He did it!
Magician Thomas Solomon broke free from four sets of handcuffs while submerged inside of a tank of freezing water at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island on Sunday — thrilling visitors who showed up for the penguins and walruses but stayed for the daring, though surprisingly brief, one-minute escape act.
“I was surprised he escaped so quickly,” said Eleanor Avraham. “I was expecting it to take much longer.”
As the crowd watched, Solomon, who boasted last week that he would complete the escape in under three minutes, was shackled with four sets of police handcuffs — administered by an officer — a weighted 40-pound belt, and a pair of two-pound ankle weights.
Then, the escape artist who’s performed similar stunts in the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean dove into a swimming pool-sized tank filled with mind-numbingly cold 40-degree salt water wearing nothing but his chains, a T-shirt, and bathing suit.
Solomon sank to the bottom, where he wiggled out of the silver bracelets, removed the belt, and surfaced in just under 60 seconds — stunning audience members, including several who thought the blazingly fast feat must have been a hoax.
“It was too much hype for too quick a show,” one on-looker said.
But fellow magicians said the act was a matter of life and death.
“That was the real thing,” said Gary Dreifus, who hosted the Coney Island Magic-produced event. “I’ve done some escapes and I’m nowhere near that level — that takes a lot of practice and perseverance.”
Afterwards, a dripping-wet Solomon refused to reveal his secrets, saying only that he was determined to escape the frigid water as quickly as possible.
“I’m a magician, so I take certain liberties with regard to psychology and methods,” said the Wisconsin-born escapologist, who honed his craft on the Chicago nightclub circuit and has been featured on the History Channel and British TV. “But I’m a also a trained locksmith. So I can get out of lots of types of locks.”
The escape was the latest stunt designed to attract more visitors to the 55-year-old museum on Surf Avenue at W. Eighth Street, which is undergoing a lengthy, $100-million rehab that’s expected to be completed in 2015.