"My eagerness to try on the straitjacket overruled the little common sense I had"


Andrew Mayne is a magician, author, and TV show host. He's also coming to our Weekend of Wonder (September 18-20) to teach us all how to escape from a straitjacket. Andrew just wrote an intense true story for The Life Sentence about the time he was seventeen and invited an adult man who was selling a used straitjacket to come to his house so Andrew could try it out and possibly buy it. His parents weren't home at the time, and when Andrew was strapped in and helpless, he had an "Oh shit" moment:

I was unaware of the "handcuff tricks" employed by Corll and Gacy when I was being strapped by a stranger into a straitjacket, a restraint that made me extremely vulnerable.

"This came from St. Elizabeth's Hospital," the man explained as he yanked on the leather buckles, cinching them tight around me. "That's where John Hinkley, Jr., the guy who shot Reagan, is held.

"One more strap." I couldn't feel my arms. "They've got lots of serial killers there. You ever heard of William Minor?"

"No … Was he a killer?" I nervously asked while trying to see if there was any slack at all in the jacket.

"No. He helped write the dictionary while he was there. Ended up cutting his own dick off because he had bad thoughts about children."

"Huh … " I replied, attempting to slide one numb arm under the other.

"Can you get out?" the man asked.

Could I get out?

Because I'm writing this years later, we can all deduce that I wasn't murdered that day. Much later on, when performing escape acts, I came up with a line about finding a love letter to Jodie Foster in the sleeve. But back then, securely fastened inside a device legally considered cruel and unusual punishment, I didn't have the certainty of knowing I'd somehow find my way free. My sheer stupidity quickly dawned on me as the man asked me that question. In that moment, I resolved two things. The first was that if he came near me, I would do everything I could to inflict as much bodily damage upon him as possible. The second was that I would never, ever put myself in a similar situation if I could help it.

Read the rest of this essay here. Buy the way, besides teaching attendees how to get out of a straitjacket, everyone who comes to Weekend of Wonder will get a free copy of Andrew's latest novel Name of the Devil, which features a magician-turned-FBI agent named Jessica Blackwood.

Register here to join us at Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder.