This is always a crowd-pleaser, and it’s amazing how enduring this particular escape has been for decades.
The straightjacket escape is one of the most revered forms of escapology, simply because the association that comes with the straightjacket has always been notorious. As a method of restraining the clinically insane, this device, despite being simple and merely made of cloth tougher than usual, has forever been associated with insanity and the fruits of it. For you to have to be restrained by a straightjacket and for you to have to go through the constricting, even claustrophobia-inducing psychological pu
nishment of one, is a nerve-wracking experience, given proper circumstances.
An escape performance that has been popularized by Houdini himself, the straightjacket escape is insanely popular precisely because it is used to contain those who are insane. That a person can, right before your eyes, wriggle his way out, often through dislocating his own shoulder, a regulation straightjacket, is often a cause for amazement. This really is what escapology is all about: skill at its finest, with no frills being shown to the audience. Just the sheer ruggedness and grittiness of having to get out of one of the most feared forms of restraint of all time.
There are many variations to escaping from this nefarious device, including some that attempt to make it even more dangerous, such as doing it suspended in mid-air, or while balancing atop an unstable platform, or even while sinking underwater in a packing crate nailed shut and set on fire. Ultimately, despite all of these, the appeal and allure of the escape from the jacket itself really is what piques people’s curiosity, and you’d be surprised how many people would want to experience being contained in a straightjacket, even just once. Let them find out for themselves how it feels, and let them understand just how insane you really are to willingly put yourself in one of those things. Not to mention the whole crotch strap part, for that matter.
There are plenty of magicians who have a variation of this very revered routine, and it only goes to show that if these people ever do go insane, the last thing you’d want to do is to put them in a straightjacket. You’d simply be asking for a world of trouble.