Today we are sneaking under the large sheet of stretchy spandex to find out the hidden secret of Through Steel illusion by Tim Kole.
This magic apparatus is also known as “Trapasso“, as built by Tilford Illusions.
Then there is this demo video performed by an unknown Asian guy for a Japanese company called Osaka Magic, based in Tatsumiminami, Ikuno-ku, Osaka.
This is another China company which made all those famous stage illusion props.
Back in 2007 in Magic Cafe forum, illusion builder Bill Smith mentioned that this illusion was invented by Andre Kole, and only Andre, his son, Tim, and David Copperfield have the rights to perform it.
All others are a “rip off“.
NOTE: This is not Dan Wolfe’s Thru Steel illusion or Walking Through The Steel Wall by Michael Grandinetti.
This post I solely focused the Through Steel illusion by Tim Kole, as performed in ABC TV Prime Time Special “The Champions of Magic III” in Monaco in 1996.
From that same TV Prime time Special, Tim Kole also performed the massive Jet Engine Turbine illusion, which I have explored and explained in my past blog post.
Let’s find out how Tim Kole’s assistant Jenny Lynn seems to penetrate through the tread steel plate.
This so-called expose or reveal of through steel plate illusion by Tim Kole is merely my observations by watching the video clip found in YouTube.
Definitely I do not own this prop and neither do I know exactly how it works.
You can say, I am just groping in the dark under the spandex sheet, hopefully to find out how the trick is done.
A metal table frame with an open top.
A female assistant lies down on a bench beneath the table frame.
A solid tread steel plate or sheet is lowered onto the table frame top.
A stage assistant is positioned at each side of the prop, holding down a large piece of spandex over the table top, covering up the lady as well.
Then you can see the rising and descending movement impressions on the stretched spandex over the table top, as if she is floating up through the steel plate.
When the spandex is lifted away, she is seen reclining on top of the steel sheet or plate of the table.
In short, Jenny Lynn has apparently penetrated through the steel sheet.
This is the performance of Tim Kole and Jenny Lynn Through Steel Plate Illusion:
There are various opinions on how this Thru Steel Plate Table illusion by Tim Kole or David Copperfield is done.
Die Through Mirror Trick
There are people who think the secret of this through steel plate illusion is similar to the classic Ali Bongo‘s pocket trick “Die Through Mirror“.
Tenyo Japan also has a similar item called “The Great Escape T263“, which uses a metal plate instead of a piece of mirror.
The secret of this close up trick is by covertly lowering the mirror/metal plate, so that the die will slide or slip down from the frame.
You can view the secret on this video from 3:56 onward.
Basically what they are saying is the method of this Thru’ Steel illusion is just the reversed way of doing it.
It is true what creative consultant and craftman Dan Wolfe of Smoky Mountain Magic said in the Magic Cafe back in 2008.
Simple secret, but it needs a complex mechanism necessary to pull it off on that scale
Similarly Dan Wolfe said it is a reverse with a die penetrating down through a mirror trick.
When one side of the steel plate is lowered down to the bench where Jenny Lynn is lying, and she just rolls up onto the steel plate.
This is what I also assume how she gets onto the steel plate, as I will explain soon.
In fact, Jenny Lynn is lying on top of the steel plate, just shortly after the spandex sheet is spread over the table frame.
When illusionist Tim Kole spreads the palm of his right hand over the spandex, Jenny Lynn is almost ready for the penetration illusion.
Back in 2006, in the Magic Cafe forum, magician David Matheus wrote:
This is one of those illusions you think you have figured out and bang your wrong…. I saw this illusion night after night and met many magicians who thought they knew how to do this illusion and many others in the show. I just want everyone to know that what you are probably thinking is wrong.
Through Steel Illusion By Tim Kole Secret
I think the key secret is at the metal table frame, and definitely not the piece of steel plate.
But like all other illusionists, Tim Kole does not present the table metal frame to the audience at all.
Instead they misdirect their audience attention solely to the shiny heavy-looking tread steel plate and his female assistant, Jenny Lynn.
It is definitely a normal solid piece of metal plate.
My guess is the table-like prop is fixed with either a linear pneumatic or hydraulic actuator which helps to raise and lower the steel plate smoothly.
It is controlled by a stage hand nearby, who needs to observe and take cues from Tim Kole’s hand signals.
That’s is why this penetration effect by Tim Kole, David Copperfield and also Simon Pierro is unnaturally quick, graceful and slick, as compared to the performances of David Gatti and the Asian guy.
Both Italian David Gatti and the Asian guy, their penetration acts are raw and unruly – aggressive stretching and wild kicking under the spandex.
Maybe because they use the spring-operated mechanism, to shift and lock the the steel plate.
Watch David Gatti’s video and you can clearly see the prop under the spandex sheet jerking abruptly from 1:11 to 1:15.
As for the the Japanese video clip, you can see the magician writhing and pushing himself up onto the steel plate.
This visual is captured from the video clip at 0:57.
From 0:55 to 0:58 in the video, you can see his right hand gripping onto the frame twice, while struggling to lift his body up onto the steel plate.
At the same time, you can also see he is using his left ankle to support himself onto the frame, while he is getting the steel plate back in place.
By the way, I have checked with the China manufacturer, and I was informed its prop does operate with electrical power.
Let’s continue Tim Kole and Jenny Lynn’s performance.
This is I think what happens under the silver color spandex sheet:
After the spandex has spread over the prop, Jenny Lynn quickly lies on her left side of her body.
It’s because the side of the steel plate on her left is lowering or tilting downward onto the bench where she is lying on.
Then as the other other side of the plate also starts to lower down to level itself, she must quickly rolls herself over onto it.
By now Jenny Lynn is lying on the flat, horizontal surface of the steel plate.
She just lies down on the steel plate and let the stage hand who’s operating the mechanism to do the ‘heavy lifting’.
Tim Kole plays his role like a concert conductor, raising and lowering his hands, not just for the magical act, but more so for his stage hand nearby operating the hidden gimmick.
I presume if she needs to steady herself during the shifting, she can hold onto any of the two cut-out holes next to her head.
Why do I think it is the steel plate on her left is lowered first?
Take a closer look at the bench position of these two pictures below:
You can clearly see the bench where Jenny Lynn is lying is NOT positioned at the center under the table-like frame.
The bench is positioned more towards the one side of the table frame.
This is to allow space for the lowering steel plate from pinning onto Jenny Lynn who is lying on the bench.
But at the beginning of the act, she has to lie more to the edge of the bench on her right.
It is to give the impression she is lying in the middle of the table underneath the steel plate.
In addition, the off-center position of the bench would not be obvious to the spectators.
As she is probably lying on her left side, so her body weight is now shifted more over to the side of the bench.
Furthermore, she has to quickly roll herself from the bench onto the steel plate, she might accidentally cause the bench to wobble or even to tip over.
That is why two legs of the bench are firmly mounted onto the stage with metal angle leg brackets.
During the apparent floating up and down effortlessly through the steel plate, she is actually lying on the raising and lowering steel plate.
How do I know she is lying on the moving steel plate, shortly after she is covered by the spandex sheet and not on the bench anymore?
Remember the bench is placed more towards the inner side of the table frame.
Observe closely at her right arm, her elbow to be exact, at the beginning of the performance when she is lying on the bench.
When she stretches her right arm out, her elbow is still under the table.
But during the penetration act, she can push half of her right arm out through the hole on the side of the spandex.
You can see her right elbow is at the hole opening.
In short, Jenny Lynn is already lying on the steel plate, and not on the bench.
Steel Plate Controlled By Stage Hand
Now the big question is why do I suspect the gimmick fixed to the table frame is controlled by a stage hand in the vicinity?
Look closely at the visuals of the stage floor below:
It is specially designed to look like the floor tile pattern, with intersections lines, so it can camouflage the electrical wire linking from the table to the stage hand.
The picture below is a closer view, where you can see it is actually the wire, and not one of the pattern lines on the stage.
This is another view where you can clearly see the line of wire running from one of the table leg.
The wire could be from this table leg as shown below:
This electrical wire is definitely not obvious to the live audience around the stage, but it can be seen from the video clip.
As I follow the track of that suspicious line on the stage, it leads to the guy wearing a black top and a pair of blue jeans.
He is squatting near to a big boxy thing (as indicated) next to the stage lighting truss structure.
When I looked back at the same stage where Tim Kole performed the giant jet turbine illusion, this particular huge object is NOT there (as indicated).
I reckon this thingy (as indicated below) as has something to do with the linear pneumatic or hydraulic actuator, which do the floating trick.
Perhaps it is also meant to be there to hide this important stage hand who is actually doing the levitation trick, so to speak.
He has to be nearby to view the act, and to control the mechanism accordingly to Tim Kole’s cues.
At the beginning of the show, you can see him squatting down, maybe to have a better view of the act.
During the finale, you can see him standing up.
As the video is not clear, I think there is a white color control panel with a stand in front of him.
The idea of how it works: He uses a thing, which is then connected to a certain part of something else. Through the gimmick of this trick we assume he is actually going through the steel…but in actually, the gimmick is doing the work for him. He merely has to manipulate the different parts of the stuff to the gimmick of the trick, and presto-changeo, he arrives through the steel.
Surprisingly, my view how this Through Steel illusion by Tim Kole is done is very similar to the above view.