Claustrophobes, take caution, and for pity's sake, don't try this at home!
Should such warnings leave you undeterred, PBS has step-by-step instructions for performing Houdini's strait jacket escape. Well, almost step-by-step. Derived from the master's own 1909 Handcuff Secrets (read the text online here), the directions are both vague and horrifying in their specificity, falling somewhere between assembling an Ikea bookshelf and 127 Hours.
For a more manageable trick, imagine yourself a face in the crowd, gazing upward at the struggling magician, without texting, tweeting, or Instagramming. Sheer open-mouthed amazement is a trick we see precious little of these days.
Our best guess is that the video above was shot around 1917.
Ayun Halliday's latest feat is directing 16 homeschooled teens in Yeast Nation, the world's first bio-historical musical. See it in New York City this week. Follow her @AyunHalliday