Once you’ve crossed the finish line on Sunday at the EQT 10-Miler, you won’t want to venture too far from downtown or else you’ll miss the most death-defying stunt performed above the streets of Pittsburgh in 100 years.
Shortly after noon, local magician Lee Terbosic will recreate a stunt first performed by Harry Houdini at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Wood Street exactly 100 years ago to the day, Nov. 6, 1916. Terbosic will be lifted upside down 60 to 70 feet into the air by a crane while wearing a straight jacket from which he will then attempt to escape.
Although Terbosic has toured the country and performed in front of some big crowds, this will be the first time he’s attempted something of this magnitude.
“I’ve done the straight jacket escape on two feet, but I never really did a performance where my life is on the line or done something this crazy,” said Terbosic, of Baldwin. “This will be new to me.”
Houdini performed the stunt on a Monday afternoon at lunchtime in order to ensure a big crowd of onlookers. He had an upcoming run of shows at the New Davis Theater, and wanted to make sure he got publicity in the next day’s newspapers to drum up interest and sell tickets.
“I always say Harry Houdini invented social media because he kind of did,” Terbosic said. “He needed a way to get the word out when he was doing shows in different cities around the world so he’d go to the local paper, go to the top of the building, take a rope and wrap it around his legs and link himself to a pole or a beam. Then at lunch — he’d always do it on a Monday — people would get to see him do this amazing stunt and risk his life and he’d get everyone talking about it and ultimately wanting to come see his show.”
When Terbosic saw a photograph of the stunt in progress in a book given to him by his mentor and noticed it took place in front of the Pittsburgh Post building, he became intrigued. The streets are packed with thousands of people, mostly men in brimmed hats who’d stepped out from their office buildings, and Houdini hangs upside high above the sidewalk.
You can see the photograph on the website, http://www.houdini100.com
Terbosic contacted Rick Sebak, of WQED, to get more background on the stunt and when he learned the date, the wheels for this weekend’s recreation were set in motion.
In order to get ready for the stunt, Terbosic has been spending time hanging upside down on an inversion table just to get used to the feeling of blood rushing to his head. Although he’s met with the rigging team and crane operator, Sunday will be the first time actually performing the stunt. There will be no practice runs.
Terbosic hopes a lot of runners and their families downtown for the EQT 10-Miler will stick around. He’s even developed a special card trick in honor of the race that you can view on his website at http://www.houdini100.com.
The EQT 10-Miler begins at 8 a.m. on Sunday. The streets open for the event beginning at 10:30 a.m. with DJ Scottro and the stunt itself will take place shortly after noon. The event is free and open to the public.