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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » The Man Who Can't Be Hung! (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Reis O'Brien
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Seattle, WA
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I just finished reading the book, "Side Show: My Life With Geeks, Freaks & Vagabonds in the Carny Trade" by a former sideshow magician (among many other things) by the name of Howard Bone.

In this book, he talks a great deal about a particular act he performed called, "The Man Who Can't Be Hung" in which he would loop a length of rope around his neck and hand the ends of the rope to two volunteers. They would then pull their ends of the rope in opposite directions While poor Howard's face turned blue and was apparently being choked to death. yet, he did not die... nor even pass out. Perhaps a little woozy.

Anyway, despite the fact that we wrote several times in the book; DO NOT TRY THIS!!! well... I want to try this. He said at one point during the description of the act that you "have to know the trick to it." Hmmm...

So my question to you all is; does anyone know either how to do the act, where it may be written up, who may be able to teach it to me or whether or not this old carny is full of it?

I would contact the man himself, however, he died in 1997.

If anyone knows of this act and can help with any information on it whatsoever, I would much apprecitae it!

Thanks,
-Reis
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur

http://www.myspace.com/liar_4_hire
handa
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Pittsburgh, PA
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I know that Dai Andrews had this in his repertoire a few years back. Unfortunately, I'm not schooled enough to explain any details that I would call as an accurate description of the "real work" on this one.

"Choking games" are apparantly a vogue thing among youth, at least according to a few national magazines. The topicality of the subject can cut both ways, so proceed with caution...

Chris
thegreatnippulini
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of Hell because I've made
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Didn't the lead singer from INXS do that... oh wait... that was someting else he did. Oops! Sorry.

TGN
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
http://www.greatnippulini.com
MattTheKnife
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Yeah it’s real and yes it's still done. I believe that Harley Newman still does it and I know for certain that Ses Carney still does it.

If you'd like to see a variant (where a guy would LITERALLY hang himself by tying a rope around his neck and jumping from a hot air balloon) then check out Ricky Jay's book “Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women”.

Now to your question about learning these talents….

As far as I know neither of these guys teaches the skill… and that’s most likely because it’s WAY to easy to die doing it. So if I was you I wouldn't even bother to ask 'um.

Cheers,
-Matt (TK)
Reis O'Brien
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Seattle, WA
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Ahhh... I was afraid of that. Thanks for the help, Matt!
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur

http://www.myspace.com/liar_4_hire
Todd Robbins
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New York
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Howard Bone and I corresponed quite a bit and I tried to get him a job in Coney Island. He passed away before it could happen.

He sent me a letter asking me to stop doing the hanging act. He stated that he did not put the real work in his book Hurry, Hurry, Hurry.

I wrote back that I was not doing the act. He wrote saying that he heard someone on the East Coast was doing it and thought it was me. It turns out that it was Harley he heard about. He sent along ALL the real work on the act. I is not something I have done, nor will I ever do it because of the danger involved.

Also,I find it a very difficult act to make meaningful for a audience.
rossmacrae
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I have no idea what "the real work" is supposed to be, but apparently somebody imagines that CHOKING is the problem.

GETTING YOUR NECK BROKEN is the bigger problem!

I have some old newsreel footage from the 1940s (I even used it on one of my DVD's - you can see all but the final "impact" in the preview that can be selected from this page: http://www.goodmagic.com/websales/carny/index.htm ). The performer does several acrobatic swings from a rope swing suspended far up in the air, then leys go and leaps at least 20 or 30 FEET until reaching "the end of his rope." This would not only snap someone's neck (without some serious ginnick) but it would pull their head completely off!

Everybody needs to take their cue from the disclaimer at Yahoo's Sideshow World discussion group: "Sideshow performers in this group have received supervised training. Any stunt which involves simulated violence or unusual practices done to the human body should NOT be attempted without trained supervision, even if written instructions seem straightforward. Would-be performers should NEVER attempt a stunt without being aware of correct technique and ALL potential risks. No book, website, pamphlet, film or video is adequate substitution for supervised learning. SideshowWorld.com strenuously advises against self-teaching, and is not liable for any injuries or damage sustained through the personal use of information contained on the website or message group."

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Reis O'Brien
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Seattle, WA
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Quote:
On 2005-09-18 21:00, Todd Robbins wrote:
Howard Bone and I corresponed quite a bit and I tried to get him a job in Coney Island. He passed away before it could happen.

He sent me a letter asking me to stop doing the hanging act. He stated that he did not put the real work in his book Hurry, Hurry, Hurry.

I wrote back that I was not doing the act. He wrote saying that he heard someone on the East Coast was doing it and thought it was me. It turns out that it was Harley he heard about. He sent along ALL the real work on the act. I is not something I have done, nor will I ever do it because of the danger involved.

Also,I find it a very difficult act to make meaningful for a audience.



Thanks for the input, Mr. Robbins. I had suspected that the real work was not in "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry", but wasn't sure, never having been able to find a copy of it. I was afraid that this act may be probably more dangerous than most, making the real work on it a little harder to come by. And I too was already struggling with how to put the act into an entertaining context for the the audience.

So it looks as though my quest has ended rather quickly on this one. Oh well... thank you all for your help!

-Reis O'Brien
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur

http://www.myspace.com/liar_4_hire
MattTheKnife
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Hey Reis,

No problem at all. Sorry that you're disappointed but in all honesty I personally feel that the risks outweigh the benefits on this one. (And when sideshow folk say that then it should really mean something!)

Cheers,
-Matt (TK)
Harley Newman
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Todd, I'd be very interested in seeing the real work one of these days. It's definitely not in the book.

Yes, I do it, and have incorporated elements of it into several other routines. I might be talked into teaching it. Email me...harley@bladewalker.com
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
Harley Newman
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That came out badly. Sorry. harley@bladewalker.com is the correct address.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
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