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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Easy To Master Crap [UPDATED - Now with "Additional Extra Notes!"]

One of my personal favorite card tricks is Paul Harris' Las Vegas Leaper (which can be found in Volume 1 of the must-own, must-read Art of Astonishment, but I'll talk more about the book in a future post). Few tricks rival the simplicity and cleanliness of both effect and method.

Now, here's my pet peeve with this trick: magicians who do it the way Michael Ammar does it on Easy to Master Card Magic, Volume 1. Ammar tells you to count 4 cards of the spectator's packet before handing it to them. In my opinion, that allows for the possibility of trickery! Why not just stop being a pussy and let the spectator count ALL of them? Yes, it may take some spectator management, but I promise, it will greatly enhance the effect.

Extra notes: to prevent the spectator from spoiling the trick in this case, hand it to them and say, "Oh careful! Don't drop it!" That'll cause them to tighten up their grip pretty hard. And now that you aren't holding the packet at all, you can demonstrate with them (using the portion of the deck you have in your hand) how they should be counting the cards.

Additional extra notes: Now that Sgt. Raymond reminded me in the "Comments" section, you should look into making this a stage effect. It's very doable as long as you have the spectator counting aloud in a microphone the number of cards. Also, make sure the vanishes of the initial three cards are as visual as possible. You should also consider classic forcing a three after the first three travel; this way, the second amount of cards looks like it was freely chosen by the audience. Finally, remember to have the spectators to count aloud and loud - don't let the spectators ever suspect that there was anything dirty in the counting procedure.

Coming soon: An update on "Girl Magic"!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Magic Joke Crap (Plus, Pagliacci Shows You How To Keep a Magician In Suspense)

I found a great list magic jokes at Pay Out Time for Magicians. I edited the jokes, removed some of the less funny ones, corrected the grammar, and grouped them by topic, resulting in the list of jokes you see below. Prepare yourself for self-depracatory magic humor at its best.

Did you hear about the terrorists who took a convention of magicians hostage?
They threatened to release one every hour until their demands where met.

Why do so many people take an instant dislike to magicians?
It saves them time in the long run.

Why did they put 200 magicians at the bottom of the ocean?
Someone heard that magicians really were good people deep down.

What the difference between a magician and his South American Macaw?
One of them is noisy, loud, and obnoxious, and the other one is a bird.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get away from the guy with the card tricks.

What's the difference between a close-up magician and an Uzi?
An Uzi only repeats itself 40 times.

What's the difference between a card guy and an onion?
No one cries when you cut up a card guy.

What's the difference between a magic collector and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

What's brown and looks really good on a magician?
A doberman.

Where do manipulators play best?
In traffic.

How did the illusionist end up with a million dollars in his bank account?
He started with two million.

An illusionist won the lottery and was asked, "Will all this newly acquired wealth change your life in any way?" "Nope," says he, " I'm gonna keep playing gigs until the money runs out..."

Two magi are talking and one says "I am really doing well: my bookings are at an all time high and I have been able to buy a much larger house and new car!" The other says, "Really! I did not know that!" The first continues, "My magic book has gone to the top of the best-selling non-fiction section and the publishers have given me a huge advance on the sequel!" The second says "Wow! I did not know that!" The first carries on: "Of course my TV series is about to hit the screens nationwide and my life story is being turned into a major film starring Tom Hanks!" The second says "That's incredible. I did not know that!" "But you know," the first continues, "I did a children's party the other day and it was a fiasco!" "Yes," said the second magician, "I heard about that!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Stock Line Crap [UPDATED]

How many times have you been asked this during a performance: "Can you make my wife disappear?"

Or during a restaurant gig, have you ever been asked: "Can you make my check disappear?"

Or during a bill switch: "Can you do that to all my singles?"

There are questions that you get over and over again as a magician. The laymen who make them really honestly think that they are being creative and clever when they say them. This is where your major opportunity comes in: because spectators think that they are being spontaneous with these questions, you can score major "funny points" by stockpiling responses to these questions, especially because apparently improved lines are much funnier than obviously scripted ones.

So here's the plan: Everybody submit the questions you've been asked over and over again, as well as your answers to them. The goal is to create a sort of library of these questions and the lines that you can respond with in order to make you as prepared as possible. Please e-mail me or add a comment to the post with your questions and responses!

I'll start the library off with these (and feel free to add your own!):

"Can you make my wife disappear?"

Alain Nu: "I would, but I need all the audience I can get."
David Oliver: "Funny, she asked the same thing about you just a moment ago!"
Kevin James: [removes tally counter from pocket and clicks button without saying a word]
Other magicians: "Sure, but it'll cost you double."

"Can you make my check disappear?"

"If I did that, do you really think the restaurant will really keep me around here?"
"Sure, but it'll cost you $100 in materials."

"Can you make my singles into hundreds now?"

Gregory Wilson: "No prob, but it takes 24 hours to do that. So just leave all the cash here and come back in 24 hours when I have it ready for you."
Other magicians: "If I could do that, don't you think I'd be relaxing in the Bahamas by now?"

So, e-mail me or add a comment to the post to contribute to this library. I'll make an updated post later this week compiling all of our answers. Just think about what a great resource this will be if everybody contributes something, so please do!

[UPDATE: Brad Henderson e-mailed me today to correct one of my attributions. Although Adam Rubin related to me the use of the clicker as a response to the question, the originator of this idea is Kevin James. Much thanks to Brad and to Kevin!]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sick Crap: The Perverts of Magic (Part 3 of 3)

We're nearly at the end of our perverted little journey in this series, but don't worry - I've saved the best for last. Prepare yourself. We visit the Magic Theater.

A sampling of clips from The Magic
(By the way, do yourself a favor and click on the picture to see it fullsize. It's much better appreciated in fullsize.)

Ah, theThe Magic Theater.

The tagline for The Magic Theater is "Your Magical Fantasties Brought to Life." How many fucking people have "magical fantasies" that such a site is even close to being financially viable? What you get with this site is essentially a porn site for magicians, except instead of getting footage of attractive women engaging in sexual behavior, you get video of attractive women helping perform illusions. There are so many great (and by "great," I mean "so ridiculous that they beg to be commented on") features of this site. Before I continue on, let's play a little game. It's called "How Are All These Plotlines Similar?" It's a simple game, really: just read the descriptions of movies found in the "Magic Theater" and figure out what they have in common.

- "Zombie" : After the apocalypse and zombies rule the earth two lone men decide to take advantage of the situation when they spot Kirsten Dunst, who is now a zombie. They decide to try out the saw and guillotine on her.

- "School Girl and the Nurse" : Naughty schoolgirl Ashlee hasn't studied for her math test so she decides to go see Nurse Betty so she can go home. Nurse Betty sees through Ashlee's little scheme and uses some alternative medicine in the form of sawing in half and the guillotine.

- "Infomercial" : Magic Cutco has a new series of knives, knives so sharp they can cut anything without ever permanently hurting you. To demonstrate the a sexy assistant is called from the audience to demonstrate the magical saw and guillotine blade.

- "The Real Magic: Arkansas" : The exciting new reality show "The Real Magic" starts in Arkansas as we see Bobby "Bubba" Jones III and Amber try out for a spot. On day one Bubba is gonna done cut her pretty head off good, uh ha.

Figure it out yet? Could be the fact that every movie involves the same two illusions, Sawing in Half and the Guillotine. There are over FIFTY movies on this site and all but one use one or both of these illusions (in one video, they use a dagger box). FIFTY FUCKING MOVIES ALL USING THE SAME TWO ILLUSIONS!

But my favorite movies on the site are the ones that attempt to copy hit movies while still trying to incorporate attractive girls and the only two illusions these guys own. There's 2 Fast 2 Magical, described as such: "Julie and Trixie are two hotties from the racetrack looking for some fun. The girls dare each other to try out some magic tricks, and after much trepidation and not to be outdone by each other they perform the tricks on each other." Oh, of course! Two hotties looking for some fun decide to use the illusions they just happened to have lying around - what believable, realistic film making! There's also Berazzled, the Bedazzled rip-off in which someone wishes for "a lovely debutante to enjoy his fascination with the French Revolution." Since these guys only own Sawing a Woman in Half and the Guillotine Illusion, which trick do you think gets used?

Honestly, I don't understand how these guys are making any money. They're clearly hiring a ton of fairly attractive models for each of these videos (or hiring hookers) and are taking at least a little time to film and edit these flaming pieces of shit. How the fuck is paying for all these films? Who is shelling out THIRTY dollars for these movies?

Holy crap, people. Holy crap.

Is that really the end of the "Sick Crap" series? Stick around and you may see the BONUS installment...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sick Crap: The Perverts of Magic (Part 2 of 3)

The second installment of this series features not one, not two, but THREE ridiculous places to check out. Man has the crap I've found been sick, sick, sick!

Teen and Celeb Magic Illusions

What's worse than older men fantasizing about female celebrities not yet of legal age? How about older menolder men fantasizing about female celebrities not yet of legal age participating in illusions? That's right - the Teen and Celeb Magic Illusions Yahoo! Group "is a club for those interested in magic illusions that involve teens, celebrities or teen celebrities. Write stories, put up pics of your favorite teens & celebs and involve them in illusions!!" Essentially, these magicians ogle female celebrities like Britney Spears and Fran Drescher. (Yes, there's a whole file of Fran Drescher photos in this group, which is rather disturbing within itself.) And what would a Yahoo! group be without a video of someone jerking off uploaded in the "Files" section?

Illusion Theatre

If you have an inhumanly strong stomach and were not nauseated by the poor Photoshop work in the "manips" in the Teen and Celeb Magic Illusions group, why not check out the Illusion Theatre group, a Yahoo! group dedicated solely to Photoshop manipulations of attractive women into illusions. How much time do these people have and how fucked up are they?

Sawing Melanie C in Half

There's also this fabulous group: Sawing Melanie C in Half. Evidently somebody thought that it would be fucking great to dedicate a group to fantasizing about using the Spice Girls (who stopped being popular about a decade ago) in magic illusions. That's right - there are 841 members of a Yahoo! group solely dedicated to envisioning what it would be like to perform an illusion with a Spice Girl. I can't even fathom how it's possible that 841 fucking people would all say, "Hey! I really wish I could saw Melanie C - that washed up, talentless singer who noone even remembers anymore and is only modestly good-looking at best - in half. You know what, I want to do that so bad, I'm going to join a Yahoo! Group about it and write fan fiction about it and make shittily Photoshopped renderings of what it would look like!" Who the fuck are these people?

Coming tomorrow: The "Sick Crap: The Perverts of Magic" series closes with a website that really must be seen to believed. You won't want to miss this one, so be here tomorrow! Plus, in honor of the "Sick Crap" series, you just may see my version of the sickest joke ever told, The Aristocrats.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Deep Crap

A while back (June 14th, to be exact), I made a post about balloon swallowing, that magic trick that magicians use to make themselves look like actual freaks and porn stars use to show how wonderfully freaky they can get.

As I was stumbling around the Internet, I found this video. When I saw the thumbnail (a chick swallowing a balloon), I thought, Oh great, another girl faking her ability to swallow ridiculously large objects. Now, granted that she's hot (which automatically makes her presentation better than at least 90% of most magicians who do this trick), but she also takes the balloon back out. If you know how the trick is done, then you'd immediately recognize that she's NOT doing the trick (or at least any of the versions I know of). So there, gentlemen - your fantasties can come true.


I've always wanted a trick that required no props, no set-up, and played big. I also wanted to make sure that the effect was not sacrificed in order for the trick to meet any of the criteria I just mentioned. I finally found that trick. I really wanted to keep this to myself and join the select legion of magicians already performing this trick, but it's just too good and I love you guys - my loyal readers - too much.

Let me just say this: the day I added this routine to my professional repertoire, my audiences were responding in a way they never had before. Now I realize that the last sentence makes most magicians cringe, so I should explain myself. Previously, I had worked very hard to be that funny, likeable magician who always had a one-liner up his sleeve. That character worked very well for me and it really was fun to interact with the spectators in that "let-me-entertain-you-and-make-you-laugh" kind of way. After adding this trick to my set, the entire tone of the set changed. Now my goal was to perform in a "let-me-guide-you-on-a-ridiculously-creepy-and-unsettling-path-of-astonishment" kinda way. It wasn't the trick itself that transformed my act; I changed my act in order to get the kind of reactions that this one trick gets from my audience, which is jaw-dropping, unable-to-speak astonishment.

I can't recommend this trick enough. Even though it's been out there for a while and on at least two older magic specials (MTV's Brainwashed and Gerry McCamridge's The Mentalist), as well as the latest episode of Criss Angel. (You know the shadow trick in the "Buried Alive" episode? This is that trick.)

Okay, I've stalled and built up the trick enough. The effect I've been raving about is Psychokinetic Touches by Banachek. The trick is - pardon my French - fucking brilliant. The effect is simple and straight forward (as Dai Vernon would have appreciated): two specators sit across from each other - you tap one and the other feels it from across the room. This is verified by the fact that the other spectator - whose eyes are closed the whole time - can specifically describe how many taps there were and where the taps occured were. There is NO stooging - he or she will SWEAR that he or she felt human taps (and, without tipping the method, he or she really does feel something). The real magic happens when everybody witnessing this miracle attempts to piece together what happened. It's fascinating and produces one of the strongest moments of astonishment I've ever seen in my spectators.

Yes, you'll read the booklet (that's right - it's just a booklet without any flashy gimmicks) and probably think, "That's it? That's the whole method?" But if you really read the whole manual and really pay careful attention to the psychological subtlety involved, you'll have one of the most amazing miracles on your hands you could ever perform. Oh yeah, and it's only $8.64. That's right - a friggin' miracle that you can do whenever you want and it's under $10. Really, guys, you should be ordering this right now.

See? You can write a positive review on a magic blog!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

R. Paul Crap

I love R. Paul Wilson's show, The Takedown, in which he and a group of highly trained professionals actually attempt to cheat and "take down" various casinos. It's really educational and walks you through Wilson's mind. The episode, "Art of the Steal," was fantastic because Wilson re-worked the idea of a deck shell in order to steal a painting, exchanging a forgery for a valuable painting (instead of a card case, the shell was a hollow tray with glued on glasses - the switch was made much in the same way as a deck shell switch is made). The show is also rather suspenseful and nail-biting because of the reality of the situation - Wilson and his team really can get taken down.

The movie, Shade, involved R. Paul Wilson as a consultant (along with team member, Jason England, who can be seen in the movie doing the 21-Card Trick, a subtle inside magic joke). Shade was a great movie on its own and the subtle magic jokes and references made it that much better for a magician like myself. Just look at the cast list on the IMDB page and see how many magicians' names you recognize (these actors aren't playing the actual magicians they're named after - the director and writer, Damien Nieman, a magician himself, just named the characters after his magic idols.) Other things to look out for: the scene that runs during the opening credits features tons of incredible magic effects and sleights, including second deals and bottom deals as viewed from below a glass table; the scenes in which Stuart Townsend does sleights and effects, as R. Paul Wilson trained Townsend to do all of that within a month; and the scenes in the Magic Castle, in which Vernon meets "the Professor," a dead-on portrayal of the actual Professor, Dai Vernon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Search Crap

I have a hit counter from Stat Counter at the bottom of the blog and it keeps track of how people get here (this way I can tailor my content to what people are looking for). However, there are certain keyword searches that lead to my site that I find rather amusing:

- Somebody found this site by searching for "hermoine masterbates" at AOL Search, of which my site is the FIRST hit. (Check it out here.)

- A fan of Criss Angel evidently wandered onto my site believing that he or she would find "criss angel porn," which somehow brings my site up on MSN Search. (Check that one out here.)

- A poor soul came looking for information on Marshall Brodien after finding this blog on Yahoo. He of course found this post, which of course should have been the one Hermoine was looking for, judging from her fans.

Well, that's all for now folks. It's good to be back!

Dis-Obedient Die Crap, Part III

I promised a final update to the Viking Magic posts (you can check out Part 1 and Part II) I've been making. I learned a lot from the exchange of e-mails and comments and I hope you, my readers, have to. The most important lesson, of course, is that we must support magic owners and dealers who are honest and sincere and who deal with customers in a fair fashion. Magic Makers and Penguin Magic do not belong in that topic and I personally believe you should avoid doing business with them. Viking Magic, on the other hand, should be supported and frequented.

To end this post, I'd like to publish George Robinson's e-mail to me, in response to the last post I made:

Hello Pagliacci; thank you for your recent note and comments on Badland's etc. As for the dealer mark-up it is actually 50% mark-up on cost, not 200% One could look at it as 100% mark-up as well but this is an accounting term that is confusing at best. You see, the price is reduced by 50% to the dealer. Most dealers can no longer support their business on a straight 40% mark-up. The cost of doing business is just too great. With the added costs in fuel which have raised the cost of shipping dramatically, making less than 50% mark-up is causing a lot of companies to close.

One of the problems inn making items that have a dealer distribution cost built in is that it does cause the item to become more expensive. Now imagine selling to jobbers which are the distributors. You have to give them a 60% discount which in the case of Badland's would bring that cost to $18.00; now you can see that there is no profit in that item for the manufacturer if I were to job it out.

Another thing you must consider is that everything on the market place has a level. Not everyone can afford a Lamborghini and since that is the case, why should the manufacturer offer his product at a discount? Just so the masses can afford it? No, they have to settle for a Ford Mustang or what ever. Our place in the market place is to provide the best quality apparatus we can at a reasonable price. Reasonable to whom is another story, but given the fact that we give guarantees, top quality workmanship, original products, we feel we are justified in our pricing. Anyone can cheapen a product as you have pointed out, but it will generally not give the service the more quality oriented product would give. Another case in point. If you go to a Dollar Store, you will find items there that seem impossible to make for a $1.00, yet there they are. BUT, how long will they last? I have purchased locks at these stores for a $1.00 and they have lasted a few dozen openings, rusted in the rain, etc. In the long run, I spent more trying to save a few dollars.

The Magic business today is very difficult because of the theft of original ideas plus the discounting going on on the Internet. Then you have the flood of inexpensive items coming in from India, China, Indonesia, etc. which essentially are copies of standard and/or exclusive items. The flood has made Magic relatively mundane and available to the masses which in turn have taken the mystique away from our Art. Don't get me started....

As far as controlling rip-offs, the best we can ask for is for the buying public, the magician's to insist on buying original products produced by those that own the rights, etc. They should demand that their dealer supply them with original Magic and if that dealer continues to sell copies, buy from someone else. It isn't like there aren't enough dealers out there that are honest, there are a few. Find them. Cost can not be a factor in this as we are loosing many creative people due to this theft of ideas. Steve Dusheck, John Cornelius and other have gone underground or quit all together and the Magic fraternity is the looser in this. What miracles could these people have come up with if we would only have supported them. The thieves can NOT create. It is not in their ability and that is why they copy. They offer nothing to support our Art and further nothing except to make money for themselves off the backs of others.

Again, thank you for being an upstanding guy and answering my note and printing it, etc.

George R.

I bolded the last part of George's e-mail (he hadn't sent it to me that way) because I believe that there's a lot of truth in whta he wrote there. It's advice for us all to follow.

HoCrap PoCrap

So I get home from my wonderful vacation, check my e-mail, and stumble on to this urgent message from Hocus-Pocus:

Subject: Hocus Pocus Sizzling Summer Event



Oh crap, I think, I better order the Predator Wallet right away because it'll only cost $525 now!

Then I stop, pause, and realize, Haven't I seen this before?

So I check my e-mail box, where I've been saving all these e-mails for a while and discover - to my horror - this calendar of Hocus Pocus events:

June 8th: "Hocus Pocus Days Of Savings Final Days": "Now is your chance to save a full 25% OFF your orders until THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 10th, 2005 AT MIDNIGHT PST!! That's right -- you have only 2 DAYS LEFT TO SHOP AND SAVE!! Save 25% off any items purchased from our online store at ***"

June 14th: "Hocus Pocus Hot Dealz Dayz": This SALE ends Thursday, June 16th at Midnight PST, and you can save 25% off any items purchased from our online store!*** You only have TWO DAYS TO SAVE SAVE SAVE!....***Sale absolutely, positively ends on Thursday, June 16th at Midnight PST... No exceptions can be made. Thank you for your understanding."

June 20th: "Hocus Pocus Buy One Get One Event": "2 DAYS ONLY! 48 HOURS ONLY! 2 DAYS ONLY! 48 HOURS ONLY! BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF SALE!!! BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF SALE!!!"

[By the way, if you buy to items of equal value (which affords you the greatest discount) "Buy 1, get one 50% off" amounts to - you guessed it - 25% off of each item. Sneaky, huh?]

June 28th: "Hocus Pocus July 4th Extravaganza": "BIG 25% OFF DISCOUNT...BIG 25% OFF DISCOUNT...BIG 25% OFF DISCOUNT...for the next 6 days"


July 10th: "Hocus Pocus Summer Savings Event": "3 DAYS ONLY 25% OFF...3 DAYS ONLY 25% OFF...3 DAYS ONLY 25% OFF"

July 12th: "Hocus Pocus Summer Savings Event," second e-mail: "DON'T FORGET..THIS SALE ENDS TOMORROW WEDNESDAY THE 13th AT MIDNIGHT!!! 1 DAY LEFT TO SAVE 25% OFF...1 DAY LEFT TO SAVE 25%..."

July 17th: "Hocus Pocus Buy One Get One Event": "2 DAYS ONLY! 48 HOURS ONLY! 2 DAYS ONLY! 48 HOURS ONLY! BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF SALE!!! BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF SALE!!!"

July 22nd: "Hocus Pocus Seven Days of Saving": "Now is your chance to save a full 25% OFF your orders until NEXT THURSDAY JULY 28th 2005 AT MIDNIGHT PST!! That's right -- you have 7 BIG DAYS TO SHOP AND SAVE!! Save 25% off any items purchased from our online store at ***"


Do you see a pattern here? I have no problem with an online store having a sale from time to time. It's just that Hocus-Pocus' "Final 2 Days" bullshit is pretty much false advertising. As the timeline above shows, Hocus-Pocus is, in fact, rarely NOT involved in a sale.

Hocus-Pocus wants to encourage frenzied buying, in which customers - who don't realize that they have a sale every other week, if not more - buy everything they think they may need in order to take advantage of this "once in a lifetime" sale. It only really works on a customer once or twice, at least until they realize that these sales happen all the time.

But this process of putting on sales once a week or every other week then sending frenzied e-mails the day before the sale end is bullshit because it's pretty clear that they have these sales all the time. An informed magician shouldn't buy into their bullshit, but should take their time and wait a sale or two before hurriedly making their purchase. Don't let Hocus-Pocus' cheap advertising scheme catch you. It's pretty transparent and I think the facts speak for themselves.

So here's my advice: if you're going to buy from Hocus-Pocus, only do it when it's a sale.

And Hocus-Pocus: don't pull this shit on Pagliacci because you will be caught.