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OVERSEAS SUSPENSION

During World War II, Gene Pronk devised this version of the chair suspension which he used in his
many fine stage shows for servicemen overseas.
EFFECT

chair, when its not in use, should be positioned so that when the audience sees it they se the two front
legs with the chair back in the background.
Board A is about 4'A feet in length. B and BA slots are one inch long. Chairs to be used must have
straight backs, M and MA, must be the same length. F is positioned for catch if necessary. Indicated at
point G is the 2 inch cloth drape that hangs around three sides of the board. And the position of the
cloth covering over assistant and board is shown at point H. Point I is the hinge and J is the solid part of
the leg. The board end held upright by the assistant is shown at point K.

The magician, after displaying a plank and placing it against a chair back, requests a volunteer
from the audience.
The spectator assistant helps by holding one end of the plank while the magician places the other
end across the chair top. Another chair is brought forward and placed under the end of the board held
by spectator.
Now, the volunteer is asked to lie on the board. The performer covers him or her with a light
covering over the middle portion of the body. The covering extends over the board and just a bit below
chair seat level.
The magician places the volunteer under a "spell" - the chair on the left is removed -and the
volunteer and the board remain suspended in the air.

METHOD
Under the board, just about center, there are two mtal slots with enough space between them
to allow entry of (1) the back. (2) the fake portion of leg.
This board will need a drape extending about 2 inches around three of its sides.
How wide the slot is will dpend on the type of chair to be used. (The same chair must be used for
each performance).
The distance between the two slots on the board will be the actual space from the back of the chair
to the foremost front leg.
In the illustration, J is the faked leg and is one solid pice. Another pice the same width is hinged
at I, fitting snugly against J.
Place the hinge so it will allow the fake portion of the leg to swing upwards fitting into the groove
as K end of board is tilted upwards, slightly. With the board resting on the two supports, the chair back
and the fake extended upwards, there is enough support so that a catch to hold D, is not needed. The

86

HANDLING & PRESENTATION


Once the chairs are in position, the board placed on top and the volunteer is on the board, the
performer covers the assistant as indicated by N in the illustration, an inch or so below the chair seat.
Now, in order to swing up the fake portion of the leg, the performer must resort to some excuse for
bending to the floor. Any excuse will do, as long as it makes sens. One suggestion is having a lapel
flower drop "accidentally". Whatever, as the magician cornes up from the floor, the right hand swings
underneath the board and catches the fake portion of the leg and brings it upwards, fitting it
underneath the board but not into the slot.
Another assistant is asked to remove the chair from under K end of the board.
Simultaneously the performer, who has been putting the volunteer in a "trance", puts one hand
under the board, seemingly to assist the second assistant in removing his chair. In reality, the
magician's left hand catches the board as the chair is taken away and swings the fake leg portion into
the slot. The volunteer stays suspended in the air.

37

"ETHERIA" or
THE HUMAN AEROPLANE The quaint title suggests an
illusion from the early part of this century. EFFECT

a head can be added. The head can be carved from cork or eut from sponge rubber. Cover the head with
the same material as the body. A rubber latex mask of the girl's face can easily be created with modem
materials. The face must be as life-like as possible.
The girl cornes on stage dressed in tights. She is given a long gown with a hole in the top. This she
slips over her head and lets fall, FIG. 2A. The collar on the gown is turned up.

A young lady is hypnotized and placed on a divan. The magician commands her to rise and she floats
upwards a number of feet and is then transported right over the heads of the audience. The performer
passes a hoop over her and directs the floating girl back to the stage where her rigid body finally settles
in between two chairs. The magician helps her up, removes the spell, the girl smiles, and they both take a
bow.

An assistant now takes the gown and stretches it out, FIG. 2B. Grasping the end, the assistant walks
around the girl and winds the gown around her and fastens it, FIG. 2C.

METHOD

STAGING

There are two divans constructed on the LeRoy swivel panel principle. The floating body is really a
gas balloon or dirigible form. Since this was devised many years ago, then modem materials should be
substituted when constructing props.

The balloon fake is fastened to the revolving panel of the divan. The two divans are staged on a six
foot high platform opposite each other and angled (FIG. 5). The divan seats are constructed alike, each
has a revolving panel in the center of the seat. FIGS. 3 and 4 give dtails.

The gown portion at point "D" is allowed to trail. The balloon fake should be costumed exactly as the
girl.

FIG.

TH

F I G.

A-

''FRONT
AXIE
" BUTTON
WHICH HO LOS TRAP WHEN SET
FAKE UPHOliTBRY
RE AD BACK

THRBAD
COIL

SPRING

CONSTRUCTION OF BODY FORM


You will need a wooden form about the size of the human lady to be floated. Also some thin rubber
or oiled silk is necessary. Whatever material you use, fit patterns of it over the form and glue them
together to create a balloon shape of the human body. Fit the balloon with a top in order to connect a
gas tube. Affix a collar to the balloon so that

116

The type of stage used in this prsentation has a runner extension projecting out in parquet above
the heads of the audience and is 18 inches wide. On each side of the stage extension are two ropes 18
inches apart. The ropes have canvas between them and stretch from the top of the rear railing of
staging right to the flagstaff at the end of stage

117

%)

*
D
PRESENTATION POINTS

<
f
)

Magician introduces girl, and she puts on the gown; collar or hood is put in place and the gown is
wrapped about her.

Jktension. Study FIG. 5. The extension railing is 4 feet high. The canvasses are younted 2 feet from the
railing and 1 foot higher.
|. The inflated balloon has a thread attached to it at the hood or collar area. The thread runs along under
the canvas and through the flagstaff hoops at the end of the stage extension and then back to divan #2
and finally to a backstage assistant. The balloon
rm is stabilized by the threads. The magician can move the balloon to the left or right up and down by
pressing his hand against the thread. Normally the balloon form

Divan No. 1-A is moved forward slightly by two assistants who stand behind it.
"Etheria", the girl, is put into a trance and placed on divan 1-A. She rises in the air upon command
and, accompanied by performer, she floats over the stage extension. She then glides through the
flagstaff hoops and back to the stage to settle on divan 2-B. Once again, she rises, floats across the stage
and finally cornes to rest on two chairs, her head on one chair and feet on the other. The magician lifts
her up, revives her, and they bow.
REMAINING DETAILS
The girl is switched for the balloon form by the revolving panel on the first divan.
While the magician controls the fake "Etheria" above the audience, the girl escapes through the
rear of the divan, through the rear stage railing and curtain, and enters divan 2-B. She slips in through
a trap, positions herself face down and gets ready for the switch. When the performer returns the form
to the divan, the panel revolves and the balloon form is pulled inside.
In order for the real "Etheria" to float from there to the two chairs, two looped wires are used and
slipped on under her head and feet. Thse are manipulated from the Aies.

THE FLOATING MUMMY


Joseph Kemp

EFFECT
I

18
I

On the couch, or piano type bench, stands a young lady. The magician puts her into a trance. She is
slowly turned around and around as yards of mummy wrappings encircle her like a cocoon. She is then
carried forward, far downstage away from any backdrops, and placed on a small, low table. After covering

her with a large cloth the magician commands her to rise. Slowly and gently, her form rises and floats
in space.

18
I

The magician passes a hoop over her and urges her to rise higher. She floats ten, fifteen or twenty
feet high or higher, if desired. The performer controls her flight right out over the heads of the
audience!
After circling the ceiling of the theater the magician controls the flight of the lady back to the stage.
She floats down and sinks slowly back to the table. After being stood on her feet, the wrappings are eut
away to reveal her in person again.
METHOD
No holes through the stage floor are used here, no maze oi wires to the grids, no rod supports that
poke through back drapes. In fact, the illusion can be presented in a field under a blue sky and with no
backdrop.

PRESENTATION POINTS
Go through the pretense of casting a spell on the girl. Have her revolved slowly as the yards of
wrappings are applied. Leave enough room for her to breath easily. And ensure that the overlapping of
the cloth is the same as that on the gas filled balloon shape.
Have the table rolled on stage, place the girl on the couch and cover her with the large cloth. While
assistants are handling the cloth cover, you quickly snap the two straps over the girl and push the
release which will pivot the board. The girl then applies pressure on the two rels. Because of the gas
the balloon form will rise up and up. The ends of the two threads or lines are attached to light fish
hooks which can be

Two main pices of apparatus are required; the small table and the form that floats.
TABLE CONSTRUCTION
This works similarly to the LeRoy table method used for Asrah illusions. It is simply a framework
with four legs. The size will dpend on your assistant but 2 by 5Vz feet is a suggestion. The surface of
the table pivots at each end, as in illustrations. The dummy form is pre-set and out of sight underneath.
When a release is pressed the table top pivots on a spring, the girl is revolved and the form cornes to the
top.
The small table is designed in such a way that it appears thinner than it really is and fringe
material is attached around the edges. Black cloth underneath will conceal the 'belly' of the table.
Attach two straps that snap and unsnap on each side to hold the girl and form to the pivoting board. As
the large cloth is draped over the girl, the straps can be operated unseen.
CONSTRUCTION OF FORM
This is a large rubber or plastic balloon. When filled with oxygen or hlium, it maintains the shape
of the girl. Wrap this gas filled form in a long strip of mummy wrappings and attach it underneath the
pivot panel with the two straps and two threads. The threads go through holes in the underside of the
pivot board and then into two rels of the spring wind variety.
When the girl applies pressure on the rels, they will unreel, so to speak. When she releases the
pressure, they will wind the thread or lishline inside the rels. Place the rels on the bottom of the pivot
board so that the wrapped girl can easily apply pressure on them with her hands. Be sure to place the
cloth straps over the form before it is turned over into the underneath position.

121

U. F. GRANT'S PARLOUR ASRAH


LEVITATION

EFFECT
The girl assistant is placed on an ironing board across two chair seats. She is "magnetized" and
covered with a sheet.
The magician, by his very fingertips, floats the girl from the chairs, down into the audience and
back to the chairs.
METHOD
You will need:

(1) A light wood board about 60 inches long, 15 inches wide at the head and 10 inches wide at

the feet. Two pices of cardboard or lightwood eut in the shape of a girl's body. Thse are
hinged to the sides of the wood board and fold for easy packing. A pice of canvas is stretched
across the top of the form. This will prevent the shape from collapsing when its covered
with a sheet.

(2) 2 borrowed chairs.


(3) 1 ironing board.
(4) 2 sheets.
Place the ironing board on the seats of the two chairs. Cover the board with one of the sheets so that
the edges touch the floor. Behind the sheet, on the floor upstage, place the dummy form so it will remain
concealed as illustrated.
When you go to cover the girl with the sheet, she slips off the board and on to the floor. The drop
sheet on the board keeps her hidden. She picks up the dummy form and places it on the ironing board
with the feet pointing in the same direction as she was heading.
Once you cover the form with the sheet, get your fingers in contact with the wire projections. As you
lift your arms the form will appear to cling to your fingertips.
Now you may stroll right down into the audience with your "floating lady". To finish the
prsentation, return the form to the board, the girl makes the switch again and you pull off the sheet to
awaken the sleeping beauty.
You can, if desired, have the dummy form hooked up with threads and manipulated by offstage
assistants.
\

156

To avoid accidentai tipping of the panel, a stop can be made which consists of a pice of rod passing
through the table edge and just reaching the pivot panel. Affix a 1 inch dowel, 3 inches long and covered
with sandpaper, to the end of the rod.
To release the pivot panel, pull back on this rod with your legs. Attach 3 tooth brush I hooks to the side
of the panel that has no screw hook. Place two on the audience side and one on the other. The hooks will be
used to engage the wire form.
" PRESENTATION POINTS
Set the table at stage center. Once the lady is hypnotized and on the table, take the a folded sheet and
stand facing the audience behind the table at the center. Open the sheet, keeping the "T" stick on your
side. Drape the sheet in front of the table which covers the girl's movements. With your legs, pull the steel
rod. The assistant pivots into the table and the form cornes up under the sheet. The assistant sticks her
hand through } the slit and raises the form-about 18 inches. Your arms are hidden by the form and sheet at
this point, so engage the leg of the "T" stick into the hole in the 2x2 on the side of the ( form. Raise the
form above your head, pass the hoop over the "body", but always v maintain a hold on the sheet so that you
have full control of the form. 1
c By this time, the table has been wheeled out of sight. The assistant gets out of the c table, hooks the
spring held fish line to the screw hook and pivots the panel a half turn, putting tension on the spring.

|!

To avoid the panel from flipping over, she engages the steel rod. She then makes her (' way to the
front of the thtre.
(' The table is brought back on stage and the form sinks down on top. Now, you push the form slightly
forward so it will engage the two tooth brush hooks. As you straighten the sheet, remove the "T" stick
and leave it hanging in the pocket of the sheet and also
tl turn and engage the third tooth brush hook into the form.

U. F. GRANT'S
CASKET ASRAH

It seems as though Mr. Grant has an endless supply of novel ideas. This startling illusion, being a
two person prsentation, needs no off stage assistants.

EFFECT
Three boards rest on the seats of two chairs. On the boards is a casket, really a topless and
bottomless box with openings or slats in the front.
>

The magician lifts up the "casket" so the girl can lie on the boards. The casket is replaced and the
audience can see the girl through the front openings of the box.
Now the performer places a large cloth over the casket. As he gestures, the body under the cloth
slowly begins to rise. The audience can see that the casket is empty. The magician gestures again with
his hands and the floating form rises to his fingertips. He walks into the audience with the floating girl
clinging to his fingertips mysteriously. After he returns to the stage the form floats over the casket even
after he removes his hand. He grabs the covering cloth, tosses it into the air - the girl has vanished.
METHOD

As with many of U.F. Grant's brainwaves, this one is simple and easy to construct. The drawing
shows the casket, boards and chairs (FIG. 1).

Clap your hands - there's no response. Lift the sheet and look under but do not reveal the form. Look
at the audience in amazement as you pull the steel rod with your " leg which allows the panel to pivot
under spring tension. P

The second sketch, FIG. 2, is a cut-away view with the wire form resting on ledges at the casket
ends. Two V shaped pices of strong wire are attached to the form at the top.

The form enters the table and you,whip the sheet away to show it empty as the girl makes her entrance
down the aisle shooting a gun.

In FIG. 3, an end view, you can see a black cloth roller blind attached to the inside front edge of the
casket, and the form resting in its place.
The interior of the casket and the wire form are painted dead black. If the girl wears a long white
dress, it will contrast nicely with the black interior.
The cloth, or sheet, must be large enough to corne to the bottom of the casket when it is covered.
After the girl is in position on the board the topless, bottomless casket is placed over her.

160

As soon as you throw the cloth over the casket the girl pulls down the black blind roller and puts
her hands at points X and Y and very slowly pushes the wire form upwards. The bottom edge of the
cloth should go no higher than the top of the casket. The audience will now be able to see into the
casket through the slots. They will see nothing for it appears empty with the black roller blind down.
Now, make some passes over the shrouded form and with the fingers, get hold of the "V" shaped
wires through the sheet. Keep the hands flat with the palms down. At the same time the girl lets go of
the form and pulls her arms back into the casket.
It is possible now for you to stroll through the audience, the floating girl clinging magically to your
fingertips.
When you bring the form back on stage and over the casket, be sure the bottom edge of the cloth
hangs just a bit below the casket top.
The girl helps you by supporting the form as you remove your hands.
For the climax, take hold of the cloth and toss it into the air. As you perform thi? move the girl pulls
the form down to its resting position in the casket.
And, the floating lady appears to vanish into thin air.

10

THURSTON'S PATTER & PRESENTATION


for
"THE DREAM OF PRINCESS KARNAC"
In his workbooks, now owned by Milbourne Christopher, Thurston had thirty-seven detailed photos
of the lvitation apparatus and thirty-two pages devoted to the illusion he inherited from Kellar.
Here is one of his earlier prsentations of the"Princess Karnac'.'

"On the seventh day of the seventh month in AUahabad, in Agra and Delhi, a High Priest
in the Temples of Love places a young lady in the air just as I shall place this young lady in
the air. Then lovers, lovers from ail over the country who are not satisfied with their love
affairs, who would like some mystic spell cast over the one they lave or the one who loves them,
gather into thse temples for the blessings of the High Priests.
"We have brought with us from AUahabad, by spcial arrangement with the British
Government, a High Priest from the Temples of Love. Hitherow, Abdul, Hitherow. (Abdul
enters from second left entrance.)"
"Speak, Abdul, speak as you spoke in the Temples of Love in AUahabad, and around you
and this young lady I cast a mystic speU, Speak." (Abdul makes a speech and kneels down.)"
"Rise, Fernando, rise. In the name of the Yogi and the wise men of the Orient, I command
you to rise. Safely, securely, rise Fernando, rise." (Abdulmakes short speech. Iwalk under
Fernanda and pointing to her say - ) "Rest, Fernando, rest. With nothing above, nothing below,
rest." (Then usual taie on Lvitation, passing hoop around and then out to the audience.)"
"For more than ten years I have presented this marvel in the public and I have learned that
a great many people believe that the young lady is held in place by means of wires, that wires
are holding her up there, or that electro magne ts are holding her or that she is a dummy
figure inflated. None of that is true. This is such a strange weird wonderful affair and I am so
anxious to convince you that she actually floats in space without any support that this evening

.11

I shall ask on the stage a number of ladies and gentlemen. Anyone may
corne. Lawyers, doctors, scientists, students, those interested in the occult
or mysterious. Corne right down the aisle and on the stage. Corne as
quietly as you can please. Start right away for in a few moments there will
be so many coming, you can't corne." (Committee on stage).
"Now if I can convince thse gentlemen that this young lady actually floats in
space with nothing above and nothing below, that she rests in air like a balloon,
does it not resemble a miracle? I ask you? If we drop a feather from our fingers no
known power will prevent that feather from eventuaUy coming to the ground. This
young lady weighs more than a hundred pounds and she could remain there as
long as the mystic spell is over her.
"Now, if I can do one wonderful thing, why not another? I say this for the reason
that the old High Priest in AUahabad with whom I spent three years in study in the
mountains, said to me 'Thurston Sahib, keep it asecret for ten years and remain
true to the faith, mind, I say true to the faith and you shaU have the Surakabaja
blessingl Surakabaja means, among other things, that those who love shall be loved.
That anyone touching the mystic ring placed on the finger of the young lady by the
old High Priest in AUahabad and mentioning the name of the one they love and
saying 'I love you' as I say Surakabaja three times, and that persan will love you
and you wiU love them as long as you live. It is true in India, true here.
"Give me your hand, sir (Man walks to me). What is the name, the first name of
the young lady you love? Don't laugh. We are ail in love, everyone of us, whether we
love our wives, our husbands or our sweethearts. Corne sir, what is her first name?
Alice. The young man will step forward, touch the mystic ring, raise his right hand
and say Alice, I love you' as I say Surakabaja three times and Alice will love him
and they wiU love each other as long as they live. True in India, true here. (lead
man to the ring.)
"The ring, sir, placed on her finger by the old High Priest in AUahabad. The ring
of love, the ring of life, the ring of luck, the ring of health. Touch it gently. Touch it.
Now place your hand above her, below her. Raise your right hand in the air. I want
you to walk around her. Look up, look below, look everywhere. Now face the
audience, raise your right hand in the air and say as loud as you can Alice, I love
you' as I say Surakabaja, Surakabaja, Surakabaja. Give my regards to Alice. (Man
takes his position at side of stage.)

"Now this concerns everyone in the audience, so hear what I say. As the next
person touches the ring, mises his right hand in the air and mentions the name of
the one they lave and says I lave you, then everyone in the audience who are in lave,
and we are ail in love, every one of us whether we love our wives our husbands or
our sweethearts, mention earnestly the name of the one they love and they just say to
themselves 'I love you' then that person will lave you and you will love them as long
as you live. True in India, true here. Give me your hand sir (Repeat the action of the
first man with the second). ( When man mises his hand in the air I say) Hear me,
hear me, each of you, I bring to you now the love blessing from India. Now is the
chance to cause the one you love to love you. Seal your love for eternity by
mentioning the name of the one you love, when I say Surakabaja, Surakabaja,
Surakabaja {Mon takes his place).
"Now if you gentlemen have any idea or explanation as to how the young lady is
kept in space, I ask you to explain it to the audience, and if you would like to
examine it further you may do so, I say this with the knowledge that you cannot, not
unless you have lived in India and understand the Yogi philosophy. (Have the
committee walk to left side of stage and say-) Abdul, Abdul, Hitherow Speak, Abdul
speaks and gives your love blessing to ail those who have gazed upon this wonderful
sight. (Girl is lawered and brought to life while abdul speaks. Girl remains on
stage and I say )
"For more than twenty years I have searched this world in every civiUzed
country and most unciviUzed countries laoking for mystery for I have learned by
exprience that the American public demands of a magician mystery bordering on
the supernatural We have searched diligently. Been blessed by the old High Priest in
AUahabad and now, ladies and gentlemen, cornes the hour of my ambition, to
prsent to you a miracle or what resembles a miracle right in the center of this stage
surrounded by thse gentlemen on aU sides and challenge them to discover any
dception.
"AUow me to prsent Fernando. Many of you have read of Fernando. She has
been the subject of the discussion in scientific circles for seveml years. No one knows
the secret. Born of Italian parents, raised in The Temple of Love in India and the
only white woman ever permiteed to leave those temples with a knowledge of the
Yogi power. Corne, Fernando, Corne. {Fernando walks over tmp.)
"Rest Fernando. Dream Fernando. Sleep Fernando. Dream of the banks of the
Ganges. Of the wise men of the Orient. Rest, Fernando.

(Try to put her to sleep. Step behind her expecting her to faU She stands still. Shake
her gently by the shoulder. She looks in the audience and nods her head.) A very
sensitive young lady. A wonderful psych. She can scent your very mental conditions.
She says there is a disturbing influence in the audience. Someone is thinking to
themselves and probably saying, 'That's one of Thurston's tricks. Nothing
supernatural about it. We would be amazed if you did. But there is something
mighty stmnge and mysterious about it and I want you to watch carefuUy and
clasely. (Bring two men from committee and stand them in front of Fernando). Now
gentlemen I ask you to watch carefuUy and clasely. Try to discover, if you can,
anything that looks like dception or illusion and if you do, mise your right hand
and stop the performance and l'U give you $1,000 and I'm going to prsent a miracle
right in the center of the stage. Fernando sleep, sleep Fernando. By the power of my
right hand, I command you to rest and sleep. (Fernando faUs back, caught by two
assistants and is raised over tmp.)
"Rest Fernando. Dream of the banks of the Ganges, and sleep Fernando, sleep.
Watch Fernanda's face, gentlemen, watch her face. (They lower Fernando to my right
knee over tmp. Two boys carry wire dummy covered with cloth and hung behind
sheet from left second entmnce and in the act of bwering the cloth over Fernando she
slips down through the tmp. The tmp is quickly closed while I am saying-] Rest,
Fernando, rest, while your spirit flies out over the mountains and seas and back to
the Temples of Love in India. Dream of the banks of the Ganges, of the wise men of
the Orient.
"Rest. Rest (By this time Fernando has gone under stage and I have taken the
form of the dummy. Two boys with the sheet raise the dummy and start moving
downstage. I mise the front of the sheet so as to see her sash and say to one of the
men-) Give me your hand, sir. I want you to see that she is breathing naturaUy.
Carefui, don't disturb her. She is halfdead, halfalive. (Take man's hand and place it
on form of dummy over my hand. I say to the committee-) Gentlemen, I want you to
form a human circle around the young lady. Take hold of one and walk right around
coming a complte circle. (I go in the circle and
say-) Now gentlemen, whatever may happen to you............................whatever you
may see or feel or hear, I ask you in the name of the High Priest, and for your
own safety and the safety of the young lady hold tightly to each other's hands and do
not break the mystic circle and watch, watch.
(Before this, and as the boys carry the dummy down stage, an assistant brings out
from second left entmnce a platform which covers the tmp. Abdul mounts the
platform with burning incense. I turn to the

12

14

185

BLACKSTONE
and the
MASKELYNE-KELLAR LEVITATION

Not very much has been written about the Blackstone show or the lvitation he presented. I
understand someone is now in the process of putting together a book on the great magician. This is
good news, for Blackstone must have been a remarkable person. He was certainly an incredible
showman and it was during the early 1950's that I was fortunate enough to see his show in Montral. I
remember the lvitation scne as being highly charged with mystery and excitement.
George Johnstone, one of Blackstone's assistants and now a topflight entertainer, wrote of his
personal exprience with the Blackstone show and the lvitation some years back in the Linking Ring
magazine. According to the article, when Blackstone first received the illusion it was packed into about
fourteen heavy trunks. Blackstone performed the beautiful lvitation for the first time in San Diego,
California. The illusion became the wizard's great pride and joy.
In time, the apparatus was packed into eight trunks but the weight remained the same. And it was
the weight that caused stage hands to curse the lvitation.
Once set up, as shown in the excellent illustration, the wires did not run up and down like the
vertical striped cloth that acted as the backdrop. Rather, the wires spread up from the cradle and
fanned out to form a "V". No matter how excellent the lighting, there always existed a blurry film just
above the gimmick.
The main problem was to keep the reflection of the wires from bouncing into the audience. This was
done by using a spcial blue gelatin in the lights that angled in from the sides.
One very unpleasant duty was to oxidize the wires with some kind of formula that contained
tincture of liver. This ritual, apparently, would stink up the thtre like nothing on earth!
To everyone's relief, it was finally discovered that a gun bluing solution could do the job just as well.
To set up and hang the lvitation took about three or four hours. This was a filthy and very
dangerous opration. George Johnstone mentions that there were a few very close calls with things like
pipes falling and so on, but fortunately no one was hurt.
audience and holding the
something now, ladies and
hands of two men in the
gentlemen, that you will
circle, say -) In ail our
remember as long as you live.
lives from our childhood,
If anyone should describe to
there are certain events
you and tell you what you
that stand out in our
have seen here this evening
minds that we cannot
unless you had seen it with
forget. I am to show you
your own eye, you could not

believe it. For it cannot be


performed except in the
mystic circle. Join the
mystic circle. (I place the
hands of the men together
and step inside of the
circle and say -) Now
gentlemen, here me while
I talk. You are ail
strangers to me and I
want
you
to
watch
carefuUy and clasely and
learn
if
you
can,
something of the strange
power that surrounds this
stage. See what becomes
of the young lady. Watch,
watch, I say, and if you
discover any secret I will
give you one thousand
dollars. You sir, at her
head, and you at her feet,
and you in the circle.
Look, look below, look
everywhere. Behold a
miracle.
Surakabaja,
Surakabaja,
Abdul,
Fernando, Allah, Allah,
G0\ {I grab the sheet and
coUapse the dummy and
throw it to an assistant
who rushes off the stage
with it. Then face the
audience with my hands
in the air with a dramatic
pose )
"{Just before the last
speech I have had one
man place his hand on
the head of the dummy
and one man his hand on
the feet.)"

B
L
A
C
K
S
T
O
N
E
a
n
d
t

h
e
MASKELY
NEKELLAR
LEVITATI
ON

"It was, without a


doubt, the most beautiful
and mysterious effect in
magie, but personally, I
always felt that if any
magician could afford it
or wanted to take on aU
the work and grief
connected
with
the
KeUar lvitation, he was
welcome to it. In fact, I
do not believe there was
another
magie
show
then, big or smaU,
equipped weU enough or
staffed enough to prsent
it. Today neither, in
America nor anywhere in
the worldl We've had it\
And great is the pity, for
that
was
MAGICl
MAGIC in the grand
traditionl"

- GEO

Th
stage
respon
arrived
years b
If there were any serious problems, like a concrte stage floor that would not allow a trap, then the
equipment, as shown in the second illustration, was used.
Apparently, this was an invention of Blackstone's. The steel framework was clumsy, heavy and very
awkward to handle. It worked, of course, as a counterweight.
The winch was operated by hand in the left wing. It was securely fastened down to the stage floor
with three one inch bolts. The person operating the winch would be in direct line with the floating girl
and therefore could tell, by Blackstone's gestures onstage, just when to roll the winch up and down to
float the lady.

If performing an ASRAH illusion, a sheet containing a collapsible form can be used. The couch is set
in front of the archway and assistants cover the girl who is on the couch. As the sheet is brought up, the
girl is masked as she rolls off the couch and exits through the archway.
Attached to the form is a thread hookup as in the above illustration.
The form "floats" about 6 feet in the air and can move sideways.
To climax the illusion, the magician holds a corner of the sheet, pulls down, the form collapses and
the thread breaks. The girl has vanished and the sheet is tossed to an assistant.
LEVITATION OF BALL
ORANGE OR WOMAN

Ideas by SLYGO

The gentleman who called himself Slygo many years ago had thse ideas printed in a 1910 magie
magazine. Using three threads to levitate objects was an idea Slygo felt was new and original at the
time.
Get hold of a small bail or orange. After threading a strong needle put it through, let's say the
orange, so it cornes out an inch from where it entered. Take another thread and tie the end to the loop
near the needle's eye, and remove the needle - that is, pull it back through the hole and slip it off the
thread.

18

LOOP
THREAD

OF
il

FIG.

FIG.2 v

20

A-CUPHOOK

(MAIL UIDINCIBAD WEICHT


X- ilE
WAL L

Place a solid ring (wooden bracelet, plastic bangle) on one thread. The end of this thread A, in FIG.
1 and another B, are held by an assistant offstage in the wings. Another assistant in the wings on the
other side of the stage holds the other thread, C.
The 'orange can be lifted or lowered as the assistants manipulate threads B and C. With thread A
slack, the ring can stay on the table until needed.
Now, to pass the hoop or ring over the orange, tighten thread A and slacken thread B, as shown in
illustrations. The ring and orange can be handed out for examination. Thread C is dropped, threads are
pulled clear of the orange and ring by the other assistant. Also, the ring could be handed out while the
orange is still floating, by dropping thread A.

22

210

Hr Connected to this rod is a pivot arm which can swing down. Fold the cloth in half, jQl

it and put it
in one side of the shopping bag. Place the stool in the bag and you are ^pdy to prsent the illusion.

TOP R O D
HIN
GE
y\LLL
P I VO T ARM

*ID V IEW

......4' C LO T H
BANNBR

211
Enter with the bag, set it on the floor, remove the stool and place it to one side of the bag as in FIG. 2.
Now take out the cloth and keeping the rod and pivot stick to the rear, unfold it. Move the pivot arm down
as shown. Step up on the stool and hold the cloth in front of you so that you are entirely hidden. Grab hold
of the pivot arm, this supports the cloth which also covers the top of the bag, and step right into the
shopping bag.

FI
G.I

6'

41 #

FI
G, 3
FIG, 2

Now,
slowly
raise the
cloth with
the pivot
arm. The
bottom
edge of the
cloth
should be
above the
stool top.
Do
not
raise the
cloth
above the
shopping

bag top. FIG. B indicates


what the audience sees.

You can, if you wish, put


on an ornamented turban just
before your prsentation. The
ornament could be a splay of
feathers and this could be
affixed to the top rod on the
cloth as in FIG. 2. Roll the top
back so that the ornament is
hidden as shown in FIG. 3.
Now, raise the cloth just a foot
over your head. Then lower it
so that the top is immediately
above your head and give the

top a twist
Once you have
to reveal"floated"
up
the
behind the cloth,
ornament. and the spectators
It
will see the stool top
always bebelow the cloth,
in view asthen lower the
the cloth cloth very slowly.
rises
As the cloth covers
which will the stool top, you
give
the step out of the bag
illusion
and stand on the
that youstool then lower
are behindthe cloth.
the cloth.

Other additions, if you want, could be a pair of shoes hanging from the cloth bottom, fake rubber
hands on the top of the cloth, etc. They might add to the illusion but are not really necessary.

EDITOR'S NOTE
The illusion should work well without the addition of false feet, hands, etc. The turban ornament
is a nice touch. Another idea might be the use of a hair or wig pice the color to match your hair.
The shopping bag, I would like to suggest, could be a double one. One bag glued inside the other to
reinforce it so that it would keep a stiffish shape.
There would be less movement from the bag when you stepped inside. It's important that the
shopping bag does not move at ail, when you step inside.

24

E. N. DRANSFIELD'S "THE
LIMIT LEVITATION"

costume, steps back in his place. The magician then slips under the sheet just as the front edge of it
touches the stage.
The exchange is completed. The climax is dramatic as the sheet is whipped off, the revolver fired,
the girl throws off her robe and the magician bounds up from the floor to acknowledge the applause.

This entertaining illusion skit was printed in 1914 with the subtitle of "A Stage Illusion for Half-aCrown."

EFFECT

Meanwhile, the magician puts on the monk's robe costume and moves to the wings or screen, to get his
revolver. As he does this the girl, who has donned an identical

The magician patters about the legendary lvitation of the coffin of Mahomet. His young lady assistant
is "hypnotized" and placed on a board resting between two chairs and covered with a sheet. Some candies
are lit and placed around the "coffin".
AH of a sudden - the chairs move away from the girl, the board drops to the floor and she remains
suspended.
The magician dons a monk's robe and to music and some magical passes, he causes the girl to rise up in
the air and then descend to the floor.
The sheet is whipped away and there is the magician - the hooded monk turns out to be the girl
assistant!
METHOD
The two chairs have strong threads attached to them and thse run along the floor to the wings to be
operated by assistants.
A number of stiff wire cross-pieces are sewn to the sheet that covers the girl. The cross-pieces represent
the girl's body outline of shoulders, hips, knees and feet. A toy mask will do to simulate the head shape.
Two strong threads are attached to the top of the mask. Thse run through the screw-eyes fixed in the
wings and set about a foot apart. The other end of the dummy form is supported by the same set-up.
To ensure the illusion is smooth, the threads should pull up the wire shape clear of the girl just after
she is covered with the sheet. This will allow her freedom to get out from under and escape through the
back curtain or screen.

U. F. Grant's UNCANNY SELFLEVITATION


If you are looking for an amusing and perplexing little illusion that can be performed just about
anywhere or anytime, then this inexpensive and portable item should fit the bill quite delightfully.
EFFECT
Wherever this is performed, a club room, office, or living room, you corne in carrying a shopping bag
which contains two props; a low stool which you place on the floor, and a large cloth.
You then stand on the stool and hold the cloth up in front of you. Suddenly, the audience notices the
cloth beginning to rise. Soon the bottom edge of the cloth rises above the stool top and it appears that you
are no longer there. Since you aren't standing on the stool then it is quite obvious that you have selflevitated yourself and are now floating behind the cloth. Slowly the cloth cornes down and once more, the
audience sees you standing on the stool.
METHOD
You will need: - a large shopping bag
a short stool about 8 inches high
a specially prepared large cloth

FIG. 1 shows how the cloth is prepared. The material is 6 feet long and 4 feet wide. A wooden rod, 1x2
inch lumber, hinged at the center so it will fold in half, is attached t< the top of the cloth at the back.

226

227

26

THE FLOATING MAGICIAN an idea


by Hen Fetsch
As an inventor and innovator,"Hen" Fetsch was one of the finest in modem magie. Here is an
outstanding example of his originality.
EFFECT
The prsentation begins with the magician flanked by two masked and robed assistants. The
wizard explains the process of self-hypnosis, etc.

Now the magician very dramatically announces that his body is now in the unusual process of
losing substance.
Suddenly, the second assistant whips off the cloth covering - the magician has vanished - and just
as suddenly, the assistant flings the cloth away and strips off his mask and robe to reveal... .the
magician 1
METHOD
Needed is an ASRAH table and a wire body form.

As he delivers this patter into a microphone, he physically demonstrates what he means as he talks
about muscles getting rigid, for his body stiffens. He then announces that he will describe his feelings as
he makes his body lose weight.

As he is covered, the magician slips into the table. The wire form, with threads attached, is caused
to rise upwards. In place of threads, a supporting rod could project through the back drapes.
However, there is the problem of the performer's voice. So, as he is covered, a tape recorder
backstage continues the voice through an offstage mike and this is fed through the same amplifier used
for the stage mike.

Suddenly he falls back, to be caught by the assistants and they lift him and place his stiff body on a
table. An assistant holds the mike close to the magician's mouth as he explains that it is necessary to
have complte darkness in order to concentrate. He is completely covered with a cloth and he explains
that he is losing weight so quickly that in no time he will be lighter than air, indeed, he will soon float in
space.

And the switch - well, as number two assistant pushes the table offstage, the magician slips out of
the table once they are out of view. The assistant strips out of his costume and mask and helps the
magician don the items.

Mysteriously, the covered body begins to rise. As one assistant pushes the table offstage, the other
holds the mike close to the covered head.
As he floats upwards, the performer goes on to explain about the unusual sensations he feels. He is
high enough now so that the assistant must stretch his arm to place the mike near enough.

230

At this point the audience attention is on the floating form. The second assistant, really the
magician, cornes back on and takes a firm hold on the cloth before the form vanishes.
The illusion is finished and when the cloth is thrown aside the performer reveals his identity.
There are two exciting things happening - first, it is the magician who floats rather then the
customary assistant. And second, when the illusion seems over, there is a surprise climax.

27

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
PART SIX : CHRONOLOGY
Chronology by S.H. Sharpe ......................................................................................................

245

PART SEVEN : SOURCE-ERY


Bibliography of Rfrence Material .......................................,................................................ 261
Music For Lvitation................................................................................................................. 265
Index............................................................................................................................................ 267
Although many long hours went into rewriting and arranging material for this book, it would only be
fair to mention that this pleasant and exciting task would not have been possible unless the publisher
had forwarded most of the necessary information with the suggestion, "Write another book!" Or rewrite,
as the case may be.
Having full knowledge of a certain languidness and timidity on my part he also sent on encouraging
letters, many of which said, "Please hurry up!" Ail this helped, for as you can see, the book is done.
By a strange co-incidence, S. H. Sharpe had compiled a manuscript on the same subject which he
titled Floating Ladies and Gentlemen with the view of having it published. Upon learning that this
work was in an advanced stage of prparation, he kindly consented to have his material integrated into

this work. I am grateful to this respected historian and gentleman of magie for providing the detailed
information that will be found in the Chronology appearing in this encyclopedia.
I am also grateful for the rich vein of information which was published in the Sphinx magazine, and
researched and written by Oscar S. Teale. His two articles on "The Evolution of Lvitation" helped
enormously in putting together a history of the Floating Lady Trick and the chronological compilation
at the back of this book.
You will come across many clever items by U. F. Grant, an amazing person who has invented many
great and practical illusions used by magicians the world over.
The short chapter on "The Contemporary Wizard and the Floating Lady" was made possible by
referring to priceless information found in various articles on lvitations by Burling Hull.
Because of Arnold Furst's book, "Great Magic Shows", gems could be garnered to prsent
"Professionals in Action".
Apprciation is extended to John A. McKinven and to each magician, inventor and writer who
cared enough to share his floating secrets with others throughout the many years. This work is a
historical record of the lvitation that begins with the first known rfrence and up into the 1930's but
many current methods are included. The publisher foresees the need of further rfrences and a
subsquent volume dealing with the many current innovations in this field.

28

EVOLUTION
OF
THE FLOATING LADY TF.ICK

According to a first century A. D. legend, a remarkable magician named Iamblichus levitated


himself fifteen feet above the ground. Once he was in midair, he then began to walk around with
apparent ease, much to everyone's amazement. To further astound the crowd, Iamblichus, with a simple
wave of his hand completely changed the color of his clothes.
AU this without any visible means of support. Incredible? Just a legend? Perhaps. Yet,
what a fantastic idea for an enterprising magician who wants to prsent something novel for
today's audiences!
The illusion of lvitation or suspending a human being in the air is one of the most thrilling and
dramatic in ail magicdom. Haven't most of us, at one time or another, had vivid dreams about floating,
flying in space or levitating ourselves? Perhaps the closest we have come are the "moon shots" during
which astronauts are able to "float", their only connection being the lifeline or "umbilical" to the mother
ship.
George Boston, author of "Inside Magic", put it very succintly:
"Although modem methods of transportation through the air give us a Uttle thriU, they are
no means a substitute for personal disembodiment. The important part of the lvitation is not
the act, but the exprience."
He goes on to state that the floating lady trick thrills audiences not only because it's a clever
stagecraft illusion and baffling puzzle but also "....it is a symbolical reprsentation of ancient and
personal urges."
Tracking down the origins of the lvitation and suspension illusions can resuit in a maze. The
records are as intricate as macram. And it's hard to separate legend from just pure entertainment.
One could begin the natural history of the lvitation with Robert-Houdin's "Ethereal Suspension" in
1847, an illusion still used today under the title of "Broom Suspension."
But legends, accounts and eyewitness reports of many years ago bear looking into for various
reasons. Certainly this is the stuff that a magician's dreams are made of and probably where RobertHoudin garnered his suspension ideas.
manuscript from the year
1355. Translated in the
nineteenth century, it is a
The very earliest
record by an Arab
written description of
Sheik. Abdullah
lvitation was an Arabie
Mahmed, known as Ibn

Batuta ("The Traveller"),


witnessed the
following
at the palace of the emperor at
Delhi:

situation
with
the
cube.
He
then struck
it upon the
neck
and
the
cube
descended
to the earth
and at last
rested
on
the
place
which
it
had left."

"The Emperor, pointing to


me, said, 'This is a stranger,
show him what
he has never
yet seen. '

'9

One of them assumed the


form of a cube and arose from
the earth,
and in this
cubic shape he occupied a
place in the air over our heads.

{ $
I was so much
astonished and terrified at this
that I fainted and
fell to the
earth.
The
Emperor
then
ordered
me
some medicine
which he had
with him, and,
upon
taking
this, I recovered
and sat up.

b$

This cubic
figure still remained in the air,
just as it had been.
His companion
then took a sandal belonging to
one of those who had
corne
out
with him, and
struck it upon
the ground as if
he had been
angry.
The
sandal
then
ascended until
it
became
opposite
in

40

A similar
lvitation was
witnessed in 1700 by
Francis Valentin, a
worldly Dutchman
who journeyed about
the earth:

-m
m

"A man will


go and sit on three sticks

-m

put together so as to form a


tripod, after which,
first one stick, then a
second, and then a third,
shall
be removed from under
him, and the man shall not
fall but shall remain
sitting in
the air. Yet I have spoken
with two friends who have
seen
this at one
and the same time, and one
of them, I may add,
mistrusting
his own eyes, had taken the
trouble to feel about with a
long
stick if there

^J}

40

1
40

was anything on
which the body
rested, and yet,
as the gentleman
told me, he could
neither feel nor
see any such
thing. Still, I
could only say
that I could not
believe it, as a
thing manifestly
contrary
to
reason."

If this sounds like a second hand account, not to worry. Thomas Frost in "Lives of

the Conjurors", 1875, brings us


closer to fact with his
description of the Suspension
trick. ^ In 1828 or 1829 at
Madras, an old Brahmin
startled audiences by sitting in
midair. This ^ mysterious
magician carried his whole act
in a bag and the contents were
made available for audience
inspection.

40

-m
-*2

T
h
e
B
r
a
h
m
i
n
s
u
s
p
e
n
s
i
o
n
a
s
s
h
o
w
n
i
n
a
n
i

s
t
r
a
t
i
o
n
f
o
u
n
d
i
n
R
o
b
i
n
'
s
t
'
A
l
m
a
n
a
c
h
d
e
C
a
g

In the bag were four legs, a


small pice of plank, a brass
socket, a hollow bamboo stick
with a V-shaped rest on the
end, and an L-shaped arm rest
or crutch covered with hide.
The legs were attached to the
plank to form a small stool. The
bamboo stick was inserted in
the brass socket. A blanket was
held up in front of the magician
and his apparatus.
When the blanket was
removed,
there
was
the
Brahmin, legs and feet crossed
in yoga sitting posture, poised
in midair! His right hand,
holding a string of beads, was
draped over the crutch, the
wrist gently touching the hide.
The left arm was held up and
slightly crooked at the elbow
(not in an erect position as
reported by some), the first
finger and thumb touching to
make a circle. A Raja Yoga
position, or close to it, for the
Brahmin
looks
beautifully
relaxed! Which added great
dimension to the illusion, of
course.
Thomas
Frost
describes the finale:

l
i
o

s
t

"....the blanket was


then held up before him,
and
the
spectators
heard a gurgling like
that occasioned by the

wind escaping from a


bladder or tube, and
when the screen was
withdrawn, he was

again standing on the


floor or ground. "
Frost
mentions
that
Brahmin died in 1830 and took
the secret with him. It was
suggested that the illusion
could be produced by "holding
the breath, clearing the tubular
organs and a peculiar mode of
respiration".
Such
an
explanation smacks of what
were then mysterious Yoga
techniques.
The mystery begins to
unravel when Sheshal, known
as "The Brahmin of the Air",
presented
the
illusion
in
Madras* in 1832. Apparently,
his
wooden
stool
was
"ornamented with two inlaid
stars, and it was implied that
one of thse might conceal a
socket for a steel rod, passing
through the bamboo and that
another rod, screwed to the
perpendicular one and hidden
by a pice of hide, might be
connected with a mechanism of
the same mtal, passing up the
sleeve and down the back, and
forming
a
circular
seat."
Houdini, in his "Unmasking of
Robert-Houdin", agreed with
Frost's report. He writes:
"............while Frost is
by no means the
greatest of authorities
on
magie and magicians,
in this particular
instance I believe that
his explanation of the
trick is correct."

Riding on "The Brahmin of


the Air" success, the celebrated
Ching Lau Lauro mystified
audiences in Britain during
1834. His handbill advertised a
colorful
profusion
of
entertainmints:
"The
Wax
Candies Enchanted, Miraculous
Printing, Magic Bottle, Apples
of Beelzebub, Magic Eggs,
Gymnastic Exercises concluding
with sitting in Air upon
Nothing!! At the same time
playing with the Golden Balls
etc." No doubt a little juggling
was
implied
while
Ching
suspended himself using the
Brahmin principle.

PERHAPS A LITTLE ETHER


WILL DO THE TRICK,
DOCTOR
"It
will
be
remembered that in
1847 the insensibility
produced by inhaling
ether began to be
applied to surgical
oprations, ail the
world talked about the
marvelous effect of
this anaesthetic and
its
extraordi-nary
results. In the eyes of
the people it seemed
much akin to magie."
Robert-Houdin burst onto
the magie scne like a blazing
rocket from another planet.
Clever, an ingenious inventor,
ambassador, man of science,
and superb actor, RobertHoudin was also the master
magician and showman capable
of creating controversy that

provoked audiences of France.


In his "Memoirs", RobertHoudin continues:
Some sources
quote
"Tanjore".

"Seeing
that
the
surgeons had invaded
my domain, I asked
myself if this did not
allow me to make
reprisais. I did so by
inventing my ethereal
suspension, which I
believe was far more
surprising than any
resuit obtained by my
surgical
brethren.
This trick was much
applauded, and I am
bound to say that my
arrangements
were
excellently mode. This
was the first time I
tried to direct the
surprise
of
my
spectators
by
gradually heightening
it up to the next
moment, when, so to
speak, it exploded."
The sparks generated by
Robert-Houdin's magie
"explosions" reached far and
wide. "Suspension in
equilibrium by atmospheric air,
through the action of

concentrated ether" was how


Robert-Houdin described the
illusion in his programme.
His six-year-old son, Eugne
Robert, was the patient to
receive the administration and
then be suspended. For the
audience, the scne opened with
a plank or board resting on two
trestles. Three stools were then
brought in and put on the board
in a row. Young Eugne then
mounted the center stool and
placed his elbows on canes or
sticks balanced on the stools on
either side. Robert-Houdin left
the boy supported only by his
elbows as he proceeded to take
away the stool on which his son
was standing. Next, the left
hand stool along with the
cane were removed. Eugene's
only support now was his right
elbow on the right hand cane.
He was in midair. The boy's
body was then lifted by the
magician's little finger alone, to
a horizontal position. And then
the climax. Supporting the right
hand end of the board was the
trestle - it was removed! The
boy was left reclining gracefully
on one elbow in a horizontal
position in the air. And the
board, carrying the stool, the
cane and the weight of the boy,
also remained horizontal!