Lady Houdini promo video featuring Kristen Johnson aka The World’s Premier Female Escape Artist. The Lady Houdini show is a completely self contained production that plays great outdoors or inside. The touring show provides it own stage, 30 foot tall truss tower for a thrilling aerial stunt, enough sound reinforcement for 1500 people, outdoor rated, waterproof LED lighting and of course Kristen’s infamous Full View Water Torture Cell. The Lady Houdini production is great for Fairs, Festivals, Colleges, Corporate Events, Churches, Music Festivals & Sporting Events.
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JOHN D. RUSSELL, Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. — Some of us try to escape aspects of our lives.
Kristen Johnson makes a living of it.
Johnson, known more commonly by her stage name, Lady Houdini, is bringing her escape show throughout the week at the Eastern Carolina Agricultural Fair.
And similar to her namesake, famed illusionist Harry Houdini, she makes her bones with a water torture routine. Unlike Houdini, though, she does not cover the water tank with a curtain, instead showing the 140-gallon tank in full view, eliminating skepticism.
Once submerged in the water, she escapes from handcuffs, chains, leg irons, shackles, chains and locks, all the while holding her breath for more than three minutes.
“Sometimes we run the risk of people thinking it’s easier than it is because we make it look easy,” she said. “It’s a constant mind battle, holding my breath isn’t the hard part. It’s a psychological thing of being locked in the cell and not panicking.”
Although Johnson has only been an escape artist for 13 years, she already has surpassed Houdini’s 1,000 rumored water torture cell escapes. The waters, however, haven’t always made for smooth sailing.
She went unconscious twice, once while performing for the halftime show of an National Basketball Association game. Her body shut down due to a hypoxic seizure caused by lack of oxygen.
“The lights go out and you don’t remember anything,” she said. “I think out of more than 1,100 attempts. Two failures isn’t too bad.”
Her entry into being an escapologist started when she wanted to play a more active role in her husband’s illusion show. She was his assistant and soon felt the desire to be a more equal partner.
Today her husband, Kevin Ridgeway, keeps the show going between her escapes with his interactive mind tricks.
He said being together 24/7 is a blessing for both of them.
“She’s truly the star of the show and I have no problem with that,” he said. “I’m always concerned. Fortunately I know how hard she trains and is always prepared. There’s a big trust factor, and I know she’ll be prepared for what she has to do.”
Kristen Johnson is no “lovely” magician’s assistant. She’s Lady Houdini, an escape artist who has successfully performed thousands of public feats and has broken Harry Houdini’s record for most water escapes ever.
“Kristen Johnson is currently the only female anywhere in the world attempting the water torture cell,” says her husband, magician Kevin Ridgeway, to an audience at the Western Idaho State Fair in Boise. “Additionally, she is the first person in history — male or female — to ever attempt this escape in full view.”
Johnson calmly walks onstage, slips off her heels and climbs the ladder to the top of a clear cylinder.
The grandstands go quiet as Ridgeway shackles his wife’s ankles and wrists. Two heavy metal chains crisscross her torso, locked in place with four padlocks. Lady Houdini puts her feet in the chilly water. She closes her eyes and begins to breathe deeply. And with a final breath, she plunges into the water.
Johnson pulls a bobby pin from her hair and begins to work on getting the handcuffs off. After nearly three minutes Johnson has picked every lock and freed herself from the chains.
“The world’s premiere female escape artist — give it up for Kristen Johnson!” Ridgeway exclaims.
Johnson first publicly performed this escape in 2003. She’d spent a year preparing. She practiced picking locks, and she worked with a dive master to slow her heart rate and hold her breath.
“I use a shallow water free diving technique where I take a number of breaths so I can take in more oxygen and oxygenate my blood,” Johnson says.
Johnson became an escape artist after taking a break from her job at a Fortune 500 company to help her mother run an entertainment business. It was during that time she met Ridgeway. He wanted to put together a show and he really wanted her to be in it.
“I am not a dancer. I’m not graceful. I’m not Vegas showgirl, that’s not me,” she says.
She envisioned being an equal partner.
“It was important for me to be a strong example for young women in particular, so I thought I would do something most women don’t do, and that is the escapes,” she says.
Nonwater escapes using ropes and handcuffs are fun she says, but the water cell is emotionally draining.
“When you hear the lid get locked on and know that there is only one way out and that you have the only means to get out, psychologically that’s the hardest part,” Johnson says.
At the fair in Boise, Johnson performed this water cell escape three times a day, five days straight. Each time, she goes through her routine to focus. The water has to be just right. She can’t be dehydrated, hungry, sick or tired.
Memories of blacking out twice while in the cell remind her of the danger. That danger wasn’t lost on audience member Rochelle Fowler. She helped lock Johnson in the water cell. Fowler admits she was skeptical.
“There’s got to be some hocus-pocus to it, but no, right there … I clicked her handcuffs to make sure they were just a little bit more tighter. My husband is ex-police, so I’ve seen real handcuffs. There wasn’t anything fake about it,” she says.
Fowler says she was surprised to find herself crying as she watched Johnson. She was ready to rescue her.
“It just was nerve-wracking and then to see her finally escape, I just went ‘Oh, thank goodness!’ I thought I was witnessing something horrible about to happen,” Fowler says.
While in Boise, Lady Houdini performed her 1,100th water torture cell escape. That’s something she never imagined herself doing.
“I’m not a strong athlete. I’ve never been musically inclined. I just wanted to do something that was going to inspire other people,” she says.
Johnson hopes others will see her do amazing feats and decide to tackle their own challenges.
Rochelle Fowler watches with tears on her face as Lady Houdini works to break free. Harry Houdini made the water torture cell famous more than 100 years ago.
Hey gang…Just wanted to post about the great camp we were part of last week at Lakeside, Ohio. The best part is we are right back there again this coming Tuesday. Neil, his staff & volunteers have put together an incredible camp at the beautiful Lakeside Camp at Chautauqua. The Q&A earlier in the afternoon really allowed us to get to know the students well ahead of the show. For those that will be there this week, See you Tuesday.
Hey gang here is our new promo video. It was shot over three days during the Freedom Experience in Keller, TX. David Altizer is the brains & talent behind the cameras. He also did all the post production. If you ever need any video work, he is the guy to go to. vimeo.com/davealtizer We’re pleased with the direction he took in overlaying a message on top of the footage. Enjoy!
Kristen and I are 3 days into our summer tour. We passed through Salt Lake City to pick up some gear from our newest sponsor. We’ll share more about them next week.
We are in AZ now with three shows this coming Sunday July 8, at Impact Church Kristen Johnson, recognized as the World’s Premier Female Escape Artist will be attempting her Full View Water Torture Cell three times Sunday morning. The show opens with a big surprise, so don’t be late.
Monday we head to CA and pick up two of our stuntmen and our director. As you know we also produce a Stunt Show. 50′ high falls to a stunt airbag. The best part about Movie Stunt Adventure, is in between shows, You’re The Star. Our back lot turns into a stunt school where you can train with us and learn to do high falls yourself. It’s a huge rush. In fact our motto is: IF YOU’RE NOT LIVING ON THE EDGE, YOU’RE TAKING UP TOO MUCH SPACE.
7 Secrets of Success That I Found Right In My Room:
Roof said: Aim high
Fan said: Be cool
Clock said: Every minute counts
Mirror said: Reflect before you act
Calendar said: Be up to date
Window said: See the world
Door said: Push hard to achieve your goals
Kristen and I were in Nashville, TN over the weekend. We were doing a showcase for NRB, National Religious Broadcasters, at the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. It was a great opportunity for us, along with the other ministries & performers that Reach Your City represents, to showcase what we do and how we can help make an impact across the country. Kristen performed her Full View Water Torture Cell twice to a breathless audience. Gresham, Tim & Natasha with Reach Your City did an incredible job putting this showcase together. The Gaylord Opryland Resort is a must see if you have not been there before. It truly feels like you’re outside.
Thank you to NRB for letting us be a part of this great convention. We look forward to next year!
Hot Hearts in Beaumont, TX was an incredible youth conference. 5500 teens from Texas filled Ford Park Arena. The event featured speaker Clayton King, funny man Kacy Benson, Christian Stanfill, rapper Tedashii, Family Force 5 and yours truly, Living Illusions.
Kristen kicked of the event with her aerial stunt. She wrangled herself free from a straitjacket while upside down at about 30 feet in the air. Next she pulled herself up and released her feet from the footloops holding her in place. Now hanging by her hands, she let go and did a High Fall to an awaiting stunt airbag. Christian Stanfill led worship for both days. It was moving and got everyone praising God together.
Clayton King really brought home the message. Throughout Friday & Saturday over 1000 came forward and gave their life to Christ. Kacy made people laugh till their sides hurt. Together Kristen and I did several illusions. Kristen also did her Rope Tie piece where she ended up with a gentleman’s jacket on underneath the ropes and knots he had just tied himself. I brought my straitjacket out for a comedy bit. Sorry about the $50 guys.
Family Force 5 rocked the house Friday night. They are good friends of ours and it was great seeing them and catching up. Solomon really knows how to work the crowd. They had them in a frenzy.
Saturday morning we got serious and talked about people’s lives. A teen named Tyrin came up and I hope he never forgets what transpired on that stage. Remember, When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
The afternoon session started and it was time for Kristen’s Full View Water Torture Cell. This was her 893rd attempt. She did great, the crowd was eerily quiet, then erupted with a standing ovation as she escaped that watery grave. The crowd was loud and it was humbling to see the outpouring of appreciation from the crowd. After the water cell I gave the message ‘You’re The Love of My Life’. The true story of Kristen’s incident in the water cell 4 years ago, the extra time I had with my father before he passed away and how God wants to use us, in spite of our failures. Wrapping the message up with my coke can illustration seemed the perfect way to drive the message home to everyone.
Tedashii closed the conference Saturday afternoon with an impressive performance. The bass was thumping, his lyrics were right on target and the crowd was really into it. He reminds me of rapper LG Wise. I talked with him after the show. He’s legit and I hope our paths cross again this year.
Thanks to Adam, Reed, John, both Micah’s, Lee, Andrew, Cindy with Ford Park and everyone else I forgot for helping make the weekend a huge success! You guys made our job easy and we greatly appreciate each of you. To the teens and youth leaders…you guys are awesome. The outpouring of love & support in just the past 2 hours on Facebook has been overwhelming. We love you guys. Texas ROCKS!!!
God, Family, Stryper
Kevin & Kristen