Monthly archives for February, 2014

REVIEW: Levitation Impossible by Steve Fearson

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post but it’s been crazy-busy…aside from my performing career, I’m also seeing 12-15 clients a week in my hypnosis clinic so things are essentially a blur most of the time in my life!

This week I want to take a good look at a product that has been lighting up the internet for quite some time…it’s “Levitation Impossible” by Steve Fearson. It’s available for $29.95 from emagicsupply.com.

EFFECT: Basically, a crumpled up dollar bill levitates up and down and even SPINS in an upside down wineglass. The dollar and glass can be borrowed.

ANGLES: Surprisingly good for this type of effect. There is a “basic” and “advanced” version, and if you’re on stage and your lighting conditions are good, you can pull off either version quite well. If lighting conditions are not in your favor, you can switch to the basic version only.

HANDLING: I will confess that I have not started working on this just yet although from my initial viewings of the online tutorial, this will take a little work to really do it justice but nothing that’s going to take years to master. I’d say…basic handling a 3 out of 10 and the advanced handling 5 out of 10. Bear in mind those are just my initial impressions as I have not actually started working with this yet.

MY THOUGHTS: Unfortunately I cannot tip what you receive in the physical package that’s mailed to you without revealing the method. Regardless, rest assured that the methodology is sound and very unique as well as being wonderfully low tech.

I will admit that while watching the demo video 20-30 times (like most of you!) I simply could not figure this out and while it’s great to be amazed (I do cherish that feeling after watching a GOOD performance) when debating whether or not to buy something it is worrisome because so much of magic these days feels like it’s aimed at those folks still infatuated with “street magic” and thus is not often practical for real-world pros like myself.

Happily, I believe this is a “worker.” Steve Fearson of course has a solid reputation in the industry and this being his baby is what finally convinced me to take the plunge.

While this is obviously designed for close up presentations – tableside, not really “strolling” to groups of people standing – I think it would play well for parlor. Get a big enough wine glass, one that can really show the up & down levitation, and I think it would work. Additionally, I think this works even BETTER for parlor because most close up situations in the real world would involve the hustle-bustle of restaurant work or corporate cocktail hour events.

The “get ready” of doing the effect with a borrowed bill is by far the most challenging part of the routine…not because it’s knuckle-busting difficult but merely because it’s take a few seconds of work and if one is a true entertainer, then you must tell a story or otherwise ENTERTAIN the audience during the prep work for this step.

A few thoughts on the Basic & Advanced Handling differences…

I’m really torn because the Advanced Handling looks really terrific and though the Advanced Handling does indeed use what most of you reading this might suspect, it is not the “main” gimmick and the fact that the bill PK movement is happening under the glass seems to negate any use of this traditional method completely…however, the “get ready” for the advanced handling, and in particular one move, looks so unbelievably unnatural and hokey that it’s almost enough to make me run from the Advanced Handling completely. That’s for you to decide.

As far as the Basic Handling goes, it too looks really fantastic except for what may look to spectators as a completely unnecessary full body turn on the part of Fearson…as I start working with this effect I will see if I can eliminate that body turn. Incidentally, this body turn happens during the best part of the effect – as the bill is rotating inside the upside down glass. The body turn is done to help mask certain necessary movements but to me it kind of kills the beautiful rotation.

END THOUGHTS: All in all, I think this release has potential. I’ll give it a solid 8 out of 10.

A New Look…Again!

Hello everyone,

 

Just a quick update today as I have had my blog moved off of Blogger to my actual Professional Magic Products website. Long story short, I wanted everything (blog included) to be under the same umbrella as my website.

Even though this is a new look, all of the old posts (mostly reviews) from the past 3+ years are still there for your reading pleasure!

More great content coming soon!

Trick Review: Cue The Magic by Angelo Carbone

I’m back with another trick review!

This time it’s Cue The Magic by Angelo Carbone. It’s available from many dealers online.

EFFECT: A spectator is invited onstage to become a magician. The performer assures the volunteer that a series of cue cards will make becoming a master magician easy and fun. The spectator, with urging from the performer, reads the cue cards in succession, selects a spectator, and after a lot of laughs, shows that he predicted what card the spectator would select in dramatic fashion.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive a full set of cue cards with alternate cards available, based on whether you are doing a day or night show, adult or family show, and other details. You also receive a few pages of written instructions and cards and gimmicks to accomplish the trick.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one of the most commercial tricks I’ve seen in years. What I mean by that is that this is a “worker.” The secret is simple, elegant, and in terms of physical handling very easy. I grasped the handling in a day, but continued practicing for a few weeks before launching the routine. I’m pleased to say that the responses have been fantastic.

First, the routine is very funny, provided you are quick on your feet and can do a halfway decent job of adlibbing to the humor opportunities that come your way. I feel the best part of this routine is the by-play between you and the spectator. To paraphrase Eugene Burger, it’s the journey that makes this such a fun routine. While the revelation is great and plays well (I receive gasps when the selected card is revealed), the fact is that the audience most enjoys the humor leading to the revelation.

As far as the quality of the cards go, with care they will last a long time. Additionally, the cards are shipped in a sturdy plastic envelope that will help protect your props.

The selection of the card by the spectator is 100% free choice – any card can be selected, which means there is no fishing, forcing, dual reality, or anything like that. No restrictions, so it really does seem impossible.

The angles on this are also very good. As long as no one can see directly behind you, you’re covered. If audience members are off to your sides, you can hold the props closer to your body and you’ll be in good shape.

Another good feature of this routine is that there is no set up. You take the cards out of the travel case and perform. It’s that easy. In fact, recently a magic friend of mine came to my office to visit and wanted to see this routine. I picked up the props and did it immediately as he stood about 4 feet away from me. He was blown away and had no idea how it was done.

Resetting is also a breeze, just a few seconds and you’re ready for another performance which is a great feature for cruise ship or family performers who may do several shows a day.

Finally, another thing I really appreciate about this routine is the fact that this is not a quick 30 second trick but a 5 minute full developed routine. In terms of stage work, having a pack flat, play big routine is great that also takes some time and allows you the performer a chance to flex your humor muscles.

FINAL RATING: This gets an easy 10 out of 10 from me. This is a stage worker’s dream as it’s very commercial, funny, adaptable for different markets, can be done in the living room or stage, is easy in terms of technique, and burns up some time. It’s an almost perfect routine for nearly any market. Highly recommended.

Trick Review: MIB by Scott Alexander & Puck

Hello all,

I apologize for the delay in getting this review done, but between vacation, hypnosis clients, performing, and a bad case of the flu, I’ve been pretty busy.

As promised, I’m tackling MIB by Scott Alexander & Puck. It’s a take-off on the classic Confabulation plot. It’s available directly from both creators as well as www.hocus-pocus.com.

EFFECT: The performer gives an audience member a sealed glass bottle to hold. A rolled up paper can be clearly seen inside. Then, the performer asks the audience for suggestions for a plot of some type – a “dream vacation” is very popular. Questions pertaining to location, guests, activities and other details are solicited. The performer can be seen jotting down the answers on a whiteboard.

After enough questions are answered, the bottle in placed into an empty paper bag and broken with a hammer by the performer. Using a pair of tongs, to avoid touching the broken glass, the rolled paper is pulled out of the bag. The spectator holds one end of the paper as the performer unrolls it to close to 11 feet across the stage. The answers given are clearly seen woven through the story told on the rolled paper.

WHAT YOU GET: You receive the high-tech whiteboard, a supply of rolled paper, batteries, paper bags, tongs, a training DVD and a few other goodies.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a true revelation and THE most significant advance in the Confabulation plot since the classic prediction chest, with one of the most popular versions being the Malloy Chest. The downside of the Malloy chest, despite the prediction being written large enough to be clearly seen by big audiences, was that you needed an offstage assistant.

Other handlings of this plot were designed for one man applications, but the tradeoff was the fact that the writing was small, only visible for the one spectator who was viewing it onstage with the performer.

MIB is both one-man and written in large letters so the entire audience can read the prediction. Additionally, the predicted answers are all woven through the narrative. This is significant because most one man versions had all of the predicted answers bunched up in one corner of the prediction paper. By having the answers spread out through the body of the prediction, everything appears both organic and natural as well as more mystifying.

That alone would be enough to warrant a ‘hit’ with MIB, but other features really make this a winner. First, the angles are very forgiving and as long as no one is directly behind you you’ll be safe. Secondly, despite this being an electronic prop, it is very quiet in operation. While it is recommended that you play music during the ‘selection’ phases to cover the noise, the volume of music required is not very high. Case in point: I recently performed this effect for a small group of 8 people who were VERY close. MIB is not really recommended for groups that small, but due to a miscommunication between  myself and the client, I was kind of stuck, but everything worked out just fine.

The investment price is around half of that of the Malloy prediction chest so I cannot imagine why anyone would not invest in this if they have the budget to consider the Malloy version.

INSTRUCTION: Puck & Scott Alexander have reputations for delivering quality material and explaining things very clearly and MIB is no exception. After viewing the 60 minute DVD, I was ready to go. After a couple of weeks of rehearsal I felt very confident incorporating this into my act and have never looked back.

ELECTRONICS NOTE: I recently found out that the electronics are built by Nick Wenger, who has a stellar reputation for putting out quality material. I own a bunch of other props by Nick and everything he builds is top notch.

FINAL RATING: This is an easy 10 out of 10 by me. I’ve been chasing the perfect one man stage Confab routine in which the whole audience can see the written prediction very clearly and this succeeds in all levels. My search is over and I can’t recommend this any higher.