It was nice out, so I went magnet fishing out at the river. Essentially magnet fishing it having a very strong magnet on the end of a rope and tossing it into the water and seeing what metal it brings back. Unfortunately I didn’t get any big chunks of metal, but I did get a handful of decent sized rocks that are attracted to a magnet.
I think the average person who is not a “rock hound” thinks about river rocks as something that you would use with a magnet. That’s something that I could use to my advantage. The key to any trick using these would have to be that the trick isn’t about the rock being attracted to a magnet.
What I mean by that is that if you did a trick with Frixion Ink and just made the ink disappear, the method is the trick. However once you add a layers, like it reveals a card AND not all the ink disappear, the method is no longer the trick.
Trying to distance the obvious method from the trick is another challenge. For example you make a nail move by itself on the table, it’s less effective than if you made a die roll by itself. This reason is that dice aren’t normally associated with a magnet, which is the obvious way that trick would work, where it’s not a huge intellectual leap to connect a magnet and a nail.
I need to sit down and do some brainstorming to figure out what I can do with these… -Louie
One of the things that I wanted to do when I was in Las Vegas to hang out at Magic Live was to go to Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart. Omega Mart is a huge immersive art installation that’s a strange grocery store and you can actually buy the things there. If you explore there are hidden doors that take you to the crazy places!
It’s totally worth a stop in you’re in one of the cities where they have locations. While we were in the store portion of the Omega mart, I saw an avocado purse, this is a realistic avocado that is made of rubber, but is hollow and has a zipper on it.
The magician in me got thinking about what I could do with it. The obvious trick would be to take something out of it, then at the end of the routine it becomes a real avocado! The addition would be to have a zipper on the reel avocado that you peel off at the end then cut open the avocado.
For a routine you open the purse and take out an avocado pit. Do a trick with it, like a one coin routine, with the pit continually reappearing in the avocado purse. Then the finale is it’s a real avocado.
Another idea is you could cut it in half and now you have an avocado shell. You could do multiplying avocados, or use the shell to steal something else.
Hmm…what if you have a paper cup, an plastic knife and an avocado pit. You do a cup and ball routine, ending with the avocado purse. You get the surprise of the avocado appearing, but then you blow it off by revealing it’s a purse and the pit is inside it. Use that moment of surprise to steal the real avocado and switch the purse for the real one. Do another phase, and steal the avocado like a in Tommy Wonder’s cups and balls and produce it again. This time ask them to open it, and they can’t. Offer the plastic knife you’ve been using as a wand to them to cut it open!
I hope this inspires you when you see things that would be good for magic tricks to think of things you can actually do with them and not just that you could do things with them.
Years ago I used to do lasso in the show, but it’s been a long time. Since we’ve moved, I now have access to an indoor half court gym and I’ve been using it to practice lasso again. For me, relearning it is not like riding a bike, it’s definitely taking some work!
Here’s what I can do:
Right now it doesn’t look very elegant, or remotely skillful. I think I look like I’m working hard doing it, that’s because I am. I need to get to where I have a lot more muscle memory so that I can talk while I do it. The other thing I need to do is figure out what my left hand should do when I jump into the loop at the end, it looks funny right now.
The nice thing about working at fairs all summer is that I can practice this as part of my preshow and actually do it in front of people. For me, that’s a huge advantage when learning, when I’m learning in front of people, it makes it easier to introduce into the show when it’s finally ready.
The plus side to the lasso is that it’s has no set up and plays big. The downside to the lasso is that it’s a high practice, low payout skill. What I mean by that is people think it’s easy to do (it’s not). The other downside is that it’s a low trick, so it wouldn’t play well at a show where you don’t have a stage, as it’d be hard to see for anyone in the 3rd row or further back.
When it’s finished, I’m hoping to get 3 – 5 minutes out of the lasso. That primarily will talking with a 60-90 second routine.
A couple of months ago I got a lot of vintage magic at a garage sale and one of the things was a vanishing alarm clock stand (no clocks). I also have a lot of remote control units here, so I made a remote control alarm clock:
When you push the button the alarm rings
I’m not sure how I’m going to do this in the show. Traditionally you cover the clock and hang it from the stand. When you hang it, it starts ringing and you pull away the cloth and the alarm clock is gone. Then the alarm clock reappears somewhere else. I think I’ll use the remote control alarm clock as the one that reappears and the ringing is how it will announce it’s reappearance.
When I was performing in King City, CA a few weeks ago my buddy Skip Banks let me read his copy of To Lure With Spectacle by Jimmy Talksalot. I mentioned to Skip that there was a couple of things about my street show that I didn’t like and he brought in the book for me to read the next day.
I was a great read and it really helped me solve some of the problems I was having with my street show. I like it so much I bought one for myself!
The current edition looks different from the previous one, it’s got a lot less frills, but the same great information. If you’re interested in doing street shows, I highly recommend it! -Louie
One thing that I think a lot of acts forget about is keeping your props looking clean. Sure you can wipe them down, but at some point they will just get worn down. I understand some props are irreplaceable or expensive to replace, but that needs to be part of the plan when you get them. Yes, I do understand that some props aren’t supposed to look new, and most props don’t have to look brand new.
I used to do lasso in my show a long time ago and I’m learned to do it again, so I bought a new lasso. Of course right after I get the new one, I found my old one. Here they are side by side:
The old one looks pretty filthy, and with something like a lasso, it’s hard to keep it looking brand new, but they are pretty cheap to replace at less than $30ish. The old one I used for many years, and there’s really no reason I can’t replace it every year.
Take a step back and look at your props and see what needs to be replaced or maybe just needs a fresh coat of paint!
Last night I did a corporate gig, it was for managers of a chain restaurant. This group was younger and fairly rowdy. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll take a rowdy audience over one that acts like they don’t want to be there any day. They kept trying to get me to go “dirty” in the show. In the past I’ve done a lot of comedy rooms and I have the ability to do that, however I don’t think it would have been appropriate for me to go there. This was still a corporate gig.
What I did was play along with them and I didn’t try to shut it down, I just wouldn’t go dirty. I did use a lot more innuendo than I normally would at a show, so it let them know I was playing, but had a line. It kept me present in the show and I really had to live in the moment, which is a good thing!
Most performers when they have an audience that wants to go dirty, they go along with them. Honestly, I think in 99% of these shows it’s a mistake. You can play, but you don’t have to get graphic or swear. You have to remember that while the loudest people in the audience are trying to guide you, not necessarily everyone wants to go that way. The two people who don’t want you to go dirty could be the owners of the company. That’s why I try to play it safe.
A while ago I order one of Daniel Summers’s Baby Lindy Vanishing Bird Cages. This is the Jim Riser Baby Lindy Vanishing Cage that’s built by Daniel. Jim Riser’s cages are sought after for magicians as he didn’t make a lot of them as he’s not currently making them, didn’t sell them to just anyone, you had to prove you could do the cage for him to sell you one. It’s great that Jim has authorized Summers to make them for him.
Mine showed up in the mail the other day:
It comes with a pull, canary and carrying bag.
When collapsed it will fit through my wedding ring:
I hooked it up to my Take Up Reel and in theory, I won’t need to change the pull length as it will take the corner to the same spot in my sleeve as the Owen Vanishing Bird Cage that I’m currently using.
After practicing with it, there’s a lot I like about it. It’s just the right amount of rigid, not too stiff and not too floppy. It’s smaller than I thought it would be, for some perspective, it’s slightly larger than a Milson Worth Silver Meteor Vanishing Cage. When the vanish is complete, the bottom goes past my elbow, so I have more use of my are than I do with the Owen cage.
As for what I don’t like about it, there’s really nothing I don’t like about it. If I had to come up with something, I guess it would be the price. I’m not complaining about the price, I understand what goes into making them, it’s just a big leap from the cost of an Owen cage. I do think the Summers/Riser cage is 100% worth it!
I really like this cage, and can’t wait to start to use it in my shows next week! -Louie
I don’t really do escapes in my show, except for my Straight Suit routine. Years ago I did a 100 foot chain escape, and I recently did it again at a street show at a fair.
This routine really builds a huge crowd. The nice thing about it is that it’s easy to understand what’s happening if you just walk up. You see someone being wrapped up in a lot of chain, you know they are going to get out.
My routine starts with a wrist restraint and ends with me getting out of it that restraint. The reason for that is I have a lot more control of how long the routine lasts and what the ending looks like than with just the chain. Also the starting position with my wrists secured and held out in front of my body allows me to more naturally hold the chain up, if gravity starts to loosen it too quickly before the escape starts.
It’s been probably 5 years since I’ve done the chain escape and I think I may be done with it. I might have aged out out it…or more realistically I’m too fat to do it. I can still escape from the chain, but it’s not believable when someone over weight does physical escapes. If I drop about 20 pounds, I think it would work better in the show and I’d reconsider doing it.
One thing I noticed at Magic Live was a trend of tricks that use a penis. That’s right, tricks then ended with the production of a penis…and not the old Goshman sponge ding dong trick. Most of them had a component of Bob Farmer’s Little Hand trick, however there were a couple that completely different.
Let me start by saying, I’m not a prude, and I’m not sure how I feel about these tricks. I dislike Goshman’s sponge ding dong, however I do like some of these new penis tricks more. At the end of the day the strength of the trick is in the shock value of the production of the penis, so no matter how good the trick is magically, it will be overshadowed by the penis.
I will say that every time I saw the trick, it was in an appropriate place (informally at the bar). My worry is that someone that’s a less “aware” magician would do it at the wrong place and give magicians a bad reputation. So if you do decide to do a trick with a plastic penis, make sure you pick the right situation! -Louie