1904 – “Zutka, the Mysterious” (Unknown)

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New Zealand Evening Post 3 Dec 1904.

Lovers of the mysterious will welcome a new item which has been added to the programme of the London Hippodrome (says an exchange). It is called "Zutka, the Mysterious," and whether "Zutka" is a living person or a dummy is a problem which must be left for solution to each visitor. The performance may be briefly described thus : A small black wooden box, measuring 2ft long, 1ft 4in wide, and 1ft 6in deep, was placed in the middle of the arena. The lid was taken off by the exhibitor and some paper used as packing was removed. One of the ends was let out, and "Zutka's" head fell with it. As soon as the other end was dropped the legs went out with an almost spring-like action, and the figure was then seen lying at full length, 6ft 4in from head to feet, dressed as a pierrot. The showman, who wore a pair of indiarubber gloves, placed the figure, which remained quite stiff, on its feet, which were kept close together during almost the whole of the performance. Unassisted, "Zutka" stood upright while an electric wire, attached to a small dynamo on the stage, was fixed to the clothing in front at the waist. The electrical machine was set in motion and the figure immediately began to move, bending its body from the waist, raising its arms, turning its head, and clapping its hands. When the hands mot an electric spark was seen between the fingers. The wire was disconnected, and "Zutka" was carried from the arena to the stage and placed underneath two suspended gymnasium rings. From this movement the figure appeared to be rather weighty.
Again the electric wire was connected and the current apparently turned on, after which the arms rose to the rings, round which the hands were folded by the exhibitor. A gymnastic performance followed. The body lifted itself to a horizontal position and the legs doubled over until the Meet almost touched the head. At this stage a leather band was strapped round the legs and body, binding them together, and the figure afterwards made several revolutions, which necessitated the circular motion of the arms and rings as in the case of the ordinary gymnast when going through a similar movement. At the conclusion of this performance "Zutka" was carried back into the arena, the electric wire again being taken away, and in less than a minute the "performer" was put into the box, the sides of which had been fixed up again, and the lid was replaced. If "Zutka" is a living person whose limbs have been trained for this doubling-up trick, the performance is a remarkable one; if the whole thing is mechanical, the inventor has produced a novelty which will interest most people who care for shows of this kind.

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