Posted 5 years ago
Blackstone and the Levitation of Princess Karnac
By Chris Berry
It has been said that an audience expects three things from any magician who is worth his salt. He should be able to saw a woman in half, pull a rabbit out of a hat - and make a woman float in the air.
By the late 1920s when Erie Litho and Ptg created this poster for Blackstone, he was using an apparatus built by magician Harry Kellar to make one of his beautiful female assistants float - "high up in the air, there out of reach of everyone". This illusion, which Blackstone called "The Levitation of Princess Karnac" was constructed differently than most similar apparatus of the 20th century - and is believed to have been built by Kellar from Maskelyn's design, one of the first magicians to develop this effect. Kellar sold the apparatus to Blackstone just prior to his death in 1922.
I have had the privilege of seeing the original equipment used by Blackstone to create the effect, and without going into too much detail, I can say that it required some special construction at the theatre. Even today there are a number of old playhouses which carry a special addition to the stage, created decades ago by the carpenters on the Blackstone Show for the levitation, yet which remains today as a legacy to the "Show of 1001 Wonders".