| About a month later, we got a call from American Program
Bureau saying that Bill Cosby recommended me for colleges and speaking engagements. Then
Dick Gregory called to say that Cosby told him to call me for an event he was having.
What caught their eye from your act?
I started closing my show with the straitjacket escape which horrified people during this time. A
woman being restrained! Magicians told me that I was crazy to do this. I always loved Houdini. I
loved the dramatics of the straight jacket escape and wondered how a woman could present it. I
bought the jacket and played with it. Back then, magicians would have their assistants strap
them in. I decided to let the two biggest guys in the room to strap me in, I'd be like the damsel in
But don't think they were kind when they strapped me in. I was doing a show at the St. Regis Hotel. A twelve-person orchestra was playing loudy. Dick was MCing
|saying, "Now don't
feel that you have to be gentle just because she is a woman. I want you to be sure that she
cannot get out." I am cringing because this guy has me so tight, it feels like he is breaking my
arm. He is not just buckling the jacket, he is twisting my arm backwards and his goal is to break
my arm. I'm yelling to Dick to do something and he finally noticed my dilemma. He excused the
men from the stage and got two more to complete the task.
The agents loved it but after a while they said, "What else do you have?" So you have
to do it upside down. Then you have to add fire. We practiced in the townhouse. Lou Lancaster
was a master rigger. He even made the rope for me to use. I trusted him with my life. We rigged
a rope from the skylight down two floors. I got used to the height there. Then we would get booked to do it on a crane. To this day, I look at building cranes and think "that would be fun!"
|ESCAPE FROM NY
Your life is good owning a successful Magic Nightclub in a great part of Manhattan. Why did it
Donald Trump was buying up the neighborhood filled with small shops, apartments, restaurants.
Then he tore down the stores and buildings and built Trump Plaza. Now our landlady decided to
raise our rent from $4800 a month to $30,000 a month. After all Johnny Carson lived across the
street. This was now a rich neighborhood. There was no way this could happen. She was
forcing us out of business. We went to court to get our deposit back and the judge granted us
four months of free rent to find another place to live. We bought a motor home thinking that we
would travel the country to find our next big adventure.
Did you travel?
Actually, as soon as we bought the motor home, our friend Eddie (who sold us the