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Halloween Prop Menu : Lady with a Rubber Neck

Lady with a Rubber Neck

This is an old magic trick.  It has been seen in many magic shows. The pictures below were taken from "The Science of Magic with Harry Anderson" (2000, 52 Minutes), available from  This would be a great illusion to use in a dungeon of a haunted house.

Here is a description of the illusion:  A lady stands in an open front box with just from her knees to her shoulders inside the box itself. On top of the box, her head is locked into a device that clamps just the sides of her head, with the front and back open. Then the section holding her head spins in a complete circle several times, giving the illusion that her neck is made of rubber.

Here is how the effect is set up...  The spinning portion of the illusion is made up of a number of things.  The black frame is metal, the white pieces next to her head are made of  soft foam material and the red balls surrounding her head are there to locate her head during the portion of  the effect that is visible to the audience.

How does it work?  What is the limit of movement of your head?  About 180 degrees.  You can look straight across your left shoulder and straight across your right shoulder.  The girl in the effect is doing nothing more than letting her head follow the travel of the spinning top section.  When her head meets its leftmost rotational limit (at that point her head is completely out of view of the audience),  she simply turns her head completely to the right.  But that is impossible!  How can she do that when her head is held tightly in a vise?  It isn't.  If you view the video carefully, the white barriers next to her head can be seen to have ripples in them (especially the leftmost one).  It's like the white barriers are the consistency of a sofa cushion.  This would easily allow enough flexibility for her head to rotate independently of the spinning portion, thus allowing her to reset the position of her head for each half rotation that is visible by the audience. Why the red balls?  They are used to keep her head square as the top piece rotates.  She just presses her head against the balls and that keeps her head appear to turn in sync with the top rotating piece for the duration of the audience's view.

 But you can see the back of her head you say?  Let's take a look at that for a second.

If you look closely, the back of her head appears to be FAKE HAIR.  You will notice that you can't see through to the other side.  It has to be fake. 

Not convinced yet?  Above is a picture of the SECOND rotation.  It is much more visible on the video, but you can easily see that on the second rotation, a few strands of hair are covering her right eye (it is REALLY visible when they show the slow motion replay).  Compare this picture to the first one one this page.  The only way that her hair could be covering her eye on the second rotation and not the first, is if she was ROTATING HER HEAD BACK AND FORTH for the effect. 

Although it might be difficult to see from the still shots above, it can be seen more easily on the videotape. 

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