Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The Magic and Inspiration of the Moment
As many of you read each week, I stress the best thing is to know your craft. Be you a performer for Stage, Close-up, or Family shows. This is the case as I keep getting surprised by each gig I do here in the Central Valley of California. This past weekend took me for drive, an hour outside of Fresno. When I drove thru miles of orange groves, I thought I was going to be lost and never find the gig. When I pulled up to the home it was in the middle of a olive groves. The family was a warm friendly bunch of folks. The home made me wonder, "OK was I going to get paid?" Well a silly thought but it was kind'da of a out there community.
Once I got set up I had seen a loving yet different kind'da family. Workers of the land, farm folks yet with money in hand to have a celebration for their son. So I worked my best and when I started telling one magical story I noticed the kids crawl up closer to watch and listern. Now that's magic to me!! Things went so well that I could not leave until the family made sure I was fed well. Normally I don't ever eat when offered. I would usually say "No thank you" but if I didn't eat it would have been a insult to the family.
Being ready, knowing people and your show is the reason I do what I do. Being surprised makes me feel the magic of the moment no matter where you work. This is why I stress you being knowledgeable of your show but also being able to improvise makes the magic. So this as I say is magic knowledge & being a people person makes the inspiration of the moment for a great show.
Roy Benson Book
One of magic's most all time greats was Roy Benson. His style of magic set the tone for class, genius, as well as comedy. We are honor at Hocus Pocus to bring you this amazing book by Levent and Todd Karr. This book covers in its 800 pages, 1200 drawings, and 600 rare photos all the magic and wisdom of Roy. Not to mention Roy Benson's writings on his teacher Nate Leipzig, Nate's autobio as well as 20 Leipzig effects. With in this massive book are also Roy's classic effects, his unpublished book on presentation, style, and his thoughts behind the magic presented. This will be a collector's item for sure with something for every working pro to learn from. Remember we stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us, and Roy was such a giant in the magic world. The book is priced as a pre-order so don't miss out.
From the creative mind of Dwight Damon, now made by Steve Thomas comes Comedy Chair. Now this is not some chair made to hurt the spectator and make them look silly. This is a professionally made (not remade) chair to use as a comedy part in your show when you need to have a sit. As you go to open it parts swing up and around, you begin to have a wrestling match to get it to stay open so to sit. Once you finally have it set and begin to fear to sit on it all is safe. Take a well deserved bow you place a foot on the seat and then it comes apart all over again. Long out of stock 15 of them are on there way to us. Complete with canvas tote pack.
The Legend of Harry Houdini will live on forever! The mention of his name brings images of the escape artist to everyone's mind. Now with the Houdini Block by Keith Lack you can recreate a performance for your audience. Made of Italian Poplar wood and wonderfully designed with pics of Harry and finshed to appear as a piece from days gone by. One story line comes to mind already. Tell your audience that this was a toy Harry would give to kids to show how he would escape. Many ideas and presentations will come to you, because when one thinks of magic...Houdini Lives on forever.
Speaking of legends in magic, the name Cellini is such a legend in Street performing circles. Cellini has been traveling around the world performing in many situtations and many street corners. Now with his DVD "Anywhere Magic" you enter his world of working under any condition and space. The effects on this DVD have served Cellini very well and now he tips them to you. Effects include his work on the Salt Pour, Karson Egg Bag, Fred Kaps Coin Vanish and Production of 4 coins. Plus his take on the Gypsy Thread routine performed on the streets is worth the price of the DVD alone. Live the magic live on the streets around the world with Cellini and you too will be able to perform anywhere!
In this Techno age magic has to also look cool. Folks see to much high tech stuff to sometimes not be impressed with a card trick. From Roger Lovins comes Calling Card a great bit of Cell Phone magic. Spectator chooses a card and the some how the card goes blank. You the magi offer to take a picture of them with your cell phone/camera. Holding the blank card next to their face snap the pic and watch the magic happen on your cell phone. The blank card in the photo magically becomes their card. With the praises of Lance Burton and a gimmack that never wears out, Calling Card is just the trick for this high tech world we live in.
Talk or Silence. If some of your don't know my magic career started in New York where the magic was about the music or silence. This was a time for mime magicians. Street performances were silent or to music as I have mention, but in the West Coast that was different. I would see performers who would bally-who a crowd an chat up a storm doing magic or circus skills. As I have learned over the years, there is a time for both. In putting your show together this balance is imporant. After a flash musical opening your first talking effect should be just as hard hitting.
My programs have been helped from learning these two styles performing. You would be amazed how much more a focus can be when nothing is said. Then when its time to draw them in the art of the storyteller can be handy. Barry Mitchell says it best when uses the term "Tell me a Story". We all want to hear news and information but when its not interesting we lose the crowd. An example of this concept is the classic trick 20th Century Silks. As a visual piece of magic, it is a beauty to see. Now let see it as a talking trick.
For years I have used 20th Century silks as a storytelling effect for the kid show. Its a tale of Mickey, Minnie & Pluto and a walk in the park. Basic concept Mickey and Minnie sat down at a bench and held hands (tying the two silks togther and placed in my top hat) as the bench. Now the multi color silk (pluto) goes off to play. Lots of waving the silk around the kids as a dog would be jumping around the kids. Pluto then get hungry and looks for food inside a garbage can ( a tote change bag) then disappears. Mickey and Minnie return to find Pluto gone. Getting suggestions from the kids "How would one find a lost dog?" Over the years the answers range from call the cops to put his picture on a Milk Carton, funny kids and even funnier answers. Well the magic is done and "Mickey, Minnie and Pluto were back all holding hands together so no one would ever disappear again!" A Visual Storytelling effect!
So look at what your doing in your show, would a story be useful or maybe silence. Rehearse your show (if its a talking bit) with no talk, learn the movements and see if maybe the patter is needed or perhaps music. Just know that for ever action there is a reaction in life. So if your not visual enough or perhaps talking too much you might not be getting the full reaction you expect from your show.
Now a guest tip this week from Hocus Pocus friend, magician and Author
If you do The Classic Force, here is a small tip as promised. It's very subtle. I learned it from an old pro in Vienna when I was much younger than you.
Back to normal: even the best sleight of hand artist can miss a force. I bet it has happened to all of us one time or another.
Here is how you make The Classic Force almost 100 percent foolproof every time you do it. I you are working in a theater, walk down the aisle to the nearest row where a nice lady is in the third or fourth seat. This way, when you perform the force and try to reach the lady from the aisle, your body will be in an awkward position, To make it worse, stand on one leg only when you try to reach her! Now you are almost losing your balance and she will always hurry up to comfort you and take the first card she touches! This works of course well with men too, but being in my early 70's, I prefer middle age ladies.
If you are performing in a ballroom you use the same method. Walk over to one of the closest tables and let a lady "take a card anywhere". As you say this you bend over the table from the other side ("Excuse me, but I trust the lady over there more than you, sir") and let her pick a card. Stand on one leg if you like, signalling to her that it's a matter of seconds before you are going to fall!
I think these kind of small, psychological secrets are among the things that makes the art of magic so fun.
-- Ulf Morling
Thanks Ulf. By the way, Ulf is a author of a great crime drama book called
"The Godmother". Look for it in your local bookstore or on www.amazon.com.
Want to share an idea. Know of a free website you like, or have an Idea or tip send to: tony@Hocus-Pocus.com
Remember make them smile and a magic memory has begun!