I’ve got a big magic show next month at a performing arts center up north, and I will be pulling out some larger-stage new illusions, including a premiere of one I’ve never done before. It’s known as the Aerial Suspension, and it allows you to impossibly float a person in mid-air, defying the laws of physics.
This trick goes way back, first being written about from a performance in India in the 19th century. The first conjuror to present the illusion in Europe was Ching Lau Lauro, a variety performer with many skills. He would actually juggle balls as he was “sitting in the air upon nothing.” Soon after it started showing up in the shows of other magicians. The great French conjuror Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin (see my earlier blogs) did a “scientific” version that was a smash in Paris. At that time, everyone in the city was fascinated by a new drug called ether. Capitalizing on the moment, Robert-Houdin created a routine where he brought his young son on stage and had him breathe fumes from a bottle he said contained ether. He pronounced that the fumes could make a body lighter than air, and after his son fell asleep, he then suspended him on a pole. This routine brought the house down and was a huge success.
So what is my goal? I’ve seen suspensions done very cleverly, sometimes involving props as diverse as a guitar, a broomstick or a giant hair dryer. For myself, I would love to create a routine that’s never been done before. Hmmm, what to do? I’ve been honing and shaping some solid ideas on how to make these new illusions my own… now it’s about choosing the one that is the most practical, but still visually stunning!
I have a different challenge with another illusion I want to perform: the Zig-Zag Girl. Possibly one of the most famous illusions on earth, it was created by the brilliant magician Robert Harbin in the mid-1960s. A person is sawn not in two, but into thirds in a very clear and powerful way. The good news? It truly is a stunning trick, that even today leaves almost every audience blinking in disbelief. The bad news? Almost every magician and his brother seems to be performing it! So the task I have to take on here is: what can I bring to the table that will make my Zig-Zag really unique, that has my personal stamp on it?
I’ve been tossing around some concepts. The first is about altering the look of the trick so it still creates the same effect, but doesn’t look like every other Zig-Zag. The second idea is to change the way the trick is performed… discover a way to do the routine that isn’t being done by anyone else. It’s this area where I feel I’ll really be able to take off and create something, for the result will only be limited by my imagination.
Well, back to the workshop – and the rehearsal hall – to continue bringing these visions to reality. Hopefully I’ll have some new illusions to show you soon!