Harry Houdini’s name has become synonymous with death-defying escapes, and no single trick helped the Hungarian-American magician rise to fame more than the Chinese Water Torture Cell. Houdini’s first public performance of this famous stunt took place in 1912. In this trick, Houdini’s feet were first clamped together in stocks, and a steel grate was locked to bottom of the stocks. Suspended pulleys then lowered Houdini upside down into a tank filled with water, and the steel grate manacled to the bottom of his body served as the tank’s lid. Locks were fastened on the tank and steel frets covered its top and sides, leaving the audience with a view of Houdini’s submerged head. Curtains were then strategically draped, and within two minutes, they were lifted to reveal Houdini standing triumphantly outside the tank, alive and unscathed. The Water Torture Cell became one of Houdini’s go-to stunts, and many contemporary magicians have mimicked the illusion, including Doug Henning and Kristen Johnson.
Next Alain Robert