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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Topsy The Electrocuted Elephant (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

NJJ
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Todd Robbins
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The film of Topsy was our blow-off for a few seasons at Sideshow by the Seashore. I pitched it...and ran that film so that I could square any beefs (and there were many). I may write up here the whole pitch and the experiences I had one of these days.

Todd
Vandy Grift
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Mmmmmmmmm Roasted elephant.

Hey, at least electrocuting the elephant was more humane than hanging the beast. Which has also been done.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
DonDriver
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In the P.B.S American Experience documentary by Ric Burns
" Conly Island" they show this film...very shocking indeed. The trainer of Topsy at the time refused to lead her over to be hooked up to the wires.They show him looking on.He wasn't very happy about it and you could see on his face he was losing a friend.

Don
Doug Higley
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Not to mention losing a fortune. Effelumps ain't cheap.

And Todd...hopefully that's a promise...you must tell all.
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rossmacrae
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Todd, I'd love to see how ya dun it.

But that film sure is hard to watch (it's not hard to find on the web), and at least for me it crosses way over the line between entertainment and ugliness. It's not that it's a cute oliphaunt, it's the deliberate cruelty to any creature. Reminds me too much what cruelty we bring into the world entirely without reason. Okay, I'm a wuss, but the gol-durned news brings more of this and worse any day - at least watching Todd jump up and down on broken glass leaves the viewer with more a feeling of "Things aren't so bad after all - at least I don't have to do that to have fun."
NJJ
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http://www.23nlpeople.com/media/~elephant_dead.mpg is the video.

Be warned its NOT pretty.
Todd Robbins
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"We hope you are having fun here today at the sideshow. That's what Coney Island is all about. There was one moment in time when the laughter stopped here. The darkest day in Coney Island history was January 3rd, 1904. On that day, in this place, there was an execution. Yes, you heard me right...an execution. Who died that day?

Her name was Topsy. She was 28 years old, weighted 9 tons and had killed 3 men. Because she had committed murder, it was judged that TOPSY MUST DIE!
How she was put to death is an interesting tale. Thomas Edison, the great inventor, the man who created the light bulb and the phonograph, also had an electrocution device. No prison would let him demostrate his grisly innovation, so when he heard about Topsy, he offered to use it on her. He not only brought out his death machine that day, but also another of his creations, the movie camera, and he made a film of the death of Topsy.

I wish to draw your attention to the doorway over there. It is in that room that you will see the movie known as the Death of Topsy. We do not present this spectacle on the stage here as it is not something everyone will want to see. And while we present this film, there will be a short intermission in our show that will allow you to see it and not miss a single act on our stage.

There is an additional charge for seeing the Death of Topsy. We make no apologies for this. We have gone to a great deal of trouble and expense to make this exhibit possible. It is something extra and was not advertized on the outside nor depicted on the banners out front. It's only one dollar to see the Death of Topsy, and when you see this unforgetable sight, you will understand why we make the request of a dollar.

The film you are about to see in that room is short, silent and in black and white. And yet, it is one of the most gruesome pieces of footage ever shot. You will see Topsy drop to her knees when they pull the switch. Smoke billows from her flesh and whole body quivers as the electricity course through her. It will be an image you will never forget. That is why we insist that children must be accompanied by an adult if they want to see the Death of Topsy.

Now's the time to go. I'll collect that one dollar donation and then take you in to see the Death of Topsy. Let's go now."

I would get the geetus, take them into the blow-off room and pick up the remote for the VCR and TV. I would then say, "And now, here is the death of Topsy the elephant." Usually someone would beef that they thought is was a person. I would remind them that I said, "She was 28 years old, weighted 9 tons and had killed 3 men." I then ask them what they thought I was talking about. Before they can answer I add, "We used to say it was an elephant that was killed but the kids would get very upset when they heard this. So we now say she was 28 years old, weighted 9 tons and had killed 3 men. The intelligent adults always know what I am talking about. You understand, don't you?" They would nod and not say another word.

The film is only about twenty seconds long, so I would stop and start it, adding in commentary such as Topsy's handler refused to take part of the event, they charged admission to see Topsy being killed (some things never change), it was promised that she would die immediately, but that it accually took about ten seconds for her demise and after she was dead her body still shook from all the current running through her.

The film would end. There was always dead silence. I would wait a beat, and then in a very cheery voice say, "Enjoy the rest of the show, folks!"
DonDriver
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DING....beautiful Todd !

Don
gsidhe
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Wow.
I couldn't imagine even trying to pitch that...Then I read your pitch...
Wow...
I watched it on the web, and now I feel like I should send you a dollar....
Gwyd
Todd Robbins
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I think we made about 50 large ones off of that blow-off that season. Topsy did not die in vain.
Vandy Grift
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Quote:
On 2006-06-16 13:00, Todd Robbins wrote:
I think we made about 50 large ones off of that blow-off that season. Topsy did not die in vain.


LOL!!
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
Harley Newman
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A great pitch!

Here's a little more background.

Edison was jealous of Nikolai Tesla (inventor of alternating current). Edison had also been Tesla's employer for a while, and hadn't paid him all he should have, so rancorous feelings went both ways.

When Tesla started getting contracts for AC systems, Edison, feeling threatened, started trying to discredit both the man and his work. For a couple of years, Edison paid all the boys in his neighborhood, to bring in all the stray animals they found...dogs, cats, it didn't matter to Edison. And then he'd electrocute them (the animals, not the boys), to show how dangerous AC was.

Eventually, it caught on, and was looked at, as a new and humane way of putting people to death. The first electric chair was installed at the NY penitentiary at Ossining (Sing-Sing), and used for quite a few years.

I think that chair is now in the private collection of a prominent entertainer. Todd has surely seen it, and if I know him, has probably sat in it.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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abigkahuna
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Todd,

I am in awe of the raw shucksterism (if that can be a word)---the beauty and simplicity of the pitch. And of course all those dollar donations went to make certain that this horiffic practice will never happen again. Beautiful--just beautiful.
EsnRedshirt
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That sort of reminds me of the whale that was beached at Florence, Oregon. Lacking tools to dispose of such a large corpse, and worried about the risk of disease if it was allowed to decompose en toto (not to mention the smell), they decided to use dynamite to blow it up. A half a ton of dynamite.
http://www.perp.com/whale/index.html


The result? A short, sharp shower of, well...
In case the video link on the site above doesn't work, here's a link to the YouTube version:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=AtVSzU20ZGk&a......%20whale
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
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