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Topic: Water Torture Cell
Message: Posted by: Red Von (Sep 30, 2004 11:35PM)
How many different versions of the Water Torture Cell are there? Is the method of escape pretty much the same with all?

Red Von
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Sep 30, 2004 11:46PM)
Message: Posted by: magicreza (Oct 1, 2004 12:18AM)
There are many versions of the illusion out there...and several methods.
The most effective, in my opinion are the original twists that take the concept a few steps further.
Lance Burton's is a good example of this.

Message: Posted by: Red Von (Oct 1, 2004 12:34AM)
Thanks Reza!

So the Water Torture Cell is an illusion, not a real escape? Just different magicians putting there own twist on this?

Red Von
Message: Posted by: magicreza (Oct 1, 2004 02:01AM)
It's an escape...but there's methods behind the madness.

Message: Posted by: Kevin Ridgeway (Oct 1, 2004 02:08AM)
My wife Kristen Johnson does the Water Torture Cell completely uncovered. It is visible the entire time. It was the finale for our show for most of 2003. She also performed it on the 2003 Lollapalooza Tour.
It is on hold now due to a recent back injury she suffered in a car accident. She is aslo working another presentation of it when she is ready to put it back into the show.

Kevin & Kristen
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 1, 2004 04:24AM)
When Mr. Escape Steve Baker did the escape on Dick Clark's Live Wednesday, his version included a loop of chain that ran along the sides and bottom of the inside of the cell, and which padlocked at both ends outside the cell. He was manacled, and the shackles locked to the center of the chain. As he was lowered in, the chain slack was taken up and the chains locked into place, so that his shackled hands were secured to the bottom of the tank. Very cool idea.

Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Oct 1, 2004 05:59AM)
There are probably as many different versions and methodologies of the so-called Water Torture Cell as there are performers using them.

Off the top of my head I have seen the Cell used by Harry Houdini. It is a very small chamber and the performer goes into it head first held in a stock around his ankles. The escape is executed from behind a curtain.

There is the version that Lance Burton used which is larger than the Houdini cell but still apparently cramped for space. Lance goes in upright confined in a straightjacket. The escape is executed from behind a curtain.

There are versions that are built more like trunks (long and low) where the performer is chained and tossed inside. Most escapes are done from behind a curtain, but I do know of one that was done full view.

Kevin and Kristin use an upright version where Kristin is chained to the floor of the cell and must escape the chains and manacles before she drowns. As Kevin has already mentioned, this is a dramatic full view escape.

I could go on for about a dozen or so more types and methods of escape but you get the idea.

The effect is similar but the methodology is often very, very different. Some are full view escapes but most are not.
Message: Posted by: Cindi (Oct 1, 2004 08:49AM)
I prefer the Atlantic Ocean. It has untamed / Non hand fed sinister looking creatures. One big adrenaline tank

Have fun,
Message: Posted by: Kevin Ridgeway (Oct 1, 2004 09:53AM)
Very cool Cindi, especially during a hurricane. You missed some good opportunities to escape the "eye"...LOL

Kevin & Kristen
Message: Posted by: Cindi (Oct 1, 2004 10:28AM)
Hi Kevin
Yes Palm Beach got hit pretty good by Hurricane Jeanne but not as bad as the Panhandle with Ivan. Insurance man was by yesterday with some Pics he took while there. I wish I could express his expression here. Entire neighborhoods wiped out. He said it was like being in the Twilight zone walking thru house after house with walls blown out and complete silence, childrens clothes hanging in trees, very eerie.
I did get the chance to shim some Hiatts outside during Hurricane Fances.(photo on my webpage) But no access to the Beaches. Police close bridges. Surfers were being arrested by riding their boards across intercoastal waterway to sneak over to beach. Silly Duuuudes! :)
Get well wishes to Kristen...

Message: Posted by: Kevin Ridgeway (Oct 1, 2004 10:39AM)
Thanks Cindi....Glad to hear you fared well during the storms.

Stay safe down there.

Message: Posted by: SANTINI (Oct 1, 2004 10:45AM)

I know for one our 6 year old daughter Shaina was very concerned about "the strong lady" in the midst of all the recent storms, (as were Vera and myself).

She seems to have really taken to you while you here for your visit and was genuinely worried about your well being :)

Despite the sad devestation and how it affected many poor souls we were and still are all very happy to hear you made it through everything unscathed.

Cheers, Steve and family.


I simply did not have the heart to tell her you tempted fate to venture outside and risk much by doing a cuff escape in the middle of the tempest.

She simply would not have understood.

For that matter neither do Vera or I ,... LOL!

Message: Posted by: WEASEL DANDAW (Oct 1, 2004 11:36AM)
Way to go Cindi,

Glad all went well with the Hurricane Hiatt Escape. That's what I call testing your limits. After seeing your photo I was thinking that is what you call dedication. No one can say otherwise.....although I'm sure some will.

Here's to the Hurricane Queen of Escapology.

Stay Free,

Message: Posted by: AJP807 (Oct 1, 2004 04:26PM)
Cindi, I'm so glad that everything worked out down there for you, and please watch out for those sharks!

I would also like to say that Kristen Johnson's full view WTC escape is one of my favorite escapes in recent years. I was saddened to hear of her recent auto accident and wish her well and a speedy recovery.
Kevin and Kristen are two of the nicest and most giving people I've met botn in and out of escapes and magic and I will keep them in my prayers.
Best regards, Tony Parisi
Message: Posted by: Red Von (Oct 1, 2004 07:41PM)
I have seen Steve Bakers version of the Water Torture Cell Escape, very cool indeed. I believe he had a challenge to anyone who could duplicate his escape the same way he did. I could be wrong, but I believe it was for $100,000.00? No one to this day has ever duplicated his escape.

Red Von
Message: Posted by: Paul Reardon (Oct 1, 2004 08:08PM)
Does anyone know if the Tony Curtis Water Torture Cell (as seen in the movie), was an actual piece of magic apparatus? Paul
Message: Posted by: Red Von (Oct 1, 2004 08:16PM)
I believe the Tony Curtis Cell used in the movie, was in fact, the real thing. I heard it was loaned by Dunninger, who was a consultant if I am not mistakin.

Message: Posted by: CARNEGIE (Oct 2, 2004 03:00AM)
Doug Henning did the water torture, as did Brett Daniels who originally bought Doug's. Robert Fellows also presented the water torture. And there was the guy at FISM a few years ago who's water torture cell burst open during the performance and water went all over the audience.
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 2, 2004 07:07AM)
LOL Water all over the Audience Yikes. Must of been one heck of a Mess to clean up. Don,
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Oct 2, 2004 07:18AM)
Burling Hull wrote that the tank in the movie Houdini was made for the movie. The size alone would have kept it out of most performers.

It is important to note that while many people have "done" the UDC, not many have done it well.

Henning made the classic error of vanishing. If you can get out of there with no one seeing you, then people can get in with no one seeing them. This BTW was Jarrett's answer to all escapes of this nature. Make the prop "real" and hide the assistant that lets you out.

Not good if your assistant wants to take over the show....

The FISM was NOT a UDC but a card trick to be done underwater that was home made with expected results.

Finally, and this is being debated elsewhere, but IMHO full view is NOT the way to go. The escape artist could be seen to be in trouble, and end the escape with no danger at all.

Those will long memories will remember the Mark Wilson addition in the TV show the Magician to Andre Koles Table of Death, A GAG!

The spoken line of "This gag will prevent my crying out should I be unable to release my self" gives chills...

...it is that entertainment thing again.
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 2, 2004 07:37AM)
The Escape Artist/Magician should have a Safety Signal to just in Case of Danger at any time. Don,
Message: Posted by: Kevin Ridgeway (Oct 2, 2004 10:40AM)
Tony thanks for the kind words. We are in New jersey for several shows. How far are you from Long Island Beach? Hopefully we can catch up.

Kevin & Kristen
Message: Posted by: Cindi (Oct 2, 2004 01:22PM)
Steve , Tony and Weas....
Thanks for your thoughts!
"She seems to have really taken to you while you here for your visit..."
Was that when I impressed her with the Full Nelson and Pretzel hold on "Cry'in Ryan" Madden during the conference? (just kidding)
"genuinely worried about your well being..."
Awwwwwww :) Hug to Shaina. and She's a bit of a Pistol herself! Look out Canada! lol

Hey Weasel,
I just want to mention to everyone the tenacity you must have had also by jumping off the Bournemouth Pier
in your strait jacket recently after my attempt. Geeeeeezzzz that water is cold over there! Brrrrrrr I'll bet you worked fast too just to get out of the temperature!
Be well,
Message: Posted by: WEASEL DANDAW (Oct 2, 2004 02:11PM)
To be quite honest the cold was the last thing on my mind when I hit the water as there was a strong under current, but once I had liberated myself.......boy was it cold.

I would also like to say thank you to you Cindini as it was your SJ escape that inspired me. I had wanted to do a chain escape off of the Pier for some time, but due to my fire eating accident in 2000 when I damaged my right lung, I didn't know if I could. After seeing your escape in the shark infested waters of Florida - and believe me I checked on the web and there had been a few attacks just before your attempt - I thought if Cindini could do that what problems could I have with a few mackerel. lol.
So with that I went for it, after taking all the safety precautions obviously. I would also like to say a thank you to the lifeguards who told me to wait until after they had gone off duty. Ha, Ha!

Sorry that this is off the thread of this posting, but I just wanted to respond to the post previously.
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Oct 3, 2004 06:13PM)
On 2004-10-02 08:37, The Donster wrote:
The Escape Artist/Magician should have a Safety Signal to just in Case of Danger at any time. Don,

Of course....

...but the audience should not be aware of it.
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 3, 2004 07:56PM)
Well, let's see...

The Torture cell in the 1953 movie "Houdini" was nothing like the actual cell, which was in the Sidney H. Radner collection, and later displayed in the Houdini Historical Hall of Fame Museum. Houdini's cell was destroyed in the fire that razed the museum.

The "Pagoda Torture Cell" in the movie was a prop apparently constructed expressly for the film, and had a noticeably different shape. Plus the sides were all glass, as opposed to the style of the Houdini cell, which had glass only in the front panel.

I remember Dick Clark announcing the cash challenge for duplicating Steve Baker's presentation of the Torture Cell on Dick Clark's Live Wednesday. I also recall later reading in the newspapers that the offer was allegedly a faux pas on Clark's part that Baker had not authorized.
Rival Chris Schalen allegedly attempted to arrange to try for the challenge money, but was reportedly rebuffed by NBC on the grounds that the offer was a 'slip' by Dick Clark that had nothing to do with any offer by Steve Baker.
The article further claimed that Schalen filed a lawsuit against NBC, Clark and Baker, suing for the right to attempt the escape and try for the announced cash prize.
I never read what became of this. It is probable that the courts threw it out, though this is only speculation.
In any case, Chris Schalen seems to have disappeared. Does anyone know what became of him?

Message: Posted by: x-treem (Oct 3, 2004 08:12PM)
There is rumor (honestly, I'm not kidding, nor will I name the source as he has never been a member of any board) that Schalen crossed the mob and is doing "buried alive" for eternity out in the desert.

I know it sound farcical but that is the last I heard and the person telling it is VERY reliable.

Message: Posted by: Red Von (Oct 3, 2004 09:04PM)
I hope the source was not Dan Rather! LOL!

Red Von
Message: Posted by: x-treem (Oct 3, 2004 09:29PM)
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 4, 2004 08:13AM)
Who Knows maybe Chris Schalen is Attempting to get out or Beat David Blaines Record. Don,
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 4, 2004 05:14PM)
Ron Obvious lives! (?)

Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 5, 2004 01:49AM)
Theres also a few People who have done the water torture Cell. can anyone here name them all.
Message: Posted by: GMcollect (Jan 27, 2005 03:54PM)
Does anybody know what ever happened to Doug Henning's Water Torture Cell? I read in the postings that Bret Daniels owned it at one time.
Message: Posted by: Richard Sherry (Jan 27, 2005 04:12PM)
I was told by Mark Cannon that DEAN GUNNERSON now owns it.
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Jan 27, 2005 09:29PM)
One magician who performed it in the 1940s was Al Marks. His cell was made with all-steel sides (no glass). In the photo I saw of it, the front seems to have a rectangular weld line. I suspect Al had tried to install a glass window, but that it didn't work out, and that he had a plate of steel welded back into the opening to make it a completely-opaque steel tank.

Message: Posted by: The Donster (Jan 27, 2005 10:21PM)
Sounds like a new idea. escape from a steel water tank.
Message: Posted by: Ian McColl (Jan 27, 2005 10:49PM)
Hi Don, Back in the 1920's Val Walker from England did an escape from a naval tool chest. It was approx 4 feet tall and 2 foot square, fully riveted construction and had a hinged lid and hasp and staple. His first performance was for one naval mate.
Val stripped off and was locked into the chest which was full of water. His ship mate truned his back and minutes later Val appeared and the chest was as is was left.

Val went on to do a variation of this which was locked down by bolts only ( from the outside) and wittness by Badden Powell (spelling?) who started the scouting movement.

So this ones been done also.


Message: Posted by: Steve Baker - Mr.Escape (Jan 27, 2005 10:58PM)
Hi,Steve Baker here,I thought I might jump in here since my WTC and presentation
have been mentioned!
My cell was 7'6", from the bottom to the top,with the foot stocks in place!
When hung in cell,my hands coulden't touch the bottom... a chain went from out-
side(left)of cell,down through a steel O-ring at the bottom,up to be attached to
The shackles around my wrists(seald locks)... as I was lowered,the chain was drawn
out,and locked on the outside! I was locked to bottom and my feet locked in the
stocks at the top!
The cell was 30 inches square!
I never presented the WTC the same twice,.....EVER

My challenge was $10,000.00 to any one who could escape MY CELL as I performed

Dick Clark mis-spoke the challenge....Shalen jumped on it,wanting to use his own
cell! It was explained to him, it must be my cell<...NoHis !!
I offered: If you can escape the foot stocks of my cell... no hanging,no water...
just the stocks,He got the$10,000.00....NOOOOOO ,HIS....Thrown out of court!!

The holes in my stock are made for my size 6&1/2 feet... Shalen had size 10s

The short of it!!!

Steve Baker........ Any Questions???
Message: Posted by: Wolflock (Jan 28, 2005 12:10AM)
Wow 6 1/2 feet. I'm out. 8 1/2.
LOL. Are we aloud to breal bones in our feet? I would probably do that for
$10 000-00. That is worth a lot more here.

Message: Posted by: The Donster (Jan 28, 2005 02:53AM)
Is there something that hasn't been done yet.