Appearing Canes…

A year or two ago someone got the idea of marketing an appearing cane as a portable Bo Staff to be used as a self defense or martial arts tool. I’m sure someone made a ton of money on it as well…assuming they didn’t get a lot of people returning them and asking for their money back.

Visually it looks great for what they are selling it as, but the reality is different.

This brings me a social media magician’s group I’m in where someone is complaining about “exposure” and it ruining the trick for them. First of all, I honestly don’t think many people are fooled by the appearing cane. It’s a second of eye candy, but not the strongest magic trick. If you showed someone the appearing cane, then asked them how they thought it would work, I’m betting they’d say it must be collapsible.

As for the exposure part of it, the appearing cane was invented in 1947 by Russ Walsh, so it’s 75 years old. If you’re hanging onto the exclusiveness of a 75 year old piece of technology where probably hundreds of thousands have been sold worldwide and that resembles nothing that exists in the real world. That style of cane really hasn’t been used in my lifetime. I wonder if you put an expanded appearing cane in front of a kid without context, just set it on the table and asked them what it is, I’m betting you won’t hear “cane”.

Honestly, I think it’s up to the creator of the trick to get publicly upset first. Once they’ve voiced their opinion, you can jump on the bandwagon. If the creator has been dead for 50 years (like Rush Walsh is, the trick is legally (in the USA) in the public domain and not a “secret”.

I would say 99% of appearing canes don’t fit within the acts they are used in. It fits James Dimmare‘s act:

James Dimmare’s act is very stylized and it fits. Just because you wear a tail coat, that doesn’t automatically mean an appearing cane fits your show. You’ll notice that Lance Burton‘s act has no appearing or vanishing canes:

Look at what you do in the your and why you do it. Are you doing the appearing cane because it’s an easy way to get a reaction, or does it actually move your show forward?

Interesting to Uninteresting…

Recently someone in a magic group posted a video of them doing a 12 minute “flash” act, which is essentially a series of tricks. The opening trick they did was show a torch a long time, then it turned into a cane. This is a marketed trick called “torch to cane” and you can watch a demo of it below:

Here’s the thing with the trick, you are taking something very interesting which is fire and turning it into something very uninteresting which is a cane. I think you’d be better off showing a torch and then doing fire eating (which is interesting) than turning it into a cane. The magician’s style of cane has been out of style pretty much my whole lifetime, so no one instantly know what it is.

A better idea would be turning fire into an animal.

The above video isn’t how I’d do it, but a dove is way more interesting than a cane. Fire is cool to look at, so make something appear that’s cool to look at. Maybe touch it to your palm, and your palm catches on fire, you toss the fire to the audience and it turns into a throw coil! That’s way more exciting than a torch to cane. Also if you think an appearing cane is really fooling anyone, think again. At best is a B- of a trick. Sure, it has it’s place in the right act, but it’s not a huge mystery.

When you are doing a transformation from one item to the other, the final item must be as interesting as the first. Torch to cane…nope. Cane to lit torch…YES!!!!