by Paul Gertner
Paul Gertner has released the second and third videos in the companion series to his best selling book Steel and Silver. Paul begins each tape by suggesting the videos be used as an adjunct to the book, and not a substitute for it, and in this I heartily concur. The videos focus on card and coin magic, and there is a fairly even split between routines which are geared toward real world performance, and those routines more suitable for fooling other magicians.
Volume Two begins with a performance and complete explanation of Paul's competition act, which brought him first place awards at the Las Vegas Desert Seminar and FISM. I was in the audience when Paul performed this at DMS years ago, and I can attest to its effectiveness. The routines which make up the act ("That's Ridiculous," the "Cups and Steel Balls," and "The Ring on the Hourglass") are so completely associated with Paul that I would not suggest that anyone else ever perform them. However, if you are interested in discovering how a world-class competition close-up act is constructed, there is probably no finer example available. What is immediately apparent is the enormous amount of attention to detail which underlies the act. Nothing has been left to chance; the placement of every prop, its introduction and disposition, has been carefully considered. Also carefully managed is the crescendo of audience excitement, which is controlled to produce the maximum ovation at the end of the act.
Following the competition act is a performance and explanation of another classic Gertner routine, "The Reversed Assembly." This is a "Matrix" type routine in which, as a kicker, the four coins return to their original positions. Paul's routine inspired a legion of variations, but the original (while less sophisticated than some routines which followed) certainly gets the job done.
The next three items are less earth-shaking. "Blackjack" is a card routine in which a "busted" blackjack hand turns into four aces. "Snap/Bounce Assembly" is an extremely rapid "Matrix" routine which owes much to the Al Schneider's original. "Spellbound Roll/Reverse" is a move which can be incorporated into other routines.
This tape concludes with "The Card in the Candy Box," a very commercial and practical routine which uses the Fred Kaps "Card in the Ring Box" as the finish for an ambitious card routine.
Volume Three begins with "Unshuffled," one of my favorite tricks, and one which I have used throughout my professional career. The effect is this: The performer shows a deck which has unintelligible writing on its side. The deck is in no particular order. A card is selected and returned. The deck is given a faro shuffle, and now on the edge of the deck is the word "unshuffled," repeated four times. Another faro shuffle, and the side of the deck says "unshuffled" twice. A final faro shuffle and the deck says "unshuffled" once, in large bold letters. The deck is fanned face up, and it is revealed that it is now in new deck order. As a kicker, the word on the side of the deck changes into the name of the spectator's card. This is an unbelievable trick, one which will cause the most jaded spectator to gasp in amazement. The best thing about it is that it requires the performer to do perfect, casual faro shuffles, so if you learn it you'll be in an elite group.
Three other card routines are explained on this tape. "Four King Surprise" is a variation of the "Magician Makes Good" trick. "Those Are the Aces.. .Not" is the challenge vanish of a card with a kicker ending. "$100 Card to Wallet" is Paul's professional routine for this classic effect. All three of these are real world tricks, but the card to wallet routine is the "money" trick, and it would behoove you to pay attention to its routining.
There are six coin routines on this tape, and I feel that they are more suited to a performance in front of other magicians. My reason for saying this is that five of them require that you be seated and performing on a close-up pad. The sixth routine, "Snapping the Halves," is a remarkable barehanded production of eight coins, but its technical requirements place it outside of the capabilities of most magicians.
As with Paul's first tape, these videos are well produced, and Paul's performance and explanations are top notch. I recommend them. However, you should be aware of two things. Many of the routines are not suited for real world performance. They are magician foolers. Paul mentions this at the beginning of the tapes. Also, the technical requirements are generally very high. Paul possesses a very fine technique with cards and coins and he makes liberal use of his "chops." If you want to perform any of these routines, be prepared to practice.
The Rope Magic of Tabary - Volumes 1 and 2
by Francis Tabary
I have had the pleasure of watching Mr. Tabary perform at several U.S. conventions. (In fact, my introduction of him at the 1996 Convention at the Capitol is used to open these two tapes.) His rope magic is absolutely extraordinary, and he garners a strong reaction from magicians. On these two videos from A-1 MultiMedia, Mr. Tabary demonstrates and explains his famous "one rope" routine, and several other extremely strong routines which will be less familiar to American magicians. That magicians are fooled by what
Tabary does is a given. The revelation of these videos is that you will discover you were fooled far more than you even realized.
Volume One details Tabary's award winning one rope routine. The magician displays a long length of rope (which may be handed out for examination if desired.) The moment the rope is returned to the performer, the audience begins a trip through the Twilight Zone. Multiple ends appear on the rope. Two ends travel to the center of the rope, producing two ropes. Ends vanish. Knots appear, disappear, and slide along the length of the rope. The rope again reverts to its single, long length. The rope is cut into two pieces. Once length grows as the other shortens. As a finale to the act, the short piece of rope is "absorbed" into the long piece - a visual piece of magic that you simply will not believe when you see it.
Following the demonstration of the routine, there is a thorough explanation of all the various phases. Although English is not his first language, Mr. Tabary's explanations are clear and understandable. This is definitely a case where video has the edge over the written word. This routine is a three dimensional dance of the rope and the hands; words and static pictures would be far less effective than watching the actions performed in real time. Following the explanation of the basic routine, Mr. Tabary offers several handling alternatives for a few of the moves of the routine. The tape concludes with the performance of the routine at the Convention at the Capitol.
Volume Two is subtitled "Magic with Knots & More" and the routines on this tape will be less familiar to American magicians. The tape begins with a routine in which knots appear and disappear from the ends of the rope. This is a fooler, and I think that aspects of this routine could easily be incorporated into the original one rope routine. Another "knot routine" follows, and this one is also extremely deceptive. Mr. Tabary then demonstrates a "three rope" routine, and it is wild. The tape concludes with a ring and rope routine, using a length of cord and a small ring. You're going to get fooled by this, because you will be thinking along the lines of the methodology of the previous rope routines. The tape concludes with another live performance at the Convention at the Capitol.
I think this is great stuff. If M.C. Escher had done rope magic, this is what it would have looked like. In all probability, Tabary's original routine will be too long for most stand-up performers. But it is certainly possible (and preferable) for you to extract portions of the various routines on these tapes and construct a suitable routine of your own. Highly recommended.
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