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Mismade Girl

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The Mismade Girl is a stage illusion, designed by American magician Chuck Jones.

Basic Effect

Four cubes with open top and bottom are stacked to form a cabinet. An assistant stands inside and the cabinet is closed. Metal blades are slid into the cabinet, slicing the assistant into four pieces, and closing the top and bottom of each cube. The cubes are then unstacked, and restacked in a different order. Inset doors in the front of the cabinet are opened, showing that the assistant's body has been divided and rearranged. The whole process is then reversed, and the assistant is released unharmed.

The Mismade Girl is often performed as a production effect - four cubes, each apparently too small to contain a person, are stacked into a cabinet, which is then opened to reveal someone inside.

Sometimes the routine will omit the second restacking, and the magician may instead exchange numbers or pictures on the front of those cubes which appear to be out of order, apparently magically moving the divided parts of the assistant's body into the correct order.

Exposure

The Masked Magician exposed the secrets of the Mismade on his third television special, assisted by Elizabeth Ramos.

Variants

There are two notable variants of the Mismade Girl.

MIS43

Peter Gossamer and his assistant pose beside the Totally Tubular illusion.

  • Illusionist Peter Gossamer performs a version called Totally Tubular, which uses a vertical tube, made of a dark translucent plastic, with a crude humaniform outline on the front. After restacking, rather than opening doors, lights are turned on inside, apparently showing the assistant divided into pieces, before then opening the front of the slice containing the assistant's head. Instead of reversing the process, sections of the outline are exchanged, and the blades then removed.
  • A new version of the Mismade Girl appeared, referred to either as the Italian Mismade, or Mismade Improved. In this version the assistant's hands and feet are in view for much of the illusion. This gives the impression that illusion could not be performed using the method of the original Mismade Girl.

David Copperfield's standing sawing into six illusion could also be considered a variation on the Mismade Girl illusion, although no rearrangement of the boxes takes place.

Copperfield Bach1

David Copperfield and Catherine Bach.

The original version of the Copperfield sawing into six illusion was featured in his 1981 TV special The Magic of David Copperfield IV: The Vanishing Airplane, with actress Catherine Bach as the assistant. In this version, the box was suspended above the stage and lowered over Catherine, who was stood on the detachable end plate. Prior to this, David had placed a set of restraints around Catherine's neck and ankles, and also demonstrated the cutting power of a laser placed at the side of the stage. With the box lowered over Catherine, David reached inside it through the doors in the front which gave the audience a view of Catherine's head and feet, and used the chains on the restraints to secure her within the box. The doors were then closed, the box raised back into the air, and then inverted using the pivots attached to its midpoint. It was then lowered back down to the stage, and the doors opened, showing Catherine still inside, but now upside down. The doors were then closed, and the box lifted back into the air. With the box suspended above the stage, David then used the laser to cut it into six pieces. The box was then lowered back to the stage, and David took a large steel divider blade. Opening the doors once more to show Catherine still inside, he thrust the blade through the centre of the box, dividing it and Catherine in two. Having thrust a second blade through the centre of the box, he then used the hoist to separate the two halves of the box. He then proceeded to insert other dividers into the box and detach the four triangular sections that made up the mid-part of the box. With these removed, the foot section was lowered back down on to the remaining head section, and David tickled Catherine's feet, making her laugh. The box sections were then re-stacked the right way up, the blades removed, and the box lifted off to show Catherine restored back into one piece.

Copperfield Lopez 2

David Copperfield and Jennifer Lopez at the White House in 2001.

After the TV special, David did not perform the illusion again for two full decades. In June 2001, he performed a greatly modified version of the illusion at the UNICEF benefit show at the White House in Washington, DC. In this new performance, he was assisted by singer and actress Jennifer Lopez. Although still of roughly the same general form, the box used had been heavily modified, and no longer required the use of a hoist. Instead, the top and bottom sections were permanently linked by supports, so that they would remain in their relative places even after the four intermediate triangular sections had been removed. The front of the box had also been modified, so that instead of two doors, there was now a hole for Jennifer's face in the top section, a small hole at the base of the lower section for one of her feet, while two of the removable triangular sections each had a small hole for one of Jennifer's hands. This meant that her face, both hands and one foot all remained in clear view of the audience all through the performance, showing that she had no way of avoiding the blades. The box was also modified so that it was entered through a door in the side, rather than having to be lowered from above. With Jennifer secured inside the box, David then inserted the divider blades into the box, cutting her into six pieces, and removed the four triangular sections. Having shown that Jennifer was in six pieces, he then replaced the centre sections, removed the divider blades, and released Jennifer from the box.

Double Mismade

MCMissmadeOVB

German illusionist Magic Christian performs a double mismade.

Two Mismade Girl illusions are sometimes combined to give the appearance that the divided parts of two assistants are being swapped.

  • Lance Burton performs a version using a male and female assistant, who have apparently been asked onto stage from the audience. After being divided, one of Burton's assistant chooses to mix up the sections (done by changing the outlines on the boxes) which results in the two "volunteers" emerging with swapped clothing.
  • Holly Willoughby and Jennifer Ellison took part in a version for a children's television programme. They were wearing differently coloured bikinis, and when they came out the colour of their bikini tops had changed - suggesting that they had swapped chests.

Notable performances

Over the years, a number of celebrities have taken part in the Mismade Girl illusion.

Fearne cotton holly willoughby magic

Keith Lemon and Holly Willoughby divide Fearne Cotton into five.

  • When he appeared on her TV show, Mark Wilson performed the illusion on singer and actress Cher.
  • Wayne Dobson divided Linda Lusardi in the Mismade Girl illusion as part of a Sam Shovel sketch on A Kind of Magic.
  • In a later series, Liza Goddard acted as Wayne's assistant in the Mismade Girl when she made a guest appearance on A Kind of Magic.
  • Melinda Messenger took part in a modified, five-part Mismade as promotion for the Health Lottery.
  • The same five-way Mismade was also used in a promotional photoshoot for the ITV celebrity quiz show Celebrity Juice, with Keith Lemon and Holly Willoughby performing the illusion on Holly's friend and fellow team captain Fearne Cotton.
  • When she took part in a photoshoot for Tous handbags, Kylie Minogue was divided in the Mismade Girl illusion, with superimposition used to also feature her in the same photo acting as the magician.
  • Caroline Marx - performs the mismade as part of her Bobino stage show.
  • On one of her live tours, it was used to produce singer Shania Twain at the beginning of each show.

References

Dawes, A. E., et al. Making Magic. London: Multimedia Books, Ltd, 1993

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