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.

Body Manipulation Magic Photos

Posted on Sat Jun 24, 2006


The question truly is, and remains, was it a creative camera editing? Or truly real? Having watched the video numerous times, I find it hard to believe that the woman's fear wasn't real. Maybe she was a good actress, but not everoyne in that crowd could have been actors/actresses and they were convinceing enough. However, Criss Angel IS a known hypnotist along with many other thigns, is it possibel that during the time of the trick he had managed to hypnotise the people and then they edited the video? Oh the possibilities.
Posted by MJ  on  Fri Apr 04, 2008  at  12:45 PM
I just figured it out! It is editing, they switch the woman out when they focus on the man in the audience. When he first lays her down, the lady's shirt is UNTUCKED. After they focus on the man, her shirt is tucked into her skirt.
Also, the blonde woman is clearly a "plant" (and a terrible actress!)
Posted by modernsign  in  ca  on  Fri Jun 27, 2008  at  01:11 PM
Basically the immediate reflex of a person who had himself r herself cut would be stunned and crawl near the part of the body that is cut.. but the behaviour of the woman in the footage was different.. i think Chriss selected her purposely , a planted person..She was very limp at the starting of the footage her stance was very flat without any movement...
Posted by Arun Narayan  in  Indiana  on  Sun Aug 03, 2008  at  09:17 PM
i have seen the top half of the woman on a talk show before i think, and she only has the top half of her body ( i think she was born that way)
Posted by Aidan  on  Wed Aug 27, 2008  at  08:13 PM
Well, duh....!
Posted by KuntPhlapp  in  USA  on  Sat Oct 11, 2008  at  07:33 PM
what happened was the legless lady ( whose name is Rose, and can be read about here was positioned and secured on top of a contorsionist, which is the reason for a loose skirt so no one can identify a complete head and torso underneath it. At first i didnt really think this would be so because lying dow on top of the head would create a sort of bump and would be obvious, but when you think about it, well im not really sure if its the case for everyone, but my head and torso extends well beyond me knees. so the contosionist head is actually hanging off the bench. im also not sure if anyone else has figured this out, i havent read all the comments. usually criss angels actors are alot more horrible then that of the ones in this video, which eliminates foul play in the editing process, so i had to look into it. p.s. my dog is making the cutest face : ]
Posted by Kassi  in  LA  on  Fri Oct 31, 2008  at  11:29 PM
Posted by Delicious Monster  in  Orlando  on  Tue Dec 09, 2008  at  04:47 AM
No, It is all magic... He has made a pact with the devil for his special powers...
Posted by Joan Crackberry  in  BC, Canada  on  Wed Jan 21, 2009  at  07:18 AM
Dwarves have chubby limbs, the legs in this weren't chubby, they were slender. They were either from a contortionist, or they were fake.
Posted by Vek  in  Ontario, Canada  on  Thu Feb 12, 2009  at  08:35 PM
I want to know how the bottom half of "the woman" sat up after the top half was gone. No one's body bends that way, not even a yogi or a contortionist. If the person in the skirt was bent forward, they would have had to bend in an very odd way to make the bottom half of "the body" appear to sit up. I think it had to be a robotic prosthesis on the bottom. Watch as it sits up. It looked unnatural to me, aside from the fact that it was "torn in half."
Posted by Jamie  in  CA  on  Sun Feb 15, 2009  at  01:15 PM
1) Setup
2) Two people who are both very short / midgets
3) The crowd was not acting, they really didn't know.
4) The lady sitting on top of the "legs" lady was sitting on her shoulders. Notice the big skirt.
5) Notice the legs sit up. Legs don't sit up in this fashion, joints don't allow it. It's obvious someone very small is hiding under the skirt.

Posted by Nate  in  WA  on  Thu Mar 12, 2009  at  03:44 PM
This trick is paying homage to the trick that involved Johnny Eck, and his twin brother, Robert.
Way back in mid 20th century, when the "sawing a woman in half" trick was at peak popularity, a magician (I can't recall the name just now) performed a variation using the Eck brothers. In the trick Johnny (who had been born without a lower half to his body) would sit on top of his brother's shoulders, and a costume was worn that hid this. During the performance of the "sawing" it was a simple matter of detaching the costume, and once the saw had "cut the man in half" Johnny would suddenly yell out and make his way off the stage on his hands, while his brother Robert, as the "legs" would go running up and down the aisle of the theater "looking for their top half"!
Pandemonium would break out in the theater, as people would screem, and jump away from the legs, and the "upper half" kept yelling for the legs to come back!
All in all, it has been said, this particular presentation of the sawing trick was the best ever. And because of Criss Angel's reproduction of the trick, you can see why.
I must credit "The Amazing Randi" for this information. A fine magician and skeptic.
Posted by Mark Lauer  in  Hastings, MN  on  Thu Mar 19, 2009  at  03:29 PM
Criss Angel isn't the first one to pull the "Cut the person in half" without the wooden box trick.

I have seen Copperfield perform this same trick but he was getting cut in half himself. I saw this live in Montreal, CANADA and I still haven't figured it out.

Copperfield is chained to a table and this huge rotating saw blade comes down on him and cuts him in half. There are no boxes around him, nothing covering under the table (you can see right under)or on top of him. You basically see him get cut in half right in front of you, so there's no camera tricks...

Like I said, I'm still mind boggled...
Posted by Guy  in  Nova Scotia  on  Tue Apr 07, 2009  at  08:41 AM
Just a trick : )
Posted by Diman  in  Cz  on  Sun Aug 23, 2009  at  02:41 PM
Look at the people in the background. At first, the girl in the red is on the right, (if you are looking at the crowd) and then after Criss walks over to pull the woman apart, the girl in the red is on the left. Obviously they had to stop the camera, unless the crowd suddenly decided to move all around?
Posted by Mike  in  WI  on  Thu Aug 27, 2009  at  07:49 AM
the girl in the video is in fact a leg-less woman. It is a deformity not very common but there are few ppl out there like this.. They live by doing things useing only there hands. just like the armless man, he does everything with his feet.
Posted by Sara  on  Mon Oct 12, 2009  at  10:04 AM
That woman who crawls away....i have seen her on a show. I used to be a magic enthusiast for a long time, and i do know, the "half body woman" who crawls away is real...she is mentioned in Ripley's or something. what i cant figure out is how he worked out the bottom half with legs that wriggle.
If your body was pulled in half...would you crawl away like that with that much ease? you are crawling on hands for the first time afterall raspberry, besides i think i'd just sit there and yell my throat out!
Posted by Zhukov  on  Tue Oct 20, 2009  at  04:15 PM
It couldn't have been a slow person. Legs of a short person aren't in proportion to movement with the lady on top. Wasn't a camera stop and go. Because the shadows of the tree behind don't change when the separation takes place. Not sure if legs are mechanical, but looked odd when they are separated from the torso.
Posted by Junkatech  in  Earth  on  Tue Dec 15, 2009  at  11:24 AM
what my dad and i concluded is that it is simply two abnormally small people. you know what i mean. like little people. two of them with simle clothing tricks. notice how he said that the 1st one was two short, its because he needed to pick the "women"
Posted by conluded  on  Fri Jan 29, 2010  at  06:42 PM
Posted by sam  in  uk  on  Wed Mar 17, 2010  at  10:02 AM
The camera were switched off, cause the original woman didn't have her shirt tucked in when she lay down. The next frame shows her lying down, shirt tucked in?
Posted by Blah  in  South Africa  on  Sun Mar 21, 2010  at  10:27 AM
Check this wikipedia topic:

It explains how the trick was carried out.
Posted by v06  in  Geece  on  Mon Aug 02, 2010  at  04:32 AM
He should have done the trick to everyone there. THAT would have been impressive.
Posted by Ryan  in  Philippines  on  Sat Aug 07, 2010  at  12:07 AM
This guy Scott Parker commenting is a mad derelick malcontent. He says..Three episodes and I hate him already. Look......everybody knows that there is a gimmick involved to doing this stuff. However I think Chris Angel does a good job of entertaining. If you don't like him why do you watch him. Don't you have something better to do then sit around and watch something you hate just so you can piss and moan about it? Why don't you go out and try getting laid dude? You sound like you could use a little. You're asking why some hack like him gets to go around naming the stuff he does illusions when it's only lame gimmicks and lies that he uses to accomplish his "tricks". Who are you asking that question of? The national council of official judges that decide what is and what isn't considered an illusion? Get a life dude. Try talking about something that you enjoy if there is such a thing. Somehow I don't believe you can. Your very existence depends on you having fodder to direct your anger towards. Loser.
Posted by Gee Bee  in  Tejas  on  Wed Aug 25, 2010  at  09:55 PM
There is no way that this ever happened the way he tried to make it seem. Someone whos never had their legs off their body could NEVER crawl that good. Shed be stumbling and not be able to move. This girl obviously doesnt have legs in the first place
Posted by Sarah Moore  in  Ohio  on  Fri Aug 27, 2010  at  12:36 PM
hi im chad wells people im here cuz i am amazed wit criss angels tricks and i studied and researched most of them and this is the only trick i was abel to figga out because i am a surgeon and i am a honest man of my word now there is nothn in the video to take a close look at accept notice the woman walks good wit her arms now ive amputated legs and arms for car accident victoms in stuff and none of them or no one could walk on they arms when they frstt get their legs amputated it takes a lot of therapy and training as ur arms get stronger u start to walk better so the woman is perhaps an amputed real person now as far as the movement in the legs they are truly her artificial legs whats makin them move is a built in reflexor notice when a person sits down and u tap they knee caps wit smethn it moves well that reflexor constantly beats that knee when activated thats what criss angel is doing wit his hands right before she is pulled away he activating the reflexor thers a button to activate it this is used by patients when they sleep or smething to keep the mechanism in rhythm.if yall hav ? Email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by chad wells  on  Wed Dec 15, 2010  at  01:29 AM
No idea how he does it but Mike has astutely pointd out 1:22 and 1:23 as telling points. I'm not so much concerned with the background as with the skirt and the shadow beneath it. Watch how they shift at that point. Something is going on, editing-wise at that point.
Posted by Jazz Jamm  in  Here  on  Thu Feb 24, 2011  at  06:13 PM
"The "top half" is a woman I've seen on some cable channel documentary regarding birth anomalies. The "bottom half" is nothing more than a slender woman flexible enough to hide her upper body under a broomstick skirt. An example of this pose is often used by the kinetic perfomers ('dancers' doesn't seem apropos) that have frequently worked with the band Tool. It could even be that really flexible dude that's been on several of those cable documentaries.

The genius of Criss is how he constantly misdirects your attention. "I pick you. . ., Oh wait, you're not tall enough"

Notice that the skirt never rises and exposes the bottom person's head. That's clever tailoring and cleverly picking a woman who will protect another woman's modesty. Also note how the upper woman knows how to "walk" on her hands without using lower extremities. As if it were learned from a lifetime of living without them.

Cool stunt though!!

- P
Posted by Heather  in  Jacksonville fl  on  Sun Jan 29, 2012  at  05:00 PM
I was curious to know the answer for a long time.
Read the disucssion.Looks like the participants have nailed it.

A keen observation i made is => LOOK CLOSELY at the point when chris angel splits the women ..women upper half is being dragged away while lower remain unmoved, watch Chris angel's hand.
At the point when he hits the torso , the torso BOUNCES BACK !! .

When the torso is split , he still has his right hand on the lower torso , and IT BENDS WAY DOWN like a FIbre would do , unlike a human stomach.

Good enough to show the lower portion top was made of some sort of Cloth , fibre material ,which is squishy squashy !!
Posted by Raman Sharma  in  India  on  Fri Aug 30, 2013  at  01:08 AM
camera was shut off when the switched over to the cell camera
Posted by mike  in  phila  on  Tue Oct 15, 2013  at  05:07 PM
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