Happy Birthday USA!

In the USA it’s Independence Day, which is the birthday of the United States. Way back in 1796, which is the country’s bicentennial, there was a trick put out called Happy Birthday USA: The Bi-Centennial Card Trick by Shigeo Futagawa.

Happy Birthday USA: The Bi-Centennial Card Trick by Shigeo Futagawa

This is a card trick where you have cards that all have red and white stripes on the back, and the numbers on the front. The numbers are 1976, and they change into 1776 and then the backs change to make a flag!

Here’s a demo of the trick:

@louiefoxx Fourth of July Vintage Magic Trick! #fourthofjuly #4thofjuly #america #1776 #usa #cardtrick #closeupmagic#vintagemagictrick #antique #louiefoxx #vintage #independenceday ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

What I thought was interesting is that in a era of Emerson and West packet tricks with confusing instructions, this has very well laid out instructions that are easy to read!

Happy Birthday USA: The Bi-Centennial Card Trick by Shigeo Futagawa

This trick is a good example of capitalizing on an event in the future. I wonder how many of these that were sold, but I also wonder how many were unsold and thrown away on new years day in 1977!


Vintage Magic Trick: The Shaggy Dog Tale

Here’s a vintage magic trick from the early 1980’s by Emerson and West. It’s Larry West’s The Shaggy Dog Tale.

larry west's shaggy dog tale

Like all the Emerson and West packet tricks, there’s a story line for the trick and the art reflects that. Here’s what the routine looks like:

@louiefoxx Vintage Magic Trick! Emerson and West's The Shaggy Dog #magictrick #cardtrick #vintage#1980s #magic #shaggydog#emersonandwest #louiefoxx#packettrick ♬ original sound Louie Foxx

Here are the changes I would make to the trick:

Honestly, it’s a trick that’s theming didn’t age well and the trick isn’t that good of a trick without the punchline at the end…which isn’t a great punchline by today’s standards.


Performing in Spanish!

One of my biggest regrets is not learning to speak Spanish when I was a teenager. I’m trying, I’m at day 500 on DuoLingo and I can communicate ideas, but not really conversational. I’m always looking for ways to speak it more, especially in the show to hopefully get more confident in speaking Spanish.

That’s where and Emerson and West packet trick comes in!

Gourmet Mouse by Emerson and West

The trick is Larry West’s Gourmet Mouse. The concept is really simple, it uses three cards and in the trick, one turns blank and one changes. What makes this fun for practicing my Spanish is the trick involves and mouse eating cheese. I know all of those words, and can do the trick in horrible Spanish!

What makes it a great trick is that it shows that I’m trying when I perform close up magic for a Spanish speaking family. It’s really easy to start learning a new language with things like DuoLingo, and there’s no reason for a performer to not know a little bit of another language.


Working Out New Material!

Over the weekend I performed at a four day fair in California and I learned a lot! I’m working on my half circle show and it’s gotten better but still has a long way to go. I’ll write more about this in the next few days.

Here’s a highlight reel of some of the magic that I did:

@louiefoxx Magic at the Glenn County Fair! #countyfair #orland #glenncountyfair #magicshow #louiefoxx #escape #fairmagicshow #orlandca #magician #comedymagic #closeupmagic #haunteddeck #cardmagic ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

When I perform at a fair I always put an odd prop or two into my pocket and do it throughout the day. These are usually things that I never intend to do in my standard act, but it breaks up the monotony of doing the same set all day.

The “new” tricks I took were Bob Ostin’s Auto Suggestion and Matchbox Mambo by Paul Richards. I used to sell the heck out of Matchbox Mambo in the early 2000’s when I was at Market Magic Shop in Seattle. Here’s the problem with Matchbox Mambo, it doesn’t work for kids. No matter the conditions you put on it, they can’t see why pushing one matchbox drawer in shouldn’t make the other come out. Handing it to them after doing it the first time and explaining why it doesn’t work the way they think it does is a waste to time. You end up spending more time explaining WHY it’s a magic trick than performing the magic. It was fun to play with last week, but Matchbox Mambo isn’t going to graduate into my main roving magic set.

I’ll write more about Bob Ostin’s Auto Suggestion later.


Vintage Magic Trick: Emerson and West Presents Gene Anthony’s Pentra-Bill

A while ago Matthew Johnson’s trick Melt got the modern card thru dollar trend going. It feels like since Melt came out or so there have been a lot of version of the trick. The plot is much older and here’s Gene Anthony’s Pentra-Bill trick from 1983!

The plot is very simple, a card is pushed thru a bill. No strange folds, it’s a very clean effect. Here’s what it looks like:

@louiefoxx Vintage Magic Trick: Penta-Bill by Gene Anthony #magictrick #magic #moneymagic #cardmagic #louiefoxx #emersonandwest #closeupmagic #vintagemagictrick #antiquemagictrick ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

The cool thing about the trick is that the card can be examined before and after and the bill can be borrowed. There is a gimmick you’ll add to the card, and the instructions hint at how to do it with the card examined before the trick, but don’t go into details on it. It should be pretty obvious you simply stick the gimmick onto the card after it’s been examined and you’re folding the card in half.

I like the opening the flap of the dollar to show the card in the dollar before the penetration. It very much feels like Timothy Wenk’s Misled trick from the 1990’s. Here’s David Copperfield doing Misled:

Pentra-Bill is a great way to do Card Thru Bill and I think in many ways it’s superior to the modern ones. Also it’s fun to see an Emerson and West product that’s not a packet trick!


Trimming Cards

I really want to be out working on my routine for The (W)hole Thing and with the miscut cards I got from the printer, the set I ordered won’t work. To make them workable, I trimmed 1/4 inch off of the three cards that weren’t miscut and now I have a workable set.

the (w)hole thing magic trick

This set works, but I’m not a fan of the card with the red rectangle being off center. However this is giving me a set to work with until the printer sends me cards that aren’t miscut.


Making Cards Opaque

The custom set of cards I had made for The (W)hole thing were a bit too thin as well. If I’m backlit, you can see through them. I anticipated this problem and had thought of a plan.

How most playing cards are made is that they have two layers and in between those two layers there’s a layer of black glue. This glue makes it so that you can’t see through the card when it’s backlit.

gaffed card

I’m taking two of my custom printed cards and gluing a layer of black construction paper between them. This makes it impossible for the back image to be visible when I’m back lit AND the three layers makes the cards nice and rigid.


Almost The (W)hole Thing…

The custom cards I had printed for my The (W)hole Thing showed up and they miscut one on the cards!

miscut cards

It’s not off center, the card is the wrong size. It should be 8.5 x 5.5 inches, but it’s 8.25 x 5.25. The rest of the cards are the correct size, so this one card is physically smaller than the rest and doesn’t look right.

I just contacted the printed and hopefully they can send me a replacement fast as I’m hitting the road for over a month and I would like to be using them while I’m out!


The (W)hole Thing for Kids

The routine I’m working on for The (W)hole Thing by Emerson and West is intended for for family/adult audiences. The other day I threw it in my case when I went out to do some summer camp shows:

magic show props

I thought the concept of the whole/hole wouldn’t hit with kids. Much to my surprise the kids liked the trick and got the idea of the verbal concept behind the routine. For the trick to work, the kids need to be able to read, so I probably wouldn’t do it for kids much younger than second grade.

Now I’m just waiting for my custom cards to arrive from the printer, so that I have a fancier set that what I made for myself.


Sympathetic Cards by Ronnay

Here’s another visit with an old packet trick. It’s Sympathetic Cards by Ronnay, that was put out by Emerson and West. The trick is a “follow the leader” effect where two packets keep matching when one is turned face up or face down, then there’s a couple of kickers with jokers appearing and backs changing colors.

The problem with the trick as written is you end up with two more cards than you start with. It’s a small problem, but also something that I feel needs to be addressed. However there’s a lot of magic that happens in it and it’s pretty good magic, so it’s not a bad trick…

If I was to improve it, the main thing I would do is try to figure out a way to get rid of the two extra cards. Other than that, it’s pretty good.