Celebrity Spirit Slates (How To)

One of the tricks included in Deck of Slates is a ghost story. The patter features an old chalk artist who, for a few dollars, would draw the celebrity of your choice. He died years ago, but that didn’t stop the magic…

The magician shows a packet of blank slates—blank both sides—that supposedly belonged to the artist when he was still alive.

A celebrity is chosen (super-simple smartphone trick), and their image magically appears on one of the cards. Then the image appears on all of the cards in the packet!

Very easy to do.

And sure, you could write the celebrity’s name instead of drawing their picture, but the image is much stronger, and the name removes any confusion. Not everyone can draw a portrait, though. Which brings me to the question:

How do you get the image on the slate if you can’t draw?

That’s pretty easy too.

First, print out an image of the celebrities you want to use. The images can also come from a newspaper (possible with magazines, but more difficult due to the glossy surface).

Hold the image against a window, and trace the back of it with white chalk. Sharpen the chalk in a pencil sharpener for a fine point. Next, lay the image against the slate, chalk down, and press the chalk onto the surface of the card.

The transfer process creates a light outline of the person’s face on the slate. Trace over it with the chalk to darken the lines and make a more permanent mark. Now, you’re ready to perform Celebrity Spirit Slates. Only one image is required for the trick.

Want to use this technique on a light-colored surface? Use charcoal instead of chalk.

You’ll learn the trick with a quick read of the instructions. There is also information on ensuring the marks last a long time—near permanent—yet still look like chalk. Use this method to transfer all sorts of drawings to your slates, adding even more versatility to this new deck.

Get FIFTY Spirit Slates per Deck!

 

Magicians Create Art Two Ways

There are two schools of thought regarding the creation of performance artEventually, the techniques merge, but in the beginning, they are polar opposites.

Acting provides a good example of what I’m talking about, and it’s not that much of a stretch. As Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin wrote, “…[a magician] is an actor playing the part of a magician…”

Some actors are emotional. They become their characters by first trying to feel the same way as the character feels. Their actions are dictated by feelings. They work from the inside out.

Other actors are analytical. They become their characters by analyzing situations. Their actions are dictated by cause and effect. They work from the outside in.

I am the latter. All of my art is analytical.

As you know, in my opinion, 2017 will be a good year for art. If there is an artist inside of you—magician, writer, musician, illustrator, whatever—now is the time to let them free. The world needs hope, wonder, and magic.

It will take all of us to reach everyone.

And it starts with a dream.

The emotional artist will imagine how others feel about the magician the artist will become. They will envision their show in terms of how it will change the audience, and themselves.

The analytical artist will wonder what the magician looks like, and why they look that way. They will want to know what the magician says, and what style of magic they perform, targeting a specific market.

A well-rounded magician will take advantage both techniques.

For example, the emotional artist might use a written character sketch instead of an internal picture. The analytical artist can brainstorm on a spiritual hike, visualizing results conceptually before committing them to paper.

This year can be your year of art too. Not just more art, but better art. Don’t procrastinate. Step one is fun. All you have to do is dream.

But dreams can quickly become nightmares without the right tools. Here is a helpful, free whitepaper to shed some light on the journey, Planning to Art: How Dreams Become Magic.

 

When Magicians Do This, They Create Art

THIS IS ART: my hands are dirty, my knuckles hurt, and the sweat in my eyes stings. I love every minute of it.

When you purchase a DVD from a magic shop, an exact copy of the original is taken off the shelf, and shipped to your address. Even if it is an amazing DVD, the transaction itself is not spectacular.

It is not art.

Yet the opposite is true for other items. For instance, when a magician purchases an Old World Cannibal Facemask, they have commissioned custom art.

The transaction is immediately different from an off-the-shelf DVD. The comments box from checkout might be filled with special requests and eager questions that will factor into the finished piece.

The DVD order is void of this energy.
And the process diverges even more from there.

First, I visit the magician’s website, Facebook page or Twitter. I research their previous orders from The Magic Depot. Does he wear a suit when he performs, or jeans and a t-shirt? Is this for a woman, and if so, what is distinctive in her style?

I might take the whole day to think about this person. Testimonials on their webpage let me know more about the performer than I can gleam from a cold invoice. Videos allow me to see the performer in their natural element.

Next—this will sound cheesy—I run my hands over the cold steel panels from my metalstock until I find one that “feels” right for the project. Perhaps there is a bump or tarnish I can enhance. I analyze the metal’s individual characteristics, and match it to the performer.

A photo of me wearing the first Facemask. I liked the picture so much, I turned it into the cover image.

Time and wear are impossible to truly duplicate.

I visit local tack shops, thrift stores, and flea markets for secondhand leathers and buckles to make the straps. The benefit of secondhand leathers—other than my own abstinence of animal products—is authentic aging.

Again, this will sound silly, but each component calls out to me individually. All the while, I picture the magician who will wear or display the mask. Their spirit, for lack of a better term, becomes an ingredient of the final design.

It takes about three days to make a Facemask.

Turnaround is scheduled based on workshop flow and the weather, as the finish requires strict conditions, and the forged parts of the mask are done in our outdoor furnace.

A big part of the journey for me is hiking out in the woods to find the wood needed to smoke the metal. It has taken me years to know what to gather. The “wild” wood isn’t burned solo, but rather combined with my seasoned supply of oaks and hickories gathered years ago.

I cut the metal to shape based on pictures of the performer, and the necessities of the mask’s overall design. I grind, chisel, file, hammer, and sand the edges several times. I strategically soften areas of the metal where I plan to work the steel—hundreds of hammer strikes, with a half-dozen different hammers.

After I get the sheet prepped, and the slits cut for the straps, I hammer the first bend. Then the next. I look again at the magician’s profile picture to factor in the curves of their face, where their cheekbones set, and how the length of their skull fits the mask.

“What’s in the box?!?!?!” This is how your Old World Facemask arrives in the mail.

At this point, I am about fifteen hours into fabrication. Already, this mask is unique. It is imagined. It did not exist before the magician commissioned it, and if I were to die, it would never be finished.

The mask is art we create together.

The example DVD I mentioned earlier—while still a valuable tool—does not manifest the same shared experience. It just isn’t the same when you open the box.

When a magician commissions art—a custom prop of any kind—the transaction not only provides that performer with a unique addition to their show, it reinvigorates the craftsman. It gives purpose to raw goods.

It turns time into an experience.


Click HERE to commission your own, unique Old World Facemask.

Add a hand painted/etched logo or graphic starting at $70 (ask in the order comments).


 

 

Your Svengali Deck Won’t Pass This Test!

This looks like a regular deck of cards, but in reality, it is a very deceptive Svengali-style Force Deck.

Traditional Svengali Decks stick out like a sore thumb to anyone who has ever owned one.

And since Svengali Decks are the most popular pitch and demo magic trick on the planet, that’s a lot of folks who know the secret.

You are standing there totally exposed.

Don’t fret! You can turn this horrible situation into a great opportunity. In fact, if you love fooling magicians, or anyone who thinks they know how a trick works, then you’re in for a treat.

Trick Those in the Know!

You would be thoroughly amazed if I picked up a regular deck of cards, and duplicated every trick and stunt possible with a Svengali Deck. This includes flipping through the deck to show all the cards the same.

So How Do You Do It?

Not with a regular deck of cards.

Look at the deck pictured with this article. Notice the edge of the cards. Doesn’t look like a Svengali does it? It looks like a regular deck, but it is a very special gaffed deck that works similar to a Svengali—sort of a professional Svengali—all the cards are the same length and width.

This deserves repeating . . .


It looks like a regular deck, but it is a very special gaffed deck that works similar to a Svengali, only all the cards are the same length and width.


This means you can show the deck from the side—both sides!—by covering the gaff with your finger and thumb in a very natural handling of the cards. Then you can show the deck super-closeup, right in front of their eyes. A traditional Svengali won’t pass the test.

Forcing Cards and Color Changing Decks…

There are two different versions of the special deck. One version gives you the power of the Svengali without the obvious tell—an excellent Force Deck—and the other allows you to perform color changing deck routines with the Svengali principle.

A Svengali Deck isn’t just a toy for new magicians. It is a serious tool for the professional, if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Get both decks for only $12.95 each!

This is the Juice You’ve Been Looking For!

juice_been_looking_for

Fluorescent juice is cool, but is it practical? This JUICE costs less than twenty bucks, and doesn’t require the funny glasses.

Magicians and gamblers have long sought a scientifically advanced method for marking and revealing cards.

One of the most popular, yet somewhat misunderstood techniques is a special liquid known as juice.

Juice is applied to the back of a card, leaving marks invisible to the audience. The magician uses either honed technique or a special lens to manipulate light, thus revealing the marks, and ultimately the card’s suit and/or value.

Movies and television shows sometimes feature juice with the actors wearing a special pair of glasses or contacts, typically tinted red or yellow. This is known as fluorescence.

This isn’t just a movie special effect. Fluorescent juice really exists.

In fact, casinos have special filters for their security cameras to detect juice when cheaters apply it to cards on the fly at the table. In the past, these filters were actual glass or plastic fixed to the camera, but today the filters are digital, monitored by a computer program.

Fluorescent juice is cool, but is it practical?

The juice used by professional magicians and real-world gamblers doesn’t require the obvious tinted glasses or novelty contacts. Instead, they use a little-known secret to modify their own eyesight—takes only a few minutes to learn. This means you can perform all the same magic WITHOUT the extra props.

The juice you’ve been looking for has been readily available all along.

There’s no need to purchase strange glasses, or buy expensive novelty contacts. You can get two bottles of “Juice for Red and Blue Decks” for under twenty bucks—includes the secret—and mark a whole deck in under ten minutes. This Juice is secretly used by magicians and gamblers all over the world, has been for years.

So what to do with the funny glasses?

Use them as part of your gambling demonstration. Introduce the glasses and tell your audience the lenses reveal special marks on the cards. Perform a series of demos with a real juiced deck, convincing the audience of the glasses’ special powers. Then spread the deck and hand the glasses to a member of the audience. They will realize immediately the glasses had nothing to do with it. The magic was all skill!

► GET JUICE FOR UNDER TWENTY BUCKS!

 

Magicians Often Ignore This Very Important Theatrical Technique

In this article: a Chain Game update; Eclipse launches secret project; a theatrical technique magicians often ignore.

chain_game_aaron_smithSince November, I have been in the workshop everyday, often until the wee hours of night (holiday business, new releases, etc). I had the best intentions of allowing an independent company to manufacture The New World Chain Game for me, but honestly, there are details only a magician can see. Stubbornly, I decided to make them by hand. Each Chain Game takes thirty-two hours [including dry time]. But I’m happy. The quality is superb! Orders are now shipping.

eclipse_into_darkness_aaron_smithFor the past eight years, I have been planning a secret project. It revolved around a TV show, but the show was cancelled. Now the project is back and bigger than ever. And even more secret! It won’t make sense right off the bat, but Eclipse Into Darkness is part of the project. As such, I had to delay Eclipse so that it could be revamped. Eclipse will start shipping in a couple of weeks, and when you have it in your hand, read between the lines for a hint.

open_me_by_aaron_smithThere are a few “Open Me” Rabbit Hole Cards still available. Remember, we are shipping them all at the same time. I don’t want any leaks about what’s inside.

To make this year even busier, in February I co-directed and acted in The Shadow Box, the Tony Award-winning play by Michael Cristofer. The Shadow Box is the second play I co-directed with Phillip Shamblin at the Coleman Theatre. We had an excellent cast who immersed themselves into their roles, and it was the first time all four of the Smith’s shared a stage together.

Shamblin is an artist in a number of ways. He is a skilled actor with hundreds of roles under his belt, and his talents as a director are extraordinary. In this article, I am going to focus on Phillip’s blocking skills—a theatrical element often ignored in our industry.

According to Wikipedia, blocking is “the precise staging of actors in order to facilitate the performance of a play, ballet, film or opera.”

shadow_box_WEBThe word originates with Sir W. S. Gilbert, of The Pirates of Penzance and Gilbert and Sullivan fame. In the late eighteen hundreds, Gilbert staged each scene of his plays on a miniature stage, using blocks to represent actors. Hence, “blocking a scene.”

Today, blocking has become a loose term used erroneously to describe any or all action by an actor. This is a misnomer. Blocking may include movement, but blocking is position.

Phillip and I had some time to talk after build-out for The Marvelous Wonderettes this weekend. I decided to pick his brain on blocking, so that I could share his special insight with my fellow magicians.

First, I wanted to hear what blocking was in Phillip’s own words. He said, “Blocking is placing the actors in the most effective position they can be in to tell the story.”

There are hundreds of articles on storytelling published in the magic community, but you rarely hear about blocking even in industry-specific technical essays. If blocking comes up at all, closeup magicians often incorporate it as an afterthought—trudging through it at their first performance.

One of the reasons magicians might overlook blocking is that we perform the same act in so many different venues. We assume specifics are venue dependent. Whether you are a stage magician or work walk-around at restaurants, blocking is an important part of rehearsal from the very beginning of routine construction.

Blocking for me begins very early,” Phillip said. “As I’m reading the script for the first time, I am already blocking scenes, picturing where people should be—their movements and gestures—where they should cross on a certain line.”

Scripts, though recommended to magicians, are overlooked in the trenches. Without a script, performances are experimental rehearsals. An emphasis on blocking illustrates the need for a script—something solid in which to refer back during an evolutionary process.

“Blocking develops and continues to develop and change. It progressively falls into place. Even after the show is put together and people are placed and blocked, it continuous to evolve. Blocking begins with the first reading of the script, and continues through to the last performance.”

Last year, a magician sent me a routine he created. I noticed in the outline there was little time for movement, for the character to become dynamic. During the creation process—the dreaming process—this magician had not envisioned where he was in relation to his audience and his props. There was zero movement. No life.

When Phillip directs a play, he may first read the script a year or more in advance. From the very beginning, he envisions the characters interacting with their environment. “It’s like watching a movie in my head,” he said. “And I can see the characters using their props and their physical contact with the other actors.”

As magicians, we are usually the solo performer. We rarely work side-by-side with another performer in the same act. However, we still have the burden of thinking like a director in a play. We have to picture life, and then bring it out in our performance.

“It’s just a matter of transferring it from the brain, to the mouth, to the actor, to the stage.”

Often, the only pieces of a magician’s environment that is the same from venue to venue, is their tables and clothing. Phillip likes to incorporate dressing in the blocking early on his planning.

“If a character is of a certain type, envision them in a costume . . . it becomes a prop. Something they use. If you have a woman who always wears a great big hat, you are going to envision that the whole time. It’s going to become part of her.”

For me, blocking has always been a source of comfort as I visit new venues. When everything else is strange, I still know where to stand. My blocking is familiar. In The Shadow Box, which we only had five weeks to rehearse (a week of which I was in California visiting friends at The Magic Castle), we blocked both acts the first week with a skeleton set already in place.

“I think blocking is the foundation,” Phillip told me. “You give the actor a starting point, an ending point, and maybe a point here or there in the middle, and the action is what fills in the gaps. Telling the story is a combination of what the director sees and what the actor sees. Without blocking, it is chaos. There’s no organization.”

Where you are and how you stand can have as much impact to a magic routine as what you perform. These elements can alter your words too—the storytelling itself.

“A tweak to the blocking—a movement here or a step to the right or left—may enhance your dialogue. Blocking can give your words new meaning; make your script more effective. Simply having an actor turn a certain way can change the delivery. It can change the character, good or bad.”

Phillip starts with blocking, and then adds each of the other layers on top of this foundation. The action, the dialogue, all comes back to blocking. And the results he gets are phenomenal. The positive reviews from actors, audiences, and even critics are a product of his skillful blocking.

Position has a lot to do with x and y on stage—where your feet are at any given moment—but every aspect of your body is influenced by the placement. Performing, whether it is acting or magic, is a full-body exercise.

Phillip offers this advice: “When a magician performs closeup directly in front of an audience, they can incorporate eye contact into their blocking. Eye contact draws people into the story. It isn’t intrusive. You don’t have to touch someone for them to feel your presence. You don’t have to get in their space.”

Magicians new to blocking might begin overthinking it at first. “Keep it clean and simple,” Phillip said. “Otherwise, blocking can look messy. Consider working with a director. Even if that is just another person with fresh perspective. A director can help cleanmagicclean up those spots that need tightened up, that may need a little work. A director can look at what the magician already has, and make suggestions. Tweak it a little. Make it more effective. Cleaner. Smoother.”

This is one of the reasons Phillip and I work so well with each other. We both place primary importance on a clean performance. I wrote about this in depth recently in my whitepaper, Clean Magic.

“Nobody likes a sloppy performance, whether you are a magician, actor, singer, or dancer,” Phillip said. “The audience wants a clean, nice performance. Sloppy looks unprofessional. Sloppy looks like you are unprepared. So the cleaner it is the more prepared, the more professional you look. The more magical you look.”

For more information, you can hit the books, hire a director, or join a local community theatre group. The latter is quite rewarding, and as a magician, you may have special skills to benefit the troop.

Source of Legendary Magic

This year, Hollywood will pack theaters with more than forty movies that are film adaptations of books. These stories were so popular in written form producers felt it profitable to turn them into movies.

bookstomoviesSee the complete list in my MRGADFLY article, Reader Theatre: Complete Guide to Film Adaptations 2015

What does this mean for magicians?

Brother John Hamman once told me that if you want legendary magic, start with a legendary story. He said Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, and Billy the Kid were all great magic tricks. In the late nineties, I took his advice and adapted the latter example into the card routine Left Handed Gun. The response was incredible. Since then, I have learned to weave relatable themes into my performances as a core fundamental.

And there is no shortage of material.

New stories become popular culture everyday. After the first Harry Potter movie, the magic market was flooded with HP wands and HP playing cards. At The Magic Castle, I heard a magician make a Hunger Games reference. Any trick with a little heat is now Catching Fire. Both examples are popular books that became popular movies.

Pop-culture plots and characters are an excellent way to relate with your audience, especially the younger demographic since YA fiction often produces the biggest blockbusters.

Our magical forefathers used the same technique.

They told stories of China and India and The Orient to capture the imaginations of audiences craving the exotic. In fact, the fictional patter from the famous “India Sands” fooled generations of magicians into thinking Sands of the Desert was of Indian origin. Some of our craft’s most famous patriarchs believed the story without question, causing the myth to survive to present day.

If a story feels real, it does not matter if it is true—audiences will identify with and accept the narrative. And with today’s cinematographic technology, movies have opened the floodgates to creative ideas. The suspension of disbelief is at a “magical level.”

Where to start? Use my list of book to film adaptations to quickly glance at what will be popular this year. Get a feel for some of the characters and incorporate them into your magic. Make a movie title the punch line to a joke or introduce yourself as a character you resemble. Become part of the legend!

Dollar Shotpossible (Full Trick)

When you are out with friends or family at dinner, the environment of the table is ideal for Dollar Shotpossible—a direct trick, easy to do with interaction from your spectators. Perform it for those you know during the intimacy of a meal, or for an audience of strangers as part of your parlor show.

The Effect

IMG_0344Have a dollar bill signed or in some way marked or noted. Fold it into fourths and set it in the center of the table under an inverted clear glass—no way out for the dollar. A rocks glass is ideal due to its size and shape. Cover the glass with a napkin and have someone on the other side of the table cup the glass with both hands, keeping it securely on the table.

Move some of the items from around the glass out of the way—other glasses, plates, etc—giving yourself some room to work. Make it clear that the spectator is charged with making sure the dollar does not escape. In contrast, you are tasked with stealing the dollar from under the glass. The heat is on!

And guess who wins?

The Reveal

I like to perform Dollar Shotpossible after the check has arrived, so that I can point to the little black tray or portfolio that so often holds the check: inside, is the spectator’s signed dollar! Having escaped the glass despite the spectator’s steady assurance to the contrary.

After the reveal, the spectator guards an empty glass, yet they hold it so tightly and with such conviction you must verbally request they let go and remove the napkin; a second reveal as it were. But of course, the glass is empty. You can reveal the empty glass before or after the dollar, I like showing the glass empty afterwards, as it is the perfect punctuation to the trick.

The Method

We might imagine that a trick so simple must be incredibly difficult. But the method, like the performance, is easy to do.

Remember, the glass does not move during the trick. Shotpossible is not a Cups and Balls technique. This trick loses some of its perceived impossibility if the glass is scooted forward as there is not additional routine to mask the action—the magician could simply tilt the glass and steal the dollar during the move, which is easy for the audience to recall in a single phase routine. Instead, begin with the dollar in the center of the table and set the glass straight down on top of it.

When you fold the dollar slip a shim inside or keep it folded tight with a paperclip (sometimes available with the check). Set the bill on the table and bring your right knee up under the table, wearing the Shimpossible PK Power Strip.

Set the inverted glass over the dollar and cover the glass with an opaque napkin (either cloth or paper work just fine). Demonstrate how you want the spectator to hold the glass, cupped between both hands, and in the process, secretly steal the dollar from under the glass.

The Steal

While demonstrating how you want the spectator to secure the glass, secretly lift the glass with your left hand. Your left arm appears to be lying on the table, but is actually only touching the table at the elbow—your arm being angled upright about an inch to the glass.

Resist the urge to tilt the glass. Hold it level, as if it were sitting on the table.

Your right knee sweeps at an angle following the angle of your left arm, removing the dollar from the glass and depositing it under your forearm.

End Game

Slowly and quietly, lower the glass back to the table as the spectator cups their hands around it. Your left arm moves backwards with the dollar. You can either drop it in your lap, or as you start to move the glasses and plates out of your way, palm off the dollar and pick up the check tray, leaving the dollar on top as you set it aside. Move a number of objects before and after, disassociating the contact.

Alternatively, you can slide the dollar under another glass, slip it into a friend’s pocket, or reveal it in your own wallet via Card in Wallet. Substitute a dollar for a signed sugar packet, a paper napkin, a spectator’s ferromagnetic ring, or even a folded playing card, though the latter seems to ruin the spontaneity. You can also use the check itself, which provides a good reason for it to appear back in the tray or portfolio. If the check is stapled, you already have your shim.

The smaller the shim, the more powerful your power source needs to be. The Shimpossible PK Power Pack, featuring the PK Power Strip, is perfect for Dollar Shotpossible.

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.

 

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.

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!

Click HERE to try SR9 Cloaking Fluid in an easy-to-use applicator pen.

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)

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!

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:

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.