Houdini Exhibit Adds Some Extras for LA Stay

Wonderful Poster Promoting Harry Houdini's Incredible Milk Can Escape - Failure Means a Drowning DeathThe must-read web site Wild about Harry reports that next stop on the Houdini: Art and Magic tour is Los Angeles, California.

Even 85 years after his passing, the showman still packs ’em in.  The show was boffo at The Jewish Museum in New York and organizers appear to be doubling down on the presentation by adding a retrospective of Jewish Magicians entitled, Masters of Illusions: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age.

The exhibition’s home in Los Angeles will be at the appropriately fancy  Skirball Cultural Center.  The doors will spring open on April 28, 2011.

But wait, there’s even more.  According to Wild About Harry, “[o]ne notable change to the Houdini Art and Magic exhibition will be the inclusion of John Gaughan’s authentic working replica of Houdini’s Water Torture Cell. The Gaughan replica will ONLY be displayed at this L.A. stop.”

The web site promises full coverage of the exhibition, the comings and goings of noted guests and special side events.  Look for lectures featuring Joshua Jay, Mike Caveney, Max Maven, and Marvyn (“Mr. Electric”) Roy.

Be sure to keep the site on your favorites list for the latest news.

Following its Los Angeles showing, Houdini: Art and Magic will travel to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (September 30, 2011–January 16, 2012) and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI (February 11–May 13, 2012).

Link to Press Release from Skirball Cultural Center can be found here.

Dean Gunnarson Survives ‘Pure hell’

We told you about his plan to survive two days below ground.  Locked in a coffin, buried under tons of dirt, and, to make it harder, a committee would bind his arms and legs with shackles before placing him in the aforementioned coffin in the ground.

He hoped to escape where many have failed.  Even Houdini believed the escape was too dangerous.

Well, he made it out alive and convinced he does not want to be buried when the time comes for the divine recycling.

“I know one thing for sure, when my soul is done with my body I don’t ever want to be buried again,” Dean Gunnarson said. “I’m going to see Pete (Kilcollins) to cremate me and they can sprinkle my ashes on some flowers.”

Pete Kilcollins brought Dean to the Buried Alive stunt site in a hearse used in the Kilcollins’ cremation business.

Dean wanted to erupt from the freshly packed soil at precisely 1:26 p.m. on October 31st to link his emergence from the grave with Harry Houdini’s passing from this life in 1926.

According to The Sun, after Dean dug through the topsoil to daylight, he collapsed momentarily.

His estimation of the stunt matched Houdini’s: “It was pure hell digging my way up,” a dirt-covered Gunnarson said. “The weight was crushing and I couldn’t breathe. It was tough.”


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Michael Griffin: To Live or Die at Noon Today

Inside Magic Favorite Michael Griffin is also known to fans by his well-earned title, “America’s Escape Hero.”

He could add a third appellation to his business card this afternoon, “Not Criss Angel.”

Of course that assumes he survives a very dangerous escape; otherwise he will be known as Michael Griffin “The Angel.”

Michael is, as far as we know, the only two-time winner of the World Magic Awards Best Escape Artist.

Readers know we have a tough time watching underwater or underground escapes. The elements of earth and sea do not always cooperate with a performer: currents shift, burial plots cave in. Like a lion tamer, the escape artist can perform only if the adversary behaves or at least behaves predictably.

Michael Griffin will sink to the bottom of the strong-willed Ohio River at noon today.

A committee will bind him in shackles, chains, and more chains all locked to a 20 pound cinder block designed to pull him from the surface to the river bed where he will either escape or stay forever.

If you are in the Marietta, Ohio area, you can see the stunt at the Public dock located at the ends of Front and Post Streets by the Lafayette Hotel.

And speaking of the Lafayette Hotel, Michael is performing a full show tomorrow (Saturday) night at 8:00 pm. He hopes the escape will give an enticing taste of what will be served in full courses tomorrow night.

But other than promoting his show, why would Michael Griffin risk his life?

As a special sneak preview for his show Saturday night 8:00PM Oct 30 at the historic Lafayette Hotel http://www.thelafayettehotel.com.Why is Michael Griffin willing to challenge death by drowning handcuffed, shackled and weighted down?

We hear Michael wants to perform the escape to show people what a real escape artist does for a living. Once he sinks into the rapid current of the watery boundary between Ohio and West Virginia, his survival depends on his ability to stay calm and execute the escape. There are no camera angles, no re-takes, no stooges or hidden assistants with keys and spare canisters of air.

In short, Michael Griffin will perform a very real escape with very real risks before a very real audience. Not, he points out, some scene created for TV, “a Chris Angel style camera tricks and paid stooges.”


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Dean Gunnarson Risks it All

This Friday, October 29th, Inside Magic Favorite and world-renown escape artist Dean Gunnarson will go for broke.

We have mentioned several times that Dean Gunnarson is nuts and should be stopped before he kills himself again. (Recall that one of his first coffin escapes ended in him dying but resuscitated by incredible medical professionals). His newest stunt could bring incredible fame or posthumous second-guessing.

Here are the details of what he hopes to accomplish:

  • Dean will be chained, locked, and bound and placed inside a steel coffin;
  • The lid will be locked on and wrapped in even more chains and locks on the outside;
  • The coffin, with Dean securely locked inside, will be lowered 6 feet underground;
  • Dean will be buried alive with over 3 tons of dirt dumped on top of him.
  • He will remain within the coffin and beneath the 6,000 pounds of dirt for two days; and,
  • Dean will then attempt to escape on Sunday Halloween Day around 1:26 P.M. The exact day and time the Great Houdini died in 1926.

We should point out that he will not have access to water, food, or similar accoutrements.

Dean said his boyhood wish was to die on the same day as his mentor, Houdini.

Of course, Houdini would not have performed the stunt in the first place. The great escape artist tried it out with assistants at the ready. He nearly died. Houdini wrote in his diary that the escape was “very dangerous” and that “the weight of the earth is killing.”

“I know that from a physical and mental stand point this will be my most challenging escape ever,” said Gunnarson. “The last time I was locked in a coffin I died. (He was underwater for nearly 4 minutes before the coffin was raised back out of the murky waters and rescuers found his blue lifeless body). I never wanted to be in another one and I never have. I will have to conquer all my personnel fears and demons to make this escape on Halloween.”


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China TV: Dean Gunnarson’s Coaster Escape Live

Hi Tim,

I have been back in China performing more big and dangerous escapes for the last ten days.

As you know, on July 26th I was hit by a speeding Roller Coaster while filming my TV special in Beijing.

Two months to the day after having my foot crushed as I leaped almost clear of the coaster, I was in Chengdu, China attempting, yes, another and even more dangerous Coaster escape.

I was chained and handcuffed to the tracks of one of China’s newest and fastest roller coaster. This time I was doing it on a live television show, with a live audience, swarms of media representatives, and, of course, a broken foot.

The escape was to promote many upcoming escapes I will be performing throughout the 61st Anniversary of National Day.

The National Day is actually a week, running from October first through the seventh.

On this day, the Chinese celebrate their victory over the evil democratic Chinese that were forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949 after they lost the civil war.

(So what better way to celebrate this Historic day then to bring in an escape artist that liberates himself from constant live and death manacles and symbolizes Freedom?)


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