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30 entries from October 2005

Halloween Spooktacular Report

The Halloween Spooktacular is now over, and it was truly an exhausting event! I can honestly say that having performed a 2 hour illusion show with 60% brand new material on a stage that was way to small… every show we do from now on will be an absolute breeze! Take a look at just some of the debris we unloaded from our vans into, what was, our empty studio at 3am this morning!

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The venue, the Templestowe Memorial Hall, could only allow us access from 1pm, and even then, we couldn’t use the main hall, just the meeting room. That was fine with us as we had to set up the ‘Haunted Corridor’ in that room. Due to it being a council-run venue, the group who met each week in the hall arrived and explained they normally use the meeting room for their classes. After some sweet-talking from Mat they very kindly agreed to hold their class in the main hall while we bumped the gear into the meeting room. Michael Sullivan arrived and with Lee & Cheryl Cohen, and they assisted Mat, Sue-Anne and I with the massive bump in. Les Cohen also arrived during the bump in and we were all flat out setting up a cemetery, a witches coven and all sorts of creepy scenes.

By 4pm we were able to move into the main hall and our lighting guys arrived too. So now I was setting up the show, Mat was hooking up the PA he’d brought, Sue-Anne was co-ordinating the Haunted Corridor and Michael and the Cohens were helping out all over the place. Chaotic, but we were slowly getting there. Kikkii the Klown even popped in to say hi, and Tim You joined her to set up their ‘Trick and Treat’ magic stand.

5pm and I discovered I’d left a crucial piece of our levitation behind. Sue-Anne insisted on going back as she said there was no way we were not going to try out that particular illusion. So she jumped in the van and made the half-hour trip back home, using the time as an opportunity to freshen up and get made up – as the facilities at the hall were non-existent at best.

5.30pm and Jade and Curt had arrived to prepare for their roles in the corridor, along with Lee’s sister Sharon. They jumped in and gave a hand setting up the seats… it was then we discovered another crucial problem. When booking the hall I was told it seated 120. So we sold 120 tickets. However, there were only 100 seats in the building! With some fast thinking  by the ever-resourceful Mat Unwin (who by now was running on straight adrenaline and burning through it real fast!) made some phone calls and found 20 chairs 15 minutes down the road at a Church he used to go to. He and Michael grabbed the rental van and took off to pick them up.

6.30pm and Sue-Anne had returned, but our plan of a 6pm tech run was way out the window. I was still setting up the show, the Corridor people were making final touches, and Jade was doing a pizza run.

7.30pm, only half an hour until show time and people were already gathering outside the hall as I was finally having a chat with our lighting guy explaining in extreme shorthand the multitude of cues and various states we were hoping for.

Mat Unwin hd now transformed himself into our hunchback servant “Igor” and took Ben Whimpey from Orsino Images on  a test-run of the Haunted Corridor tour. Enzo Ficcohad arrived and assumed his ‘Phantom of the Opera’ identity while Michael Sullivan was now in full make-up as ‘Dracula’. Meanwhile, I was still in the guise of sloppy, sweaty, and partially exhausted mess.

THE HAUNTED CORRIDOR: 8pm and the time arrived to open the doors. Igor and I were going to take turns in guiding people through the Corridor, but he was doing such a great job in the role I twisted his arm and he conducted all of the tours.

As people who were lined reached the foyer I, in the role of the ‘Master’, organized them into groups and set the scene for what they were about to experience. Guests ranged from casually cocky to really, really nervous, having no idea of what they were getting themselves into. Because we had 120 people to move through the Corridor in less than an hour, the tours where by necessity quite brief – but effective.

As people were waiting to go inside, Igor would burst through the doors (which was scary enough for some!) and hustle them into a darkened room. Inside they saw a small scene complete with hovering holographic ghosts making all sorts of ghoulish remarks.

Igor quickly took them into the next room, where a cemetery was filled with gravestones of great magicians of the past. Suddenly a ghostly figure dressed in white walked through the group and into the cemetery. She was carrying what appeared to be a baby in her arms and placed it upon a tombstone. The baby turned out to be a doll of some kind, with the back half of its head missing. It sat up on the gravestone and started moving, looking around. As it did this, it’s “mother” turned to face us revealing dead eyes, a stitched up mouth and blood, slashes and burn marks all over the front of her beautiful white dress. Igor wisely told everyone to move on to the next room.

Once inside lights suddenly came on blinding everyone. In an instant they went to black and there was a scream. A strobe came on revealing a man in a blood-spattered apron holding an axe and a dismembered arm… that was still moving. He offered everyone a ‘hand sandwich’ while his victim cowered on the floor with a bloody stump of an arm and a hook through his back. The lights went off and Igor quickly moved everyone on.

In the next room there was a headless man, with his chattering head tuck under his arm. Apparently a ‘victim’ of the Master. He gave everyone warnings to be very, very careful. Also in the room was a bubbling cauldron and a witches broom, and a coffin sitting on a trestle table. Igor invited a brave soul to open the coffin and look inside to see if ‘Oswald’ was there. As they went to open the coffin something grabbed their legs provoking sometimes extreme reactions! (Which we hope to have on tape thanks to infra-red video!) After that fright they were sent on there way and into the ‘Infernal Theatre’ were they were entertained by The Phantom and Dracula with close up magic, while they had the chance to buy souvenirs and goodies from ‘Trick or Treat’.

SHOW TIME: Finally, a few minutes after 9pm, the show started. Why the delay? Well the backdrop for the show was constructed from some of the walls of the Haunted Corridor! So while people were taking their seats in the audience a busy team of workers were frantically engaged in some on-stage construction.

The theatre itself was dressed in lighting, with fire effects projected up the walls and ceiling. However, due to the ceiling fans in the hall not working and it being an abnormally hot night… it truly was an inferno. (Though some audience members who got to come up on stage said it was nothing compared to the temperature we had to endure… especially Igor in his hessian, and Sue-Anne in her PVC).

WAKING THE DEAD: The curtains opened on Act One to reveal of large aluminum roadcase. Igor entered and turned it around summoning the Master and Mistress to start the show, The Master emerged and said the Mistress was still inside. Igor lifted the sheet that acted as a door and took a look, but it was empty. The Master said she was down stairs and went back inside to go get her. After much moving around the Mistress looked out and spoke to Igor in a very masculine sounding voice. It was obviously the Master in disguise and Igor called for the Master to return. She went back inside and a few moments later the Master looked out. Igor wasn’t convinced and finally he managed to get the “Mistress” to step out of the box. She claimed the Master was still inside but Igor showed the box was empty and suggested the Master was probably closer than we think! He ripped off her disguise, and it was the Mistress. Seconds later the Master stepped out of the box and scolded Igor for undressing his wife. They exited the stage leaving a very confused Igor to take the box away. This was the first time we’ve tried this illusion and, though it needs a little more work the presentation seemed to be very well received.

DIAMONDS: Sue-Anne’s solo number was up next with a flaming torch that changed into a cane, the appearance of a white silk that came to life and danced for her before turning into a sparkling ball. Next she multiplied the balls in a routine that included an extremely clean and deceptive ball vanish. Finally, one of the balls seemed to disintegrate into a silver snowstorm filling the stage. This was the first time Sue-Anne had ever performed this routine, and she only got it together a week or so ago.

KRUGER KARD TRICK: I was up and did one of my original effects, the Freddy Kruger Card Stab. A jumbo card was chosen by a spectator and shuffled back into the deck. I caused one card to rise in this “dream trick”, but it wasn’t the chosen card. As I explained that “sometimes a dream can turn into a nightmare” I put on a Freddy Kruger glove and caused a second card to rise from the deck. Again it was the wrong card. I insisted that the spectator name his chosen card and threw the deck into the air where I slashed at the cards and they all fell to the ground in pieces except for one, the chosen card, which was impaled on a blade of the glove.

FLOATING TABLE: Sue-Anne returned and put on a Hogwarts robe as she spoke of how magicians learned their magic. She lit a candle with her fingertips, which then seemed to disintegrate into nothingness. As a finale, she caused the table on stage to rise and float around with no visible means of support, all to the accompaniment of the theme from Harry Potter.

MEMORIES: I was back with something brand new. I asked a spectator from the audience to think of a childhood memory. Then, gradually, I seemed to read his mind and describe every detail of that memory. Many people would have sworn that it was a set-up, but no, I had never met the person before and certainly had no idea of what he was going to be thinking of. I did find out later that some people at the back couldn't quite hear what I was saying during this piece. We may have had some kind of microphone problem.

SQUASH: To change the pace I announced I was going to do an illusion and called for Sue-Anne, but Igor wanted to assist. Despite Igor’s best attempts (and a very tatty blonde wig) Sue-Anne turned up just in time to be squashed to only 20 centimetres tall.

THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS CARD TRICK: Sue-Anne took over next and invited a volunteer up on to the stage for another brand new effect. The gentlemen just happened to be our next door neighbour Barry! He chose a card and Sue-Anne explained he was going to find it, using a gun. His first attempt at shooting the card out of the case failed as he missed the cards and hit the table, ripping the table cloth in the process. He got a little closer on his second shot, hitting a rose in a vase on the table, but his third shot hit Igor in the wings. Finally, he hit the deck on his fourth attempt and the whole table collapsed revealing the five of clubs. Unfortunately, he chose the four of clubs. No problems. Sue-Anne took the gun, shot the centre pip off the card and it became the four of clubs. Nice debut performance of this classic effect!

MATRIX SPOONS: I entered next and yes…. I messed up… even though we had set lists all over the place backstage I skipped a trick and didn’t realise until I started the music. (We had no sound operator for this show. I ran the music by remote control thanks the the ‘Virtual Sound Man’, while Mat was operating the mics.) Anyway, I put the show on pause, ran off and changed jackets and presented my new ‘Matrix’ version of the spoon bend. However, the moment was gone and it goes back to the drawing board.

TOAST & WHAMMO: So we moved on to two of our most popular routines, the Magician’s Toast and The Great Whammo. Basically, we got a volunteer up to drink a toast with us. Lots of magic happens including ‘Soda Resurrection’, and finally we reveal him to be famous children’s magician ‘The Great Whammo’. With the aid of a very loud jacket (and Sue-Anne’s arms) he gives a spectacular and hilarious display of magic.

SWORD BOX: We finished off Act One with a brand new version of the very first illusion I ever performed. (Yep, another debut!) In this presentation I introduced our guest artists, Illusionists ‘The Boners’ with their antique Ninja Sword Cabinet. Igor rushed on to tell me they hadn’t shown up so I raced off to try to find them. Meanwhile, Igor was left alone on stage. I told him to sing a song and he shocked everyone with a beautiful unaccompanied version of Ave Maria. Finally, I yelled that ‘The Boners’ had arrived and Igor introduced them. Of course, it turned out to be Sue-Anne and I in bad disguises trying to present the sword cabinet with anything we could lay our hands on. I clambered into a cardboard box while Sue-Anne stuck 12 different objects through it ranging from mops and brooms to golf clubs and pool cues. Finally I emerged unharmed, but my clothes were ripped to pieces. The whole piece was very well received, and it was time for an intermission.

LINKING RINGS: Back from intermission and the curtains opened on a dark stage and I presented my robotic version of the linking rings, a trick I’ve been doing for almost 30 years now but it’s still a pleasure to do.

CARTOON LEVITATION: From there we went into another brand new piece. A newspaper article had promoted the show with a photo of Sue-Anne levitating me in front of the Templestowe Memorial Hall. We only did the levitation for the photo, but some ticket buyers were ringing ‘Trick or Treat’ and booking for the show excited that they were going to see a levitation. So I redesigned our levitation and we came up with a ‘Cartoon Heroes’ presentation (all in less than a week!) so we could keep these people happy. It went surprisingly well! We got a volunteer up from the audience and had them lie on a trestle table. As the song progressed I removed both trestles supporting the table and Sue-Anne kept our volunteer (who happened to be Sue-Anne’s combat instructor from the gym!) suspended in mid-air.

SWITCH: Following this Sue-Anne performed her ‘Do As I Do’ rope effect (the one she deuted in America in May for her extended Jeannie act) with a completely new twist. She had two men up on stage with her and they danced along with her as they al performed rope tricks together… well, Sue-Anne did most of the rope tricks, but they did try! The act concluded with all three ropes turning into one long rope.

ESCAPE TRIBUTE: Igor and I came out with a big table covered in apparatus next and, as a tribute to Houdini, we were all going to do an escape together. Sue-Anne was strapped into a straitjacket, I was handcuffed, tied with 100’ of rope and taped inside a plastic garbage bag, and Igor was lock into a Chinese Finger Trap. As expected, Sue-Anne and I freed ourselves from our bonds at exactly the same time (which was pretty amazing to us as by then we were all dripping in sweat!) Igor, unfortunately, failed to get out of his finger trap. I suggested he should grab the knife from off stage and cut it off… he misunderstood and returned free from the trap but missing a finger.

6 CUPS: Now it was time for something very risky. I asked six people who were willing to face their fears, take a chance on the roll of a die, put their faith in fate, to join me on stage. After a minute or two, six brave souls with no idea of what they were getting themselves into were up on stage with me. I gave them each a polystyrene cup and asked them to smash it with the palm of their hand onto the table. They did. Then I took a wineglass and smashed it (yes, some glass went on the floor, we can fix that for next time). I placed the jagged remains of the glass under a cup and mixed it around the five others until no-one, including myself, had any idea where it was, I invited fellow magician David Birchall to step forward and roll a die. Whatever number came up, that person was to step forward, trusting that the wine glass was not under their cup, and slam their hand down on it. I had no idea how this would play. Would people trust me? Would they assume that I wouldn’t let any harm come to them? Or would they simply refuse to do something so foolishly dangerous? They did it! It was a very tense 3 minutes but each person stepped forward, filled with an adrenalin rush, and slammed their hand down crushing their cup. Perhaps they thought I had somehow slipped the broken glass out by sleight of hand… maybe that explains the audible gasp when the last person left lifted their cup and revealed the wine glass.

ULTIMATE BLADES: As the relieved, though strangely empowered, volunteers left the stage, I explained that the one thing many people fear most is the end of a relationship. I sat down on the table with a photograph of a girl, and a pack of razorblades. It appeared as though I was about to slit my wrists, but instead I sliced up the photo… and swallowed the blade. I didn’t die. I took another blade, sliced the photo, and swallowed it too. Eventually I had swallowed 5 blades which I fished out using a piece of thread. But only four came out. I reached into my mouth and recovered the missing blade. I looked at the photo, took the blade and pressed it forward to my wrist… blackout.

Silence… for about 20 seconds before someone started clapping. What a weird reaction… well it certainly was not my usual razorblade presentation but some people came up afterwards to say they really enjoyed that version.

SAWING IN HALF: Sue-Anne returned to thank our army of helpers and announce that we were going to finish our show with a grand illusion. I rushed back on and insisted on an escape instead. We called on the audience to vote and I got ONE PERSON wanting to see my escape (it was great!) while Sue-Anne had the entire audience calling for her illusion. Regardless, I announced myself the winner and Igor began setting up the escape. We invited a gentlemen up on stage to examine the table (Gary Holland, another longtime magician friend) and supervise me being chained to the table with tight fitting boxes. I had 30 seconds in which to free myself from ‘The Siberian Torture Table’ before I would be zapped with 500,000 volts. The escape began but Sue-Anne cut the music, grabbed a chainsaw (which she proceeded to prove real by sawing through the clock) and cut me in two. This was only the second time we’ve performed the sawing with this presentation, but it seems to suit our characters really well. The audience really seemed to enjoy it too, especially Sue-Anne wiping my blood all over her face as a mark of victory. Finally she did restore me and together with Igor we took our final bow.

Doing a public show like this is extremely hard work for everyone involved, and we’d also like to thank the people who stayed behind into the wee hours to help us pack everything back into the vans, stack all of the chairs and mops the floors. (With special mention to Ben Whimpey, Lee Cohen, Enzo Ficco, Michael Sullivan, Anne and Tom Raybould, Barry and Jeanette, the Cohens, the Trick or Treat team, and especially Mat Unwin).

If you were in the audience we hope you enjoyed yourself. Drop us a line by clicking on the word ‘comments’ below. A lot of the routines in the show were brand new and we’d love to get your feedback on what you thought worked, or how something could be improved. And thanks again for coming… it wouldn’t have been the same without you!

(Hopefully we'll get a photo gallery of the show up very soon!)


TV heads-up

If you're living in Australia and reading this, mark a note in your diary to watch Comic Relief on Channel Seven on Sunday, November 6 at 7.30pm. We draw to your attention a sketch with Dave O'Neill - or is it Dave Hughes - Dave somebody... because appearing with him as a Japanese tourist is our very own Jade! We're off to set our VCR right now!


Moley Moley Moley!

Well last night Channel Seven's series of 'The Mole' FINALLY ended and they revealed who the mole was. No surprise there, it was John the retired detective (as I predicted in comments after Episode 1 screened). How the series continued with such an obvious mole and such an amateurish host is beyond me.

Anyway now HOPEFULLY Channel Seven will fill in the vacant timeslot with the new series of 'The Amazing Race'. But, because the reality of real life is different to the reality of reality television, we'll probably have to wait until next year now before it hits our screens....


Secrets, secrets, who's got the secrets?

There's a lot of discussion going on at the moment about the protection of secrets within our magic community, especially since the discovery that Criss Angel is selling two of his TV tricks as 'Teaching DVDs' through his website. To many, he is lessening the art of magic, hurting his reputation and cheapening the value of the effects. Is he alone? Let's take a look how our fellow custodians of secrets are taking care of them:

THE MASKED MAGICIAN - To many people he was the first great "exposer" of magic secrets. When Val_masked_small Valentino donned a mask and shacked up in a warehouse with scantily-clad assistants showing us all how it was done, many said he'd sold his soul to the devil. The first show appeared in 1998, but Valentino has tried to continue to try to cash in on his new found fame ever since. According to the WAM website: "Most magicians are not aware of the further activities of Valentino after he was let go by FOX-TV. He went on to produce a weekly exposure show in Brazil on Globo TV for ten months in 1999. The Brazilian magicians, with initial help and advice from WAM, were able to get Valentino thrown out of their country. They then bravely fought the gigantic Globo TV with a lawsuit that lasted these past four years. Just this month the Brazilian court ruled in favor of the magicians, and Globo TV must pay lost income to the 22 magicians who filed the suit, a considerable amount. The story was sent out by the Associated Press worldwide. Our congratulations to the Brazilian magicians for their hard work, their perseverance and their big success.Valentino then did the same thing in Japan with three big two-hour national TV exposure shows. Again WAM assisted the Japanese magicians in a writing campaign to the sponsors."

The furore within the magic community was incredible. Magazine articles, TV stories and media interviews about how angry the magicians were that their secrets were being revealed so blatantly seemed to do nothing more than give free publicity to the Fox TV specials. Suddenly they were "important" because the magicians were so upset. The controversy was so obvious that a two-part episode of Diagnosis Murder was written with the murder of a masked magician as it's theme. In 2001 Lance Burton capitalised on the popularity of the Masked Magician with two video releases: 'Secrets Revealed' and 'Code Broken'.

Lance Lance2 

However, Valentino was not the first 'Masked Magician'. In 1986 we had a video released by 'The Mystery Magician' offering "the secrets of magic and illusion".

Many non-magicians hated the Masked Magician for exposing the secrets and spoiling the magic for them... but they watched anyway. What did they find appealing about the shows? Check out some comments at the Internet Movie Database here.

So why did Valentino do it? "By revealing the art and science of magic, Val aspires to introduce a new generation of students to the excitement of illusion, and to encourage magicians everywhere to create new tricks and concepts that move the world of magic forward."

TV MAGIC HAWKERS - Many people remember the TV Magic Cards back in the 1970's. They were one of the first magic products promoted using the medium of television advertising. Sure, magic sets have been sold in toy shops for over a hundred years (often containing far more advanced secrets than their young purchasers were able to master without exposing) but as television became a more influential medium, more and more products were popping up on our screens telling us that, for just a few bucks, we too could become master magicians and amaze our friends.

Larry Anderson's 'Jaw Droppers' video seriesJawd is heavily advertised on TV, as are D'Lites, 'Fun To Know Magic Secrets Revealed' the DVD, and a range of Marvin's Magic in the UK. At one stage here the 'Dancing Cane' was released as a toy with TV magician Ian Buckland promoting it.

What message are these products giving to the public about our art form? Especially when well known magicians are seen endorsing them? Is it simply a way of introducing a new generation of people to magic? Is it just another way of making money?

MAGIC SHOPS - Having run a magic shop myself I know that, when it's run properly there is money to be made. However, like any other commercial venture you need to expand your client base to become successful. That means, selling more and more secrets to non-magicians. It's a proven fact that a magic shop cannot survive selling only to magicians. Once people get into magic, they discover books and realise that they don't need to have to latest 'hot trick' and stop spending as much money as they did initially. That's why 'brick and mortar' magic shops often supplement their income by selling novelties, costumes, gags, and juggling equipment.

Is the fact that anyone can walk into a magic shop and, for a few dollars, purchase the secret of a trick they just saw performed a form of exposure? Does it lessen our art? Should there be some form of qualification required in order to buy magic?

And what of the hundreds of magicians (us included) who derive a portion of their income from creating new tricks and DVDs for other magicians to buy? How do they prevent their creations from falling in to the hands of the "cashed up and curious"?

INTERNET MAGIC SHOPS - These are a relatively recent phenomena and are seen, by many, to be contributing to the demise of the 'bricks and mortar' stores. At least, they argue, if you walk into a magic store the salesman can guide you into purchasing effects that are appropriate for you and, to some extent, deter the merely curious. Buying over the net, however, is another thing entirely. Anyone with a computer and a credit card can purchase any secret to any effect... at a discount price. Because of the much lower overheads (many internet magic shops carry no stock and simply order direct from the wholesaler when you place your order) they don't need to charge the standard profit margin and so often sell way below the recommended retail price of most items.

By taking away the face to face aspect of buying magic, by replacing the one-on-one in-store teaching of a trick with downloadable video, are these cyberspace stores lessening our art form?

INTERNET MAGIC FORUMS - Though much of the debate is taking place on these forums, many feel that these forums have a lot to answer for themselves. Near the beginning of the internet a user group called 'alt.magic' was formed so that magicians from all over the world could communicate with each other. It was a fantastic idea and incredibly popular until it became infested by 'wannabee' magicians who posted under fictitious names insulting established magicians, exposing secrets, and passing off their own opinions in the most arrogant of fashions.

Unfortunately, most of the forums and bulletin board systems have suffered the same fate. Whether it be ego or insecurity, jealousy or downright meanness, people have taken advantage of the services provided and driven many high-profile magicians away from the forums. When a well-known magician who has been offering free advice to all who ask leaves a forum because he's tired of defending his opinions to an abusive 13 year old kid posting under the name 'MagicHandz', then we have lost access to a great resource and magic suffers as a result.

Even with magic Blogs like this one, people often post or re-post poorly researched information which can reflect badly on another magician and even damage his or her reputation. It all comes down to respect and professional courtesy. To some extent, that can be even more damaging to magic than the open discussion of "how did he do it" that you see so often on some forums.

INTERNET EXPOSURE SITES - In an effort to cash in on the success of television magicians like Secrets David Copperfield, Lance Burton, David Blaine and now Criss Angel. We've seen websites promising to tell you "how they did it" for a small membership fee like: the Secrets Revealed website, Secrets of Magic Revealed, and the whole series of Steve Fearson's Magic Secrets Network sites including Vertigo: Secrets from the television special exposed.

Are these sites any better than the Masked Magician? The first few Masked Magician specials exposed standard magic secrets, then as Blaine became more popular, they tried exposing the same tricks he did on TV. These websites are specifically offering to expose the effects that particular magicians have established as their trademarks. Often they are exposing tricks that aren't even on the market within the magic community. Why? To create a whole new generation of magicians? Or to make a few dollars?

Steve Fearson said, when asked on the Genii Forum about the exposure of Copperfield and Blaine's secrets: "And as far as Copperfield or Blaine's effects.. Don't you think they can take care of themselves? I deal with over 15,000 individuals a month on my website and have over 100 affiliates who help to peddle my wares. My top affiliate made over 80 dollars yesterday by simply linking to my website and collecting 35% of sales made. My customers, and my affiliates are very happy with the way I do business. A few here may not be, but you are the very very small minority. And I believe I get picked on only because I'm visible. Because I work hard."

There are also sites like Street Magic Bullets and David Blaine Revealed which are internet magic shops using the interest in David Blaine to sell it's products, and of course magic manufacturers are clambering over each other to bring out Street Magic Sets and carry the type of magic that the Angel and Blaine wannabees need to emulate their heroes.

HIGH PROFILE MAGICIANS - So what do the famous magicians do? Do they jealously protect their secrets, or cash in on their notoriety? When David Copperfield came to Australia, I tried to buy advertising space in his programme to promote my magic shop. His management politely declined explaining that David doesn't want to give his fans the impression that his skills can be purchased.

Outoftheblue_1863_3049315 Lance Burton, on the other hand, has a magic shop right next to his showroom at the Monte Carlo. Penn & Teller expose a lot of their own secrets within the pages of their best-selling books (as well as intentionally "exposing" a lot of their own tricks during their show). Mac KIng teaches magic in his comic strip and sells his 'Suitcase O' Magic' which includes a teaching DVD. Siegfried & Roy sold plush white tigers and many great kitsch souvenirs in their magic shop, but no magic tricks as far as I can recall, though there was a 'Siegfried & Roy Spectacular Magic Set'. Harry Blackstone Jr sold magic kits and books. Doug Henning had his own magic sets (made by Tenyo). British magiciansNixonmsets Paul Daniels and David Nixon also brought out their own magic sets and books. Even Houdini, Thurston and Kellar used to sell booklets of magic secrets at their shows.

Almost all of these products were designed for the general public. Exposure? Teaching? Income producing?

HOBBYIST MAGICIANS - All magicians begin as hobbyists, indeed these are the people we entrust our secrets too, but do they keep them? Some, in their enthusiasm, like to share their secrets with their friends, often immediately after having performed the trick. Others will insist on knowing the secrets of every trick, as though it is their right as a magician. Some will become jealous of the success of others and spread rumours or gossip or simple say things like "That David Copperfield is no good. He's just got the money to buy bigger tricks than me", bringing others down to his level because he can't rise up to theirs.

Some people feel that hobbyist magicians need to earn their way into the ranks of magic. Max Maven ironically lost the respect of many hobbyist magicians when he wrote an article for MAGIC Magazine suggesting that those new to the art should show more respect to those more experienced in it.

Hobbyist magicians also join magic clubs like the IBM, the SAM and many other smaller groups worldwide. Almost every city has at least one magic club (some, like Vienna, have seven!) The clubs are great as they provide a safe atmosphere in which magicians can swap secrets and develop new effects, but to grow they also need to attract new members. By advertising their existence are they making magic look less mysterious? Is it right or wrong that they should offer magic lessons and courses?

Perhaps the worst form of magic exposure is when it is performed badly. Secrets exposed accidentally because of lack of rehearsal or no understanding of how magic really works. Some have even suggested that magicians should pass some kind of test before they are permitted to perform in public.

TRADE SHOW MAGICIANS - Many magicians in the lucrative corporate market offer 'extra services' to their clients. Sometimes they will design free 'giveaway' magic tricks like the Three Card Monte with the clients logo on it. Other times they will teach the client's sales staff a few simple effects they can perform to catch people's attention before pitching their products. Is the message that magic is so easy that anyone can do it? Or that there are "certain tricks" designed for non-magicians to perform?

MAGIC PROMOTIONS - Along the same lines, many businesses that appeal to children like fast food King_3 restaurants, toy companies and bookstores run magic-themed promotions. You'll see Ronald McDonald, Burger King, Mickey Mouse and various Professors from Hogwarts all performing magic while the store is offering giveaway items either free or as a bonus with another purchase. For example, in 1985 with the McDonald's Happy Meal diners received either a Disappearing Hamburglar, Birdie Magic String Trick, Magic Tablet, Magic Ronald Picture, or a Magic Grimace picture.

TV MAGIC SHOWS - Back in the 1970's and 80's shows like 'Magic With The Stars' were very popular. Magicians would help celebrities to perform everything from simple magic tricks to grand illusions. Sometimes the celebrities did a much better job than the magicians. But the message was clear, magic is so easy anyone can do it.

Other TV shows, like 'The World's Greatest Magic' series appeared, and these all featured the hook that "We'll teach you how to do magic at home."

Recently there have been magic specials in the UK and Japan challenging people to watch a trick then come up with a way it could have been done. Are these helping or harming magic.

MUSEUMS - The Houdini Exhibit at The Outgamie Museum outraged many magicians with their exposure of the Substitution Trunk, but what seemed to outrage magicians even more was that Jonathon and Charlotte Pendragon appeared to condone the exposure by performing a show for the museum. Bill Palmer said he felt they were "no better than the Masked Magician."Magicsciofillusion

The Science of Illusion exhibit is travelling throughout the USA offering visitors the opportunity to "try magic". They can see the effects, or see how they are done. Again, is it exposure or educational? Is it helping or harming the image of our art?

BOOK SHOPS & LIBRARIES - These are the places that many of us first discovered the secrets of magic. Yet the secrets are in full view of the curious, those browsing through the shelves can open a book and read a method that may have taken a lifetime to develop. Mystery gone. Should these books be restricted to sale by magic suppliers only? Should they be kept "under the counter" with other restricted publications... for certain eyes only?

As you can see there are many forms of exposure. Some have been going on for hundreds of years while others are relative new. Where do we draw the line? Some say we shouldn't even bother trying to protect the secrets, after all, the true magic is in the presentation not the method.

Personally, when you realise that magicians seem to be the worst secret-keepers ever, I'm amazed that magic has lasted as long as it has.


No more Mr Manners

People who know me will also know of Mr Manners. Mr Manners is the person I leave a little bit of food on my plate for after a meal. At some time in my formative years I recall being told "Leave some for Mr Manners." (Though my mum swears it wasn't her and admonishes me every time I do).

No-one need worry anymore. Mr Manners, as it turns out, will be getting his own food from now on as he spends the few years in jail. Turns out we weren't the only ones he lied to.


Roll'em roll'em roll'em...

Coinroolbigger Penguin Magic are currently holding a contest to see if they can find the world's fastest coin roller.

If you think you can do a coin roll more than 40 times in one minute, you're in for a chance and Penguin will fly you to Las Vegas to do it for the Guinness World Record People. The rules are set out below, if you think you're in with a shot, read more about it here:

  1. The set time is one minute.
  2. The coin must be US currency in current circulation.
  3. The coin must start between the thumb and first finger, make a revolution around the hand, and it's counted as ONE when it reaches that thumb and first finger position again.
  4. The coin is not allowed to skip a finger.
  5. The coin is not allowed to drop during the set time.
  6. You can perform the coin roll with either your left hand or your right hand.

It's Sue-Anne's fault!

Sue-Anne has me hooked on the Sudoku puzzles too now. I bought a book of puzzles and, once I completed them, I bought another book! Weird thing was, it turned out to be the same book I'd just finished and yet it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the puzzles at all!

However, after discovering this site with it's billions of free Sudoku puzzles, I'll never have to buy a book again to satiate my shameful addiction...


SOUnd-controlled magic music bottle

That's what it said it was on the box, and it was only $1.20, but the reason I bought it was the instructions on the back of the box. I mean, it's only a battery-operated, sound-activated plastic bottle that lights up and makes an electronic noise, but after reading this I just had to have it:

TianDu Toys Selection

NEW CONCEPT   NEW SURPRISE

Sound-controlled magic music bottle.

Dear customers, welcome to purchase our products. While you are enjoying them, please pay attention to the three points as follows:

1) Please note that this product might frighten those people who are not suitable Psychologically, because this product has some trepidation, especially when you play it at night, the light is blazing and the sound is vibrant!!

2) The sound-controlling switch won't work until the power switch is turned on.

3) The sound-controlling delicacy range of this product is 3-5 metres. If the electricity is not strong enough, the sound-controlling range will be directly affected.

4) This product is kind of electric operated toy. It is not beverage, nor wine so please do not drink it. The product was created and designed by our own factory. We don't mean to infringe upon any trademarks or patents. If the product happens to be the same or much the same as others, it is purely coincident.

We hope the ingenious design of our product can bring you clinking surprise, and let the surprising and frightening music bring you into the sea of the sea of imagination.

Thank you for purchasing.