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
My 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!
Speaking 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 cards down for the next two weeks. His gambling demonstrations are classy and dramatic. My method for performing this style of magic is to use a marked deck—that way I can create stories on the fly, without focusing on stacks or gimmicks. 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.
Errata: In the original version of this article, I mistakenly claimed Ricky Jay uses marked cards. His business partner brought it to my attention that Mr. Jay does not use marked cards.
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.