Fact Check

Pulled Apart

Video clip shows a woman being pulled apart at the waist?

Published Jun 22, 2006


Claim:   Video clip shows a woman being pulled apart at the waist.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

Though you might be interested in this clip. This is an unbelievable magic trick. Purportedly a man in a park has a woman lie down on a bench. He enlists two other women to pull on her feet and arms in opposite directions. After he taps on her belly, the other two women pull apart the woman lying on the bench. It appears the torso crawls away and the legs sit up on the bench. The onlookers appear "freaked out."

Origins:   The above-linked video, which shows a woman seemingly being pulled apart at the waist (and surviving the process), is yet another entry in the list of images difficult to classify with simple "true" or "false" ratings. The best we can do is provide answers to some of the multiple questions viewers might ask about it:

  • The man shown orchestrating this event is magician Criss Angel, and this clip was taken from his Mindfreak television program, which airs on the A&E cable channel.
  • The woman is not actually being pulled apart; she's taking part in what is commonly known as a "magic trick."
  • The basic illusion Criss Angels performs does not necessarily require video manipulation or digital trickery — it can be (and has been) executed live on stage, although some video shortcuts are necessary to pull it off it as an open-air, taped performance as shown in this video clip.

More than that we cannot say without running afoul of the magician's code, other than to note that more information about this type of illusion is available to those willing to expend the effort to look for it. For example, illusionist Ricky Jay describes an earlier version of this trick in his book Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women:

During the performance of a stage illusion show, a magician requested the help of a volunteer from the audience. An unassuming fellow stood up and climbed onstage. The man was placed in a wooden box and the familiar sawing-in-half illusion commenced. The box was severed and each half separated to the delight of the audience. The halves were then pushed together and the volunteer restored. The volunteer walked back to his seat amidst resounding applause. Suddenly, in full view of the audience, he toppled over and split apart at the waist. His legs walked off to the left, and his torso crawled to the right. Gasps and screams were heard in the audience. Many people fainted. Others fled the theater. The disturbance it created was so disruptive, the effect was never repeated.

To viewers determined to figure out on their own how the illusion is accomplished, we'd recommend watching this video clip several times with a skeptical eye, keeping in mind the whole time that:

  • It isn't "magic" — there's a logical and straightforward explanation for what you're seeing.
  • All the details of the performance — even actions and appearances that are seemingly innocuous or unimportant — have a purpose.

Last updated:   22 June 2006

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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