Kristen Johnson

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Kristen Johnson
Occupationescape artist
Spouse(s)Kevin Ridgeway

Kristen Johnson is an escape artist who works with her husband magician Kevin Ridgeway under the names Living Illusions, Ridgeway & Johnson and Breathless. She was the featured magician on the cover of the June 2009 issue of the magicians' magazine The Linking Ring.

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born in Glens Falls, NY and grew up in Carmel, Indiana.[1] Her mother, Sunny Johnson, was also a performer, being best known as a clown although she also did magic.[2] Sunny, who was featured on the front cover of The Linking Ring magazine in March 2002, still lives in Carmel, where she owns a clowning supplies company.[3] Johnson began learning magic when she was a teenager and used it to earn money to help pay her way through college.[2]

Performing career[edit]

Johnson and her husband Kevin Ridgeway are Christians and, under the name Living Illusions, built up a reputation as performers specialising in faith based events. These included the Will Graham Celebration with evangelist Billy Graham's grandson in May 2008.[4] In 2007 they launched a full-length touring theater show under the name Breathless, which has played across the United States.

Johnson's signature escape is the Full View Water Torture Cell - in which she is chained up and locked inside a water filled tank from which she escapes in full view of the audience. The full view aspect differentiates it from Houdini's water torture cell escape, which required a curtain to be drawn to obscure him from the audience while he escaped.[5] She performed the original version of the stunt as part of the Worldwide Escape Artist's Relay in 2005, which was an attempt to set a world record for the largest number of escapes performed in a day.[6]

On October 29, 2006, during the 4th Annual International Escape Convention, Johnson was presented with The Masters Award by Thomas Blacke of Escape Masters magazine. She performed a new version of her Full view water cell, making her one of only two artists to have performed at the first four international escape artist conventions that had been held.[7]

Full View Water Torture Cell

Johnson's Water cell stunt requires her to hold her breath while she picks a series of locks that fasten chains and secure the lid of the cell. She averages 2 minutes and 48 seconds underwater on one breath, however she has occasionally taken up to 3 minutes and 18 seconds to free herself. The longest time she has ever held her breath is 5 minutes and 2 seconds. She ends her shows with this escape and has performed it as often as 30 times in ten days. She offers a $10,000 challenge to anyone who can prove that she takes a second breath, uses an underwater breathing apparatus or a key once she has dropped below the water. Wayne N. Kawamoto from About: magic has written: "Her escape was the most dramatic and involving that I have ever witnessed. Johnson set a high bar for the other performers that will be difficult to match."[8]


On January 16, 2009, while performing her Water Torture Cell escape during the halftime show of a basketball game featuring the Detroit Pistons versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, Johnson lost consciousness while attempting to open the top of the cell. She had to be quickly rescued by assistants. A week later successfully performed the at Ford Park Event Center in Beaumont, Texas. This was her 600th performance of the escape. [9]


  1. ^ "Famous Carmel Illusionist Returns Home". Current Publishing LLC. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-11.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Kristen Johnson". Archived from the original on 2010-09-10. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  3. ^ "Cover page". The Linking Ring. The International Brotherhood of Magicians. 82 (3). March 1977.
  4. ^ Fuller, Debbie (2006). "Living Illusion". Christian Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2007-04-21. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  5. ^ "Kristen Johnson's Full View WTC". Escape Artist Reference Library. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  6. ^ "Worldwide Escape Artist Relay, October 29, 2005". Dr Wilson's Memory Elixir. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  7. ^ For 2nd convention see "Cannon's Great Escapes". Archived from the original on 2007-06-27. Retrieved 2007-03-10. For 4th convention see Sholley, Diana (27 Sep 2006). "Escape artist convention to mesmerize in Ontario". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  8. ^ Kawamoto, Wayne. "Escape Artist Convention Unleashes in Ontario". Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  9. ^ Taylor, Bill (2008-08-08). "Houdini torture revived right before your eyes". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-08-11.

External links[edit]