TRICK EFFECT & ROUTINE: The assistant is brought up to center stage. She is placed in a reclining position on a couch. Then covered with a large cloth. She is commanded to rise. Once she has risen to a height of one foot above the couch, the couch is taken away and the performer walks all around the floating woman. She continues to rise until she is well over the head of the performer. Then she slowly descends until she is level with the performer’s head. Again she begins to rise. This time, the performer takes hold of the cloth and while she is rising, the cloth is whisked away. The woman is gone, vanished right in front of the audience.
PREPARATION: One of the most startling effects in magic has always been the levitation. Whether you levitate an assistant, a horse or a car, getting something to float has always pleased the crowd. I will explain the illusion in terms of floating a woman, but the principle will work with any object, big or small, male or female.
The secret: The secret is in the couch (remember the couch from the above trick description?) and the rest of the effect depends on a mesh-like screen, which is shaped like the assistant’s body. As soon as the assistant lies down on the couch, the performer picks up the cloth, which will be used to cover her. While this is taking place, the body mesh or screen is lowered over the assistant. Since the body mesh is clear, members of the audience do not see it. This movement is done by someone behind or off in the stage wings. The body mesh is molded to resemble a woman; it is attached by four strings of invisible thread to a location controlled by another assistant. When the performer covers the woman with the cloth, it is the screen, which is really being covered. As soon as the woman is fully covered, she secretly slips into a hidden compartment in the couch. After the couch is removed to a backstage area, the woman gets out of the couch. Because the couch has played such a small role in the effect, most people forget about it.
The shape of the screen leads everyone to believe that the woman can still be seen from the audience. In reality, the trick is already done. Now the performer merely plays out his or her part. The off-stage assistant watches the moves of the performer, lowering or raising the cloth covered screen as per the performer’s commands. When the cloth is whisked away, the audience can’t see the invisible screen. The body screen seems invisible for a couple of reasons; first the background or backdrop is dark. Black is best. The mesh is made of a nylon material, which can also be black or transparent. Either way the audience is unable to distinguish the mesh from the dark background. It is usually a good idea to have the off-stage assistant raise the uncovered screen completely up out of view anyway at the conclusion of the trick; this keeps the stage area clear. In some cases, I have seen the body mesh more like a mold, covered in a black velvet material exactly matching the backdrop. This black velvet mold should remain invisible to the audience so long as it is seen against a black velvet rear curtain. This effect is difficult for television, because the television eye can often pick up the movements. But this effect is great for a full- stage presentation.