Monthly archives for April, 2012

REVIEW: Zap – The World’s Fastest Hypnotic Induction

Hi Everyone!

Before I get into this week’s review, I want to mention something pertaining to an earlier product of mine. A couple of years ago, I released The Mother of All Predictions, which in essence is a prediction using an audio CD WITHOUT needing to buy an expensive gimmicked CD or tape player. I’m pleased to say the product sold very well. Recently, a purchaser contacted me to say he was having trouble understanding the instructions for construction of the primary gimmick involved. The gimmick construction is quite easy and though I never had any trouble when I first learned it (the gimmick was Lee Earle’s creation, included in the book with Lee’s permission), I know different people learn in different ways, so what I did was create a simple, no frills video available on Youtube. If you would like to see this video to aid you with The Mother of All Predictions, send me an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

When I receive your email, I’ll ask you a “security question” about a line of text in the book and then I will send you the link on Youtube, as it’s not accessible to the public.

On to this week’s review….

ZAP – The World’s Fastest Hypnotic Induction. It’s available for $149.95 from Hocus Pocus.

EFFECT: This technique allows you to walk up to someone and hypnotize them into a deep trance faster than ever before! This is NOT magic or mentalism – it’s real hypnosis!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive a DVD that is approximately 2 hours in length and you receive a softbound book, around 70 pages.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The book and DVD both do a good job of explaining the barebones of the conviction necessary to hypnotize people and a good job explaining the overall technique. Some parts of the DVD are shot in-studio and the visual quality as well as sound quality is just fine. Other parts are shot in the real world, outdoors, both with participants and Gordon & Hon speaking to the camera. In the case of the outdoor shots, occasionally wind noise is a bit distracting but everything is still easily understood. Still other parts of the DVD are shot in the car as Hon drives, answering certain questions or telling amusing stories. In particular, Gordon, Hon’s 12 year old son, shares a funny story about some unusual kids in school who approached him regarding his abilities as a hypnotist.

MY BACKGROUND: Before I go further into my review, I’m going to outline my own background in hypnosis so new or first-time readers of this blog will understand that when I offer my criticisms and praises, I come from a place of experience. (I do have criticisms, but not many – this is a fine product.)

I first learned hypnosis for stage back in 2005. I took a course offered by Geoff Ronning from Phoenix, AZ. It was very good and soon after I was performing stage shows very effectively. Since then, I’ve averaged between 30 and 50 stage shows a year, hypnotizing around 12 or more people per show at most of these gigs, in addition to one-on-one demonstrations, so I’ve hypnotized around 3,000 people for entertainment since 2005.

A few years ago, I started training in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), learning language patterns and psychology to influence people, help them acheive their goals or simply to get people to focus on what I was saying! (NLP has sooooooooooooo many uses for the real world!) I eventually became a Certified Trainer in NLP, and I use it in my clinical work. (I was certified by the NGH for clinical hypnosis/hypnotherapy two years ago.)

Now that you understand my experience, I’ll move forward.

MY CRITICISMS ON ZAP: In short, this is a terrific technique, although I do have a few quibbles. Before I get into my quibbles, understand that hypnosis, like magic, has many different and effective schools of thought. My opinion does not necessarily mean that I’m ‘right’ but simply I have altering points of view on things. Here we go…

First of all, it’s obvious that both Hon Wong and his son Gordon are exceptionally gifted hypnotists. In particular, it amused and amazed me to watch 12 year old Gordon put someone into hypnosis who stood a good head higher than him!

These two know what they are doing and in particular I was motivated to explore contacting them for one of their advanced trainings on sales techniques and such.

As a hypnotist, I found the technique easy to understand and I know without a shadow of a doubt I could use this myself. Now that is out of the way, a few concerns:

At times, the tone of the DVD contradicted itself. Hon spoke about wearing clothes that suggest a professional demeanor, while Noblezada claimed to be “true to yourself.” Now, I get what both are saying, but I feel that when selling something to the mass magician market, you’ve got to be careful with “be true to yourself,” because there are so many magicians out there who believe they are being true to themselves, yet they wear a tux to all f their gigs because that’s what they saw another magician on TV do.

In short, magicians must sometimes be led by the hand.

Another concern I had was at various times, Hon stressed that hypnosis like this is “not a party stunt,” yet later both he and Noblezada suggested you could “go to a party” and use the technique. Again, I am sure they are talking about using the technique responsibly, but they could have been a little more careful in their wording, only because the myriad of self-proclaimed ‘street magicians’ out there are considering buying this to show off and be oh-so-cool.

Also, Hon claims he’s never seen any hypnotist put someone into deep trance any faster than 7 minutes without a lengthy pre-talk. While it’s true most hypnotists claiming to be ‘the world’s fastest hypnotists’ need a lengthy pre-talk first before they use an instant induction, I think 7 minutes is not accurate.

I myself can hypnotize someone ‘cold’ (no lengthy pretalk) in a minute to 90 seconds. Hon’s technique allows you to hypnotize someone into a deep trance in under 30 seconds, from the time you introduce yourself to someone for the first time, interact with them for just a few seconds, and then deliver the actual induction (which is less than a second!) and deepen them into deep trance.

I’m going to take on faith that Hon is in fact the world’s fastest, I am just taking issue with the statement that he’s never seen anyone do it in under 7 minutes. I am a big fat no one in the world of hypnosis and I can do it in a minute or two.:)

My final minor gripe is I really feel that this product should have been at least twice the length, both the DVD as well as the book. Again, both Hon and Gordon are AMAZING and they know their stuff, but I have to look at this from the standpoint of a person buying this who has NO experience at all in hypnosis. Granted, they can learn the ins and outs of the technique as well as some cool post-hypnotics, but I just feel that hypnosis is so easy to learn and so easy to abuse that with something like this, there should be more of an admission price, so to speak – more detailed analysis of how the mind works, and why this technique works so well.

Nobelzada, in particular, at times says things but doesn’t back them up. At one point, he explains that without compliance a person will not allow themselves to be hypnotized. He’s absolutely correct, but instead of explaining how this is so, he merely says something like, “And that’s just the way it is.”

Again, as an experienced hypnotist, I had no trouble with that, but for a “newbie,” I feel they include more information simply to make first time hypnotists respect the information and skill because the power of hypnosis can be very seductive and can be easily abused.

Now, onto the things I did like…

MY PRAISE FOR ZAP: In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I do have a great deal of respect for both Hon and Gordon. Both are very knowledgeable in hypnosis and it shows.

They talk a LOT about the fact that to hypnotize anyone, you need conviction. You need to be in control. It’s been said that hypnosis is a confidence game and no where is that more true than walking up to a total stranger and hypnotizing them in a park setting!

The reason why I’m so glad they spent so much time talking about conviction in hypnosis is simple – by offering this to the magic community, it’s very likely that a person buying this could be simply looking for the next ‘perfect toy,’ in that many amateur magicians buy the latest version of a certain plot in magic looking for the perfect weapon, one that’s undetectable, that they can use to fry people with.

For example, consider the classic nut unscrewing from a bolt and the classic ‘turn 5 $1 bills into 5 $100 bills’ effect. New versions of both of these pop up all the time and every time they sell a ton…even to magicians who have the previous 5 versions of the effect put out by 5 different creators.

In short, they are looking for the magic bullet, one that will allow them to perform a miracle with no work.

Hypnosis is an easy skill to learn…but a difficult one to master because you need to do it on real people a LOT to get real good.

Also, Hon stresses the fact that in certain states you need special licenses and such in order to be a hypnotist. In my state of New York, for example, I can practice hypnosis (stage and clinical) without a license BUT I am not allowed to use the term “hypnotherapist” because it’s been determined by the state that only a PHd can be a “therapist” of any kind.

The point is, check your local laws.

They also spend some time giving you some alternate techniques, such as the sitting induction in a chair if you’re not comfortable with people crumpling to the ground. The technique is safe but a newbie may be unnerved by how quickly people appear (key word APPEAR) to lose control, so having alternate techniques is great.

The key thing to understand is that the physical technique is NOT the ‘real secret.’ It helps, sure, but the ‘real secret’ is the language you use, your conviction, and most importantly, the person you’re hypnotizing must be compliant…they gotta want to do it.

So, for anyone out there who thinks you can just nail someone without them knowing, it ain’t gonna happen!

In particular, I found some of the language techniques to be REALLY interesting, so I definitely got a LOT out of this.

Post hypnotics, skits, safety and additional tips are also covered in detail.

WHO THIS IS FOR: I believe this product would be a fantastic addition to the stage hypnotist’s arsenal. My stage induction is between 5-10 minutes long (depending on my audience) so, with my pretalk, I’ve moved into the show with skits about 15 minutes into the show. In a 60 minute show, that means I get 45 minutes of fun and antics.

Occasionally I allow myself to get talked into a longer show, so being able to ‘zap’ people in the audience would be very cool as a way to liven up the longer shows.

I also feel that for college hypnotists – that is, ones who perform in colleges – could use Zap in two ways – one, footage for a demo video and two, as Banachek says in the college market, sometimes you gotta ‘build your own audience,’ so if you ‘zap’ a few people on campus before your show, it can build interest quickly for a show.

I would NOT recommend it being used in a corporate hypnotist’s demo video as most corporate audiences are ‘spooked’ enough about hypnosis so seeing someone get ‘zapped’ would make compliance go down.

Magicians could use it as a different sort of routine in a show, though I imagine that in the context of a magic show, some people in the audience would think it’s just playacting….which is fine because even in a hypnosis-only show, people STILL think it’s playacting.:)

Amateurs can certainly use this too, but I really think they would benefit from additional training to develop their conviction and confidence levels. Happily, Hon Wong can certainly provide that training.

MY RATING: I’ll give this a solid 9 out of 10. I can’t give it a perfect t score because while the product was just fine for me, I HAVE to look at this from the viewpoint of someone with ZERO hypnosis training picking this up and while that person could have success with it, I would prefer the product get more in depth with how the mind works and really push for newbies to respect the craft. There are warnings aplenty in the product, but it’s like the latest ‘Russian Roulette’ style effect – a few warnings aren’t going to keep amateurs from using it and stabbing themselves!

Still, a great product for the respectful, experienced person.

2 Reviews This Week: Candle to Fan & Headline Prediction book by Paul Romhany

Welcome, readers!

Two reviews this week…why two? The main reason is the first item will not need much space to discuss it so I had to wedge it in somewhere. On to the first review item this week…Candle to Fan by Michael P. Lair. This “effect” is available for $24.95 from Hocus Pocus.

The effect: a lit candle is shown. After the candle is blown out, a pretty dragon style fan is in its place. (pretty vague…)


WHAT YOU GET: A “gimmicked” (and I use that term lightly) fan and a written sheet of instructions.

MY THOUGHTS: I’m skipping right to the section where I get to rant this week because this is among the WORST products I’ve ever reviewed. The red dragon fan is very beautiful and is the same fan you get if you buy the Snowstorm in China kit (the one with the book of routines, fan and box of snowstorms.)

My old fan, same as this review item, had broke 6 years ago after countless shows. I fixed it and got it to last several more years. It finally broke completely recently, and since Snowstorm is my closer to many shows, I had to get a new fan.

I stumbled upon the Candle to Fan trick and thought, ‘Why not? A nice little lead-in to Snowstorm, right?’

Wrong. The red fan is gimmicked by taking what looks like a bent paperclip, attaching a bit of fuzz to it and using a thin piece of black electrical tape to hold this makeshift gimmick in place on the fan. In fact, mine fell off as I was opening the package.

This “effect” is an insult to anyone buying magic for professional use. The fan itself is good and since I had one like it, I know it will last, but the “effect” I thought I was getting is non-existent. It’s complete crap and should be avoided.

My rating 1/10 (the 1 is because the fan itself, in it’s virgin state, is terrific for Snowstorm.)

Enough of that! Now on to the Headline Prediction by Paul Romhany & yours truly!

Here’s the link to the ad: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=20419

MY THOUGHTS: First of all, I’m going to touch upon my own contribution to the book very briefly, as to ‘review’ my own effect would be self-serving. I’ll just say that my version was created because there have been a few times in the past when I was doing a headline prediction (with a gimmicked tape player and later with my CD prediction, Mother of All Predictions) where the client would forget to bring the mailed package to the show at the banquet hall…despite my reminder phone call the day before!

It only happened a couple of times, but it motivated me to create an alternate headline prediction. In my version, because audience members get to pick what words, sentences and phrases are used from said newspaper, even if the client forgets the mailed package, I can STILL have a backup with me, as the free selection of what is selected to be predicted is a free choice. Adding this second level of deception not only is a real fooler but if the original mailed package is forgotten, I can still do the routine, though bringing my own envelope does negate the effect slightly.

My handling is easy, fair, and I’ve been closing my corp shows with this technique for 15 years so I know it kills.

On to Paul’s headline prediction method. While I love my routine, in terms of doing the classic newspaper headline prediction I actually like Paul’s handling better because it’s so freakin’ easy! Once you hit the stage, everything is sooooooooooooooo innocent looking and the technical demands are really simple! (Mine is maybe a 1 in terms of technical difficulty while Paul’s is like a .5!)

I also love the fact that Paul’s method allows a spectator to select WHICH newspaper is predicted. In many ways, Paul & I both tackled the idea of adding that second layer of deception to the newspaper prediction – we just went about it in different ways.:)

I also love Paul’s idea of including your letterhead, which is sooo smart.

However, the thing I love about Paul’s method is that it allows, if you desire, to create a really BIG prediction that more people can see from their seats. I LOVE this!

Paul’s method is also angle-proof – yes, it can be done SURROUNDED, for 6 people in a living room or 600 people on stage. There’s also no pre-show work with the spectator. The order of things are:

1. Book your show
2. Mail your prediction to your client
3. On the day of the show, prepare your “materials” at home (or hotel) and this is maybe 5 minutes TOPS – easy!!
4. buy your newspapers for that day
5. Go do your show

The instructions Paul provides are clear and easy to follow. He provides several photos and in the photos, instead of just explaining where things need to be glued or taped, he uses black strips of electrical tape as a can’t-miss visual guide.

To give you an idea of the technical demands of the routine, if you can open a newspaper, that’s all you physically need to do on stage.

To give you an idea of the complexity of preparing your materials before the show, I will just say that preparing the Anderson Newspaper Tear is, like, a zillion times HARDER than preparing this.

I’ll sum up by saying that I have performed several variations of Headline Predictions in my life, all with great success:

- I’ve used my own Confab Prediction
- I’ve used a gimmicked tape player
- I have used handlings by Lee Earle and other masters
- I have even used my own Mother of all Predictions

Each has produced great results for me, and in paryicular my “confab” handling is the finale of my Murder By Magic show, and while I love it, using it for the same audience twice (repeat gigs) is NOT something I want to do, so Paul’s handling is going right into my act.

I also want to point out Paul’s additional headline prediction late in the back, after his primary handling and after mine…I can’t say too much about it because it uses a magician’s prop in a way 99% of magicians would never THINK to do. It’s exceedingly clever and is a great bonus.

My rating: 10/10 – NOT for my version (which I gotta say is great!) but in the interest of objectivity I can honestly say the book is well worth it for Paul’s version alone. Think of it this way – $20 for something that is angle-proof and can close ANY corporate or adult show on the planet and is dead easy? No brainer!

Two Reviews: Ker-Plunk Magic Wand & The Big Reaction

Welcome, loyal readers!

This week I’m getting right to it as I have two reviews – the reason being neither review will take a tremendous amount of time to get to it.

the first is Tommy James’ Comedy Ker-Plunk Wand, available for $52.00 from Hocus Pocus.

Here’s the ad copy:

Its wacky, hysterical and klutzy! Its the Tommy James Comedy Ker PLUNK Wand!

Effect: A blue draw-string bag is tucked under your arm. Tell the kids you can’t find your magic wand and that you always keep it in a blue bag. The kids will shout it is under your arm. You look under the other arm, but it is not there. The kids tell you to look under the other arm! You state “This IS my other arm!”

After some more antics, you eventually discover the blue bag but are disappointed because the only thing in the blue bag is a RED bag. Remove the red bag. The kids tell you to look in the red bag. Out of the red bag you pull a GREEN bag. Once again the kids will tell you to look in the GREEN bag. Finally remove the wand from the green bag.

State that this wand is the most powerful wand in the whole world. You wave the wand to make some magic happen but to your surprise ker-plunk!. . . the tip falls off the end of the wand onto the floor! You replace it but it does it again and again. Then the tip is stuck to your finger. You don’t see it, but the kids do and are quick to let you know. You pull the tip from your finger but oh no, you pulled your finger off! (Don’t worry, you replace it. Whew!)

Now you can’t find the tip but the kids inform you it is hanging off the end of the wand, dangling from side to side! Finally you have all the kids wiggle their fingers at the wand and say the magic words. To everyone’s surprise, in an animated motion the tip moves and POPS up and back onto the wand all by itself! The kids have done the magic and fixed the wand! You may now use the wand in your favorite routine.

Wand is 15″ long and 3/4″ diameter, black with silver prism tips. Very easy to operate. Complete with three satin drawstring bags, magic wand and Tommy’s full routine. A guaranteed hit at your next kid show!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The wand, three satin bags, and written instructions with routine ideas and additional ideas from other performers.

MY THOUGHTS: I LOVE this! This wand is extremely well-made. This looks like something that took quite a while to make. If Tommy is making these in his house, I’m extremely impressed. Regardless, while 50 bucks may seem like a lot for a comedy magic wand, this is very well thought out and this will play great for kids’ shows. I’m doing this for the first time at tomorrow’s school shows.

A quick note – the last item I reviewed of Tommy James was his Read to Achieve DVD and I came down pretty hard on Tommy for some of his humor as I felt some of it was mean spirited towards kids. One of the things that frustrated me so much about it is that other than those bits, Tommy is a FANTASTIC performer, one of the best school show magicians I’ve seen – great messages, great magic and a lot of fun.

I know the forum crowd came down on me pretty hard, and while I still think Tommy’s humor is sometimes rough for kids’ shows, make no bones about it – he puts on a GREAT school show and puts out great props. I LOVE this wand and will be picking up Tommy’s Production Tubes very soon as the look and feel of the prop is unbelievable and a great value.

My rating: 10/10. If you do kids’ shows, buy this wand!! I can see this little baby getting several minutes of fun for me on stage!

UPDATE: I performed this in front of 300 kids in my school show on Friday and as expected, this routine KILLED. I say “routine” because rather than just one gag repeated ad nauseum (like the ‘classic’ breakaway wand) Tommy’s creation has a structures beginning middle and end with several different bits of business. I LOVE this.

The second item this week is Andy Nyman’s Big Reaction, available from Hocus Pocus for $39.95.

Here’s the ad copy:

The magician has several spectators “create” a card by naming each piece of the card, such as the color, suit and value. They are told that if the magician gets the effect wrong, they can “BOO” him and if he gets it correct, they can all “GO CRAZY” with the cheers and applause.

The magician then goes thru the face up deck and finds the card that was named and it is placed aside.

The backs of all of the other cards are shown to have the word “BOO” written on the back of each one. The attention is returned to the chosen card and in a different colored ink, the words “GO CRAZY” are written on the back of the chosen card.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The DVD and special playing cards.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: This really shines as while the DVD is short, around 15 minutes or so, Andy gives users some really great real-world advice in terms of why he changes the original Roy Johnson premise so there is not a feeling of letdown once the effect is done. The effect also serves beautifully for an opener or closer during a strolling/closeup set.

The production values of the DVD are nothing to write home about but it’s OK, does the job and more importantly, based on the real world tips, tricks and techniques Andy tips, you KNOW he’s done this trick hundreds and hundreds of times.

DIFFICULTY: This effect is extremely easy to do from a technical standpoint. You’ll need a bit of spectator management skills to keep people from grabbing the cards, but even that is simple.

Also, Andy talks about a crucial acting tip to help ‘sell’ the deck as normal, which it is not.

MY THOUGHTS: Here, I will break in and say that this effect is WONDERFUL…for workers. What I mean by this is this: you cannot let spectators examine the deck. There’s no rough and smooth and no ultra thin cards, but there is something the spectators cannot check out about the cards.

What this means is, this is NOT the effect to invest in if you are a hobbyist looking to amuse your friends. I know when I was just performing for friends, everyone wanted to check everything out. When you’re a hobbyist performing for friends, it seems they want to get ‘all grabby’ with props. That’s my experience from years past and judging by the questions people are asking on the forums about this effect, it seems that “inspectability” is a concern. So don’t get this for your friends.

However, if you’re a working pro, this is AWESOME! In my experience, performing strolling magic for corporate audiences, with one notable drunken spectator exception, no one ever wants to check things out. Most are amused and willing to play along and if they are not, I can walk away, the beauty of corporate strolling work!!

I only do around 10 or so strolling gigs a year these days as I vastly prefer stage work but nonetheless, at each of those gigs I may perform an effect 30 or so times, so about twice a year I get an urge to try out some new closeup effects.

With all that in mind, I cannot wait to add this to my strolling act. There are no re-set issues (resets instantly) and no technical demands. The premise is easy to understand and making the chosen card RED really “pops!”

Add all that to the fact that the card chosen is 100% a free choice and they CAN hold the selection makes this a no-brainer.

Rating: 10/10 for pros and 4/10 for amateurs only because the deck cannot be examined.

Thanks for reading!

New Book and REVIEW: Confessions of a Needle Swallower

Hi All,

First, some GREAT news – my buddy Paul Romhany told me today that his two new books are on their way to me! The first is his Headline Prediction book, of which I am a co-author. I’m super excited to see what Paul has done with this classic plot of mentalism.

The second book is volume two of Performing Mentalism for Young Minds book. Volume one was sensational! While I contributed to volume one with a couple of killer routines, I was nonetheless blown away by the quality of material in volume one. I’ve contributed to part two as well, but by the sounds of things, I’m going to be blown away again.

Also, I am looking for people to review my NEW book…but it’s not a magic book. This book is actually a book geared toward parents. The book is filled with tips and techniques to better improve communication with their kids. It’s highly influenced by my studies in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which for lay purposes is the study of language patterns for communication.

If you want a FREE PDF copy of the book sent to you in a week or so (my projected finish) email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. The only “fee” for the book is you must agree to email me some quotes I can use when I market the book.

Also, I have a TON of new goodies coming to me. Here’s just some of what I’ll be reviewing over the coming weeks…(some is new stuff, some not so new):

Jitters by Peter Loughran
Butchers Blade by Tim Wisseman
The Black Box by John Kennedy
Comedy Ker-Plunk Wand by Tommy James
The Big Reaction by Andy Nyman
Slomotion

…and a few others on the way.

Now, because I’ve got “creepy” stuff on the mind (I’m putting together a seance), I’m going to review an oldie but a goodie: Confessions of a Needle Swallower by Steve Spill. It’s available for $49.95 from Hocus Pocus.

Here’s the Ad Copy:

Routines of this caliber only come along once in a very long time.

We are proud to offer Steve Spill’s incredible routine for the classic Needle Swallowing effect “Confessions of a Needle Swallower”. Over the years there have been a multitude of methods for performing this classic effect.

Many famous performers have and do feature this effect in their shows from Houdini to Penn & Teller. The reason is simple: this effect has it all, mystery, danger, intrigue and in Steve’s version COMEDY. Ask any agent in show business what’s the most important aspect of any variety performance and they’ll tell you it MUST be funny.

This is most important in a routine of this type. Audience’s come to a show to be entertained. Tricks in the “Geek” category must be handled correctly to get the most entertainment value from the performance.

“Confessions of a Needle Swallower” is the definitive routine. It’s all here. Steve’s method is totally practical and very safe. His presentation has natural comedy that any performer can score the big laughs with every show.

Pros are always looking for routines that pack flat and play big. “Confessions of a Needle Swallower” is it. The gimmick and needles weight about 2 GRAMS. Add in the spool of thread and the flashlight and your total weight is maybe an ounce or two!

But such small props just how big of an audience can you perform the routine for effectively. The answer really comes down to lighting. With a spotlight the needles shimmer and reflect the light. In fact I believe they show up better than razor blades. Razor blades on edge are basically invisible. Teller KILLS with his version of the Needles at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas before over 800 people!

Of course you can perform “Confessions of a Needle Swallower” in almost any situation from close-up, to parlor and stage.

So what’s the effect? The barebones are the performer places a single needle on his tongue and swallows it. A second needle is swallowed all under test conditions. The performers mouth is shown completely empty, under the tongue, under the top and bottom lips, the sides of the mouth. No doubt the needles have actually been swallowed. Twenty needles in all go down the gullet. Next a length of white cotton thread is swallowed. Now the impossible happens. You bring everything back up and all of the needles are now on the thread. It’s stunning!

Two things raise “Confessions of a Needle Swallower” apart from all of the other versions First; Steve’s method is brilliant and easy to do. Second, Steve’s presentation is hilarious. All you need to do is follow his script and you’re done, the big laughs are yours.

Included in the product are the training DVD and the special gimmick. “Confessions of a Needle Swallower” is sold without the needles, thread, threader and flashlight for two reasons. The first is to keep your costs down. You can buy the props for the same price we do. No sense for you to pay for marked up costs for shipping, handling and distribution. Second, you will need to replace the needles and thread periodically. Needles will eventually rust and the thread wears out. The needles and thread are readily available. “Confessions of a Needle Swallower” is a routine that once mastered can be built even if the airlines loose your act!

The training DVD was shot and produced at the HD studios of Bob Kohler Magic. The DVD contains 3 shows for you to see. The first is a TV show from 1988; the second is a comedy club performance in 1998 and last is a show we shot this fall at Magicopolis, Steve’s incredible theater in Santa Monica, CA. Make sure you stop in to see Steve’s show if you’re in the area.

The explanations are in-depth and contain all of the work, tips and methods you’ll need to perform “Confessions of a Needle Swallower”.

If you follow Steve’s instructions the routine is very safe and easy. It’s also easy to learn as Steve starts you off on the learning curve using toothpicks!

One important note! Swallowing needles is dangerous. “Confessions of a Needle Swallower” is a TRICK. You don’t actually swallow needles or thread. But you do put real needles into your mouth. Without proper training, thoughtful practice and care putting anything in your mouth can be dangerous.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: An extremely well produced DVD and a small gimmick…actually it’s a holder of sorts for the needles and keeps everything organized before and during your show.

QUALITY OF GIMMICK: The holder is a simple little thing that you can replicate for yourself if you’ve got multiple performances in one day. With care, the little holder will last quite a while. Mine has lasted a few years, but in the interest of complete disclosure I only perform this 12 or less times per year. To replace or duplicate, the holder will only cost you a few cents. When you see it, you’ll understand.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: Bob Kohler puts out the best videos in magic. They are well-lit, broadcast quality with an emphasis on detail – you’ll have no questions after watching the DVD.

I also really like how Steve Spill gives you three different performances, in front of different audiences, so you really get a sense of how this will play.

Finally, Steve gives users new methods to reduce tangling. After having done this around 50 times, I can say that Steve’s anti-tangle set-up does work most of the time. I think I’ve had issues 2 or 3 times and with that low rate of trouble, I’m fully prepared to say I probably did something wrong!

DIFFICULTY: While this does use real needles, Spill does give you some cool tips to minimize risks. The routine itself is extremely easy from a technical point of view, allowing the professional to concentrate on performance.

Despite the ease of performing, be prepared to put in some work to make all of the ‘moves’ naturalistic and smooth.

ANGLES: While I would not recommend this for closeup, mostly because you could not repeat this easily unless you have several ‘set-ups’ ready to go. With that in mind, I have done this surrounded for an outdoor BBQ and for a small group in a living room. I feel it plays best on stage and with proper lighting, you can do this for several hundred people. I’ve done it for 500 teens in an auditorium before and with the stage lights properly set up, people can see the light twinkling off of the needles as they come out of your mouth.

MARKET: This is the one area where this effect sinks…if you do this effect for a family show, you’re an idiot. Sorry. Even times I’ve done it for adults, some people are very uncomfortable with this effect.

I’ve done it mostly for teens and even this jaded group is often grossed out by the effect.

THE VERDICT: I’ll give this a 9 out of 10, only taking off one point and that’s only because this is NOT a ‘for all occasions’ type of effect. If you are a performer who can use this effect, such as a college performer, I highly recommend this economical and reliable solution to a classic plot.

Until next time…