Zig Zag Girl – Robert Harbin’s most famous illusion
In the 1960’s, Robert Harbin created the Zig Zag Girl. Zig Zag Girl is one of the great magical illusions of the 20th Century. The Zig Zag Girl is also known as the Zig Zag Woman and the Zig Zag Cabinet. In short, a cabinet is wheeled on stage; the cabinet is broken vertically into three equal sections. An assistant, typically female, enters the cabinet, with the doors being closed and locked. The top section has an opening for her face to be seen at all times, the middle section has a small opening for her hand, and the bottom section has a small opening for her foot to stick out.
One “blade” is inserted into the division between the bottom and middle section. A second “blade” is inserted between the middle and top section. The magician then pushes the middle section far to one side, making it look as though he has literally cut the young lady into three sections. The cabinet can be spun around to show that there is nothing hiding behind nor hidden doorâand the young lady’s face is in view at all times; her foot can be tickled as well, and her hand can grasp a handkerchief.
The middle section is slid back into position, the doors are opened, and the young lady exits the cabinet — none the worse for the wear. There are numerous variations on the cabinet, for example having the young lady’s head totally exposed at all times. Another variation, “Five way Zig Zag” has the cabinet split into five sections instead of three.
Sadly, Valentino (aka. the “Masked Magician”) exposed the working of the Zig Zag cabinet on the Fox TV specials, Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed in the late 1990’s.