The NEW Sands of the Desert HYBRID changes everything!

About Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith, owner of The Magic Depot, is a writer, illustrator, and magic creator. Follow Best Kept Secrets and The Magic Depot @magicdepot on Twitter.

Stage Flying, PK Magic, and Viral Coin Video

IMG_2101

Grid loft above the Coleman Theatre stage. Much of this was installed in the 1920’s, including the 2×4 slats where I was standing over fifty-feet in the air. The Coleman is on the National Register of Historical Places.

Last month, I completed the design and overhead install of a fly rig at the Coleman Theatre for a large MLT production of The Wizard of Oz.

The fly was a single point pendulum line set. I used CMI for the pulleys and continuous slings at a 15:1 safety factor and 4:1 mechanical advantage, 500 feet of KMIII half-inch black static line, 3/8 inch wire rope slings at the rigging plate, locking steel carabiners and Crosby three-ton shackles for the connections. Each component proof tested at the factory.

It took four techs to operate the lines, one lift line and two traverse lines.

It was an intense six weeks. Crawling around on the grid seventy feet above the stage like Spider-Man before every performance, numerous municipal board meetings for contract negotiations, and the mental exhaustion of strict cues on a three-hour show with over one-hundred actors and crew over the course of four-nights—a total of twenty stage flights plus two weeks of rehearsals.

Add to that pyrotechnics and smoke effects. I definitely have a feeling of accomplishment, but I also have bruises, blisters, and torn ligaments in my fingers. Now that the nightmares have stopped, I can’t wait to do it again!

But first, Halloween. As the manufacturer of the STAT brand of products—one of the most popular lines this time of year—my focus is in the workshop. I get there early in the morning and stay until late at night. We ship gallons upon gallons of stage blood every October. Our FedEx driver finally asked, “What’s with all these First-Aid kits?”

Commando Trick: What’s in Your Wallet?

Jeff McBride famously promotes the benefits of a “commando act.” An act you can perform in any venue, for five minutes or an hour, silent or patter, for any demographic. Jeff’s commando act made him a star. But what about a “commando trick?” A trick you can easily keep with you and perform for anyone, at any time—individuals, groups, children and adults. For this I keep a Folding Coin or a Bite Coin in my wallet. They are cheap, don’t take up much space, and I always have something ready to go; an amazing closer to some impromptu magic.

How to Make the PK Match

IMG_2113My inbox was flooded with questions about the matchstick pic on Instagram. What you are really seeing in the picture is a cut, squared toothpick with a dab of PK Putty Magnum on the end. It isn’t stuck to my finger, but rather moving back and forth under the control of a PK Power Strip, part of the Shimpossible PK Power Pack (you can also set it on the spectator’s finger or palm). PK Putty is an easy way to shim objects on the fly. If you want a PK Matchstick, cut the end off a regular match and mold a new head with some Magnum. A complete box of these “matches” creates a whole new PK prop. You can make the matchbox stand on end, twist around, or even come to your hand.

The PK Palm Beetle Revealed!

IMG_2118Speaking of the Shimpossible PK Power Pack, another question I get all the time is if magicians can use the PK Palm Beetle to replace their PK Ring. Yes and no. The Beetle is worn like a PK Ring, but there are some differences. Instead of being disguised as a ring, it is rubber coated and includes flesh strips for camouflage. The Beetle is dense, very strong, and easily loaded and ditched during performance. I thought the best way to help you visualize its uses is to simply post a picture of it. Currently, it is only available with the Shimpossible PK Power Pack.

 

Make Your Mark!

Whenever I watch Rick Jay perform, it seems like I cannot put my marked deck down for the next two weeks. The impromptu demonstrations I have seen him perform—even on national television—are usually marked deck demos with a story. I prefer a quick-read system versus having to learn and decipher a code, which is why I use the Ted Lesley Marked Deck. Ricky Jay’s “Deceptive Practice” documentary is on Netflix and has been going non-stop in our workshop all week. Grab a deck of cards and watch the master explain his passion for card magic.

 

 

Young Mueller Performs Viral Coin Magic

This video of Moritz Mueller is going viral right now and I think you can see why: the young man is extremely talented. Even the mainstream media has recognized his gift. Important for beginners to note is his confidence and sincerity. This kid is going places.

100% Event – EXTENDED!

100_EVENT_BLUE_SMALLPlace ANY SIZE order at The Magic Depot before Midnight, Friday October 26th, and you will get up to $400 worth of magic, FREE!

That’s right! Place ANY SIZE order for ANY COMBINATION of items in ANY QUANTITY and I will give you 100 PERCENT of your order total in additional magic, FREE!

Up to $400 worth of magic FREE with every order!

I will match your order total DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR in additional magic. This is not a 20%, 50%, or 80% off sale. You GET 100% of your order total in additional FREE MAGIC up to $400, exclusively at The Magic Depot.

  • Write “100% EVENT” to qualify!
  • Get up to $400 worth of magic FREE!
  • Priority or Faster Shipping REQUIRED!

Simply place an order and write “100% EVENT” in the order comments box during the checkout process, choose priority shipping, and you’ll get amazing magic, killer bestsellers, and some of our most popular items, free.

My 100% FREE MAGIC EVENT is not valid with any other offer or discount, such as free shipping, loyalty rewards, free items already displayed on the web site, or any percentage off sales. Items on special DO QUALIFY at their special prices.

START shopping NOW: HOT NEW MAGIC!
START shopping NOW: FEATURED MAGIC!
START shopping NOW: THE BESTSELLERS!
START shopping NOW: ON SALE!

Offer ENDS Wednesday, October 26th, at Midnight.

Will this liquid revolutionize your closeup magic?

black_liquidThis innovative liquid transforms one of magic’s most popular tools into an even more versatile method.

When the liquid is applied and allowed to dry, it removes the gimmick’s telltale shine and replaces it with a light-absorbing, flat-black invisibility. And unlike other methods for “cloaking,” this liquid works its magic with only a slight reduction to the gimmick’s strength.

Visibility is one of the two major reasons cited by magicians for not using this gimmick as part of their regular closeup repertoire.

The second reason is frustration.

But today, both problems are easily solved.

The black liquid in the picture—formula SR9—is a very special mixture of synthetic and natural ingredients compounded together for the exclusive purpose of removing shine and providing camouflage for polyurethane-polyurea copolymers and aliphatic polyamides: Invisible Elastic Thread and Nylon/Kevlar Invisible Threads.

For years, individual magicians and independent manufacturers have used repurposed dyes and pigments, even black markers, to color their Invisible Thread to reduce visibility under performance conditions.

Since the surface of Invisible Thread is slippery like plastic, the only colorants that will stick contain a solvent, which destroys the thread wall and weakens it dramatically.

With a basic understanding of how these polymers bond together, one will immediately recognize the damage that can be done by removing even a nanoscale layer of the thread wall—a variable of great importance for static fibers, multiplied exponentially for the delicate structure of elastic threads.

Some magicians have given up entirely and have chosen a black Invisible Elastic Thread for closeup applications. But the color is not what the audience glimpses from the corner of their eye. It is the hint of shine reflected from ambient light. Black Invisible Thread is often just as shiny as its white/clear counterpart.

Magicians have balanced a tradeoff: alter the molecular structure of the thread, reducing its strength, or run the risk of flashing under ambient light.

SR9 is phobic to common IT and IET polymers. It wraps around the structure of the thread, concealing it without altering the structure of the thread itself. Does it still reduce strength? Yes, to a small degree. The particles are so fine they can embed in microscopic cracks and imperfections in the thread, adding weight and causing friction. Compared to harsh solvents, however, this reduction in strength is trivial.

SR9 solves the visibility problem, but it still leaves the second issue: Invisible Thread is a huge hassle.

Here is the truth about Invisible Thread…

Almost everything you want to perform with “regular” Invisible Thread—Nylon and Kevlar—can be performed with Invisible Elastic Thread, bypassing much of the frustration.

With Invisible Elastic Thread, 1) there is no stripping of a single thread from a bundle of other strands; 2) its elasticity absorbs minor shock loads that will snap regular IT; 3) it acts as its own reel.

The last example is the “reel” reason you should pay attention.

A thread reel adjusts the length of Invisible Thread during performance.

Anchored Invisible Elastic Thread performs similarly without a reel.

The elasticity of a high-quality Invisible Elastic Thread mimics the performance of a static thread in a thread reel, but with much less bother—providing you have the proper setup.

cylinderTypically, Invisible Elastic Thread is supplied wound on a spool or bobbin. Performing with IET while it is still attached to the spool causes the loose end of the thread to dig in under the rest of the supply. When the thread breaks, the end is lost. The spool is useless.

The secret is to wind about ten feet of the thread onto another cylinder. Unwind the amount you want to use—one foot will get you three-to-five feet depending on the brand—and then slip the thread into a double notch to hold tight the thread not in use at the time. Put the cylinder in your shirt pocket and you are ready to go.

When the working end of the thread is stretched, the burden is at the notches, leaving the balance of the thread untouched. When the thread snaps, the loose end is right there at the notch, ready to be WaxTaqed. You are setup for the next performance.

With this technique, you might get fifty performances out of ten feet of thread, instead of [barely] one performance from a hundred-foot spool. PK magic at your fingertips!

Here’s how you can get the notched thread cylinders and the SR9 cloaking fluid…

SR9 Pre-Release Special Offer!

Want to try SR9 for yourself before official release? Get this incredible solution, three double-notched cylinders of Invisible Elastic Thread, and a pack of WaxTaqs all for just $24.95 plus shipping. See what it can do for your closeup magic!

Domestic Orders:

 

International Orders:

 
Want it FREE? Place an order for $50 or more and write “FREE SR9 KIT” in the comments box during the checkout process. The complete kit is yours, FREE!

Start shopping now: Featured Magic!

Ultimate Test: Magic Worth a Salt

Our new HYBRID Sands of the Desert treated sand is a combination of both Waxed and Synthetic Sands. But how is that possible? It’s all thanks to our innovative “wetsuit” technology that envelopes every grain of sand, mimicking the traditional Synthetic coating without harming the Waxed layer. Because this hydrophobic barrier is applied without heat and it is not a liquid, sprayed or dipped, we can apply it to anything.

Want to try this amazing hydrophobic coating for yourself under the most extreme test conditions? Now you can, FREE! Place any size shippable order, write “HYDRO SALT” in the comments box, and I will include a package of ordinary table salt waterproofed by this new technology, FREE!

Everyone knows that salt dissolves quickly in water. This salt will not only survive its bath, it will emerge from the liquid DRY! Pour the treated salt in the water and watch the magic. I will also include a closeup routine created exclusively for real, hydrophobic salt.

What to buy to qualify? Anything, storewide! Start here with Featured Magic.

(offer ENDS Sunday at Midnight)

Free Magic DVD Instantly!

A full-length magic DVD converted to instant download, YOURS FREE!

Place ANY SIZE paid order and get the DVD free, instantly. This DVD was a bestseller by a known magician. But I cannot advertise it by name for less than wholesale.

A $34.95 value, FREE! Write “FREE VIDEO” to qualify.

Checkout these items…

Gambling Demos Made Easy with Speed-Reading Marked Deck

There are many ways to locate and identify a chosen card without a gimmick or gaff. A marked deck for those routines would be overkill at best. At worst, a marked deck can get in the way.

However, for an out-of-the-hands “fairest of them all” routine, a marked deck is quite efficient. Especially if you need to know the value of ten face down cards from a shuffled deck. I recently watched a world-famous magician use a marked deck on a national talk show, and I was surprised—even knowing the secret—how clean the magic was.

A marked deck is not a crutch for beginners; it is a tool for professionals.

Billy McComb: "I must congratulate you on producing the most readable 'Reader Deck' I have ever seen." Click here to read more.

Billy McComb: “I must congratulate you on producing the most readable ‘Reader Deck’ I have ever seen.” Read more…

Some marked decks use complicated coding systems in an attempt to hide the marks by incorporating them into the back design—an unnecessary hindrance in the course of a magic demonstration.

In contrast, The Ted Lesley Marked Deck is a “speed reading” deck. The marks are covert, but easy to read from a distance. There is no code to memorize or cryptic marks to decipher. Read the backs as easily as the faces. It is an ideal deck for gambling exposés and poker deals.

Gambling demonstrations are timeless and captivating. Tailored to any audience. Using a marked deck, you can start with a specific routine and end it there, or flow into a whole separate act impromptu—each hand different. Since you know the value and suit of the cards before the audience does, you are able to generate patter to fit each outcome.

A marked deck in the right hands is a closeup Commando Act all on its own. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

The “Me or You” Poker Deal

Have a member of the audience join you at the card table. Ask them to shuffle the cards, cut the deck, and hand you the cards. Spread through the deck and have the spectator point to a card. Outjog it and ask, “Me or you?” They can choose the card for themselves, or they can give the card to you. Lay the card on the table in front of the person of their choice.

Repeat this ten times, until you each have five cards—a hand of poker—reading the backs of the cards as you go.

In this routine, winning is not the name of the game. But if you see that you have won, then play up the fact that even though your opponent had a huge advantage, as an expert at the card table, you were able to play the hand you were dealt with stunning results, or if your hand isn’t wonderful, a minor victory as a display of your prudence.

Then again, if you have lost, while the cards are still face down, ask the spectator if they would like to trade cards to better their hand.

Should they wish to keep their cards as is, or once the trading is done and your hand is still the loser, ask the spectator to look at their cards without any change in facial expression. Based on minute tells, inform the audience you think your opponent has a good hand. Turn your bad luck into a “poker face” demonstration.

With a marked deck, you always know when to fold ‘em!

Secret Deals, Quad Cuts, and Discards

The Ted Lesley Marked Deck is a “speed reading” deck. Since there isn’t a code to decipher, you know the value of the cards quickly in the course of a deal or spread.

After the spectator shuffles the deck, spy the bottom card. Begin your deal, five cards to each person, and if you see a card you want on the spectator’s turn, deal a second or a bottom so that you get the desired card (remember, even a two is a good card if you already have one). An easy-to-read deck means you can make fast decisions.

TIP: Nervous about special deals? As you deal the spectator’s last card, say, “Go ahead and look at your cards,” then special deal to your pile while the audience is preoccupied. And if you are spotted in a secret deal, make it part of the show.

Another technique. After the shuffle, cut the cards into four separate packs—the illusion of a more complete cut—and then gather the piles in an order suitable to stack the first card. To spy the second card of that pack, fumble and let the top card slide to the side enough to see the mark.

Once a hand is over, gather the discards in order to setup the next round.

Black Jack is a Breeze

Twenty-One is a fun way to involve more than one audience member without confusing the group. The rules of Black Jack are simple and can be explained in a few minutes.

Gather up the cards from a previous demonstration or spread through the deck. Cull four cards of “ten value” to the top and an ace to the bottom (this example is easiest, but the best setup is an Ace third down from the top and a ten-value on the bottom).

False shuffle and deal to three spectators and to yourself. Deal the second round off the top to your opponents and a bottom to your hand. This is a good way to open with a win or a tie, so that you can continue with a demonstration of betting strategy if you do not get good cards on fair deals.

The ideas above are a Pandora’s Box. Once you perform a brief demo, you will see immediately how to segue into another routine invented on the fly. Excellent in social settings, a bar environment, or part of your regular show.

Familiarize yourself with gambling terms and concepts, so that you can talk about the subject in a believable way—educate and entertain. With a marked deck, you can demonstrate skills you do not genuinely have while enhancing the skills you do possess.

Want to bypass checkout? Purchase a Ted Lesley Marked Deck direct through PayPal for only $19.95!
Domestic Orders: 
International Orders: 

Something More Convenient than Mentalism…

Magicians are drawn to mentalism for two key reasons…

human-20424_640First, a great deal of the material can be performed impromptu or with very little setup. Second, mentalism is scalable from an intimate one-on-one setting with a single spectator to a powerful connection with an audience of thousands in a large theatre.

A mentalist can perform anywhere, even on stage, with little or no props. Mentalism is one of the most convenient and versatile types of magic on the planet. Plus it’s amazing! Read someone’s mind and they are baffled in a way unique to the craft.

Unless, of course, your audience cannot hear you over the ambient sound of an outside performance, the rowdy nature of a club environment, the honks and hollers of a busy street, or the clattering of glasses and small-talk echoing through the air of a corporate party.

476px-Mind-reading-Russell-MorganIn those situations, mentalism is a billet never burned, a secret never revealed, a thought transmitted into a blaring divide never to be enjoyed. Luckily, early on I learned a type of “fringe magic” that allowed me to elude those nuisances, draw a huge crowd and perform with zero props—silent if necessary.

Impromptu and scalable, convenient and impressive—just like mentalism—yet unemployed by most magicians. And looking back, I probably booked more gigs demonstrating a trick from this one category than from any other type of magic—including mentalism!

So what is this miracle that is more convenient than mentalism and plays bigger than a rainstorm?

Theft.

Honest theft. Watches, wallets, and keys typically. If your spectator wasn’t born with it or it hasn’t been surgically attached, the item is fair game. And people LOVE it! Especially the “victims.”

Every summer as a teenager, I would find small towns without busking laws—if they said, “What’s busking?” I was usually good to go. I walked around their festivals performing magic where and when I could. As I built my crowds, I nabbed their valuables for magical reveals throughout the show.

My hat filled faster than a pig’s belly! (I worked fairs too)

Like a number of magicians, I was introduced to mindreading from the legendary 13 Steps to Mentalism—it changed my life. But what you may not know is that there is an equivalent for pickpocketing, called The Complete Course in Pickpocketing.

It’s the “13 Steps” of thievery—for entertainment purposes.

The Complete Course in Pickpocketing converts the common magician’s repertoire into an exciting audience interactive where anything can happen. Now those everyday [missed] opportunities become magical events, which to a pro means more venues.

The Complete Course was $60 when I first read it, but today you can get this book for a steal! Making the first step obvious…

Read it Now: The Complete Course in Pickpocketing!

 

Featured Mentalism: 13 Steps to Mentalism, GhostIt Notes, I know What You’re Thinking, Poor Boy Billet Knife, Poor Boy Billet Knife Full-Size, Mental Marker Special FX Pen, Mental Marker FX Juice

Five Steps to Corporate Gigs

The most successful corporate magicians have corporate knowledge, or at least a corporate attitude. They are performers with experience speaking with and to business owners, merchants, and fellow entrepreneurs.

Don’t worry if that doesn’t describe you right now, it is a skill you can learn. And in the process, you will obtain lifelong clients and friends.

Here’s how to get started…

Step One: Learn to Talk Shop

Any two business owners or corporate officers will find enough in common to have a meaningful conversation, even if they are from vastly different industries. If you want to attract a business market, you have to think like a businessperson and learn to speak their language. Watch business news, network with local business owners, and read business-related blogs. Realize that as a magician looking to book shows you are a business owner. Once you find specific industries you like, study the nuance and focus in on a potential market.

Step Two: Develop Your Message

A corporate officer needs only one small excuse to justify their booking your show. A message is an excellent excuse. If you have something to say that a business owner needs his or her employees to hear, then he or she will hire you to speak—to perform your show. Developing a message, or several messages that appear as separate shows, adds to your product line. Plus, having multiple messages allows a company to book your show more than once. Constantly develop, refine, and promote your message(s) to learn where you might split them into new shows.

Step Three: Incorporate Your Message Into a Show

Once you have developed a unique message that is understandable, teachable, and sellable, you need to build a show around it. The message should be short, sweet, and repeated throughout your show. Do not let the magic take away from the message, instead, use magic to highlight and pound home the message. Remember, in “corporate magician,” corporate comes first.

Step Four: Beat Your Message Online

Journalists, bloggers, and essayists refer to their area of focus as their beat. If your beat is “Theft Reduction” and your market is retailers, then learn everything there is to know about in-store shoplifting. Attend seminars and study techniques and deterrents; develop understanding for the market’s needs and offer the market a solution. Then write about it. Even if you are a lousy writer—you will get better with practice—start a blog that focuses on that one topic and beat it into the ground. Advertise it through your website and social media. Appear to be THE source on that one topic. Write a book if you can. Then network with people in need of your solution—both online and offline—and offer your services.

Step Five: Repeat Your Success

Find what works, and do it over and over again. Add areas of focus that compliment your primary market and develop additional messages—shows—to offer those to your clients. A half-dozen different shows with versions for closeup, parlor, and stage will give you a better chance at initial success, and net return business from satisfied customers.

You don’t need to have business experience right now to gain business experience over the next few years—though many of the best corporate entertainers have a corporate background. It all starts with mindset. If you are a magician, you own a business. Operate it like a business. Live within your business persona until you can communicate and relate with your entrepreneurial colleagues. You are one of them.

If you need help setting up your blog, ask questions in the comments and I will assist you publicly so that others can profit from the information. If you have specific questions unique to your own situation, email me and I will do my best to help you brainstorm solutions.

CLICK HERE to get the Magic of Showbiz FREE with orders over $50! Discover new revenue streams and increase show potential. Learn how to organize lucrative corporate stress management events, team-building seminars, and get a behind-the-scenes look at staff training contracts. Offer ENDS Sunday at Midnight!

Keep it Simple Sands

sands_of_the_desert_fronts_originalSands of the Desert sales increase dramatically this time of year. Magicians who perform Sands of the Desert regularly tend to refresh their supply right before the onslaught of summer festivals and stage/parlor opportunities.

Those magicians are already familiar with Sands of the Desert and know exactly what they want—typically, 2-3 refill packs of their favorite colors and type; waxed or synthetic. They have made their selection from years of experience.

But magicians new to Sands of the Desert might see all the options and just walk away from this legendary trick. I posted a Sands of the Desert Buyer’s Guide to explain the differences, however, I think it is time I simplify it even more.

What is the fundamental difference between waxed and synthetic Sands?

  • If you want to pour the Sands into the water, get synthetic.
  • If you need the Sand to clump together—for more vigorous stirring for instance—and don’t mind squeezing the Sands and placing it in the water, chose waxed Sands.

Technically, our waxed Sands are pourable, but it is more difficult. Synthetic is the most popular because it is the easiest to use right out of the package—it is self-working and looks like a movie special effect behind the scenes.

New to Sands of the Desert? Start with Sands of the Desert Synthetic and add this incredible trick to your show—it is a lot of fun to practice, perform, and to see firsthand.

As you gain experience or when you are ready to explore the other options available, get a pack of Sands of the Desert Waxed. It is a whole other adventure!

A Secret that Fools Magicians…

When I perform for magicians, I fool them best with one “gimmick” above all others. There is this one little secret—though extremely famous and well known—that flies right by seasoned magicians. I think they just don’t expect it.

And it’s not only magicians who are fooled by this stealthy assistant. It baffles laymen even more!

It’s because this “gimmick” causes the spectator to mark their own card, which allows me to trick my audience under [supposedly] impossible conditions. I’ve heard Dai Vernon used this same secret to mark cards when he wasn’t even in the room.

It’s simple. Direct. Powerful. It’s Daub!

I spent years fine-tuning my Daub products in the workshop, developing new technology and mixing it with legendary tried-and-true techniques. Now, I can announce…

ALL OF MY DAUBS ARE SHEEN DAUBS!

Of course, minerals and metals are very expensive today, which has caused the price of these Daubs to increase. But for you, the price is the same! For the next few days, you can have these Daubs at their original price.

PLUS

Yin-Yang Red & Blue Sheen Daub. The perfect amount of red and blue daub, side-by-side, Yin-Yang style.

Yin-Yang Red & Blue Sheen Daub. The perfect amount of red and blue daub, side-by-side, Yin-Yang style.

Order any two of the following Daub products before Wednesday of this week, and get the third Daub of your choice FREE!

(Yes! Daub Noir for $49.95 qualifies for the FREE offer.)

Write the Daub you want FREE in the comments box during checkout. My Free Shipping Worldwide offer also applies.

Enjoy! THANK YOU very much for your business!

Best Kept Secrets Four – Wand Scrolls!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring Magic Wand Scrolls, Suit Up, and the new Cybergician magic chat!

(click here to watch the video on YouTube)

Covered in this week’s vlog:

 

The Magic Chat is BACK!

Chat with magicians from all over the world. Visit Cybergician.com

Chat with magicians from all over the world. Visit Cybergician.com

For years, I sponsored the world’s largest magic chat. It ran for years and it had nearly 1000 members at its peak.

Now, THE CHAT IS BACK!

I have helped start a brand new online magic community called, “Cybergician.” There are some big things planned with Cybergician, starting with the new magic chat. Click here to start chatting instantly!

Cybergician is a very simple website, ad-free and only one page. Visit the site and you are already in the chatroom. There’s no need to signup or login.

The site is completely FREE, including behavior. Be who you are. Respect other members, but say what you want. As always, spirited debate is encouraged.

Would you like to offer a magic chat on your website? Cybergician offers customized versions of the chat so you can link to a page you control. Offer your own ads and information without competition. It’s FREE! Visit the site or contact me for details.

Here is The Magic Depot’s custom chat page. Enjoy!

Best Kept Secrets Three: Mental Marker!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring Mental Marker!

(click HERE to watch this video directly on the YouTube website)

Covered in this week’s vlog:

Get Animated Shoelaces FREE with orders over $20! Write “FREE LACES” in the comments box during the checkout process to qualify.

Secret Powers: A Principle for Better Magic

From a very early age, we learn what secrets are, but we have an uncontrollable urge to share them with others. (photo by Clara Rico)

From a very early age, we learn what secrets are, but we have an uncontrollable urge to share them with others. (photo by Clara Rico)

Think about the last time a friend entrusted you with a secret. Remember how it felt? You possessed exclusive information. Knowledge given to only a select few. And good or bad, a secret is a powerful thing.

If the secret concerned another person, when talking to that person you probably felt like you had the upper hand. You might even have the overwhelming urge to spill the beans and share your secret with that person or with other people.

When secrets are exposed, they are often preceded by, “You’re never going to guess…” or “You’re not going to believe this…” That’s because we feel the secret is so surprising no one could possibly assume the details, or we have hidden the secret so deeply within our mental vault, there is little risk of it being revealed.

But not when it comes to magic secrets.

When a magician—especially a beginner—knows a secret, they automatically assume everyone else knows the secret too. I mean, how could they not? We convince ourselves the secret is right there in the open for everybody to see. We think magic feels like common sense once the puzzle is solved; even complex magic tricks rarely require rocket science to perform them.

This is part of “the loss of innocence” felt by every magician. Sometimes referred to as “thinking like a magician.” It is a feeling you must learn to control and eventually overcome.

Magicians feel guilty of their secrets. It’s like we think our hands are the local gossip blabbing on the phone to anyone who will listen. In fact, the secret—the method—is tucked away out of view, and it is our guilt that is obvious.

If you never take anything else away from my blog, remember [and live by] this fundamental creed:

“Magicians are NOT guilty of a secret, but rather empowered by it.”

A magic trick is not a game of charades wherein you gradually expose the method. Relax. Entertain. Picture your act like a good movie: the audience is so caught up in the story they forget to yell out, “That dinosaur is CGI!” or “They would have called the match as soon as Rocky had the first cut.”

Guilt will ruin a good magic trick more efficiently than bad technique ever could. Magicians are not judged by the sum of their secrets. Magicians are measured by their confidence.

###

Some Secrets are Easier to Keep than Others

There are tricks on the market that require either very few moves and sleights, or none at all. While those tricks are easy to do, you want a routine that challenges you a bit more when practicing your secret keeping.

Here are a few magic tricks—a mixture of classics and new releases—where the secret is in the back of your mind, allowing you to focus on the presentation:

Best Kept Secrets TWO: The $100 Billet Catch!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring The $100 Billet Catch!

Click HERE to watch this video directly on YouTube.

Here’s what is covered in this week’s Best Kept Secrets video:

Picture Perfect: Make Impromptu Photos Magical

Aaron Smith's $100 Billet Catch is the easy way for closeup magicians to perform on stage. The perfect addition to any Commando Act.

Aaron Smith’s $100 Billet Catch is the easy way for closeup magicians to perform on stage. The perfect addition to any Commando Act.

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Aaron Smith demonstrates The $100 Billet Catch, only $19.95!

The world’s deadliest magic trick, now funnier than ever! With only a couple of ordinary props, all of which fit in your pocket, you can fill the whole stage with magic, comedy, and suspense. Sure, bullets are frightening, but today, money goes so fast it’s scary!

A signed $100 dollar bill magically travels from the spectator’s “hand gun,” through the air, popping a balloon along the way, and the magician catches the bill in his teeth! You get to mess with your audience’s minds, bullet catch style, without risking your own brains!

The $100 Billet Catch only $19.95!

 

Picture Perfect: Make Impromptu Photos Magical

Neil Patrick Harris always strikes a nice pose. You can see in this photo all of the tips outlined in Picture Perfect.

Neil Patrick Harris always strikes a nice pose. You can see in this photo many of the tips outlined in Picture Perfect. (photo by Lan Bui/TheBuiBrothers.com)

For decades, magicians have used pictures of themselves to entice potential clients to book their show. The final selection—the best photo out of a hundred professional studio stills—would appear on the magician’s business card, flier, brochure, and website.

This isn’t an article about whether or not your promo photo should be a picture of you with a card coming out of your sleeve, a dove on your shoulder, or standing behind a beautiful floating female assistant.

This article is intended to reveal the fact that potential clients may never see your promo picture and they are relying on all those candid shots you post on Facebook and Twitter to book your show.

Uh oh!

I know what you’re thinking… you didn’t anticipate that picture of you in cutoff jeans sipping your third beer from a solo cup at a family picnic to be Ford Motor’s cover page in their talent file.

And what’s worse, even in the “good” candid photos of you, your hair is a mess, your eyes are closed, and your shirt reveals chunks of your body you wish weren’t there. You might even wonder why you can’t be more photogenic like other people that grace your social media news feed.

You’re in luck! There are methods—magic tricks in and of themselves—you can learn to make every picture a stunning representation of your awesomeness, even if your mug is as asymmetrical as mine.

Here are a few tips to increase your on-camera charisma:

Find Your Good Side

Your phone probably doubles as a digital camera. Have someone take your picture from both sides, front and back, and all the angles up and down in between. Find which parts of your body and face look best, and put those forward in every photo. Don’t just say “cheese” when someone whips out a camera; turn to your good side and pose.

Smile with Your Eyes

Your eyes reflect only genuine feelings. Even though your mouth is smiling, your eyes may be cold. When you see the camera, picture it is someone you love, respect, or would most like to meet. Better yet, imagine the camera is a girl/boy you had a crush on in high school. Your eyes will light up and your expression will brighten the photo.

But Smile with Your Mouth Too

You may look great with a full smile—open mouth—but many people do not. A three-quarter smile is the most authentic. Be careful, though, if your smile is not symmetrical it might be perceived as a smirk. Practice different smiles in a few pictures, wait a day and then look at them again and choose which looks best on you.

Look Above the Camera

This picture of me was taken during the same photo shoot as the main image on my blog. Always remain focused.

This picture of me was taken during the same photo shoot as the main image on my blog. Always remain focused.

This is an old modeling trick (or so I’ve heard). If you look into the camera lens, your eyes may appear closed, especially if you are mid-blink. But gazing just above the camera creates the illusion you are looking into the camera in the final print, yet reduces red eye and gives your eyes a fuller appearance.

Be Aware of Your Lighting

Lighting is important. You want the light to brighten up your good side and darken your bad side. This is a good way to hide unshapely body problems. The reason some people are naturally more photogenic than others is they have features compatible with a variety of common lighting arrangements. Cameras flatten your face and expose shapes. Without makeup, lighting is your 3D friend. Take pictures of yourself with the light hitting different parts of your face to see which you like best.

Don’t Square Your Pose

Women naturally turn three-quarters towards the camera in a lovely pose when their picture is taken. Men tend to turn square to the camera, which looks just awful. Do not turn your whole body flat towards the camera. Turn part of your body—the bad part—away from the camera and smile.

Wear Clothes that Fit

Baggy clothes are not in fashion today and they look terrible in photos. Even if you are overweight, you want an outline of your body clearly visible. Color is important too. Black on black makes a big blob in pictures and looks cliché on magicians. Breakup your shape with flattering colors and current styles.

Hand Gestures are Unnecessary

Hand gestures are defensive measures. If your pose is polished, you won’t toss them out there subconsciously. Potential clients may like to rock as much as you do, but it’s hard for corporate booking agents to push a performer sporting a devil’s horn rock-on hand gesture (unless that’s your style of course). Keep your hands at your side, perhaps one holding a drink at stomach level if you’re caught boozing, or in your pockets if you feel totally exposed.

Untag Yourself from the Bad Pictures

Did your mom post a picture on Facebook that doesn’t reflect positively on your business persona? Untag yourself. Your friends and family already know who you are. There’s no need pointing out to potential clients how funny you look with asparagus spears in your teeth. But this isn’t a foolproof way to hide your antics. Some social media services have facial recognition, Google+ for instance, and this technology is becoming more and more popular.

Be a Magician 24/7

In my interview with Jeff McBride, he mentioned his, “Magician 24/7 Philosophy.” Performing whenever and wherever the opportunity arises—family functions, school events, free festivals, block parties—has a positive affect on your social portfolio. There will be countless pictures of you performing magic. Potential clients and booking agents see magic throughout your profile and know you are dedicated to your craft, even practicing on weekends and after hours. Plus, many of the phones today are twice the megapixels of professional digital cameras from just a few years ago. One of those pictures might replace that studio headshot in your media kit.

Best Kept Secrets Video Edition!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog…

Jeff McBride: Magic Come to Life (interview)

Jeff McBride with one of his iconic masks.

Jeff McBride with one of his iconic masks.

Have you ever watched Jeff McBride walk into a room at a convention or lecture? The crowd stops what they are doing and everyone turns in his direction. The air shifts. The phrase, “That’s Jeff McBride,” echoes from wall to wall.

There are very few people that command such a reaction. That’s because Jeff knows what magic is. He has defined it for himself, and retells the story with every trick he performs. He lives magic. Breathes it. Jeff understands magic so deeply and thoroughly, he is able to teach it and perform it for those who need it most.

I have always felt that if magic were to come to life, it would look a lot like Jeff McBride. And act like him too. The physical manifestation of what we call “magic,” would walk the earth spreading demonstrations of the wonderful everywhere it goes, just as Jeff does.

Jeff can recognize magic in others too, and assemble fellow teachers who inspire future generations with their specific skills. Take McBrideMagic.tv for instance: a 24-hour video stream featuring expert guidance from a broad collection of professionals. Watch the live broadcast every Monday night, and interact with fellow magicians in the chat.

“Each week, the teachers, and the faculty and friends of McBride’s Magic & Mystery School, bring you the very best of news, product reviews, and inside advice and wisdom,” Jeff said in one of his promos. Watch McBrideMagic.tv here!

Jeff also shares a lot of insight on his Jeff McBlog.” He takes his experiences and sums them up in helpful, fun to read articles. For example, in “The Secret Ingredient for a Successful Magic Show,” part of,The Biggest Danger to Showbiz in Las Vegas,” Jeff reveals a key ingredient many magic shows lack.

Over the weekend, between his attending the IBM convention in Phoenix and shooting Masters of Illusion in Hollywood, I got to chat with Jeff McBride about “real” magic, social media, and his upcoming show and lecture in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Here’s my interview:

Aaron Smith: I love the idea of your Commando Act: a show you can perform anywhere, for anyone, regardless of the conditions. I first heard about it in the 90’s from a set of your lecture notes Tobias Beckwith sent me. Has your view of the commando act changed over the years?

Jeff McBride: The commando act has evolved over the years and actually gets smaller as years go by. My new commando act fits inside of an eyeglass case and contains all my emergency props and essential magic effects: my McGrip Tip from ZOOM BOUNCE & FLY so I can scale cards for my finale, Butterfly Blizzard, and sponge balls for my “BRAVO” routine.

At any venue I can pick up a bucket for my coin routine and a few bowls for my water bowl routine. I always travel with a few packs of cards. With just these few items inside an eyeglass case, I can perform anytime, anywhere for audiences of 5000 people.

SMITH: Has social media opened the doors for performers to network with other magicians in a positive way, or are there negative effects we might see down the road?


McBRIDE: Social media is a blessing. It really connects people and hopefully it will lead to lifetime interaction and personal encounters.

Meet Jeff McBride in Tulsa, Oklahoma Thursday, July 25. Click here for details!

Meet Jeff McBride in Tulsa, Oklahoma Thursday, July 25.

The negative side of the modern computer age is the YouTube exposure phenomenon. It seems that any kid who has a few magic books can go on and openly expose other people’s magic to anyone surfing the web. I think this is sad and I’m doing all I can to create online magic venues and teaching areas with locked rooms that block the merely curious so only serious magicians have access.

McbrideMagic.tv is my most recent continuing experiment in this area. We have over 200 hours of magic knowledge available to serious students of the art, but that’s the point. They must be serious students in order to attend our online classes and view our archives.

SMITH: You hear a lot of very strange metaphysical definitions of magic. What is magic when it becomes tangible, real? Forget magic as a concept, what is magic the thing?


McBRIDE: I was having this conversation with Lance Burton last week at the International Brotherhood of Magicians national convention, where he and I were hosting a magic seminar. Lance mentioned a few instances where he was performing for children at a Shriners burn center. These kids had not smiled in months because they were severely burned over 90% of their body. Yet, after watching Lance perform magic, these kids smiled, relaxed, and actually enjoy a moment of relief from their constant pain and agony. That is magic… real, tangible magic.

I also find magic is tangible when performing in unusual circumstances for people that rarely ever see magic, which is a very valuable experience for the magician as well as those experiencing the magic. In Las Vegas, magicians reward the over-privileged for their decadent behavior. These people don’t really need magic. They need rehab! The people that really need magic are the floor sweepers, chambermaids, and people in the service profession that have tedious jobs that need a little relief from their daily chores. That’s why I adopted my “magician 24/7″ philosophy. I do magic anywhere, anytime for people I perceive need it the most.

SMITH: I find magic while observing nature, in science books and literature. Where do you find magic? How do you recognize what you’re seeing might eventually be part of your show?


McBRIDE: I travel to a lot of festivals, like Burning Man and our own Vegas Vortex Fire Festival. I also attend many conferences where I learn new tools for bringing people together and empowering people’s visions. I travel to many exotic locations studying ritual theater, dance, and how storytelling can transform people’s ways of interacting with each other and the world. These influences eventually fine modes of expression in my performances. Each month at our nightclub in Las Vegas called WONDERGROUND, I experiment and perform new works in progress that are influenced by my travels and experiences.

SMITH: Business aside, what is the ultimate price of free to young, aspiring magicians? Are we seeing an expansion of magic from bootlegged materials, or is it a setback? Take developing nations for instance, young people have access to magic materials for free they might never be able to buy due to sanctions. Is it all evil file sharing, or will some good come out of it eventually?


McBRIDE: I’m not sure I agree with all of this “free information” politics. I do know that many authors expended much effort and expense to create their books and videos, and to have them ripped off on the Internet for free distribution I think is unfair to the people that put all the sweat and toil into the creation.

The Internet is filled with gems and it is filled with garbage. I really feel that if magicians spent more time practicing their craft and performing for their immediate live audiences in their neighborhood and community it would serve them better than collecting massive files of information they hardly ever open, study, practice, and perform. I think the “free info advocates” spend much too much time on the Internet and not enough time practicing making magic for people who really need it.

SMITH: If you and one other person, past or present, were the only two magicians to ever walk the Earth, who would you want the other person to be and why?


McBRIDE: Eugene Burger. We get to travel all over the world and share our magic with serious magic students and we get to create amazing events here at our Magic and Mystery school in Las Vegas. Anyone who has met Eugene will know that he is a real wizard. Eugene has the ability to meet the magician exactly at his skill level and give him the advice and coaching they need to get their magic to the next level of excellence.

SMITH: You will be in Tulsa this Thursday, July 25th, performing a show for magicians and the general public, then a magicians-only lecture called “The Show Doctor.” I’ve heard seasoned professionals—one recently booked in Vegas—talk about how your lecture changed their life. What goes on in there?

McBRIDE: I will be in Tulsa this Thursday. It might be the only time I am ever in Tulsa. My tours and Vegas shows keep me so creatively engaged I rarely have time to get to the Midwest.

Yes, people say that my workshops are life-changing events. I think this is because I compress an amazing amount of information and life experience into just a few short hours. Workshops like this one in Tulsa, is where I meet friends and students I will know the rest of my life. It’s a first encounter. A potent encounter. Yes, I teach extraordinary magic effects, but more than that I teach the psychology, philosophy, business, and marketing. I explore Magic as theatrical art, not just as a form of entertainment.

Oddly enough, most of the people that attend my class are not professional magicians, but magic enthusiasts of all skill levels and age ranges. The thing we all have in common is to deepen our understanding of this fascinating art form.

My supersession workshop is just a taste of what awaits the serious student of magic when they come to our school in Las Vegas. Some magicians, for reasons outside their control, will never be able to travel to Las Vegas. So on this tour—on this one special day—I will bring the mystery school to you!

SMITH: Thank You for all the info, Jeff. As always, you have a very deep insight into magic.

Can you dribble and fan your PK Deck? (Demo Video)

Can you dribble, fan, and spring your PK Deck? You can with the PK Deck Slimline! This amazing PK Deck features a tiny secret that plays big. Use it for all the PK Deck effects you perform now, or create new tricks you thought were impossible.

This is my “pet” PK Deck, not a mass-produced product. I needed a super-strong, super-thin PK Deck gimmick for one of my signature routines (unpublished). Last year, I performed it giving the spectator the opportunity to pick the deck they wanted me to use for the trick. I had a dozen decks from which to choose–all of them PK Deck Slimline.

That means I only have 11 DECKS LEFT!

Update! Only 10 DECKS LEFT!

Update! Only 9 DECKS LEFT!

Update! Only 7 DECKS LEFT!

Update! Only 6 DECKS LEFT!

Update! Only 4 DECKS LEFT!

There are two ways you can get one. Place an order for $50 or more, write “FREE PK DECK” in the comments box during the checkout process, and I’ll GIVE YOU ONE FREE! Or click the link below to buy a PK Deck Slimline for $39.95, plus shipping. I will mark this page “sold out” when the last one is gone. Limit one PK Deck Slimline per customer. Get yours today!

Here’s a demo video…

The PK Deck Slimline  does not come with instructions. It is a professional prop meant for magicians who are already well-versed in PK Magic. If you are new to PK magic, there are a variety of items at The Depot to help you get started.

U.S. magicians click here:
International magicians click here:

Join Me on Twitter…

Join me on Twitter. My username is @magicdepot

Join me on Twitter. My username is @magicdepot

I am a huge fan of Twitter. It is a window into the amazing lives of my magician friends, worldwide. At times, we all come together to talk about one subject. Other times, we are splintered, each discussing our own unique experiences.

Please, join me on Twitter @magicdepot.

I hope to see you there!

On the Shoulders of Giants…

Howard Thurston by Aaron SmithAfter announcing my drawing of Howard Thurston last year, I had several magicians asking for prints. High quality prints will be available down the line, but in the meantime, I thought of a fun way to share the great magician with my friends here at The Depot.

Next time you place an order with me, check the package. We’re including a miniature print of the illustration right there on the invoice! And over the next six months, I will introduce six new illustrations of famous magicians. Collect all seven!

But who should the next six be? I’ll leave that up to you. Who are the giants… the shoulders in which we all stand?

After I finish the last portrait, everyone who responds in the comments below with their choice of the next six, will get an ebook showing the drawings from rough sketch to final illustration.

Count Deckula Claws Out from the Underground!

count_deckula_aaron_smithThe newest addition to the Pro-Magic Wand Scroll series is Count Deckula. I like to say it’s Hamman’s Signed Card, REVAMPED! His famous trick has always been one of my favorite plots, and now this version has my attention because of the pop-culture obsession with vampires and zombies.

Actually, there’s another reason I like Count Deckula. It features a slight I use probably more than anyone else in the world. It’s not a popular sleight, but I think that’s because it is typically just a flourish. Here, it finds a home as part of a full routine.

If you are looking for something a little lot different, Count Deckula is for you. Like it says in the description, Count Deckula is a comedy routine, or you can play it serious and go for the throat!

Count Deckula is a Pro-Magic Wand Scroll—Number III in the series. That means there is only one way you can get it. FREE! Click here to read more…

Open Sesame: Magic Castle Performance Review

siberian_chain_escape_by_aaron_smith

The Old World Siberian Chain Escape by Aaron Smith.

The release of my Old World Siberian Chain Escape met with tremendous success. I am very thankful for the support I get from the magic community—humbled by the response. But it is a double-edged sword. I make each Escape by hand with painful—literally!—attention to detail. After a solid week of burning-hot chains melting my skin and the blistering sparks of welding debris bouncing off my arms, I decided to take a break…

And off to The Magic Castle I went!

My good friend Gerald Kirchner, CEO of Magic City, offered to drive (that’s a big deal in L.A. traffic). He charged up his new all-electric Nissan Leaf, and we made our way to The Castle for a night of magic.

Gerald weaved masterfully through the streets of Hollywood, and despite a wrong turn suggested by yours truly, we pulled up in front of the legendary mansion in record time. A valet greeted us and Funny Eddie Medrano walked us into the lobby. With an “open sesame,” the bookshelf moved to reveal the private club.

Bruce Gold is an Emcee Centerpiece

bruce_gold

Bruce Gold’s performance of The Floating Table was extraordinary. He takes it to a whole new level.

The first show of the evening was in the Palace of Mystery, emceed by Bruce Gold. I have followed Bruce on Facebook for a while and was eager to see his magic. Bruce introduced the acts, Chris Randall and David & Dania, but in a lucky twist, David & Dania’s show required extra setup time, so we were treated to extra Gold.

Bruce Gold could read the instruction manual to an Ikea kitchen table and the audience would hang onto every word. He is a superb speaker, an excellent showman, and a skilled magician. All three understatements in my opinion.

Bruce has a celebrity-like presence he uses to enhance even the most basic movements. His performance of The Floating Table is the best I have ever seen. In fact, I overheard a layman remark later about how the table came out over the audience. Only someone with Bruce’s reach—both physically and magically—could create such an illusion.

You can learn more about the smooth and charismatic Bruce Gold on his website and on his Facebook page.

John George Fills the Room

John and I are about the same height, which isn’t saying much. But John’s skills—both with an audience and with his props—are enormous.

john_george

John George is a likable guy, but don’t let that fool you. He packs remarkable talent behind that innocent persona.

I first met John at an IBM convention in Dallas a few years ago, where he solved a Rubik’s Cube in about thirty seconds. I asked John if he had any tips for the cube, and he said it is virtually impossible for a normal person to solve a Rubik’s Cube without help; going online, watching a video, or having someone teach you a method. When I returned home from the convention, I accepted the challenge and manically worked with the cube, learning to solve it without any assistance. When Gerald and I told John about my endeavor, he said, “See? I was right. You’re not a normal person, Aaron.”

A compliment and a rub, cubed! Well played, Mr. George.

Rarely do you find a full-time, working magician with John George’s technical proficiency. Without naming names, I have personally heard some of the most decorated members of our craft discussing John’s act behind his back, bestowing on him compliments of the highest order.

But it isn’t just John George’s dexterity that makes him a good magician. His persona on stage is also impressive. He combines both disciplines seamlessly into one entertaining performer. The Closeup Gallery came alive within seconds of John George entering the room, and he engaged the whole audience while executing flawless magic.

You can see his early work on the Closeup Magic of John George DVD, and even learn some material for your own show. However, if you ever get to see him live, you will walk away having witnessed one of the best closeup magicians alive today. Visit John George’s website for more information.

Will Fern is Crazy Entertaining

will_fern

Will Fern’s show was the most exciting I have seen in years. He is incredibly funny and has amazing range.

I spoke to Will Fern twice. Once before his show, next to the bar (don’t ask me which one, they all taste the same to me), and then after his show. I remember having two very distinct impressions of the guy during both meetings. In the first conversation, I found him calm and courteous. If I had to guess, an executive maybe. Or perhaps a well-dressed high school principle who pastored on the weekend.

After his show, standing next to his dressing room, I was in awe of a genius. Well, of a genius and of the blow-up doll dressed in a mermaid outfit Will uses for one of his mentalism routines. What had I just witnessed? The calm guy I met earlier was replaced with a Gangnam-style version of himself. It was the same guy, just 1000 times funnier with an explosion of stored energy.

Will Fern is a master at layering one effect on top of the next. He overlapped a series of tricks, calling each one back and incorporating it into following routines. For instance, he performed a book test, [believably] gets it wrong, apologizes and moves on to a Kozar type prediction effect. Later in the show, the before mentioned mermaid assists him in revealing the numbers and the word from the book test.

His show is quite complex… not cluttered, just “full.” And it takes a master of layout to properly routine such an act properly. I can’t wait to see Will Fern’s show again, but if he picked me to help him on stage, I would be a little nervous!

You can read more about Will Fern on his website.

Walking the Halls of The Magic Castle

milt_larsenBack at the bar—a different one this time—Gerald introduced me to his friends Dale Hindman and Milt Larsen. Walking through the hallway, I heard a loud Joe Monti-like sound that turned out to be Joe Monti. He was “performing” something with his shoes that will definitely stand out in my mind as one of the strangest things I have ever seen at The Magic Castle. Actually, I laughed so hard I cried a little.

It was getting late, so we made our way to the front room. I shook hands with Franz Harary and he graciously introduced me to the group at the bar. We chatted for a bit and then Chris Randall performed a cellphone in balloon routine. A unique pleasure, as I happen to know a thing or two about putting cellphones in interesting places.

And with that, Gerald and I hopped into his Nissan Leaf and drove back through L.A., all the way to Long Beach.  Thanks to that wrong turn I suggested at the beginning of our adventure, we had used more charge than originally planned. Thus, we conserved energy by traveling the freeway at 41 miles per hour—40 being the minimum speed of course. Gerald squeezed a 90 mile journey out of an 80% charge.

Now, with a nod of the head, my welding helmet falls into place. Back to The Old World Siberian Chain Escape!

Please, share your Castle stories in the comments

Sands of the Desert Buyer’s Guide!

I am a little biased when it comes to Sands of the Desert. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest magic tricks ever invented. It isn’t my trick—it isn’t anyone’s trick—it belongs to the community as a whole. It may have been invented by magicians in India hundreds of years ago, or by the Italian magician Giovanni Giuseppe Pinetti in the late 1700’s, or it might be the result of a misunderstanding—a different trick described incorrectly by one magician to another. More on that in a future article.

However it came about, Sands of the Desert is here to stay. Over the years, very little has changed. The methods behind the trick have, relatively speaking, stayed the same. Even the performance of the trick is fairly standard. It’s a simple trick. But of course, the best tricks always are. Audience reactions to Sands of the Desert are remarkable. Magic that bridges the language barrier. Perfect for all ages. Packs flat and plays big. The trifecta!

And on top of all that, there is something about this trick I just can’t seem to let go. I devote a considerable amount of my time to investigating both its history and its future. Over the past three years, I have released several Sands of the Desert products, and over the next year, I plan to release several more. This trick will soon be unrecognizable in its current form (it already is if you have my recent instructions where I published a couple of my most prized never-before-seen-in-print Sands tricks).

If you want to come along on this journey, to watch the mystery unravel and to witness what this incredible trick can do for your stage, street, or closeup show, then it all starts with a choice: which Sands of the Desert sand is right for you?

Lucky for you, you don’t have to go through this alone. I have prepared this easy to follow Buyer’s Guide.

Before we begin, I should clarify one point. There are other ways to perform Sands of the Desert besides specially treated sand. Two are quite popular: the hollow ball method and a gimmicked vessel. Both of these have their advantages, but their versatility overall is quite limited. Neither will work for all (or even most) of the tricks outlined in the instructions that come with my Sands of the Desert and they will not work with the tricks I have slated for release in the future.

Otherwise, there are two types of Sands of the Desert sand. Both are hydrophobic—literally, afraid of the water. You can buy cheap hydrophobic sand in a number of places on the Internet, or even make your own. But the sand available here—the sand being discussed in this article—is a specific brand of sand. It is performer-grade hydrophobic sand. Made specifically for magicians from years of research. The sand you buy from me is handcrafted in small batches by yours truly. If you buy Sands of the Desert from another store, make sure it has the labels you see on these pages. I guarantee its quality.

1. Wax Sand

Waxed sand is the oldest version of magic sand. Methods for making waxed hydrophobic sand were first exposed in the 1800’s by the likes of Roderburg, Hercat, Kellar, and Dr. Holden. However, the science behind the magic has been well-known since the ninth century, when the Persian chemist Razi wrote about the special oils in his “Book of Secrets,” the Kitab al-Asrar.

For years, magicians have made their own Sands of the Desert magic sand with store-bought wax, typically white paraffin wax. What many magicians don’t realize is that the sand works despite the paraffin. When regular folks say, “wax,” they picture a block of wax, not a fatty acid. In fact, the impurities within a regular block of wax must be burned off—removed completely—before the waxed sand will work for Sands of the Desert. In my process, I simply eliminate the impurities all together and use a plant-based product instead.

Wax Sand Pros:

Waxed sand stays together well underwater when squeezed into a clump and can withstand vigorous stirring. The magician can easily perform with more than three colors of sand, which significantly increases the magic aspect when the colors separate for the grand finale. Instead of just cheap paraffin wax, the way traditional wax sand is made, the new process creates a more durable sand (lasts longer no matter how many times it clumps together), and falls apart easily for the big reveal when it is removed from the water. Waxed sand can stay underwater longer than synthetics, without succumbing to the pressure of the water.

Wax Sand Cons:

I tried to eliminate as many cons as possible, but some aspects of wax sand are a fundamental characteristic of this type of product. Wax sand “clumps” together when you squeeze it in your hand. Some magicians view this as a feature, while others prefer the clump-free nature of synthetic sands. During the wax sand manufacturing process, sometimes more than one grain will stick together—waxed sand granuals are bigger than their synthetic counterpart, not as uniform, and may float on top of the water. Heat can damage waxed sand. To use Waxed Sand, the magician pours the Sand into their hand, squeezes, and places the clump into the water on the bottom of the vessel. Traditionally, Waxed Sands are not poured into the water.

Click here to see Sands of the Desert WAX on The Magic Depot!

2. Synthetic Sand

The first synthetic hydrophobic sand was patented by Wham-O in 1980. Their method is still the standard: silica-based sand exposed to the vapors of trimethylsilanol. The chemicals are relatively cheap when purchased in bulk, but making it is time consuming. A small operation can only produce a few pounds of performer-grade sand in a day.

Some magicians have tried making their own sand using spray waterproofer. Such methods are not even in the same league as the method described above. Synthetic hydrophobic sand would have been lost to magicians when Wham-O discontinued their sand, had it not been for Gerald Kirchner, owner of Magic City. Through considerable effort and a great deal of investment, he was able to find a company to make high-grade synthetic hydrophobic sand in the 1990’s. Since then, he has increased the quality and consistently produces some of the best synthetic sand on the market.

Synthetic Sand Pros:

the coating on synthetic sand is thin, barely a molecule thick in most instances. Treated sand looks identical to regular sand. The grains are uniform and flow easily, just like regular sand. The sand retains its density after treatment, so it sinks to the bottom of the vessel easier than waxed sand. Synthetic sand can be poured from a greater distance from the water’s surface, and will “curl up” on the bottom with little effort from the magician. Heat has little effect on synthetic sand.

Synthetic Sand Cons:

the thinner coating wears off and can dry out if left in the open air (though it will repair itself if left in an enclosed container). Almost all colored sands available—even outside the magic industry—are a regular white sand painted to the desired color. The paint can liquify during the vapor process, creating an improper seal on the grain. Synthetic sands do not clump—at all—so you cannot stir the water as vigorously as a waxed sand. Some tricks are much harder to perform with synthetic sand than the new wax sand.

Click here to see Sands of the Desert SYNTHETIC on The Magic Depot!

The type of Sands of the Desert sand you choose is ultimately a personal decision you will have to make. Neither will go to waste. Consider buying both to see which you like better.

Waxed sand and synthetic sand are very different substances, both in look and feel. If you have tried one, but not the other, now is your chance to get a good quality product and add this legendary effect to your repertoire.

Like I say in the instructions:

“Sands of the Desert has been handed down from generation to generation; from magician to magician. Now it is handed to you. Take it and make it your own. Perhaps someday, you will be part of this incredible trick’s amazing history.”

Best Kept Secrets…

The purpose of Best Kept Secrets is to provide new magicians with a firm understanding of the magic community and magic products that will help them develop advanced skills. Best Kept Secrets is also a platform where I announce my new product releases and information about The Magic Depot.

Please note: this website is no longer at magic.org. The Magic Depot is now located at www.themagicdepot.com

Thank You!