Stage magic has always had a strong tradition here in America. Escape artists like Houdini and master illusionists like David Copperfield are household names. Go to Vegas and you’ll see Chris Angel advertisements that literally cover skyscrapers. We’re all familiar with levitation and sawing lovely assistants in half but did you know there’s a type of stage magic that’s all about changing clothes?
They’re called quick change artists and what they do is hard to put into words. I could try to explain it but I doubt I’d do it any justice. Instead why don’t you see it for yourself?
Basically, it’s all about lightning fast costume changes. Don’t ask me how they do it, I’ve never even come close to figuring it out. This extremely niche art form doesn’t get much attention but that doesn’t make it any less amazing.
The art form is likely centuries old and dates back to early theater. Giovanni Gabrielle is credited as the first confirmed quick change artist. References to his shows go back as far as the 1600’s when he preformed in the streets of Bologna.
Quick change was apparently very popular all the way up to the early 20th century but was hit hard by popularity of television. Acts used to include not only costume changes, but character changes as well from performers who would adopt new accents and personas to match their sudden transformations.
Perhaps the most accomplished quick change artist is Arturo Brachetti who reportedly changed costumes 22,500 times over 250 shows. He currently holds the Guinness World Record for changing from a full tuxedo to a cow-pattern costume in 2 seconds. I can’t wait to see if it can be beaten.