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
One thing that you’ll know about me if you’ve read this blog at all is that I’m a Vanishing Birdcage nerd. Last night I was watching a clip of Harry Blackstone Jr. doing the Vanishing Birdcage on the Magic Palace TV show.
Here’s the clip:
There are two things I noticed about just the vanishing birdcage segment. First is this gag where he asks the girl to put her hand on his had and reacts and says, “Isn’t that nice“
That gag was probably acceptable at the time that this was recorded, but by modern standards it’s creepy. I hope that if Harry Blackstone Jr. was alive now, he’d be aware enough to drop the bit.
The next thing that I noticed is right after the cage vanishes…listen for it…
Did you hear it?
A kid says, “ouch“. I’m guessing the kid has his fingers between a couple of the bars and got pinched when the cage vanished. I also hope that if he was still alive, he’d change how he did this part of the trick so that there was no way a kid could get hurt. I’m thinking that when this was recorded, an occasional pinched finger was okay.
Look at your magic, what are you doing that may have aged out. Usually the performer is the last person to realize when something in their show has hit its expiration date. -Louie
Yesterday I had a full day of driving around town performing at senior living facilities doing my show. They love booking in magic shows for April Fools Day, and you can do shows pretty much from 10 am to about 7 pm if you want to. The main limit is your set up, take down and travel time.
Doing a lot of shows in a short amount of time is a great chance to work on things. I’m working on my Briefcase Magic Show, so not a single piece, but how to get the stuff to gel together as a show.
Everything pictured above (included the applause sign) fits into the case and sets up and packs away in less than 10 mins.
I was able to get 45 minutes out of those props at every show today! I’m working on adding a joke between each trick, that’s adding a time to the show without adding props. The goal is to have 2 minutes of jokes between each trick, that ends up being 12 minutes of the show.
Last week was the first outing of the Briefcase show and it went pretty well. The whole show including the stands fit inside of the Pelican Briefcase. Here’s the show set up at the fair I was performing at last week:
The show uses a lot of three dimensional props, which is intentional. I think that a lot briefcase shows select material based on the prop being flat. Obviously that is a concern. But things like the applause sign, which is hollow can have things packed inside of it.
The whole show was done with me solo on stage, except for the second to last effect, which is a game show routine that uses three kids. I have a method for that routine that I haven’t tried yet, but probably should try so I know if it works or not.
I’m happy with how it’s turned out, and hoping to somehow figure out how to expand it to a 40-45 minute show, which would be ideal.
One thing I’ve realized as I’m out there talking more and more about the vanishing birdcage is how many magicians have never actually seen it done live. Many have seen it on an old video of Blackstone, but not live. At a virtual magic lecture someone asked me about my Take Up Reel that I used with a vanishing birdcage, so I gave a quick talk about it.
I think most magicians dismiss the cage as they think it’s much simpler than it actually is. There’s a lot more to doing it consistently than simply pushing your arms forward. However when they see it done in real time they realize how amazing the trick is! -Louie
When you get into comedy, one of the things that you need to get out of the way is your first experience of “bombing” onstage. Once you do that and realize it’s not soo bad, it’s much easier.
Doing the Vanishing Birdcage, I’ve had a fear of it not going up my sleeve all the way ever since I started doing the trick. It’s not something you can really have an out for…you can’t tap dance around a cage hanging out of your sleeve.
Last night at the fair on my last show of the day, I went to vanish the cage, and it got stuck, with about a quarter of the cage hanging out. Honestly in retrospect, I don’t think the audience really noticed it. In the moment it was a scary moment as a performer.
What did I do?
I pushed the cage all the way up my sleeve, then pulled the bird out of my pocket. It got applause. However the bigger lesson was seeing peoples faces, they seemed to still be amazed by the trick. I think if I had more of the cage hanging out it may have been a much bigger deal.
I feel good that I finally got my first vanishing birdcage failure out of the way and it’s no longer something I’m scared of!
It’s been a while, but I think I’ve finally got my carry on magic show finished. This is a 30 minute show that fits in a briefcase and could be carry on luggage on an airplane. The case on the stand will go to my right and the applause sign is to my left when onstage.
I think the applause sign is something that adds some physical dimension to the show, so everything in it isn’t a flat handheld prop. The nice thing is while the applause sign is a large prop, it’s hollow, so that I can put things inside of it for travel.
Inside of the case when it’s set up for the show has a lot of free space, so nothing is too cramped inside. I do think I need to find a better way to store the fork and spoon trick, as it takes up a lot of space on the ledge in my case. I think I may make some sort of holder that’s on the inside of the lid of the case.
When the case is packed up, there’s not a lot room to spare:
I’m thinking I’m going to eliminate the stand for the applause sign and put a mic stand mount under it. That way all I can ask the venue for a mic stand and use that. I guess worst case scenario is that if they didn’t have a mic stand, I could simply set the applause sign on a chair or stool.
I’m trying is show out this week at a five day gig that I’m driving to, so I have my normal show with me as well as a backup in case I need it!
I was digging around on the British Pathe website and realized I’ve never searched it for the Vanishing Birdcage. I came up with a few videos of it. Here’s Howard De Courcy doing the cage:
And here’s Will Goldston doing it:
Both Will and Howard are using the older style rectangle cages. These are the ones that have the “spoon” sleeve guard. They both use the same vanish motions, and I wonder if the reason for that is because that’s how you had to do it to make the vanish look clean with that older style cage?
Here’s an unknown magician doing the cage:
That’s with an Abbott’s cage and you’ll notice the vanishing motion is different than the first two videos. I may have to hook up one of my older style cages and give it a try… -Louie
It’s been a while since I’ve done a show at a retirement center. The main reason has been due to COVID restrictions from many of the corporation that own these facilities impose. I’m not saying I’m against the restrictions, I’m all for protecting seniors and I wouldn’t want anyone to get severely sick or die because I was asymptomatic and brought COVID into the facility.
OK, with all of that said, I did a senior show yesterday and it was a blast! Everyone was out to have a good time, and they were into the show! One thing that I added to my show that I never really did in my senior show was the vanishing birdcage. I closed my show with it and they couldn’t stop talking about it. One resident wouldn’t shut up about the trick (I’m not complaining!), he went to everyone after the show in the halls and would say, “That was a great show, but that bird trick was amazing!” I think I’m going to keep the birdcage in the senior show!
If you want more info on performing at senior facilities, I wrote a book about it called How To Perform For Seniors. This book takes you through booking, material selection, and full of tips and advice for actually doing the gig! If the senior market is something that interests you, you should check out the book!
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!