buried alive

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 04/28/03 10:58 AM

a research question: i am researching the buried alive effect.
i know something about blaine, and the planned houdini effect. this website www.magicexhibit.org refers to one prince herman who performed the effect with no details and i recently saw a poster advertised for KARMI where the poster suggested he had done the effect for 32 days (i presume this is a hype but then who knows.) also, there is a reference to senor mardo performing the effect but the books of his i can find relate to bar magic, or other close up work. i have also been advised of a fiction book on the topic. i am continuing with the internet research, but i am wondering if anyone can help point me in the right direction for material i am missing that would help on the research for this kind of effect? i have scanned the dalal swami mantra material and haven't found anything helpful. i know very little about karmi and mardo and
> nothing about their history with this effect other than what i have mentioned. the effect seems to be divided into an illusion--for example, lance burton performed the effect on tv i think-escape type effect-i think the senor mardo approach-and then an endurance effect a la blaine. am i missing some obvious piece of literature as a place to look? any ideas? >
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Postby Guest » 04/28/03 02:36 PM

Check out "Publicity Miracles", by Joe Ovette. Most have forgotten that the buried alive stunt was once a standard publicity stunt for mentalists, hypnotists, and magicians. Sometimes they would be buried for 30-60 minutes in front of the theater they were playing, (to attract patrons to the ticket box) then let out of their coffin to announce they would be going on in a few minutes, generating sales as wells as (hopefully) space in the newspapers. Some had an on-going exhibit that would go on for days, charging people to walk by and talk/see the buried subject, not unlike showman David Blaine did. Little seems to have been written about doing it. Robert Nelson put out a mms on doing it decades ago. But if you go look in magic magazines, or more importantly BILLBOARD issues, (pre-1940) you will see more showman getting buried, (or like Thurston did) burying someone else for attention
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Postby John Smetana » 04/28/03 04:43 PM

Diego, If I'm not mistaken,in one of Donn Davisons books on promotions he had an entire layout on the "Buried Alive" stunt.As I recall his idea was to play the stunt at drive-in movies,
in conjunction with a horror flick or two.

best thoughts,
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Postby Guest » 04/28/03 06:37 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if one of Donn's books dealt with a "buried alive" promo. I don't know if the information you're seeking is strictly academic, but forgive me for saying the obvious, but if you are considering DOING this stunt, remember what is just flash, and what is riskly behavior. This has more to do with escapes, but it is amazing how many try stunts without considering the risks, Houdini/Blaine would not take themselves, and hurt themselves. Too many don't get it, that Houdini/Blaine TESTED it out fully with several paid trusted employees, had plan B,C, and D, if needed. Remember the man in California 10 years ago, who tried to do an escape from a coffin buried alive in dirt and Concrete(!), not thinking, (because it wasn't tested) the weight could crush the coffin and kill him, which it did.
An escape/lock consultant told me he could not count the times the FIRST time a performer did a milk can/torture cell, with water ,under real performance conditions, was with his FIRST
audience. Most will at least try their first ball & vase once before showing it to friends!
If all goes wrong, do you know what to do? End of sermon.
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Postby Guest » 04/28/03 06:49 PM

yes, i am considering the effect, but i am at least a year away. i have performed once already, 72 hours, and am now looking at an expanded version. part of my homework is to look at the history-what has been done in the past and who did it--both from a technique and from a honoring the elders perspective. your suggestions have been great. thank you.
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Postby Guest » 04/29/03 12:54 PM

Buried Alive has connections to the cremation illusion, i.e. a stage illusion where a person is placed into a coffin which is set aflame and consumed leaving only a charred skeleton, performed over a hundred years ago. Also, look into Egyptian Resurrection, Phoenix Rising, and Rebirth. All of these far pre-date but underscore Buried Alive presentations.

One more thing. I remember a martial art/illusionist performer who did a TV special around the mid-1980's and featured his version of Buried Alive as an escape. In this particular version he was placed, handcuffed I believe, into a clear coffin and covered with wet cement. Minutes later you actually saw him come up through the wet cement looking something like the Swamp Thing. It was VERY cool! (And very DANGEROUS.)

Does anyone remember this special and the performer's name?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/29/03 01:08 PM

I remember the escape artist who used wet cement to fill a grave using a plexi-glass casket. The plexi-glass gave way under th pressure of the cement and drove the plexi through the escape artist chest, killing him. As I remember it, you could actually see the level of the cement drop two feet in the grave when the casket caved in.

As for being buried alive, it was very popular in the 1920's. The person would be buried for up to 30 days at a time. To support themselves in their endeavors, they would charge ten cents to peek down a pipe to see the face of the person that was buried.

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Postby Guest » 04/29/03 04:39 PM

this may be part of something I'm working on, but I know of a case where a performer was arrested,(after being buried for several days) for violating a "anti-marathon" ordinance, that was passed to protect people from themselves. The performer appealed their conviction and won their RIGHT to by buried alive! (True story)
I did criticize a magic magazine a while back, that printed an idea/concept for a buried alive escape, concerned that some no-nothing would try some half baked idea, not considering potential problems, and hurt themselves.
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Postby Guest » 04/29/03 06:02 PM

diego-thank you again for your notes re the safety aspects of this effect. i share your concern about a safe outcome. having done this once before with inadequate oxygen, i want to make very sure about a safe effect before trying it again. one way to do that, it seems to me, is to carefully study those who have gone before me to learn from their experience. the information folks have provided on this forum has been very helpful. in that regard, do you recall the name of the magazine you refer to? and can you share your own experience with the effect?
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Postby Guest » 04/29/03 08:08 PM

I have not had any experience myself in a buried alive stunt, myself. The brief article/idea appeared in M.U.M., who kindly printed an edited version of my letter. Their printing of the concept for the escape was done with good intentions, but the problem is readers who don't know/consider hazards. Some mistakenly feel they have to be at risk, instead of appearing TO BE at risk. The other side is those who don't know they may be at risk...often because of little practice/experience. I wrote the letter to M.U.M., as a concern, lest relatives with lawyers, come knocking, wanting to blame them, instead of taking responsibility for their own recklessness. The kid who tried to do an upside-down strait-jacket escape, whose ankles slipped out of the rigging, hiting his head on the payment, is another example of someone going into a situation, not knowing the larger picture, as well as the "small" details.
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Postby Guest » 05/06/03 05:34 PM

does anyone have a good address for john calvert? he is quoted on a website as saying the late lester lake who performed as Marvello was a master of the buried alive effect. thanks.
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Postby Guest » 05/06/03 05:55 PM

Some did the buried alive,(in front of theater) above the payment, or on a flatbed truck. Easier for more people to gather and see...also less pressure on the coffin and easier to dig out quickly, if needed. A lot of dirt to haul, back and forth though.
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Postby Guest » 05/22/03 08:28 PM

in connection with my ongoing research on this topic i am looking for a copy of GENII, Volume 57, #1. November 1993 which reportedly contains an article by Patrick Culliton entitled Buried Alive. does anyone have a copy they will sell or loan? thanks.
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Postby Guest » 07/04/03 07:01 AM

Mike

For a great inside account of Indian fakirs doing a Buried Alive effect get a copy of John Keel's seminal work "Jadoo".
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Postby Guest » 07/06/03 10:51 AM

your post reminded me to update this thread. since my last post i am up to about 25 different written posts on the buried alive effect. i also have several interviews with folks who have performed the effect going back the last 60 years or so. my thanks to all who have helped with the research. if you have additional suggestions please let me know. thanks.
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Postby Guest » 07/06/03 12:19 PM

sorry. "posts" in my just prior post should be "written references"
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Postby Momiillusions » 07/23/10 06:37 AM

Hi. I'm a new one here. I'm an illusionist from Dubai and I would like to practice a "buried alive" illusion. I know the secret but still I need a consultant. Could you please, recommend someone who is able to help me. Thank you very much.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 07/23/10 09:31 AM

Momiillusions wrote:Hi. I'm a new one here. I'm an illusionist from Dubai and I would like to practice a "buried alive" illusion. I know the secret but still I need a consultant. Could you please, recommend someone who is able to help me. Thank you very much.

Banachek has done this on Television in the USA and Japan and is an excellent consultant (has worked for Penn & Teller, Criss Angel, Uri Geller, etc.). He can be reached through his website www.banachek.com
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Postby Necromancer » 07/23/10 11:55 AM

Richard Hatch wrote:Banachek has done this on Television in the USA and Japan and is an excellent consultant (has worked for Penn & Teller, Criss Angel, Uri Geller, etc.). He can be reached through his website www.banachek.com


My thoughts exactly! I emailed him with Banachek's contact info a few hours ago :)

Best,
Neil
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 07/23/10 01:47 PM

And if you need a GREAT casket, just let me know.
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Postby Momiillusions » 07/26/10 04:47 AM

Thank you very much!
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Postby JFox » 07/30/10 06:50 PM

One more thing. I remember a martial art/illusionist performer who did a TV special around the mid-1980's and featured his version of Buried Alive as an escape. In this particular version he was placed, handcuffed I believe, into a clear coffin and covered with wet cement. Minutes later you actually saw him come up through the wet cement looking something like the Swamp Thing. It was VERY cool! (And very DANGEROUS.)

Does anyone remember this special and the performer's name?
________________________________________________________________
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 07/30/10 07:10 PM

I remember someone using cement too, but he died doing it.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/31/10 11:26 AM

From the Los Angeles Times:

Magician Killed Attempting Coffin Escape Trick
Halloween: 'Next Houdini' perishes when tons of dirt and wet cement fall onto casket in which he was buried.
November 01, 1990|From United Press International
FRESNO A magician who compared himself to the legendary Harry Houdini and had himself buried inside a plastic-and-glass coffin for a Halloween night escape trick was killed when the coffin collapsed under tons of dirt and wet cement.

Joseph Burrus, 32, a recovering drug addict, was performing the stunt at a local amusement park, Blackbeard's Family Fun Center, when the coffin unexpectedly collapsed.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 07/31/10 11:41 AM

I wonder why UPI thought it was important to include the line "recovering drug addict" in the story? Was it pertinent to the reasons why he died? Was the show he was doing about escaping from the horrors of drug addiction? Seems odd.
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Postby Banachek » 09/16/10 07:52 AM

I was told that the performance was to raise money for drug awareness. Sadly I was also told that the autopsy reveled drugs in his system at the time of death.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/16/10 09:16 AM

The story has the makings of a much more frightning PSA than "this is your brain on drugs".
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 09/16/10 09:44 AM, edited 0 times in total.
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