The First Annual Escape Artist Convention
April 26 & 27 2003 - Sponsored by Cannon's Great Escapes

Mark and Sheila Cannon

Mark and Sheila Cannon

The First Annual Indy Escape Artist Convention was held on April 26 and 27 in conjunction with the 22nd Annual Crossroads of America Lock Show in Indianapolis, Indiana. Over the past years an increasing number of escape artists and handcuff enthusiasts had been congregating at the lock show and last year the decision was made to combine the 2003 lock show with the first escape artist convention. Special thanks are due to Pete Shaefer and his colleagues of the Crossroads of America Lock Show for allowing this to happen.

Stan Willis, Joe Tanner and Michael Griffin at their tables.

The show began on Friday, April 25, early in the morning with a special performance by Kristen Johnson and Kevin Ridgeway for a local television station. Kristen performed her escape from a water torture cell, a performance she was to repeat at the banquet Saturday night. Friday night the booths were set up and the show formally opened on Saturday morning. Although the vast majority of the booths were devoted to the lock collectors there was plenty of action for handcuff collectors and escape artists as well.

Shawn Ness, Margarette and Joe Fox gave Improptu Performances.

During the day there were several impromptu performances by various escape artists. All the performances were highly appreciated by the assembled escape artists and the lock collectors. In the afternoon master lock smith Ian McColl from Australia gave a well attended lecture on lock picking.

Ian McColl

Ian McColl lectures on lockpicking.

In the evening the group assembled for the banquet. The Crossroads of America Lock Show awards were distributed in honor of the outstanding lock displays at the show. Mark Cannon then took over the show and on behalf of "Escapeologists Worldwide" presented escape artist Michael Griffin with a special award. "In recognition of your contributions throughout the years to the art of escape. As a direct result of your support during the last two decades of the Crossroads of America Lock Show, the First Annual Escape Artist Convention has become a reality."

Michael Griffin

Mark and Sheila present Michael Griffin with the "Silver Cuffs" Award.

The highlight of the evening was a special performance by "Living Illusions", Kristen Johnson and Kevin Ridgeway, Indianapolis's own escape artist and magic team. Kevin and Kristen entertained and amazed the entire group with an exciting show with lots of audience participation. As the highlight of the show Kristen performed her escape from the underwater torture cell. It was a very dangerous and truly spectacular performance, world class in every way.

Water Torture Cell

Kristen Johnson in the Water Torture Cell

Late Saturday the action shifted upstairs to the hotel rooms for a late night session of more impromptu performances, "show and tell" and general discussion. In a secret session Ian McColl proved that he was truly the "golden" man of the escape community.

Sunday morning the booths opened again to an exhausted crowd. After a couple hours of last minute dealing the show closed at noon.

Joseph Lauher

Joseph Lauher at the The Handcuffs.Org Display

My personal evaluation of the Indy show is very positive. I was particularly impressed with the warmth and welcoming attitude expressed by all. It was a joy to meet so many of the people I had corresponded with over the years. By the time the show closed on Sunday everyone seemed like an old friend. I can't wait for April 2004 when I will have a chance to attend the 2nd Annual Escape Artists Convention. Mark and Sheila Cannon did a superb job this year. I wish to join all those who attended by extending to Mark and Sheila our thanks and appreciation for a job well done.

Joe Lauher - April 2003

More Show Pictures

Another Report of the Indy show from Cannon's Great Escapes


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