Escapology Day celebrates escapologists, those artists, magicians, daredevils, and stage performers who escape from restraints and other traps such as straitjackets, handcuffs, cages, and coffins. They often have to escape from more than one type of restraint at the same time. Escapologists began gaining recognition in the mid-nineteenth century, but it really wasn’t until Harry Houdini came along in the early twentieth century that escapology became a widespread form of entertainment. Some famous escapologists besides Houdini are Dorothy Dietrich, Dean Gunnarson, Alan Alan, and Jonathan Goodwin.
Houdini performed escapes that made it necessary for him to contort himself and pick locks, but much of his work was also based on illusion. Escapology Day takes place on September 21, on the anniversary of the date in 1912 when he first publicly performed his Water Torture Cell escape, which took place at the Circus Busch in Berlin, Germany. He performed it on many other occasions and it became one of his most well-known feats. This date has been marked since the year after Houdini’s death, which took place on October 31, 1926. Contrary to what some believe, Houdini did not die while attempting his Water Torture Cell routine.
Escapology is an ancient art that’s seeing rising popularity in recent days. The recent craze started with a slew of internet games that were easy to code, and a lot of fun to play.
In these games you were put in a situation where you were trapped in some location, be it a room, a house, even a car. Throughout the game, you’d try to find all the tools and clues you needed to escape that location in as little time as possible.
Escapology, however, has a much longer history, and Escapology Day celebrates its past, present, and future.
Practitioners of Escapology are known as escapologists, and among their number you’ll find such notable names as Harry Houdini, the Davenport Brothers, and John Nevil Maskelyne, just to name a few.
These artists performed incredible stunts involving their escape from seemingly impossible situations, some of them putting them at such risk that it cost some of them their lives. The term itself came to be thanks to Norman Murray Walters, a contemporary of Harry Houdini and highly respected escapologist.
Escapology even has its own Patron Saint, at least if you ask the escapologists themselves. St. Nicholas Own was said to have help jailbreak two Jesuit inmates from the Tower of London after having escaped himself. Due to the seeming impossibility of escaping from this prison Catholic escapologists have taken him as their own, along with St. John Don Bosco.
While not nearly as perilous as the feats attempted by these pioneers of the practice, modern escapology has been brought to amateurs in the form of ‘Escape Room’ businesses that create puzzles for people to solve in a set amount of time.