Any deck of playing cards are magic cards and if there is one thing we love it is cards.
In the 12 decades we’ve been performing, we have always used cards. For the first part of our career, when we were young and impetuous (assuming impetuous means what we think it means), and we are reluctant to admit this but know we are among friends, we even used bridge dimensioned decks with borders and kitties. We don’t mean that the cards had borders or kitties necessarily but that we would perform tricks for animals and residents at our mother’s boarding house in the little town that would one day become Mystic Hollow.
As the Apostle Paul said not about playing cards, “we have put aside childish things.”
On March 15, 1972, we switched to one brand and size and quality. We made the move to Bee Playing Cards made by the U.S. Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. At that time, we only knew of Bee deck in the larger “Poker” size and dimension. They were larger in width and height than the childish “Bridge” deck we had been using. The also lacked a border. The beautiful diamond pattern ran up to and past the edges of the card’s back. Yes, they were a devil to mark (or to read the markings later) but they were so smooth, so wonderful. We found that our lifelong struggle with dealing seconds seemed to ease. No border and smooth with great, long-lasting cardstock made for a perfect deck.
First published in 2018 but still accurate. Matt is amazing.
How is magician Matt Vizio different than other magicians?
We watched him tonight at the Peller Theatre at the Magic Castle and sensed something was different than others we had seen in the same venue over the years. Somehow, he was different, better than those we have seen before.
We learned more about what made him different after the show when we discovered the front row consisted of people who did not speak English all that well. Actually, it appeared they did not speak English beyond a few polite phrases.
Mr. Vizio is an accomplished magician and stand-up comedian and one of those two talent sets require the ability to communicate effectively with the audience generally and with the volunteers specifically. So what would he do? How do you do a Confabulation routine if your volunteer doesn’t speak the language of the routine?
If it had been us, we would have just plowed along hoping to get some words we could use. But then again, we are not Mr. Vizio.
He was able to change his act immediately and present a parlor show using volunteers from the audience (2 out of 3) who didn’t use English as a primary language. He did it with class and kindness and though he knew they could not understand him, he performed with them as perfect partners in a very entertaining act.
It was an act different in content than what he had planned but no one noticed. Not even our trained eyes saw that he was changing his presentation to meet the situation.
We supposed that all true professionals of our Art could do the same. But the fact that we have seen it so rarely happen demonstrated how few true professionals there are in our Art.
We have seen alleged professionals lose their temper, curse, and call the audience volunteer a liar as a trick goes wrong. And these performers are the putative top of our pack.
But Mr. Vizio didn’t need to attack the volunteers. He worked with them, silently when necessary, to perform effects he thought or hoped might work in that situation. And last night, at one particular show, he was correct. It is a small sample size – one show – but we bet he would succeed in a similar situation virtually every time. He is focused, polite and clearly involved with his audience.
Mr. Vizio is professional to the core, never embarrassing his volunteers specifically or the audience generally, but always ready to craft the show to meet the audience on their terms.
We could talk about the tricks he performed but they may be different from those you see when you visit the Peller Theatre this week. The magic you will see is all Mr. Vizio.
Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five. Our Highest.
This will seem like more like an endorsement than Magic News. And it is an endorsement but not paid or even asked for by Jay Sankey.
Mr. Sankey has released, by our last count, a billion or more effects on the market and has very effective email and Twitter campaigns. It could be that he also is in Instasnap, Facegroup or the other sites the kids use to share important selfies and ponderings about their selfies but we don’t have accounts on those services because we are very old – at least over 24 – and so are, as the kids say, “not down with them.”
We could have written this endorsement and fanboy tract at any time but we were struck by the beauty of a force taught for free by Mr. Sankey last night. You can see it for yourself here. We had never considered the very simple move taught but will now use it frequently.
The force taught is like most of the things offered by Mr. Sankey: easy to perform, effective and highly commercial. We know he lectures like no other from our personal attendance at several of his teaching sessions over the years. His prices are fair; maybe even a little low for the volume of effects and moves you receive. His instructions are clear; even we can understand and use them with relatively little practice time. Keep in mind that it took us 30 years to learn how to effectively perform a push-off second deal and we still cannot perform a pressure fan – much to our embarrassment and shame amongst the professionals with whom we associate.
If you haven’t heard of Mr. Sankey, it could be that you are new to magic or don’t have friends in magic or have never used the internet to look up “magic.” That doesn’t make you a bad person – there may be other things that could be the basis for such an accusation about your character. Perhaps you cut in line, make questionably shaped balloon animals for your own private enjoyment, or copy DVDs purchased by others. But we assume readers of Inside Magic are good people. The kind who would never do such things. We also assume readers of Inside Magic understand we often stray from our main topic and do not have our text properly reviewed by a team of editors to remove such strayings. For instance, we don’t even thing “strayings” is a word but our editor quit over a wage dispute. She wanted to be paid for her work and would not accept our promise to pay when we sold the insidemagic.com domain.
Anyway, back to Mr. Sankey. We have attended lectures where he spent extra time to help the slow among the audience – primarily us – to learn his effects even though the tricks were not ones he was selling. He just did it because … well, we don’t know why. Perhaps he likes to teach magic. As a community, magicians are fortunate that this is his motive. He does it well and often.
You can check out his site here. You can learn the force we mentioned by going here.
Mr. Sankey didn’t ask us to write this and certainly didn’t pay us – otherwise we would still have our editor.
We first met Nick Lewin through Pop Haydn when Mr. Lewin was performing on the same bill with Mr. Haydn. To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect. Mr. Lewin took the stage with a befuddled look on his face and seemed to be overly relaxed in his approach to the magic. Yet, he blew us away.
His Slow Motion Torn and Restored Newspaper was a thing of beauty, his Linking Finger Ring was a thing of beauty as well but also a thing of mystery. We know or thought we knew how the routine should be done to achieve the effect but Mr. Lewin was doing something slightly different and yet achieving the same effect plus.
Since that experience, we have seen Mr. Lewin perform in various locals and he is the same. Always smiling, slightly befuddled, easy-going, and amazing. He has the classics of magic finely tuned from years of practice and actual performances in his hands and is in no rush to perform them.
He is not being chased and so there is no need to run. His jokes and humorous approach to the effects do not overwhelm or take away from the magic, they fit in the routines because there is time for them to fit. He is going to amaze and there is no reason to rush to what will be a wonderful conclusion – he is a friend of the audience and we are all looking at it together.
We have bought several of Mr. Lewin’s routines and we will have reviews in the future but we received one just the other day that seemed perfect for our act – at least according to the advertisement. The Ultimate Color Changing Deck is an effect that would be the right ending for our card routine as performed in the basement of the Magic Castle. We currently end with the emotional equivalent of “Yeah, that’s about it. No need to stick around, there ain’t no more. Skat! Get!”
We order the effect and received delivery within a very few days. We watched his DVD, checked out the props and smiled with the gleeful look of a very satisfied magician or someone in need of further attention by trained professionals. It would work, it would work really good. (When we become gleeful, annoyingly gleeful (“AG”), we lose our ability to think in proper English. The effect could even be transferred to our pet deck and we already could do the relatively easy sleights to accomplish the apparently impossible.
There are other color changing decks on the market. Some of them might be good. We have seen many of them in person either being performed or explained in lectures but none of them come up to this standard. Mr. Lewin credits Ken Brooke for the idea and effect and even provides an interlude that may or may not fit your style. The last sentence makes sense once you receive and review the effect.
The cost for the pre-release is $65.00 and it is well-worth it. This is a color changing deck that will really work in real situations for real magicians in front of real audiences and leave them really amazed.
Arthur Trace is an Inside Magic Favorite Magician from our hometown of Chicago. That should be enough for this article: a complete endorsement of Mr. Trace and description of his background as well as his particular talent. But we feel something stirring deep in our soul to share more about him and his upcoming one-man show in Venice, California.
Mr. Trace, as our social media team wrote last night on Twitter (@insidemagic), is to “magic what magic is to life.” It is so true. His magic transcends tricks or even sophisticated manipulation – both of which are contained in his act. To watch Mr. Trace perform is similar to watching a tightrope walker. As a magician, we worry about other magicians when they perform magic requiring incredible skills – we don’t want them to fail or fall. We have seen Mr. Trace walk that taut wire many times and he has never fallen to the magic equivalent of a horrible true finale. He does not even come close. His skill set is so highly developed that there is no risk of failure; only entertainment and complete entertainment at that.
He is a delightful person and deserving of the fame he has received and continues to receive. It says quite a lot about someone who is beloved by the public viewers of an act as well as his fellow performers with whom he spends times between shows.
If you are in Southern California or can get here by September 15th, do make reservations to see a true Magic Genius at the cozy Electric Lodge Theater.
Mr. Trace’s advertisement provides some clues as to what you will experience:
What would you do if you could stop time? Arthur will show you what he would do, and the outcome is funny and surprising.
An “invisible bee” that’s brought to life
Arthur will transform a piece of rope into a magical violin.
A long-distance call via a tin-can phone – the result is unexpected.
An interactive painting that is transformed through sleight of hand.
Mr. Trace is only the eighth magician in the history of magic to be awarded The International Brotherhood of Magicians Gold Medal and has appeared on Masters of Illusion and Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
Tickets are limited and priced well below what we would pay to see this 70-minute show – and we are notoriously cheap. General Admission is $40.00 and tickets to the Front Row are $55.00.
Magician and Comedian Mac King puts on a fantastic show at Harrah’s Casino every afternoon. We hadn’t had the opportunity to see him in his theater in many years. His environs have changed dramatically. He now performs in a beautiful showroom with plenty of seats, drink service, a wonderful stage and adoring fans. A far cry from his considerably smaller stage and audience area back when we saw him last. It is nice to see talent rewarded – especially in a town that eats its stars to clear space for the next act hoping to hold a room against the considerable economic forces that must drive the rapacious need to purge and procure talent.
Mr. King was on his A-game when we saw him from our perfectly adequate general admission seats. It doesn’t seem there could be a bad seat in the house. The sightlines all looked great and sound and light work was perfect. He moves effortlessly with what the crowd gives him. Sure, at this point in his career, he has likely seen just about every audience response and has pat responses for the interaction – but it didn’t seem to be rehashed from prior shows but spontaneous and genuine.
For example, he invited a woman to participate in a card effect and asked her to take a card from the deck and sign it so it could be identified later. She did exactly as instructed but wrote her name on the back of the card not the face. Whether he has confronted this type of audience confusion before, he worked the comic opportunity to its fullest extent. She ultimately selected a card and signed it on its face. He performed his miracle and she returned to her seat. She wasn’t embarrassed or shamed – he allowed her to be part of the fun. He even pointed out that the situation was likely his fault as he did not tell her to sign the face of the card. He then did two or three call backs to the situation throughout the remainder of his act.
We were with our family – and it is a perfect family show with nothing to embarrass fans of any age – and they were impressed by the magic performed as much as we were. Magicians watching other magicians can be a cynical lot. We have seen or maybe even performed most of the tricks before. We watch for the twist or the performance decisions magicians make whilst performing standards.
Yet, with Mr. King we were impressed by his originality and the degree of difficulty of the tricks performed. He could have made his job much easier with readily available gimmicks or short-cuts but for some reason – some very good reason for which we are indebted to him – he chose to do rather difficult sleights in do-or-die moments. We have great pride in our Classic Force, but if it was absolutely essential to hit it perfectly with an audience volunteer, we would choose some alternative. Even a two-way deck would be too risky for us in such a situation.
Mr. King performed without a net and the audience would never realize how difficult he was making it for himself. From the opening Cut and Restored Rope through the very last effect, he showed his mastery of the knuckle-busting sleights that we would not dare to perform even for loved ones who would forgive our failures. Likely, that is why he is the oft-voted best afternoon show of Las Vegas and receives such thunderous applause twice an afternoon in his wonderfully upgraded digs.
If you happen to be in Las Vegas and want to see one magic show, do not foolishly choose to miss Mac King’s afternoon performance in favor of the glitzy here-today-gone-tomorrow acts. Mr. King’s dedication to magic and entertaining audiences has been rewarded by longevity and repeat fans of families of many generations. As we said, it is nice to see talent rewarded and it is just nice to see real talent exhibited.
Inside Magic Review: Five out Five – Our Highest Recommendation.
Unlike eating an entire pint of ice cream whilst binge watching previously unseen How It’s Made episodes, we are not left feeling too guilty or dotted with chocolate stains when we watch the master perform.
Recently we attended a private party at The Magic Castle and saw the incredible Pop Haydn own the crowds gathered in the Peller Theatre for four performances. We legitimately attended the first show of the evening and then snuck in again for a later show. It was wonderful.
Pop f/k/a Whit Haydn works a room better than anyone we have ever seen. He interacts with the audience effortlessly and handles volunteers so well that each outing was like a lesson in advanced magic techniques.
He performed his iconic The Six Card Trick, Color Changing Silk, Mongolian Pop Knot and finished with his world-famous Four Ring Routine.
Magicians know that Pop has been performing these effects for many years but he brought each alive for his enthusiastic lay crowds last night as if it was the first time. He has a tremendous ability to take what the audience gives him and work it to the further betterment of his routine. He never drops his character or varies from the spirit of his persona.
We checked with our friends who attended the shows last night and to a one, each thought Pop was absolutely incredible, the highlight of the evening. That is saying a lot considering they had the entire Magic Castle filled with performers with whom to compare.
If we could have, we would have watched all four of his performances. Some would say that is obsessive and they would usually be correct but not in this case. Unlike fattening ice cream, excessive watching of Pop Haydn cannot clog one’s arteries, stain clothing or rot teeth. It can lead to bewilderment and disorientation but we are willing to take those risks for the benefits received.
Inside Magic Review: Five Out of Five – Our Highest!
He has, as they say in the NBA, skills. He has moves so amazing that you don’t even see them or know that they have happened. Like neutrinos, his moves are evident only by the change they cause to other visible things.
We watched him perform in the Parlor of Prestidigitation last night at The Magic Castle and reacted like a cartoon character as we rub our eyes and mouthed the word “what?!” His act is a tightly structured presentation of incredible things happening in the general vicinity of his hands. His hands do not seem to take on any unnatural positioning as balls vanish, reappear, change color and transform into impossible things. His hands and fingers move as they would if such things were happening by magic alone, unaided by any secret manipulation.
His approach to the magic happening is a joy to watch.
We love magic and we really love great magic that we cannot begin to figure out. We do not want to know how it is done and Mr. Park accommodates our desires wonderfully.
We love David Copperfield but loathe magicians – young and old – who do their version of Mr. Copperfield’s act.
Some just borrow his music, patter or effects and put some of their own spin into the mix. Others steal the music, patter and effects and add nothing.
We have seen Origami and Twister performed across the country – often to the identical music used by Mr. Copperfield. No matter how good the imitators are, they are still not the real thing. Sometimes they are interesting to watch and other times they are annoying or sad.
We saw Alex Ramon and his lovely assistant Megan Doyle take the Palace of Mystery stage at The Magic Castle Monday night and were surprised and delighted. We assumed the worst, though.
Here is a young illusionist with a good reputation within the magic community. We knew of him but had never seen him. We hoped he would not be a David Copperfield Knock-Off guy. Or, if he was going to knock off Mr. Copperfield, he would do so in a unique way.
Our fears were unfounded. Mr. Ramon and Ms. Doyle are their own people and they have put out a show that is thoroughly their own.
They are a wonderful team and work so well together. Ms. Doyle is not merely a prop but appears to be a full partner in the act. Mr. Ramon’s energy and enthusiasm is evident from the opening levitation, through his card manipulation routine, audience participation bit and big finale. The audience – a good mix of lay and magic folks – loved it.
For the magicians in the audience, Mr. Ramon offered a set of illusions that were certainly not the common Copperfield Knock-Off fare. His opening levitation was tight and powerful and featured several mini-crescendos along the way to the big pay-off. His sawing a woman in half was done without boxes (thin or otherwise) under seemingly impossible conditions. Ms. Doyle was curled within a small metal cage assembled around her tiny frame before a sinister blade was brought down through her. Amazing stuff.
Mr. Ramon stepped way out of the realm of typical with his presentation of a vanishing light bulb. The routine was perfectly scripted and wonderfully done. Magicians and magic history students should see Mr. Ramon perform if only for this one effect. Great principle performed perfectly.
There are times when David Copperfield imitators will end their routine with the question, “Would you like to see one more?” and we think – but do not say out loud because that would be rude and weird and we assume the question is rhetorical – “no, thank you.”
Mr. Ramon asked the question before his sub-trunk finale and we wanted to respond verbally, “heck yes, thank you, please!” But we didn’t because that would still be weird – although not rude.
We had not seen Mr. Ramon perform before but will return to The Magic Castle at least two more times this week to enjoy the show again. It was that good.
Inside Magic Review: Five out of Five – Our Highest!
Yesterday, we attended the 7th Annual Magic Apple Day of Lectures at the beautiful Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, California. This is our second year and came away – as we did last year – magically enriched and tired but a good kind of tired.
Mike Caveney took the first spot and presented his lecture on how he develops new effects. He took the 50 magicians in attendance through the development of his Gypsy Thread using toilet paper. We do not know if this is the proper name for the effect but you get the point. Like the Gypsy Thread, the magician separates a length of toilet paper into convenient squares, hands them to members of the audience to prove they are both truly separate and ordinary. They are gathered and then in a straightforward manner, Mr. Caveney restores the length to their former glorious ribbon of two-ply unity.
He took us from the moment inspiration hit – more than 30 years ago and not in a restroom – through the five versions he developed to perform this wonderful piece of theater. It was a great chance to view the working of a magic genius.
Mr. Caveney showed his incredible impromptu linking coat hangers effect and explained the thinking behind his presentation and its development from years or demonstrating it for magicians at conventions around the world. We loved the simplicity of the solution.
We could watch Mr. Caveney all day. But it was time for lunch – part of the Day of Lectures package – and a fine lunch it was. We dined on fresh turkey sandwiches, fresh fruit and a fresh Diet Coke overlooking the sun-drenched pool just outside the lecture hall. We remembered to remove the decorative toothpick before eating the sandwich this year – demonstrating that pain can be an excellent teacher.
Next up was a magician we had never seen perform. That does not make him bad – we haven’t seen many magicians but sometimes, especially after we have eaten and relaxed poolside in a glamorous Los Angeles area, we want comfort. We want to see familiar things. In that way, we are very much like Winnie the Pooh. Different isn’t always bad but when we are dopey from good food and the sun, it can be annoying.
Paul Vigil caught us off guard. His presentation is so direct and so unique that we got suckered into believing him. We do that too often for our own taste. It turns out he lacks any real magical power, cannot predict the future, read minds or rob innocent victims of their ability to exercise free will. It turned out, we learned, he was performing tricks. Using subterfuges and, perhaps ordinary fuges, he was making his miracles look like real magic.
We have not been this fooled since we saw Derek Hughes perform at the Peller Theater at The Magic Castle. Our mind was reeling as we wrote feverishly on the convenient note pad using the free Sportsman’s Lodge pen. We felt our forehead to see if we had a real fever and then we felt the foreheads of those around us – not to compare our body temperature but just to affirm their personhood through prayerful touching (or something like that).
As we looked up from our slobbering, stooped-over position halfway through Mr. Vigil’s lecture, whom did we notice was sitting right in front of us?
Yes, Mr. Hughes.
It was like a David Lynch version of our life. We began to think the mayonnaise we used on our turkey sandwich (graciously provided by the Magic Apple) had turned and was now causing us to lose touch with reality. However, it turned out the mayonnaise was fine, reality remained intact and we were just on the verge of learning effects we had never before considered. Change, usually bad, was actually becoming good – which was a change in itself.
Mr. Vigil’s Sympathetic Cards was outstanding and even though he explained it with patience and professionalism, we did not believe him.
He told us things that could not be true. How could someone mix up the order of a deck of cards and have them spontaneously return to a preset order? We were relieved to see that even Mr. Hughes appeared to disbelieve the claims.
We tried the effect during a later break and it turns out Mr. Vigil was not lying. Even though it looks impossible, the effect can be done using his method. Amazing. Absolutely Amazing. The impact on our little cranium was as dramatic as when we first learned Paul Curry’s Out of this World, The Hofzinser’s Cull or that (spoiler alert!) Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus are the same person.
We will bring a lobster bib the next time we watch Mr. Vigil perform or lecture. Because we were chewing blueberry gum, our slobber ruined one of our favorite dress shirts and there is likely no chance we will again happen upon the exclusive men’s store/fireworks stand from whom we purchased it, some Slim Jims and a pack of Black Cat M-80s.
Last up was Helder Guimaraes‘ lecture. It was not a lecture about tricks per se but more about the theory of magic and presentation. Along the way, Mr. Guimaraes demonstrated a couple of killer effects but only to explain his approach to our art. He has incredible skills and is an accomplished performer – including a FISM win – and yet a very approachable and effective teacher.
Unlike virtually every lecture we have attended ever since we started magic in the late 1920s, there were very few things offered for sale. No over-priced lecture notes, gimmicked cards, one-trick DVDs, CD-ROMs of PDFs of magazine articles or gaffed coins. Only Mr. Caveney had anything to sell after his lecture and that was hardly a collection of typical lecture fare. He had his outstanding Wonders book set and other volumes featuring some of the best magic writing available today.
It was disorienting to not have the last 20 minutes of each lecture consist of a recap of what can be bought and at what discount. Perhaps that was why we walked away feeling magically enriched and wonderfully tired.
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