It was written for a site which specialises in fiction with a "grand-illusion" type magical theme.
Part of the intention when I wrote it was to test the bounds of what was acceptable on the site concerned.
The Erotic Magic Club 1 -- Josephine and the Wishbone.
Whenever I visit my brother Richard in the West Country he takes me to a theatre/dining club. Yes, I know they're a long way from London, but they do have night clubs down there. Let me tell you about one Friday when we visited the Erotic Magic Club in Exeter.
The first half of the evening's entertainment was fairly standard stuff. It started with a sort of dance/strip show with all eight girls, then each one had a solo set, so that one did a few extreme backbends and then folded herself into a tiny perspex box, one did a sword swallowing and fire-breathing act and so on -- all either nude or in the tiniest, tightest clothing. The first half finished with another ensemble dance piece and then, during the interval, the girls wandered round the audience chatting to the exclusively male clientelle. By this time all the girls were wearing very tight, very short leather shorts and matching high heels and nothing else, the kind of shorts I refer to as Daisy Dukes but which my brother insists on calling Hot Pants. One was in black, one in pink, one in blue and so on, eight identical topless outfits in eight different colours.
The girl who came to our table was wearing white and introduced herself as Jo. She was just under six foot tall and wore her blonde hair in very short buzz-cut. In her solo spot in the first half she had rolled around in a plastic tray, liberally basting herself with a variety of sticky substances, and she now described for us the bother she used to have cleaning herself up in time for the next item, until she'd had the hair on her head cut so short, and everywhere else shaved. I asked her if she was appearing in the second half, and she said that they never knew who was doing what until after the show recommenced. The second half, she explained, was a magic act, with some very cruel things happening to one of the girls chosen at random. However the girl concerned always got a bonus in her pay for the night, which softened the pain somewhat.
The lights dimmed for the second act and the club's owner, Stavro, moved onto the stage. He introduced the magician, who performed under the very unmagical name of Jim. Jim strode on carrying a large glass bowl with a number of snooker balls of varying colours within. The two had a few moment's banter about the girls' acts in the first half and then Jim handed the bowl to Stavro. Making a great show of shielding his eyes and looking the other way, Jim reached into the bowl and shuffled the balls, drawing one out and holding it up.
"It's the white ball, Stavro" said Jim. "Which of our dancers this evening is wearing the white ?"
"It's that lovely lady with the long legs and the short hair," replied Stavro. "A big hand, please, for Josephine Olafsdottir!"
A whispered "Oh shit" came from the girl at my elbow, as a couple of spotlights swung round and focussed on her suddenly artificial smile. She waved at the audience and accepted their applause as she walked up on stage, giving us all a view of the deliciously rounded contents of those tight white shorts. The second half of the show had begun.
Stavro had walked off stage with the bowl, leaving Jim holding the white ball, which he passed to Jo. Jim picked up a small pile of large gold envelopes from a bar-stool behind him and waved them at the audience.
"Inside each of these envelopes is the name of an illusion," he explained. "What's your favourite, Jo ?"
"You know I hate every last one of them," she replied. "All the girls do. There are some things the human body is just not designed to do."
"How can you say that after what you did with that python in the first half ?" he asked, earning a ripple of laughter from the audience.
"That wasn't me, that was Suzy, over there in the green. And its a boa, not a python. I did the thing with the oatmeal and the honey."
"Well, I can see that all those B-group vitamins do wonders for the condition of your skin. Are you going to take one of these envelopes or what ?"
She shifted the ball into her left hand and took one of the envelopes. Jim put the others back on the stool and took the chosen envelope from Jo. He took out the card within and showed it to the audience: "The Wishbone".
He took the card and envelope and added them to the others, passing them all to a girl who had appeared to take them off-stage. "For the Wishbone," he said, "We need the help of two gentlemen from the audience. Jo, do you want to go and find yourself a couple of men ?"
She tripped down the small staircase from the stage, and came back to our table. She handed the ball to me and whispered "Stick this in your pocket. You'll need it later. Jim will tell you when." She took my hand in one of hers and Richard's in the other, and led us back onto the stage.
"Who are these lucky fellows ?" asked Jim.
"This is Richard, from North Devon, and his brother Doug from Berkshire." she replied.
"Now boys," said the magician, "Your job, as well as to assist me, is to confirm for the audience here that there is no cheating, no substitution, no underhandedness going on -- that it's all pure magic. Can you do that ?"
We told him that we thought perhaps we could. He invited Jo to sit on the stool and spoke to us again.
"Now, I want you to study these legs," he said to us. "Would you recognise these legs again ? I want you to examine them carefully and remember what they look and feel like. In fact," he said, producing a large fibre-tipped pen, "I'd like you each to sign one of these legs so there's no doubt that they're the same legs later on."
I took Jim's pen and wrote "Doug S" on Jo's right thigh and passed the pen over to Richard. He wrote "Dick" on her left thigh and drew a capital R that looked suspiciously like the corresponding piece of male anatomy. Meanwhile, one of the girls, the firebreather with the red shorts, appeared with a brightly coloured box of props, standing to once side of the stage.
The first item Jim drew out of the box was a belt, about three or four inches wide and made of the same white leather as Jo's shorts. He passed it to us and instructed us to put the belt around Jo's waist. As she stood up for us to fit it, she whispered to us "make it as tight as you can -- it hurts like hell if it slips later". Richard and I hauled on the belt and closed the buckle. The belt left her waist considerably narrower than her hips or the bottom edge of her ribcage. While we were concentrating on the belt, Jo had fitted white leather cuffs around each wrist and above each elbow. Each cuff had a small metal ring sewn into it, and a series of these rings ran down the centre of the belt, with a larger one in the middle at the back. We also saw a row of small eyelets just below the top edge of the waistband of the shorts.
All the time, Jim was maintaining the usual magician's patter, keeping the audience ticking over while Richard, Jo and I were fitting the belt and cuffs. Now Jim lifted another item from the box -- a net of white leather straps joined with metal rings -- and he walked up to Jo with a big grin, holding the strange garment out for her. She took the mess of belts and draped it over her head and face, buckling it under her chin. A long strap hung down from her jawbone on each side, and a metal ring was perched on the top of her head. She tightened the strap under her chin a notch or two, and gave Jim a little nod.
"Now Wishbones," said Jim, "are found in birds, and before a bird is cooked it has to be trussed up. Turn round, Jo."
Jo turned her back to the audience and placed her arms behind her back, bending her elbows so that her hands rose between her shoulderblades. Jim collected the two straps hanging from the head harness and ran them through the rings on her wrist cuffs. He pulled on the straps, gaining just enough slack to connect them to buckles at the back of her neck. He took a length of rope from the box and passed it through the ring in the small of her back. He passed one end through the ring in one of the elbow cuffs, and then did the same with the other end at the other side. Finally he passed both ends back through the centre ring and handed Richard and I each one end of the rope.
"Pull, boys," he said: "Those elbows have got to be touching or the rest of the illusion won't work". Well, we pulled quite hard, Richard and I, but we just couldn't get those elbows to meet. We generated lots of little yelps and gasps from Jo, but those elbows stayed resolutely at least a foot apart. After we'd struggled for about a minute, much to the amusement of the audience, Jim stopped us and called Stavro back onto the stage. With Stavro and I pulling on one side, and Jim and Richard on the other, we at last got her elbows to meet at the base of her spine. Jim retrieved the other end of the rope from Stavro and tied an efficient little knot at the belt ring.
Jim dropped the ends of the rope and asked Jo to "Give us a twirl". She turned round and faced the audience. She was breathing heavily, and a thin film of sweat coated her face and tits, which were sticking out very nicely because of the way her arms were tied. She gave the audience a game little smile and turned her back once more.
Jim picked up the two ends of the rope and passed them in opposite directions through the ring at the crown of her head harness, pulling them back down to the ring on the belt. He fed them through this ring and passed one end back to Stavro and me. He asked "Ready, Jo ?" and on her nod, we began to pull once more. Very swiftly we bent her neck back at about 90 degrees, but after that the going got a bit harder. Jo started cursing and swearing at us, so Jim asked us to stop pulling and he tied the rope off. He turned her around to face the audience once more, but of course her face was looking at the ceiling. He brought the stool round in front of her and folded her forward over it so that the audience could see her face.
"Girls who forget their manners end up behind the ball," he said, keeping his hand on her shoulder so she couldn't stand up. "What did you do with your ball ?"
"Doug's got it," she replied. "I gave it to him to look after."
Jim called me over and pointed at her mouth. "Give her the ball back."
Jo gave me a little wink and opened her mouth. I took the ball out of my pocket and looked at it. It was a full-sized snooker ball, with a diameter of about three and a half inches. I placed it against her gaping mouth but there was no way that it was going to go in. I looked questioningly up at Jim, who told me to place my palm over the ball and hit the back of my hand smartly with my opposite fist. I did so, and the ball snapped into her mouth, wedging itself behind her teeth and stretching her jaw impossibly wide. He bent down and asked her if she was going to keep swearing at us and, receiving only a glare in reply, stood her up and faced her away from the audience once more.
He untied the rope where he'd tied it previously, and we started to pull once more. This time, the best that Jo could manage were a few muffled grunts, and in due course we got the rope so tight that the back of her head was nestled between her wrists, and she could see the audience despite having her back to them. Jim tied the rope off once more, and wound the excess up, tucking it between her arms and her back. Once more at Jim's instruction, Jo gave us a twirl, turning one and a half times so that she was again standing with her front to the audience. The strict position of her arms and head meant that her bare tits were displayed to the best possible advantage, rising and falling as she fought to catch her breath past that monstrous gag. In fact, from the front it looked as if she didn't have arms or a head at all. I turned round to pass some comment to Stavros, but he'd already left the stage.
Leaving us looking after Jo, in her extremely uncomfortable position, Jim strode over to the far side of the stage where he did a variation on the classic cups-and-ball trick, hiding the girl in blue shorts under one of three five-foot disposable plastic coffee cups, sliding them around and challenging the audience to guess which cup the girl was under. The trick finished when he revealed that all three cups were empty.
Jim went back to the box and returned to Jo with another garment. This was like a bag, which he dropped over Jo's head and shoulders to her waist. He walked round behind her and began doing up the laces, pulling the white leather drum-tight across her bound form. When the laces reached the bottom edge, he used a row of eyelets along the hem to attach the hood to her waist belt. A further row ran along the edge of the circular piece of leather which formed the top of the hood.
"The sides of this hood," he explained to the audience, "are made of Thermal Leather, a material of my own devising. Its most remarkable property," he continued, reaching into the box once more, "is that it shrinks when it's warmed up." With a flourish he produced a hair-drier from within the box. Trailing the wire behind him, where the bare ends of the flex whispered across the surface of the stage, he approached the shrouded form and, turning the hot air on, played the drier across the surface of the leather.
Naturally, I was expecting to see the fabric shrinking horizontally, squeezing Jo into a progressively narrower cocoon of leather, but by contrast all the contraction was in the vertical direction and the oval top of the hood was drawn down closer and closer to the dancer's hips. After a minute or two with the drier, the hood had shrunk to just a couple of inches in height, and Jo's feet, legs and hips stood on the stage surmounted by her belt-clad waist and an oval of leather.
Jim switched the drier off and dropped it back into the box, retrieving instead another couple of laces. He came back to Jo and fed the laces backwards and forwards between the perimeter of the oval and the waistband of her shorts. As he tightened them, the shorts were pulled up higher and tighter than before, with the centre seam drawn tightly into her crotch and between her cheeks. Finally the edges of the leather met all the way round. He patted the strange figure on the hip where he'd been lacing, and asked the air where her head would have been, "Not too tight, Josephine ?"
He retrieved a yellow duster from the box and buffed up the white leather, and as he polished around the waistband, the laces seemed to melt into the surface, so that the white leather rose unbroken from the shorts to the top of the hood, and by the time had finished, the whole of the join between one garment and the next had disappeared. The centre seam of the shorts ran in an unbroken loop between her legs, up the back, across the top and down the front again. The duster was returned to the box and the girl holding it turned and strode off the stage.
Leaving us in the company of Jo's lower half, Jim returned to the far side of the stage, where he found a flipchart with a pad of paper on it. Suzy, the snake charmer, walked on with a steel tube about eighteen inches across and perhaps two feet long, and showed it to the audience so that they could see that it was empty. He picked up a pen and quickly drew a simple cartoon picture of a man's evening jacket on the front sheet. He tore it off and screwed it into a loose ball, pushing it into one end of the tube, and as he pushed, a crumpled bundle of black velvet material emerged at the other end. Suzy pulled the jacket out and put it on. They had a big theatrical mock-argument, because he said that the audience were paying to see her tits without a jacket on, so she took it off again and threw it to the corner of the stage.
In a similar manner he produced all manner of objects, taking suggestions from the audience, including a ladder, a skateboard and a pint of beer (which was passed to the man who suggested it). He drew a pair of shorts just like the girls were wearing, and these, too, appeared out of the tube: they were the bright blue shorts worn by the girl who had disappeared during the cup trick. He drew the bottom half of the girl from the waist down, wearing only a pair of heels, and screwed it into a ball as before. Suzy put the tube down on its end and dropped the paper in the top. When she picked up the tube, the girl's legs appeared beneath, and as the tube was raised still further, it became evident that this was, indeed, a girl with no shorts on. However, they couldn't pull the tube up further than waist height. Finally, he worked out what was wrong. He sketched her top half, tits and all, and when the whole girl had emerged from the tube, he received his applause and returned to our side of the stage.
Jim patted the top of Jo's abbreviated body and turned to the audience. "Here's our wishbone," he said. "Who knows what happens to wishbones ?" He got a couple of suggestions shouted from the floor and he picked up on one of them. "That's right -- they get pulled." He picked Jo up by the hips and sat her back on the stool. "Get an ankle each, boys," he said to Richard and me, "and pull that wishbone!"
We each took a firm grip of Jo's legs and started to pull. After a bit of a struggle, we got them stretched out into a perfect side split, so we stopped pulling and looked at Jim. "You have to pull wishbones till they break, you know," he said, "otherwise your wish never comes true." So we started to pull rather harder. Suddenly, with a sound a little like tearing canvas, and a little like pulling a boot out of wet mud, the stitching in the centre seam gave way and we each had a hold of a single leg and hip, each wearing a single high heel and a half a pair of shorts. Across the surface uncovered by the division, another panel of white leather had appeared.
Jim came to stand between us as we each held one of the legs. "Now boys, I want you to check those two legs. Tell me, do they look and feel like real legs from a real dancing girl ? And do they still bear your signatures ? Are they, in fact, the same legs that you saw on the lovely Josephine earlier ?"
We looked at these disembodied legs and we had to confirm that they certainly looked and felt real enough and our names were still on the thighs. He invited us to return to our seats, taking the legs with us, and we walked back to our tables followed by a very healty round of applause.
Stavro was waiting for us at our table, and suggested that after we'd enjoyed the closing dance presented by the remaining seven girls, that we bring the legs backstage so that we could enjoy helping to get Josephine restored in private.
After the stage show finished, a number of the audience came to our table to study Josephine's legs. Someone took the shoe off of the leg I was holding and tickled the foot, and both legs started kicking, despite being several feet apart. One audience member pointed out how, if he pinched the flesh, it changed colour "just like a real leg". A couple of people tried to get a finger up her shorts between the leather and the skin, but they were just too tight.
Finally the crowd cleared, and Stavro led us through the curtains and back onto the now silent stage, where Jim and the girls were waiting for us. Most of the girls had changed back into their regular street clothes, although Jim and Stavro were still in their tuxedos and Suzy was wearing just the green shorts and the black velvet jacket.
Jim had a spray bottle of water in his hand and used it to wet the leather still covering each of Jo's separate hips. He explained that, as the drier had caused the leather to shrink, so the water would make it relax and sure enough, within a few moments some slack appeared in the material.
Jim started to push the shorts up the hip of the left leg, while Stavro, a few yards away, was pulling the leather down the opposite limb. Soon they had both hips emerging from one leg of the shorts and the rest of her right leg followed. Jim took the other half of the shorts from Stavro and threw both halves onto the stage floor. Stavro helped her onto her feet and she stood there, half a girl from the hips down, clean shaven and dressed in a single white high heeled shoe.
"Where's her other shoe ?" asked Stavro. "I didn't see it not there till we got both feet together."
"It's on our table," said Richard. "One of the punters took it off earlier." One of the girls dipped out through the curtain and returned with the shoe, kneeling on the floor to refit it to Jo's bare right foot.
Suzy shed her jacket and picked up the tube from earlier in the show. She tapped Jo's ankle twice with her toe and Jo spread her legs, standing with her feet about two feet apart. Suzy lowered the tube over Jo's hips and rested it on her splayed thighs. She walked over to where Jim had dropped the shorts, picked them up and dropped them into the top of the tube. She picked the tube up and lifted it a few inches and Jo brought her legs together again.
Jim walked over and reached into the top of the tube with one hand. He rummaged around for a few moments and brought out a handful of laces. He reached in a second time, and retrieved the large leather hood, now restored to full size. For a third time he extended his hand into the tube, and out came the rope which had caused her such distress with her elbows and neck. Again and again he dipped into the tube, pulling out the four cuffs, the head harness and, finally, the belt.
All this time, Suzy was holding the tube in mid-air, with the bottom edge of Jo's shorts just visible.
At a nod from Jim, Suzy now lifted the tube up, and the upper half of Josephine was steadily revealed. She was rubbing her wrists and we could see the indentations in her skin where the cuffs and belt had been. When the tube was lifted off her head, however, we discovered that the ball was still firmly in place.
"All done, Jo ?" said Jim.
"Heh hih hughing hahh ou oh hi hough !" she replied, looking daggers at him.
"Oh, the ball, the ball." he said, as if he'd forgotten. He fished in an inside jacket pocket and found a large spoon, which he slid into her mouth alongside the ball, between it and her cheek. Using the spoon as a lever, he sprung the ball from between her teeth, catching it neatly in his other hand. "How's that ?"
"Out," she said. "Let me have a shower and get dressed, and we can have a drink."
Later, when Jo and Suzy were both dressed and the other girls had gone, the six of us were sat in the bar. Jo was talking about how it felt for the duration of the illusion. "The arms I can cope with," she said, "and even the neck is bearable, but I can't see anything, I can't hear anything, I can't breathe properly, I can't even move from the waist up. And it's so tight, the pressure is terrific. But the worst of all," she continued, "is that ball. My jaw starts hurting after about twenty seconds, and I think I had that ball in for about two hours. Like I told Jim at the start, we all hate it. And none of the other main illusions are any better."
"Damn right," said Suzi. "They're all awful. But Stavro says the punters love it, so what can you do ?"
"This is true." said our host. "And you get paid for it."
"Woah, thanks, Stav, we're all grateful for the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. I'm just grateful for my bonus tonight. At least I can afford to buy food this weekend, even if my jaw won't work properly till Monday"
We left the girls arguing with Stavro as Jim walked out to the car park with us. Just before we got into our car, he gave me a little souvenir of the night.
An uncomfortably large white snooker ball.