November 18, 2010
The Old Bullet Catch Trick
By Phil Bourjaily
Occasionally we run items in this space that fall under the heading of “don’t try this at home.” I think we can all agree that bullet catching stands at the top of that list. The first clip shows the Great Throwdini becoming the only person to catch a bullet, a knife and an arrow.*
The bullet catch is a dangerous** illusion that magicians have done for years. Usually the bullet is “caught” in the mouth and there is trickery involved. The bullet catch here looks real. True, Throwdini doesn’t pluck the bullet out of the air but it would take a lot of nerve to stand motionless while someone shoots a bullet into a metal cup in your hand.
Next up we have David Blaine, who performed his own version of the bullet catch on a TV special, holding the cup in his mouth.
It certainly looks real, but Blaine is an accomplished illusionist so who knows? On the other hand, the mouth guard and cup he uses are very similar to those used by Carl Skenes, who did catch a bullet in his mouth on TV’s “That’s Incredible” back in 1980, as seen in the clip linked here (note, Youtube disabled embedding of this video, so you have to watch it there).
Maybe Blaine really did catch a bullet after all.
*Other than George Armstrong Custer.
**Years ago on a visit to Tombstone, AZ, I learned my favorite bullet catch story, which took place in the 1880s in Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theater, a notoriously rough nightspot. A magician had an assistant fire a blank at him, then he would spit out a bullet he had previously concealed in his mouth. One evening a cowboy, unimpressed with the trick, drew his .45, aimed at the magician and shouted “Catch this one, Professor!” Fortunately, another patron deflected the cowboy’s arm upward, so the bullet did nothing more than make yet another of the many, many bullet holes in the Bird Cage’s ceiling.