Dagger Head Chest Performance Tips

Dagger Head Chest Performance Tips


J C’s Note: This item was first published in my IBM Linking Ring One-Man-Parade ‘Parade of Illusions’ in Nov 2002.

Here are two performance tips I have for performing the Dagger Head Chest. I have no doubt that many may have thought of similar solutions.

I have watched many magicians perform this mini-illusion. Although the inherent effect of the illusion is strong (head gets stuck with multiple daggers and then finally disappears), the performances are often not entertaining. This is mainly due to two problems inherent with the Dagger Head Chest:

    1. The repetitious action of putting in and taking out the swords can be monotonous and uninteresting
    2. Consolidating the daggers smoothly and clearing them off stage efficiently can be unsightly and time consuming

I worked out two simple solutions that address both problems.


Performance Tip 1

Have an assistant perform the illusion with you, aside from the person in the Dagger Head Chest.

If each of you take one side of the chest to put in and take out the daggers, you will automatically shave off half the time those actions take, if you were to perform it alone.

The dynamics of the illusion will also change as the audience now has two performers to focus on. This splits their attention during the placement and removal of the daggers and the time taken would appear shorter than it actually is.

This simple solution effectively rectifies problem #1.

Performance Tip 2

When I used to perform the Dagger Head Chest, I had it mounted on a tripod stand. I also used a large black cloth that covered the Dagger Head Chest prior to performance. During performance, the Dagger Head Chest is unveiled by pulling off the cloth. My assistant then folds up the cloth to about 18” x 18” and places it on the floor directly in front of the chest. The illusion is performed as usual.

When if comes to the removal of the daggers, the daggers are pulled out from the chest and dropped onto the folded up cloth. My assistant bundles everything up and clears them off stage.

I actually came up with this simple solution after a lot of thought. My first solution was to use a basket but that took up extra space on stage and meant one more prop to transport. The cloth solution is practical, effective and the cloth serves 3 functions:

  1. The cloth is used to cover the Dagger Head Chest from audience view until the performance of the illusion.
  2. The cloth is used as a collection ‘basket’ for the daggers
  3. The cloth is used as extra padding when transporting


In Sep 2004, taught and choreographed a presentation of the Dagger Head Chest (Mak Magic’s ‘Murder Inc’) to Singapore radio personalities Brian Richmond and the ‘Flying Dutchman’ (FD) for a performance on live television.

In this comedic presentation, Brian had ‘FD’s’ head inside the chest and proceeded to ‘fumble’ and stab the knives into the chest. The front of the chest was opened to reveal the vanishing of ‘FD’s’ head. Everything was reversed except that the chest was never reopened. Brian acted as though something went wrong and left ‘FD’ on stage still inside the chest as Brian made his exit!

The last thing thing TV viewers saw and heard was ‘FD’ feeling his way around and calling in desperation for help

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