We all know that overused yet mindboggling magic trick, where a person is placed inside a box, the magician saws them into thirds, and eventually places them back together. The solution has probably always been right under my nose, but I’ve never been able to understand how the trick works.
I saw a rerun of Full House recently (and yes, it shames me to admit I was watching reruns of Full House, but I was really, really bored), and Joey performed this trick on Becky. While I was watching, I tried to think about how this trick is accomplished.
In this case, there were holes in the box, so you could see her foot sticking out of the bottom third, her hand (holding a hankerchief) sticking out of the middle third, and her face sticking out of the top. I am convinced that the hand and foot were fakes (with the hand containing some sort of mechanism that caused is to move, or possibly just being attached to a string she could pull), and that her entire body was in the upper third of the box. I suspect this is one reason why thin women are usually used for this trick (besides asthetic reasons), namely that they can most easily curl up and fit in a third of a box. I’m not quite sure how Becky managed to pull herself up into the top third of the box (in this case, the box was positioned so that she was standing upright, in other versions of the trick the woman is lying on her back), but perhaps there were some sort of ledges she could put her feet on that weren’t visible to the audience, or perhaps she even stood on Joey’s blades as he inserted them (he used wide blades, which he pushed into the box and left there, rather than using a saw). If it’s the latter, they probably had to practice a good bit to get the timing down.
Well, comedy aside, there one basic method. The lovely assistant is laid down in a long coffinlike box which is then divided into three portions, suggesting the woman has been cut at the solar plexus and pelvis. Odds are each of the segments is on a rolling table, so other assistants can re-arrange them, and the boxes are even opened, showing the assistant’s dismemberment.
The table containing the assistant’s head is probably black, concealing the false bottom with a small but significant amound of space. The agile assistant folds her body as tightly as possible to fit her entire body in the “head” portion. The torso and legs sections actually contain dummy body parts which might even be rigged to move, making them appear alive.