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Old 30th March 2017, 10:01 AM   #1
Mackenberg
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How Lulu Hurst's seemingly supernatural strength baffled 1880s America

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles...h-supernatural

An examination of the life and career of Lulu Hurst, whose vaudeville act of seemingly overpowering much larger and stronger men in feats of strength owed less to mysterious "magnetic energies" than to subtleties of physics and psychology.
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Old 30th March 2017, 12:41 PM   #2
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She was a fascinating act, and it is a shame that some still occasionally bring her out as an example of supernatural forces. It is more impressive to me that she did not possess superhuman strength; where would be the wonder in the Georgia Wonder's acts if she was merely stronger than she appeared? The reality is that she was supremely confident and exhibited exceptional skill in audience management.

Pick any thousand skeptics today and thoroughly teach them Hearst's methods, and I wager fewer than ten could perform as well as she did.
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Old 30th March 2017, 09:00 PM   #3
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Yep - heard about her (well, read...) 3-5 years ago and am pretty sure it was in one of the threads here!!!
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Old 30th March 2017, 11:22 PM   #4
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This is what I like best about this forum! I had never heard of her.
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Old 31st March 2017, 05:19 AM   #5
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Careful with that link... I got non-stop pop-up ads.

However, it looks like some of her tricks were very similar to the sorts of things we see today in "Chi" demonstrations by various kung-fu types.
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Old 31st March 2017, 06:54 AM   #6
fuelair
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Originally Posted by Whatfor View Post
This is what I like best about this forum! I had never heard of her.
Helps to read Barnum and Houdini and others who loved debunking as much
as they loved bunking!!!!
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Old 31st March 2017, 06:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Careful with that link... I got non-stop pop-up ads.

However, it looks like some of her tricks were very similar to the sorts of things we see today in "Chi" demonstrations by various kung-fu types.
Perhaps a few of them, but most of those are with participants going along with the charade as opposed to people being outwitted with physics.
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Old 31st March 2017, 06:55 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Careful with that link... I got non-stop pop-up ads.

However, it looks like some of her tricks were very similar to the sorts of things we see today in "Chi" demonstrations by various kung-fu types.
Yep!!! That's pretty much it!!!
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Old 31st March 2017, 06:57 AM   #9
Garrette
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Yep!!! That's pretty much it!!!
I disagree.
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Old 31st March 2017, 07:19 AM   #10
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According to Wikipedia, she admitted in her autobiography that she used leverage and controlled application of force.

Quote:
Hurst later admitted, in her autobiography, that her "supernatural" powers were in fact due to the judicious application of body mechanics and deflection of force, although she claimed that, during her teenage years, she herself had believed them to be genuine.[2][7]

The magician Harry Houdini noted that her "methods consisted in utilizing the principles of the lever and fulcrum in a manner so cleverly disguised that it appeared to the audience that some supernatural power must be at work."[9]

According to an article in Popular Mechanics her effects were "based almost exclusively on the pivot-and-fulcrum theorem of physics."[10]

Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell has written that "Hurst was not the first such performer (nor the last) to make use of force deflection, along with other physical principles and tricks."[2]



2. Nickell, Joe. (2005). Secrets of the Sideshows. University of Kentucky Press, pp. 247-248. ISBN 978-0-8131-2358-5
7. Hutto, J; TcGehee, L. (2005). Southern Seen: Meditations on Past and Present. University of Tennessee Press. pp. 188-189. ISBN 978-1-57233-359-8
9. Houdini, Harry. (1920). Miracle Mongers and Their Methods. E. P. Dutton & Company. p. 228
10. Anonymous. (1928). Two Pounds. Popular Mechanics. March, p. 402.
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Old 31st March 2017, 08:27 AM   #11
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I don't think it was an either/or scenario; Lulu's autobiography is riddled with observations and speculations about why so many of the people who came up on stage to test her "powers" unconsciously exaggerated their effects. The article identifies the ideomotor phenomenon as the reason why.

IMO many of the most spectacular demonstrations of chi, etc. in the martial arts world likewise combine genuinely skilful leverage- and timing-based trickery with socially conditioned, whole-body ideomotor responses from the "fall guys".
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Old 1st April 2017, 01:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mackenberg View Post
combine genuinely skilful leverage- and timing-based trickery with socially conditioned, whole-body ideomotor responses from the "fall guys".
And those fork-style tazers, too!
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Old 3rd April 2017, 07:08 AM   #13
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John Hunter's "Body Magic" describes her trademark trick of not allowing herself to be lifted as well as others. She would lift her hands so her elbows were down and allow herself to be lifted by his hands under her elbows. Then he would try again and fail because she adjusted the position of her elbows so instead of doing a straight vertical lift he was struggling to lift and maintain his balance. We've all struggled to lift awkward objects not because of their weight but their weight distribution.
The book's quite cheap on Kindle. I have an old hardback so not sure how well it's been transferred to kindle.
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Old 3rd April 2017, 07:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
John Hunter's "Body Magic" describes her trademark trick of not allowing herself to be lifted as well as others. She would lift her hands so her elbows were down and allow herself to be lifted by his hands under her elbows. Then he would try again and fail because she adjusted the position of her elbows so instead of doing a straight vertical lift he was struggling to lift and maintain his balance. We've all struggled to lift awkward objects not because of their weight but their weight distribution.
The book's quite cheap on Kindle. I have an old hardback so not sure how well it's been transferred to kindle.
That book was my introduction to Georgia Magnet leverage trickery, back in the late '70s.

During the 1950s an English performer known as "Resista" developed some refinements of the body lifting stunt. Her gimmick was to claim that she could increase or decrease her weight at will. One of her tricks was to allow herself to be lifted by the elbows and then simply tilt towards the lifter so that her bust moved towards his face. He'd pull his head back out of embarrassment and confused courtesy; as soon as he did that his balance was broken and he'd drop her, creating the illusion that she'd suddenly become too heavy for him to hold.

Last edited by Mackenberg; 3rd April 2017 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 3rd April 2017, 03:52 PM   #15
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Thanks for sharing! That's really cool.
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