There are a number of magical illusions and escapes which incorporate stocks. Probably the most famous is sawing a woman in half, where the box has stocks at both ends. But there are other ways to bisect assistants.

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A variation on bisecting an assistant, featuring Debbie McGee and the lovely Paul Daniels. Debbie is secured in a box with stocks (lots of stocks), with two blades around her waist. Ropes attached to the blades are pulled, apparently bisecting Debbie.

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The guillotine is another well known illusion. The lunette resembles a pillory without the hand holes and holds the “volunteer” in a similar position.

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Here is a sequence of pictures from a guillotine illusion. Once she is secured in the lunette, the victim is often teased mercilessly for the entertainment of the audience before the blade is dropped.

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A guillotine illusion by Mago Mich.

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A close relative of the guillotine is the head chopper.

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Heads can also be removed with a circular saw.

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Of course other parts of the body can also be chopped off.

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A sword through the neck, encased in stocks.

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The Assistant’s Revenge restrains the assistant’s head, hands and legs in stocks. The idea is that the assistant is restrained, the magician pulls the curtain around and changes places with his assistant. A wonderful illusion, apart from the last bit!

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More Assistant’s Revenge, this time from "Magic's Biggest Secrets".

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The Ring of Terror, a variation on cutting in thirds.

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The Chinese Water Torture illusion, made famous by Houdini. Her feet are locked in stocks, then she is suspended upside down in a tank of water.

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Another Chinese Water Torture illusion, this time by Florielle.

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This is my favourite of course - the pillory. This can be used as a straighforward escape, or as an Assistant's Revenge.

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The Stocks of Zanzibar are similar to the pillory, except that only the assistant's head is in the stocks.

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Last modified 26 March 2024.