updated 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST
Mark Mazzarella, 20, takes a last gulp of air before his brothers, Tony, 25 (left), and Tom, 22, stuff his 6'1", 150-pound frame into a 2'6"-by-1'9" tubular tank filled with about 50 gallons of water. He is wearing a straitjacket, and his feet are bound with chains. Less than three minutes later Mark bounces out of the container, dripping wet, to take a bow. The stunt incorporates three of Harry Houdini's greatest feats and explains why the New York Times calls Mazzarella "one of the best escapologists in the country." Mark, who still lives with his hairstylist father and his mother, a pharmacist's assistant, in Southington, Conn., got his start a decade ago when his brothers used to tie him up while playing cops and robbers. Trouble was, Mark wouldn't stay tied. Soon he was performing at local shows with Tom (now a cable TV salesman) and Tony (an insurance agent) as his assistants. In 1978 he entered the University of Hartford on an art scholarship but dropped out a year later to star in the American premiere of the opera Houdini at the Aspen Music Festival. Next February Mark will repeat his nonsinging role when Houdini opens in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, he has been opening for Sha Na Na. How come Mark's so magical? "Well." he winks, "some people say I dematerialize."