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Lady Houdini escapes in Havre


Eric Seidle

Kristen Johnson - aka Lady Houdini - attempts to escape from the "Water Torture Cell" during Thursday night's performance at the Great Northern Fair. Kristen and her presenter Kevin Ridgeway will be performing again today at 5 and 7 p.m, Saturday at 3 , 5 and 8 p.m and Sunday 3 and 5 p.m before heading to Rock Springs Wyoming, next week.

Kristen Johnson has been traveling across the nation putting on her show for many years and is performing it at the Great Northern Fair until Saturday evening.

Kevin Ridgeway, her presenter at her shows, said the crowds were very responsive Thursday afternoon.

Johnson and Ridgeway are putting on two shows a day, with three on Saturday.

Johnson said Thursday that she got into escaping chains and traps originally because she was part of someone else's show and wanted to be an equal part of it.

She said that very few women were in escape art, so she chose to pursue it.

At the show Thursday, she performed a few tricks, including her upside-down suspended straight-jacket escape; another trick in which she was tied up in ropes by an audience member wearing a suit jacket and, after being hidden behind a curtain with the member, reappears wearing his jacket under her tied ropes; and then, ultimately, the water torture cell, where she had to pick multiple locks to escape, all the while holding her breath for quite a while.

Johnson said she first attempted the rope trick in 2000, and in 2003 she made her first escape from the water torture cell.

Since that day, Johnson has made more than 1,200 water torture cell escapes, beating Harry Houdini's record by a long shot.

Johnson and Ridgeway travel around America for the majority of the year and spend the winters in Arizona when they get the time off.

Eric Seidle

Next, they will be going to Rock Springs, Wyoming. Ridgeway said fairs rarely book them for three years in a row and not often two years, so they have to create a new route through the states every year.

While they travel across the country, they try to meet up with friends they have met through their travels often, Ridgeway said.

Johnson said that when she does the water torture cell escape, she generally likes the water between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. She said that is the most comfortable range of temperature. She said the escape is most difficult when the elevation is more than a mile and a half high.

"You have to be relaxed, no matter what," Johnson said.

Johnson will be performing her escapes until Sunday night.


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