The last few weeks have been jam packed with conventions, new products and projects. In the last three weeks alone, I’ve had four conventions in two countries! Not to mention, I’m less than a week away from boarding a plane to Austria for their national convention in Baden, just outside of Vienna. It will be my first trip to that country and I’m really looking forward to the experience.
I’d also like to say congrats to my friend Bill Abbott on winning the Canadian Magician of the Year award at the recent CAM Convention. Bill’s a great guy and a superb entertainer. If you’re a working magician, I’d hazard a guess that you already know many of Bill’s creations - and there’s a good chance you even use a few! If you’re not familiar with Bill’s work, take a few moments to check out his web site and don’t forget to say congratulations on winning such a prestigious honor.
But before you make the leap across the border, why not take a moment to check out this month’s picks? There’s a fine collection of items below and I’m certain you’ll find at least one that resonates with you as well...
- Threesome: This is a great multiphase routine from Jason Dean. It makes an excellent addition to any close up worker’s repertoire and generates a great deal of reaction with very little skill. It’s great for strolling, restaurant work, and even formal close up shows. The basic handling is simple to do and it comes with loads of ideas from a stellar list of contributors including John Born, Todd Karr, JK Hartman, and more. I like this a lot and suspect you will too!
- Keylicious: Jeff Prace has made quite a splash in the world of magic especially considering his tender age. This effect is a perfect example of the fun, real world magic that Jeff is becoming known for. It uses common and recognizable props to create some truly stunning moments. The gimmick is quite ingenious – probably more than you would believe if you’re only guessing at the method. Nothing is particularly difficult in the handling but you will definitely need to put in a little time to get the entire routine down smoothly you. The DVD also has a bonus Ace production that was a pleasantly surprise. All in all I think you’re getting some solid magic at a great value.
- YAYA: I just love seeing common items transformed into something magical. The “gimmick” behind YAYA is a fairly mundane item that’s available at almost any drugstore and yet it’s used to create some truly magical effects. Very visual and simple to execute, this is one of those effects that you’ll have fun just watching yourself perform. Of course, you’ll enjoy showing others too – and they’ll be just as amazed! There are some angle issues but nothing that can’t be controlled with a little audience management. The vanishes and productions look pretty awesome but I personally loved the T&R Bill idea. The restoration looks insane and I think it takes all the heat off you and the gimmick. Pick up YAYA and prepare to have a good time!
- Solitary: Cameron Francis is back with the folks from Paper Crane and this time he brings us a nifty little coin effect. A signed coin vanishes and then appears visually inside a sealed coin holder. The appearance of the coin is VERY magical and the technique used to create the illusion is pretty darn diabolical. Cameron goes through many different approaches on the DVD, leaving no stone unturned in terms of approach and presentation. This is a lovely little effect and if you like the looks of the video demo, I think you’ll be very pleased with the effect.
- Inflated Odds: Looking for something that could add instant laughs and dramatic tension to your next show? Inflated Odds may be just the item. The basic routine is a sort of “Russian Roulette” played with a selected balloon. In performance you succeed at sensing when the balloon will burst - and then revealing that you not only correctly predicted that moment - but the selected color as well. This is not an easy routine to describe succinctly in print but I could see getting a lot of mileage out of this prop and routine. I must admit that I was a bit on the fence about recommending this one. The balloon “zapper” does look like a gun and this may not be the best choice for young audiences. I could however see this working well for teens and adults. It comes with everything you need to perform the effect as well as detailed handling and routine ideas. With a little common sense, I think a working pro could get a lot out of this item.
It's hard for me to believe that May 1st marked our 19th year in business. The year we opened the door the Buffalo Bills were in the Super Bowl and gas was about a buck a gallon! How's that for some perspective?
Nearly two decades of "delivering the impossible" is not a common thing in our industry. In an age when new dealers seem to appear over night (and often vanish just as quickly), it's a rare thing to have a track record like ours. We have built our business on trust and integrity, not flash and fluff, and I count myself fortunate to have so many customers who understand the difference. I know you have other choices out there and I am thankful that so many of you have chosen us for so many years. Nineteen years means we're still just a teenager - and that means we have a lot more to learn.
I promise to keep learning from your input and suggestions - and I will continue to do my best to earn your business, your loyalty, and your respect.
That’s what Harper Lee said.
She was referring to the fact that nobody really appreciates breathing - until they can’t. But I think the same could be said of attending a magic convention. In the last few months a number of very large and long running magic conventions have simply pulled up their stakes and called it quits. There are a variety of reasons - but it’s undeniable that attendance has dropped at most of these events.
Ten years ago, if you were itching to see magic and connect with pros the only way to do it was to hit the road for a magic convention. There’s no doubt that in the last few years it’s gotten much easier to scratch that itch. The internet allows us to sit back and watch magic performed, see demos of the latest dealer offerings, and connect with others on message boards. It is a different world.
I don’t think it’s completely worse or better, but it’s definitely different.
Of course, the ease of access to the virtual “scratch” means that it’s hard to justify the cost and energy needed to produce a live one. Or even a quality virtual one.
My recommendation? Support conventions and lectures while you can. Show up, get engaged, share what you can, and create an environment that encourages others to do the same.
I wouldn’t wait too long. The air is getting thinner.
The industry has undergone a lot of changes over the years. The last few months, even more so. Reviewers that lie and intimidate, long time conventions disappearing in a blink, dealers crossing serious lines, message boards that rewrite history, and distributors making questionable alliances. Sadly, that list just scratches the surface.
The troubling part is that much of this goes unmentioned by the community as a whole. Even less seems to be remembered and acted on. There will be a momentary blaze of angered typing and online exchanges then it all seems to fade away.
Or worse, it’s simply erased.
I’ve been involved in magic most of my life and I still love it – but the industry and the culture that surrounds it - is getting a little less “lovable”.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You can help transform this industry by where you spend your dollars and how you expend your energy. A famous Chinese proverb says, “If we don't change our direction we're likely to end up where we're headed.” Understand that every action you take, every person and business you give power to, and every word you type helps build the future of magic.
It is, as it always has been, your move.
It has been one hectic month. Apparently March Madness applies to magic shops as well! We’ve been swamped with work and frankly the days seemed to slip by faster than a buttered bullet. (Did I really just write that?) This month’s picks may be coming in under the wire but that doesn’t make them any less amazing. In fact, this month’s choices are among some of my absolute favorites for the year. So start reading and get clicking...
- The Mark: As I’ve already said on our site, this has been a long time favorite of mine. I have used it in my personal repertoire for many years and I can attest to the impact it has on every audience. I was so pleased to finally obtain the rights to this amazing effect and I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to offer it with my personal handling. The DVD covers ever detail of the effect as well as many additional ideas. There’s even an application for a mentalism effect covered that seems to be flying way under the radar. All in all, my highest recommendation.
- But Not Here: This is another big winner for me. As is often the case I wish there was a way for me to show each of you this effect live and in person. In a live performance, this is strong – VERY strong. There’s something about that post-it note that seems to fry minds! Keep in mind that this effect uses a thought of card and the prediction can be customized for any event. For example, if you we’re working an even for lawyers - it might say something like, “Why do lawyers always choose the Jack of Hearts?” or it could even include the guest of honor’s name. It’s VERY easy to do and there are lots of possibilities here – two thumbs way up!
- Dean's Beads: Dean Dill has a way of taking ideas and making them better. Dean’s Beads is his approach to an age old effect called “Pop Beads” or “Gyp Necklace”. The effect can be very strong and it creates an eerie moment when the spectator is left holding the beads. This is another effect that I think play much strong in real life than the video coveys. He has two GREAT ideas on the DVD that use pennies and a memorized deck. These are necessary to perform the basic routine but they are certainly worth checking out. One final note, there has been a bit of buzz surrounding phase three of the routine on the video demo. That phase does require a small bit of pre-show to accomplish the effect but it could easily be done with a peek wallet and be done in real time as part of routine.
- Mind Ball: David Regal has done it again! I love this thing – its fun, magical, easy to do, and very entertaining. All you need is the ability to force a couple cards (taught on the DVD) and you have a ready made routine for your next show. I think this plays big enough that it would even make a great addition to a parlor show. I should point out that there is a “jazz” aspect to this. While you do always know who took what card and what the card was, you DON’T always know what gag lines will appear. Personally, that’s my favorite part of the routine! It keeps is fresh and spontaneous. Regal covers EVERYTHING on this DVD including possible retorts for all the gags and much more. Another great one!
- Add-Ict: Wayne Dobson and Mark Mason have teamed up once again to bring a simple and direct card prediction. This has a very fair feel to it and the selected card can be different each time. It also provides a nice moment to introduce your business card as well. In some ways this reminds me of a reverse version of a great old Tannen’s item called Synchronicity III by Michael Pizzolla, another great trick if you can track one down! If you want to do the blank deck handling (my personal favorite) you’ll need to pick one of those up as well.
- Extended Stay: The latest from Shawn Farquhar is actually a collection of effects using hotel key cards. The effects vary from card effects, mind reading revelations, cell phone chicanery, and psychological fun. All of the cards allow for some pretty cool magic but my personal favorites include the Super 7 Card and the stretching card effect. One side note, the DVD gives a lot of crediting information but oddly it gives no nod to Mark Jenest’s MagiCard which is pretty darn close to one of the cards in the set. This isn’t a knock nor is it meant to detract from Shawn’s work; I just wanted to offer a little credit where credit is clearly due. This really is a great set of cards that you can carry in your wallet all the time, which means you’ll always be ready to deliver some strong magic at a moments notice.