Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lee Terbosic plans "Houdini 100" tribute

I normally don't cover magicians who replicate Houdini's feats (unless they make unexpected news), but I thought I'd make an exception for Lee Terbosic and his upcoming suspended straitjacket escape in Pittsburgh on November 6. That's because Lee will do his escape at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Wood Street at the very spot where Houdini did his own suspended straitjacket escape 100 years ago to the day.

Lee has launched a nice website laying out the details of what he's calling: "HOUDINI 100."

Lee was also recently profiled on KDKA News. Talking about Houdini, he said: "He was a marketing genius. He really was. He knew how to sell a show. He knew how create a buzz about what he was doing. That’s why we still talk about him today."

Sounds like Lee has some marketing skills himself!


Of course, if he's really going to replicate Houdini's escape, then he will certainly strap the jacket on as Houdini did and not employ a straitjacket fail....right Lee?

UPDATELee Terbosic recreates Houdini's straitjacket escape in Pittsburgh.

Related:

18 comments:

  1. Looks like a straightjacket fail to me unfortunately. If you notice Houdini always is strapped into a straightjacket with his arms folded crossed over the front of his body with his hands at hip level. This makes it tougher to escape as there is no obvious slack. Secondly once Houdinis has forced his arms over his head he always then unbuckles the straps at the rear of the jacket with his arms still encased in the thick canvas sleeves of the jacket. This is no small feat and lots of training and strength is required. When you see a jacket placed on with one sleeve up over the other arm and see the magician actually slip his arm from the sleeve to undo the buckles at the back this in my book is a fail. It's NOT the way Houdini performed the escape. Houdini used a real straightjacket in every filmed stunt which probably means he always used a real jacket. Perry from NJ.

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  2. It appears that Lee is guilty as charged. It really is difficult to unbuckle the straps through the canvas, but one only needs to unbuckle the crotch strap. The jacket can then be slid off over your head if the neck strap isn't too tight.

    Houdini wasn't above using a gimmicked jacket, and I believe that the jackets he used for the outdoor suspended escape were cut a certain way to make the release a bit faster.

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  3. Well, this hasn't even happened yet, so I don't think we can condemn him just yet.

    I don't think escape artists need to use the same methods of escape Houdini used, but they should to be put into the jacket in the same way. Start at the same place. Don't start half-way out, as we see in the Fail.

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    1. If you visit Lee's website, you can see photos of him in straitjacket fail.

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    2. Well maybe we've now put him on notice. :)

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    3. I have a better idea, how about strapping him in that full body suit that Radner escaped from in the BBC documentary. Or perhaps the hot water and wet sheets?

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  4. I would be very careful proclaiming that Houdini used a faked straight jacket. A statement such as this is certainly misleading. Modern escape artists you see jackets used that are way too large so even if the straps are tightened fully the jacket is loose especially around the neck where it can be easily pulled over the head after the crotch strap is opened. Houdinis jackets fit snugly in comparison. Not to reveal secrets of today's magicians but none use the real thing allowing slipping of the arms from the sleeves etc. These are not comparable to what Houdini used. It took great skill to do what Houdini did. Anyone can escape from the modern jackets. Perry from NJ.

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    1. Agree. I've never heard of HH using anything but genuine straitjackets. There are those very early images of him in a jacket without the crotch strap. I think maybe this is where the "cut jacket" thing comes from. But I've never bought that. I think this was just a different type of straitjacket.

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    2. Perry--These are not my proclamations, they come straight out of Walter Gibson's Houdini's Fabulous Magic. If you haven't read any of Walter Gibson's books about Harry, perhaps you should. The Bonza jacket is described by Gibson on page 50. It was designed by Houdini for a quick escape inside confining spaces.

      In the suspended escape, Houdini used a special jacket designed for quick action. It had longer sleeves and less straps. This is also described on page 49 of HFM.

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    3. You know, I just did a whole post praising that book, and I had forgotten about this. But you're quite correct, Leo. Sorry about that.

      You can get a good look, front and back, at what we now know was at least one of Houdini's suspended straitjackets in the post below. Still seem to have a fair amount of straps in the back, but the two lower ones are more like belts.

      http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2011/06/authenticated-houdini-straitjacket.html

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  5. I've had a copy of that Gibson book since 1970. There is much in that book that were ideas that Houdini never used. Also I have escaped from a genuine type jacket as Houdini used vs what is used today by magicians. They are not comparable. The difficult part of the escape is one to pull ones arms over the head so as to allow access to the belts and straps at the back and secondly to undo straps behind your back with fingers encased within the heavy canvas that makes up the sleeves. Houdini had to complete all of this while hanging upside down way above street level. His jacket would fit tightly especially at the neck making the idea of pulling the jacket over the head difficult. Today's magicians use a jacket that even when buckled as tightly as possible still hangs loose around the body so easily pulled over the head, with openings to the sleeves so wide the arms can be pulled out so a single strap can be undone at the back with bare fingers (easy). The jacket used today is faked while Houdinis jacket if not a genuine jacket is virtually indistinguishable from a real jacket and requires a very high level of skill to escape. ANYONE can escape from the jackets used today. Perry from NJ.

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  6. Gibson made it clear that HH used a special jacket:

    "In the suspended escape, Houdini used a jacket of a special type. It was a regulation straitjacket, or near enough to satisfy the person who strapped Houdini into it. But it was designed for quick action, the secret being that the sleeves were overlong and single straps were used instead of multiple straps on neck, chest, and body."

    My earlier comment that HH used a special jacket for the suspended escape to make the release faster is consistent with what Gibson wrote. Don't you agree Perry?

    As for that Bonza jacket, we don't know if HH ever used it. Gibson did not specify but we do know that HH designed it. It would be reasonable to conclude that he designed this type of jacket if he had to release himself in a box or some other small space. The IDEA of a fake jacket was not out of the question for HH. A specially made jacket was in his arsenal.

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  7. You are trying to equate Houdinis very legit upside down straightjacket escape with the completely illegitimate straightjacket escape being done by today's escape artists. They are not comparable. Today's magicians would not be able to completely free themselves from the jacket Houdini used. (at least not without extensive training). Anyone can escape from the jacket being used today. This idea is similar to the modern revisionism that Houdini did not know how to pick a lock. Houdini was an expert lock picker. Just because he, in impromptu occasions, failed to pick open simple locks does not provide evidence he was not an expert in this regard. I could pick open most any pin tumbler lock as a teen but if I had the occasion where proper tools were not at my disposal or an unfamiliar lock I could easily fail. That does not discount my excellent abilities as a lock picker.

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  8. Was I trying to equate today's imitators with HH's straitjacket escapes? I don't remember noting that. The fact that HH was not above a trick jacket doesn't lower him to the level of today's escape artists. HH used cuffs that were rigged to quickly open in bridge jumps. That does not imply he was not able to open un-gimmicked handcuffs.

    Be that as it may, I think a good escape artist today could get out of a 1910 straitjacket. As Dai Vernon once mentioned, there is nothing mysterious about wriggling out of a straitjacket. It's just practice and persistence. Those old straitjackets are still around. Perhaps an escape artist today can attempt to get out of a 110 year old jacket.

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  9. There goes Leo bashing Houdini once again. First I never wrote today's magicians could never learn to escape from the type jacket Houdini used. They would need lots of practice. Secondly the idea that all it takes to free oneself from a straightjacket is "wriggling" is ridiculous. The idea is the arms need to be forced over the head to free them but they are still encased within the thick canvas of the sleeves. The great skill is to undo the leather buckles behind your back while still encased in the sleeves and in the case of his outdoor stunt while hanging upside down at great height. Today's magicians generally don't need to worry about this as the arms can be slipped from the sleeves and the bare hands used to open the buckles.....a breeze. That's not to say all today's magicians use completely faked jackets. There are some excellent escape artists that can escape from incredibly secure jackets with multiple buckles designed to make escape impossible. The distinction however is completely faked jackets vs the real deal. There is no comparison between the typical faked straight jacket escape done today vs what Houdini performed in his day. One can be done void of physical skill while the other could not be done unless unique skills were developed.

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  10. There goes Perry bashing Leo again. Yes, I read Gibson's description on escaping from a jacket and understand the requirements to get out of a vintage jacket.

    I am happy I was able to recall Gibson's writings on Houdini so that you would be inspired to remove the books from your shelf and refresh your knowledge once more.

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  11. Okay, I hope you guys are ready to wind this up.

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