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David Blaine's Chicken Illusion

This page will describe a workable version of the trick shown on the Vertigo television special .

On his Vertigo television programme, David Blaine appeared to remove the head from a chicken and then replace the head back on the chicken. The chicken was alive and well after this and appeared quite content. This illusion got a really big audience reaction from the people that David performed the trick in front of.

The theory that follows, will explain the basics of how the trick was done and allow you to perform a workable version.

Effect: The magician appears to pull the head of a chicken, then replace the head back on the chicken, the chicken being alive and well after this has seemingly happened.

Props Needed:  

A live chicken.
A false chickens head Try magic suppliers, theatrical prop shops or even have a go at making your own.
A good line of patter.

 Performance and secret: The magician presents a live chicken to the spectators and holds it under his arm. He then rants on convincingly about how chickens have as many lives as cats or with some other patter, whether it be voodoo related or other. It doesn't really matter as long as it's entertaining. It is explained to the audience that he will prove the fact that chickens have more than nine lives, with a simple demonstration.

The magician then grabs the chickens head and neck with his free hand and after some well acted twisting and pulling (appearing to have to pull quite strongly), the head apparently comes off the chicken and is quickly flashed in front of the audience. ( They will normally jump back in surprise and not view the head in any great detail).

Very soon after this, the magician takes the severed head in his hand and appears to screw it back on the chicken. ( this is done at an angle 90 degrees to one side of the audience). The chicken is then again presented 100% complete, alive and unharmed to the surprise and delight of the audience.

Some types of birds (especially doves) are extremely flexible and can be compressed a little, without harm. A small dove for instance can be compressed to occupy a space, little larger than a ping pong ball for a short period of time. This is why doves are a popular choice for magicians as the birds can be easily concealed.

In the illusion described above, what actually happens is that the chickens head and neck is carefully tucked under one of its wings ( the wing on the side of the bird that will not be seen when the bird is presented to the audience). A false head has previously been concealed up his sleeve or in a pocket and when appearing to pull off the head, this is retrieved from the sleeve or pocket and slipped back later when appearing to be replacing the head.