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MarkTripp
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First, remember venue is the reality check. Just where are you going to perform these illusions. Second, well, lets look back on another conversation with the Foxy one…

I had made up my mind to buy a Lester Lake Guillotine. I had shopped around, decided on a builder, and went to Fox’s Den to get his last minute thoughts on the trick. Karrell listened, talked about the ones he had seen over the years, agreed on who the best builder was, then, when I was all set, he asked a VERY piercing question:

“Tripper, what laugh are you going to get from this $2000 prop that you aren’t getting now from your diesecto routine?”

Well, THAT sure killed the moment! Forced to think about it, I realized that the answer was, none! My money stayed in my pocket, and I learned a valuable lesson about the real world of magic.

To that end, let me suggest that the greatest book on illusions ever written is David Ginn’s “Professional Magic for Children”. I advise you to look very closely at his routines for the Stocks of Zanzibar, The Boy to Rabbit, Disecto, and Arrowhead. Those are ILLUSIONS folks, and they are illusions that you need no special staging and costuming for. You don’t even need a trained assistant! LONG before I added a trick that needed all sorts of special conditions, I would have those effects in my show.

One of the greatest bits I ever did in my illusion show, I am going to share with you now. You will have to work a bit on the concept, but I think the rewards will be worth the efforts.

First, look up the trick “The Farmer and the Witch” in either Tarbell or The Mark Wilson Course. Our version will be themed much differently, but you do need to know how the basic version of this trick is done.

You will need two “doctors” costumes. These will be white pull over long sleeve shirts and pants; tie on surgical masks and hoods, the outfit must cover enough of the child so you really don’t know who is who.

You need one “nurse” costume. This is exactly the same as the doctor’s outfit, but this is surgical green or blue.

A stethoscope

Some version of sawing a person from the audience in half. The simple saber sawing from mak magic would be fine; but if you have any other model it will work here.

OK, here we go! Get up three children, you must have one boy and one girl, the third child can be either sex, but they ALL must be about the same size. From here you set the bit that you need someone to assist back stage to dress our helpers for this effect, send off the extra child leaving the boy and the girl on stage. If you read the Farmer and the Witch routine, you should be following this fairly easily.

Tell the boy “You are going to be the Doctor, so go off stage and change into your doctors clothes!” Send him off, but in reality you have dressed the extra child as the doctor (white) and you are dressing the boy in the nurses costume (green/blue). When the doctor (actually the extra child) comes out, you say to the girl “You are going to be the nurse!” Send her off to change, but you will dress her in the second Doctor outfit. At this time you will send the boy, dressed as the nurse out, BUT you look at the doctor and say, “Where is your stethoscope?” “You need to go and get it!” Send them off and RIGHT AWAY send the girl out with the scope around her neck. They take the costume off the extra child and you set up the effect with: “Oh, and lets have a big round of applause for our wardrobe master”. The child comes back out, takes a bow, then you say “You know, it took a lot of patience for you to help dress two people back there. And that is just what we need now, a patient!

Perform the sawing effect with the extra child and the doctor and nurse assisting. When finished send the extra child back to their seat, then raise your hands for the showstopper:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it occurs to me that I might be misunderstood because I made the boy the doctor and the girl the nurse. I assure you that a great many boys make wonderful nurses, and many many girls grow up to be excellent doctors, in fact, if you look…..”

“This nurse IS a boy, and this doctor IS a girl”

Folks, if you did all of this right, the ROOF is going to fall in! This bit of performance magic works on so many levels there is no use trying to explain them all. I will PROMISE you that this kind of routine, done in this manner, is going to set you apart from all the duffers and monkey magicians out there. People are going to remember this, and you.


Along those lines, were I to add any big illusion to my show these days, it would be the Selbit Sawing. I would get the Steinmeyer works on both Jarrett and Selbit for the working. I really don’t think I would use the wonderful Wakeling version, for a reason I will now explain.

I love the fact that the Selbit looks like an old crate. There is nothing “magical” about the box. I would create a mock up of the trick so I knew EXACTLY what the size was for the girl; and then for EVERY show, I’d have someone else MAKE THE BOX!

This is like Houdini here folks! A challenge effect! Every High School wood shop can knock out the box. You supply the “glass” panels (actually pexli-glass), the ropes, and the trained girl.

I would stage this with ALL credit and attention going to the girl. I would costume her as a gymnast rather than a porn star, and really build this up, something like this:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now going to present an effect for you that at one time was the talk of the modern world! Sawing a woman in half. Hard as it may be to believe, when PT Selbit created this effect, people stood in line for hours just to see for themselves how such a thing could be possible. Tonight we are going to use NONE of the modern methods of electronics, and holographic images that the magician of today would use! No, we are going to present this effect EXACTLY as it was performed almost 100 years ago!”

“What I do need, is an exceptional and extraordinary young lady. We all realize there is no way to REALLY saw a person in half, but it sure is going to look like it! How? Because of the incredible talent of this woman who has spent YEARS in training to perform this illusion for all of you. So, let me present to you the illusion of sawing a woman in half, and introduce you to her now…”

That is it! All focus is on the girl, who when the effect is over is going to get a standing ovation if you did this right. YOU are going to get all sorts of credit for avoiding the horrible stereotypes that fill the world of magic.

Study this well my friends, for ONE of you may very well make a reputation beyond all who have gone before by understanding the point I have tried to make here…..
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