Saturday, February 5, 2011

The New Houdinys

This weekend I'm taking a look back at some performers who used Houdini's name -- literally. First up are "The New Houdinys", who were featured on the cover of Genii magazine in September 1970. Inside was a review by Bill Larsen Jr. of their show at the Tower Circus in Blackpool, England, on July 31, 1970.

The New Houdinys were Dagmar and Oskar Enzfelden of Vienna. The married couple's act had a twist in that it was Miss Houdiny (the Genii article uses "Miss") who performed the escapes while her husband assisted. Their fast-paced 12 minute act consisted of an escape from wooden stocks, chains, a safe escape, and a suspended straitjacket. "Speed. Sex. Sensation," is how Larsen would later describe it. I like how Miss Houdinys ankles are crossed in the suspension. Very lady-like.

"Miss Houdiny" in action

Larsen was eager to have The New Houdinys perform at the 1976 It's Magic, but I'm not sure whether that happened. The couple seem to have performed primarily in England and Europe. In later years the act was renamed The Original Houdinys.

Dagmar and Oskar had the honor of having their poster hang in the halls of The Magic Castle for many years. They were still going strong in 1989, but beyond that date, I don't know how long the "Houdinys" continued to amaze. Maybe they are still out there today?

Thanks to Bill Goodwin and the William W. Larsen, Sr. Memorial Library at The Magic Castle for providing me this back issue.


  1. I remember seeing a piece on The New Houdinys in an issue of Genii sometime in the 80s. It had a couple photos and a description of the act but I don't remember much else. Oh, I do recall thinking that the guy in the act actually looked kind of like Houdini.

  2. Really? I did what I thought was a pretty good search of Genii in the Ask Alexander files and couldn't find anything on them beyond the 70s. Maybe it was a different magazine?

  3. "Miss" Houdiny ... reminds me of the story of Harry and Bess's early act where she was Mlle Houdini in order to make the act sexier. It would be more alluring apparently if people thought they were just having an affair.