Local Houdini sets European escape record

Pictured Above: Davey performing the stunt.

Pictured Above: Davey performing the stunt.

A local man has wowed Dutch audiences in a daring European first by performing a stunt that saw him freeing himself from a straightjacket while plummeting 200ft attached to a bungee cord.

The successful escape attempt was performed by professional magician, Davey McAuley, as part of the August 2016 Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival in the Netherlands.

McAuley, a resident of Ringsend Park, has been a celebrated professional magician for over a decade, and his pursuit of excellence in the magical arts has brought him far from these shores.

After cutting his teeth on the Irish and European magic circuits McAuley relocated to New York to learn specialist sideshow performance skills such as sword swallowing, walking barefoot on broken glass and fire breathing.

His talents landed him a job as an act in the prodigious Ripley’s Believe It or Not attraction in Times Square. McAuley’s success as a performer there led to him working with circus and freakshow acts on Coney Island, the most coveted place of work for sideshow artists in the world.

“One of the guys there was an old carnie and escape artist who locked me up in a strait jacket from which I failed miserably to escape, so I spent a long time learning to escape from them,” he explained to NewsFour. “People usually dislocate their shoulder in order to get enough slack to get out, but luckily I don’t need to do that. From there, I kept working with Ripley’s as a sword swallower and magician and the strait jacket came into the act.”

It was his beginning to work with strait jacket escapes that would eventually lead McAuley to attempt the Dutch bungee strait jacket stunt in celebration of his main magical inspiration, the legendary Harry Houdini.

Pictured Above: At Houdini’s grave in New York.

Pictured Above: At Houdini’s grave in New York.

“This year is the 90th anniversary of Houdini who is by far my favourite magician of all time. He was the one who made the strait jacket escape famous, and he did it upside-down hanging from a crane. It’s actually 100 years since he first did it, so I decided this year I had to do some tribute to Houdini, and I thought the upside-down escape would be good,” he said.

Plans for the daring escape attempt started to take shape last year after McAuley toured Holland as an opening act for rock band The Royal Spuds. The band’s manager, Kathy Keller, suggested a site in Holland with a bungee crane that was suitable for the escape. Keller went on to successfully pitch the stunt to the International Fireworks Festival, an established programme of fireworks displays and events that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the Dutch seaside resort of Scheveningen.

Never one to be deterred by a challenge, McCauley decided to make Houdini’s original escape even more difficult by introducing the element of the bungee jump. In the original performance, Houdini had only to contend with hanging upside-down from a rope in a more-or-less stationary position. “We decided it would be perfect as it was making Houdini’s original trick even tougher, and that it would be a nice tribute,” McCauley explained.

Neither the heights, nor the escape success, seem to have gone to his head. Reflecting on his achievement, modest McCauley said: “It’s the first time it’s been done in Europe, so that’s a cool little record, I suppose.”

A video of the escape can be viewed on YouTube by searching for ‘Irishman escapes from strait jacket while doing 200-foot bungee jump’.

By Harry Bradley