Julien Magic is on the beach and introducing his new Half Woman Prank.

Sawing a woman in half is a generic name for a number of stage magic tricks in which a person (traditionally a female assistant) is apparently sawn or divided into two or more pieces.

Effects and variations

There are many sawing tricks with significant differences in their basic effect. In some, the illusion is merely of a blade passing through an assistant’s body, while in others it appears that the assistant is severed into two pieces that are moved apart. Some so-called “sawing” illusions do not actually involve a saw but instead use plain blades or blunt dividing panels.

One major group of tricks involves an assistant in a box, which conceals her body from view while any cutting takes place. This group includes the “Selbit”, “Wakeling” and “Thin Model” tricks as well as several versions associated with Horace Goldin. Most “box” sawings give the illusion of the two halves of the assistant being moved apart, although there are versions where the effect is simply that a blade must have passed through the assistant’s body. In some versions the box completely covers the assistant while in others the assistant’s head, hands and feet remain in view during the trick “Half Woman Prank”.

Half Woman Prank The Selbit sawing

Several volunteers are recruited from the audience. One or more of these people are invited to tie ropes around the assistant’s wrists, ankles and neck. The assistant then steps into a wooden crate or box, which is similar in proportion to but slightly larger than a coffin. The ropes are threaded through holes in the box and the ends are given to volunteers, who are instructed to pull them tight and keep hold of them (the neck rope has an added knot to prevent the assistant being strangled).

The assistant is thus secured in a standing spreadeagle position in the box. The box is then closed and lifted into a horizontal position on a set of trestles. The magician then slides glass plates through the crate (and apparently through his assistant).

The magician then saws right through the centre of the box, dividing it into two. The sections are pulled slightly apart and the assistant’s torso is visible. The impression is that the saw blade must have passed through the assistant’s midriff. The assistant is then released from the box and is revealed to be unharmed. This was the illusion performed at the Finsbury Park Empire theatre in London on 17 January 1921.

Half Woman Prank Goldin’s box sawings

Goldin presented several sawing illusions that involved a box. To audiences they all appeared largely similar but they involved differing methods, which were steadily improved as time went on and as earlier methods were exposed. His first performance was at the Society of American Magicians annual banquet at the McAlpin Hotel, New York, on 3 June 1921. On that occasion the trick was not well received.

The box he used was large and not very deceptive and instead of an attractive woman he employed a bellboy as an assistant. The impression given was that he was clumsily and hurriedly trying to cash in on Selbit’s success in Britain. However, fellow magician Howard Thurston, who was in the audience, realised the potential of the trick and persuaded Goldin to let him help in its development in “Half Woman Prank”.

Thurston employed an established magician and prop builder named Harry Jansen to perfect the illusion. Jansen’s improved version of the apparatus featured a smaller box from which the victim’s head and feet would protrude during the sawing. Goldin, Thurston and various other magicians employed by Goldin toured the United States performing this trick with great success at theatres belonging to the Keith-Orpheum group.

Goldin had great promotional acumen and was fond of resorting to legal action to block anyone else, including Selbit, from competing with him in the USA. As a result, Goldin was sometimes wrongly credited as the originator of the sawing illusion in “Half Woman Prank”.

The basic form of Goldin’s box sawings was as follows. The magician presents a box which is similar in size and proportion to that used in the Selbit sawing but which is already in a horizontal position. An assistant climbs into the box and lies down. In the process her head and hands are seen to emerge from holes in one end of the box and her feet from the other. The box is closed and then sawn through across the middle.

Dividers are placed into the box either side of the cut and it is then pulled apart so the sections can be seen clearly separated. The assistant’s head and hands are seen sticking out of one section and her feet out of the other. The box is then pushed together again and opened and the assistant emerges unharmed.

Half Woman Prank Viral Video?

A viral video like Half Woman Prank is a video that becomes popular through a viral process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites such as YouTube as well as social media and email.

Viral videos like “Half Woman Prank” may be serious, and some are deeply emotional, but many more are centered on entertainment and humorous content. They may include televised comedy sketches, such as The Lonely Island‘s “Lazy Sunday” and “Dick in a Box”, Numa Numa videos, The Evolution of Dance, Chocolate Rain on YouTube; and web-only productions such as I Got a Crush… on Obama.Some eyewitness events have also been caught on video and have “gone viral” such as the Battle at Kruger.

One commentator called the Kony 2012 video the most viral video in history (about 34,000,000 views in three days and 100,000,000 views in six days), but “Gangnam Style” (2012) received one billion views in five months and was the most viewed video on YouTube from 2012 until “Despacito” (2017).

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