A circus consisted of some talented fellows that moved from down to town doing tricks, amassing and amazing crowds with their talents. It consisted of singers, magicians, clowns, tight rope Walkers, jugglers, etc.
Although there was always great talent in the circus, the eye-catcher was always the magic show. Of course, back then some people had no idea that the magic show was just a couple of tricks and illusions. There are still some mysterious magic tricks from the back when the circus was a big deal.
1. The Aztec Lady
The magic truck became popular in Great Britain and very popular among circus performers and magicians. It was usually performed by a magician and his assistant. Sometimes the magician would pick someone from the spectacle to do the trick with him.
This magic trick cuts someone into four and then rejoins them again. Most of the co-players were always women and a large four section box or cabinet is introduced. The magician is always careful to pick someone that was just the right fit for the box such that the person fits in very nicely. Then they close the box. The woman’s hands are tied above her head which makes it impossible for her to untie herself. It is also demonstrated that the individual part of the four sections is too small for her to fit in.
When she’s securely tied, they close the cabinet and the box is divided into four sections. Each section is then placed on the floor. A sword or any sharp object is then thrust into the four boxes. Most times some random member of the crowd is called to help poke the to show that it’s all real. After this, the magician puts the four boxes back together and removes the sharp objects. He then opens the box to reveal the girl safe and sound in the box.
2. The Money in a Fruit Trick
Here the magician collects a nominated piece of money from the audience. Sometimes the audience even signs the money. They can also rip off the edge of the bill, record the serial number or stain the money. The point is that the audience can mark the money in any way they please.
After a few skillful hand gestures the money disappears (some magicians even tear the money into shreds) and he cut open an orange, grape or any piece of fruit that is used at the show and produces the vanished money. The money is pulled out of the fruit, very wet and showed to the crowd.
3. Catching a Bullet
Here the magician appears to catch a bullet in his mouth or the hand. In this magic trick, a bullet, any real bullet is selected and then passed around in the crowd. The crowd then examines the bullet and scratches it or marks it so they can identify it later. Great pains are made so that the audience sees that there is no hokey pokey and then a gun is provided. This gun is operated by someone handy with guns. He could be a nominator from the crowd or the magician’s assistant. Traditionally it was usually the magician’s assistant that handled the gun as most spectaculars were reluctant to shoot a loaded gun at a magician.
For authenticity’s sake, there is a glass or something placed in-between the shooter and the magician. The gun is then visibly loaded for all the spectators to see. The gun operator lifts the gun at the magician and fires. The bullet shatters the glasses and the magician catches it and collapses.
When he gets up, he is not harmed but has the bullet in-between his teeth.
Today, there are still a wide variety of tricks and illusions happening in the illusion business on TV. But back then, the circus performed everything live and did not have special edit features. So they had to be a bit more creative.