Monthly archives for June, 2012

Cause & Effects 3 is READY! and Review: Shock Treatment by Bobby Motta

Hello all,

I’m pleased to announce that Cause & Effects – Volume 3 is complete! All pre-orders will be shipping this Saturday to Hocus Pocus and then to you!

Also, I have decided to extend the “pre-release special” price through July 4th, so even though the book is shipping out, you can save $5.00 on it!

Take advantage of my insanity and save!!!

Also, I’m going to be sharing details on a complete course on a market that so many magicians reject, but if you get into it, with the right kind of show and material, the profit potential is HUGE! Stay tuned!

This week’s review is something that’s been out for a while but I haven’t had time to fully digest the newer items on my desk. This week’s review is…

Shock Treatment by Bobby Motta!

EFFECT: Though more of a tool and less of a routine, Shock Treatment is a modern, convenient-to-transport update of the old Shock Chair.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive two seat cushions that look identical but one houses the electronics to ‘jolt’ a spectator during the routine. You also receive a wireless, keychain-sized transmitter and an instruction sheet.

QUALITY OF PROPS: This is REALLY well-made! The instructions are simple and straight to the point. With care, this will last years and years. What I also like is the fact that the gimmicked cushion has a secret hiding place where you can store the transmitter, eliminating the possibility of losing the transmitter. That’s a great touch that I love.

DIFFICULTY OF PERFORMANCE: Just as the demo video shows, this is simply a push-button prop, so ‘ease’ doesn’t begin to describe it.:) The big point I want to make is the fact that Shock Treatment is and should be regarded as a tool – sort of like a hammer or screw driver for a carpenter.

You’ll need to develop a routine and once you develop a routine, all you have to do at your gig is borrow two chairs and put the cushions on them and you’re ready to go, meaning Shock Treatment is a LOT easier than hauling out the old Shock Chair.

MY THOUGHTS: I never thought I would own a shock chair or anything like it because the only presentation I’d ever seen was where the ‘comedy’ magician (and I use that term loosely) would have a spectator sit in a chair..zap him…laugh as he stood up and get him to sit…zap him again….and on and on. Yuck.

Last year, I saw Bobby perform his show in Toronto, Ontario and it was brilliant – just a great show and I’ve lost count of how many times he fried me. Once he got to using Shock Treatment, I was really impressed because the routine made sense and it had nothing to do with ‘zapping’ anyone just for comedy. In fact, Bobby’s routine was an example of serious mentalism. Great stuff.

Since he opened my eyes to some of the additional uses for such a prop, I bought it and am delighted with it.

MY RATING: I really think the prop itself deserves a 10, so it gets a 10…however, I will issue a word of warning: the props do not include the DVD with routines as advertised. It turns out there were some disagreements and conflict over some of the routines so Bobby was forced to pull the DVD. So, I will say it’s a GREAT prop, but be forewarned that Bobby is unable to include the DVD.

It’s STILL worth it.:)

NEXT WEEK: I just received Bobby’s new Blackmail and I’m REALLY excited to review this as Bobby fried me with it in Toronto. He performed it several times for a large audience and it fried everyone – magicians, mentalists, laypeople, etc. Stay tuned!

NEW PRODUCT: Cause & Effects: Volume 3!

Hello, loyal reader!

Today’s blog is very special as I’m proud to announce a pre-release special on “Cause & Effects Volume 3!”

My first two volumes of “Cause & Effects” books continue to be very popular with professional magicians as I reveal real-world routines that I myself use in my day to day performing, enabling me to travel all over North America.

This new volume breaks from the format slightly in that in addition to several full-length routines included, I also include some shorter tips, tricks and techniques for other effects and routines, as well as an essay or two on life as a professional full-time performer.

The main focus of this volume is original presentations for many classic effects in magic, such as Snowstorm in China and Floating A Child in the Air. If you’re performing for audiences, there’s sure to be something in here for you.

The pre-release runs through the middle of July, but my goal is to be beat that deadline. I don’t do pre-releases very often, but when I do, I never go past the deadline. But if you order now, you’ll save $5.00!

I’ll also be releasing a couple of more products this summer, too. Both of these will be more business-based. I’ll also be back next week with a new review.

Here’s the ad copy for the new “Cause & Effects: Volume 3″ book:

Think about the last time you saw a magician perform a classic of magic. Was the presentation original…or a cookie-cutter photo-copy of the same presentation you saw the last guy do…and he took it from the last TV special featuring a magician.

Why do so many performers perform the same effects with the same routines the same way?

I’m not sure, but I DO know that the hard part is NOT learning the “trick.” The “trick” is the easier part. I’m not saying that performing the trick is easy (because it’s not) only that performing a “trick” is easier than crafting a commercial, entertaining presentation that ‘hooks’ an audience.

I also know that as a full-time professional magician with over 3000 paid performances under my belt, developing and fine-tuning original presentations for magic effects has been one of the keystones of my success.

I’ll also share with you a secret: creating a new, original script and presentation for an effect is tough. What looks good on paper may take on a different life once you perform those same words in front of a paying audience.

I believe most magicians use the same themes, the same laugh lines, heck even the same music selection in their routines because it’s a lot easier than coming up with your own stuff.

I understand – it’s tough writing an original script! Heck, if a professional performer offers an effective, commercial presentation for an effect of magic, I’ll certainly consider adding it to my own set lists. In recent years, I’ve purchased routines from Bob Kohler, Paul Romhany, Scott Alexander and many others.

Still, the majority of the time, a routine that ‘fits me’ for a given effect simply does not exist and after years of trial by fire in front of hundreds of audiences, I’ve fine-tuned several professional presentations for many “classic” props and effects in magic. Some of these routines appeared in the previous volumes of this series, “Cause & Effects” Volumes 1 & 2.

This NEW volume breaks from the format of the previous two books in that in addition to the commercial, practical routines, I’m also including some essays on performance, trouble-shooting and more! Here’s what “Cause & Effects: Volume 3” includes:

Sean Bogunia Sketch Pad or Axtel Board – I bought Sean Bogunia’s wonderful Manual Sketch Pad and completely fell in love with it! It didn’t take me long to come up with a routine for this incredible prop. In case you’re not familiar with the effect, here’s what the audience sees: A crude sketch is made of a person’s face. As the audience watches, the eyes move, the mouth moves, and after the routines is over, the paper with the drawing can be torn off and given to a spectator as a souvenir! No switches! The only “problem” with the routine is that a prospective buyer looks at the prop and immediately dismisses it, believing they need to use “vent” with it. Not true. After 500-600 performances, I’ve fine-tuned my presentation into a rock-solid 5 minutes of laughter and amazement…without ANY  vent work at all. I don’t do vent and probably never will…yet I’ve used this prop to close shows with over 400 people in the audience or small birthday parties with 10 kids. This ROCKS. Oh, and if you own an Axtel Drawing Board, this routine will work wonderfully for that prop, too!

Zombie or The Thing – I’ve been performing a “zombie” type of effect in my show for close to 20 years. A few years ago, I “downsized” to Bill Abbott’s wonderful “thing” routine simply because of the smaller size and portability. In years past, I had watched other performers perform the Zombie (or similar effects) in exactly the same way, concentrating on the movements of the ‘mysterious silver ball,’ and I really groaned when lady magician Melina actually CALLED her routine the “Mystery of the Silver Ball.” Ugh. To me, it was right up there with the guy I once saw who performed a Hat Coil routine (that looked really good) and after it was over, he proudly announced, “The Hat Coil, Ladies and Gentleman!” Ugh again. With my routine, the ball is personified and designed to elicit squeals of delights from children. The routine builds up to the first movements of the ball as a big, thrilling moment and from there, the laughs build and build. I’d been performing this routine for years and when I saw Bill Abbott’s Thing, I saw an opportunity to “downsize” without dramatically affecting my show in the negative sense. Bill’s routine for the Thing is very powerful, but if I had to offer one critique, the routine is very short, only a minute or two. My routine would perfectly compliment Bill’s in that I include more jokes, more build-up and more laughs. Zombie or Thing – the choice is yours and this routine, in one form or another, has been in my show for over 15 years.

Spelling Bee – I love the classic Spelling Bee effect! If you’re a kid’s performer, you’re probably familiar with this effect: a board is shown with seven letters horizontally arranged in a jumbled order. The performer assures the audience that the letters actually do spell something. The board is flipped around and the cards are removed. Without looking at the mixed cards, audience members tell the performer where each card goes, trying in essence to spell a word simply by guessing where each letter goes. Incredibly, when all the letters are arranged according to the audience’s decisions, the board is turned around, revealing that the audience selected EVERY  letter correctly! I use this effect all the time in my work, from spelling out the birthday child’s name to a certain key word pertaining to the topic I’m presenting about in one of my school assembly shows, such as “RESPECT.” The only downside to the routine is the fact this selection process by the audience can really drag. Really, “Okay, where do you want to put this letter? “Good, where do you want to put this letter? What about this one?” is NOT the most compelling presentation! Most performers I’ve seen using this prop try to rush through that selection process. I decided to follow the sage advice of Eugene Burger and others who write about the necessity of making the journey interesting – it’s not the ‘ah-ha’ moment of revelation that makes the effect worth it but rather the entire journey from beginning to end. With that in mind, I’ve changed the entire structure of the routine by just using one volunteer onstage with me and added some very funny lines during the selection process. The lines are “kid friendly” and completely age-appropriate.

Snowstorm in China – The performer shows some tissue paper, tears it into a few pieces and puts them in a glass of water. Once again removing them from the water, the performer squeezes the tissue paper – the audience can see water dripping away. Using a large, ornamental fan, the performer begins fanning under the hand holding the wet tissue…and soon from his hand erupts a shower or more accurately, a “storm” of confetti, looking very much like a “snowstorm.” Beautiful effect – it’s another one I’ve been doing for over 12 years. It can close any show, for large or small audiences, kids, adults, all ages. The one big problem? Nearly every performer I’ve ever seen performs the show with the same routine. “I was 5 years old and I had never seen snow before…” Great routine when David Copperfield did it on TV in the late 80’s, but since then, I’ve never seen any other presentation for Snowstorm in China…well, other than The Amazing Johnathon’s bizarre and hilarious (but oh-so-NOT family friendly) performance. I’ve crafted a presentation that perfectly sets up the snowstorm effect, is trendy in that it ties into the super hero craze, and most importantly, even includes a brief message of self-esteem in it. Even if you are not a school assembly performer using messages in your show, your audience will appreciate this quick bit of a positive message as a way to set up the audience-pleasing Snowstorm effect. Oh, and if you’re using a Kevin James Snow Animator or anything like it, the presentation will work perfectly too, without changing a word.

Any Levitating a Child Trick – If you use a Chair Suspension, Magic Carpet or any other method of floating an audience member, then you already know just how powerful it is! It’s a killer selling point and a guaranteed show stopper. Many performers (though thankfully not all) use a presentation sounding like something right out of Disney or Peter Pan – a lot of stuff about believing in yourself and wishes and all of that. Some of the presentations are very good, and unlike Snowstorm, they are not all the same. The problem for me is when I float a child in the air, it’s at or near the end of the program and the kids are getting restless and are not always in the most receptive state to hearing a sweet, sentimental story about youth, wishes and other warm, fuzzy feelings. In my case, I wanted to provide a justification as to why I was going to float someone in the air and I wanted it to be funny…and I wanted it to be appealing to all ages. I wound up drawing inspiration from Paul Romhany, The Vanishing Bandanna and some ideas of my own. The result? A funny, original way to float someone in the air!

As the old saying goes, “That’s Not All!”

In this special volume of routines, I also include my own take on the Headline Prediction!

Confab-Headline Prediction – (originally published in Paul Romhany’s book, “Headline Prediction”) I’ve loved the headline prediction, but have always found a couple of troublesome things wrong with it. First, predicting catastrophes! So, taking advice from other experts, I’d restrict myself to predicting ‘non-traumatic’ headlines, such as sporting events or political battles. That was okay, but it played a little dry. Eventually, I wound up coming up with a “Dream Letter” style prediction using the “confab” concept popularized by Alan Shaxon that didn’t deal with the news or world events at all. (This handling was detailed in a prior volume of “Cause & Effects.) With some shows, however, clients specifically WANTED me to predict a news event, a headline prediction. For some clients, it just felt more “impossible,” so that’s what they wanted. However, those situations occasionally turned sour when a client would forget to bring the envelope I’d mailed out in advance! Obviously without the envelope mailed in advance, the routine fell on its face….until I developed a headline prediction routine in which the audience members would select WHICH specific headlines, phrases, sports scores, etc were to be predicted! It added another dimension to my prediction routine and even in those rare occasions when a client forgot to bring the envelope I had mailed to them weeks prior, just the fact that I was able, during the show, to show that I predicted which things the spectators selected helped save the routine by me using a “backup” envelope I’d brought with me. Admittedly, having the client remember was much stronger, but the added element of predicting the audience’s choices allowed me to ‘save’ the routine in a worse-case scenario and add an incredible dimension when things went according to plan. I tip the entire workings, envelope construction, routine, and much more. If you have the previous volume of “Cause & Effects,” you know the workings of the gimmicks, but this routine is a nice twist on the classic Headline Prediction.   

This volume also includes a contribution I made to Paul Romhany’s new book, “The Real Deal,” a 9-page essay on survival techniques for handling emergency situations. Paul’s book is a masterclass of surviving as performing magician, so hopefully my little essay will pique your interest! I cover emotional state in an emergency (this is a biggie!) and, among other things, I even list some set lists of effects you can put together the night before a show if you fly to a gig and lose EVERYTHING, even your carry-on! This was a really fun topic to write about. I cover both mentalism and visual magic…and admittedly, putting together a stage mentalism show by visiting Wal-Mart is a heck of a lot easier than putting together a magic show!

But that’s STILL not all…in this volume I also include some shorter essays, ideas, tips, techniques, real-world advice and thoughts on:

·         A hilarious family-friendly Mouthcoil routine

·         A KILLER marketing tip for The Manual Sketchpad

·         A funny story (with an important tip!) on Silk to Egg

·         A performance tip to make performing Sword Thru Neck easier…much easier!

·         A funny script line you can use for “Hundy 500” and other ‘money’ tricks

·         A great presentational idea for a Banknite type of presentation – most people will scoff at this, but when the right gig comes along, this will kill!

This third volume in the “Cause & Effects” series is the biggest yet!

PRE-RELEASE SPECIAL: This book will be ready to ship mid to late July. If you remember my past pre-release specials, I usually beat my deadline by several days.:)  Order now and save $5.00 off the regular price of $24.95.

Retail price: $24.95

REVIEW: Human Phone Number 2.0

Before I get into this week’s review, I would like to give a big shout out to the guy who KILLED on America’s Got Talent doing a Blindfold Act…unfortunately, I walked in after his introduction and did not catch his name!

For those who did not see it, this young man essentially did John Archer’s blindfold act and SLAYED the judges. None of the three had any idea how “it was done” and were completely blown away. I’ve been performing the Archer blindfold act for about 5 years now and it’s in my Top 3 list of the most powerful things I do for an adult audience.

I only hope the performer has something up his sleeve that’s just as powerful for his next appearance. America’s Got Talent is sometimes pretty rough on magicians. I don’t watch the show very often, having sworn off of it when the judges tore into Jay Mattiloi in his second appearance. Nonetheless, I’ll be rooting for this guy.

Onto this week’s review: Human Phone Number 2.0. It’s available from Hocus Pocus for $349.00.

THE EFFECT: A spectator selects a phone number in a normal, unprepared phone book. 8 spectators, who have been holding envelopes, remove the contents of their envelopes, with each spectator holding one number, all in the correct order, forming a Human Phone Number!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A complete kit allowing you to reveal a ‘human phone number’ of just about any number on the planet. You also receive an ebook outlining several ways of accomplishing the effect for different phone books and situations. The ebook also has 4 instructional videos ‘embedded’ in the book that teach you various steps to construct gimmicks for the routine. Finally, you receive 8 tyvek envelopes for the revelation.

QUALITY OF PROPS: I remember when I bought the older version years ago. I was blown away not only by the quality of the materials used in constructing the signs but also the thought process in why they were made the way they were – matte finish so no worries about glares from stage lights blinding your audience and/or rendering your revelation ‘invisible.’

One of my best friends is in the sign industry and I can attest to the quality of the materials. My number signs have traveled all over North America with me both in my car and on airplanes and my kit looks just as pristine and new as the day I bought it.

The fact that Bob has re-designed the number signs to be thinner yet just as durable is a great boost to anyone interested in this routine.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The ebook (written by Michael Close) does a great job detailing several different ways of accomplishing the routine, giving the buyer multiple ways of doing ‘the work’ to get to the result. Additionally, alternate ways of revealing the phone number NOT involving the enclosed number cards are discussed as well, meaning you can do the routine for close up formal presentations, too.

Bob has really made this routine accessible to any one with any phone book.

MY THOUGHTS: As I mentioned, I have performed HPN for years now and it always kills. I haven’t always closed with it, electing at times to do it second to last, but in any event, it really does bring down the house.

I will also offer my own thoughts on Bob’s choice of not carrying a phone book to a gig, preferring instead to use whatever book he finds in his hotel room. It’s certainly a valid approach and one that makes everything seem so fair – “Wow, and he did it with OUR phone book!” – but first of all, I don’t want to create a new gimmick for each phone book I encounter…I’m just too lazy. (Even though there are essentially gimmickless versions of the routine in the book, I prefer to use the same physical handling at every show due to comfort, muscle memory, etc.)

Additionally, I got to two gigs and the venue literally did NOT have ANY phone book! I was baffled by this and ultimately had to go find a phone book next door!

My advice to potential buyers is to be prepared – carry your phone book with you, but if you get to your venue and a phone book is available and you don’t mind doing so, by all means, prepare yourself in whatever fashion you like to use the venue’s phone book.

RATING: This was my first Bob Kohler purchase and was not my last by any means. This gets my highest recommendation. I’m almost sad to see it come back as I liked the fact I was performing something that many people wanted yet could not access.:) 10 out of 10.

REVIEW: Slomotion

Hello readers!

Whew, it’s been REALLY busy around here! I’m putting a few finishing touches on the formal ‘announcements’ regarding the pre-release specials for two of my newest books! I intended on having things ready two weeks ago but then that nasty virus hit my computer!

Mad props to my friend Paul Romhany for an outstanding issue of Vanish, the superb magic magazine – still can’t believe it’s free!

Also, an update on a recent review… I gave a strong review to Big Reaction by Andy Nyman, feeling the routine was just so strong. Well, I don’t do a ton of close-up anymore, but this weekend I had a gig doing strolling magic for high school students! If you’ve ever performed for teen audiences, you know they can be VERY discerning and your material must be rock solid. I’m pleased to report that after 10 or so performances, this product has now moved into my “A” list of close-up effects! It fried everyone I showed it to. It’s definitely on the short list of best products reviewed for 2012 at the end of the year!

On to this week’s review: Slomotion! It’s available for $49.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the ad copy:

It’s BACK!


There is no doubt about it; it was the biggest selling item in 2011. Then, the production completely sold out and it became unavailable. Not a day has gone by when we haven’t received numerous requests for this item. After working very closely with the manufacturer, we are happy to announce that SLOMOTION is BACK!

“I love this thing. Rarely, do I ever put a trick in my pocket to carry with me in the event of an “impromptu” performance. Now Slomotion is the only trick I have with me at all times.”
- John Mendoza

It’s another Hocus Pocus exclusive!

I am proud to announce that my good friend, Joe Litvinchuk, the owner of Phantom Magic, has chosen Hocus Pocus to be the EXCLUSIVE distributor for all Phantom Magic products.

His effect, Slomotion, is the cleanest version of Psychokinetic Energy we’ve ever seen! The performer uses a lifesaver and straw, both can be borrowed, and threads the lifesaver on the straw. Then, at the performers command, through apparent pyschokinetic energy, the lifesaver starts spinning. But, then the performer can stop the spinning at will and reverse the direction! When finished, the objects can be left behind, because everything is borrowed and completely examinable.

Perform using actual items found available in a live setting (coffee shop, bar, etc.) to confirm you are not using trick items; they are fully examinable. Spectators will not believe their eyes when they see this up close! Hands are shown empty before and after. This effect can be repeated immediately.

  • Perform wearing casual attire (no sleeves required)
  • No magnets, threads, or wires
  • All objects are borrowed
  • Instant reset; no set-up necessary
  • Perfect for close-up, walk around and street performers
  • You will perform immediately right out of the package
  • Easy to perform
  • No static electricity
  • Supplied with instructional DVD
  • Works automatically

    WHAT YOU GET: You receive the electronic gimmick, a wooden stir stick, a lifesaver, a carrying bag and DVD instructions.

    PRODUCT QUALITY: Thyis little bugger is certainly well-made, both the outer gimmick as well as the inner electronic part. When you see the ‘outer’ gimmick, you’ll think, “Oh, of course” and I can report that the outer gimmick, at least to me, felt like a slightly more pliable, higher-quality version of this gimmick. Good stuff.

    QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The DVD is short and to the point. The lighting is adequate, and the angles clear. You’ll have no problems performing this.  Also, the hand movements are entirely motivated and make sense, allowing you to show your hands empty with some nice displays. (Yes, the gimmick is hidden in plain site!)

    DIFFICULTY: As Paul Gross told me when I first inquired about this product early last year, you can practically do this out of the box, which is perhaps why I myself am having a bit of a mental hangup actually doing this!

    MY THOUGHTS: This works so easily that I haven’t actually performed this yet – I have that foolish “magicians’ guilt” thing going on as I constantly wonder if it will ‘fool’ people…which only goes to show you that even full-time pros have qualms about new material some time!

    Aside from my silly reservations, the only other issue with this is the noise – much discussion has been made of whether or not there is any noise. In the past, some people claimed there was quite a bit, others claimed it was silent. My unit was one of the newest from the 2012 re-release and there is a definite, low buzzing sound that if you are doing this one-on-one in a perfectly quiet room, your spectator will probably hear it…I know, because my wife did. She wasn’t sure if the noise was the candy rotating against the stick or not, so that was going for it.

    I would say that if you’re at a corporate function with conversations going around you or at a party of any kind, there’s no way anyone will hear anything.

    I’ve been wanting to add one of the ‘PK’ effects of this type to my close-up set list and debated literally for the last year which to buy and I’m very satisfied with my purchase…now I just need to get out and PERFORM it!

    RATING: In some ways, I’m know I’m very late to the party as this sucker has been an extremely hot seller, but as I only add something to my close-up set once every few years on average, I just didn’t need anything…that being said, I think this is just terrific. I’m going to give it a rock-solid 8.5, only shaving a little off my score for the slight noise issue.