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


That's pretty amazing. Snopes has a page on it, too.

They claim that it was not done with any camera tricks. They also say to watch the video multiple times with a skeptical eye, and you might be able to figure it out. I'm not sure how they're so positive of their reasoning. Either way, I'm still stumped on the issue...

Oh, and I know which page your talking about with the glass, Alex, but I can't find it either. I think it was in the forum...
Posted by Archibold  on  Sat Jun 24, 2006  at  12:14 PM
Well, snopes says they know, and they say it's got nothing to do with the camera.
Posted by someone  on  Sat Jun 24, 2006  at  12:26 PM
Sorry, Archibold. I didn't see yours.
Posted by someone  on  Sat Jun 24, 2006  at  12:27 PM
After a little bit of searching, I found it! 😊

Here it is, Alex. Just as baffling to me as this one:

Oh, and I just got Hippo Eats Dwarf and I love it...
Posted by Archibold  on  Sat Jun 24, 2006  at  12:29 PM
I'd have been much more impressed if it was filmed using only one shot. There were so many cut aways that there were numerous places where they could have switched women if they'd wanted to. Not that I'm saying they did...but if they'd wanted to.
Posted by Nettie  on  Sat Jun 24, 2006  at  09:10 PM
Look at that big loose fitting skirt she's wearing. If it was really done in front of people who were not in on the trick I think that she was balancing on top of a midget, or a contortionist(sp?) that is bent over backwards.
Posted by BigDan  on  Sat Jun 24, 2006  at  09:42 PM
There is another video of him, also on youtube, I think, where he has some people rest him on a fence - one of those cast iron spikey ones - and gets impaled on it. It is really gross to see him drop down and the spikes come up. He starts yelling and all the bystanders freak out. Haha. Then he laughs. It is weird. I got grossed out a bit and couldn't watch him climb off of it. Ew.
Posted by thephrog  on  Sun Jun 25, 2006  at  01:09 AM
I haven't seen this particular Chriss Angel trick, but from having seen multiple episodes of his cable show, I can say that he absolutely does use confederates for at least some tricks. He did at least one levitation trick on this week's show that could only have been accomplished with the use of confederates.

Hey, no shame in that. My wife happened to have been one of the observers years ago when David Copperfield did his train car levitation trick. From what she told me, Copperfield uses a lookalike for some of his tricks.


Basically, if you ever see "Copperfield" wear sunglasses in the course of one of his tricks, it ain't him, it's the lookalike. My wife says the two are very similar in appearance, except for the eyes, which explains the shades.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Jun 25, 2006  at  01:09 AM
:lol: I got mentioned on the front page!
Maybe I should post more often!

Oh, and I didn't research enough to learn that was Johnny Eck from Freaks in the older trick. However, I'm glad that you pointed that out, as Freaks is one of my favorite movies. I find that interesting that Snopes would be so smug about the answer, yet give away a clear clue to find it. However, I still can't figure out the legs. The contortionist theory from BigDan actually sounds to be the most plausible.
Posted by Archibold  on  Sun Jun 25, 2006  at  12:35 PM
Big Dan,
You have a good theory about it.

Why would a volunteer laughed and walked away when seeing her legs standing up? It doesn't make any sense. She SHOULD look shocked and maybe demand to put her torso back to her legs immediately. Also, why did not they filming her torso putting on her legs at the end?
Posted by Mike  on  Sun Jun 25, 2006  at  02:48 PM
i hope you don't believe that's real. it wasn't digitally manipulated, but it's been edited. between the 1:22 and 1:23 mark watch the background. the original woman was replace with a handicapped person with no legs and the crowd is in on it like with most illusionists.

That was one of the person who posted at
Posted by Mike  on  Sun Jun 25, 2006  at  03:07 PM
To find a woman without legs wasn
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  01:55 AM
well.. i watched it like 10 times now...
and this is what i think:
there are simply 2 girls: one legless and one dwarf. The legless one is being carried by the dwarf. Therefore they chose a long black skirt hiding up a whole dwarf. It looks like there are only legs in the skirt, but note that it is a very very long one(compare it to the other ppl around at the beginning, they look all much smaller).
It's a perfect illusion but no magic at all
Posted by frank  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  04:54 AM
(0.00-0.30)note that the woman is not moving at all standing in the back(first 30 seconds) this is due the fact that the dwarf is busy carrying the legless woman and can hardly move around.
(0.40)Note when the woman is sitting on the bench, she immediately puts her hands on the bench(like pushing hardly herself up so that she doesn't fall backwards)
From the moment on the magician is hitting on her belly, the dwarf crawls even a little deeper in the skirt and also hides his arms.

Please check the pictures i did, i drawed in the 2 persons in blue and red:
Posted by frank  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  05:12 AM
That dwarf must have some pretty fat legs..
Posted by X  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  01:30 PM
watch the lady when she walks over and sits down on the bench, and then lays down. there is no way that it is a dwarf and a legless woman at that point. it has to be camera trick and the switch is after she has laid down.
Posted by Grain  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  01:31 PM
Speaking of Criss Angel, and a person being pulled in half...

I don't know how this guy does it...
Posted by Archibold  on  Mon Jun 26, 2006  at  06:16 PM
I examined that movie closely. While Criss is picking out people, you can see the women stands perfectly still, as to hold her balance. The skirt is wide and long to hide the fact that she is a torso on top if a contractionist who bent as depicted here:

My guess is they are held together by some kind of harness.
Now, as he leads her to the bench you can see him putting his hands on her 'back', leading the (contortionist's) legs the right way.
Then, when she sits down she holds on tight to the edge of the bench while Criss leads her backwards so she won't fall backwards or loosen the harness. He has the girls hold the legs and arms while he unlocks the harness by 'pushing' the middle of the woman.
The girl holding the feet is an accomplice. Observe how Angel tells the girls to pull simultaneously, but the girl holding the feet isn't pulling at all, for this would pull the contortionist off the bench. Also she is the only one who could see under the skirt and see the 'legs' person. As the torso screams and 'runs' off, the attention is distracted from the legs, or any odd shape the skirt might have. All in all a neat but classic trick of distraction and misleading the audience
Posted by Tobester  on  Tue Jun 27, 2006  at  01:17 PM
There is a simpler explaination, that is often used in some of these 'live' TV tricks. The woman is led to lie down on the bench. The magician tries the trick, and cannot ("the spirits are not willing, blah, blah"). The crowd is then told, "now is a good time to sign the release form for filming" and are led off for a few minutes out of sight. The swap is made and when they return the woman is still lying on the bench, only this time it is a differnt woman (as described above). TV viewers never see this slight of hand, as the editing hides it. A straight edit is not a camera trick. This way much of the crowd is real, while only a few are confederates. But don't put it past a magician to have the whole crowd in on the illusion and merely acting. That is the greatest trick of all - to make you believe them!
Posted by Jim  on  Tue Jun 27, 2006  at  03:13 PM
The most obvious part of this trick, and the one that gives away that he's using a confederate, is that he seems to pick a random woman at first, then explains that she's not right to fit the bench and chooses another woman.

Sorry for the run-on sentence, but this sort of switcheroo is an extremely old school tactic for swapping in someone who's in on the gag.
Posted by SicTim  on  Wed Jun 28, 2006  at  04:45 PM
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  on  Thu Jun 29, 2006  at  08:52 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  on  Fri Jun 30, 2006  at  06:57 AM
:) im confused?
Posted by nancy  on  Sat Jul 01, 2006  at  06:11 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  09:55 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

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  12:36 PM
or even three, if you catch my drift
Posted by Tobester  on  Mon Jul 03, 2006  at  12:37 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  05:49 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  09:32 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  on  Wed Jul 05, 2006  at  10:21 PM
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  04:20 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  08:18 PM
There's another Angel trick at - 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  on  Sat Jul 22, 2006  at  02:21 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  on  Mon Jul 24, 2006  at  02:39 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  on  Wed Jul 26, 2006  at  11:13 PM
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  on  Thu Jul 27, 2006  at  04:37 AM
See Criss levitate:;=

see Criss spill the beans:
Posted by E C Duzzit  on  Thu Jul 27, 2006  at  05:49 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  on  Fri Jul 28, 2006  at  01:02 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  05:39 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  05:08 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  on  Mon Sep 25, 2006  at  10:57 AM
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  on  Fri Nov 03, 2006  at  02:23 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  04:57 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  on  Thu Jan 04, 2007  at  07:23 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  05:20 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  on  Sat Feb 24, 2007  at  11:38 AM
This trick is really lame. The
Posted by Renzo  on  Wed Apr 11, 2007  at  12:30 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  01:01 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  on  Fri Apr 13, 2007  at  07:54 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  on  Mon Apr 16, 2007  at  02:53 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  on  Mon Apr 16, 2007  at  03:01 AM
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