1,244 entries categorized "Magic"

Andy Gross

I haven't used this blog is quite some time however the events of the last few days have prompted me to speak out.

You may have read about the magician/comedian Andy Gross who allegedly sexually assaulted a female audience member on stage causing hundreds of Purdue University students to walk out of the show crying, and needing counselling. 

To be honest, there is some degree of sensational reporting going on here.

There was no sexual assault, though a case could be made for sexual harassment. The reality is that the performer was completely oblivious to the obvious discomfort and embarrassment his volunteer was experiencing. 

You can see a video of the show here:

Daily Mail Story

Yes, he chose his material very poorly, especially as he was following a student who spoke about her experience of being sexually assaulted.

The University said they were shocked by the type of material he performed... yet the exact routine word for word, is on his promotional video they would/should have viewed before booking him.

I'm not excusing him, he completely misjudged his audience and, as you can see by the video, should have realised the act was going badly and changed tack. He didn't.

But there is more to this story.

The routine he was performing, in 2018, is an EXACT word for word copy of one David Copperfield performed in his 1990 TV special 'The Niagara Falls Challenge'.



Bear in mind, 1990 was a different time... Bill Cosby was still a beloved comedian... that was 28 years ago and Copperfield has long since moved on to different styles of presentation... but Andy Gross hasn't.

(Copperfield updated the trick for his 2001 TV special, but the use of the volunteer and the "cheek to cheek" gag had already begun to feel awkward and inappropriate.. 17 years ago)



Instead of creating his own original material, Andy has slavishly copied other people's material without permission and without understanding WHY they work, As a result, when a presentation moves beyond its use-by date, as one such as this has in the #metoo era, Andy simply keeps doing it and is now finally paying the price.

This is not the only Copperfield routine Andy has stolen without permission. He also bills himself (and has even trademarked the name) as 'Split Man' and performs the 'Laser Cutting' illusion purchased by Copperfield from creator Steve Fearson and performed in his 2001 TV special 'Tornado of Fire'.




So what is the upshot of all this? Are we simply to dismiss it as a jerk copycat magician finally getting what's coming to him? The moral being that we should not copy other people's material?

Well.. that is important but no.. the real lesson here is that times have changed and sadly magicians, as usual, are not keeping up. Volunteers are still being treated as props, assistants are being cast as sex objects, jokes that comedians ditched long ago as being inappropriate are still being trotted out by "comedy magicians".

Reassess your act.

See if you can find a woman, preferably a theatre director, and ask her to debug your act and remove questionable content.

Why run the risk of alienating 50% of your audience by making them feel uncomfortable when everybody should be having a great time.

And if you really want to know what changes you can make then tune in to the Shezam Podcast and listen to the thoughts of female magicians who are a lot more attuned than Andy Gross and his cohorts.


Mark Kalin in Conversation


Here is a very unique opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the most influential magicians today, creator of The Illusionists 1903, Mark Kalin... and it's free!

Mark will be interviewed by President of The Australian Institute of Magic, Lee Cohen, as she asks him about his life, his career and his creations.

You can do your own advance research by visiting his official website here http://bestmagicshow.com/

This event is free, but bookings are essential because it will sell out FAST.

It all takes place in Melbourne at The Victorian Arts Centre onThursday 7 January 2016, 5pm


Are they STILL in business?

Regular readers know I am NOT a fan of MAGIC MAKERS - the magic manufacturing company that seems to profit by copying other people's creations.

When HEALED & SEALED came out, they brought out CRUSHED & CURED COLA and claimed it was based on an "old principle". We all know that was a blatant lie.

Well now they have responded to critics by trying to "credit" the creators of the effects in the instructions they supply.


For example, THE CARTOON DECK (a complete rip off of Dan Harlan's CARDTOON) says "Designed by Rob Stiff Magic Makers, Inc. - additional crediting is in the teaching video.
Credit in this category of magic should be to the brilliant mind of Dan Harlan.
Also, credit to the original effect in the same playing card flip book format with an animated magic top hat and dove flying out from 1954 & 1959 by Educards of Canada."

The credit to Educards is irrelevant as it was not a trick, but a flipbook using cards. Magic Makers simply added that to try to make it look like Dan Harlan's creation was not original either.


Another example, THE SECRET BOX is credited "Terry LaGerould is credited for this effect.
Terry has been performing magic & entertaining audiences for over 3 decades."

Yes, Terry did invent that effect. He called it THE NOTHING BOX and it's available at Penguin Magic. Magic Makers seem to have come up with the idea that if you credit the creator, then it's alright to rip him off!


Another example, SHRINKING GLOVE ILLUSION. Credited "This effect is based on the 1997 Incredible Shrinking Glove by Rob Stiff." Rob Stiff was inspired by his own trick apparently...

No mention of Samuel Patrick Smith who has been marketing this effect for years.


Perhaps the worst example is THE MILLION DOLLAR BOOK TEST. In the instructions, Simon Lovell points out it was based on an old UF Grant Magazine test. Correct. Several DIFFERENT book tests have been based on this principle- but Million Dollar Book Test is not a DIFFERENT book test, but a direct copy of Ted Karmilovich's MOTHER OF ALL BOOK TESTS. The only variation is that it includes four extra words, something the MOABT's originally had, but felt it weakened the effect so removed them. 

What makes it worse is the title MILLION DOLLAR BOOK TEST is the name of another Ted Karmilovich effect - one that he published but didn't circulate. It's almost as if Rob Stiff is having a jab, letting Ted know he deliberately left his name out of the credits.

That's right, according to Simon Lovell is this thread on The Magic Cafe, Simon did not know THE MILLION DOLLAR BOOK TEST was the name of a Ted Karmilovich effect. Simon did mention Ted in the credits but spelled his name wrong. Simon said "I had heard of MOABT but, with research and assurances, learned that it was not a new principle ... simply an application of an older one."

Yes, it was an application of an older principle, but a unique application. Million Dollar Book Test was the EXACT SAME application.

Bill Palmer added in the same thread "To be absolutely fair, I must point out that this is completely legal. Ted K. did not originate the principle used in MOAB. Although he has copyrighted the text, if someone else has written a new novel that uses the same principle, then there isn't anything we can do about it except write bad reviews of it."

Yes, what Magic Makers is doing IS legal. Some would say it's good business bring out "generic", cheaper  versions of popular tricks. But magic is a cottage industry. It's hard enough trying to make a profit after spending all the time and effort creating a new trick without someone else copying your idea and selling it to your customers cheaper than you can.

A lot of magicians understand this and strive to support the creators, which is sensational!

As for Magic Makers and their continual copying of effects and attempts at rewriting magic history... I guess we as a magic community only have ourselves to blame if they are still in business...

Repost of 'RePop' from 2002


Magic and the internet certainly make strange bedfellows. Magic is known by it's desire to keep secrets, whereas the 'net is all about spreading information at lightning speed.


It only took 12 hours from the time David Blaine performed the "Beer Can Trick" on his 'Vertigo' TV Special for the secret of the trick to become available on the internet auction site eBay. The advertising read: "David Blaine - "Resealed" beer can effect from "Vertigo". Yes! As seen on TV this week."


As I have a vested interest in protecting the secret of this trick, I took a personal interest in this matter. The history of this effect is that Anders Moden first published it on the Electronic Grymoire on February 13, 1997. Few magicians were interested in his idea back then, I was one of the few who actually took the idea and modified and developed it further to suit my style. I even paid Anders for the right to include my version ('Soda Resurrection') of his trick ('Healed and Sealed') in the Ellis & Webster lecture notes '24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis'. David Blaine also paid Anders for the exclusive rights to perform the trick on TV until the year 2005.


I contacted the man who was offering the secret of the trick for sale on eBay. His name is Stephen Pellegrino of St. Louis Magic, and this is what he had to say about the effect: "My principle is based on another effect that has nothing to do with a beer or soda can, that I adapted and is over 50 years old. I literally worked this out this morning." It sounds like he watched Blaine perform, figured out how the trick was done, then released it for sale as his own creation. A colleague of mine actually bought Mr Pellegrino's manuscript and strangely enough the method used was exactly the same as Anders' original trick. The only difference is that in Anders' version, the can is also crushed, and then uncrushes itself. This is what Blaine performed, but Mr Pellegrino may not have noticed and so he didn't include that part of the trick in his manuscript, so his customers would be within their rights to accuse him of false or misleading advertising.


Mr Pellegrino argued that the method was "over 50 years old" and to prove his point credits several people in the manuscript he offers for sale. Richard Stevenson is credited for a trick where a soda can's pull tab is removed and restored… though it has nothing to do with resealing a can. David Harkey is credited for an effect where you appear to be eating from a can. Paul Harris and Bill Herz are credited for a re-working of the climax to a John Kennedy effect. This is close to Anders' effect however, when Anders contacted Kennedy, John said "Your effect sounds different from mine. Nice idea!" All of these credits, and the omission of Anders' name, suggest that Pellegrino was trying to justify that the effect was "old" and therefore okay for him to sell.


A few days later the effect appeared on one of Steve Fearson's many web-sites, all re-packaged with slick new graphics, and re-named 'Re-Pop'. Mr Fearson wasn't selling it, but offering it free to anyone who bought one of his other products. Fearson denied he was cashing in on Blaine's success, saying: "I do not claim to be selling the same method that was used on the David Blaine special, Vertigo. My ad clearly states, "Recreate the magic you saw on TV". From that, someone decided to describe my ad as saying, "Get the same trick David Blaine did on 'Vertigo' for free".


A week later, out came a booklet called 'Three Secrets Revealed' with ads touting: "Did you see the David Blaine specials? Here is a new booklet with three great tricks. Just like David Blaine did on TV." This was featured on the websites of many major magic dealers and was again seeking to cash in on Blaine's success. This also featured "The UnCanny. Another oldie, but not quite as ancient. An empty beer or soda can refills itself." This booklet was written by a street performer named Stefan Keppner. Some of these dealers, when contacted, agreed to withdraw the book from sale.


So why is it, that in a business where we "protect our secrets", do so many of us rush out to tell our colleagues how the latest tricks are done… especially if there's a buck or two in it as well? It doesn't even matter whether we have any legal or ethical right to the secret or not. Mr Fearson said, on the public Genii Forum on the internet: "I don't belong to any of your organizations and I haven't infringed upon any copyrights. I am doing perfectly legal and in my opinion, quite ethical business." Mr Pellegrino used Copyright Law to point out that the actual text of an idea is protected by the law, but the idea itself is not. So, he is quite within his legal rights to rewrite the instructions of any trick in his own words, and sell it as his. There is not a darn thing the inventor of the trick can do about it. As Fearson said, on the public Genii Forum: "So kick me out of your clubs and blow me out your magic circles. I'll keep working."


So how do inventors of magic protect themselves? On the website www.magicinventors.com Chuck Leach has a section headed 'Legal Dept.' which explains: "The purpose of the Legal & Ethics Fund will be to generate issues, information and resources to try and improve the protection of magic intellectual property." Great. However, Chuck also runs the website 'Secrets Revealed' which advertises "Did you ever wonder how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear? Or about his other amazing illusions? A magician won't tell you these secrets. But we will! These are the secrets you really wanted to know. The ones even the Masked Magician was afraid to reveal! The magicians are steaming mad about this site. But we don't care! If you want to know the secrets, we're going to tell you… everything!"


I asked Chuck Leach: "What rights do you have to give away the secret of Copperfield's Statue of Liberty vanish, and how do you think doing so will enhance magic?" Chuck's reply was: "Are you implying that I have no right to explain how that illusion is done? There is no patent on that illusion sir, and it is not illegal to explain the method to it. And as for how it enhances magic? The method to that illusion is one of the few secrets in magic that is actually exciting to learn. It is truly ingenious and learning it inspires a fledgling magician to learn even more about the art."


I also asked him: "Are the tricks simply "revealed'/explained, or do the visitors to your site have to buy the props/secrets (like the 'Twisting Arm Illusion' or the 'Balducci Levitation')" Chuck said: "I don't know what props you are referring to when you talk about those two illusions as there are none involved. The methods are revealed and explained, if it makes you happy we can call it teaching. And yes, they have to buy the secrets. As a matter of fact, you could hardly call my sites exposure sites since there is absolutely nothing exposed until you do pay. So I guess that answers your question, yes they have to pay before learning. My sites are a part of the Magic Secrets Network, run by Magicheck.com which is a site that supplies magic webmasters with the ability to create a gateway page that customers can't pass through without a password. A password costs them $29.95 for a one year period. But you must already know this if you visited my site, so why are you asking?"


(I wonder how Mr Leach would feel if another website were to "reveal" the secret passwords to his site for free?)


Yes, if you pay $29.95 Mr Leach will tell you how Blaine, Copperfield etc do their tricks. Who runs Magicheck? Steve Fearson. However, Steve won't let just anyone in. You must first read and agree to The Magician's Oath before he'll accept your $29.95.


His site explains: "The magician's code is a statement of ethical guidelines designed to help keep the art of magic alive and healthy. We require that you agree to our stated code of ethics before subscribing. Although the traditional magician's code is not enforcable by legal means, some of the issues regarding copyright infringement and the internet are, and we reserve the right to cancel your membership if it is found that you have purposefully violated any part of the code."


The code you need to agree to is "based on" one established by the IBM in 1993 and before they'll tell you how the "big boys" tricks are done you are required to agree that: "I understand that The Magic Secrets Network uses the terms "Exposure" and "Secrets Revealed" as tools to draw as many people as possible to the art through web searches and advertisements, introducing them to magic, and concepts like the magician's code of ethics as well. But Magicheck does not condone exposure for exposure's sake. The Magic Secrets Network is a learning facility. During a performance, the use of such terms should generally be avoided." Another clause talks about the need for respect within the magic community: " I agree that the originator or inventor of a trick should be credited when possible. If there is a performer who has become associated with the effect through outstanding performances, they may be credited as well. This should be done out of respect but also to encourage future inventors by letting them know that we respect their work and the community will not forget their contributions."

Steve Fearson, on the public Genii Forum, also had a word for magic inventors: "It doesn't matter what you invent, if you don't do anything with it you're not going to be recognized for it. Generally, the guy who does the footwork will get the credit. That holds true for marketing as well as performing. And you'll be lucky indeed if you find a guy like Mike Ammar or myself, who is willing to give credit once you've let it slip away."

Anders Moden should be so lucky.


Steve Fearson has the final word: "The fact is that unless you work harder than me, the future of magic and the net is in my hands."



The original 'Healed and Sealed' by Anders Moden can be purchased at: http://home5.swipnet.se/~w-52256/healedandsealed.html

Tim Ellis's 'Soda Resurrection' can be found in the book TIMELESS MAGIC and purchased here http://www.timellismagic.com/magicians/magic-shop/ 

The Paulie Awards

What the Oscars are to movies, the Emmys are to television and the Tonys are to theatre, the Paulies are to magic's hairdressing industry.

Named after the great Paul Daniels who is best known for his penchant for hairpieces (here is one he sold on ebay in 2011) the Paulies are presented for the most amazing hair in the industry.

Previous winners have included David Copperfield and his amazing animated hair (courtesy of several well placed wind machines) and his successor Hans Klok 


who has kept the tradition alive long after Copperfield moved on to what one commentator cruelly referred to as "painted on hair". As well as the multi-award winning Criss Angel for his legendary "chameleon hair".



This year the nominees include Tony Hassini who, at age 74 when most magicians are losing their hair, is actually gaining even more.

Here he is back in 2002


and now in 2015



Steve Carrell as Burt Wonderstone channeling the unique style that only a magician can wear.


And Deddy Corbuzier channeling the unique style that only Max Maven can wear.



But the winner of this year's Paulie Award for MOST MAGICAL HAIR OF THE YEAR goes, once again, to Johnny Thompson for both creativity and ingenuity. A true master of all facets of the magical arts. Congratulations!



The Melbourne Magic Festival - Tickets selling fast!


The Melbourne Magic Festival is back from June 29 to July 11 at the Northcote Town Hall and already several shows have SOLD OUT!

THE MAD HATTER in RETURN TO WONDERLAND has SOLD OUT for Tuesday June 30 and Friday July 3 is already half full.


THE MMF STAGE MAGIC GALA is almost SOLD OUT on Monday June 29 so if you don't want to miss out on any of the magic this year, even though it's two months away, book now! Plus, if you do book early, you can choose VIP seats (if they are still available) and for no extra cost you get GUARANTEED FRONT ROW SEATING!


The Melbourne Magic Festival 2015

The Melbourne Magic Festival is back for it's 8th year, bigger and better than ever at the Northcote Town Hall. I'm doing several shows this year but the one generating the most buzz is my Poker Show - FULL HOUSE - OR HOW TO GET BANNED FROM EVERY CASINO ON THE PLANET

It's a great show for people who love poker and tremendously entertaining even if you don't, but there are only 52 seats and 5 shows.. and the seats are disappearing quickly so BOOK NOW!

July 7 to 11, 7.15pm nightly.


Here's a little preview!







Buy a magic set and upload yourself opening it to YouTube.


This will be a good first video for your YouTube channel and a wonderful documentation of the very start of your magic career. Sure, you will inadvertantly expose some effects, but you're keeping it real and that's what people want to see.



As soon as you learn how to do a trick, explain it on video and upload it to YouTube. This let's others know that you're a magician too and they will share their secrets with you too.


As you can see, even this simple tutorial has over 70,000 views already. This will really help build up a following for your YouTube channel and start you on the road to being a famous magician. Don't forget, upload new tutorials as often as you can. The internet is always hungry for more!



Once you have uploaded a few tutorials and others have shared yours, you can create your own website by compiling all the tutorials together like this one http://www.learnmagictricks.org/


You can even add a torrent sharing section to your site so others can upload the latest magic DVDs to share with each other and you'll never have to spend money buying a DVD again!

After a while you may prefer just to focus on gather YouTube followers, after all, becoming a YouTube sensation with a milion hits will not only earn you revenue from ads, but it will also validate your status as a genuine master magician.

Remember, just performing tricks doesn't get a lot of views, revealing them is by far the easiest way to get tens of thousands of hits.


Even better, if you can offer your viewers the chance to make out with pretty girls or even more!



You'll be a hero to all your subscribers and most importantly, keeping magic relevant and classy.



If you choose to take the next rung up the ladder and create your own magic, film your tricks "on the street" and get some friends to pretend to be random people as they will act ultra amazed by your trick. If you really want to get big hits, have them dress up as police and pretend to sell them weed but make it disappear. Have them rough you up a bit too to gain sympathy, after all, no-one likes cops.


This clip has already had over 14 million views and has established Calen Morelli as one of the top stars in magic today!

Just remember Dynamos rules of filming magic:

1 - The camera can't be misdirected like an audience can, so feel free to edit frames out, cut away at crucial times or use cgi to erase objects digitally when they are supposed to disappear.

2 - People will replay the video to try to see how it's done, so if you can have a spectator sign a duplicate card that's going to appear in an impossible location, or prearrange that they will say a name or a card or a number in advance... do it. That will really make it impossible for viewers to figure out how it was done.

3 - Don't do tricks that people don't want to see. Just take a look at what other magicians are doing on video and do them too. Why take a chance on a trick from a book when you can easily copy someone else? After all, he probably didn't invent the tricks anyway.


Don't get overconfident. If you do get very popular doing your magic on video where you can do take after take until you get it right, think very carefully before attempting a trick in real life. After all, not everybody should do live magic.




Lots of magicians make big bucks by selling their tricks to other magicians. You don't even need to be creative, just go through the old books like Tarbell, 13 Steps to Mentalism, or Mnemonica and release the trick as an Instant Download DVD. 

If you can create a cool looking gimmick, not only can you sell it through Ellusionist (just make sure your promo video features lots of slow motion throwing of cards in the desert) and you'll sell thousands.

If you are lucky, you could even get a website like DUDE I WANT THAT and sell your magic tricks to the much larger market of the general public. Sure, they won't be interested in keeping the secret and will most likely show their friends how the trick works just as soon as they finish doing it - but they have A LOT more money to spend than magicians.

If you do live shows - then make sure you have a merchandise booth in the foyer selling every trick you do in the show. After all, as the pros says, METHODS MEAN NOTHING, it's all about presentation. That way you make money TWICE on the same trick: once by performing it and a second time by selling it!

While you're at it, add a shopping section to your website. You can sell magic online via wholesalers but you get an even bigger profit margin if you get sell magic from one of the many Chinese manufacturers who make MUCH cheaper versions of the original products. Sell them at the recommended retail prices and your profit margin could be up to 2000%!

After all all.. it's showBUSINESS!

Why should the creator of the trick be the only one to profit? 


(This article is satire. Sadly, I have to add this disclaimer because I'm afraid a large proportion of the current generation of magicians are already following at least 3 of these 6 steps).