Oct 17

Magnetic Madness

Is there any doubt as to the importance of cell phones (called mobile phones here in Australia) to the average human being? I can safely say that now as more than half of the world population is able to at least own a phone. For the record, there are more mobile phones here in Australia than there are residents of Australia. That means some of us have more than one!

In times past, seeing a person walking down the street mumbling to themselves was a sure sign of madness or insanity. Today, it means they have Bluetooth(tm) enabled. Have you ever had your cell phone ring during a performance? I put mine on silent ring but lately I've simply left it off stage. You see, I have one of those strong magnetic catches on the cover which grabs my stage props at the worst possible time. There's nothing worse than seeing a photo of yourself with one of your linking coat hangers dangling mysteriously from your belt area. Fortunately, I caught that during my video taped rehearsal and stopped wearing my phone ever after while on stage.

It does give me an idea for close up, though. How about you? can you imagine how easy it would be to hide out a magnetic item on that innocent looking phone on your belt? Think about it. Everyone seems to have a phone somewhere on their person these days. Why not carry yours on your belt?

If you don't like that idea, here's another one that would put a magnet on your belt. Go here and look at the variety of rare earth magnets available.  http://www.kjmagnetics.com/ Buy a small, thin one and glue it to your belt. Cover it with some vinyl tape of the proper size & color and you have the miraculous magnetic holder of your dreams. Even if you don't wear a belt, you can open the cloth along the beltline from inside the waist and insert a magnet there. Women often don't wear belts and this is a good way to create a very innocent means to deliver something magnetic into your hand.

Fold a note with a memorized serial number into a paper clip and put it there. Exchange it at your leisure with a borrowed bill of the same denomination. A recent post on the alt.magic newsgroup offered magnetic cards for sale. Aside from the normal questioning of the seller's having made them "professionally" or not, the cards could be used as a force card, placed in an envelope and fairly mixed with other cards which are also placed in envelopes. The act of bringing them near to the hidden magnet one by one will allow you to find that card no matter how fairly they are mixed.

So, use that noggin of yours and come up with ways to use this easily hidden device.

Oct 15

Rolling Your Own

Whether to buy or create has always been the choice we have regarding performing magic. It’s easy to browse the catalogs dreaming of what each effect would look like if we were the performer instead of that guy holding the prop in the picture. When it comes in the mail delivered to us, it becomes yet another fancy colored, sparkling box being shifted around on stage for the intented amusement of our paying audiences. If you buy the latest and most popular trick out there in magic land, you will be one of many who are performing this same effect for different audiences. It’s no wonder that many who see the average magician perform can’t even remember his or her name. Believe it or not, average is the point. There’s nothing noteworthy about being average.

To stand out in magic, you must create. That’s not an option or a far off wish. You MUST create magic. You either do it or you become the mediocre magician that you hate to watch. You can try to convince yourself that using red scarves instead of white sets you apart. You know it doesn’t. So, what do you do when you feel as if all the good stuff has been created and that there’s nothing left for you? It’s easier than you think.

Modify and adapt. That’s the simple answer. Let’s take the humble Egg Bag, for example. It’s been around for nearly 100 years and entertained millions. Max Malini, Charlie Miller, Dai Vernon, Johnny Thompson and Tony Slydini are among the notables who have performed this vernerable standard of magic. I’ve seen their act performed word for word and action for action by performers today who have discovered the magical effect that this trick has on audiences. They who rediscover and perform the routines of the past are nothing but untalented mimics. Sorry, but the truth needs to be told.

Why not use the Egg Bag to far greater effect by making it original? Have you thought about making a Christmas stocking with a pocket inside? Using a shiny, chromed ball instead of an egg would turn that effect into a masterpiece! Routine it with a set of multiplying chrome ornaments and you would turn it into a signature piece for yourself. How about a black velvet egg bag with a large, golf ball sized acrylic diamond in it? Telling a story about a jewel thief and the policeman who was searching him would be very unique and mysterious when the gem appeared and disappeared.

And that’s just the Egg Bag. There are thousands of effects out there waiting for a creative brain to make them unique and truly magical. In the immortal words of the great Paul Harvey, “Stand by for more!”