Magician pulls escape stunt to win Houdini handcuffs

A leading magician has told how he managed to bag a “priceless” new year gift after completing an escape in honour of his hero Harry Houdini.

Card trickster and escape artist Steve Spade got his quick hands on a set of handcuffs originally used by his hero, after winning them in a bet with a US film crew.

The Limerick magician was interviewed for a television documentary on Houdini for the Discovery Channel when the crew challenged him to complete Houdini’s famous ‘100ft of rope’ escape challenge in 60 seconds.

Spade, 27, was told he could have the set of handcuffs, which the TV crew had, if he managed to escape on time. Just when it looked like he would fail, Spade managed to free himself, much to the surprise of the crew, who handed over the handcuffs.

“The handcuffs were issued in Paris in 1906 and they are signed by Houdini’s brother, Theo Hardeen,” Steve said. “Forty seconds into the escape and I wasn’t getting out of it. I started to panic. Then suddenly I flicked a ninja-type kick and I got out. The crew’s faces dropped and I beat my own record for the escape too. It dawned on them that they’d lost the cuffs,” he said.

According to Spade, the crew purchased the handcuffs at an auction in America complete with all the necessary valid paperwork, which he said were now “in hiding”.

“There were 101 [Harry Houdini] items sold at other auctions and the majority of it is owned by the great magician David Copperfield. Maybe he will want the cuffs,” Steve said.

The magician, from Coonagh, Limerick, is in talks with MTV about a show and is rehearsing to emulate more Houdini escape acts.

Last year, Spade made two successful death defying escapes — after he was submerged in a chained box under the River Shannon and later chained to a burning stake in King John’s Castle.

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