A Brief Visit to New York and a Surprise
It was late evening on my first night in New York when my new employer, Bill Kalush, said, “I should probably tell you that tomorrow we are flying to Florida. I am going to shoot David.” This statement was quite startling, of course. First, it was totally out of the blue; we were at dinner and speaking about totally unrelated subjects. Second I had only just arrived in the city that morning and was expecting to be there for ten days. Further, David is, of course, David Blaine and Bill looked dead serious when he mentioned that he was going to shoot him. I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” Luckily I found out that it was going to be a part of David’s latest television special and what they were going to be doing was a very old magician’s stunt called the Bullet Catch. This was going to be exciting.
The next day we met at the Conjuring Arts Research Center, luggage in hand and started heading to the airport. As we were walking, Bill received a phone call, turned around, and a black Lexus RX, a small SUV, pulled up to the curb beside us. Out popped David Blaine from the back seat. He was holding a poster which he was excitedly trying to show to Bill. It was quite stunning and featured a number of very cool details. We put our backpacks into the back of the car, I jumped into the front passenger seat, and we headed off. David and Bill were speaking adamantly about the show coming up and everything they had to do to prepare. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to the conversation, since I apparently would be involved with a lot of what was going to be happening the next couple of days, but instead I found myself looking at the city I had come to visit, but had hardly seen, through the windows of the car as we passed it by on our way to Florida.
Arriving in Florida late in the evening, we met up with some of the crew members and went to Applebee’s for dinner. Everyone was in good spirits, and it was cool to watch as the wait staff and others began to recognize David and point him out to others. When we left a couple of the waitresses followed us out to see if they could get a photograph with David, and he was obliging. He even invited them to the event which was going to happen the next day.
By the time we left it was quite late, so we decided it would be in our best interest to go directly to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. We went to the front desk to get checked in; I was excited because they had complimentary cookies, very awesome. Then David asked Bill if he had brought the gaff with him. Bill said, “Yes” and proceeded to remove a couple of items from his backpack. I was not sure what method they were going to be using and was curious, so I decided to take a look at some of the apparatus. It was not what I would have expected at all. There was a tiny cup and a mouth guard. I was at a loss. What could these items possibly be used for? Surely we were not doing anything that crazy?
You see, I was familiar with the basic premise of most bullet catches and the most common practice is to not actually fire a real bullet at the target and, even with the latter precaution, many people had still lost their lives performing this demonstration of super human ability. In fact, the history of the feat is quite fascinating, and a review of some of the more interesting occurrences may be helpful in order to appropriately frame the circumstances at hand.
One of the first performers, on record, to perform the bullet catch was Couleu. While there is not a particularly vast trove of literature on his life, his performances were apparently sacrilegious enough to get him a mention in a book by Jean Chassanion called Histoires memorables des grans et merveillevx ivgemens et punitions de Dieu auenues au monde, principalemant sur les grans, à cause de leurs mesfaits, contreuenans aux commandemens de la loy de Dieu(1581 and 1586) (View the Text). The rather cumbersome title would becomeTheatre of God’s Judgments when it was translated by Rev. Thomas Beard in 1597*. The book is a collection of accounts of people living outside of the rules of the church and receiving appropriate punishment for their transgressions. Couleu was guilty of traveling around performing a magic act in which “he had harquebus and pistol shots fired at him, and that he caught all the balls in his hand without being injured by them in any way” (Chassanion). Ironically God’s punishment for this heinous crime was to have one of Couleu’s assistants join in on the attack. Chassanion writes, “But one day it happened that his servant, who was angry with him, fired such a pistol shot at him that he killed him” (Chassanion). Accordingly one of the first recorded deaths associated with the feat seems to have been the result of an argument rather than any failure with regard to the method itself.
Edmund de Grisy
The Father of Modern Magic, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, would not only be the source for a tragic story related to the effect, he would also perform the feat in a cunning and dramatic way in order to quell an uprising in Algeria. According to Robert-Houdin’s autobiography, his teacher, Torrini, performed the effect to tragic consequences. Torrini’s real name was Count Edmund de Grisy, and he had obtained a decent reputation for his skills as a conjuror and was performing regularly according to the tale. However, as time went on, it became apparent that he needed to add some new and sensational pieces to his act in order to remain relevant. One of these was entitled “The Son of William Tell”, and it consisted of a spectator firing a pistol at de Grisy’s son who was holding an apple in his mouth.
The bullet would be miraculously caught “in the heart of the fruit” rather than causing any damage to the boy, a remarkable feat. The method made use of bullets that were cleverly faked and would disintegrate when fired. Unfortunately, however, one evening a real bullet made its way into the barrel of the gun and the spectator’s aim was true; the boy was killed instantly. De Grisy fell into despair and was imprisoned for “homicide through imprudence”. When he was released he remained despondent for some time but eventually returned to performing, taking the name Torrini and avoiding performances in theaters, instead relegating himself to street side performances and the like to earn a living. Although the story is a part of Robert-Houdin’s occasionally fictionally enhanced autobiography, the Torrini story still provides the lesson that the feat can have dire consequences even for those who are not the target.
Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
Despite his teacher’s unfortunate experience with the illusion, Robert-Houdin made use of the feat in one of his most famous exploits, the taming of the Marabout uprising in Algeria. The Marabouts were causing dissension in the region by claiming that they were capable of powerful magic and using demonstrations of these powers to generate fear and control over the superstitious public. Robert-Houdin was called upon to demonstrate the superiority of French magic and thus sap the influence of the Marabouts. One of the feats he performed consisted of his demonstrating that he had the ability to take away a man’s strength and another was that he had a talisman which would render him invulnerable. In order to demonstrate his invulnerability, he allowed people to fire upon him as he caught their bullets in an apple that was stuck on the tip of a sword. Further, when challenged to a duel, he caught a bullet fired at him in his teeth, then, rather than firing back at his assailant, he aimed at a wall of a nearby building. His shot hit the wall and blood began to trickle out of the bullet hole. Clearly these were impressive feats, the public was astonished, and the Marabouts were convinced that the French were capable of magic vastly superior to their own. In this way, the uprising was deprived of its motive force, and Robert-Houdin added to the legendary history of the bullet catch. Although Robert-Houdin emerged heroic and unscathed from his brush with this dangerous feat, it would not prove to be the end of the tragic consequences the feat would inspire.
William E. Robinson
William Robinson, an American who performed as a Chinese conjuror named Chung Ling Soo, was another to feature the Bullet Catch. His rendition was called “Condemned to Death by the Boxers” and was performed in the context of a reenactment of a fictitious event wherein Chung Ling Soo was to be executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Boxer Rebellion. Mr. Robinson would hold a plate in front of him while facing the firing squad which had a varying number of members (usually from 4-6).
The rifles would be loaded with bullets marked by audience members, then aimed and fired at Chung Ling Soo. He would then, miraculously, stop the bullets in their flight by catching them with the plate. Although he only performed it occasionally, for special occasions or publicity purposes, the method was apparently foolproof, and he even used volunteers for the feat on several occasions. Chung Ling Soo’s method, however, did have a flaw. As he continued to perform the demonstration, the guns, which were gimmicked to hide the bullets and, instead, fire just gunpowder, eventually wore down, allowing gun powder into the portion of the gun with the bullet. When this happened, one of the guns actually fired killing Mr. Robinson. It was an unfortunate accident, although some have speculated that there was foul play, and reemphasized the specter of misfortune that surrounded the effect.
As a friend of Chung Ling Soo’s, Houdini was very aware of the dangers inherent in catching bullets. In fact, he had been shot once in the hand while trying to escape from robbers who were trying to force him to use his lock picking skills for unlawful purposes. He carried the bullet with him for the rest of his life, which should have served as a reminder to avoid guns whenever possible. However, only weeks after Soo’s death, Houdini announced that he would be performing the feat at an upcoming benefit show. This may have been for publicity purposes, but, fortunately, he was convinced by the theater’s management to abstain from the dangerous feat. Further, when Harry Kellar, dean of American magicians, heard of Houdini’s intentions he sent the following:
Now, my dear boy, this is advice from the heart, DON’T TRY THE D—N Bullet Catching…no matter how sure you may feel of its success. There is always the biggest kind of risk that some dog will “job” you. And we can’t afford to lose Houdini. You have enough good stuff to maintain your position at the head of the profession. And you owe it to your friends and your family to cut out all stuff that entails risk of your life. Please, Harry, listen to your old friend Kellar who loves you as his own son and don’t do it.
Accordingly, after the death of Chung Ling Soo, and the warning from Harry Kellar, it was clear that the bullet catch presented danger on a number of fronts. There was the risk undertaken with regard to equipment malfunction or other unintentional mishaps, and then there was always the possibility of intentional sabotage: a competitor may challenge the magician with a real gun, someone could introduce foreign items into the gun (buttons and other small items have been documented), tamper with the gun prior to the performance, and any number of other nefarious acts. Announcing the fact that you can catch bullets invites the wrong type of people to try and disprove your claim, and, if you are successful, it may create unwanted resentment among your peers. Further, if one has enemies, as Houdini had scores of in the spiritualist communities, you are inviting them to take advantage of the situation.
There are so many things that can go wrong; it is much easier to make any tampering look like an accident. Probably, it is because of these reasons and the entreaties from his friends that Houdini never performed the feat. It certainly would have been fascinating to hear how he went about it though; an ingenious method coupled with his performing prowess, flair for publicity, and skill. It would have been dangerous but sensational.
Another character of note would have to be Theodore Annemann. His performance style was direct and mystifying and his diabolical method and engaging presentation for the bullet catch was fascinating. It is possible to mention these things because there is actual footage of Mr. Annemann performing this death defying feat, and we have documentation of the methods he used (Link in Ask Alexander). Annemann’s method, which he developed from ideas given to him by Orville Meyer, was daring in that he would make use of borrowed weapons and have spectators fire the gun, although he did not always make use of these variations. Here is the introduction to the manuscript on the feat:
Practical performers will immediately realize the superiority of the methods here disclosed when it is understood that any type of gun can be used, excepting, of course, the shotgun. Pistol or rifle—it makes no difference. There is no switching of guns, as only one is used. It is not even necessary that the performer see the gun beforehand, or even know what kind of gun is to be used. Furthermore, this is the ONLY method which will allow unlimited inspection of all materials used, as no faked or prepared bullets—or anything else, is necessary.
The feat relied mainly on presentation and skill in controlling the people he was performing for. Further, he made use of forensic ballistics; letting experts in the field examine the caught bullet after to make sure that the rifling on the bullet was consistent with the gun used and the spectator’s mark was still there, albeit slightly altered from its travels. The method, however, is quite brazen and forces the performer to put a lot of faith in the person firing the gun. As a result, Annemann was known to be very anxious and unnerved prior to the feat, which he would perform outside. Later on, Annemann was booked for a theater engagement and was to feature the bullet catch, this time performed inside, a condition which added several constraints to the proceedings. This feat was never to take place, however, as Annemann, who had mental health problems, committed suicide shortly before his scheduled performances. One wonders whether or not the specter of performing the bullet catch regularly had anything to do with this tragedy.
Probably, the most zealous and fascinating performer of the bullet catch would have to have been Ralf Bialla. He had steel teeth which he would cover with dentures. Then, when asked how he caught the bullets, he would remove his false teeth to show the metal ones. Among his other eccentricities, he was also attacked by a young elephant at one point, which ran one of its tusks through his arm and poked him under one eye. He survived and was given one of the elephant’s tusks as a souvenir. The article detailing the incident had him stating, prophetically, that performers like him never die a natural death (Geissler). His bullet catching feat was full of details that set him apart from other performers in the field. First there were the “steel” teeth, of course. However he would also wear metal gloves which he would use to shield his face and provide a funnel and target area for the bullet he was about to catch. In addition, he is one of the few performers to be injured during the feat only to continue performing it, and he was injured multiple times! In fact, he apparently could, as part of the method, sustain a minor (compared to death) injury which he would use for publicity purposes, and, often, these would “conveniently” occur when the press was in the audience. Mr. Bialla’s injuries would take their toll as he continued to perform the feat (he estimated that he had performed it over 3,000 times), and he would black out from various circulation problems he had as a result. While recovering from a particular injury in 1975, he went for a walk in the mountains and apparently blacked out while peering at the scenery over a cliff only to fall to his death, a tragic and unnatural end to an audacious performer.
Most recently, in 2007, a man named Kofi Brugah, performing as Zamba Powers in Ghana, was the victim of a bullet catch gone wrong. According to the news article, “…Brugah claimed he had magical powers to withstand gunshots. He then produced a rifle and challenged a volunteer to step forward” (Magical Show Turns Bloody). The volunteer came to the stage, was given the rifle, and told to fire at the magician. Tragedy struck when the gun was fired, “Boom! Horror of horrors! There lay Brugah in a pool of blood screaming and pleading to be saved” (Magical Show Turns Bloody). He was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. The shooter fled the scene immediately and was not found. Clearly the bullet catch has continually been an endeavor run rampant with a variety of dangers available to the performer who wishes to undertake its risks and rewards, and we were rapidly coming to the time when we would be facing those dangers ourselves.
The Day of the Shoot
It was not until the next day, the day of the stunt, that I would learn the full details of the feat David Blaine was going to attempt, so I had time to piece together the bits and pieces I did know. I knew that Bill Kalush would be the shooter and David Blaine would be catching the bullet. I also knew that they had not brought any equipment with them related to guns at all. First, all of our luggage was “carry-on” and second I had seen the props they had brought with them: the tiny cup and mouth guard. I settled into my hotel room pondering what exactly was going to happen and becoming more and more aware that I was on one of the craziest adventures I have ever been on. They were clearly plotting something more dangerous than any of the feats I had heard of, and those were already clearly quite dangerous.
The morning of the stunt we were all supposed to be up early. I set two alarms and asked for a wake up call, just in case; I did not want to be late. It was technically my first full day on the job and there was a potentially life threatening situation at hand. I was up and having coffee in the lobby when our driver arrived. Bill came out soon afterward, ready with the suit he was going to wear. It was past the time we were supposed to leave when David Blaine finally emerged; he had, understandably, hardly slept, although he seemed surprisingly ready to go.
We made our way to the shooting range, got out of the car, and headed into the building. Inside the small front area there were already a number of people. We filled out the appropriate documents, received our protective eye and ear wear. Then we went into the range area. It was awash in various lights and cameras, and there was quite a mass of people scrunched into the back of the room. This seemed to be where the spectators would be and since I did not have any tasks to perform, I thought I would hang back. There were some other magicians that I knew and could talk with about the event. Everyone was very excited but a little nervous. I was able to peek around and see bits and pieces of everything going on in the main area. There was a rifle set up on a couple of tripods, large lights with screens, and several cameras. It was quite elaborate, but everyone seemed to know what they were doing.
Then Bill came to the back area with a digital camera. He told me to take photographs of the event for his records, and that I could come into the main area. This was very exciting; I was going to be right in the midst of the action. I started taking pictures and meeting people. There was Bob Talbot, who was going to “shoot the shoot” with a film camera, with his son taking still photographs (these turned out beautifully and made my sophomoric attempts at photography only more so). They are both very talented, and brave: they were perilously close to the action the whole time. I also learned that there would be another camera on hand called a Phantom which was capable of shooting at an absolutely bewildering rate of one million frames per second, and that, despite the fact we were shooting a bullet, we did not need this capability and would slow it down in order to get better resolution! If people could see and react at these speeds, bullet catching would not be such a profound activity. In addition to all of the filming, lighting, and other activities taking place in order to document the event, I noticed two people who seemed to be thoroughly involved in the event itself: giving directions, advice, and helping with the setup. They turned out to be Carl and Tina Skenes, and they were the reason this crazy event was taking place.
Carl Skenes developed and performed one of the most incredible and unimaginable feats to ever grace the Earth. Somehow he decided to take the bullet catch, a feat which every performer known to date has considered an impossibility and thus necessitated clever and roundabout ways to make it look legitimate, and figure out a way to do it for real!
The method is clever and quite rash, absolutely counterintuitive to a brain trying to protect itself from harm. Basically, there is a small cup capable of catching and stopping a bullet and a mouth guard to hold it in place and keep it from moving backwards when the impact from the bullet occurs. He first performed it in 1980 on the show That’s Incredible! (It aired May 26, 1980), and it really was. They filmed the feat and even showed slow motion shots of the bullet entering Mr. Skenes’ mouth (Link to video). At first, he used professional marksmen to fire the gun, with his wife, Tina, directing the action. However, Tina eventually took over as the marksman. It gave her control over the action (she certainly wasn’t going to take any risks with her husband’s life) and helped calm some of her anxiety which built up during the moments before the attempt. Despite their precautions, there were still many things that could go wrong. The rifle had to be sighted perfectly, Carl needed to stay as still as possible at the right distance from the rifle, the bullet had to fire perfectly, or Carl could be hurt or killed. In addition to the danger of the bullet missing the cup completely and hitting Carl, there was the additional danger of the bullet hitting the mouth of the cup and going rogue. This could be just as dangerous, if not more so, because the bullet would be traveling, rotating, and spinning as it bounced off the cup, capable of causing damage in a much larger field than a straight flying bullet. Other dangers, and Mr. Skenes had this happen on a number of occasions, included the shrapnel escaping from the cup after impact. Clearly this was not a feat to be taken lightly and eventually Carl and Tina decided they had proven themselves enough and retired the feat from their performances. It was truly lucky that they were on hand and available to help during David’s brush with this death defying feat. Realize that the performers who were faking the catch had encountered so many troubles, and then multiply the danger considerably to grasp the whole extent of what Carl had done and David was about to attempt.
The Main Event
As my photographing continued (I would eventually consume all of the memory on Bill’s camera), Bill and David started out testing various shots and checking the footage, with Mrs. Skenes directing. First, they put a small sticker on a cardboard cut out to site the rifle and measure off the distance and mark it with tape, so David would know where to stand. Bill’s first shot at the sticker was off the mark, and he was disappointed. Mrs. Skenes was helpful though, mentioning it was close enough for David to still be alive, and that they were still adjusting the scope for accuracy at the appropriate distance. Other than this event, however, Bill and David were surprisingly calm and prepared for the event. I was more nervous than both of them combined and subsequently impressed. These were two good friends, about to engage in an activity where one of them could legitimately kill the other one, yet they were calm and ready, both confident in the other’s abilities. There was only one moment in which any tension came to the surface, David said, “Bill, what if you kill me?”, and Bill said, “I’ll be all right, they only gave Albert Speer [a high ranking and influential figure in the Third Reich, and close friend and associate of Hitler’s] twenty years.”
With the gun sighted and the cameras and everything set up, they started performing practice shots and filming a variety of items getting shot at to see which looked best in order to get some eye arresting footage that would exemplify the capabilities of the Phantom camera. They shot at tomatoes, balloons, a mirror (in order to try and get a shot that looked like the way things could be seen from David’s perspective), and playing cards among other things. There was speculation about whether the bullet would just make a hole in the mirror or if the glass would explode; it exploded and looked fascinating in slow motion. I spent the time photographing and unsuccessfully looking for a bullet that would look good glued to my pocket Erdnase, so it appeared as though I had been shot at but saved by the cardman’s bible. Then David and Bill started getting a little more adventurous. David’s personal playing cards, Split Spades, have specially designed faces on some of the court cards, one of which features David (the King of Spades) and another with a likeness of Bill (the King of Hearts). Accordingly they held up the cards, by hand by the way, and shot holes in them, which was hopefully not a portent of things to come. Following the latter excursion, it was decided that David should try holding the cup in his hand, while Bill shot at it, in order to get a feel for the impact and the firing procedure. This is when things started to get scary and the tensions heightened, at least for me. Although not particularly death defying, the thought that David could lose a finger “at this very moment” really drove home the danger that was involved. Bill fired, and the cup leapt out of David’s hand. Apparently we were dealing with more force than anticipated.
There were a quite a number of things that were going to be happening simultaneously during the actual catch so a rehearsal was planned. David told everyone what was going to happen and what we should do. There was a medical team on hand, one of the members was skilled in dealing with on-site trauma and had been trained as a medic for the military. David spoke with him and Bill and went through the procedure of showing the bullets and having one given to Bill, although he would not load it for the rehearsal. Then David moved to his position as the target. Even though it was a rehearsal, we all held our breaths. We all knew we were there for the bullet catch, yet it seemed a little like we would either hold off for the last minute or not do it at all. Surely we wouldn’t really go through with it, it would be too dangerous. Did I really want to be involved and potentially supporting such an endeavor?
Immediately after the rehearsal, the tension ebbed slightly, and then, much to my surprise, David announced that we would be doing the real thing. My heart jumped a little, this man was surely crazy and willing to take steps toward the legendary, and I started taking pictures at a rapid clip. I thought, “If my job is to take photos, then I had better be doing so at the best of my ability”, foolishly accepting quantity over quality. Everyone followed the motions as they had in the rehearsal. Tina asked David if he was ready, he moved his finger, signaling he was ready. She asked Bill if he was ready, Bill said he was. She asked David, “David, are you still ready?” He moved his finger in assent. She then announced, “Proceed!” We waited a moment in silence until, “Pow!” The gun went off and for a moment we were still, processing the information and trying to decide if everything had gone according to plan. There was no visible damage; David moved back slightly, we went wild: “He’s okay!” Great cheering and jubilation filled the room. I felt a tiny spot of joy and relief start to form that quickly filled my body and eviscerated the tension and nervousness of the previous moments. David removed the cup from his mouth and dumped the shrapnel from the cup, it was still hot, and he showed it to the camera. He then walked to the back of the range amidst the applauding onlookers and became clearly emotional, a characteristic generally out of character for the magician. It was awesome. It was the greatest thing ever.
After a couple of minutes the footage from the Phantom had been loaded into the computer, and we gathered as best we could to see what had been accomplished. The footage was absolutely fantastic; you can see the bullet clearly flying into the cup, jarring the cup in David’s mouth, and the resulting shockwaves of force moving through David’s face and head. Luckily, everyone seemed pleased and impressed with the footage. I doubt if any one of us was prepared to make a second attempt, even as spectators.
During the remainder of the day, the crew, Bill, and David made sure that they had all of the footage they needed, cleaned up the area, tried other weapons, and shot at other things which might prove visually fascinating on film. I was able to talk to people and learned more about the catch. For example, Carl Skenes was speaking with David and spoke about why they used the .22 caliber rifle they did. Apparently it was very accurate, used for Olympic events, and consistent. I also learned that they used .22 caliber bullets, as opposed to something larger, because, although a cup could be manufactured to withstand the impact of the bullet, the impact of the bullet would create enough force on the cup that David’s teeth would not be able to keep the cup from continuing on its backwards journey. Images of the cup flying out of David’s fingers when he held it in his hand came to mind, and I was again glad that things had worked out; there were far too many things to go wrong.
Many of the key players got together for photos as things wound down, and David signed some autographs and took pictures with some of the attendees. Shortly thereafter, we were in a van heading to the airport. It had been an amazing experience, a whirlwind of crazy activities combined with a vast array of emotions. We arrived at the airport and went to check in. David had been upgraded to first class on the plane, but needed to speak with Bill about the upcoming stunt (right before the flight to Florida, and only a couple of days before the stunt, their finale for the stunt was cancelled by the powers that be, and they needed to come up with a new one), therefore I was upgraded to first class! Had I unknowingly hit all the numbers on the awesome job lottery? I think so.
View the Bullet Catch
The Conjuring Arts Research Center thanks David Blaine for providing the exclusive footage from the event. We would also like to thank Kostya Kimlat for providing photos of the event.
- Ayres, Mick. “Carl Skenes: Biting the Bullet.” The Linking Ring Vol. 80 No. 11 (November 2000): 62-65.
- Beard, Rev. Thomas. The Theatre of God’s Judgments. London, 1597
- Blaine, David. Mysterious Stranger. New York: Villard, 2002.
- Chassanion, Jean. Histoires memorables des grans et merveillevx ivgemens et punitions de Dieu auenues au monde, principalemant sur les grans, à cause de leurs mesfaits, contreuenans aux commandemens de la loy de Dieu. France: 1586**
- Geissler, Werner. “Rund um die Magische Welt.” Magische Welt Vol. 5 No. 1 (January/February 1956): 32.
- Kalush, William and Larry Sloman. The Secret Life of Houdini. New York: Atria, 2006.
- Karr, Todd. Essential Robert-Houdin. The Miracle Factory, 2006
- Lesley, Ted. Paramiracles. Seattle: Hermetic Press, 1994.
- “Magical Show Turns Bloody.” Tabloid News. 2007. Ghana Web. 17 June 2007
- Meyer, Orville. “Catching a Bullet in the Teeth.” Genii Vol. 7 No. 4 (December 1942): 125-129.
- Robert-Houdin, Jean Eugène. Memoirs of Robert-Houdin. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
- Steinmeyer, Jim. The Glorious Deception. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005.
*The Theatre of God’s Judgments is often referred to as the source for the Couleu reference in the literature.
**The Conjuring Arts Research Center wishes to thank Dr. Lori Pieper for her translation of this important work.