We have shared with so many in our wonderful magic community the passing of leaders and friends and role models and inspirations.
The passing of Bev Bergeron, his wife and Mark Wilson hit us so hard. These are people were knew and loved in TV (in the case of Mark Wilson) and live at the Diamond Horseshoe Review at Disney World and our first magic convention in Winter Park, Florida.
All were devoted to entertainment and encouraged our arts their entire lives. All will be missed for such a long time.
We are so blessed to have met and been encouraged by them. Truly a gift. May their memories be a blessing.
Bob White’s Torn and Restored Tissue DVD deserves a place in your magic collection.
Chances are every magician reading this esteemed news source is familiar with the Torn and Restored Tissue and has undoubtedly performed it often. It may have even been the first trick you learned. So why would you want to purchase a DVD from 2015 that features just one effect and that effect being one you already know and have performed?
Because it is a fantastic DVD and will stir joy in your 2020 scarred heart.
Mr. White provides a fantastically detailed preparation portion of the DVD. He is detailed and shares his decades of experience with the effect. He gets all the way down to the ply of napkins to use, the color of those napkins (it depends on whether you are performing close-up or parlor), and the grain patterns to detect.
His performance evidences years of perfecting the routine. We are not ashamed to admit that he fooled us at one point. We love being fooled so there is no shame but we get ashamed easily so we thought we would clarify that point.
He takes time to talk and show viewers the incredibly well thought out movements and patter that works so well and seems so fresh. He admits that he has been performing the effect since he was 19 and at the time of the filming, he was 65.
The last portion of the DVD is Mr. White performing the effect live before a real audience. The reaction is great and the performance is as smooth as butter (warm).
If you do the effect, get this DVD. If you have never done the effect because you think it is too simple or too well-known, get this DVD. If you want to see how a professional treats a classic of our art to make a wonderful closing piece, get this DVD. Basically, get this DVD and enjoy the wonderful feeling of your heart filling with peace and joy.
Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five! Our Highest.
Editor’s note: With the pandemic causing dramatic changes in our Art, we thought we would republish some of our reviews from a while back. Here is one from September 19th, 1907. Inside Magic was just a pamphlet then and published in limited quantities (and qualities).
The hottest trick on the market is the new Imp Bottle effect. It is the rave of all the magicians in the know that we know. It has received oodles of praise in the magic press and greats such as Houdini, Kellar and Thurston have testified to its endearing qualities and profound affect on audiences. Just how good is it? Inside Magic’s review follows but the skinny is that it is the genuine article, the cat’s meow and how.
Effect: You show a cute little vase made from a high quality wood and finished with a brilliant sheen. It stands erect on the table or in the magi’s hand. You explain that this bottle contains an “imp” that can be mischievous at times if not assuaged with praise. If the imp is pleased, he will allow the vase to lie down with its top touching the table. If, however, the imp feels frightened or insulted, he will refuse to allow the bottle to be set in such a configuration.
You demonstrate what you have explained by praising the imp and comforting it with soothing talk. You then set the vase on its side and it remains in that position until you take it back up.
You now ask one of your many spectators to hold the vase and try to set it on its side. Despite the volunteer’s kind words and good intentions, the imp in the bottle refuses to recline. The vase remains standing straight up. It is quite a mystery.
Review: We received the effect from a magic supply house for the purposes of this review but that shouldn’t bias our assessment. We have to give it back when we are done with it.
This one is a real fooler. The effect as described above is exactly what your audience sees. You can play up the story of the “imp” with gusto and ad libs aplenty because the effect is almost a self-working one. When we performed this for an audience recently, we gave a story about how the imp was entrapped in the bottle by a mean sorcerer who was jealous of the imp and his charming ways. Perhaps the story went on too long because the audience dwindled to a single member and we presume he remained only because we set the imp bottle in his hand as we provided our patter. Nonetheless, he was suitably impressed when he found that despite his kind words and magic flourishes provided by his free hand, he could not make the imp comply with his instructions. No matter what he tried, the bottle would not remain on its side.
We felt badly for those in the audience that left before this pay-off because it was a real hum-dinger!
In the future, we will limit the time allotted for our story about the imp to no more than five minutes. We started losing audience members around the ten minute mark and so five minutes ought to provide just the right amount of backstory to build up the astounding final effect.
If you are a close-up magician, this is a trick you should have in your waist coat or vest pocket no matter the situation. It is the perfect combination of “easy to do” and “great to see.”
For those of us who do stage shows, it may be possible to build this into a very large bottle with a real imp but we haven’t worked out the plans for such an illusion.
We mentioned on our magic oriented Twitter channel that the pandemic lockdown is both benefiting our practice of magic and seriously hurting our enjoyment of the Art.
We have had time to read, practice, watch videos, shop and practice. We practice a lot. We now have dealing seconds down better than we have ever hoped. We can push-off and strike the deal in alternating deals. We can one-hand deal seconds from the bottom of the deck. We can palm just about anything and are even trying to master a Matrix routine by following the videos of Shoot Ogawa san. (@shootogawa) Don’t get us wrong. We are no where close to his mastery. His level of mastery and our level of mastery are like a brick layer and a fine sculptor. We just want to get to the point where we can not make noise, show things and not hit our hands as we cross positions. Ogawa san is at the level where the magic takes place and there is no explanation for how things could possibly be accomplished.
We’ve read through The Expert at the Card Table and watched the Ackerman videos taking us through the sleights a couple of times now. As with our first encounter with the bible of card magic, we skip certain effects that we see as beyond our abilities but work on the ones that are just barely beyond what we think we can master. We are currently working with the Mexican Turn-Over. Once we get that down, life will be good.
But will it be good? We have no audience for whom to perform. It is worse than an empty theater. Our poor family is trapped into watching us endlessly dealing seconds, attempting bottom deals and responding to our questions, “How did that look?”
The Magic Castle was our favorite location because it allowed us to meet and mingle with the true pros in our Art, see great shows and to perform downstairs in the amateur rooms. Sometimes the rooms would get packed, sometimes there would be only a few folks. But at least it was an audience.
We have thought of Zoom shows and admire those who have taken to this publication method. We watch the acts (usually a single effect) and see inspired and accomplished performers as well as performers on their way up — still in need of additional practice but really making a great effort.
When all of this over and we have a chance to reflect on what positives we can take from the experience, we know it will be the time we would not have normally had to practice and learn as well as our immense appreciation for real live audiences.
This isn’t news but it does qualify as current events.
One of the many inconveniences of the current state of disease and our reaction to disease seems minimal compared with the devastating impact of the pandemic. But for those of us who perform for our income or even for enjoyment, the lack of access to a real-live audience is tough. It is not tough enough to seek opportunities to violate good public safety guidelines, but it is tough enough to make us miss the days of performing downstairs at the Magic Castle. We can imagine it is even worse for those of our profession who depend on appearance fees and meal allowances for their work at the greatest platform for our art we know.
We looked back at the way performers handled the lockdowns in the 1918 Spanish Flu. We should have guessed that John Cox would have covered Houdini’s involvement with the flu on his wonderful website, Wild About Harry. Link here.
Houdini actually contracted the flu but apparently was of sufficient strength or granted sufficient protection to survive the flu in 1918. Interestingly, that flu attacked those who were young, healthy and strong. It forced the immune system – usually stronger in young – to cause the immune system to over-react and kill the infected. John quotes information from a David Ben book that points out Houdini was at the time of the flu “middle aged” and thus part of a population that was actually safer from the flu.
We checked the medical journals reviewing entertainment’s response to the flu.
In an article titled “Lessons Learned from the 1918–1919 Influenza Pandemic in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota,” in the journal Public Health Reports in 2007. To save you the reading of the entire report, it is documented that the closing of theaters in November of 1918 was show to reduce the number of cases. The Minneapolis Tribune reported that when the closure of theaters was announced, patrons rushed to the venues for one last show, “Downtown theaters were packed last night with patrons who took advantage of their last chance to see a performance until the ban is lifted.” (“Influenza Lid Clamped Tight All Over City,” Minneapolis Tribune 1918 Oct 13).
There is a great summary of how show people handled the sudden closing of the theaters at Circus Talk. Contracts were cancelled “left and right” and so performers were tossed from the hotels and boarding houses where they were staying. Some looked for theaters that either were not affected by the shut-down or simply ignored the law and thus risked criminal sanctions. In those towns without laws or regulations, performers received poor reviews and small audiences.
We have much to learn from the past but the lessons are hard to abide.
We have seen some wonderful Zoom magic shows recently. We realized we only knew about them because friends (we’re not bragging but we have some outside our family) sent us links or we read about them on our Twitter timeline (@insidemagic).
So, we got to thinking. Hey, why not have a collection of Zoom (or any video presentation method) links right here on Inside Magic.
So, if you have a show coming up or know of a show coming up, let us know and we’ll announce it right here on these hallowed pages. If you have a video of a past performance, you can share it here as well.
We’ll review the submissions and get a menu set up on the site where links can be shared.
We’re excited about this service and hope you are as well.
A Special Note From Our Friends at the Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater:
We hope you and your family are well and that you are staying safe in these uncertain times.
Danny Archer & Marty Martin opened the Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater in August of 2017. The theater was instantly regarded as a gem, not only by the public but by the many headliners from around the world who played there. With its unique amphitheater seating, there is not a bad seat in the house and the performer has the best possible conditions to share their art with the audience. Until COVID hit, and on Friday, March 13th, the theater was forced to close for almost 6 Go.
They are reopening and we are pleased to announce that they will be donating a portion of their ticket sales to the SAM, along with giving the SAM members a discount when they watch a show. They bring in different acts on a regular basis, and this is a great opportunity to watch some great live performances and help out the SAM as well. Their tickets normally sell for $25, and when you order you save $5 off the ticket price and the SAM receives $5 as well. This offer is for their first two shows David Corsaro on 9/26 and John Cassidy (pictured) on 10/3. If the promotion does well for the SAM, this program will be extended.
To purchase tickets, you would go to https://streamingliveshows.uscreen.io/catalog, start to make your purchase, and enter discount code SAM5 (for the Corsaro show only) and SAM5JC (for the John Cassidy Show) to get $5 off your purchase. Due to the nature of online tickets, the discounted tickets cannot be purchased on the day of the show. One neat feature is that if you miss the live show, the show will be available for viewing for up to five days afterward. So basically you can watch once either live or as Video on Demand. Since this is a fundraiser, please feel free to share the link and discount code with your friends and family.
As all readers know, InsideMagic.com does not do paid endorsements of Magic Dealers or their tricks for sale. When we review a trick, readers know that we really, really like it and are not receiving a red cent for the good word.
Not that we are against being bribed to writing a great review for a lousy trick but the offer doesn’t come around that often. That could be because Magic Dealers are notoriously honest and we have a readership hovering in the single digits and the hovering is in the lower range of that single digit range. We prefer to think that Magic Dealers are honest and above bribes.
But the subject has caused us to wonder: why do Magic Dealers like Viking Magic, Meir Yedid and Cody Fisher produce quality tricks. They could produce the same effect to do the same thing with lousy quality but they don’t.
We got to thinking about this when we received Viking Magic’s Nest of Brass Boxes. The tolerances of the brass machining is exact and, dare we say — and we do dare, it’s our nature — perfect. The trick is not new, it is the quality of the trick that makes the difference. George Robinson is not just a nice guy and proprietor of a great shop, he seems to insist on quality when less than quality would do. The brass is beautiful, the instructions are great, the delivery was prompt and the trick works right out of the box. We didn’t have to make the gimmick or even polish the brass.
Meir Yedid apparently loves magic as much as we do. His services include the latest magic news and his descriptions of the effects he sells are first class. He gives a short history on how he came upon the trick, offers his suggested variations on handling, and great prices. Again, he doesn’t need to do this. People in our business know Meir Yedid. They trust him and so he could rest on his laurels. We recline on our beanbag chair, we have no laurels on which to rest. If we did, they would probably have thorns making for a difficult resting experience.
As many InsideMagic.com readers know, we have a jones for color changing knives. It could be because it was the first trick we received on the first day upon being employed by the legendary Barry Gibbs — developer of the finest Rising Card effect ever made, the A.M.Y Rising Cards — at the legendary Magic Wagon at the no-longer existent Palm Beach Mall. He instructed us to learn the moves and to come back for our next day at work with it practiced. He also told us to clip and clean our fingernails before demonstrating any magic at the kiosk. That set was from D. Robbins with the locking blade. We loved it because it was our introduction into our mentorship with Mr. Gibbs. Over the next two years, he taught us so much but the Color Changing Knives stuck — pun intended.
We have purchased Joe Mogar sets, Rodger Loveland‘s beautiful and larger set, and now two more sets from Meir Yedid including a set made from used car parts. How many sets does on magician need? We don’t know but when we find out, we’ll share the news on this humble site.
Cody Fisher is not only inventive, he is a great guy. His personal approach to dealing with customers and past customers is the finest — and it does not have to be. His tricks are strong enough to be a less interested or helpful dealer but that apparently not his style.
But why? Why make such great Magic Tricks with such high quality and great customer service? Because we are a small market? No, they would have greater economic incentives to do the bare minimum and take the least path to satisfying the customer. The economics of the situation would seem to dictate that they should do enough to get the sale and move on. Yes, customer service would help build loyalty but pricing lowered by lesser quality would compete against this benefit.
We come to the conclusion that they are magicians first and Magic dealers’ second. They promote our Art and care about their customers because they want to put out the best quality effects and follow up with customers because they care about their customers’ use of the products.
They don’t need to but they do.
We are thankful that they do but we are not above taking bribes for endorsements. Perhaps that’s the difference between us and them. Fortunately in the last 25 years of this site’s existence, we’ve never had to face that dilemma.
One of the chief complaints we receive here at the spacious Inside Magic office overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California is “Why do you have to be so specific in identifying where your office is?”
The second complaint we are forced to address is “Why don’t you have more articles about Balloon Sculptures?”
We have thought about the two complaints for weeks and cannot find a common link. We’ll save the first complaint for later and focus on the second one.
We read today in the East Anglian Daily Times of two performers who have innovated a method to stay in business during these trying times.
Steff Evans and Olly Graham are accomplished magicians, balloon and bubble artists in Woodbridge, UK and in an article about their venture titled, “Don’t Pop Me Now,” they have received great publicity for what appears to be a winning business model.
The two entertainers were working steadily before the pandemic and like many of us had to find a way to make ends come close to meeting when business dried up overnight.
Mr Graham told the paper, “We were well-established and successful but absolutely nothing could have prepared us for what happened with corona virus. As soon as lock-down was announced, all of our work died instantly.
“Phones were going crazy cancelling everything and almost overnight we went from having a jam-packed diary to nothing on the horizon at all.
“As full-time professionals in the entertainment business, neither of us had anything to fall back on.”
Ms. Evans recalled how they were asked to use their balloon sculpting skills to “jazz up” a friend’s living room for a birthday party.
“Just because people cannot have big parties or events doesn’t mean they don’t want to mark special occasions, decorate venues or create a magical or memorable experience for someone and balloons are a great way to add colour and beauty and to get a wow factor.”
Ms Evans said: “We now have a whole load of bookings for balloon arches for weddings, gender reveal balloons for baby showers, balloon bouquets and huge numbers to mark special birthdays.”
They are even going so far as to provide bubble equipment to let customers make their own shows.
You can read the full story and see images of their great creations by visiting the East Anglia Daily Timeshere.
As for the first complaint, why we always describe our office location at the outset of our articles even thought such information has nothing to do with the following story. We are lonely (or as our spell check just wrote, “loony”) and we hope that someone may happen along Santa Monica Boulevard one day, look to the single office window above the place where they make gourmet treats for dogs, and decide to wave. We don’t need that person or persons to come up to see our spacious office; just a wave will do.
There’s a great article about two great magicians in today’s edition of Broadway World & TV. David Blaine and Zack King have huge internet followings and for good reason — they are good at magic and very, very savvy.
From the post at BW&TV (we don’t know if that’s their actual acronym but if it isn’t, it should be:
Today, digital superstar and viral illusionist Zach King released a Youtube collaboration with world famous magician David Blaine. In the video, which was uploaded to Zach’s Youtube channel with over 8MM+ subscribers, Zach and David are shown on a video call showing each other some magic tricks. David advises Zach to up the ‘fear factor’ of his tricks by showing some of his infamous tricks – coughing a tarantula out of his mouth and igniting a fire on the palm of his hand. This collaboration comes on the heels of David announcing he will attempt to float over the Hudson River using only helium balloons.
You can check out his promotional video for the stunt aqui.
Can we say this?
We have fear every time David Blaine takes on one of his stunts. Getting shot in the mouth by a 22 caliber round was scary, being locked in ice, holding one’s breath under water for 18 minutes (but felt like an hour), standing on a narrow pole for more than 24 hours and then jumping into boxes from said pole. Coughing up spiders and frogs from one’s belly — or the opposite — going without nourishment for 40 days in full public view all scare us.
We know his plans are well considered and he is far from reckless but, golly, he sure does a lot of scary stuff.
We were okay when he would rub ash on his arm to reveal a playing card previously selected by clearly inebriated spring-breakers, or throwing a deck of cards against a window and having the selected, signed card appear on the other side of the glass.
We might be okay with him performing a Finger Chopper effect if it is the kind we grew to love during our years of performing as “The Mini Magician” for our schoolmates in reform school during the 1940s. Even that could involve risk if you stuck your finger in the wrong hole or didn’t set it right.
Basically, what we are saying is that we are cowards. We eschew things that could hurt us. We don’t even like being as tall as we are. We avoid walking down aisles in darkened movie theaters (back when such things were done) for fear we would fall into the lap of some theater patron with an embarrassing thud — as opposed to the non-embarrassing thud, we suppose.
But there is something in Mr. Blaine that causes him to push the envelope until it contorts into something that looks less like an envelope and more like a coffin.
We cringe at gymnastics of any kind being practiced by anyone — even circus performers. Escape artists cause us to cringe without recourse. We can’t get images out of our mind or worry about the people involved and the people watching — all could be effected by a trick gone wrong.
So, once again, Mr. Blaine will try the impossible — to Ascend over the New York skyline by holding onto a group of balloons. The thing is the does not need to do it. We would like and respect him regardless — and even irregardless.