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You should not attempt any of these Acts without the direct supervision and training from  a responsible and trained professional. 


by Slim Price


This is one of the simplest of the acts, and yet, well done it can be elegant.

The core of it is a "Violet Ray Generator" which was a quack medical device in the 20's and later. Actually, it's a high frequency generator related to a Tesla Coil. It works on a fairly low wattage, but the frequency is stepped up very high, giving an apparent current in the thousands of volts (usually 20,000 or even more. The high frequency causes what is called a "skin effect" which simply means that the current literally travels on the surface of one's skin, rather than giving a typical shock, like you might get by sticking your finger in a lamp socket! Typically, when you get one it will be cylindrical. Sort of the size and shape of a small thermos bottle with a cone-shaped end, which is recessed to take a variety of glass electrodes, meant to use in a variety of ways. The old ones were used in every orifice of the body. (Yes, even there.) At the opposite end of the cylinder usually there will be a knob to set the frequency. (Some of the oldest ones came in a case with a control area built into the case itself. Either way, it doesn't make much difference, you will have it at the highest setting you can get.) If you turn the thing on with a glass electrode in the socket, and bring your hand close, you'll feel a slight tingle and see a pretty spark-trail inside the glass tube. This is the "Violet Ray."


How to do the hook-up. This is pretty easy, and there are no hard and fast rules. I found that making mine this way lent it to multiple uses, more about that as we go. Simply by taking out the electrode, (just the glass part) you have an ideal connection point, but everything has to be as tight as possible to make very good connections to get the best spark you can. The opening where the electrode Fits should be about 3/8 of an inch. Measure it. Get a brass or copper rod of the correct diameter so you can connect a section of jumper cable to it without any slack. The other end of the cable goes to a plate of a comfortable size depending on your planned use. I had the cutting plate, (steel) that I rescued from a small drop forge that was just right, but I've seen plain sheet metal used with good results. My reason for the heavy plate was partly utility and partly drama, plus it was sturdy enough for my girl "Electra" to stand on it without support. It was raised on big glass insulators for the effect, and also the insulators raised up the plate enough to clamp the VR generator underneath out of sight and made a neat package to load and store. Using a stand-on plate allows it to be used on any stage and also to put it on the seat of an "Electric Chair" If your act goes that way. Lots of props, "Jacob's ladders," heavy cables and a big noisy control panel enhance the show. Make sure somewhere in there you have a switch you can get to. You'll need it.


The act while the current passes through clothing, using the plate on the floor allows your subject to be barefoot, which does make for a better contact and gives you a better spark to be more sure of lighting torches.


ATTENTION! Never step on or off the plate when the current is on, you can get a real shock! If you are the "Professor," don't use a mike without making sure it won't shock you. You can really get zapped when the mike and you are grounded. The act needs two people, one to be “Electrica” and one to be the talker. The talker is the one with the torch or lamp. Simply by contacting Electrica, either the torch will get a spark to ignite it, or the lamp will light. Actually, for a nice effect, Electrica can hold a bowl of water, and the torch lighted from that.


One of the “evil” things we did on the sideshows was to have Electrica ask for a set of keys from someone in the audience. When the spectator handed her the keys, he completed the electrical path to ground and got one hell of a shock! (You did not hear this here.)


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