How to turn plain paper into money? How to sawing the beautiful assistant in half? Signed card trick, Torn dollar bill restored and Levitating volunteer from the audience? Magic is awesome, don’t you agree? I know it’s not ‘real’ and that the magicians are tricking us, but it’s kind of fun to experience that “wow” sensation. It almost always leaves me wondering: “How did he do that?”
As exciting as magic can be, it gets a bit frustrating trying to figure it out. So let me ease your pain by revealing the secrets behind 10 common tricks:
1. Sawing the beautiful assistant in half.
This is probably one of the most common magic tricks and it’s a classic for a reason. It looks really cool! I mean the guy actually pretends to split someone in two and then she gets up and smiles as if nothing happened. I couldn’t believe it when I found out how simple this one is.
There are actually two women in two completely separate boxes pushed together. As you can see, these ladies have to be a bit flexible to fit into the small spaces and trick the audience into believing there’s only one person in there. The magician helps his lovely assistant into one box, leaving her head exposed; that part is clear to the audience. The trickery comes in when the second girl has to put her feet out the other end of the second box.
The timing has to be perfect so it actually looks like the legs of the first assistant. Now the magician can safely pretend to saw through the middle while it actually just slides down between the two boxes. Simple!
2. The hand through solid glass.
To do this trick, a magician needs a special-made screen that has a real solid mirror as well as two separated fake mirror panels. As the performer pushes his hand through the mirror, the two fake panels move forward and there is space for his hand to pass through.
His assistant then shifts the real mirror back in place before showing the audience a solid mirror. Now I get the special device and all that, but what about the street magicians that put their hand through solid glass panels of actual stores? Dynamo took jewelry from a locked glass case in a jewelry store.
Turns out, he made arrangements with the store ahead of time and a similar device with moving glass panels was installed. It’s unclear who moved these panels during the performance, perhaps a hidden assistant or secret buttons under his foot. Even if it’s only a trick, it’s still fun to watch.
3. Levitating volunteer from the audience.
This one really freaked me out as a kid. I was in sixth or seventh grade and a magician asked for a volunteer and chose a young girl from the front row who was eagerly raising her hand.
The next thing I knew she was floating! It didn’t look like an illusion when the magician used a solid hoop to prove there were no strings attached. I may have even felt a little traumatized.
Needless to say, it was comforting to find out she was lying on a board being held up by a metal rod that is cleverly disguised, in some cases it is hidden by the magician standing in front of it.
And the rod is made in a special shape to accommodate the hoop with a strange bend that makes it look like the hoop goes all the way around. Again, so simple! I’m starting to feel a little silly for falling for it in the first place.
4. Torn dollar bill restored.
Here, the audience is fooled into believing that a dollar bill is torn into pieces and restored by rubbing the pieces together. For this trick, the magician needs to do some preparation.
Two dollar bills are glued together with paper glue on only the edges of the bottom halves. The top halves are loose and if folded away from each other there should be a pocket created between the glued pieces. For the trick, one half is folded back away from the audience.
The front bill is then torn in half, and the torn piece is sometimes torn more than once to convince the audience that it is torn. The torn bits are then rubbed against the other half and slide into the pocket. The undamaged bill is then unfolded to reveal an undamaged note! How sneaky!
5. Floating man on the street.
It seems so real since it’s happening right there in public. You can actually test it yourself by putting a foot or hand under or over the man to find some sort of hidden support. Turns out, the staff he’s holding is the hidden support.
Similar to the iron rod used for the levitating girl on stage, the street floater is actually sitting on a hidden support structure connected to the staff he’s holding onto. This connection is hidden from the audience by loose long sleeves.
The ‘staff’ is also connected to a platform so he doesn’t have to balance the iron rod, which would have been a great trick too! So this way he can stay in a seemingly floating position for quite some time with minimum effort.
6. Turning plain paper into money.
If this were real I wouldn’t mind if it were my regular nine to five job. And on top of that it would probably be tax free. Is the IRS watching this? Nevermind guys. But it looks like I’ll have to stick with my current line of work for the time being.
Turns out, this trick is fairly easy if practiced a few times. It starts off by folding the bill into a small square and placing it in the palm of your hand. It shouldn’t be too obvious, which is why it takes some practice. For the performance, you take any piece of plain paper and light it on fire to distract the audience.
As it disintegrates, the plain paper is thrown down while at the same time bringing the note to your fingers where the burning paper was. And there you have it! Paper into money just like that. Too bad you need the money to do the trick. Please just be careful when trying this at home. Hey come to think of it, burning through money isn’t all that hard.
7. The levitating card.
This trick is simple enough to try without putting yourself or anyone else around you in harm’s way by playing with fire. The performer makes it seem like she can make the card float by using a magical force.
Actually, she simply places her index finger on top of the deck while using her pinky to move the card up. This way it seems as if the index finger is making the card move around with no effort. I am so trying this one at my next family event!
8. Signed card trick.
So this is the one where the trickster asks a member of the audience to sign a card, then he tears it up and it magically reappears in perfect condition. Here it is, the famous “slip of the hand” trick that creates the illusion of magic.
When the illusionist takes the signed card from the member of the audience, he changes it with one he had in his pocket or up his sleeves. Ooh, up his sleeves! I guess that’s not just a saying after all! The card that gets torn up is not the signed one, and the original signed card is secretly slipped back into the deck to wow the audience.
9. Disappearing box.
Mirrors have been used for a long time to fool audiences all over the world. The disappearing box makes it look like any object placed in the box can disappear and reappear with the flick of a wand!
The box is actually split in half by a diagonal double sided mirror. The reflection of the mirror allows the box to appear empty even when an object is placed inside.
This trick has a few different ways of being performed and a lot of magicians put their own spin on it with perhaps even more mirrors, or a bigger box that makes people vanish and return in front of our very eyes. The concept of mirrors still applies; it’s all about perspective.
10. Swords through someone in a basket.
Here it seems as if the magician in pushing swords through their assistant, who’s in a seemingly tiny basket. A drape is thrown over the assistant getting into the basket and with dramatic movements, she makes it look like she is squeezing herself in there with some difficulty.
Once inside, there’s actually plenty of room for her to maneuver around as the swords are pushed in around her. The magician starts by only putting the tip of the blade into the basket so the assistant can change her position and avoid being hurt. Some assistants are professional contortionist that can get their whole body into even smaller baskets which adds a little extra tension to the trick So, abracadabra, there you have it!
If you know of any secrets behind magic tricks, sound off in the comments! Revealing magic tricks probably takes some of the magic out of it, but luckily magicians still keep coming up with new, innovative ways to distort our perception and make us believe all over again! Or maybe it’s just me they get to fool over and over again.