Taking a cue from Houdini, Nick Brice attempts to escape from his straitjacket. ((CBC) )

A Swift Current youth who is developing an illusionist show says his skills as an escape artist are rooted in having been mercilessly tied-up by older siblings.

"They would tie me up to a chair and just leave me there," Nick Brice, 15, explained in a recent interview with CBC News. "So I had to learn how to get out eventually."

With that as a background, Brice has gone on to perfect more elaborate escape tricks, including hanging upside and freeing himself from a straitjacket.

And how does a teenager from small-town Saskatchewan acquire a straitjacket? It was a gift from his mother, who found it during a trip to Las Vegas.

"We just went shopping for magic stuff and then the guy in the shop ... started pulling out all the bigger stuff," Vivian Brice said about the purchase. "Then he pulls out this straitjacket and we just said, 'We've got to have that!'"


'They would tie me up to a chair and just leave me there' —Nick Brice, Swift Current illusionist

Brice said the item raised a few eyebrows when she went through customs on the way home.

She said she watched, with pride, a recent performance by Nick in which he was suspended upside-down at the end of a crane, and wriggled himself free of the straitjacket in two minutes.

"We will help him as much as we can," Vivian Brice said about her son's ambitions to perform. Then she added, with a laugh: "I am not sure if there is a university or anything but we encourage him."

"It's all about the mental," Nick Brice said, quoting David Blaine, a popular illusionist. "You have to know how to do it and just control your body. Because your brain controls your body, therefore ideally you should be able to control what your body does."

In his repertoire, Brice includes a levitation illusion and fork bending, in addition to escapes from ropes, handcuffs and straitjackets.


Swift Current illusionist Nick Brice performs a trick with a fork. ((CBC))

Despite his age, Brice displays a mature appreciation of what he does, insisting it is not magic and quite beyond a basic parlour trick.

"A magician would be anyone like your crazy uncle Ned that does a few card tricks, that's a magician," Brice explained. "But an illusionist does grand-scale tricks on a stage or they put that extra little bit: they actually live the art of magic."

Brice said that part of his summer will be spent working on a new illusion and a full-scale show, which he hopes to unveil in the coming year.

In the meantime, he starts Grade 11 in September.

In the back of his mind, however, there is the goal to further develop his show and — some day — perform in Las Vegas.

"I think that the boundary between possibilities and impossibilities is just basically a figment of your imagination," Brice said, a credo that could be applied to his illusions and his aspirations.