Wilson brings spirit of Houdini back to Amherst

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Dave Mathieson
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Published on August 04, 2014

Wilson and his assistant, Kelly Difilla, look at the jackets laid out on the ground.

Published on August 04, 2014

Wilson talks about the jacket that he will escape from. It's a Posey straitjacket, which is the kind of jacket that must be used if he is to be recognized by Guiness World Records.

Published on August 04, 2014

Defilla straps the buckles up.

Published on August 04, 2014

The final strap causes a little discomfort.

Published on August 04, 2014

The second jacket is added. Just as Houdini used to do, Wilson gets a police officer to check the jacket. Bruce McNabb (left), an expert on Harry Houdini, was the master of ceremonies.

Published on August 04, 2014

Defilla hooks Wilson's ankles to the crane.

Published on August 04, 2014

Wilson goes up...

Published on August 04, 2014

up...

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and up.

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The crowd watches and takes photos.

Published on August 04, 2014

Wilson starts twisting from the jackets.

Published on August 04, 2014

The crowd watches...

Published on August 04, 2014

Wilson gets the straps undone.

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The crowd watches...

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Wilson celebrates after breaking free.

Published on August 04, 2014

The crowd claps.

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Wilson is lowered back to earth.

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He waves to the crowd.

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Wilson points at the camera.

Published on August 04, 2014

Defilla sets him free from the shackles.

Published on August 04, 2014

Wilson is mobbed by the crowd as he hands out bracelets and signs posters.

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The crowd presses around Wilson.

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Wilson gives a bracelet to a little girl (left).

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Wilson made sure everybody who wanted an autograph got one.

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Signs a muppet.

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Wilson also took selfies.

Escape artist sets world record in Amherst

Wilson has performed magic since he was four-years-old and started practicing the straitjacket escape five years ago.

AMHERST – Exactly 118 years after Harry Houdini performed in Amherst, Lucas Wilson reawakened the spirit of the world-famous escape artist. 

“This is not a magic trick. This is an actual stunt,” said Wilson to hundreds of people gathered on the corner of Church and Victoria Street Sunday night to watch him perform.

At exactly 7 p.m. the 24-year-old was strapped into two official Posey-brand straitjackets, and then a crane dangled him 33 metres into the air by the ankles.

Wilson then said, “go.”

A stopwatch was activated and after 58.46 seconds of twisting and turning Wilson broke free from both straitjackets, setting a new world record.

He was then lowered to the ground and quickly mobbed by the crowd.

Wilson said he was overwhelmed by the response.

“It was unbelievable. I was like, ‘is Justin Bieber standing behind me or what,’” said Wilson. “It was unbelievable to get that kind of response. I feel so welcomed and loved here.”

Wilson is from Port Dover, Ont., a town of 5,000, and he holds three Guinness Book world records.

He has his sight’s set on a fourth.

“I want to do the most escapes from a straitjacket in eight hours. It’s a world record right now but I want to break it,” said Wilson. “World records are like an addiction. Once you get one you want another.”

Wilson has broke eight straitjacket world record times.

“Of the three records I hold I’ve broken each one a couple times because I always want to improve,” he said.

Asked if anybody can learn to escape from a straitjacket, Wilson says there are things that can help.

“You can’t be claustrophobic and you need to have the right mindset but, at the end of the day, it’s lots and lots of practice.”

He says he used to practice on his front lawn in Port Dover.

“Some people play the guitar or the piano. I decided I wanted to invest my time in learning how to escape from straight jackets,” he said. “I can’t play guitar but I can escape from a straitjacket pretty darn fast.”

Wilson has performed magic since he was four-years-old and started practicing the straitjacket escape five years ago.

“I needed to get publicity. This is what Houdini did to get publicity. He would hang upside down it a town square,” said Wilson. “In the process of developing the escape I started wondering what the world record was, and this is how it was born.”

His assistant is Kelly Difilla.

“We’ve been working together for six years now,” said Wilson. “We met in drama class in high school and I asked her if she wanted to be my magic assistant and it has turned into this career that we’ve grown together.”

Wilson says his parents were always supportive of his choice of career.

“A lot of kids get a magic kit and their parents say they have to get a real job and they stop doing it,” said Wilson. “My parents said ‘if this is what you want to do then go do it.’”

Wilson and Defilla recently performed in Italy.

“It’s so amazing when you get to see incredible places and do incredible things and doing what you love the most,” said Wilson.  “This is what I want to do and I’m getting an amazing response and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Last year Wilson received an amazing response on the Dragon’s Den.

Arlene Dickinson out-bidded Kevin O’Leary, getting Wilson’s services for $25,000.

Wilson has two shows in Ontario on Monday, but before he departed Amherst he thanked everybody for coming out on the anniversary of Houdini’s visit to Amherst, and he also thanked Houdini for being an inspiration.

“We all stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us and without him I would not be doing this today,” said Wilson. “And a whole bunch of kids tonight learned about Houdini for the first time and will look up his name, which is great.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geographic location: Amherst, Port Dover, Victoria Street Italy Ontario

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