Zig Zag Girl

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The Zig-Zag Girl illusion is a magic trick similar to sawing a woman in half illusion first presented in 1965. In the Zig-Zag illusion, a magician divides his or her assistant who is standing upright into thirds, only to have the assistant emerge from the illusion at the end of the performance completely unharmed.


Since its invention in the mid 1960s at a Magic Circle Banquet in London and on the TV show International Showtime[1] by magician Robert Harbin, it has been a very popular illusion invented due to both the apparent impossibility of the trick, and the fact that unlike many illusions it can be performed surrounded by spectators and withstand the close scrutiny of audience members.

Because of the manner in which the illusion is achieved, it is generally performed with a female assistant, and there are limitations on her height and weight. Some of these issues are overcome in Modern Art, an illusion created by Jim Steinmeyer.

The method of this trick was exposed by the Masked Magician, Valentino, as part of a Fox TV series called "Breaking the Magicians' Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed".

It was listed in the 2005 Guinness Book of World Records as the most copied stage illusion. Harbin published a book in 1970, limited to 500 copies, allowing each purchase to build one version. It has been estimated that over 15,000 Zig Zag illusions have been built.

The Mismade Girl is similar box illusion.

Scandal

In August of 1968, a copy of the illusion was performed at the Abbott's Get-Together by Jim Sommers. After much international debate, Sommers finally admitted that he had made the illusion without Harbin's permission. [2] Harbin thus decided to write The Magic of Robert Harbin, which included the plans for the Zig Zag. To purchase the book from Harbin you had to send for a prospectus and sign a legal document agreeing to keep the secrets. You were only allowed to build things from the book for your own use. [3]

References

  1. Harbin presented his new illusion at the Magic Circle Banquet in London in October 1965. (Ref: Genii 1969 January, Vol. 33, no. 5, page 194 or MUM, vol. 58, no. 10, march 1969, page 16)
  2. Mike Caveney article in Magic Magazine March 2009. Also a letter from Jim Sommers to Jay Marshall in Genii 1970 August
  3. Doug and Dennis and the Zig Zag, MUM, June 2009
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