The trick: Sawing the lady in half. A woman is placed in a narrow box. The box is then sliced in half. The two sections are separated and the woman is still able to move her toes. The halves are then put back together and the woman emerges unharmed.
How it’s done: It’s a little known medical fact that the human body is held together through a complex system of magnets. By placing a sheet of de-magnetized metal through the mid-section, the upper and lower body pop right apart without harm.
The clue: Notice people in the front row. People with loose change, car keys or metallic fillings in their teeth may discover them whizzing through the air toward the bisected assistant. This is also how the assistant earns a living.
The trick: Escaping from the shackles. The magician is handcuffed or manacled, checked by the audience that he’s not carrying any sort of key or lockpick, disappears behind a curtain, and emerges free of the binds.
How it’s done: Magicians will frequently swallow a key and then, once behind the curtain, induce vomiting in order to retrieve it.
The clue: Listen carefully. Magicians frequently use their “magical words” to cover these regurgitations. Note this transcript from one of Houdini’s appearances.*Curtain drops.* As I say the magic words: Alacamondo, Prestigitore, abraca-Herrrrrgh. Herrrrrrrrgh. Herrrrr-BLLLLAAARRRRRRRGH!! (pause) BLLLLLAARRRRRGH!! Uh, uh, uh BLLLLAAARRRRRRRGH! Omigod, omigod, that burns so ba-. BLLLLLLAAARRRRRRGH! Oh, my nose. Okay, find the key find the key, don’t breathe in… Ugh… come on, it has to be in here… come onnnn… ugh, this is so disgusting. I think I’m gonna – BLLLLAAARRRRRGH. This is awful. There it is! Oh, sweet God, oh, thank the lord. *Curtain rises.* Ta-da! *
The trick: Guessing your card. The magician asks you to pick a card. You then place it back in the deck, and the magician shuffles it, then sorts through the deck. You tell him when to stops and – incredibly – it is your card that he stops at.
How it’s done: The key to this trick is simple preparation. The magician must sell his soul, via the dark arts, to one of any number of demons. Once this faustian bargain has been struck, the magician merely invokes his unholy power via a short incantation.
The clue: While shuffling, notice that the magician mutters quietly to himself. Shortly afterward, thick, black clouds of sulfur emerge from nowhere and the thundering laughter of evil echoes from the netherworld against a backdrop of the cacophonous lamentations of the damned. Then he picks your card. (Note: this is the only way to do this trick)
The trick: Pulling rabbits out of a hat. The magician presents an ordinary top hat, showing the audience that it is empty, and has a solid bottom. He then reaches in and removes a living rabbit.
How it’s done: Like most creatures, air and water make up about 95% of rabbits’ bodies. By carefully deflating and dehydrating a rabbit, it can be slipped in to the lining of any hat. The magician then need only pour a little water and some forced air into the hat and voila!
The clue: Notice magicians never get their heads wet before performing this trick. In the unlikely event that it does happen, you’ll observe that the magician’s hat suddenly gets very bulky and lumpy, and begins kicking and biting the magician’s head.
Next Time on Secrets of Magic: Revealed! – The “levitating man” trick. Could the secret to this classic illusion involve explosive charges hidden in the soles of one’s shoes?