Saturday, April 7, 2012

SyFy brings The Dark Side to the U.S.

The Syfy channel has picked up the Canadian reality show Deals From The Dark Side hosted by "relic collector" and escape artist Steve Santini.

The first season has an episode featuring a pair of gaffed Houdini handcuffs. It also shows the restored grave bust, and Steve does an escape. I'm not sure when the network plans to air the series.

Thanks to our friends Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum in Scranton (who are nicely featured in this episode) for the tip.

UPDATEDeals From The Dark Side debuts with Houdini Handcuffs episode.


  1. The cuffs...

    Came from the late Joseph Dunninger's collection and were owned by Houdini and then Bess and on to Dunninger after Harry died.

    They then went from the hands of Dunninger's widow to a now deceased escapist/mentalist/collector who at one time had a massive lot of stuff from Dunninger's widow.

    From his hands they passed to another collector/escapist and eventually into mine.

    Yes, I do own them now.

    It was originally the intent of the production company to fly the film crew down the USA to meet with and interview Maxine Dunninger, daughter of Joe Dunninger, but due to a tight production budget this did not materialize.

    Steve Santini

    1. Thanks for the comment, Steve. Great to see you here. I was curios about the provenance. Dunninger collection. That's excellent. Too bad you weren't able to do the interview with Maxine.

      Great show, btw. I really enjoyed the Titanic deck chair episode as well. Going to set the DVR to record them all on Syfy. :)

  2. I've heard that cuffs from Dunninger may or may not be from Houdini. Why do they say..."is
    that the water torture cell" while the camera is showing an obviously fake Houdini milk can? Lots of hokum going on at the Scranton Houdini museum!

    1. I actually trust cuffs from the Dunniger collection a little more than I do cuffs from the Radner-Hardeen hord. And the fact that the cuffs are gaffed is a very good sign. But I'm not an expert on cuffs and collections.

      I'd blame the editor for the "Water Torture Cell" comment over the footage of the Milk Can. The audio was probably from Dorothy showing a photo of the USD or something. Notice the editor made the same mistake on the parents photo (he cut into a shot of a Bess portrait). And they went out of their way to include Dorothy saying that the can wasn't an original. I thought that was pretty ethical. Most shows would not include that. I saw no hokum myself.

  3. Good discussion about this at That's where the experts lurk, and the consensus is that, yes, these are Houdini cuffs with excellent provenance.

  4. I don't understand on how the best provenance in the world prove any handcuffs are the ones listed in any documents. No serial numbers, no markings that distinguish one set of cuffs from another. I don't get it.


  5. Unless it's the original Mirror cuff or it's silver twin there is no way to link any handcuff 100 percent directly to Houdini.

  6. There will always be naysayers for any historical object, real or not. Perhaps the strongest evidence that these darbys were made for Houdini does not lie only in the fact they came from the Dunninger collection but rather in who made them, stamped his name in them, and that they show no signs of post manufacture tampering in the area of the end caps which seal in the locking bolt and spring. We know Thomas Froggatt and Houdini were friends, we know Froggatt made a number of "special" items for Harry,(which BTW very likely include the famous Mirror cuffs), and we know by the pristine end caps that the shortened spring, which allows these cuffs to be rapped open, had to be inserted at the time the cuffs were made by Froggatt. One can go on and on about other "alleged" Houdini owned cuffs but this example stands apart owing to who made them and how they were tricked. Add in the Dunninger connection and the case is very strongly made. Steve Santini

  7. In case any Houdini collectors out there may be interested, I have posted these cuffs for sale on ebay. I collect far too many other things and have decided to make them available to other interested collectors. Here is the link

    1. Thanks Steve. I've done a fresh post about the auction. Good luck!


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