Archive for March, 2008

How to disappear

Monday, March 31st, 2008

I have been interested in magical/illusionist acts for a long time now, and i have tried it myself for a while.Even though I have seen famous illutionist on TV from time to time, I still can not understand one illusion.If it is possible and you can of course (without breaking any code) explain how a human being ‘vanishes’ right before the spectators eyes.

This illusion has been done in various places, with my limited knowledge I just can not comprehend what exactly happens, even though I do not believe that the person has ‘vanished’.

As with most illusions, there are various methods of performing this feat. Sometimes the magician disappears in a puff of smoke, sometimes the magician simply ceases to be there, and occasionally only part of the magician vanishes, leaving behind severed body parts and vomiting spectators. A few popular methods of public vanishing:

  1. Pellets containing acidic smoke powerful enough to instantly dissolve a human body (can be used only one; generally presented as the final effect in a performance at the end of a tour).
  2. A large mirror, held so the audience just sees another audience and not the magician.
  3. Psychological tools are used until everyone considers the magician so boring that they stop paying attention to him or her.
  4. The magician just waits until nobody is looking and jumps out a window.

Quick change artistry

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Do you know how the quick clothing change magic works?

There are a number of methods by which a magician or a magician’s assistant can appear to change from one outfit to another in the blink of an eye while passing behind a screen, hiding in a trunk, falling from an airplane, etc.

The most common method, and the one that has been used since the early days of quick change magic, is to employ identical twins or triplets. Instead of switching outfits, the magician (or the magician’s assistant) simply trades places with his or her differently dressed identical twin. While the replacement struts around in new duds, the original has plenty of time to switch clothing in preparation for the next switch.

If identicals are not available, quick changes can be made with the help of gimmicked clothing. For example:

  1. Hydrosensitive cloth changes color and texture when exposed to moisture. One out fit can apparently be changed to another by simply surreptitiously dumping a bucket of water over the magician’s head.
  2. A particularly talented magician can appear to change outfits by merely changing posture in certain subtle ways.
  3. A outfit made of flash paper can be worn atop a full-body flame-retardant suit that has been tailored to look like a normal outfit. The magician touches a match to the outer clothing and it bursts into flames and vanishes completely. The flame-retardant suit limits severe burns to the magician’s hands and face, which are protected by the magician’s health insurance.
  4. Clothing can be designed to be easily repurposed. For example, a head scarf can be quickly turned into a lovely sash, a diaphanous shawl, or a scandalous blouse.
  5. Other gimmicks are often used. Shoes can be equipped with electric self-tying laces or turned from pumps to spikes with hydraulic heels. A high-speed unraveler can turn a sweater into a ball of yarn in less than a second.

Derren Brown’s next big thing

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The SciFi channel has announced that mentalist Derren Brown’s show “Mind Control” will return for a second season, and that the first episode will feature, “an event so amazing it will make you amazingly amazed.”

I’ve spoken to a number of insiders, and apparently the reason that they are not being more forthcoming about the exact nature of the performance is that they are still in the process of deciding what it will be. Current top contenders are:

  • Guess how much money is in the pocket of someone standing on the other side of the Great Wall of China.
  • Make hundreds of WalMart customers simultaneously believe that beer has been made illegal — without causing a riot.
  • Win 1,000 consecutive games of Rock, Paper, Scissors while sealed in a block of ice.
  • Hypnotize American Democrats so that they forget to count votes from Florida and Michigan primaries.
  • Convince the light atop the Luxor hotel that it’s the light atop the Stratosphere hotel.
  • Use subconscious hints and clues to get Osama bin Laden to deliver a pizza to the Pentagon.
  • Get SciFi channel producers to sign up for Mind Control season three.


Monday, March 17th, 2008

How do you waterfall a deck of cards?

Waterfalling cards became very popular after the move was popularized in TLC’s song, “Waterfalls.” There are basically two ways to accomplish a stage-quality waterfall.

The first method involves precisely releasing single cards from a deck in one hand and catching them in an open palm in the other hand some distance away. This can take years to learn and perfect, even under the tutelage of a true card master deep within the hidden mountains of Tibet. Most wannabe cardicians just don’t have the time for this, as they are too busy begging for tips in order to prolong the process of slow starvation.

The second, far more popular, method involves a simple pair of clear-plastic rails held between the magician’s hands. The cards can be gently slid down the rails, which guide them inevitably to the receiving hand. The rails are then secretively slipped up the magician’s sleeve (next to the birds, extra cards, mechanical apparatus, etc.) where they remain hidden until needed again.

Recovering from a bad spectator

Monday, March 10th, 2008

What if when you are doing magic with some people what if they don’t do what you tell them and they mess the trick up?

Audience control is part of being a good magician. The old saying that “you have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them” might be adapted to magic as “you have to know when to guide them, know when to smack them in the face and just call it a day.”

I must admit that in my youth, while I was still learning the fine points of my trade, there were many occasions when I had an effect ruined by an over-zealous, under-intelligent, or just plain annoying spectator. I quickly found that, in most cases, if a spectator was trying to (for example) choose and return a card at the wrong time (say, in the middle of my cups and balls routine), chances were that I was not being understood.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for making sure that your spectators know what you want from them:

  • Speak in an audible, clear tone, and make sure that the person you are addressing is neither facing away from you nor deaf.
  • Don’t perform for an unwilling audience (people who say “Magic is dumb” or try to knock you over and run away, for example.)
  • If the person you are speaking to is answering but what they are answering doesn’t make sense, check to see if they are actually having a hands-free cell phone conversation and don’t even realize you are talking to them.
  • Don’t perform effects that have complex instructions for people who don’t speak the same language you do.
  • Make sure that your effect is appropriate for your audience (for example, don’t do complex mathematical tricks at a five-year-old’s birthday party, or perform your detailed ambitious card routine during a visit to a home for the blind).
  • Never ask someone with Alzheimer’s to choose a card an remember it. (It just gets embarrassing. I know. I’ve been there. Twice.)
  • Don’t ask someone to assist you with a trick if they look like they might be trouble (if they are a teenage boy, for example)

Even if you follow these tips to the letter, you may run into a spectator who is more interested in ruining your effect than being part of the magic. In that case, you can either be belligerent and risk turning everyone against you, or try and tailor the effect to the troublesome individual by saying something like, “I’m sorry, is this too difficult for you? Here, let me make you a balloon animal doggy.” The choice is up to you!

Jay Sankey magic now free!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

It is with mixed emotions that I learned today that Jay Sankey is no longer charging magicians an annual fee for the right to purchase magic through his Web site. I suppose that this is fine for young magicians and those who do not have a large magic “war chest,” but to those of us who have spent decades trying to keep our secrets safe from the undeserving, it feels like Sankey has thrown the gates of heaven open and let the golden clouds pour out upon the heads of those below.

Sankey was nice enough to send me a $20 gift certificate to help make up for the annual dues I paid some time ago. This was a fine gesture, but the fact of the matter is that I paid more than $12,000 for the right to purchase merchandise through his site. I was assured that this was a deeply discounted price by Gerald, my local Web access guy (he works in an abandoned crack house two blocks from my mansion and is the same guy who sold me a license to shop at for only $4,000), and I still remember the difficulty in getting the funds together because Gerald says that Web access fees can only be paid in cash.

Not that I feel ripped off in the slightest. Sankey is a hero amongst magicians — possibly the only magician in the history of magic who could have possibly showed David Copperfield how he could make the Statue of Liberty disappear using only a paper clip and sly misdirection. I’ll certainly continue to purchase products from Sankey and write about him at, but it will be with a tear in my eye and a remembrance of the day when only those who were willing to pony up big bucks could be part of the Sankey-DVD-purchasing fraternity.

Vanishing an animal

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

How can I make an animal like a dog disappear and make people think it really disappeared?

The easiest way to make people think that an animal has disappeared is to make it actually disappear. Many household animals (particularly cats) will run away if you just open the front door a little. Other animals can be hidden in basements, tied up in bags, sold to disreputable pet stores, or surreptitiously given to a small child on the street.

The problem with these methods is that they a) can get you in trouble with animal protection agencies, and b) may make life difficult if you want the animal to reappear on cue at a later date. But if you just want an animal to disappear, they work fine.

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