Archive for July, 2008

Derren Brown and the Gorilla

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

How nice! I’m starting to receive more mail that is neither insulting nor unprintable. I am pleased to answer selected questions on this blog, and will do so as they arrive.

A reader writes:

I went to see Derren Brown recently and in his act he went from behind a writing screen at one side of the stage into a gorilla suit at the other side of the stage with 3-4 seconds. How is this done?

There are many ways to accomplish the classic “Instant Gorilla Suit” effect. The most common method is for the magician to simply wear the gorilla suit beneath special “tear away” clothing. Behind the screen, the normal-looking clothing is ripped away in seconds by a team of well-practiced assistants, revealing the gorilla suit. The gorilla mask is hidden beneath a mask of the magician’s own face and revealed when the magician mask is pulled away.

But this is not the way that Derren Brown performs this effect. Because he has access to funds in excess of those available to most magicians, he is able to purchase advanced instant-gorilla-suit technology that allows him to perform without the use of assistants. Before the performance, Brown coats himself and his clothing in a thin coating of a special Instant Gorilla Paste (patent pending). This paste is invisible to the naked eye, but when activated by water (which Brown pours over himself while behind the screen) it instantly sprouts into a thick coat of black fur, making Brown look to the unpracticed eye as if he is wearing a gorilla suit!

Where’s Presto?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Sorry not to have written in so long! I have been touring the country helping to promote Pixar’s new short film “Presto” which is playing before the wonderful cartoon WALL*E. Although I was not consulted in the creation of this film and neither Pixar nor Disney asked for my assistance in promoting it, the film was clearly named after me so it was the least I could do.

Now some might ask how I knew that I was the “Preso” the filmmakers had in mind. Consider these facts: The magician in the film was a magician, and so am I. He performed the “pulling a rabbit out of a hat” effect, and I have performed that effect (although using a far superior method, as detailed on And the magician in the film looked nothing like me, and the only way he could have looked as little like me would be if an attempt was being made to avoid looking like me at all.

So thank you, Pixar, for allowing me to be your inspiration!

And speaking of inspiration, I want to invite you to visit my dear friend Nathan Allen at his wonderful Web site Nathan and I have been dear friends ever since he sent me a nice e-mail earlier today, and I hope you will give him all of your love, support, and — where possible — money.

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