A couple of days ago a friend of mine sent me a video of the Infection color Changing Silk effect. I’m familiar with the instant color changes which I think are usually more suited to a manipulation act than the “poke and pull” style with a dye tube.
A long time ago when Norm Nielsen sold a color changing hank where you pulled it through your hand and the silk’s color changed. I always thought that would be a great first or last phase of a dye tube color changing silk routine.
I think Norm’s version would be a good beginning and Infection would be a better ending. I’m not sure if using both in the same routine would be better than using just one? Also there’s a lot that would need to be figured out, like how you’re going to transition from one gimmick to the other and ditches so you end semi/totally clean.
It’s an idea…and I don’t know why, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone use one of the pull through gimmicks AND the push and pull gimmicks in the same routine. Maybe I’ll get one and give it a try…. -Louie
One thing I love is seeing people do unusual things. A couple days ago I got to see my friend Terry Godfrey do the Al Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper. It’s a great trick and it’s also a fun, special moment when he gets on the floor with the cards. It’s a break from what Terry normally does and when he does it, it feels like he’s showing you something special, and he is!
Seeing him do that trick in early 2020 is what inspired me to come up with this trick:
My trick is essentially Cards Thru Newspaper, however it’s changed a lot. Goshman’s trick used a simple gimmick, mine is a little more complex and of course I eliminated the big sheet of newspaper and changed all of the props!
I’m trying to be more proactive about performing when I don’t have shows on the schedule. The last couple of weeks I’ve popped into some virtual magic open mics. When I do these open mics my set up is a lot simpler than when I do a more formal show.
The nice thing about performing in my kitchen is that I can put Post It Notes on the fridge to remind me of lines or things to do.
When I do more formal shows with the virtual studio set up, I have notes taped to my lights and camera. This is a great way to remember new lines, or names of people to thank. For in-person shows I put notes behind monitor speakers or inside my case.
Trying new material is something I live for, so it’s nice to have little things I can do to make it easier! -Louie
Yesterday I was chatting with a couple of jugglers and it’s interesting how different magicians and jugglers think. We were talking about a specific trick one the jugglers used to do. I came up with an idea that built upon their idea. My idea was that you put a bottle of soda on the floor, and you stand on a rola bola while holding a Mentos candy in your mouth. You drop the mentos into the coke bottle while standing on the rola bola and it fizzes everywhere.
The jugglers mentioned how hard it would be, and I told them how I would gimmick it. I don’t know if it would work but I have a method. First I’d widen the mouth of the bottle a little bit. Then I’d cut a hole in the bottle and run a thread through it. If the thread was on a thread reel, so it kept the line tight, it would hopefully pull it into the mouth of the bottle.
That’s a method that should work…I don’t know if I’m going to spend the time to try to make it work It’d be a good social media video, now sure how good it’d be in a live show it’s messy as hell. Feel free to give it a try and send me the video!
Every now and then I end up with a trick that I like, but it doesn’t have a place in the show. These tricks end up in the preshow section of my show until I either come up with a routine for them, or give up on trying to figure out a way to fit them in show. The spoon and fork transposition is something that’s a great trick, but stayed in the preshow part of the show for years.
I finally fleshed out the routine a little bit, so it was more than a quick trick. It’ s a two phase routine, with an ending. Recently I tried it at a virtual magic open mic and it went well:
One thing I didn’t think about was the “hips gag”, I don’t think it played virtually. One of the problems was I was sitting, which I really should have realized before I started. Sometimes little things slip, that end up being a much larger problem that you’d think they would be. At least I now know for future gigs!
I’m thinking about updating my promo video and was watching some other magician’s promo videos this morning. One thing I noticed that I don’t like, however I’m not sure if anyone else notices or not are videos that don’t show the performer in front of a crowd. Here’s one I found from a magician named Alfred, who from the video has great technical skills, however there’s no audience:
What that says to me is the person doesn’t do many shows, I could be wrong. I honestly don’t know if that’s what a booker sees?
I also don’t know how I feel about “studio” shots in a promo video. I understand that a lot of the time it can be the only way to get a certain piece of video, like a close up that wouldn’t really be possible without really annoying the audience. I can usually tell when a studio shot is mixed in with live shots, the energy feels different.
I guess my feelings on promo videos that don’t show actual performances clips is that they aren’t for me. -Louie
In this episode we make our first house call and interview the hilarious Steve Hamilton.
We chat with Steve in his home and learn about how he went from saving lives as a paramedic to making people laugh with his comedy and magic at events all over the world. We hear how he quit his job to pursue his dreams and how his family responded to that decision. A fun interview with hilarious stories about bad gigs and we hear about how he has not only performed at the Moisture Festival, but volunteered also. A great glimpse into the hilarious career of Steve the Pretty Good.
When I was in my late 18-20 years old and living in Seattle there weren’t a lot of places to figure out how to perform outside of family shows. At the time the Washington State had very restrictive liquor laws which prohibited me from performing at a lot of venues that had open mics until I was 21 years old. One day I noticed an ad in Seattle’s alternative newspaper for open mic that was at 2:30am!
It was at a place called Coffee Messiah
I started going out to the open mic and had a blast. It was a drag show, strange performance art show and an anything goes show. I wasn’t a “regular” there, but did perform there a lot! This was probably the most supportive community of performers that I’ve ever encountered. This may have led to why I’m soo open, encouraging and helpful to other performers.
Coffee Messiah was a place for me to try to find my voice or style as a performer. It would be years before I started to figure out what my style was, but having a place to play around and do it was great.
One of my favorite memories was that at the time I had a Zig Zag illusion and one of the drag queens wanted to be cut up. They came over to my apartment and we practiced a bit. Then when it came to show time the next week, I put them into the box, and when I put the upper blade it, it wouldn’t got all the way through. Well, we had neglected to practice in costume and their fake boob got stuck in the way of the blade and we couldn’t get it out of the way! Eventually after a lot of wiggling we got the blade through and completed the illusion!
Sadly Coffee Messiah has been closed for years, but I stumbled upon a video the owner talking about the venue:
Having a place like this to create art was a blessing to me, and helped form who I am as an artist.
One thing I can’t stand are magicians who say they always “kill” at their shows. I’m sure there are people that do crush is from the audience’s perspective all the time, but did they honestly and artistically think they did their best every show?
I’ve done shows where at the end I get a standing ovation, and think to myself, “really, that show wasn’t that good”. I’m not saying the audience is wrong to show their appreciation, I’m saying the performer should honestly look at each show. Could you as a performer have done better?
Personally I learn more about doing bad shows that I do from crushing it. You learn or try to learn why things that normally work didn’t. Was it you, was it the audience, was it the situation or a combination of all of them? Then you need to figure out how to make it not happen again, or at least reduce the risk or amount of reasons why the show was bad.
I’m not saying you should go out and do bad show intentionally as a learning tool…but you can learn things by going to an open mic at taking drastic risks with your show. Sometimes something you think would turn off an audience connects…sometimes it doesn’t.
Take some risks…it’s art, not brain surgery. -Louie
It seems the Vanishing Birdcage is getting more and more popular right now, and I think it’s because there are some more cage options on the market right now than there were 5 years ago. I personally love the trick and have for years. The thing about the trick that I think easily gets forgotten is that you need to have a bird, or something in the cage.
That’s where Billy McComb‘s routine with the mouse really shines. It gives a purpose for the cage and puts focus on the cage. In the later Tommy Wonder videos of him doing the vanishing birdcage, it’s an empty cage that disappears. There is a video out there of an early version of Tommy doing it where he does it under a see through cloth, however the cage has a “mouse” in it.
In my routine it’s about the bird, here’s the very end of it:
When the bird is the focal point of the routine and not the cage, the take the audiences focus away from the funky looking cage. If all they have to look at is the cage, it’s easy for them to quickly realize it’s a trick cage.
I use a Nielsen Magic Latex Canary, and I’ve kinda been hoarding them. Whenever I see them at a magic swap meet, I buy them, or when I’m ordering some other trick from a place that sells them, I’ll add one into my order. The canaries are pretty cheap at $10, however, they won’t be around forever. I figure as long as I use them, might as well have them around.