The Zig-Zag Girl illusion is a magic trick akin to the more famous sawing a woman in half illusion. In the Zig-Zag illusion, a magician divides his or her assistant 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 1960's by magician Robert Harbin it has been hailed as one of the greatest illusions ever 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 assistant (usually a woman) is placed in an upright cabinet, her face, hands, and left foot visible through openings in the cabinet's front. Large, metallic blades are inserted horizontally in the cabinet's mid-section, dividing it, and the assistant inside, into thirds. The magician then slides the cabinet's mid-section apart from the cabinet's top and bottom thirds, giving the appearance that the assistant's mid-section has been pulled away from the rest of her, giving her a "zig-zag" shape. While divided, a small door on the cabinet's mid-section can be opened to examine, and even touch, the assistant's body inside, a duty frequently performed by an audience member brought up on stage to help perform the illusion. At the completion of the illusion, the assistant's mid-section is slid back into place, the two blades removed, and she steps out of the cabinet unscathed.
VariationsEditIn recent years, following exposure of the basic illusion by the Masked Magician, a number of magicians have begun performing variations on the basic illusion. In some, rather than the assistant's face being visible through a hole in the front of the cabinet, their entire head projects out of the cabinet through a hole in its upper surface.
In another variation, rather than being divided into three pieces, the assistant is instead divided into five - This variation is commonly referred to as the "Five-Way Zig-Zag".
A third variation features a box designed in such a way that, instead of just being slid to the side, the centre section can be completely removed and placed on a separate supporting table. Once it has been placed there, an audience member is then invited to shake the assistant's hand and feel their body inside the box.
Over the years, a number of celebrities have participated in the Zig Zag Girl illusion.
- Alessandra Ambrosio - zig zagged during a photo-shoot for a Mexican department store.
- Linda Barker - zig-zagged by Joe Labero on his TV special Magician Impossible.
- Cher - zig-zagged by Mark Wilson on her 1970s TV show.
- Jennifer Ellison - zig-zagged by Stephen Mulhern on Tricky TV.
- Jennifer Garner - zig-zagged during photoshoot at Teen Choice awards show.
- Ana Hickmann - zig-zagged by Mario Kamia on her TV show.
- Sophie Howard - zig-zagged by Alex Sim-Wise for a Front photoshoot.
- Lori Loughlin - zig-zagged by Dave Coulier on Full House.
- Katie Melua - zig-zagged by Scott Penrose on Children in Need.
- Marie Osmond - zig-zagged by Donny Osmond on The Donny & Marie Show.
- Claudia Schiffer - zig-zagged by her first husband David Copperfield when they both appeared on the January 9th 1996 episode of BBC daytime show Pebble Mill.
- Princess Tenko - often performs the illusion. Was zig-zagged by Elle MacPherson for a TV special.
- Twiggy - zig-zagged by Robert Harbin in an early performance of the illusion.
- Holly Willoughby - zig-zagged by Stephen Mulhern on Ministry of Mayhem.
- Alicia Witt - zig-zagged by unknown magician at charity event.
- Cindy Williams - zig-zagged by David Copperfield on his first TV special in 1978.