Sunday, July 19, 2020

"His cheek bled considerably"

Here's something I found the other day that I haven't been able to stop thinking about. So I figured I'd share it today and make this a Bloody Sunday.

On May 2, 1908 Houdini accepted an invitation to perform for members of the Boston Press Club at 2 Beacon St. An item in that day's paper reported: "Just what he will do Mr. Houdini refused to state, but he promises to give the newspaper men an exhibition of his skill very different from anything he has yet shown."

This was at the height of Houdini's challenge escape days, so this "different" performance turned out to be a straight magic act. But not everything went right, as reported in the following day's Boston Globe:

Pushing a needle trough his cheek was something Houdini continued to do his entire career. In fact, it's reported he did this for the students at McGill University--including one J. Gordon Whitehead--during his fateful lecture there in October 1926.

Click below for more stories of when things didn't go quite right for Houdini.



  1. The Needle Thru the Cheek seems to be one of those geek tricks HH picked up when he toured with the Welsh Brothers Circus or played Coney Island. His book Miracle Mongers reads like a stroll thru the midway of a 19th century carnival.

    1. Exactly. I believe the "trick" to this, which I believe is in Miracle Mongers so I don't feel like I'm revealing secrets, is to build up a callus of scar tissue that you can put the needle through without any apparent effect. If that's how HH did it, sounds like he might have missed the mark here.

  2. Part of me instantly thought maybe he did it on purpose cos it would leave a much more lasting impression if there was some blood! But even after reading the other links you gave, I still feel that everyone gets bested or makes mistakes some times. He certainly had more wins than losses!

    1. Well, you could be right! He may have done it for the publicity. Look, it worked, :)

    2. I mean, you can only hear "Houdini did another flawless trick" so many times before it starts getting boring, right? ;)

      Nice photo choice for this post, btw!

    3. Haha. Thanks. Yes, I was happy to finally use that image on a post. :)


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