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The Twins Clearly Impossible

The Twins performing Clearly Impossible on an audience volunteer at the 2009 World Magic Awards.

Clearly Impossible is a variation of the Sawing a Woman in Half illusion devised by magician Jonathan Pendragon.[1][2][3] Unlike most other versions of the illusion, it uses clear-sided boxes that allow the assistant to be seen throughout the performance.

History[]

The illusion was devised by Jonathan Pendragon in the early 1990s, with assistance from Joseph Patire, and first performed by Jonathan and his then-wife Charlotte. According to Jonathan, discussing the illusion on a DVD he produced that talks about it in detail, it was developed as a result of experiments he did with the "Disc Sawing" performed by Doug Henning on his 1978 TV special. He also claims to have been unaware of the very similar Les Arnold Crystal Sawing until after he had started to perform Clearly Impossible in public. When first devised, the exclusive manufacturing rights were held by Bill Smith. By 2009, those rights had apparently passed to Dan Summers.

Description[]

The illusion is very similar in principle and performance to the older "Thin Model" versions of sawing a woman in half, with the exception that the boxes used to cover the assistant being divided are clear, rather than opaque. In basic concept, it is very similar to the transparent sawing known as the Crystal Sawing developed by Les Arnold in the late 1970s.[2][4] However, in the Pendragon's version, the boxes are much smaller, and are never covered at any point during the illusion. As a result, the assistant within the boxes remains in full view throughout, making this a particularly baffling illusion for the audience.

Performance[]

Kamyleon_-_clearly_impossible

Kamyleon - clearly impossible

A magician performing the Clearly Impossible sawing.

The illusion usually begins with the magician showing the audience a low table, designed to split into two halves. The main assistant is then introduced, and lays down on the table. Other assistants then place two boxes over the assistant, with clear sides and tops. As the upper box is placed over them, the main assistant extends their arm out of the open side of the box, while their head and feet extend out of the ends of the two boxes. Small stocks are then used to restrain the assistant's feet and neck.

The magician then cuts through the box using either a saw or sword (although some performers skip this step), and dividers are placed into the box either side of the cut. With the dividers in place, the two halves of the table are unlocked and pulled apart. As the assistant has been in full view throughout the illusion, it is clear to the audience that the assistant's body really has been divided into two halves, the impossibility of this situation helping to give the illusion its name. The halves of the table are then pushed back together, the dividers removed, and the unharmed assistant released from the stocks and boxes.[5]

Variations[]

In 2007, magician Stephen Mulhern debuted a double sawing using Clearly Impossible-style boxes. This illusion is generally known as Doubly Impossible.

Recently, rather than using one of their regular assistants or a celebrity guest, some magicians have begun performing the illusion on a volunteer from the audience.

Magician Jamie Allan's "Laser Sawing" is a version of Clearly Impossible using a vertical industrial laser beam to divide the box and assistant in half.

In many recent versions, the assistant is able to extend their arms out of both sides of the box.

Audience impact[]

As the boxes used have clear sides, the audience is able to see right through them, and can see that the assistant is still fully restrained by the stocks and has not curled up inside the upper box, as is described in many commonly available magic books for the "Big Box" sawing. This continuous visibility allows the magician to prove conclusively to the audience that the assistant really has been cut in half and divided into two pieces. As a result, Clearly Impossible has the greatest audience impact of any commonly performed sawing illusion.

Notable performances[]

  • While she was married to David Copperfield, and not otherwise occupied with modelling work, Claudia Schiffer often assisted David in his stage shows as a "special guest assistant". Part of these shows was a performance of Clearly Impossible, with Claudia as the assistant being sawed in half by David.[6][7][8] To help reinforce the fact that Claudia was not curling up inside the upper box to avoid the saw, David had an audience member hold on to her feet all the way through the illusion until after her halves had been pulled apart.
  • When she took part in a 2003 photoshoot with photographer Sam Jones, actress Heather Graham was first levitated by a magician, and then sawed in half in his Clearly Impossible illusion. Although pictures of the levitation have been published, those of the sawing have not and remain unseen.
  • In November 2004, singer Shania Twain appeared on the BBC charity telethon Children in Need as a celebrity assistant in a magic act, being sawed in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible. Shania subsequently included being sawed in half in Clearly Impossible into a number of her live shows.
  • Martin

    Italian magician Martin performs Clearly Impossible on singer Sabrina Salerno.

    Italian singer Sabrina Salerno assisted illusionist Martin in a televised performance of Clearly Impossible.[9]
  • While presenting SM:TV Live, British TV presenter Cat Deeley was the first British celebrity to be sawed in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible.
  • After Blue Peter presenter Zöe Salmon posted in her blog on the show's website that she had a long-held ambition to have a go at being sawed in half by a magician, fans of the show began a began a "Please saw Zöe in half" campaign. As a result of this campaign, Zöe filmed a feature in which she became a magician's assistant. After the filmed segment had been shown, the magician then joined her in the studio for a live performance, in which she was sawed in half in the magician's Clearly Impossible illusion.
  • In 2006, British model and TV presenter Abigail Clancy was sawed in half by a magician in his Clearly Impossible illusion during an appearance on the daytime TV show Richard & Judy.
  • In the mid-1990s, magician Joe Labero regularly performed Clearly Impossible on his principle assistant at the time, Linda Ulvaeus, daughter of ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog.
  • On his fourth TV special in 2001, magician Lance Burton performed Clearly Impossible on his special guest assistant, model and actress Ali Landry.
  • During an appearance on the March 26, 2001 episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Lance Burton performed Clearly Impossible on fellow guest, former Baywatch actress A.J. Langer.
  • In 2005, Lance Burton also appeared on an episode of Party @ The Palms, performing Clearly Impossible on show hostess Jenny McCarthy.
  • When British illusion act The Twins appeared on Blue Peter in February 2011, they performed their Clearly Impossible sawing on BBC Newsround presenter Sonali Shah.
  • In early April 2010, The Twins made two appearances on BBC TV performing their Clearly Impossible sawing on a celebrity assistant. On April 8th, they appeared on The ONE Show, on which they sawed former ballerina Darcey Bussell in half. Then, on April 16th, they sawed presenter Susanna Reid in half when they appeared on the BBC's early morning BBC Breakfast show.
  • In November 2009, The Twins appeared on the annual BBC Children in Need telethon, performing their Clearly Impossible sawing on former model and TV presenter Melinda Messenger.
  • The_Twins_Clearly_Impossible

    The Twins Clearly Impossible

    The Twins perform Clearly Impossible at the 2009 WMA.

    At the 2009 World magic Awards, The Twins performed their Clearly Impossible sawing on a female volunteer from the audience.
  • When she presented a feature on how the success of the Harry Potter franchise had led to an increase in the interest in magic in the UK, BBC Newsround presenter Ellie Crisell finished her report by taking part in a performance of Clearly Impossible.
  • During a promotional visit to Europe, Jessica Simpson participated in a performance of the illusion where she was sawed in half by illusionist Hans Klok, who used a large circular saw to divide her in two.
  • When he appeared on the September 8, 1997 episode of ITV game show Talking Telephone Numbers, Hans Klok performed the illusion on show presenter Claudia Winkleman.
  • When she interviewed Hans Klok on Channel 5 News, weather presenter Lara Lewis achieved her ambition to become a magician's assistant when she was sawed in half by Hans in his Clearly Impossible illusion.
  • On November 11, 2000, Hans Klok made an appearance on the German TV show Wetten, dass..? aus Freiburg, during which he performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on supermodel Eva Herzigova. This performance came about partly as a result of comments by Eva about how she was a little jealous of her fellow supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford, who had both been sawed in half by David Copperfield, and she wanted to find out what it was like to be sawed in half.
  • When Dutch reality TV presenter Chantal Janzen stayed with Hans Klok at his home for her TV show Chantal blijft slapen in 2014, he performed a number of different illusions on her, including sawing her in half in his Clearly Impossible sawing.
  • When she appeared on a Mexican talk show, Penelope Cruz took part in a performance of this illusion.
  • When rock band Jefferson Starship appeared on another Mexican talk show in October 2005, a magician who was also a guest on the show performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on singer Diana Mangano.
  • In the season 4 episode of Bones, Double Trouble in The Panhandle, the characters of Brennan and Booth go undercover as performers in a touring circus. In addition to the two of them performing a knife-throwing act, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) also assists a magician, being sawed in half in his Clearly Impossible sawing.
  • In 2005, magician Pete Firman performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on TV presenter Zöe Ball when she appeared as a guest on the TV magic show Dirty Tricks.[10]
  • At the annual Broadway Cares’ Easter Bonnet Competition in April 2005, actress Christina Applegate was sawed in half by a magician in his Clearly Impossible illusion.
  • While appearing on Japanese TV during a 2006 promotional visit to the country, Mischa Barton was asked by the show's host if she could help out a local magician with a couple of tricks. Mischa agreed and, after helping with a card trick, she was then sawed in half by the magician using his version of Clearly Impossible. In interviews, Mischa has revealed that she has also been sawed in half in Clearly Impossible several dozen times by magicians that she is friends with, usually in private performances for friends at various parties.
  • Magician Stephen Mulhern has performed Clearly Impossible a number of times on his former Ministry of Mayhem co-presenter Holly Willoughby, including on his CITV magic show Tricky TV. When Holly married Ministry of Mayhem producer Dan Baldwin in 2007, Stephen entertained the guests at their wedding reception by performing the illusion on Holly's chief bridesmaid, her sister Kelly.
  • Better_Half_Operation_V2

    Better Half Operation V2

    Frederic Clement's "Better Half Operation" version of the Clearly Impossible sawing.

    When French Canadian magician Frederic Clement performs his version of the illusion, which he titles his "Better Half Operation", he invites an audience member up on stage to feel the feet of his divided assistant to prove that they are real and that the assistant really has been cut in two. In his version of the illusion, Clement uses a large industrial laser to divide the assistant.
  • At the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, after being made to appear inside an apparently empty glass elevator, Taylor Swift was sawed in half by David Copperfield using his version of the illusion.
  • When she made a guest appearance on the Australian version of Big Brother in 2008, former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson agreed to let local magician Matt Hollywood perform a number of illusions on her, including sawing her in half in his version of Clearly Impossible.
  • In January 2011, actress Samantha Womack chose being sawed in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible as her "celebrity's choice" live trick when she appeared on the BBC TV show The Magicians.
  • In January 2012, magician Hans Klok performed his Clearly Impossible sawing on model and TV presenter Alexa Chung at the London fashion Week show of designer Stella McCartney. Originally, it was planned that he would perform the illusion on model and magic fan Kate Moss, and she spent several days working with Hans to rehearse the illusion. However, she was forced to drop out of the show after suffering a temporary paralysis of her right arm due to a trapped nerve, and so Alexa stepped in at short notice to replace her.[11]
  • A month later in February 2012, during the press night at the Peacock Theatre in London for his stage show The Houdini Experience, Hans Klok invited actress Louisa Lytton up onto the stage and sawed her in half in his Clearly Impossible illusion.
  • Danielle nicholls clearly impossible sawing

    CITV presenter Danielle Nicholls is sawed in half for her TV show The Unprofessionals.

    In 2004, while presenting the Tyne Tees series The Unprofessionals, CITV presenter Danielle Nicholls undertook a challenge to become a magician's assistant and be sawed in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible.
  • Australian magician Cosentino regularly performs the illusion in his stage shows, using it with a circular saw to saw in half a female volunteer from the audience.[12] He has also performed his version of the illusion on a number of celebrity assistants including Danni Minogue.
  • In February 2013, magician Jamie Allan appeared on BBC Breakfast performing his "Laser Sawing" on presenter Susanna Reid.
  • In December 2014, during his one-off TV special Darcy Oake: Edge of Reality, magician Darcy Oake performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on show host Christine Bleakley.
  • In 2019, during an appearance at Walt Disney World, singer Emma Bunton was sawed in half by one of the resident magicians in a performance of Clearly Impossible.
  • In February 2020, during an appearance on Good Morning Britain, Darcy Oake performed the illusion on presenter Kate Garraway.
  • On October 30/31 2020, mathematician and TV Presenter Dr Hannah Fry took part in the 24-Hour Maths Magic Show, an online 24-hour charity fundraiser combining mathematical games and tricks with performances by various magicians. During the show, Hannah acted as the assistant to one of the magicians, who sawed her in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible.
  • In 2016, popular video blogger Megan Parken posted a video of a trip to Las Vegas for an awards event. During this trip, she went to one of the various magic shows in the city, where she was picked out of the audience by the magician and invited up on stage to be sawed in half in his Clearly Impossible sawing. In the video, which has since been deleted by YouTube for containing copyrighted music used during the performance, Megan admitted that she had no idea how the trick works and was completely baffled by it. Commenting on the experience, Megan stated "I really don't know how he did it. All I know is that when you see him sawing through the box, he really was sawing though me too. And, when he moved the halves of the box apart, I really was in two halves inside it."
  • In a magazine article published in February 2020, actress Jennifer Garner revealed that she'd been sawed in half several times by a magician in the Clearly Impossible sawing. Jennifer's eldest daughter, Violet, has been a really big magic fan ever since she was five and saw Jennifer take part in the Bow Saw illusion. Since then, Jennifer has had to hire Violet's favorite magician as the entertainment at Violet's birthday parties, and he closes his show by performing Clearly Impossible on the birthday child's mother. According to Jennifer, she'd been sawed in half by him six times, while her older sister Melissa had been sawed once while Jennifer was pregnant.
  • In the magazine article where she revealed that she'd been sawed in half several times in Clearly Impossible, Jennifer Garner also revealed that she arranged a special surprise for eldest daughter Violet's 14th birthday. As Violet is now the same height as Jennifer, and so is tall enough to fit in the box, Jennifer arranged for her to be the one who got sawed in half.
  • When she appeared on the March 10, 2020 episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden, actress Elle Fanning was sawed in half by show host James Corden in a performance of Clearly Impossible, using a large circular saw to make the division.
  • Having seen her friend Taylor Swift being sawed in half by magician Franz Harary, actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld stated in several interviews that she'd also love to be sawed in half by a magician. During an appearance on the BBC's The One Show in October 2019, Hailee got her wish when she assisted illusionist Darcy Oake with a performance of Clearly Impossible.
  • In the 1994 TV series version of Robocop, the episode Illusions included a storyline where the character of Detective Lisa Madigan (played by Yvette Nipar) falls for a magician and magic shop owner named Adam Roland (Maurice Godin). After a date in a restaurant, Roland takes Madigan back to his magic shop to show her some of his tricks and illusions. He asks her if she'd ever been sawed in half and, when she answers no, offers to saw her in half. She accepts the offer and he saws her in half in his version of Clearly Impossible.
  • When she was 20 and taking a break from acting, Evan Rachel Wood spent several months working as a magician's assistant in a touring magic act. During the shows, one of the tricks she took part in was being sawed in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible, in which the magician used a circular saw to cut her in half.
  • In January 2023, when they both appeared as contestants on Criss Angel's Magic With The Stars, Donny Osmond performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on former 1980s teen star Debbie Gibson.
  • In November 1993, at his Magic Show to Benefit the Starlight Children's Foundation at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, magician David Copperfield performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on actress Emma Samms.
  • During an appearance on the March 15, 1993, episode of The Arsenio Hall Show, David Copperfield performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on actress Marisa Tomei.
  • On November 25, 2022, TV antiques expert Natasha Raskin Sharp acted as the MC at the Leuchie Long Lunch charity event in Edinburgh. Part of the entertainment at the event was magician Kevin Quantum (Kevin McMahon), who performed the Clearly Impossible sawing on Natasha.
  • In May 2008, at her 40th birthday party, actress and singer Kylie Minogue was sawed in half in a performance of Clearly Impossible by magician Paul Lytton.
  • When she was a high school student, actress Anne Hathaway's boyfriend was magician Brad Ross. Anne often used to appear in his show as his assistant in various illusions including being sawed in half in his performances of Clearly Impossible.

References[]

  1. http://www.magictelevision.org/portal/index.php?/The.Art.of.Magic.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schneider, A., "A New Clear Sawing", Genii magazine, June 1993 (Vol 56, No 6).
  3. Moehring, J., "The Century: The Pendragons", Magic magazine, Vol.8 No.12 (August 1999).
  4. YouTube video of French magicians Raphael and Caroline Marx performing the Les Arnold clear sawing
  5. The Pendragons performing Clearly Impossible in Cincinnati 1998 PBS TV Special [1]
  6. Bryant, S. "Claudia Schiffer: From Supermodel to Magician's Assistant". Genii magazine, August 1996, (Vol 59, No 8.).
  7. David Copperfield AskMen.com. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  8. Top 10 Celebrity Odd Couples Film.com. Retrieved 26 April 2009
  9. YouTube clip of performance
  10. Dirty Tricks, Episode 1.4. IMDb.com.
  11. Pearson, Jennifer (2012-10-20). "Leggy lady! Alexa Chung ditches heels for practical flats (but her gams still steal the show in micro-mini dress)". London: dailymail.co.uk. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2220529/Alexa-Chung-turns-heads-micro-mini-dress.html. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  12. Magic man Cosentino to bring artistry to screen. Greater Dandenong Weekly, 16 January 2012.
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