Let's get one thing straight: Regardless of whether or not you actually ~believe~ in magic, watching people bend the rules of physics to seemingly pull a rabbit out of a hat, saw a person in half, or guess which card you pulled out of a deck is always going to be a little mind blowing. For The Conjuress Jinger Leigh and The Clairvoyants Thommy Ten, and Amelie van Tass, stars of Broadway's The Illusionists: Turn of the Century, it's just an average day at work. "[The audience] can expect to be transported into a time when magic was at the pinnacle of every theater, and every Vaudeville stage," Jinger says while visiting Bustle's studio to show off a few tricks with Ten and van Tass. "It's the Golden Age of magic, which roughly took place between 1910 and 1924 before the advent of movies. Everything is just rich and colorful and beautiful and theatrical. It's magic in its purest form."
The show, now in its third year of production, runs through Jan. 1 at New York City's Palace Theater before touring the rest of the country. It's a stunning look back at a time when magicians ruled the stage. "The stage and the costumes and everything is in turn-of-the-century style," van Tass says. Oh, and the magic is pretty freaking amazing, too. After all, the early 20th century was when most illusionists were really starting to get inventive with their effects — and for the first time ever, women were taking their place in the spotlight, too. "All the magicians' assistants prior to that time were men," The Conjuress Jinger says. "But similar to this time and age, women's suffrage was happening, women were going for the vote, and there was kind of a little unspoken animosity toward the new power and strength that women were garnering. So [English magician] P.T Selbit thought it would make a greater headline if he could saw a woman in half. It was so good, that from that moment on, women became most of the assistants."
The Conjuress didn't saw anyone in half while visiting Bustle's office, but she did show off a few other tricks, including one where she tore a paper heart into tiny pieces, wadded them up in a small ball, and then suddenly unfolded it to reveal the paper heart back in one piece. As for The Clairvoyants? You're just going to have to watch the video below to see them work their mind-reading magic. It's seriously unlike anything I've ever experienced before in my life.
Looking to do a little magic at home? You don't need many tools to make your friends' jaws drop. In fact, just a quarter will do. "It's all about misdirection. There's a lot of acting that goes on," Jinger says. Here's how to make a quarter disappear, according to The Conjuress.
1. Ask someone for a quarter, and then "accidentally" drop it when they hand it to you.
Oops, how clumsy of you.
2. As you go to pick up the quarter, place your foot about two inches behind it.
You're still acting at this point — you can't believe you dropped the quarter!
3. Go to pick up the quarter, but as you pretend to pick it up, push it under your foot instead.
The quarter is now successfully hiding under your shoe, but the audience thinks you have it in your hand.
4. Wave your fist around to let people know you're holding the quarter in your hand. Then, open your fist to reveal your hands are empty.
Voila! In only four steps, you're a magician.
Practice your tricks at home, and in the meantime check out Jinger Leigh, Thommy Ten, and Amelie van Tass in The Illusionists: Turn of The Century. It's a history lesson that's too good to pass up.