Magicians mark 100 years of sawing people in half

LONDON (Reuters) – He came, he sawed, he conquered. A hundred years ago on Sunday, illusionist PT Selbit put a woman in a box on the stage at London’s Finsbury Park Empire and sawed through the wood, creating a magical classic.

Now, 100 years later, magicians from around the world will come together online this weekend to celebrate the centenary of this historic performance.

“It took off and became the most influential and famous, in my opinion, illusion that ever existed,” said magician and historian Mike Caveney, who writes a book about the illusion.

“The magician was not doing this trick to an inanimate object. He was doing it to a human being, which elevated him to a whole new level.

In the original version, the saw passed, the box was opened and the person came out unscathed.

Over the years, magicians have developed refinements, with the two halves separated. Famed magician David Copperfield came up with his own version of “The Death Saw” where he was the one tied to a platform as a giant rotating blade sliced ​​him in half.

Sometimes he would get injured, Copperfield said in an interview filmed for Sunday’s online event.

“I got cut a few times by the blade because the blade was a little off, you know, the stages are different for every theater you have,” Copperfield said.

London-based organization Magic Circle will host the celebrations with an event streamed live on Facebook from 1800 GMT on Sunday.

Guests will include Debbie McGee, wife of the late British television magician Paul Daniels, who will describe the many times she survived the procedure.

Reporting by Sarah Mills, writing by Andrew Heavens, editing by Alexandra Hudson

Brian L. Hartfield