Saturday, June 7, 2014

Episode 11 "Razor's Edge"

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As soon as I got the trick I thought of different methods. The one using the magicians choice I mentioned in the video. But here are some more.What if you don't switch the bladed string with a gimmicked set of five. But merely pretend to attach the string on the blade (there are plenty of ring and string moves in the literature that would apply here) and then removing the blade secretly as you go into your pocket for a gimmicked set of four strings? That way I would seem like you are adding four more strings to the mix. Yes, that initial string now "has" to be pulled. And with a little bit of audience management this is a piece of cake. (for instance you hand them the "lame" string as the very first thing saying "Alright the first one I decide on, here hold on tight" and then pull. "But the next choices are up to you!")

But I stayed away from using other methods and focused on what was suggested on the DVD. So I made the gimmick, went out there and and did my thing.

The core group (commonly referred to as "friends") put on their "no way you are actually doing this"-face on. They have seen me do all sorts of tricks. And whenever I go into the chance and influence realm they did it. So they loved it as well. A very positive start. I need to mention that I did the Nathan Allen version with the gimmick already set up, as that version is way more practical.

The "stranger" group was next. All see me doing magic for the first time and only that trick. The reactions were different. Not much, but different. One woman flat out refused to hold on to the string as soon as there was the mention of a razor blade. Even after saying that it is my responsibility as I do the pulling she refused. So I asked her, which one she would have picked. Then I pulled on the other one, leaving me with her choice of string in my hand, which had the blade on it. "I'm so glad you refused. Are you psychic?" So the reaction was stronger. And more unpredictable.

And the third group was done in my theater. I established credit first and did that thing as an encore piece. I made sure that I hammered in the fact that my hands are my living. So naturally the anticipation went through the roof.

So we have a case of a really strong trick and a very shallow package.

Watch the street style performance by Morgan Strebler:

Even More Review

If you watch the video you may realize that tying the razor blade to a string is not really exciting. It is what people in the show business call DEAD TIME. And it must be avoided at all costs. So why no approach with the blade already attached to the string? That would save a lot of time.

As I said in the video review: This seems like a rushed project as all the flaws are in fact addressable. You can solve every single issue and then really have a really good product. However this is not the case.

Also no variations. This is the sort of trick that screams variations, further ideas and tips while performing. All of that was missing from the DVD. It is sad to write this, as the implication and the impact of the trick has this grand scope that falls flat because of lousy execution.

But as a more upbeat way to finish this review: If you have the gimmick of five strings in your hand you are actually able to flash the razor by opening your hand slightly. That way you can convince your audience that you really have a razor blade in your hand. So you can milk the danger aspect much more, than by simply telling them that there is a razor blade in your hand.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Episode 10 "RED"

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If you have seen the video you know that I think that "RED" is an okay-trick. Not the best thing, nor the worst. So I got "RED" last week. And I have been trying to give it a fair review by actually performing it. Here is how it went:

My core group (friends) have seen me do better. Their reaction was pretty average. Yes they had no idea how it was done, yet they felt there was some awkward moment in the procedure. One actually pointed it out verbally "Why did I have to put cards in the box?" My answer "So you would not forget your card" was a rather weak response. This issue is never addressed on the DVD.

Then I tried it with the stranger group. All see me doing magic for the first time. The reactions were much better. I actually had two groups to try this on. The first one saw me doing "RED" and only "RED" and the second one saw me do some preliminary card tricks and then "RED". The difference could not have been more clear. And just as I expected. Doing just "RED" people told me, that the deck is probably gimmicked. I was not going to argue with them. The second group had handled the cards before "RED". At least that is what they thought, as they have not been aware of the deck switch. So they were much more amazed at the fact that the red card in the deck was the selection. It actually was the talk of the night.

And the third group was done in my theater. And I realized that this is a good transitional piece to get from magic to mentalism. Did it play well? Not really! It is a rather weak transition. I have a similar effect (ungimmicked) in my show at that very moment. And I will give you that trick so you can compare: A red folded card is on the table in a cloth peg. From a blue backed deck the spectator touches any face up card. After the spectator had many chances of changing his mind he finally commits to a card. The spread is closed and attention is directed towards the folded card in the cloth peg. The cards is pulled off the peg, unfolded and it is the freely selected card.

All you need is a red backed deck a blue backed cover card and a folded dummy in the peg. The rest is simple stuff... a cull, a mercury card fold and Alexander de Cova's cloth peg switch, that he teaches on third volume of his "Treasures" series. (later published as "Paperclipped" by Jay Sankey) I do not let them sign the card... as I don't want yet another magic trick, but a simple transitional piece to get to the mentalism.

In the video I promised to give you yet another version to accomplish the trick. This is it: "The Omega Deck" by Jens O. Jahn. Basically it is like the "Invisible Deck", but both side of the deck can be shown. Backs are seen. And the freely named card has a different colored back. But due to the structure the effect looks as follows. A card is named. The deck is introduced. The deck is spread, one card is face down, red backed. Then the deck is turned over, blue backs are seen. the red backed card is turned over and it really is the named selection. So from a dramatic point of view you get three effects leading to the climax. First: that a card is face down. Second: that the other cards have a different back. Third: that the odd card is in fact the freely named selection. So this combines elements of the "Invisible Deck" and the "Brainwave Deck".

I talked about the misleading trailer for "RED". Here it is in full glory:

Even More Review

"RED" is the sort of trick that sticks out like a sore thumb. You have to handle the cards very delicately. Personally I'm very sloppy with my cards. So handling them in the required delicate manner is something that would tip off my audience. If you do treat your cards nicely, I would say go for it. But there are many reasons not to do the trick. Moral integrity shouldn't be the first one, but should be among the first few reasons.

Btw: A good face up classic force could be hyped up to deliver about the same reaction. Just saying!