Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, our reporter was handcuffed during part of the following performance.
Michael Griffin held up forty small needles to the audience in two sets of 20. He asked an audience member to confirm there was 40 and that they were individual sharp needles before he swallowed them whole. After he swallowed the needles, he swallowed a long piece of string and smacked his gut.
“Parents do not try this at home with your kids,” Griffin said.
He began to pull the string out of his mouth which had been threaded through the needles. After a little over half of the string was pulled out he handed the end to an audience member who began to pull it. When the entire string was out of with his mouth Griffin gave a bow as the audience clapped.
At the Best of Humboldt Fair held at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds on Friday, Griffin said it is his first time coming to Eureka and he will be performing through the weekend today and Sunday.
During his show, Griffin challenged the audience to try to tie him up with rope so he cannot escape. He said if someone there tied a knot he can’t escape, he will pay them $1,000 and if someone builds something he can’t escape out of they will win $100,000.
On Friday afternoon, Griffin also broke out of a buckled straightjacket, ate and then regurgitated needles and thread, escaped what he said were Harry Houdini’s old handcuffs and got out of a heavily knotted piece of rope.
Griffin said he’s been escaping things since he was in high school, but his passion stemmed from watching cartoons when he was a child.
“You think something and believe something you can make it happen,” he said to the audience.
Kyler Windgarden, 13, waited for Griffin to finish his show. He said he wanted to show Griffin a knot he had just learned and show him his own trick using a quarter.
Kyler showed Griffin his right palm holding the quarter, he quickly placed his palms down and pulled them back up to show the quarter in his other hand.
“I just like that stuff,” Kyler said.
Jewell Klemp, a Humboldt State University sophomore, and Raven McAdams, a College of the Redwoods sophomore, also attended Griffin’s show at the fair. They said they arrived a little bit late, but really enjoyed the show.
“I liked how he had handcuffs from Houdini,” McAdams said.
Klemp held up her left hand which showed a smeared blue mark.
“I got my stamp licked off by a baby cow,” Klemp said.
Beyond his ability to escape different items and enclosures, Griffin said he collects artifacts and he said he asks people to buy any old handcuffs they have. He said just a few days before he bought an old pair of 1980s handcuffs in Eureka. Griffin said he loves performing at fairs big or small.
“I’ve seen prized goats and I’ve seen loser goats,” he said.
Griffin said his first ever show was in high school. He said he got the local post office to lend him a large postal bag which have federal locks which need a specific key to unlock.
“Every since I was little,” Griffin said. “I could just get out. Everyone has their thing.”
Griffin said he is probably the only traditional escape artist left. He said he spends a lot of time traveling all around and when he is done at the Redwood Acres Fair he said he will be off for more fairs in the Midwest and some private events he gets hired to perform or give inspirational speeches.
Sam Armanino may be reached at