Downtown lunchtime crowds yesterday were treated to the bizarre sight of local magician Wayne Alan suspended upside down from the eighth floor of Keith's Theater, recreating a famous Houdini straitjacket escape.

Alan made his escape, which actually took a little over two minutes, to honor the anniversary of the death of Harry Houdini, the great escape artist who died on Halloween in 1926. Houdini performed exactly the same escape in that very location in 1917.

Alan, 26, shackled in a straitjacket, was raised from the ground with rope and pulley. "I could see all those upside-down faces staring at me from the Treasury Building across the street, and then I started swaying toward the building," he said after the stunt.

"I was nervous, but I would do it again. I'm glad it's over," he admitted, adding that he hadn't eaten breakfast, but ran right over to his daughter's Halloween party after his escape and celebrated with popcorn ahdn Hi-C.

Alan, who majored in drama and marketing at the University of Maryland and has been interested in magic since the age of 9, says his first escape attempt was in the sixth grade."One of my teachers saw me reading a book on Houdini and locked me in a locker to see if I could escape. I was in there 2 1/2 hours before he chickened and let me out."

The straitjacket stunt is the first in a series of escapes he hopes to make, re-enacting some of Houdini's most famous feats. They are to be included in a film he is producing called "Houdini: The Life and Legend."

Alan has performed magic shows at the White House, the last time at the Carters' Easter Egg Roll. When he gave Amy Carter one of his "Wayne the Wizard Magic Sets."

how did he escape from that straitjacket yesterday? The first rule of a magician is never to reveal one's secrets.