10 Magic Tricks That Went Horribly Wrong

10 MAGIC TRICKS THAT WENT HORRIBLY WRONG NUMBER 10: HUMAN PIN CUSHION Famous for her outlandish outfits, Japanese magician Mariko Itakura performed under the stage name Princess Tenko During a 2007 performance, Tenko was placed inside a box, into which 10 real metal swords were to be inserted

The plan was for Tenko to escape the box without the audience realising, so it would be empty when the weapons were forced into it Disastrously, Tenko wasn’t able to do this in time The swords broke several of her ribs and wounded her cheek, and she escaped being stabbed in the eye by a mere centimeter Remarkably, Tenko continued the show for another 30 minutes before organizers forced her to stop NUMBER 9: AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION In the early twentieth century, the now-classic magic trick of sawing a woman in half was relatively new

This is why, in 1936, a Quebec audience was outraged by stage magician George Lalonde, when he announced that he was going to cut his assistant in two Appalled audience member Henry Howard leaped to the stage in response Thinking he was rescuing the assistant from real-life decapitation, he grabbed one of Lalonde’s prop swords and stabbed the magician in the back Lalonde was rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung, but he made a fortunate recovery NUMBER 8: LIKE A MOTH TO A FLAME In June 1900, Swedish conjurer Balabrega [Bal-ah-bregg-ah] was performing in a successful magic show in Brazil

One of his tricks was an elaborate deception involving six assistants dressed as moths, who would seem to miraculously disappear when consumed by flames For the flames, the trick required a controlled supply of gas However, one theater Balabrega performed at was not equipped for that, and could only access acetylene [a-set-eh-lean] gas Acetylene is highly flammable and unpredictable And during the early stages of the performance, the gas ignited in a ferocious explosion that engulfed Balabrega and one of his assistants, killing them both

NUMBER 7: LIFE IN THE FAST LANE Charles Rowan, also known as ‘Karr the Mysterious’, was a South African escape artist In 1930 he attempted an unbelievably dangerous stunt, which saw him restrained in a straight jacket and left in the path of an oncoming car The car started 180 meters away and accelerated to 72 kilometers per hour, giving Karr only 10 to 15 seconds to escape the jacket and move out of the way Predictably, this was not enough time, and Karr was struck by the vehicle and killed instantly NUMBER 6: OPEN WIDE In 1938 Australian dentist-turned-amateur-magician Dr

Vivian Hensley made a magic mistake that would ultimately cost him his life Hensley was demonstrating a trick to his family that involved pretending to eat razor-blades, while actually dropping them down the sleeve of his coat However, he slipped up and accidentally dropped a blade down his throat, causing severe internal bleeding Despite two bouts of surgery, doctors were unable to remove the razor and Hensley died in hospital four days later, aged 43 NUMBER 5: UNDERWATER GRAVE The ‘water barrel escape’ trick involves a magician trying to escape a large container filled with water

Popularized by Harry Houdini, the trick is notoriously deadly In 1930, the trick cost the life of famous magician Royden Joseph Gilbert Raison de la Genesta During transportation, the barrel that Genesta was going to use was dented without anybody realizing This limited the space that the escapologist had to maneuver inside the container, ultimately preventing him from being able to make the necessary movements for escape Realizing during the attempt that something was wrong, Genesta’s assistants tried to open the barrel

Tragically, they were unable to find the right keys for the locks and the magician drowned NUMBER 4: REHEARSAL DISASTER 23-year-old magician Jeff Rayburn Hopper didn’t even manage to make it to his actual performance before disaster struck One day in July 1984 he was practicing a difficult escape trick that he was due to perform later that afternoon For the trick, he had to be tied up in shackles and submerged in Winona Lake, Indiana Sadly, Hopper had not checked the weather forecast

His morning rehearsal was met with vicious winds, which generated thrashing waves Barely able to escape the shackles that bound him, Hopper did manage to struggle to the surface and call for help However, the ferocious wind washed him further away from the shore, meaning rescuers were unable to reach him His body wasn’t retrieved until 4 and ½ hours later NUMBER 3: SEEING DOUBLE The German performer Sigmund Neuberger, known as ‘The Great Lafayette’, was the world’s highest paid magician at the beginning of the 20th century

During an Edinburgh performance of his signature ‘Lion’s Bride’ illusion, in which he appeared to transform into a real-life lion, catastrophe occurred A stage lamp set fire to the elaborate set and it spread rapidly Lafayette and 10 of his co-performers were killed, trapped by the raging fire as the theater burned to the ground Two almost-identical bodies were discovered in the wreckage, both of which were identified as the magician The confusion was later cleared up when it transpired that one had been the illusionist’s body double

NUMBER 2: HOW NOT TO CATCH A BULLET American magician William Ellsworth Robinson adopted the persona of Chinese magician Chung Ling Soo Robinson never broke character, always speaking in Chinese on stage and even using an interpreter in interviews In March 1918, as part of his performance, he attempted to catch a speeding bullet However, the gun used in Robinson’s stunt had not been cleaned out properly, meaning it still contained gunpowder residue This was enough to launch a bullet out of the weapon and into the magician’s chest

Tragically, before he died, Robinson broke character for the first time in his career, calling for help in English NUMBER 1: BURIED ALIVE Being voluntarily buried alive is one of the most dangerous tricks a magician can attempt So great is the risk of suffocation that most performers construct an escape route and do not actually remain underground for the time that they claim to Unfortunately, 24-year-old Sri Lankan magician Janaka Basnayake [Jun-ack-ah Bas-nay-ack-er] did not realize this Hoping to set a world record for the longest time buried alive, in 2012 Basnayake was buried in a pit 3 meters deep

After 7 and ½ hours in the pit, Basnayake was dug up and found not breathing due to a lack of oxygen He was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead

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