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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Decapitation Illusion by 'the Great Nicola' (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Lin_
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Hello. I am wonder about this illusion. It seems that this illusion could cut head and the upper body of assistant by big cutter, but there is no more information of it, even photo of it.

Where could I found of description of this illusion, and the why of this illusion is not used no longer? Any hints will appreciated.
Bill Hegbli
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I believe it is lost in history, not much written about him, and barely anything about his illusions. You will have to search the web, there is festival in his honor in Illinois in the city were he is buried, coming up this month or next. I don't believe there was ever a book about him, as you are talking about the late 1800's, and early 1900's at the start of Vaudeville.
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FrankFindley
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Quote:
On May 4, 2018, Lin_ wrote:
even photo of it.


There are the images from his posters. Very classic 'John the Baptist' illusion in style but with a medical costuming amd a comedy angle.

Image
FrankFindley
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Just did some checking. His large illusion act was lost when the ship it was on hit a mine. He later set up a smaller platform show but never recovered the glory of the previous show. The $100,000 loss he sustained in today's terms would be about $1.75 Million.

https://medium.com/@jeffrankin/british-m......dd3da93e
Dick Oslund
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Hi Frank!
At the risk of derailing this thread, I'm going to submit an anecdote that Jay Marshall told me, while we were enjoying a cup of coffee, one evening. I can't remember how the subject came up, but it may be of interest.

Jay was just starting out, living in NYC, in the very early '40s. His car had been broken into and Jay's brand new tuxedo had been stolen. He went to a magic club meeting that night, hoping to get a bit of sympathy. He arrived late, to find Nicola telling the group of the sinking of the ship carrying his illusion show, in the early days of World War II. Jay never mentioned his loss of his tux.
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FrankFindley
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Quote:
On May 4, 2018, Dick Oslund wrote:
Jay was just starting out, living in NYC, in the very early '40s. His car had been broken into and Jay's brand new tuxedo had been stolen. He went to a magic club meeting that night, hoping to get a bit of sympathy. He arrived late, to find Nicola telling the group of the sinking of the ship carrying his illusion show, in the early days of World War II. Jay never mentioned his loss of his tux.


WOW! And now we know why you kept your excellent show to just one case, Dick. You heard all the horror stories of loss acts! Smile

Hmmm... Maybe we could dig up some info on the Nicola decapitation in his home town. He wasnt shy about documenting his illusions:

http://media.liveauctiongroup.net/i/3105......4292D480
Blair Marshall
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David Charvet has released his notes/booklet that he produced for the above mentioned event.

Here is the link for it. I have not seen it (yet), should be hear this week.

http://www.charvetmagic.com/catalog/i33.html

Blair Marshall
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FrankFindley
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On May 5, 2018, Blair Marshall wrote:
David Charvet has released his notes/booklet that he produced for the above mentioned event.

Here is the link for it. I have not seen it (yet), should be hear this week.

http://www.charvetmagic.com/catalog/i33.html

Blair Marshall
"ShaZzam!"


Great!

Here is a poster just on decapitation. From note in it police and medical staff got to see it close up. From this one it looks like presentation was more like a girl without a middle illusion.

Image
Lin_
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On May 6, 2018, FrankFindley wrote:
Great!

Here is a poster just on decapitation. From note in it police and medical staff got to see it close up. From this one it looks like presentation was more like a girl without a middle illusion.


Thank you very much for find this poster. It makes me more intrigued. However, This proves that Nicola performed very powerful (and hard-to-reach) stage illusion.

And I would like to thank you all of comments.
Lin_
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I found of descpition of performance of 'seeing through a woman' of Great Nicola from the 'Around the World with the Great Nicola' in TLPP, which is now a part of lybrary.com. It confirms that the illusion is now early version of Girl without a middle version, and it seems that the posters are just exaggerated image. Thank you, again.

Quote:
After a giant "Three-card Monte" effect Nicola nears the end of his performance by presenting his unique "Seeing through a Woman." Although this effect has -- been attempted by some other stage magicians, Nicola is still the only magician who allows a legitimate committee from the audience to come up on the stage and sit behind the sentry box before the young lady is mutilated. When the vicious blades have been thrust through her neck and thighs, the doors are opened to show her head and feet but the middle section of her anatomy has disappeared. The back of this middle section is completely removed, and the committee is asked to "look right through the young woman" from the back. The young lady's torso is recovered and returned to her at the conclusion so that the committee returns to the audience relieved, but just as bewildered as those out front. - Around the World with the Great Nicola
Chad Sanborn
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I would have love to see this in person. As today, I don't know of any version of this that can be done with people looking from behind.
I wish a more accurate picture existed to give a hint as to its staging.
FrankFindley
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On page 24 of The Great Nicola booklet, it shows a picture of the girl without a middle under the title The Mystery of the Russian Prison. The apparatus including the large blade paddles on poles (also seen in posters)is laid out similarly to Blackstone Sr.'s apparatus. See here at 6:48: https://youtube.com/watch?v=DXdJ14Z73oA.

From the photo (which may be poor indicator), Nicola's approach looks somewhat less deceptive as an illusion. But obviously it was still quite successful with the audience.
Blair Marshall
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OK, so I did some sleuthing.

I checked out my book on Maurice Rooklyn as I knew he had a similar illusion in his show. There are photos in that book, it did require a stage trap and the girls face was covered as a toy soldier. The box was designed like a sentry box.

This triggered a memory of who created the Bodyless Woman that Rooklyn used, or a Girl without a Middle. I checked out the P.T.Selbit book (by Magicwords) and there were the same two photos. Selbit had created the illusion and sold it to Rooklyn.

It does not mention if Nicola purchased one of the units, but Nicola was a customer of Selbit, and purchased many effects from him for his show. So based on the poster photo, description of the effect and the above, if it was not from Selbit it may have been a close copy.

This is one of the illusions that influenced Thayer to create their one girl, no trap version of the illusion.

Blair Marshall
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Blair Marshall
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Chad, there is actually a version of the Girl without a Middle which can be done surrounded. I worked with Roy Huston and his illusion when he performed here in Montreal.

Blair
FrankFindley
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Quote:
On Jun 17, 2018, Blair Marshall wrote:
This triggered a memory of who created the Bodyless Woman that Rooklyn used, or a Girl without a Middle. I checked out the P.T.Selbit book (by Magicwords) and there were the same two photos. Selbit had created the illusion and sold it to Rooklyn.

It does not mention if Nicola purchased one of the units, but Nicola was a customer of Selbit, and purchased many effects from him for his show. So based on the poster photo, description of the effect and the above, if it was not from Selbit it may have been a close copy.


Ah, the plot thickens. There does seem to be some interaction between Nicola and Selbit as Nicola also did The Elastic Lady and the spike illusion both of which are attributed to Selbit. In fact in the below tribute they used the Nicola "living pin cushion" poster image:

Image
FrankFindley
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Interesting evolution of Selbit's illusion:

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Blair Marshall
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Actually I believe that is Selbit's illusion. Same design as in the Selbit and Rooklyn books.....a sentry box.

Blair Marshall
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FrankFindley
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Quote:
On Jun 20, 2018, Blair Marshall wrote:
Actually I believe that is Selbit's illusion. Same design as in the Selbit and Rooklyn books.....a sentry box.

Blair Marshall
"ShaZzam!"


Yes, that is Selbit demonstrating the original sentry version. I was just commenting on how quickly that illusion evolved. Nicola's appears to be a version between the Selbit origional and Owen/Thayer/Thurston improved variation.
Blair Marshall
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Gotcha!

Blair
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