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History[ edit ] The art of escaping from restraints and confined spaces has been a skill employed by performers for a very long time. It was not originally displayed as an overt act in itself but was instead used secretly to create illusions such as a disappearance or transmutation.
However, the re-creations did not involve overt escape, merely a replication of tricks with the statement that they were accomplished by secret magicians' skills rather than spirits.
It took another thirty years before the pure skill of escape began to be displayed as an act in itself.
The figure most responsible for making escapology a recognized entertainment was Harry Houdiniwho built his career on demonstrating the ability to escape from a huge variety of restraints and difficult situations.
Although many of his escapes relied on technical skills such as lock-picking and contortion, he also performed tricks such as Metamorphosis and the Chinese Water Torture Cellwhich are essentially classic stage illusions reliant on cleverly designed props.
Houdini's feats helped to define the basic repertoire of escapology, including escapes from handcuffspadlocksstraitjacketsmail bags beer barrelsand prison cells. The actual term 'escapology' is reputed to have been coined originally by Australian escapologist and illusionist Murray Norman Murray Waltersa Houdini contemporary.
A succession of performers have added new ideas and created Magicians masters of illusions essay on old stunts, but it is common for even the best contemporary escapologists to be dubbed modern day "Houdinis". Nicholas Owen successfully escaped the Tower of London and arranged the escape of two Jesuit inmates from the prison, the 16th-century Christian martyr is considered by Catholic escapologists as their patron saint.
Societies[ edit ] The United Kingdom Escape Artists was formed in and is currently the only organisation in the United Kingdom devoted to the promotion of UK escape artists and the preservation of escapology within the UK.
Its members are made up of professional escapologists, restraint collectors, master locksmiths, and historians. Forms of escape performance[ edit ] Hidden is a style of escape performance popularised by the late Harry Houdini that involved much of the performance taking place behind some form of screen or inside a cabinet in order to protect the secrets of the performer.
This style of escape performance was popular with the majority of escape artists until the end of the 20th Century and is still preferred by many performers today.
Its disadvantage is that audiences may wrongly believe a concealed assistant to have released the escapologist, whom they may not have seen struggle. Full View is a form of escape performance that was popularised by Norman Bigelow Sr.
He presented his escapes as pure tests of human skill and endurance and the audience could actually see everything from start to finish. His signature escape, "The Doors Of Death," inspired many escape artists to adopt this style of performance in their own shows.
Escape Or Die, the form of escape performance originated by Houdini, is the standard for top-of-the-line escapologists. There are at least three possible ways for an escapologist's life to be at risk from the possible failure of this escape.
These are death by drowning, as in the water escapes Houdini pioneered; death by suffocation, as in escapes from airtight enclosures containing no water, such as coffins; and death by falling, as also originated by Houdini, in a straitjacket escape hanging high above the earth as when Houdini hung from cranes and buildings upside down in a strait jacket where falling would mean certain death.
UK escape artist Alan Alan  took this further by hanging from a burning rope hundreds of feet in the air. This type of escapology does fail, and its failures have resulted in escape artists getting hurt or losing their lives. Escape was required in under 60 seconds or a fatal charge of electricity would be passed through the chains holding him to the board.
Occult Escapology is a new style of escapology combining escapology with occult magick so that the escape is part of an occult ritual. This makes occult escapology a multidisciplinary subject needing skills in both areas. This style of escapology ranges on a continuum where at one extreme the occultism is the main focus and consequently, simpler items may be utilizedwhereas at the other end the element of escape predominates; however, aspects of both occultism and escapology are simultaneously present, not exclusively one or the other.
This style was invented by occultist, author and occult escapologist S Rob. At the time of writing three of the books written by S Rob on occult escapology are at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
InLucas Wilson, an illusionist from Canada managed the fastest ever recorded escape from a straitjacket while suspended; he escaped in 8. Considered by many as Houdini's best film.
Lost for over 90 years and rediscovered in by escape artist and magician Dorothy Dietrich. Haldane of the Secret Service a film, Directed by and Starring Harry Houdiniwho is repeatedly restrained by villains who murdered his detective-father.
Ragtimeby E. Doctorowfeatures Harry Houdini as a major character, and uses escapology as a metaphor for the struggles faced by the American immigrant. In American superhero comic booksmany superheroes like Batman are trained in escapology, which is invaluable when dealing with deathtraps.
However, superheroes who are escapologists by profession include Mister MiracleMs. Liberty and The Escapist. The biographical film, Houdinistarring Tony Curtis in the title role, depicted many of Houdini's escapology performances.
Curtis' performance artist character, The Great Leslie, also performs a suspended straight-jacket escape at the start of the film The Great Race. Steele was a non-performing escapologist and night-club owner who, like Bill Bixby 's Anthony Blake The Magicianhabitually helped people in trouble.Misc thoughts, memories, proto-essays, musings, etc.
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