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November 9, 2010

Magician Spencer Horsman comments on Harry Houdini routine that sent him to the hospital for five hours

 PX00137_9.JPGWere you at Illusions: Magic Bar & Lounge Friday night? If you weren't, you  missed a 20-pound beam come down on 24-year-old illusionist Spencer Horsman.

Horsman told me what happened.

On Friday, 50 minutes into his magic act at the bar he runs with his father Ken in Federal Hill, Horsman started to do the old Houdini straitjacket routine for the finale. 

The routine involves escaping from a straitjacket while hanging upside down.

It was a trick he had performed 400 times already. The week before, he had hung upside down 50 feet above the ground and escaped from two straitjackets in under five minutes. 

On Friday, the house was packed, Horsman's father Ken told me later. Two minutes into the routine, Horsman was almost finished.

"I had fully escaped the jacket," Horsman said. Upside down, "I bent in half in order to unhook my ankles so I could turn myself back up."

But then, a bolt came loose from the rigging, and Horsman fell a foot. The kicker was that the beam that he was hanging from also fell about five feet and hit him on the forehead.

"I didn't realize how bad it was until I took my hand off my forehead and the blood gushed all over the straitjacket and stage," he said. 

After the jump: Horsman on recuperating, his next show, and video of the Houdini routine. 

The accident happened, he said, because he hadn't used the hanging apparatus often. And, the stage is a larger space Illusions debuted recently to accommodate more people. 

After the fall, he spent five hours at the emergency room, and came out with 16 stitches and a 2-inch gash on his forehead.

"The bruise below the cut itself has swelled up and the bridge of my nose is sore," he said. "If I yawn, or sneeze, or wrinkle my forehead, it hurts. It's bad, but I'll live."

On Friday and Saturday, he'll go back to performing at Illusions. "I won't be hanging upside down, but I'll be doing some escapes," he added.

 Below, Horsman performing the Houdini routine two years ago:

Photo: Spencer Horsman attempting the Houdini routine Friday, October 29 (Monica Lopossay for The Sun) 

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Posted by Erik Maza at 2:54 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: News


"50 feet above the air"? Wow—he was in space?

I remember reading that Houdini loved this trick because people thought it was dangerous just because he was hanging upside down, high above the ground. But the ironic part is that there was no real danger from the height and it was actually easier to get the straight jacket off upside down.

Spencer is a good friend of mine, & I'm stunned to hear this. I saw him perform this act on 10/29/10, and it was a fantastic act. I'll have to text him tomorrow and check up on him. I know his dad had to have been worried. But Spencer's tough, he'll pull through & be fine in no time. He always was one tough cookie, even when he was little and banging into things while I chased him. Of course that was back when Illusions was a magic shop in its entirety. He'll be ok.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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