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|Magic Magazine October 2014|
The Journey of Yu Ho-Jin
By Gregory Bracco
Yu Ho-Jin's road to becoming the 2012 FISM Grand Prix champion has been paved with dedication and countless hours of practice. This South Korean's act is already a modern classic - and he is still just 21 years old.
Joanie Spina: 1953 - 2014
By Alan Howard, Joanie Spina & Friends
Joanie Spina was an influential, inspirational figure in the world of magic, and her death leaves a void in the lives of numerous friends. Here are memories from some of those friends, along with excerpts from Joanie's popular "Directions" column.
Who Was Dr. Jaks?
By Leo Behnke
Stanley Jaks was a pioneering performer in the fields of close-up magic and mentalism. While he might not be widely remembered today, there has been a revived interest in his life and work, both of which are represented here.
Revisiting the Haunted Mansion: Disney's Magic Show
By Stan Allen
The spooky mansion that gradually took shape at Disneyland through the 1960s showcased ghostly illusions old and new, built into an amusingly scary attraction. The stories behind the ghosts are as intriguing as the haunts themselves.
Plus Updates on...
Twenty-one products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti, and John Wilson:
Bravura by Paul Daniels
Carney 2013 by John Carney
The Social Deck by Soma
The Undercover Wallet by Andy Nicholls and Titanas
Die-Namic by Martin Lewis
Bound by Will Tsai and SansMinds
Patrified by Patrick Kun and SansMinds
What the Fork? by Michael Dardant
Propel by Rizki Nanda and SansMinds
Mr. Electric Unplugged by Marvyn Roy
Gary Plants on the Zarrow Shuffle by Gary Plants
The Greater Magic Video Library vol 28: Don Alan by Don Alan
Pocket by Julio Montoro and SansMinds
Frea-capped by Kieron Johnson and Big Blind Media
Foresight by Oliver Smith and SansMinds
Inscrutable II by Joseph Barry
Joined by Dario Capuozzo
Blind Date by Stephen Leathwaite
True Mysteries II by Fraser Parker and Gavin O'Rourke-Soccorso
Keep Calm & Carey On by John Carey
Hospitality by Max Francis
First Look: Modern Mentalism
Luke Jermay has long been behind the curtains of some of the most renowned performers of the last ten years, having consulted for Derren Brown, Marco Tempest, Criss Angel, and Dynamo, to name just a few. A few of Luke's previous books may already grace your bookshelf, but in Modern Mentalism he goes the extra mile, divulging closely guarded secrets that have been the backbone of his sell-out shows. The routine explained here, Everyday ESP, is a glimpse into Jermay's craft, showmanship, and attention to detail. Despite - or perhaps, because of - its simplicity, it dazzles spectators with the impossibility of the unknown.
The Monk's Way: Shadow-Zone Assembly
The Illuminated Zone is the area of attention an audience focuses on. Ascanio gives a useful analogy. Like a viewer watching television, a tunnel effect occurs. Try it. The eyes zero in on the point of interest and meaning, and its surroundings become blurred and, eventually, when interest is at its height, invisible. This blurred area is the Shadow Zone. It's in this area that much deviousness can occur. The routine this month demonstrates just how much deviousness can be managed. The switch in this method will seem impractical and obvious. But please remember: a Monk is fearless.
Loving Mentalism: Detective Fiction
This month's "Loving Mentalism" item is a human lie detector routine. Three spectators make up a series of statements that may be true or false. You are able to sort truth from lies every time, without asking any questions. There is no preshow, nothing written down, and no fishing for information. What's more, the audience can all join in the fun, matching their skill against yours when it comes to detecting lies and liars. One interesting aspect of this routine is that while it could easily run for seven or eight minutes onstage, the method takes up literally just one second. The rest of the time, you are doing everything just as you would if your talent for lie detection were real.
Bent on Deception: The Wizard's Parasol
If you like this routine, you're going to hate me. It uses what I call a Holy Grail prop - a prop that's no longer made and will take you forever to find. But if you seek the Grail, your reward will be sweet. I have lots of these elusive props always on my mind and my eBay search list. The prop you'll be seeking hasn't been made in over a decade. It was made by a company called Gemmy and is called the Animated Witch Hat. It looks like a standard Halloween witch's hat, but when you press a button, the pointy part flips from side to side with the comedy timing of a Swiss watch. Gemmy also made a Santa Hat version, so if you can find one of those you can convert it. Even without the hat, this is a good routine. But with the hat, it's a killer routine. So my advice is to seek the Grail (but look out for man-eating rabbits).
Classic Correspondence: Neil Foster to Jane Thurston
The relic in question is an original typed manuscript of Howard Thurston's 1929 biography, My Life of Magic. The project started when Thurston was at the peak of his fame and generally recognized as America's foremost stage illusionist. John Northern Hilliard, Thurston's publicity agent, accepted the task of writing a book that would chronicle the great magician's career.
For What It's Worth: New
There is nothing better than New. A New trick. A New bit. Something that gets a great New reaction. Something you can call your New Thing. Has it been awhile since you did something New? Last time you wrote a New piece? Last time you rehearsed something New in front of a mirror? It's not that I don't like Old. I fondly remember Old magic shops in Old downtown Detroit that were permeated with the stench of Old cigar smoke. To this day, I find that familiar stench oddly pleasant. Old, even stenchy Old, is comforting. New is challenging. Maybe frightening. But it smells better.
Walkabout Soup: Glorious Byproducts of Failure
Douglas Adams, legendary author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, once expressed something that struck a very deep chord with me, along with many writers, performers, and other miscellaneous creatives around the world. In 1999, in a discussion thread about novel writing on his website, he wrote: "In my experience, what you end up with is the byproduct of your failure to achieve what you set out to do. It may turn out okay, but it wasn't what you meant and you've no idea how you got there." That, in an elegant nutshell, describes nearly every show I've ever done, every routine I've ever worked on, and every piece of text I've ever written.
Magic Magazine November 2014
Michael Carbonaro: Hiding in Plain Sight
The Carbonaro Effect is a hit on the truTV network, with twice as many new shows ordered as originally planned. Michael Carbonaro and his team spend their days creating magic that doesn't look like magic, and capturing people's reactions on hidden cameras.
Rethinking Dell O'Dell
She was one of the busiest professionals in magic for nearly thirty years, taking command of whatever style of venue she chose to play. Dell O'Dell and her husband, juggler Charlie Carrer, seem to have been liked by everyone - despite her much maligned rhyming patter.
In September, Mat Franco accomplished what was previously thought to be highly unlikely: winning a season of America's Got Talent with a magic act. He did it through a combination of tricks both old and new, charm, and an innate ability to adapt to the game.
You Never Know!
How did Bill Malone, who has never acted before, land a guest-starring role on one of the most popular shows on television? Simply by being himself and being a magician - and being seen by a producer who wrote the non-magic role with one of his favorite magicians in mind.
Plus Updates on...
Bonus Content for the November Issue...
(* Available for subscribers only at M360)
Nineteen products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Greg Gleason, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti, Peter Pitchford, and John Wilson:
The Hollingworth Collection by Guy Hollingworth and Dan and Dave Buck
Domino Effect by Alex Pandrea
The Casino Con by Steve Gore and Gregory Wilson
Lightspeed by Perseus Arkomanis
Cootie Catcher Magic by Jason Michaels
Flatline by Jay Sankey
At the Table Live Lecture Series by Murphy's Magic
3 Secrets by Ken Niinuma
The Answer by Ron Salamangkero
Duo by Rian Lehman
The Skinner Tapes by Kaufman & Co.
Equilateral 3 by JC Sum
Spider Girl Illusion
E-rase by Julien Arlandis
The Wallet Transformer by Cameron Francis
Spontaneous Combustion by Granell
Unveil by Hyun Joon Kim
Card Magic Course by Steve Faulkner
Pop Haydn's The Mongolian Pop Knot
First Look: The Sense of Wonder
Robert E. Neale is considered to be a leading philosopher of magic and an innovator of magic effects and presentations. His new book, The Sense of Wonder, published last month sets out to expand our understanding of the human capacity to wonder beyond our limited notions of it, so magicians can create more and better wonders for their audiences. In these excerpts, The Tortured Bill explains an "impossible" fold, and Only a Paper Doll presents a torn-and-restored routine.
The Monk's Way: Discrepancy Find
I remember the moment when the Monk emerged, the moment when my imagined audience became my conspirators. The year was 1999 and I was on the phone from Philly to New Orleans with my friend Mark Aspiazu. I was explaining a new version of Marlo's Ace-x-Ace and I had hit a snag. The final display was hitting inconsistently and I had no answers. Then a glaring problem was evident: this was not the right time for a maneuver. This is when the audience is focused and aware. What are they focused on? What is important to them at this moment? This question brought in the light. No more move; no more audience as viewer.
Loving Mentalism: Flexicon
This month's "Loving Mentalism" item, from guest contributor Daniel Young, is all about strange, obscure, and amusing words. From hundreds of such words, a spectator merely looks at one and concentrates on it. You try to read her mind, and you fail! She names the word she is thinking of, and when you open your sealed, printed prediction that has been in view the whole time, it matches perfectly! The routine is neatly deceptive, easy to perform, and provides plenty of scope for fun. After all, how many mentalism routines do you know that involve words like "sausage" and "snollygoster"?
Bent on Deception: Advice Column
When Horace Greeley gave the nation his famous advice to "Go West, young man," it was probably great advice for some - and horrible advice for others. I'm sure that some of those who took his advice stepped off the covered wagon, full of hope, and were immediately shot to death. I'm pretty sure it was also Greeley who coined the phrase "My bad!" (Also, Go West is one of the worst Marx Brothers movies.) Every day, we get advice from friends, family, fortune cookies, news stories, talk shows, and Facebook memes. We are even given advice that contradicts other advice we've been given. We're told "Look before you leap" and "He who hesitates is lost." With so much advice pelting us, we need to learn to take it with a grain of salt. We need to pick and choose what advice we listen to and what advice to ignore. In entertainment, this is really essential. Let me tell you a story.
Classic Correspondence: Senator Crandall to Harry Mendoza
On February 23, 1966, millions of people across America tuned in to The Beverly Hillbillies and watched dimwitted Jethro assist "Marvo the Magnificent" and "accidentally" expose the P&L Vanishing Bowl of Water and the Modern Cabinet. All in good fun, of course, but not all magicians were amused. One unamused viewer was Howard Adams, who felt compelled to send a letter to Bill Larsen Jr., editor of Genii magazine. Howard complained that he was forced to take the Vanishing Bowl of Water out of his act and that the magic on this TV program "could have been handled by a ten year old." Magician Harry Mendoza, the technical advisor for the show, was quick to respond. His rebuttal filled more than a full page in Genii and stated that Adams had insulted his intelligence. Editor Bill Larsen capped it all off by suggesting that any further discussion on this topic should be addressed directly to the parties involved. Sitting in his Chicago apartment, Clarke "The Senator" Crandall rolled a sheet of his simple stationery into the typewriter, pushed down the "caps lock" key, and started typing.
For What It's Worth: Don't Drink the Kool-Aid
After watching Masters of Illusion, Wizard Wars, Houdini part one, YouTube clips from America's Got Talent and a few more "Got Talents," and other self-proclaimed masters of magic, I couldn't help but focus on a single word. A word that, at one time, the magic community embraced as having special meaning. A word that magicians used as a beacon for truth and reason, intended to shed light on dishonest practices and ideas. What was that word? Bull. If honesty and integrity and creativity have anything to do with a good magic performance, you won't see much of that on television these days.
Walkabout Soup: A Milkshake or a Zombie Apocalypse
I woke up on a bus with no idea where I was or how I'd gotten there. I groggily blinked and looked around. The bus wasn't moving. Also, I was the only person on it. I was alone on an empty bus in - let's look out the window - the middle of the desert. What? I tried to think back to the last thing I could remember. Nothing immediately came to mind. This didn't worry me - at least not yet. Anyone who has done much traveling knows the few seconds of disorientation and existential doubt you can get when waking up in an unfamiliar location. However, that usually happens in a hotel room. Not on an empty bus in the middle of a desert.
Magic Magazine December 2014
Dan Sperry: Freaky Good
By Rory Johnston and Philip Escoffey
He still does card manipulations and a dove act, but audiences rarely watch Dan Sperry and think, I've seen all that before. His look catches your eye even before his magic, but he is certainly not all style without substance.
Magic & the A-Word
By Chris Philpott
If magic truly is an art, why shouldn't it be critiqued in the same manner as other artistic genres? Chris Philpott, who knows his way around film and literature as well as magic, provides examples of what that magic criticism might be like.
By Mike Caveney
When Mike Caveney ran out of excuses, he found himself at a magic festival in Portugal, performing on the streets for the very first time. Adapting to unfamiliar surroundings and necessities, he experienced an ancient form of entertainment that was all new to him.
By Jaq Greenspon
Inés Fuentes is a Spanish magician whose skill and charm have kept her increasingly busy on stages and television around the world. Along with a look at her life and work, here Inés teaches her handling of a classic yet seldom seen close-up effect.
Plus Updates on...
Bonus Content for the December Issue...
Fifteen products are reviewed this month by Michael Claxton, Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti, Peter Pitchford, John Wilson:
Ask Roberto by Roberto Giobbi
Modern Mentalism by Luke Jermay.
Ryan Schlutz's Effortless Effects by Ryan Schlutz
Roughing Stick by Harry Robson
Mugshot by Kevin Schaller
Bairn by Ken Dyne
Flown Away by Paul Romhany and Jasper Blakely
A Magical Vision: The World of Eugene Burger
Collision: The Ultimate Airborne Card Stab by Tom Wright
793.8: Where is the Magic? by Jeff Stone
Time is Money by Seol-Ha Park
My Kind of Magic by Alan Shaxon
Zero Elements by Juan Esteban Varela
The Pool Hustler's Handbook by Chef Anton
The Magnetic Deck by Granell Magic
First Look: The '80s Called... They Want Their Magic Book Back
Jonathan Friedman remembers being "blown away" by seeing Card Warp performed at a restaurant in Denver, Colorado, when he was about eleven years old. Soon afterward, he experienced "a Harris double punch" when he attended his first magic lecture, given by Ben Harris, and in the same week picked up a copy of Supermagic by Paul Harris. "I was never the same," Friedman says. After college, he became a professional musician for over twenty years, but he still kept creating magic and showing it to a couple of local magicians, who would then "test run" the effects for him. He notes, "I always felt that when I was ready to 'retire' from music, I would come back to magic." And here he is, with two effects, one with cards, the other with a coin: Guitar Pick-a Card and Magic Eraser.
The Monk's Way: O.K. ITO
I am a card worker playing the part of a magician. My creative bent is toward card magic, and most of my output emphasizes tricks with the pasteboards. To put it mildly, card magic flows through my veins. But ten years ago, I began performing full time in restaurants that were tailored toward local families and the non-card-playing gentry. The Monk had to mend his myopic ways - and yet not exactly. While my creative emphasis is on card magic, my approaches are not about card magic. They are general principles and modes of addressing the problem of the dichotomy between viewer/interpreter and method. The environment and choice of props are only vehicles through which I cast the Monk's Spell. (Sounds like a card trick!) Here I present an Okito Box effect that shows how some of the ideas of the Monk's Way can be applied off the Royal Road. It features a one-behind principle and the audience's unknowing creation of the Ghost Coin.
Loving Mentalism: The Lying Game
There's plenty of fun and entertainment to be derived from this month's mentalism routine. It involves two themes: telling truth from lies, and being able to predict the choices people will make. Two spectators take part in a game. You present several faintly surreal statements about your own life, and they try to guess which ones are true and which are just made up. The first surprise is that you are apparently able to turn one player into an expert "human lie detector" with just a few simple crumbs of advice. Secondly, when all the results are in for both participants, you prove that you correctly predicted every one of their verdicts.
Bent on Deception: The Trick's on Me Bottle
Remember when you were a kid, when the ultimate reward for all your hard work was an icy cold bottle of Grant's Black Cherry soda? No? Of course not - because it only existed on the cheap two-color labels slapped onto MAK Magic's Tricky Bottles props. Those bottles might have passed muster with audiences back in the 1940s, but with a 21st-century audience, they just scream "magic prop." Is the Tricky Bottles worthy of a makeover? In today's kid-show milieu, the whole "I'm an adult making a seven-year-old look like an idiot" dynamic is on the way out. In a world where that same seven-year-old can show you how to fix your computer, it's just not funny anymore. What's funny is a magician trying to be smarter than the kids, but ultimately being outsmarted. And if you can throw in some great magic, too - well, then you've got it made.
Classic Correspondence: Jay Palmer to David Price
A personal letter to a friend is a safe haven for one's hopes and dreams. The author feels free to include things that are not meant for public consumption and certainly not for publication. Here, Jay Palmer tells David Price about his goal of performing for the British royal family and then moving on to the Folies Bergère in Paris. Neither goal was realized, yet their career allowed Palmer & Doreen - whose trademark routine was the Inexhaustible Kettle, wherein a variety of alcoholic drinks were served along with sixteen glasses of beer - to perform onstage for appreciative audiences in exotic locales all over the world. And that's what a magician does - perform.
For What It's Worth: Predictions for 2015
The Good News: Close-up is cool again. This year's batch of magicians on America's Got Talent scored as well or better than previous years' magic entries. Because it's cool, close-up could be hot for 2015. This could be the year of the small show. More Good News: This could be the year of the big show. Even More Good News: This could be the year of the medium show. The Bad News: All forms of live entertainment are facing extinction and will survive only to the degree that they can adapt to the dramatic shift in consciousness brought about by the age of electronic media.
Walkabout Soup: The Fifteenth Time
The first time I visited The Magic Castle, I was fresh out of university, traveling on a budget of about $30 per day. I was astounded by everything - the building, the performances, and the people. So many people I met were far nicer than they needed to be to a random unknown foreigner. They even colluded to let me do a small unofficial show downstairs, thus giving me my first "performed at The Magic Castle" street cred.