Monthly archives for September, 2010

Motorized Growing & Shrinking Head Illusion

Hey everyone, Cris Johnson here with more magic & fun!

Quick housekkeeping…

This week’s blog will be a bit shorter – partially because of the item I chose and partially because I’m slammed this week – I soon embark on my October run, in which I only have ONE weekday when I’m NOT performing. Whew! Fortunately, I’m not doing much on weekends so I can catch my breath.

Which reminds me…an open note to my pal Paul Rohmany: how in the WORLD do you stay sane??? I know your travel/performing schedule is a HECK of a lot crazier than mine.:)

On another note, I know Bobby Motta’s new release “Taste” has attracted a lot of attention. I just ordered mine this week and I know Paul did, too. Soon we can compare notes – LOL!

The latest issue of my Cause & Effects ezine is going out early next week and will feature a simple booking tip that I know a lot of magicians are not using, so this simple tip is really worth your attention. Sign up for free by emailing me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Next, a BIG thanks to all of you who have made my Clear-View Airborne a big seller! Hocus Pocus just ordered another batch two days ago. My wife & I are waiting on the shipping tubes so they will go out as soon as the tubes get here, probably on Saturday, if I had to guess.

Another HUGE thanks to those who continue to make my latest book, “Cause & Effects Vol. 2″ a GREAT seller! I just sent a batch out to Hocus Pocus yesterday. It seems a lot of people see the value in obtaining real-world, polished performance routines. I make no bones about it – my Arm Chopper routine alone slays every time. With 22 laugh lines/bits (10 of which before the prop is even brought out) I lay claim to it being the FUNNIEST arm chopper routine for kid or family audiences ever.

You can still get the book here:

http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13367

On to this week’s review!

It’s…The Motorized Growing & Shrinking Head by Bruce Kavlar. It’s available for $59.95 from Hocus Pocus. The ad copy is here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=5478

EFFECT: A spinning black & white disk causes the audience to see the magician’s head SHRINK! An audience member appears to have a GROWING head! Incredible!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The plastic spinning disk, a small electric drill, hardware to mount the disk on the drill and written instructions

QUALITY: The disk itself is made of thick, good quality plastic. That said, if it bangs around in your case, it will get scratched, so I advise you to do as I did – sew a fleece bag to house the disk, keeping it away from harm. The electric drill is a simple black & decker model (or similar) that is rechargeable (it comes with a charger) so this device allows you to do the effect and “go green,” and save money by NOT needing new batteries. I know there’s a cardboard version of the disk, but I advise against it as I doubt it would hold up.

VALUE: For sixty bucks, this thing is a STEAL. Good quality and the effect is amazing.

DIFFICULTY: There is NO sleight of hand, so from the technical standpoint, this gets an easy “1″ out of 10. The challenge with any self-working prop, there fore, is your presentation.

MARKET: I’ve done this for elementary audiences, teen audiences and family audiences and it kills. I haven’t done it yet for adult audiences, but due to the optical illusion nature of the effect, I’m sure it would play. The ONLY age group I could see this NOT working for is the daycare/pre-school age. I’ve done it in schools of K-5 grades and occasionally, a kindergarten age kid will cry when I talk about my head shrinking, or such. To me, it says the kid took me literally. I feel daycare age kids would too, and besides, for the optical illusion to work, the person must stare at the spinning disk for 15-30 seconds and many daycare age kids can’t sit still that long for something like this. (I used to perform 60 or so daycare shows a year.)

MY THOUGHTS: Another consideration: at least in my experience, at a birthday party, the kids would not ‘get’ the effect to work. I partially chalk this up to the kids being too close for the optical illusion to work. That doesn’t make sense when I think about it, but I do maybe 3 birthdays a year and I’ve tried it at all of them and this effect falls flat, as the kids claim “it didn’t work on them.” Beats me, maybe I’m doing something wrong.

That little problem aside, I’ve KILLED with this for audiences of 100-500 people. They REALLY get into it. I’ve booked more than one show on the strength of this: “Oh, we HAVE to have you at our school and you HAVE to make our principal’s head shrink!”

There’s no sleights and the only angles to worry about is making sure your audience is facing you. If your audience is on “three sides” of you, two thirds of the won’t see this. If you’re surrounded, even more people won’t see it.

However, if you have an audience in front of you, it’s hard to go wrong with this. Since it’s an optical illusion and not really a “trick,” it can give your show a unique break in the middle.

HIGHLY recommended – a perfect 10 out of 10. I’ve used it about a hundred times at schools and it always plays great.

Until next week…

Cris

Star Tradeshow Act by Docc Hilford

Hey Everybody, Cris Johnson here with more magic and fun!

I’m writing this week’s blog in a hotel in NJ. Earlier today, I was performing in Shoreham, NY. Well, to get to my hotel in NJ in preparation for tomorrow’s shows, my Garmin GPS took me straight through New York City, right down 34th Street.

Wow!

I am NOT a big city guy. People who live and succeed in those big towns really have my respect, which sort of influenced my decision on what to review this week. But first, some housekkeeping…

Thank you for those of you who have supported my product releases. In fact, I was just told a few days ago that Paul Gross will be putting an ad for my new Clear-View Airborne in one of the big magic magazines!! The lead time for those publications is at least a couple of months, but as soon as I find out what issue, I will let you know.

In fact, Paul recently had a new photo taken for the ad. Check it out under “new releases.” Right now it’s #2 on page 1.

The next issue of my free ezine, “Cause & Effects” will feature a very simple booking strategy that I know for a fact not many magicians are using. If you are using it, that’s great – this little tip has nabbed me some big shows. It’s very simple yet very effective. The new issue comes out the first week of October.

If you’re not on the list yet, send an email to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

On to this week’s review…

It’s The Star Tradeshow Act by Docc Hilford. It’s available for $19.95 from Hocus Pocus and the ad copy can be read here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=2999

EFFECT: Docc explains his own tradeshow act that he’s used for years. The act consists of a fire wallet, a few card effects and some good psychology with money, albeit a weak money effect.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A stapled 36 page booklet.

DIFFICULTY: First, let’s get one thing out of the way. The effects Docc uses in his tradeshow act are not difficult from a sleight of hand point of view…The most complex effect is maybe a 2 or 3, depending on your skill level.

The REAL difficulty comes from the show environment. Therefore, the majority of this review will focus on the tradeshow environment.

I do want to look at the act itself and offer thoughts on some of the effects, at least the ones I tried. Throughout, I will weave my thoughts on tradeshows (from my beginner’s standpoint) throughout.

EFFECTS OVERVIEW: I’ve performed at a few tradeshows, so I’m no expert, but it does allow me to make some general observations regarding Docc’s act.

The opening effect is a fire wallet, which Docc uses as he claims he will be giving away a $100 bill. I don’t care what Docc claims in his book – if you use a fire wallet in a trade show, you’ll be in DEEP TROUBLE. Docc claims he sidestepped fire marshals by claiming it was just “trick fire.” It may have worked for him (although I have my doubts) but after I tried it, I almost got thrown out by the fire marshal.

So much for the opening.

The next effect is Docc’s work on the old 52-on-1 card gag, which he uses to increase the size of the crowd. It reads as very charming and the psychology is good.

The problem here is you truly must have a magnetic personality and really need to hook people for this to work. I believe Docc used this successfully. I really do. For me, it was just “eh.” When I finished using the 52-on-1 gag as Docc outlines to increase the size of my crowd, I had roughly the same size group…only a few people had left and others joined it.

Again, I’m sure it worked for Docc. For the 6 or 7 performances I tried, not so much. I blame myself, and that’s the problem with an act like this – it’s designed for probably the most demanding type of magic out there.

Think about this – at a birthday party, the kids are usually very much looking forward to your show. A school assembly program” Even more, because it gets kids out of class. A corporate holiday party? A little tougher, but yes…providing you engage them.

With tradeshows, you’re dealing with people who are VERY busy and really don’t want to stop. Most are there because they have to be and are searching out a specific product or booth.

If it sounds like tradeshows are tough (from my point of view) it’s because they are. Even tradeshow masters talk freely about how tough it is. I’m NOT saying don’t do them, only that it’s good to know your strengths.

Back to Docc’s act.

It gets better with Docc’s handling of the Brainwave Deck, which he uses to finish up the 52-on-1 gag and bring that routine to a close. Docc’s psychology and handling of this classic effect is quite good.

From there, he moves on to a spelling effect with cards. He talks a lot about blocking, good theatre and more during this routine. It reads quite good and listening (reading) Docc’s thoughts on the psychology of performing is breathtakingly awesome. He thinks a lot about his craft. as to the effectiveness of this routine, I cannot say, as I never tried it.

I didn’t care for it for a number of reasons…one being that I don’t like spelling tricks. I know there are great ones out there – I just don’t like them. Plus, the effect read as though it would drag in less competent hands – mine, from a tradeshow standpoint.

It’s very weird to be captivated by the psychology of an effect yet dislike the idea of performing an effect!

Docc’s closer for his tradeshow act (the act runs about 15 minutes) is a variation on the old “3 and a half of Clubs” gag prediction. Again, Docc uses good psychology, especially in regards to his handling of the $100 bill he promises to give away to spectators if he gets the next effect wrong. I’ve tried it and it does play, but my big problem is that adult audiences, as a whole, see the 3 and a half of Clubs at the end of a routine and groan. It’s like filling your show with puns – it’s not truly funny…rather the laughs are more of a series of groans.

This is the one effect I pulled from the booklet and ran it through a series of family shws in preparation for an upcoming tradeshow I had a couple of years back. Viewing it as Docc’s closer, I really wanted my handling and script to be polished. After a few dozen performances, I abandoned it as too corny for my liking.

Also included in the booklet is a mention of “turning a stack of $100 bills into a deck of cards that are shuffling.” It’s a pitch for a $15 product sold by Docc. I ordered it…and really wanted to ask Docc for my money back.

After a couple of weeks, I gave up on this. Besides the fact that it really does not work as smoothly as Docc promises, the set up is a pain in the butt, a big no-no in tradeshow work.

A brief interlude: Of the 6 or so tradeshows at which I’ve performed, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that when a crowd gathers, your client will expect you to perform – that’s what you’re being paid to do. Experienced tradeshow workers have told me they have scheduled performances, such as every 30 minutes, or once an hour, etc.

If you can work that kind of a deal with your client, that’s great. I know I had a heck of a time trying to convince my clients of this during the booking process. This gets back to knowing yourself as a performer – I can sell myself to an elementary school for fantastic fees – much higher than what some experts tell me they get. I’m not bragging or knocking them, it’s just I have a knack for schools.

Here’s where tradeshow work is best for people who are truly passionate, have the right personality, etc. The booking process is tough, which, to get back to Docc’s dreadful “$100 Bills to deck of cards trick,” is only going to work if you have A) a place to re-set in private – not gonna happen at most booth tradeshows, and B) the time to re-set.

So out of the act, for my experience, 3 of the 5 effects got a good response…the fire wallet, the Brainwave Deck, and the 3 and a half of clubs (groans meant it got a good response, not a great response.) Of those 3 effects, I could continue to use only two effects…the fire wallet CANNOT be used in a tradeshow! TRUST ME on this!

THE REST OF THE BOOKLET: Docc is one of those infuriating writers in magic. I LOVE his deep thinking in magic, yet I find most of his stuff either unworkable or, the majority of the time, simply not suited for my personality.

That being said, Docc’s understanding of tradeshows appears to be good. He offers some basic advice on getting the gig, but for 20 bucks it’s not realistic to expect much more than the few paragraphs he offers.

Nevertheless, despite the apparent negative review thus far, I did find Docc’s book helpful to me in understanding tradeshows so I had a good idea of what to do (and what not to do) once I got the gigs.

I took a lot of his advice and psychology and developed my own act which served me well. Tradeshows are NOT a venue I would ever pursue full-time myself, but you may feel differently.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m going to give this booklet a 5 out of 10. Fantastic psychology and deep thinking of his act, but for me, most of the actual routines just did not pan out. Your experience may be better than mine.

Until next time…

Best,

Cris Johnson

Clear-View Airbornes IN STOCK! and SPECIAL Columns Coming Up!

Hey everyone,

A very weary Cris Johnson here…whew, school’s back in session and therefore I am busy as heck once again. As many of you know, I am primarily a school guy. I do some corporate and some private parties, but at heart it’s all about schools with me.

Here on the east coast of the U.S., schools started back up a few weeks ago after the summer break and I’ve been SLAMMED ever since, which is a great thing. It’s just a little difficult to get back into the ‘swing’ of things after having a slow summer.

Some housekkeeping notes…

The new Clear-View Airbornes are NOW IN STOCK! I just checked in with Ken a few days ago and they all arrived safe and sound. I’m sure that those of you who ordered it have either received yours or will in the next couple of days. Don’t let the simplicity in appearance fool you…several months of experimentation went into this to make sure that not only does the trick work great but it’s also reliable and durable. We also tested different ways of packing it so it would ship safely.

In addition, if you’ve ever bought a floating glass effect of this type before but were put off by the crappy instructions, never fear because this comes with a CD-ROM for your computer so you can see it in action and it comes with an 11 page booklet outlining the history, development and performance of the effect.

Finally, the little rascal comes with a sturdy tube to keep your investment safe and in great shape for years!

You can read all about it here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13716

I also want to thank all of you who have made my Mother of All Predictions CD prediction effect and both volumes of Cause & Effects books of routines continued hot sellers. I’m truly touched.

You can check all three books out here:

Cause & Effects 2:
http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13367

Cause & Effects 1:
http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=12964

Mother of All Predictions:
http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13021

Finally, I’m going to use my blog space today to let you know of a few ‘special events’ with this space.

For the month of October, each week will be devoted to reviewing items of a ‘spooky’ or ‘geek’ nature in honor of Halloween! That’s when so many of us tend to gravitate toward the strange and bizarre, so that’s where I’ll heading as far as effects that I plan on reviewing.

The last week in December, marking my one-year anniversary of this blog, will feature my ‘best of’ column. It will be a recap of the BEST stuff that I reviewed in 2010. This will obviously be highly subjective, as in the stuff I loved the most.

In the interest of giving myself a challenge, I will also restrict myself to stuff that I actually purchased in 2010. I bought a LOT of cool stuff this year, as I had a need for stuff due to developing new show themes as well as needing more effects for repeat audiences, which I’m doing more of.

Just as an FYI, next year I don’t plan on buying nearly as much new stuff, so as a result, I will need more input from YOU, loyal readers, as to what you’ll want to see reviewed.

Finally, I still plan on reviewing an item this week, but I am getting caught up o taxes…three weeks ago, BOTH my desktop AND my laptop computer died, so I’ve had to re-enter ALL of my receipts and financial information.

Before writing this blog, I’ve been at my desk working on taxes for about four hours and that was after I did a motivational show across the border in Canada, so I’m BEAT.:)

Check back here in the next few days as I’ll try to get a new item reviewed.

Oh, and next month’s free ezine of “Cause & Effects” will feature a really neat yet simple technique to drastically increasing the likelihood of getting hired for that gig. I’ll outline how I used it to land an obscure gig recently and I will detail why it worked, what not to do and much more.

If you haven’t signed up already, send an email to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Until next time…

Cris Johnson

CLEAR-VIEW AIRBORNE UPDATE & Mikame Deluxe Arm Choper

Howdy folks!

I’m in my hotel in Hammond, IN, getting ready for tomorrow’s shows and I’ve just cleaned bird guts off my windshield! Yup, poor little bird went SMACK! into my windshield as I was doin’ 70 barreling down the I-80. Yuck!

The Clear-View Airbornes have SHIPPED OUT TODAY! I sent them UPS to Hocus Pocus and they said they will arrive next Tuesday, the 14th. At that point, Ken assures me ALL pre-orders will be sent out.

I appreciate everyone’s faith – I know some pre-order magic items never materialize, but I’m glad this one worked out. My wife & I did extensive testing of the packing method to ensure the product reaches you safe and sound.

The newly designed gimmicks work REALLY well and I know it’s going to work GREAT for those of you who truly desire a modern day, real-world version of Airborne…performed with a clear water bottle!

By the way, I’m still amazed at how many people sign up for my free ezine, “Cause & Effects,” each week! It’s a monthly ezine devoted to performing philosophy, business help and more. To sign up, shoot an email to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

On to this week’s review!

It’s the Mikame Craft Deluxe Arm Chopper. It’s available for $380.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=3324

THE EFFECT: An arm chopper will slice a carrot or other food item, but a spectator’s arm is totally unharmed when the blade is pushed through.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The beautiful deluxe arm chopper and a sheet of poorly written instructions.

QUALITY OF PROP: This is without a doubt the most well-made arm chopper I’ve ever used. It’s not perfect in terms of operation (more on that later) but it’s gorgeous. If you take care of it, it will serve you well. That being said, it’s made of wood and therefore I recommend wrapping it in a cloth or padding to protect the finish from getting chipped up. This is NOT particle board with wood finish “graphics” stuck to the outside.

I believe an audience, at least on a subconscious level, can sense a crappy prop from a good prop and from a pure looks stand point, this one is unmatched. Granted, there are bigger, more impressive choppers, but this one is the perfect size to play big (about 14 inches or so high) yet packs down nicely.

The base that keeps the chopper standing upright is also removable, held in place with a nut. I’ve sewn fleece bags for each piece, to protect both and allow each to truly pack flat.

INSTRUCTIONS: As I said, they are sparse, poorly written, and do not tell users of what I feel is a severe design flaw. (More later.)

This is not supplied with any routines – it’s sort of like a claw hammer…buying one doesn’t mean you’re a carpenter and buying an arm chopper doesn’t mean you’re a comedy magician, either. (Shameless Plug: follow this link to find a KILLER comedy arm chopper routine: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13367 )

MARKET: You’ve got to be real careful with this one. Many schools will not like use of this prop. I’ve got a carefully structured routine that allows me to “side step” all of that. With that in mind, I never perform the chopper for ANUY audiences below third grade. I also don’t use it for adult shows, as it’s not the kind of audience interaction I want. Kids enjoy being in it, adults, not so much.

DIFFICULTY: I’m not going to rate this in terms of difficulty, as the working is simple enough but your success or failure with this prop is highly dependent on your routine.

MY THOUGHTS: I’ve own other crappy versions of the arm chopper and this one is by far the best. The “chopping” action is smooth, the prop is well-built (mine’s gone through something 350 performances) and it still looks like new. Still, a few considerations…

1. After you cut a piece of food, like any chopper, you need to “set it” to a ‘safe mode.’ If you have a brain fart and forget, you could hurt someone. The blade is not sharp enough to actually slice someone’s wrist off, but I guarantee it would hurt like hell.

2. Most arm choppers allow you to do this ‘safe mode’ setting by strategically placing one finger in a proper place and you yank the blade upwards. Not so with this model – here you must insert SEVERAL fingers in to set it to safe mode. This, to me, is odd as hell. It means you’ll need a bit of added misdirection or a well-timed laugh to do the split-second ‘move.’ I’ve done it for years – not a huge deal, but be aware of it.

3. When doing the trick, you need to have a wrist in the chopper that is of suffficient diameter. I was doing the trick a couple of months ago and as I chopped down, the chopper…stopped. The kid looked at me blankly. I took his wrist out, ad-libbed a few lines, thinking the unit has broke, then eventually put my own wrist in and it worked great. I’ve since done it another 30 or so times after numerous careful tests at home.

Trust me – this kid had SKINNY wrists.

This means you’ll need to be on the look out for wrists of a certain size. Odd, but not a deal-breaker, at least to me.

FINAL THOUGHTS: As I’ve said, the craftsmanship is stellar. I’ve used it for a few years and if it ever breaks, I’ll buy another. It has held up better than any other version. Nevertheless, the business with the necessity to use wrists of a certain size coupled with the need to put several fingers in to set it to safe-mode is a tad worrisome.

I’ll give this an 8 out of 10 – rock-solid, but keep in mind a few considerations.

Until next week…

Cris Johnson

Baxt Better Newspaper Tear & Another Airborne Update

Howdy!

Cris Johnson here, with some more magic talk on this fine September day!

This week has been my first week back performing in schools, and I gotta say, I’ve MISSED schools tremendously. I performed my first school assembly in two months today and it felt like re-visiting an old friend.

I was also able to meet Jim Kleefeld today in person. Jim came to my show and gave me rave reviews on my educational assembly. I was nervous, as Jim has 30 or so years’ experience AND he’s a former teacher, so I was sweatin’ bullets, but Jim praised me.

If you’re interested in kids’ shows, Jim has some GREAT products right here at www.hocus-pocus.com.

CLEAR-VIEW AIRBORNE UPDATE: The glasses have arrived!! My wife has gimmicked all 24 glasses. She is basically now re-doing the gimmicks on the bottles to make them stronger and resistant to shipping damage. When I get home this weekend, I am also going to checking and double-checking our packaging method. (I’m throwing a few down the stairs of our basement to simulate the abuse they’ll get at the hands of UPS!!)

We’re taking these extra steps on the advisement of Paul & Ken at Hocus because we REALLY want everyone to be pleased with their purchase. This is our first “physical” product (I usually release books) so we want to get things right out of the gate. We have more releases planned, so we want to build a good name.

The bottles, barring disaster, should ship early next week, probably Monday, and they’ll take a week to get to Paul at Hocus Pocus. Paul will then get them out ASAP, so we will still make the mid-September deadline with plenty of time to spare.

Oh, speaking of products, my stuff has suddenly spiked in sales – both Cause & Effects Volumes 1 & 2 and The Mother of All Predictions continue to fly off shelves. I sent an order to Ken last week and the day it arrived he ordered more stuff. THANK YOU ALL!!

Now, for the BAD news…My October is REALLY swamped, so it’s going to be very difficult for me to get products out. If you’re on the fence on any of my stuff, I HIGHLY recommend you order during the month of September.

Oh, and the newest issue of my FREE ezine, “Cause & Effects,” will go out tomorrow. Sign up by emailing me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. Thanks!!

OK, on to this week’s review – Baxt’s Better Newspaper Tear. It’s available for $95.00 from Hocus Pocus and can be found here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=2769

EFFECT: It’s the classic newspaper tear – Newspaper sheet is shown, opened and finally torn…only to INSTANTLY restore in a flash!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The ad copy states you get a gimmick…you actually receive three. No, it’s not the same gimmick, but all three are required for the effect. You also receive the performance/instructional DVD and a pictorial step-by-step ‘map’ to make rehearsal easier.

QUALITY OF GIMMICKS: This will last a lifetime, even if you abuse it! Great stuff, and perfect for working pros.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Robert Baxt is a funny guy. There were a few times I busted out laughing while watching this DVD. First, he honors Gene Anderson several times in the DVD, lavishly heaping praise on him…gushing, in fact. Oh, and he does a super job teaching the effect. It’s not Kohler or L&L quality, but the picture is crystal clear and as I said, Robert does a great job teaching it.

DIFFICULTY: The difficulty really comes from learning the Gene Anderson folding process, which this effect is based on and Robert credits – over and over. (Again, it’s funny!)

Mastering the folding isn’t too difficult. The actual performance is quite easy. I’ve never performed the original Anderson Tear, but I have a friend who does so I know how it works. I’d say in terms of performance, Robert’s version is probably just as easy if not easier. I’d rate this a 3 out of 10 in terms of difficulty.

ANGLES: You can’t have anyone to the extreme sides with this method. I perform a lot in schools, so I never have to worry about my sides. If you’re a performer who works on those risers in hotels (corp gigs) and people are on three sides, you will have to watch this. You could probably cover by holding the paper closer to your body, but buyer beware. I also wouldn’t recommend it surrounded, but then again, this is a stage trick and if you’re surrounded on stage, you’re in hell. Just my two cents.

MARKET: With the possible exception of child care centers (and I know someone’s gonna send me an angry email tellin’ me just how wrong I am) this will play for anyone over the age of 5. It’s a classic effect.

MY THOUGHTS: OK, get ready for an overly positive review. I’ve been using this puppy for two-three years (I forget) and have performed it at least 300 times. I LOVE this. I’ve always wanted to add a newspaper tear to my act but was put off by other methods. One method involves gluing and creating pockets for the torn pieces to hide plus that method is a slow restoration – I prefer the instant, flash restoration.

I considered the classic Anderson method, but as I’m banging out up to 10 schools a week (two schools a day, a total of 4 performances a day) I didn’t want to fuss around with Anderson’s glue-wire-construction method. It looks great, but I just wanted something easier.

I bought Baxt’s effect because the demo video looked just like the Anderson tear and it promises a 30-second set-up once you understand the method and have rehearsed it. I can say that the ad copy is correct – I burn through a 30 sec rest and love it. I’ve bought a second Baxt Better Newspaper Tear for those crazy 4-show days and I’m considering getting two more to make my days even easier. I LOVE this.

The only quibble someone might make with the ad copy is that you can’t do this “right out of the box.” There is some practice involved. It’s a minor quibble – one I don’t care about, but others who take things literally should know this will require rehearsal.

The only other thing I’d say is that purists who love to, after the newspaper is restored, lovingly and carefully show the inside pages may not care for this method. With a bit of preparation on your part (which simply involves being a tad fussy with which page you set up for the restoration and nothing more) you’ll be able to casually flash open the pages, but it won’t be as pure as the Anderson tear.

To me, this is NOT a big deal. I don’t ever flash the inside pages after the restoration. I present the effect (I have a few different scripts) and after the restoration, I put the paper away and move on. I personally feel too much is made of over-proving things to audiences. To me, over-proving makes sense for Bill in Lemon or a bullet catch, but is less necessary for a newspaper tear.

To me, this effect is EASILY worth the high asking price because the set-up is so easy. For a trick that plays so big, if you fly to gigs, you can stick the gimmicks in your pocket and buy a newspaper (or two) at your gig. What could be simpler?

10 out of 10 for working pros who love the Anderson Restoration but want a faster method.

Until next week, direct any comments to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Best,

Cris Johnson