One thing that drives me nuts is when a magician will post a picture to social media of a craft store and say something like, “I could make so many magic tricks here” but then they don’t say what they made. These are people who are lazy and want to appear creative without doing any of the actual work. It’s not hard, but something that’s visually interesting and figure out a trick with it.
When I was performing last month in Casa Grande, AZ I went to a few junk shops. I’m normally looking for things for my oddity collection, but sometimes I find props to use with magic. One of the shops had about a dozen vintage milk caps.
Milk caps were used in the early 1900’s to seal bottles of milk. These are made of cardboard and slightly larger than a silver dollar, but about one third as thick. These were stuffed into the neck of a glass milk bottle. They didn’t create an airtight seal, but they did keep out debris and bugs.
The size of milk bottle caps lend themselves to coin magic. I’m sure in the 1990’s during the POG game’s popularity, tons of magicians used them. I had the idea of using them for some platform style coin magic, and figured I’d give it a try at a virtual magic meeting the other night:
I think it went well for a first run, now I need to write a routine for it and some jokes and I’ll be up and running! -Louie
One of the greatest challenges in magic is getting audiences in virtual shows to turn on their cameras. In the pic below I’m doing performing for about 50 people, but only a handful have their camera’s on.
There are a lot of reasons why people don’t turn their camera’s on, and I honestly don’t blame anyone who keeps their camera off. There are some solutions, for example some ticketed shows have a requirement that all cameras are on. This isn’t an option when you’re hired by someone…I guess you could put that in as a condition in your contract, but I bet it would be a hard sell for a corporate meeting.
The first step is simply asking for people to turn their cameras on. That’s the single step you can take that will yield the most cameras to turn on. In my experience the more I interact with people the more cameras turn on. Once someone figures out a way to get 90% of the camera’s on without requiring it, these shows will be soo much more rockin! -Louie
We live in a really cool time right now. I got an invite by Tommy Burnett to his lecture for IBM Ring 26 and was able to pop in and watch it while I was running at the gym! One of the the silver linings of the pandemic is that sometimes these Zoom magic meetings and lectures can be attended while you’re doing other things, like working out.
After the lecture they had their club meeting and I got to do the SD card trick I’m working on. That’s another silver lining of the pandemic, is that through Zoom you are able to get an audience almost instantly if you want to try out new ideas. Here’s my first time doing the Pin Thru SD Card trick (sorry, for some reason my screen recorder didn’t pick up my audio)
It’s always nice to get your first live performance out of the way. It’s a good way to shake the nerves of doing the trick and give you some confidence…or it’ll be a train wreck and show you the weak spots in the trick.
If you’re one of the holdouts not embracing Zoom after almost two years, you really should learn to use and perform on it. It’s a great learning tool. -Louie
I’m trying to get ahead of orders and have a few more things in stock. Yesterday I needed to make a new mold for my Russian Shell Game trick. I figured I show you what goes into it. I had already made the bottom part of the mold, so here’s how the second half was made.
I put left the shells in the mold and gave it a coat of mold release, otherwise the silicone would stick, and I’d just have a block of silicone with some shells inside that I couldn’t get out.
Then I measured out the silicone and mixed it up:
That gets poured into the existing mold:
Once it poured, I need to wait until it’s fully cured:
And violia! I’ve got the second part of my mold!
Now I take the resin, color it and mix it up, and that goes into the mold:
I put the top on the mold and let that cure until it’s finished hardening:
Once it’s done, I pop that out and I have the almost finished shells. They still need to be sanded. This is a quick way to produce the sets of these shells.
And here’s what the finished product does:
I hope this little walk through of what it takes to make some of my magic props will give you a little insight into the work that goes into prop building! -Louie
Lately I’ve been popping into virtual open mics and there’s something that drives me crazy. It’s when performers say, “If you were here I’d have you ____” and usually fill in the blank with something like, “shuffle the cards” or whatever. It’s been almost two years since we’ve moved to virtual, you don’t need to say that. If you haven’t figured out how to do the trick without someone in the room yet, virtual performing may not be for you.
HOWEVER, I do think there is a place to mention that “if it was an in person show, I’d have you _____” and that’s to cover a method. More specifically to rule out a method. A good example of this in an in person show is when Kreskin does the linking finger rings and he exposes the gimmick and says he doesn’t use that.
In a virtual show context, you could say, “If you were here I’d have you shuffle the cards, but you’re not, so I’ll shuffle them…” then you do a false shuffle. The key would be to put a little bit of distance between the false shuffle and a crazy revelation that would only be possible with a deck that was in a special order. Doing a false shuffle and then doing something like Any Card At Any Number would probably be fine without putting in any time misdirection.
To sum it up, don’t tell the audience how you would do things if conditions were different…they aren’t attending an in person show and they know that.
One of the things about doing virtual magic shows is that I think the audience has no idea of what is going on behind the scenes. Here’s what people see of the set of my virtual show:
Then there’s what’s really going on just below the camera’s view:
Normally my set up is what’s just below my working tabletop, however the show from a couple days ago I had to over prepare as I was told I wouldn’t be able to interact with the audience.
It’s crazy how quickly we all had to learn and figure out these virtual shows. Early on in March or April 2020 people were still trying to do their stage shows (unaltered) on Zoom and I think pretty much everyone has figured out there’s a better way to do it!
Well, it all turned out alright! Yesterday I had a virtual magic show for a group where initially I was told I wouldn’t be able to see or hear the audience and couldn’t use the chat function for the show…but they wanted and interactive show.
I was prepared to treat the show like a live, prerecorded virtual show. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the show started that I was able to do some limited video/audio interaction with the kids!
I went into the show thinking of the old saying, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.
Being willing to take on a challenge helps me grow as a performer. Next time I’m offered a show with conditions like what I was told for this one, I’ll be more prepared as I’ve already thought about it and done a lot of the work!
Today’s show is going to be a stressful show. It’s a virtual show that’s for a group that wants and interactive show…but I won’t be able to see or hear the audience and chat won’t be enabled on Zoom. When I was talking to the booker, I clarified that they want an interactive show, but I can’t interact with the people in the audience and they confirmed that was the situation.
There are essentially two options at this point:
Decline the gig
Take the money and do it
I decided to take the show as a challenge to see what I could come up with. I’m treating this show like a live prerecorded virtual show. What I mean by that is it’s the content I would put into a prerecorded virtual show, however I’m doing it live. This opens up some possibilities, like I could roll dice for a random number or spin a wheel to get a random item. While those methods of selection aren’t as strong as having someone from the audience select the item, it gives me options that aren’t there with a prerecorded virtual show.
I have one trick that’s a “touch the screen” style of trick which is a custom version of Interactive that I made that uses Bigfoot sightings. I do have some tricks where the audience has a job at home, but what they do doesn’t really affect me or the outcome of the trick. One of these is the shellgame, which is good because they can play along at home by picking the shells. I’m using my Russian Shell Game for the show as it’s got a fun ending.
Later today I’m doing a virtual magic lecture at 7:30pm eastern time. If you want the link to it, send me an email!
I really enjoy doing virtual lectures because I can use video elements for me doing the tricks in actual shows. This allows people to see me do the tricks that I teach in the actual setting they are intended to be used in. I’ve seen soo much good material die in a room full of magicians over the years. I think going forward, if I ever do in person lectures again, I will have a video element of the lecture.
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