As you may have noticed from the change of address information in last month's review column, I have moved out west. The main reason for the move is that I've discovered I have an unnatural need to be close to the Hoover Dam. (And yes, I am seeking treatment.) When I arrived, I was completely surprised to discover that there are a lot of magicians who live in Las Vegas. Who would have thought? Anyway, the change of scenery is doing wonders for me, and now Editor Stan doesn't have to make long distance calls asking where my column is, he can bang on my apartment door directly.
Once again this month, we have a lot of material to talk about, and not a lot of space. So let's get to it.
The Award-Winning Card Magic of Martin A. Nash Volumes 1-3 By Martin A. Nash
Martin Nash is a frequent performer at Hollywood's Magic Castle, and has twice received the Castle's Close-up Magician of the Year award. He bills himself as "The Charming Cheat," a character he portrays quite well. On this three volume video set from A-1 MultiMedia, Mr. Nash performs and explains many of the routines from his professional repertoire. The routines are varied in terms of theme, length, and skill level required, and each tape contains one long, multi-phased "card act," as well as useful information concerning various and sundry card sleights. If you are already familiar with Mr. Nash's work (through his three card books) or are looking for practical card routines to add to your repertoire, you will find much of value on these tapes.
Mr. Nash is not a creator of radically different plots or effects. Instead, he reworks familiar plots and combines thematically related effects into structurally sound routines. Advanced card workers will probably already have their own favorite methods for these effects, but intermediate and upper-intermediate card men may find it useful to study Mr. Nash's approach.
You will find treatments of such effects as the "Invisible Palm Aces," the "Ambitious Classic," Charlie Miller's "Dunbury Delusion," "The Lie Detector," Bill Simon's "Call to Colors," "Vernon's Aces," and Ed Marlo's "Mental Topper." In addition, Mr. Nash offers useful work on such sleights as the Pull-Through Shuffle, Top-Stock controls, the Greek Deal, and the Center Deal. The latter two moves would not pass in fast company, but they are very useful for magical applications and are not too difficult to learn.
The three long routines ("Ovation," "Jacks or Better," and "Colors on the March") are well structured and effective, but because of their length and the need to have a large performing surface available (to deal out cards) I'm not sure how useful they will be for the average performer. However, in a casual situation (such as a party at a friend's house) they would play very well. (They would also play well in the Close-up Gallery at the Magic Castle.)
Be aware that these tapes are not for card magic novices. Mr. Nash's approach to card magic is to use the most expedient method available, and if this method requires advanced card technique, so be it. (For example, the "Colors on the March" routine requires extensive use of the second deal.) The upside of this is that seeing such routines can inspire you to sit down and actually learn to do the work.
Bottom line: If you're looking for routined card material, or if you're a fan of Martin Nash's work and want to see him perform his routines, The Award-Winning Card Magic of Martin Nash is worth your consideration. Recommended.
Steve Bedwell: M.D. Not Required By Steve Bedwell
Whit Haydn's Comedy Four Ring Routine By Whit Haydn
These two videos are the first releases from Imagica, the production company whose head honchos are Bob Kohler and Rick Thomas. And judging from the quality of the first two tapes, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Steve Bedwell: M.D. Not Required features seven items from the repertoire of the man who won the Gold Cups at the 1994 I.B.M. convention, and Whit Haydn's Comedy Four Ring Routine gives you the complete work on one of the finest stand-up routines in magic.
Steve Bedwell lives in London and recently abandoned the field of medicine to pursue a career in the enormously lucrative field of comedy magic. Steve's magic is very visual, diabolically clever, and has been worked out to the last detail. And as a bonus, most of the routines explained on this tape are well within the abilities of the average magician.
The tape begins with a great sight gag in which Steve cuts off his thumb during the course of a cut-and-restored rope routine. (Be aware that the rope routine is not explained on the tape. It is a fooler, and I think you can find it in Steve's first set of lecture notes.) There follows: a version of the Vernon's "Travelers" which requires only one palm; a production of foil-wrapped chocolate candies (Steve has some very nice tips here for enhancing the illusion of the foil balls coming from the mouth); and a very visual quicky where a selected jumbo card is apparently snapped out of a satchel by a length of rope. The final three items are the highlights of the tape and are easily worth the price of admission: "Shake, Shuffle, and Twist" is a hands-off version of Vernon's "Triumph"; "Re-Boxed" is an eye-popping effect in which a deck of cards penetrates a card box and ends up back inside; and "Tonsil Tickler," is Kevin Smith's remarkable inflated balloon swallowing effect. All three of these look absolutely great on the video, and all three are probably going to fool you.
Steve Bedwell: No M.D. Required is Imagica's first release. There are some color matching problems, but the performances, explanations, and editing are top-notch.
There are no production gliches in Whit Haydn's Comedy Four Ring Routine. Whit's routine is one of the funniest and most commercial linking ring routines available. If you've never seen it, there's really no way I can describe it except to say that at the heart of the routine is a marvelous three-phase "hunk" in which the spectator and the performer apparently perform the same actions with two rings. It is a riot.
The tape begins with Whit performing the routine in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Magic Castle. The woman (an audience member) who assists him is perfect. After the performance Whit takes you through every step of the routine, including all the nuances and bits of business which only come from having done a routine thousands of times. One of the nice aspects of the explanation portion is that after each phase is explained, the appropriate segment of the performance is replayed so you can see the actions performed up to speed.
This routine is not difficult, but it is not self-working. It will take time and effort to learn the sequence of moves so they flow smoothly from one segment to the next. More importantly, the audience management which the routine demands can only be learned through performance. Whit tells you everything you need to know, but getting maximum laughter from this routine is something that cannot be learned in front of a mirror. You will have to get out and do it. If you don't have a linking ring routine and you want to add one to your stand-up repertoire, Whit Haydn's Comedy Four Ring Routine is the place to start. Ring routines don't get much better than this.
Bravo to Imagica on their first two releases. Both tapes are highly recommended.
Rune Klan is a twenty-year old Danish coin man. If his name is familiar to you at all, it is probably because of a Multiple Retention Vanish which he contributed to Richard Kaufman's The Looking Glass. Three Pieces of Silver contains seven very commercial coin routines, which are thematically related in that they use three coins. Rune has remarkable technical facility, and the routines are not for those who are afraid of practice. However, the work is worth it, for these are very magical looking coin routines.
Before I describe any of the routines I want to mention two things which impressed me very much: the production values of this video and Rune's exceptional command of English. The performance segment of the tape was shot on a restaurant set, and the camera work is excellent. Rune's patter and his explanations are clear and succinct, and the fluency of his second language is enviable. Most people in the United States don't speak English this well.
The seven routines on this video are divided into two three-trick sets plus an encore. Included are a three coin production, a routine in which the three coins vanish from a purse and appear in the magician's hand, a coins across routine, and a routine in which the coins vanish and appear under a saucer. The encore is a version of the popular "let's get on the floor and do Matrix" routine. Using only three coins gives the magician an edge methodologically, and Rune's clean-up is clever. With the exception of the Matrix routine, all the material suitable for performance in real world conditions. (And I suppose that the Matrix routine could be done depending on whether you think that getting down on the floor to do a trick is a good idea. I'm at the age where once I get down I have a hard time getting up.)
This is a remarkable first effort from a young man who will undoubtedly make an international reputation for himself. This tape has it all: excellent material, performances, explanations, and production values. If you're a coin man looking for interesting and challenging commercial routines, do not pass this by. Highly recommended.
A-1 MultiMedia's Stars of Magic video series was originally released by Tannen's. This sampler gives you a chance to see six of the magicians featured in the series. I believe that these tapes came out in the early 1980's, so there is an odd "home movie" feel to these videos as you watch some of magic's current middle-aged baby boomers as the young turks they used to be.
Featured on the sampler are: Frank Garcia, performing a five cigarette production; Paul Harris, doing "Super Swindle," a card effect in which a selected card vanishes from between two folded up Jacks; Derek Dingle, performing an impromptu Wild Card routine (not a "Universal Card" as listed on the video box); Bernard Bilis, with an unusual cut and restored card routine; Eric DeCamps, performing a Ring and String routine; and David Roth, with a really deceptive Three Ball routine.
For me, the most interesting routine on the video is the Roth Three Ball routine. It does not use the standard "Pop Up" move, and is a real fooler. A-1 has wisely priced this video at $19.95, so if you're curious about the series, this is an excellent way to find out what the Stars of Magic series has to offer.
The Cruise Magician's Handbook By Fred Becker
I'm sure that at some point in time we all have fantasized about performing on a cruise ship: exotic locales, great food, copious drink, minimum work, maximum leisure, and the occasional stroll around the deck to see what Gavin MacLeod and Bernie Kopell are up to. Well, the reality of cruise ship work is quite different, and if you are serious about embarking on this line of work you must absolutely pick up a copy of Fred Becker's The
Cruise Magician's Handbook. This is as thorough a treatise on the subject as I have ever read, and after reading it you may decide that cruise ship work is not for you.
Mr. Becker discusses every aspect of cruise ship work, beginning with an examination of what is expected of the cruise ship entertainer. Also discussed in this introductory section are the various types of cruises, varying levels of cruise ship quality, how performances are scheduled, the importance of the performance rating questionnaire, and the performer's shipboard status . Chapters 2-5 cover the business part of the gig: how to get booked, how much money to expect (and how to hang on to your money once you start spending a lot of time aboard ships), how to make money selling extra goodies (like magic sets and video tapes), and what to watch out for in the contract you sign. This is extremely valuable information, and to aid you in your booking negotiations Mr. Becker includes "The Cruise Booking Worksheet" which will aid you as you make contacts and conduct negotiations.
Chapters 6-11 discuss life at sea, including suggestions on how to pack, how to deal with the performance rating system, information on the technical aspects of cruise ship performing (such as dealing with a live band and the sometimes limited sound and light systems), structuring your acts, and hiring an assistant. Chapter 12 recounts the story of a trip from hell, in which the Beckers took four days to fly to Bali without a change of clothing. We all have nightmare travel stories, but this one is unbelievable.
The final third of the book contains vital information on how to conduct your (land side) business while aboard ship, suggestions on how to get your props from point A to point B, tips on passports, visas, and medical certificates, suggestions on how to travel with livestock, and strategies on getting from the airport to the ship. The book concludes with several appendices contain information on business resources, cruising resources, magic resources, a directory of cruise lines, and an extensive listing of foreign entry requirements for most of the places on earth that you might ever want to travel to.
The Cruise Magician's Handbook is an extraordinary resource. I cannot imagine anyone attempting to enter this field who would not benefit from this book. If you want to work cruise ships, Mr. Becker has saved you hundreds and hundreds of hours of research and will keep you from making the type of errors which can only be avoided by experience. This book should sell for a lot more money. Highly recommended.
Vis a Vis: A Jack Avis Book By Jack Avis and John Derris
If you have read magazines such as Pallbearer's Review and Epilogue, the name Jack Avis will be very familiar to you. Mr. Avis is a prolific creator of close-up magic, specializing in card magic. He devises elegant solutions to magical problems, and his creations provide stimulating fodder for further experimentation. Vis a Vis is the first large hardbound collection of Mr. Avis' material, and as such will be greatly welcomed by card and close-up enthusiasts.
The book begins with several interesting coin routines, including one which uses the venerable Party Popper in an unconventional way, and a very pretty four coin production using a handkerchief. There follows a chapter of card sleights, including several useful palming techniques, a clever stratagem for the Hindu force, and one of Mr. Avis' most well known moves - the Siva count.
Chapter three contains gambling themed routines, and of particular interest here are Mr. Avis' exploration and clarification of Dr. Elliott's runup systems from Elliott's Last Legacy. Mr. Avis' interpretation of Elliott's very cryptic instructions is fascinating. If you are interested in runup systems you will also want to examine Mr. Avis' variations on John Scarne's runup system. Another favorite in this chapter is "Weight Lifter," a variation of Bob King's "Weight Guess Plus."
Those looking for commercial routines to add to their repertoires should check the last two chapters, titled "Master Plots" and "Wild and Woolly." "Hole in the Table" and the "Rara Avis Card Stab" put interesting spins on two well known plots: the glass through the table, and the card stab. The "Rara Avis Card Stab" ruins a deck of cards, but it would definitely give other magicians problems. "Safety Cut" uses the Jerry Andrus "Linking Pin" gaff in a way that I have never seen before, and "Loops Entwined" is Mr. Avis' excellent handling of Paul Curry's "Linked."
Because the galleys of this book arrived very close to deadline, I am only able to give you a cursory run through of the material it contains. One aspect of Mr. Avis' creations is that they very rarely require advanced card handling ability. The material in Vis a Vis should be well within the abilities of the average close-up magician. Recommended for card and close-up enthusiasts.
Ron Bauer's Private Studies Numbers 1-6 By Ron Bauer
John Luka's company, Magic by Mail, has released the first six routines in the Ron Bauer Private Studies series. They are: "Gadabout Coins Revisted," a handling of the classic "Two in the hand, One in the pocket" effect; "Sudden Death Gypsy Curse," a routine using Peter Kane's "Gypsy Curse" cards; "Cross to the Feminine Side," a miniature "Out of this World" effect with a topical patter line; "Butch, Ringo, & the Sheep," a handling of the venerable "Thieves and Sheep" trick; "Hornswoggled Again," a short-change routine with paper currency; and "Ode to Poker Dan," a miniature all-backs routine culminating in the production of five aces.
The purpose of the Ron Bauer series is to give lessons in presentation and audience management. The routines are completely scripted, but the scripts are not particularly personality driven so it should not be that difficult to adapt the patter to suit your own style. In addition, Mr. Bauer emphasizes the "why" of each routine, and this is valuable, because this information can be transferred to other routines.
The production values of this series are no great shakes. Each routine comes in a booklet measuring 4.25 x 5.5 and containing at the most 12 pages. Sandra Kort did the illustrations, and they are good, but small. Considering that any of these routines has the potential to go into your working repertoire, I think that $10 is a reasonable price. If the routines in this series were released together in a book, it would be a valuable resource, but my guess is that Mr. Bauer values them too much to go that route right now. And by releasing the routines individually, you need only purchase the ones which interest you.
Bottom line: Recommended for those looking for real world close-up material, and for hobbyists who want a better understanding of how magic really works.
What we've got here is a very slender little booklet (4.25 x 5.5, 32 pages) that sells for a lot of money ($40). It contains a system for doing cold reading; that is, giving a spectator a psychic reading without any previous knowledge of the person. "Completely Cold" is a very simple system, which requires no memorization and which uses a couple of easy rules to produce in the spectator the feeling that they have had a very positive read.
This type of thing is way out of my field of expertise, so I gave the booklet to some friends who do psychic reading. Their assessment: "Completely Cold" is really good. Use the techniques presented here, add in your own conversational abilities and the general common sense which all of us possess, and you're going to be able to do a pretty convincing psychic read.
This type of material is not for everyone, and I believe that one reason "Completely Cold" is priced so high is to keep it out of the hands of the merely curious. However, if you are a psychic entertainer, or you want to enhance your magic by giving people the impression that you know a whole lot about them, then this booklet will probably be worth more than its $40 price tag. And if you combine this booklet with the information contained in Kenton's "Wonder Words" tapes, they may well make you chief. Recommended.
Now this is pretty cool. A card is selected from the deck (no force). The card is returned and the deck is shuffled. The magician brings out a chrome combination lock face which is placed on the top of the face down deck. The spectator is asked some questions, and the dial is turned to various numbers (as if opening a safe). After the third number is dialed in, the lock face is lifted and a substantial number of cards come away with it, clinging to the bottom of the dial. This block of cards is placed aside, and the card sitting on the top of the lower portion of the deck is revealed. It is the chosen card.
This trick looks weird, and the effect is one which I do not believe that I have seen before. The deck is gaffed to some degree, although it would be possible to do a few tricks with it before performing "The Locking Deck." The best bet would be to switch decks and bring in the gaffed deck when you need to. Several handlings are explained in the instructions, but I worked out my own, and if you have any card handling experience you'll probably do the same. The easiest handling is a no-brainer and requires little technical ability.
I liked this trick a lot. If you're looking for a new trick to add to your real world repertoire, or just want to fool the guys at the magic club "The Locking Deck" is worth considering. Recommended.
Slow-Motion Oil & Water Visual Melt-Thru By David Neighbors
"Oil and Water" routines have a bad reputation, and probably for good reason; many are less than convincing, and the routines are far too long to be entertaining. These two new routines from David Neighbors are only three phases long, meaning that they are probably palatable for real world human consumption. Each routine uses a gaff, which means that the unmixing of the cards is very convincing. Neither routine is particularly difficult. However, because there is a gaff involved in each routine you will have to figure out how to bring the gaff in and out (the instructions offer some suggestions).
In "Slow-Motion Oil & Water" three red spot cards and three black spot cards are alternated. They immediately separate; the blacks are now together above the three red cards. This is repeated. For the final phase the cards are left in their separated condition. Instantly they become alternated. "Visual Melt-Thru" follows the exact same routine, except that the black cards have blue backs, the red cards have red backs, and when the cards are alternated the black cards are dealt face down and the red cards are dealt face up. Even with this (apparently) heightened conditional restriction, the cards separate twice and then immediately become alternated again.
Whether either of these tricks will appeal to you depends on how much you like the Oil and Water plot. Whether your spectators will enjoy the effect will depend on your presentational skills. Both are very visual and require only average card handling ability.
This is a gaffed card which will allow you to load four quarters (or half dollars) under four different playing cards. I remember seeing a similar gaff in a book of Don England's many years ago, but at the moment I cannot check the reference. The card that Danny sells is well made and should last for many performances. He includes a simple method for loading the coins, and also provides a simple Matrix routine.
I can vouch for the effectiveness of this gaff. In the early part of February, a well known close-up worker smoked a small group of very well informed magicians using this gaff. I was one of the group, and I didn't have a clue as to how the coins were loaded. This performer used his own handling, but it was not radically different from what Danny offers in his instructions.
If Card and Coin combinations are your thing, this is definitely worth a look. Recommended.
"Out to Lunch" meets "Card-toon" in this new trick from Genii video reviewer, ace magic demonstrator, and new west coast resident Jim Krenz. The effect is this: The magician shows a stack of business cards bound with a rubber band. (The cards are larger than a standard-sized business card.) On one side of the card is a "magic" logo, and on the other side are the words "For Astonishment..." (And no, these are not Paul Harris' business cards.) A spectator places his initials next to the logo. A playing card is selected (forced). The business cards are picked up, the rubber band is removed. The performer riffles the stack of cards and an animation occurs. The "h" in "Astonishment" drops down to the bottom of the card, bounces back up, and hits the rest of the letters, scrambling them. When the letters come to rest (at the end of the riffling process) the card now reads "Nine of Hearts" which is the name of the selected card. In addition, this "Nine of Hearts" business card bears the spectator's initials.
This is a very cute and commercial effect, and if you personalize the back of the business cards (several ways to do so are suggested in the instructions) you will be handing out your name and phone number with a memorable souvenir. You will use up one card each performance, and 48 extra cards are supplied. The steal of the half-card will require a little practice, but this is not too difficult. The only drawback I see is that this trick suffers from the same problem as "Card-toon": you can only effectively perform it for one person at a time, because the animation is really only clear for one person at a time. If this doesn't bother you, then this is a fun and memorable trick, and I recommend it.
Close's Clones By Michael Close
This is my trick, so I'm not really going to give you a review of it. This is the routine known as "We're All B*z*s On This Bus" from Workers #3. The cards have long been unavailable, and now A-1 is putting them back on the market. This is the exact same set of cards that I used to sell - printed and designed by Ton Onosaka - but unlike the version I sold, the instructions included here contain the complete text of the Workers #3 routine - both patter and handling.
Not much more I can tell you, other than the fact that there is almost no "play" value in these cards. You're not going to get much gratification playing with them in front of your mirror. You need an audience of real people to get the full fun out of the trick. I have used the trick professionally for many years, and I continue to do so.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. If you plan on using this in your work, ditch the sponge nose that's included with the cards and buy a soft rubber nose. It's impossible to package the set with the rubber nose (they're too bulky), but the rubber ones work better in performance.
It's Not Magic, But.
If you prefer to pepper your patter with references to witchcraft and the occult, you need to pick up a copy of Tom Ogden's new book Wizards and Sorcerers, an encyclopedia of the strange. If you've ever wondered what words like bao, dukun, himmelsbrief, and succubus mean, you'll find them (and many more) here. Tom provides an eclectic mix of the past and the present, including magic references from literature, art, music, theater, television, and movies. A casual read through will give you more patter possibilities than you could use in a lifetime. Wizards and Sorcerers is a nicely produced hardcover book and will look great on your coffee table. And besides, any book that includes references to both Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers can't be bad. I enjoyed it. You will too.
The Award-Winning Card Magic of Martin A. Nash Volumes 1-3 by Martin A. Nash. $29.95 each (any format), all three for $84.95. Postage and handling free for U.S., Canada, and overseas surface; overseas air add $7.50 per video. From A-1 MultiMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Steve Bedwell: M.D. Not Required by Steve Bedwell. $29.95 postpaid (any format). Outside U.S.A. add 20% postage. From Imagica, 2657 Windmill Pkwy., Box 313, Green Valley, NV 89014
Whit Haydn's Comedy Four Ring Routine by Whit Haydn. $29.95 postpaid (any format). Outside U.S.A. add 20% postage. From Imagica, 2657 Windmill Pkwy., Box 313, Green Valley, NV 89014
Three Pieces of Silver by Rune Klan. $24.95 (overseas postage and handling $7.50). From Rune Klan, Bakke alle 1, 2970 Hoersholm, Denmark Email: [email protected]
Stars of Magic Sampler from A-1 MultiMedia. $19.95 (any format). Postage and handling free for U.S., Canada, and overseas surface; overseas air add $7.50 per video. From A-1 MultiMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
The Cruise Magician's Handbook by Fred Becker. 8.5 x 11 spiral bound. 240 pages.$55 postpaid. From Amazing Magic Tricks, P.O. Box 780025, Orlando, Fl 32878
Vis A Vis: A Jack Avis Book by Jack Avis and John Derris. 8.5 x 11 hardcover with dustjacket. 156 pages. $40. (Domestic and foreign surface postpaid.) From Richard Kaufman, 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 106-292, Washington, DC 20016
Ron Bauer's Private Studies Numbers 1-6 by Ron Bauer. Each manuscript $10. From Magic by Mail, 25744 Melody, Taylor, MI 48180-3284
Completely Cold by Kenton Knepper and J Tank. $40. From Wonder Wizards, 3104 E. Camelback, Suite 312, Phoenix, AZ 85016
The Locking Deck by Tim Spinosa. $29.95 plus $5 p&h. From Tim Spinosa, 3322 Charlotte Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70814
"Slow-Motion Oil & Water" and "Visual Melt-Thru" by David Neighbors. Each effect $10. Both for $17. From Ken Simmons, ONYX Publications, 5265 N. Academy Blvd., Suite #3300, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
"Coin Card" by Danny Archer. $11 postpaid. From Danny Archer Magic, 303 S. Broadway, B-235, Denver, CO 80209
"Anagram-ation" by Jim Krenz. $29.95 plus $1 p&h for U.S., Canada, and overseas surface; overseas air add $7.50. From A-1 MultiMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
"Close's Clones" by Michael Close. $15 plus $1 p&h for U.S., Canada, and overseas surface; overseas air add $7.50. From A-1 MultiMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Wizards and Sorcerers by Tom Ogden. 8.5 x 11 hardcover. 246 pages. $40. ISBN 08160-3151-7. From Facts On File, Inc. Available at most bookstores or from www.amazon.com.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.