Hey everybody! Welcome to a new week of wonderful possibilities. In this blog post I wanted to address a particular illusion that has seemingly spanned the stage magician’s history from the beginning of entertainment. It is quite possibly the visual pinnacle of what most people identify a stage magician or illusionist, to be. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you, the hat trick.
No I am not going to talk about hockey or even cricket. Ever hear of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat? Of course you have. Right? By chance if you haven’t, where have you been?! This simple and effective illusion has been around since the top hat was invented back in the late 1700’s. However the only solid documentation to date that this illusion was performed, is in old wood cut illustrations from the mid 1800’s being performed by the magician John Henry Anderson.
Magicians way back when, used to perform this type of trick by borrowing hats from the audience and then pulling very random things out of them. Primarily objects that could not possibly be contained in such a small head covering. For instance, a rabbit of course, a lamp, a walking stick, a lit torch, and even the arm of the magician’s assistant that is at the opposite end of the theater. The list goes on.
But why a rabbit you may ask? Why is a rabbit attributed to the lasting image of ‘the magician’? Well, the only known illusion that predates a magician, a top hat, and a rabbit is not even associated with magic at all. It is attributed to a woman named Mary Toft. Back in 1726, before it was revealed as a hoax before the house of King George I, Mary was said to have given birth to rabbits and various animal parts. Being as gross and disturbing as this is, I honestly don’t think this is the reason. In my opinion, rabbits are cute innocent looking fluffy creatures that hold a wonder and fascination to the public. Just like in the story ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ written by Lewis Carroll in 1865. But I will let you draw your own conclusion on the matter. ‘Wink-wink, nudge-nudge’.
Now a days, at least in the United States, you will be hard pressed to see a stage magician performing this illusion with a live rabbit. There have been laws set in place for magicians specifically mandating that a license be required before performing this illusion to the public. It also requires the magician to provide the USDA detailed paperwork on an evacuation plan, keeping the rabbit from harm in the circumstances of dangerous weather. Yes, this is real. I sometimes wonder if the illusion itself is worth the trouble. But I also find myself thinking about going through with it. I do have quite a few empty top hats.
“Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat.”