President Louis Meyer opened the January 6th meeting promptly at 8:00 PM. After announcements about Magi-Whirl, the I.B.M. Convention in San Diego, and the KapitalKidvention the Houdini Night program began before a crowd of 62 people.
Rucj Uffelman (right) began with an escape from a chain dog collar locked around his wrists. Harry Houdini saw this system used to transport prisoners to Siberia (and we all know that no one escapes from Siberia). Rucj’s wrists were securely bound with the steel chain and padlocked by a spectator. He amazed the audience by getting out of the chain in a matter of seconds.
Challenges by the US Postal Service led Houdini into escaping from a sealed and locked mailbag (a canvas bag, with metal grommets on top). Danny Selnick (Photo: on left) re-created that event with his ankles and wrists tightly secured to the ends of long metal shackles by means of two heavy duty chains and locks before being locked in a mailbag using a solid steel bar is passing through the grommets, with padlocks on both ends of the bar. A backdrop was placed around him and within a record time he made his escape as the crowd applauded him.
John Roberts (right) claimed Houdini failed to have a timing device when performing his escapes. John displayed a small pole with a woodpecker at the top that he used to time his escape from his securely rope tied wrists. His hands were covered with a cloth as the woodpecker made his way down the pole, John began his escape. When the woodpecker reached the bottom before John could escape, he reset the timer and in a flash was free of the ropes.
Louis Hofheimer (a.k.a. Captain Token) and two lovely girl assistants performed two stage escapes. Using several pieces of rope one girl was secured to a 4 inch square totem pole 6 feet tall. A rope was tied around her neck, her waist, her legs and her ankles. In the blink of an eye, in full view of the audience, she magically materializes through the ropes! Next, a large mystic looking box was brought onto the stage area. A young lady entered the box. The doors were closed and without hesitation the magician stabbed ten swords into all parts of the box. The audience could plainly see the smallness of the box did not permit the girl evading the swords. The box was then opened and the girl had vanished! The box was revolved so that all sides were visible. The doors were closed ... the swords quickly withdrawn ... the top of the box was opened ... and up popped the girl, unharmed!
VP Arnold Fuoco (right) told the story about the time Dai Vernon fooled Harry Houdini (who in his early years billed himself as "The King of Cards"). Houdini often boasted that if he saw a card trick performed three times in a row he would be able to figure it out. Vernon then showed Houdini a trick, where he removed the top card of the deck and placed it in the middle, and then turned over the top card to again reveal the original card. Houdini watched Vernon do the trick seven times, each time insisting that Vernon "do it again". Finally Houdini's wife, and Vernon's friends said, "Face it Houdini, you're fooled." For years afterward, Vernon used the title The Man Who Fooled Houdini in his advertisements. The trick Dai Vernon chose to fool Houdini with was his own version of the classic ambitious card routine, so named because the spectator's chosen card always wants to get to the top of the deck. Arnie demonstrated this as he told the story.
Wayne Alan showed some pieces from the collection in his home “Houdini Room.” One was a handcuff made by a spectator and was used on Houdini during a performance. He also had the metal air vent grate from the hospital room in which Harry Houdini died. Wayne’s cookbook, Magical Meatless Meals shares over 100 healthy and delectable vegetarian recipes collected during his storied and award-winning career in show business. Many of these and the pictures are linked to the Houdini fame.
By the 1920's, Houdini's career was going into a slump. As he approached age 50, his escapes were becoming too strenuous and his "death-defying" feats no longer enthralled increasingly jaded audiences. Vaudeville itself was slowly being strangled by competition from radio and movies, which were cheaper for audiences and more profitable for producers. Houdini switched to exposing fraudulent spirit mediums. Louis Meyer presented Houdini's original “Fraudulent Spirit Medium Expose Lecture” with pictures. Although many believe that people were more gullible back then, the popularity of "mediums" such as John Edwards makes this a timely topic.