To Perform

Have a committee of about four people come up from audience to examine the packing box. If this illusion is performed as a publicity stunt, have two men from the store come up to nail you in.

Show the box on all sides -- kick, thump, and hammer it, and have the committee do likewise. More nails may be driven into it, providing they do not affect the trick panel. This is not necessary, however.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this packing case was especially built by (name of company), and they have issued the challenge to me to escape from it. Their own men are to nail it up, and for extra precaution they will tie it with ropes. They can spike it, or do whatever they please. I shall prepare myself to go inside."

Remove your coat and vest and roll up your shirt sleeves. When Houdini performed this illusion, he wore a white shirt with a soft collar open at the neck.

Look over case a little, then step inside.

"The escape I am about to attempt is extremely difficult. Because I have been successful in making similar escapes is no reason why I will be successful with this one. There is always a chance to slip. However, I trust that there will be no slip and that I will come out as I always have. I have had air holes made in the box to give me some air, but even then air conditions are not of the best. My assistant here keeps watch over me and should I not appear within a given time, he is to smash in the box with an axe -- or if I signal him, he will smash the box. I do this as an extra precaution, for escapes of this nature are more or less dangerous."

An audience likes to watch dangerous things so that you can work on that side of it.

"All right, gentlemen, put on the lid and nail me in. Then rope the box — and here's hoping."

You crouch down in box, and the lid is nailed on as the assistant directs. If regular shipping clerks nail the box, it will prove interesting to see how quickly and expertly they nail the box. When box is nailed, ropes are tied around it both ways, Figure 37.

Box is then pulled into curtained cabinet or cabinet is placed over box. Curtains on both sides and rear are dropped down and front curtains pulled across to screen case. Your assistant holds curtain closed and holds his watch in his hand, apparently for emergency. He says, "All right, go!"

In the meantime, while the lid is being nailed on the box, you gain time by unscrewing the long screws and substituting the short screws for them. Air holes may give you enough light, but if they don't, a quick flash from your flashlight will locate the screws for you.

When assistant says "Go!" you remove the fake panel and crawl out of the box. Replace the panel, remove the outer short screws and substitute the long ones for them, thus securing the panel in place again. Put screw driver and two extra short screws in your pocket.

Pull open the curtain suddenly and puff as though you had gone through considerable effort. Take a bow.

Have committee come forward and examine the box on the outside. Then have them smash in the lid with the axe and see that the box is empty. Dismiss the committee.

NOTE: A popular type of packing case which can be used over and over again is one in which the lid is hinged on and has clasps in front which can be padlocked. This case may be used as a trunk to carry paraphernalia, and yet it is ready at a moment's notice for the packing case escape. If you use this case, the lid, of course, is not smashed in at the end. The case is unlocked and opened to show it empty. Our illusion builder supplies this case with hinged lid unless otherwise specified, Figure 38.

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