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Life discovered on the moon, 1835
Jennifer Love Hewitt's Disappearing Breasts
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Boy floats away in balloon, 2009
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Jernegan's Gold Accumulator Scam, 1898
Cursed by Allah
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
war of the worlds
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Adolf Hitler Baby Photo Hoax, 1933
Criss Angel Pulls Woman In Half
Status: Magic trick
image On YouTube there's a video of magician Criss Angel taking the old "sawing a woman in half" trick a step further. He actually pulls a woman in half, whereupon her upper half crawls away in horror while her legs remain behind wriggling. I, like many other people, have been trying to figure out how he does this trick. All I can conclude is that it's achieved by clever editing of the camera footage. (Which, if true, would make it less a magic trick than a special effect, but entertaining nonetheless.) My reasoning is that the (half of a) woman who crawls away at the end is probably not fake. She's likely a woman who, in real life, has no legs. But this cannot be the same woman who initially walks to the table and lies down on it. (No, I don't think she was using robotic legs, or anything like that.) They are two different women. Which means that at some point the camera must have been turned off, and the one woman replaced the other on the table. This also suggests that everyone in the crowd were actors. That's my theory. But I'm actually hoping it's wrong, because it would be cool if he could have done this without turning the camera off at some point. (Thanks to Captain DaFt for the link.) (And I could have sworn I once posted about another Criss Angel trick in which he crawled through a glass window pane, but for the life of me I can't find the post about this.)

Update: Archibold pointed out that Snopes has a page about this video in which they point out that Ricky Jay has written about a similar early version of this trick in Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women. Sure enough, he has. Participating in this early version of the trick was Johnny Eck, a legless & thighless man who starred in the movie Freaks. So I was right about the woman at the end of the video actually being a legless woman. But this leaves the question: was the woman standing in the crowd also the same legless woman? If so, that's amazing. If not, then I still have no idea how a switch could have been made without the camera being shut off. But I've now got to assume that it's a real trick and no camera tricks were employed.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Magic, Photos/Videos
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jun 24, 2006
Comments (114)
It wouldn't surprise me if more people were in on the trick...
Both girls pulling seem to be in on it. the girl holding the arms pulls way too hard and then holds on to the 'torso' as she puts her gently on the ground. A more plausible reaction would be to let go of the arms as one would not be held responsable for pulling somebody in half.
Oh and in retrospect i don't think the leg person is bent backward but forward:

known in yoga as 'Uttanasana'
Posted by Tobester  in  NJ  on  Thu Jun 29, 2006  at  10:52 AM
I think that Tobester's theory is pretty close. (Except for the contortionist part) But i have a Q for everyone here. When the lady was pulled in half, did anyone notice the hand of Chriss Angel on her "stomach"?

its a splitsecond..
-maybe he made a mistake because he pressed down on it a little too much. It looks as if the midportion is made of cardboard or something... (making the skirt area even smaller for a contortionist to fit into) But do you guys think its still possible? Maybe if the contortionist is really that good??
Posted by Mihael Keehl  in  N.A.  on  Fri Jun 30, 2006  at  08:57 AM
smile im confused?
Posted by nancy  in  boston massetussettss  on  Sat Jul 01, 2006  at  08:11 PM
I just watched the video a half dozen times after reading the posts on here. What gave it away to me was the post somebody made saying that dwarf must have pretty fat legs. Watch the movie again and focus on the legs of the woman on the bench. When she first lays down and the blonde grabs the woman's ankles, they are indeed fat ankles. The blonde's hands don't go all the way around. Then look right after the last camera cut before Criss pulls the woman apart. All of a sudden, the blonde's hands easily go around the ankles. And when the bottom half of the woman is standing, the ankles and feet look like they belong to a child. It was a woman who laid down, and then she was switched for a torsoless woman and a little person.
Posted by raybrn  on  Sun Jul 02, 2006  at  11:55 AM
"Iowa Cherry Pie" on Snopes made this observation:

The woman that walks to the bench is not the same woman they pull apart.

Notice they camera cuts away right before the pulling and when it cuts back - the woman on the bench now has:
a. shorter arms
b. her hair in a pony tail that shows her ears (they were completely covered seconds before)
c. her shirt is now tucked in to the skirt, instead if out

interesting...
I might have to rethink my theory.. it looks like there are 2 different women involved after all
Posted by Tobester  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  02:36 PM
or even three, if you catch my drift
Posted by Tobester  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  02:37 PM
it's a woman born this way (with no legs),on top of a prosthetic, computerized device specially made for this trick, that's all.
Posted by Ray  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  07:49 PM
To those who watch Criss Angel's show on A&E, it's easy to think that people watching his more outrageous tricks are in on the act, simply because whether he is cutting himself in half or impaling himself on a fence, you never see him get up or put himself back together (lol).
Posted by g  on  Wed Jul 05, 2006  at  11:32 PM
note that you NEVER see blood on the blade or get a look at the "exposed cut." never. even as the camera pans around, one of the audience "just happens" to block the view which might have shown some blood and guts.

it's obviously not "really real" because human beings don't operate that way in real life, no matter how hard the audience screams.
Posted by plusaf  in  Raleigh, NC  on  Thu Jul 06, 2006  at  12:21 AM
The wonderful bit about the Johnny Eck version of the trick was, of course, the participation of his twin brother as the "volunteer", therefore adding that extra touch of versimilitude.
Posted by Ledasmom  on  Mon Jul 10, 2006  at  06:20 PM
The video is definately in two parts. The lighting and ambient noise change when Criss puts his hands on the woman's stomach. It's at that point the video changes stops to let two women lay on the bench. Plus at this point we now see the woman's blouse is tucked in her skirt. It's also clear that the bottom is not a dwarf but a yoga person. Tobester's link above is right on. The picture of the video at the top of this page shows the person's head as a bulge right above the knees and her back above the thighs, hence the original use of a large woman. So I think it was a normal large woman brought over to lie down on the bench, the recording stops, and the yoga/legless women are brought in and recording continues, and all "spectators" are in on the trick.
Posted by Hunter  on  Mon Jul 17, 2006  at  10:18 PM
There's another Angel trick at http://www.santoalt.com/videos/729_Chriss_Angel_Trick.html - he walks up a wall.

It looks like a load of manipulated imges. The shadows look very strange - they appear on the wall, AND on the ground. Then when he is walking back down towards the ground there's no shadow at all (sun behind a cloud?) until he reaches the ground.

Some shots look as though tey've been painted -all very unconvincing!
Posted by Tony Blurr  in  UK  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  04:21 PM
Okay, no offense to the previous poster, but now we're moving into "Moon Landing Was A Hoax" territory.

Look, part of the secret of magic is making tricks look more complicated than they are. Take it on faith that no camera tricks were used. Look at the stunt again.

You KNOW that's either a dwarf or an amputee as the top half. C'mon. Admit it. You know.

I mentioned in the first post that a confederate was very obviously used, and how you can tell.

Given that information, and other posters' info, (I'm actually a fan of the "yoga position" posters,) you can see that things like robotics, camera tricks, hiring an entire audience for the camera tricks, etc., are way too expensive for one freakin' magic trick that doesn't need them.
Posted by SicTim  in  Minneapolis, MN  on  Mon Jul 24, 2006  at  04:39 PM
I recorded this show about the pulling of the women in half and it was in fact a hoax as every other trick from Criss Angel.

There was a swap of women. For a few details between the camera cut when Criss walks arround the bench to perform the actual split dont match up.

1) Before de camera cut, the women's shirt in on top of her skirt while after the cut it is tucked in the skirt.
2) Before the cut, the girl holding the arms leans at about 45 degrees to be able to reach the hands. After the cut she doesn't lean as much as if the women on the bench is now much taller.
3) Her feet are much smaller after the cut than before.
4) Is a women not used to be cut in half would start walking away from her legs like she's been walking on her hands all her life?

If you looks closely in slow motion at every trick that Criss Angel does there is always something that doesn't add up between two camera shots. Like the one where he himself gets cut in half, at one point his sandals are position nicely side by side, then a camera cut later one faces one direction and the other one faces another direction.

Very disapointing.
Posted by Bruno  in  Montreal  on  Thu Jul 27, 2006  at  01:13 AM
Does Sic Tim really think Mr Angel walked up the wall? I hate to disappoint him - but all magic tricks are hoaxes of one sort or another.

As far as the half woman trick is concerned: I am inclined to agree with those who think a switch was made. The left part of her skirt that hangs over the side of the bench suddenly appears to grow in size. It could be that the woman started off in two parts and there were two takes of the trick (and no substitution) which were edited together. However, if that were the case the onlookers would have seen the trick already and wouldn't be surprised the second time.

None of the onlookers did what I would have done - look down the skirt. Apart from the two pullers (who were definately stooges), the rest of the group were in on the trick.

I don't think Mr Angel should be critised for NOT pulling a woman in two. We know it didn't really happen and part of the fun of these tricks is working out how he pulled it off (if you see what I mean).
Posted by Tony Blurr  in  Limbo  on  Thu Jul 27, 2006  at  06:37 AM
See Criss levitate:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=H6W98GlFzvY&mode=related&search;=

see Criss spill the beans:

http://media.putfile.com/Criss-Angel-Levitation-Revealed-20
Posted by E C Duzzit  on  Thu Jul 27, 2006  at  07:49 AM
"Does Sic Tim really think Mr Angel walked up the wall? I hate to disappoint him - but all magic tricks are hoaxes of one sort or another."

Actually, if you look back, you'll see that that is one of my points.

I pointed out just when the confederate was swapped in in my very first post.

My main point, though, is that these "hoaxes" ("gags," really,) are made to look much more complicated than they are. That's an *important* part of misdirection.

Notice how when David Blaine did his famous "levitation", he'd draw his arms down as if he were lifting himself on something? I did.

That kept people looking for wires, ledges, etc. when dude was just bending his foot.

My specialty (in the subgenre of magic) is cards, but with any one slight, I could convince you I was doing dozens of different tricks in dozens of ways. I could literally make the four aces vanish and pull them out of a spectator's ass, if I were so inclined. (Hmmmm.)

All that fancy stuff and flourishes card magicians do? That's so you think they're cheating at that point. The real moves are slow, smooth and, in good hands, invisible.
Posted by SicTim  in  Minneapolis, MN  on  Fri Jul 28, 2006  at  03:02 PM
I suppose it's obvious but the audience may have seen a different version of the trick then we did. They may have seen a curtain come up while the switch took place.
Posted by Rube Vogel  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  07:39 AM
he tells the girls to both pull as if they want to drag the lady off the bench but instead only one lady pulls while the other just stands their. She should have pull the legs off the bench
Posted by Gabriel  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  07:08 PM
Here are the most plausible clue...

Before the pulling: The woman in white, who's supposed to pull from above, bents his hips to be able to grab the arms of the woman. It seems that there's not enough length for her to stand straight.

After that scene: The woman in white is now standing straight and her arms are slightly bent, it seems that the woman was longer than the first scene. Her elbows were slightly bent, enough room length to stand straight..
Posted by Dexter Lua  in  Philippines  on  Mon Sep 25, 2006  at  12:57 PM
Something else to note... Don't watch the woman pulling her arms, watch the woman "pulling" her legs. I put it in quotes because she DOESN'T pull. Note how the lower torso remains fixed? And that the skirt is conveniently covering the end of the bench? I'm nearly certain the bottom half is fixed in place with a contortionist bent backwards below the bench.
Posted by KaBaL  in  Colorado  on  Fri Nov 03, 2006  at  04:23 AM
The dwarf/legless lady theory is the best one so far.

The contortionist theory doesn't hold up, as the bottom half is ON THE BENCH. Do you expect a person who's already bent in half to be laying on the bench and look like she's flat on the bench?

Also, to support the theory that there is NO switching of a person, notice when the lady first sits and lies down on the bench. Notice that Criss Angel, holds her head and lays her down. This is to support the top half (the legless lady) from suddenly falling down onto the bench.
Posted by Keiichi  on  Fri Dec 01, 2006  at  06:57 PM
Criss Angel is one hot bitch...his illusions are pretty neat too :p I don't know how he does it.
Posted by MzGG07  in  California  on  Thu Jan 04, 2007  at  09:23 AM
Of course it`s a trick...but he`s an excelent magician...better than blaine.
Posted by wailer  on  Fri Jan 12, 2007  at  07:20 PM
The thing i find so obvious about the woman cut in half trick is that the movie is cut too. Sorry but if it is cut, it is cut. In the video you don`t even see him put the black draperie on the woman. A sceptic person will understand that a cut video is a cut video. It rules out the possibility of real magic, sorry. I also agree with the previous comment, where they possibly do a "now is a good time to sign the release form for filming" and do the switch. So that is why we see plausible reactions from real people, which is the most convincing asset of the clip.

And i think they ask what the guests have studied in school. I believe these people have not studied in science, where you have a sceptic mind and check out possiblities and so forth.

PS: Also put 'Criss Angel chair' in You Tube and you will see a bunch of people leviatate with the same video quality.
Posted by Marc  in  Montreal  on  Sat Feb 24, 2007  at  01:38 PM
This trick is really lame. The
Posted by Renzo  on  Wed Apr 11, 2007  at  02:30 PM
An extra commentary for those who have read the entire tread, yes all magic tricks are well
Posted by Renzo  on  Wed Apr 11, 2007  at  03:01 PM
I bet many small audiances see the trick and are filmed before they actually get to have the ignorant ones (probably coming out of some church) with a nice reaction on clip.
Posted by Marc  in  Montreal  on  Fri Apr 13, 2007  at  09:54 PM
i read on another post that the woman in the video has been on the discover channel. so the answer to many of his tricks is fairly simple: if he is willing to use confederates(proven in debunking the hallway trick as well as here) it is reasonable to assume that many if not all of his tricks use actors. so when he "walks on water" we can assume that the people in the pool see the suspension wires while we do not. we have to ask if his "ring in the ice cube" trick wasn't simply pre-fabbed and the two old ladies are confederates. the voodoo-doll "trick" is completely laughable, those are actors, why did they not have blisters on their hands, yet he bled. look up his suppossed promonition of lottery numbers. i can go on and on, and i have only watched a couple episodes, my point is this:

movies/tv shows use paid actors, special effects, and editing all the time w/o calling it "magic", why the hell does this hack get to label the same stuff an "illusion?" his other tricks that need no actors that i have seen are either extremely textbook(slipping a card into a beer bottle, coin tricks, levitation etc) or simply stuntmen work(setting yourself on fire). the only thing that makes this guy original is that he has the gaul to be completely obvious with his "tricks"... three episodes and i hate him already.
Posted by scott parker  in  tucson, az  on  Mon Apr 16, 2007  at  04:53 AM
the bottom half of the woman: use a double while she is standing, cut to the legless woman lying on the bench with fake legs. this is important: the only time we see the toes wiggling once the top half is detached is with an extreme closup, which could easily be post-filming-editing of the double. since we know the audience is probably all fake, why wouldn't he bi-pass using a little person or contortionist. this is why he pisses me off: low-rent gimmicks combined with alot of lying. a true illusionist can make a good skeptic say "atleast i was entertained"... this guy does not.
Posted by scott parker  in  tucson, az  on  Mon Apr 16, 2007  at  05:01 AM
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