying. Certainly Houdini had his fair share of "real" escapes. He pioneered "real" escapes, in fact. Puts me off this book.

      What I hate is when modern escape artists claim to have "beat Houdini's record" of escaping from a straitjacket, etc. Of course, for Houdini is was never about establishing a time. That's a modern idea. For him it was the drama and performance. It's a cheap, wrong, and dishonest for escapists to make this kind of claim.

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    2. Martin does honor the great Houdini, but it's true that Houdini was a master magician as well as escapist--while Martin doesn't use illusion. Stating that difference isn't a "dig" at Houdini.

      His book mentions the dramatized account of an underwater escape in the movie "Houdini," then recounts how Martin did a successful under-the-ice escape in a locked box (twice), but how many escape artists DON'T use Houdini as inspiration for their own feats? It's a very interesting book, filled with accounts of his experiences, and is well worth reading.

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    3. Oh, I see. I took it to mean that Martin was saying Houdini's escapes were illusions. But what he's saying is Houdini did escapes and magic. Got it. Thanks.

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    4. Martins web site when I looked at it a few weeks ago SPECIFICALLY stated that Houdinis escapes were illusions/tricks whereas Martins were real. I see now he has eliminated that paragraph from his web site. Good for him otherwise he would just be another escape artist trying to gain fame off the back of a man who died nearly 90 years ago.

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    5. If any escape artist gave Houdini the true respect he deserved, than he or she would not copy what Harry did, as Harry hated those who copied. Honestly all who say they are better than Houdini are matching themselves up to what Harry did more than 90 years ago. All escape artists should be better having now as they have had a 90 year head start. I try and pay homage to Houdini by not copying what he did but by trying to go beyond. Combining some of his escape, adding more to them or performing them in full view I think pushes the art form along. In my escapes though I may reference what Harry did, I do so not because I think I am better than Houdini but because I believe if Harry were alive today that he would be doing things differently. IMHO any escape artist or magician who does not respect the past, does dishonor to themselves and the profession.

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  2. Thanks John for posting Evans' book on handcuff escape techniques. It's definitely on my radar. I can imagine the look on a smug cop's face when I hand him back the cuffs he just slapped on my wrists.

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    1. Yeah, I like the looks of this one as well.

      I'm pretty sure if you escape police cuffs, they just let you go, right? :p

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  3. If you look on Alexandria the greats web site she flagrantly compares herself as better than Houdini showing him ready to jump off a bridge only cuffed with a chain and a single pair of cuffs while she is shown with multiple chains underwater with a caption that reads.....Houdini had it easy. Cant these people build their own reputation and not try knocking Houdini in theprocess?

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    1. I remember when I was a kid Steve Baker did the same type of "greater than Houdini" thing. It bothered me, but I still loved his escapes. Saying that gets you in the paper, I guess. But it is cheap. But I much prefer performers who honor Houdini, like David Blaine, Penn & Teller and Copperfield. I'm pretty sure Alexandria honors Houdini. Sounds like that photo is just a bit of gag.

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  4. But then you have Copperfield on national tv stating that....houdini only had 2 hours of material his entire career. Refering to houdini...that a straightjacket release was easy that it ony entailed wriggling around a bit. Lots a magicial 90 years after his death still knock Houdini.

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  5. I could never understand why modern escape artists perform their escapes in full view. Now you see them picking the locks of their restraints in front of the audience. People aren't supposed to see that.

    Houdini would at least crouch behind a 3 sided screen during his handcuff escapes to shield his techniques from the audience. This helped to create mystery.

    If you escape from a police officer's handcuffs, he'd probably taser you.

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