How to Perform the Guillotine Magic Illusion

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The centuries-old fear of the guillotine has been turned into entertainment with the Guillotine magic illusion. Magicians who perform this illusion ask an unwitting volunteer to be bound while a sharp blade plummets toward his head. It is important to understand the intricacies of this magic illusion to avoid harming audience members.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Guillotine
  • Bucket
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dummy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Avoid the complexities of building a guillotine by consulting with an online magic shop. The Great Scot sells a device called the Scottish Maiden, which is a basic guillotine built for professional magicians (see Resources below).

  2. 2

    Insert faster blades and additional elements before you perform the Guillotine illusion by building your own device. You can acquire plans from Internet venues like Hank Lee's Magic Factory, which provides advice on building and conducting this illusion (see Resources below).

  3. 3

    Engage the audience in the history of the Guillotine before you perform this magic illusion. Discuss the guillotine as a symbol of cruel justice going back to the French Revolution before you select a victim.

  4. 4

    Modify the seating area of the guillotine to ensure comfort for the chosen audience member. Many guillotines have a space for kneeling, though elaborate versions of this illusion allow victims to lie on their stomachs.

  5. 5

    Slip a bucket underneath the headstock after you select an audience member. This bucket should be large enough to hold a human head in an effort to create anxiety in the volunteer.

  6. 6

    Lock the volunteer's head and hands into the front stock before you perform this magic illusion. The inner workings of the Guillotine will protect the neck and hands by activating a lower blade once the upper blade strikes the top of the stock.

  7. 7

    Run the Guillotine multiple times to ensure that the lower blade will work when you perform the illusion. The lower blade needs to activate the moment the upper blade appears to hit the victim's head for a successful illusion.

  8. 8

    Release the main blade of the Guillotine after easing the tension of the audience volunteer. Invite the audience to countdown from three, and feign confusion about releasing on the number one or the word "go." You should release the blade during the second countdown, one step ahead of the audience for an element of surprise.

  9. 9

    Pause several seconds after the lower blade hits the floor before unlocking the headstock. This pause makes the safe release of the volunteer more dramatic for a captivated audience.

Tips and warnings

  • Test out the Guillotine magic illusion with fruits, vegetables and dummies. Start your act by placing a watermelon in the neck hole of the device to show the sharpness of the blade. Place the head and arms of the dummy in the restraints to prove that the mutilated fruit was not cut prior to the show.

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