Watch Houdini Escape From a Strait Jacket, Then See How He Did It (Circa 1917)

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.

In need of more guidance? Have a look below at the how-to Houdini shared with Ladies Home Journal in 1918. (He also gave advice to genteel, post-WWI female readers on how to escape rope bondage.)

houdini escape

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.

Related Content:

Harry Houdini’s Great Rope Escape

Arthur Conan Doyle Discusses Sherlock Holmes and Psychics in a Rare Filmed Interview (1927)

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

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