Lulu Hurst, also known variously as the “Little Georgia Wonder” and as the “Georgia Magnet”, was a music hall sensation during the mid-late 19th century. Claiming to possess a supernatural power of electrical or magnetic force, but in fact skilfully exploiting subtle principles of physics, anatomy and the ideomotor effect, the apparently frail “Magnet” was often matched against heavyweight strongmen, boxers and wrestlers in carefully controlled “tests” using simple props such as pool cues, wooden chairs and umbrellas. The results were often both spectacular and amusing to the “Magnet’s” many fans.
Later, Bartitsu founder E.W. Barton-Wright was to produce a written expose of the “magnetic act”, including many of the feats first popularised by Lulu Hurst.
There follows an account of one of the “Georgia Magnet’s” New York performances, pitting her skills against the strength of sumo wrestler Sorakichi Matsuda (misspelled as Matsada in the report):
There was the usual overflowing, shouting crowd in the Brooklyn Theater last night, and the cues and canes and chairs, with the fifteen or twenty assorted men who martyred themselves for the cause of science, went waltzing across the floor with the customary mad dance. The usual exciting scenes with wrecked umbrellas, canes and cues took place until the feature of the evening was introduced, the struggle over the chair by the Georgia Wonder and the celebrated Japanese wrestler, Matsada.
The Oriental Orlando struggled and tugged, and did his level best, while Lulu, calm and smiling, dashed the Japanese around the stage amid the shouts and plaudits of an excited house. The audience went wild in their wrought up enthusiasm over this wonderful and exciting scene.
Then Matsada and four helpers clinging to the chair could not force it to the floor, and when the almond-eyed son of the East came back to his box he was heated, tired, panting and exhausted, while his fair antagonist was apparently as cool and fresh as ever.