Hey guys! How was your weekend? Are you set to rev this new week into high gear? Well, this week I wanted to briefly talk about an illusion that gives most people chills. It is the fabled illusion called, The Table of Death.
This illusion starts out with a large table attached to an even larger contraption which is holding and suspending numerous long sharp metal spikes or swords above the table. There is usually a timer set to the contraption that starts a countdown once the magician is strapped and restrained onto the table below the sharp metal blades/spikes. A curtain is quickly drawn in front of the table and obscures the view of the magician whom apparently does not have enough time to free themselves before the contraption releases the spikes/blades into the table. Sometimes this illusion is performed with a white sheet and a spot light shining from the back so you can see the shadow of the magician struggling to get free from the restraints. The light then flickers off right as the blades/spikes start to drop towards the table. Of course after a long moment of waiting, the curtain falls relieving the audience from a horror of suspense to see that the magician has just nearly escaped death.
The actual mechanism that drops the blades/spikes to the table varies depending on the performer and the story they tell about it, but the effect is the same. The illusion’s creation and conception is credited by most, to the magician Walter Jeans back in the early 1900’s. It was modernized not much later in the 1930’s by the magician André Kole. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the illusion became widely popular by numerous world famous magicians as well as making appearances in blockbuster movies and TV series plot lines.
Not to long ago I saw a version of this illusion that actually had the magician suspended over a table of metal spikes. Once the magician was wrapped in a straight jacket, he was lifted horizontally above the table. The count down clock started to count down from 30 seconds. Then a thin curtain was moved in front of the table of spikes and a light behind the table cast it’s shadow on the curtain. After about 20 seconds watching the magician try to free himself, he started yelling to stop the clock over and over, and began flailing erratically. He was shaking the whole contraption and people behind the stage started yelling and screaming. This in turn, started to freak out the audience. Right when three stage hands ran from the sides of the stage towards the magician, the crane arm holding him up, snapped off and he fell to the table right when the stage lights were shut off. What followed the darkness was a very loud thud and a crash of muffled metal and wood hitting the stage floor. Everyone was in utter terror. Not 2 seconds after the crash, the stage lights turned on and the curtain fell to the floor revealing the magician smiling a huge comedic smile and the table behind him in a heap of twisted metal and splintered wood. He gave a big maniacal laugh and then bowed as the audience gave him a standing ovation.
“When we fall down in life, the most important part of the experience is, when you get back up and try again.”