Wednesday, July 15, 2020

"The escape artist is the hero. Full stop."

I don't typically report on feats by modern escape artists unless there is a very direct connection to Houdini (such as Lee Terbosic's "Houdini 100"). But I felt compelled to share this clip of Miranda Allen on Penn & Teller's Fool Us as it's just such a superbly staged classic escape using elements both old and new. And there is a key Houdini idea at play here.

A female escape artist doing a barrel escape should instantly bring Minerva Vano to mind. In fact, Miranda Allen played Minerva in a recent stage play. So this works as an unspoken tribute to that pioneering female escape artist. I also love that she is using wine instead of water. This, of course, is a Houdini idea. He would regularly have his Milk Can filled with beer by a local brewery. But I love the idea of wine and I like how Miranda plays up the added danger of the darkness and "sting" in the eyes.

I'm still not sure how I feel about seeing this kind of escape play out in full view of the audience, which is now common among modern escapists. But every moment of this is tense and entertaining, works! And you gotta love Penn's comment: "This is what an escape should be––what Houdini always did––which is; the escape artist is the hero. Full stop."

Thanks to Gene Franklin Smith for the alert.



  1. Interesting that they liked it but it didn't fool them, so she couldn't win based on the premise/title of the show.
    I personally have NEVER liked the introduction of lock picks and devices seen by the audience. To me, it takes the "magic" out of "how did she do that?!" to "How long will this take her to do?"
    Other full view escapes from crates, water torture cells and others, even without any picks, etc., become less wonder inspiring. Just my thoughts. Regardless, the audience responded well, as she connected with them.

    1. Agreed. Not a fan of escapes where the magical element of the secret method is take out.

  2. So many modern escapists do it this way they must have discovered it plays better. Changing times and tastes.

    I liked the tapping on the barrel exchange. That was new and effective.

  3. BTW, if you check out Miranda's other videos you'll find a suspended straitjacket escape and she does NOT cheat with the straitjacket fail! So, yes, she is my hero. :)