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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Arm Choppers (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Peter Marucci
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Bryan writes: "I do the death defying egg juggling, "if you think it isn't dangerous....drop a raw egg on your mom's carpet"."

That's a theological concept, as in when your mom says, "You'd better pray that it comes out!"
Smile
Jon Gallagher
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My oldest daughter (who is now 18 and does the illusion with me) could not watch her mother do the Zig Zag Lady for the longest time.

First time she saw it from the audience, she went absolutely bananas. She was in her teens before we taught her how to do it and made sure that she wouldn't tell all her friends.

That being said, I do use the French Arm Chopper in my anti-drug show for elementary schools, but ONLY for 4th grade and above. I always use the principal or the DARE officer in the school to do it and it's always rehearsed before the show.

Then I explain that this was safe for me to do because I know the secret, but what is dangerous is the first time they reach their hand out to try drugs or alcohol or tobacco. It's very effective, but I'd never do it for the younger audiences.
www.jongallagher.com

Hey! I'm finally a Dot Com!
Frank Tougas
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Why do magicians always think mutilation tricks are so cool? I agree with everyone who is against using such dangerous tricks in children's shows. Kids don't think the same as adults, they can be very concrete in their thought processes hence the plea, "Please don't kill my daddy."

I think the thing to remember is that we as adults are role models for children, they see us do something and they feel they have been given permision to emulate it. This can end up with the neighbors cat being stuffed into a box, or as one child told me when early on I made the mistake of using flash paper. "Hey man that looks like a dryer sheet." I sweated bullets all day until I got home and found that dryer sheets were not really combustable. They could have just as easily have been so and I'd be on a street corner now with a sign, "I'll do magic for food."

I was going to say, "I'll do tricks for food" but that would have been a whole 'nuther can o worms.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
mattg
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With disecto ( I know the secret) does it ruin, (make it look bad), the effect if you have to put a silk if the childs wrist is too small?
Dennis Michael
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No the disecto is not ruined with a scarf, however, the scarf would clearly get caught on the edge of the blade, I know I tried it.

The French arm chopper brings with it more comedy bits of business than the Disecto.
Dennis Michael
Leo B. Domapias
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The French Arm Chopper looks rugged and therefore more menacing and dangerous than Disecto, which looks like a toy.

So if you want the adults to bellyache with laughter and the 3-years old kids in the audience to cry, "Please don't cut off my Daddy's hand!", use the French Arm Chopper.

Personally, I believe arm chopper magic is relatively safe, both physically to the volunteer assistant and psychologically to the children in the audience. Children are exposed to more harmful influences at home than magicians performing the arm chopper. I’ve heard news of children shooting their classmates in school using their Daddy’s guns they found lying around the house. I still have to hear news of children chopping off their friends’ hands with a butcher’s knife, because they saw a magician perform the arm chopper. Smile

Ben Benjay
Manila, Philippines
Bilwonder
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If Disecto is used correctly, no one should get cut. There is supposed to be a "locking" device that holds the spectators wrist out of harms way. I have noticed some versions lacking this lock, perhaps so a "fatter" wrist could fit in (it does take a narrow wrist).

I have also found that this version is more effective if done SLOWLY, as if slicing throught thick baloney. Besides being more effective, it is SAFER, as you can make any adjustment if something is wrong.

As for preferences in choppers, I've had many and each fits a different style of performance. The French Arm Chopper takes up a lot more space, is more "angley," and requires more managment of the spectator, but I use it at repeat gigs.

The "classic" Choppers such as those from India work well and give a nice "slam" climax. I like the ones that open so you can remove and show the blade. It seems to set it apart from the ever popular "finger choppers" that I think most kids have had or seen (cheap plastic ones are given away in many party favors).

Those having trouble with the blade, I've had problems too at times. Be sure to push smoothly straight down and keep the spectators wrist at the top of the hole (you don't need to stick the whole arm in). I have also tapered the "slot" for the gimmick to guide it in better.

Disecto in many ways is safer if used correctly and has a unique "feel" and look in performance.

I hope this helps.
billswondershow.com
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
Mushu
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I had recounted my own Disecto scary moment in the following thread:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......7&12

It appears that I'm not the only one that has had misfortune with the Disecto. The hole is too big for the normal size wrist (i.e. won't work if you're drawing the blade down slowly), a hankerchief may get caught in the mechanism, and there's a risk of injury if the arm is big enough to fill the hole.

I have a French Arm Chopper and much prefer it to the Disecto. Almost everybody and their dog has seen the guillotine type choppers where the blade apparently goes through the wrist. The Disecto is pretty much the same effect, with a different look and a different mechanism, bust still basically the same effect.

When I pull out the French Arm Chopper, people roll their eyes - not another wrist-chopper trick. Imagine their surprise when they see the hand actually fall into the basket and a nice gleaming blade in the hole where the wrist should have been - and should still be.

Not that the FAC is not without any risk of injury. If your assistant isn't relaxed, there is a risk of scratching, or even bruising if you bring the blade down too hard.
Bilwonder
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I read your post Mushu and I hope you understand what I wrote above about keeping the wrist locked away from from blade. I was concerned to read that your problem happened when, as you say, "...To get that effect, you had to compromise on the fail-safe. " This is not a problem of the chopper.

When you say, "The hole is too big for the normal size wrist (i.e. won't work if you're drawing the blade down slowly)" It seems to indicate that your chopper is lacking the proper wrist lock, because the wrist lock will give needed cover to operate the blade slowly. I also noted you WANTED to graze the spectators arm for added effect of "feeling" the blade pass. This could be a good effect, but it is dangerous as you have found and is unnecessary.

Thank you for sharing this so we can prevent other such accidents.

As for anyone using Disecto or other types of choppers with children, I have found David Ginn has some good advice in his book "Magic and Monsters for Kids I Love" and "Professional Magic for Children." It should be much more funny than scary. After seeing this performed, they should not be inclined to try anything dangerous, anymore than trying to fly off the roof because you made someone levitate.
billswondershow.com
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
Harry Murphy
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I bought my Diesecto from Abbott’s in 1960 and it has been used fairly regularly since. I was a youngster myself and mainly performed for teenagers and younger. Never had a problem with kids crying or getting scared or psychologically traumatized back then. Maybe the kids were just tougher back then. I know that they (we) had less graphic movies and TV. Maybe we all just believed in magic a bit more. Who knows?

I have never had an accident with the prop. I find that performers who rush the performance of the trick tend to not take the care needed to insure proper working. This trick like a trick using slight of hand, is NOT self-working and can go wrong. It requires plenty of rehearsal and spectator management. It should not be done “out of the box”!

I perform Diesecto very slowly. My prop has the two holes (one above the arm hole and one below the arm hole) to put a carrot through. By going slowly and cutting the carrot the effect is greatly enhanced.

Further, the Diesecto has two “clamps” one to the front of the prop and one to the back of the prop. The clamps hold the arm in place and have a “window” behind the clamp so that the blade can be clearly seen as it passes through the spectator’s arm.

Let me say before the flaming begins that I don’t perform any danger trick for a kids show.

Diesecto does find itself at the odd club/bar venue. Get the right girl spectator to assist you and you can create a great deal of tension that gets a big laugh (tension release) at the end of the trick.

I also have a homemade French Arm Chopper. Mine is a very menacing and very heavy piece. I had the blade specially made of stainless steel and it looks like the real thing (it is the real thing). The piece is entirely flat black with some questionable dark stains around the armhole and the bottom of the bag. My FAC is very much larger than the commercial version. It only gets used a couple of times a year (due to size and weight). But it does get a very strong reaction.

I also have built a very deceptive penetration chopper. It is a solid blade with a single hole in the center. The blade is stainless steel. It is built along the line of Millers “Impossible Penetration” or the old “La Paloma” dove penetration trick.

I am surprised that Den did not mention his killer two-hole Deblin Wrist chopper. It is a very deceptive piece and plays very strong. Frankly, I like it and my one-hole penetration effect better than the FAC.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
DarryltheWizard
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I have used a Disecto chopper for 20 years without one incident or tear shed. If the child's wrist is very small, I have them make a fist, which covers up the angles quite well. I've even done this trick for 4 year olds at the parent's request. The kids loved it, but they all wanted their arms chopped off as well. These performers with the crying kids were perhaps too over dramatic or the kids were too wimpy. I normally perform this effect for kids 8 years and older and in forty years of performing, I've never had a kid shed a tear. On the other hand, I've had adults who chickened out at the last moment and ended up holding the fingers of the victim...., er, I mean helper.
Darryl the Wizard Smile
DarryltheWizard
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jlibby
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The only "danger" illusion I own is the Visible Sawing. And I don't use it all the time, but when I have used it at family shows, I have never, ever, had a problem with kids being traumatized. Of course, I play it for laughs, and if I owned an Arm Chopper or Disecto, I'd play it the same way.

Maybe it has to do with expectations and tradition. People expect a magician to be able to saw someone in half. They're slightly less likely to expect them to cut off someone's hand.

In any event, my advice to anyone wanting to do this kind of magic for kids would be to make it funny, don't make it dramatic or scary.

See ya!
Joe L.
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Mushu
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Bilwonder, thanks for your detailed posts.

I no longer have custody of my Disecto, but I do still have visitation rights. With pizza and Coke in hand, I paid a visit to my Disec... er, brother this evening.

The Disecto did not have the wrist-lock mechanism that you and others in this thread had mentioned, just a great big hole. In playing with it, I found that if the blade was in the completely safe zone, that the carrot holes would - well, let's just say that they would reveal more than just the blade if it were drawn down slowly as you had suggested.

By compromising on the failsafe, I meant that with most wrist-choppers, once you're in position to penetrate the wrist, the mechanism works automatically - not so with the Disecto.

*****

P.S. Here is the one I have:

http://www.daytonamagic.com/Stage%20Magic/STG39.htm#ARM CHOPPER (DISECTO STYLE)

Note the following text, and how it correlates to the pictures: "and visibly passes right through the hand. The passing of the blade can actually be seen through the hole in the frame."

This may be true for the Mak version, with the wrist-lock, but not for the imported version that they are showing here.
Clayton Cavaness
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I bought an Abott's disecto and had it scratch a childs arm. Let me tell ya, talk about teacher dirty looks. And rightly so. Boy did I feel bad.

I don't remember the details now on how it happened but I do remember grinding and sanding the end of the blade smooth to make certain it would never scratch again.
NJJ
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If there is a pattern of kid's getting hurt by an effect I would not buy it. I know people have used it for 20 years without problem but for those buying a new one which they have not tested over two decades, is it worth the risk.

Rich Marotta has adjusted his FAC on Dynamic Duos to make it look more real but its still a bit gaggy.

I really like the look of the new Tilford one advertised in the Café. http://www.tilfordillusions.com/HandChopperAD.html

The stocks have two holes for each hand and the hands are cuffed so the person can not escape. The blade is solid and has two holes in it so that when the blade comes down the stocks are remove around it and the hands are now trapped in the blade. Everything can be examined. I assume the method is the same as those little wooden ones.

It looks strong and has lots of comic possibilities. However, I have heard one to many Tilford horror stories to risk spending $699US on it.
houdini
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I have used my 6 foot french guillotine in numurous kids shows for yrs. Ages pre school to high school and have never had a problem with it. The kids know its magic and not real and they love seeing mom or dad or the group leader getting theier head chopped. I always use an adult for the chopper. I got this guillodtine when my kids were 3,5, and 1 yrs old. They all knew that 'daddy' did magic tricks and we sit around in the hotel room and chopped each others heads off for hours. If you present this illusion in a funny way the kids will have fun with it and not be scared. Its all in how you present it.
Jim. Thats me on the left,Everyone should know the other guy!
wacky wizard
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Blades and Kids!!!!!

And people worry about Diapers on the head
and saying Bum Poo and Wee!!!!
KyletheGreat
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I use Empires version of the disect as it is the nicest and largest version I have seen. I have gotten sooooo much use and reactions out of this prop.

The first time I used it was at a beauty pageant that I was hired to do magic during the intermission for. It was a full house (700 people) and I performed it as part of my comedy routine. IT TORE THE HOUSE DOWN! As soon as the pageant was over I was immediately booked for next years with twice the amount of performance time. The lady who booked me said the audience seemed to enjoy my comedy performance better than the pageant itself. I also found it extremely funny when I found out that I made a lady almost pee herself hehehe. I used Part of the routine David Ginn uses along with many things that I through in. It has become one of my favorite props since and was well worth the money I paid for it!

The guillotine is okay but it just looks kindof fishy to me. I would much rather watch, and or perform the disecto.
Kyle Jarrard
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chris mcbrien
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I want to know how often some of the magi's here actually do kid shows. Really. You may flame me, but I don't really care, in fact I rarely care what anyone thinks unless it's my wife, kids, clients or the kids I'm performing for.
That being said, and as a parent, I think there's enough violence in the world and on TV for kids to witness without seeing it played out on a stage. Heck, what if you had a child who's dad or mom had recently been killed in Iraq? What if the danger and potential-death aspect hit them with that in their minds? Or an amputation victim in the audience you could'nt quite see at first, but you get to meet later?
Be aware. It's good business. Besides, how many hundreds of tricks and illusions are out there for us to do that are "safe" and satisfy that "danger element"?
Personally, I actually really like the effect, done the right way it can bring down the house. Of course, I'll get flamed with people telling me they do it the "right way" and maybe I just don't know how to do it.
I try to view my shows from my client's perspective, so I just won't do it.
That being said, adult shows or carnival-fair gigs where the client does'nt care...I would still announce that those sensitive to it should leave (which of course can be a great drama-building thing to do for such a classic)...then go on with it.
I do like the disecto, it's very cool. I think with the right byplay it can be handled a little differently. Although I still would'nt do it for schools or libraries...
Just a thought.
Chris
KyletheGreat
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This is a really controversial topic and it has been argued on countless occasions.

I present the routine for laughs and not to scare anyone. It is presented as an invention (the all new kitchen utensil that cuts food but not skin)

I do Kidshows constantly as well as adult shows and enjoy my work graciously. I understand where you are comming from, but it is necessary to see a trick performed and the routine used with it before negatively talking about a certain prop.

Some people perform with these props as a safety routine to teach kids about sharp objects.

I have never had any problems with parents or kids and this trick. Presentation is the key. Not the prop. I never perform this effect at birthdays, only elementary school assemblies, churches, camps, and other large crowds.

I understand where you are comming from, some people just do not like the so-called "dangerous" tricks. There is always something that others don't like, such as card tricks, fire tricks, etc. It all depends on the presentation as to whether or not the audience will enjoy or hat it.
Kyle Jarrard
"Entertainment at its Best"

http://www.kylesmagic.com
http://www.hypnobilly.com
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