Walking Through Wall Illusion Revealed And Explained

Find out about Jim Steinmeyer‘s version of walking through wall illusion revealed for the first time based on my opinion and theory.

This solid idea of penetration effect is another great stage illusion built by illusion designer and builder William Kennedy.

My view of how the trick is done is derived from watching the YouTube video clips performed by German Jan Rouven Fuechtener, Sean Paul and Kevin Spencer.

I think it should be called “Walking Through A Stack Of Cinder Blocks“.

It is not a wall per se.

That’s why I think the secret of this solid through solid penetration illusion is different from Houdini, Doug Henning or David Copperfield.

Walking Through Wall Illusion

The effect is:

The illusionist stacks up a row of cinder or concrete blocks through two vertical metal bars in the prop.

The prop is closed and then the illusionist seemingly manages to walk through the wall of cinder or concrete blocks.

Then the prop or apparatus is opened to show the pile of concrete blocks still stays as it is.

Sean Paul uses his shadow to show his penetration effect.

Watch the video featuring Jan Rouven walking through the wall illusion:

Note: I will be using the term cinder block and concrete block interchangeably in this blog post.

So, how does the illusionist able to get through the solid hard wall of concrete blocks?

You cannot be as thick as a brick to think that the illusionist really walks through the solid cinder or concrete blocks.

Jim Steinmeyer Walking Through A Brick Wall Illusion

Anyway, you don’t really have to bang your head against a brick wall to figure out how this Jim Steinmeyer Walking Through A Brick Wall Illusion is done.

After analyzing the design of the apparatus, watching their routine and looking out for the secret moves made by their stage assistant(s), I think I know how they do it.

Again, it is my two cents opinion.

If my guess is wrong, you don’t have to come down on me like a ton of bricks.

As I have said my theory is stemmed from watching the available video clips.

These videos are extensively edited and not forgetting the many long shots which are not really helpful.

In short, most of guesswork is based on my assumptions.

Now let’s analyze the routine brick by brick.

In the beginning when the illusionist is stacking up the cinder blocks, he shows the audience the length side.

Jim Steinmeyer walk thru wall

This is a smart misdirection.

They want the audience to see the stack of solid concrete blocks blocking up the whole prop interior.

This will conjure up your visual perception that it is tight-fitting and impenetrable.

But when the illusionist performs the illusion, the audience only gets to see the side view of the white cinder blocks.

walk thru brick wall illusion

The pile of cinder blocks are tightly enclosed by the door and the wall of the apparatus.

With the distance from the stage, I am sure the audience could not see clearly that narrow strip of cinder blocks.

That is why the illusionist can get away with this seemingly impossible feat.

Remember this illusion is not the same as what Harry Houdini, David Copperfield or Doug Henning‘s performance.

They all performed the illusion of walking through a wide stretch of exposed brick wall.

David Copperfield’s walking through the Great wall of China secret is widely known.

You only see his shadow penetrating through the old Chinese wall.

The late Canadian Doug Henning did it in “World of Magic” television special back in 1977.

His version is similar to Harry Houdini’s walking through a brick wall illusion; with the help of a trapdoor.

It was said that Houdini bought the idea from Sidney Edward Josolyne.

By the way, you can find the secret of walking through a brick wall by Sidney Josolyne in his book “Weird Wonders For Wizards” in chapter IV, on pages 16-18.

Houdini used the trapdoor to perform the trick is also mentioned in:

The Popular Science December 1928 issue

The Secrets Of Houdini by J. C. Cannell

Houdini On Magic edited by Walter Brown Gibson

Houdini The Man Who Walked Through Walls by William Landsay Gresham


Related post: Find out how Doug Henning walked through the brick wall in front of a live audience.


Logically, the concrete block column has to make way for the illusionist to get through.

In other words, the illusionist need to move or shift the concrete blocks inside the apparatus, without being seen.

Two Secrets

So, how to perform this wall penetration trick?

There are two secrets to this Jim Steinmeyer Walking Through A Brick Wall illusion.

First is the two metal bars which the cinder blocks are inserted through.

Visually, the stack of cinder blocks appear massive and stock-still, as they are slotted tightly in the two metal bars.

While the illusionist Jan Rouven is stacking up the blocks, the female assistant purposely squeezes herself inside the prop.

walk thru wall illusion

It is not just for show, but to mislead or re-frame the perception of the audience.

With that simple stunt, the viewers will perceive the space inside is impossibly tight for anyone to go through.

First Secret Of Walking Through A Brick Wall

As I have just mentioned, you have to move the cinder/concrete blocks.

Isn’t the concrete blocks are held up by two fixed metal bars?

Yes, but do they show you the two bars are tightly mounted onto the apparatus base?

I think the base area where the two metal bars stacked with cinder blocks can be rotated or revolved.

Jan Rouven thru brick wall

As I have never seen the actual prop, my guess is probably some kind of a rotating disc mechanism built on the base of the prop.

Jan Rouven just have to push one side of the cinder blocks to make them turn slightly, about 45 degrees.

The gap is wide enough for him to bypass the obstacle.

Once his body has squeezed past the cinder blocks, the two bars are rotated back in place.

The is still enough space for the right side edge of the pile of cinder blocks to turn without touching the wall of the apparatus.

Second Secret Of Walking Through A Brick Wall

The next secret is how to hide the movement of the wall of cinder blocks from being seen by the distant audience.

Obviously you have to conceal the real wall of cinder blocks with a fake one.

I am sure you know in magic tricks, they use thumb tip (false thumb), fake hand to hold up cloth, false head in “Disembodied Princess” or “The Princess Without a Middle“, fake feet in sawing woman in half, false pant leg in “Flying Box” aka “Airborne Box” illusion and others.

I am talking about using a high-quality photo-print banner with a life-like picture of a stack of cinder blocks.

fake wall stage illusion

That’s why this illusion only shows the narrow side of the wall to the audience, which is easier to camouflage it.

With the help of stage lighting and the distance between the stage, I am sure the audience cannot make out the difference.

One more thing, the cinder blocks are dull gray in color, which makes them easier to disguise.

Another reason why I think it is a picture banner of cinder blocks is because when the prop shakes, it wavers momentarily.

At 4:52-4:53 when Jan Rouven pushes his way through the stack of cinder/concrete blocks, the prop shakes.

I notice the bottom part of narrow area of supposed cinder blocks wavering or quivering, just like an elastic material.

You need to focus your attention at the edge of the casing and the white area, as highlighted below.

magic trick secret exposed

For the German illusionist Jan Rouven he does not show the audience the prop back view when he performs the illusion.

For Sean Paul, his assistant spins the prop around when he is midst of walking through the wall.

If I am not mistaken as seen from the video, he uses two pictures of the fake cinder blocks (front & back).

At 0:16, when his assistant closes the three-panel door, you can see the picture of cinder blocks on one of the panels.

sean paul magic exposed

That is the panel which is next to the cinder blocks at the back of the prop.

So where is the picture of the fake cinder blocks hidden?

I think it is concealed in one of the three-panel door.

For Jan Rouven’s prop, it is on the left side of the actual cinder blocks.

stage illusion secret

There is an opening feature at the bottom of this panel which serves no purpose in the trick.

penetration stage illusion

I assume it is purposely included here to mislead the audience.

It is because behind this panel is a picture of cinder blocks.

Another thing I noticed is there is a slot-like piece on top of the prop, facing three-panel door.

walking thru cinder blocks

Here is another image of the slot-like device:

Sean Paul walk thru wall

I think this is where it holds the picture in place.

This is what I think happens:

When the male assistant turns the prop or apparatus around at 4:12 to 4:18, he secretly adjusts a lever to slide out the picture to hide the real cinder blocks.

If you observe Jan Rouven’s prop, it doesn’t need the two lengths of metal chains and the ladder.

For the ladder: Both Jan Rouven and his female assistant are tall enough to open or close the small top cover.

For the chains: The door is securely latched to the platform of the prop by Jan Rouven with a latch before the illusion at 3:54.

Jan Rouven illusionist

The fact is, they are there to confuse or divert your visual attention and also to enhance the illusion.

The heavy-looking steel chains will make you perceive the prop as compact and tightly locked.

But if you look closely at the prop, these two features are obviously there as distractions to the already narrow view of the exposed concrete blocks.

penetrating wall stage illusion

Particularly the steel chain running across obstructing the side view of the concrete blocks.

Moreover, these two items (chains & ladder) cast shadows on it.

Why do I suspect the use of a picture banner to hide the cinder blocks?

Firstly, it is because they have to shift the stack of concrete blocks.

Secondly, it is the routine of the illusion.

All the illusionists spin or rotate the apparatus around just before and after they do the walking through the wall.

To me, it is just too obvious that particular turning-the-apparatus sequence has no purpose to the stage presentation.

I think that is the moment, the assistant turns the lever to slide out the picture of the cinder blocks.

It is most obvious in Jan Rouven’s performance.

To distract the secret movement, Jan Rouven faces the audience and pretends to do the breathing exercise à la Tai Chi breathing technique.

At 4:12 to 4:18, when the male assistant turns the prop around, the female assistant wheels the chest across the stage for no reason.

magic trick misdirection

It is to distract the audience momentarily.

And most probably they have forgotten they are now seeing just the side view of the cinder blocks.

Sean Paul Walking Through A Brick Wall

These are three scenes which I think, his male assistant is secretly controlling the picture of cinder blocks with this secret lever.

Sean Paul walk thru wall

At 0:26-0:27, his male assistant pulls up the secret lever to slide out the picture of cinder blocks.

sean paul illusion secret

After rotating the prop, at 0:47, I think he pretends to adjust the secret lever, as if to check whether the caster wheels is properly locked.

sean paul magic exposed

Strangely, if the wheels are locked, when Sean Paul is walking through the wall, he just rotates the prop, without unlocking it.

This time he never touches the lever, before he turns the prop around.

I assume that small lever at the bottom of the prop is the device that controls the picture of the fake cinder blocks.

Firstly, I doubt the prop designer would place the central locking for the caster wheels right at the prop itself.

Secondly, if that is a lock to prevent the prop wheels from moving, then at the finale why does he push it down the third time (unlocking it)?

jim steinmeyer stage illusion

Well, I could be wrong on this.

Anyway, this is what I presume how Jim Steinmeyer walking through a brick wall illusion is done.