How to perform a magic gimmick in a way that astounds

Tenyo Special Collection

For many years, Tenyo's clever "self-performing" magic gimmicks have been a delight to amateur magicians and a bugaboo of professionals, who sneered at them as being obvious, hackneyed and, well, gimmicky. Read the rest

Make your own fortune telling fish

Fortune Teller Miracle Fish

Ah, the magic fortune telling fish! If it curls one way, you are certainly one sort of person! If it curls the other, you are another! Magic, right?

We've spent the morning making our own fortune telling shapes! All you need is some cellophane.

How does it work? I always thought it was body heat, but this simple morning distraction taught both my daughter and I that cellophane is hygroscopic! The sodium polyacrylate that cellophane is made of seeks out water, and as it absorbs even trace amounts -- like from the palms of our hands -- the molecules start changing shapes! The fish starts writhing around!

Cutting out your own is a lot of fun, but lacks the cool packaging of the traditional!

Hygloss Cello Sheets, 8.5 by 11-Inch, 48-Pack via Amazon

The Magic Fortune Telling Fish (pack of 10) via Amazon Read the rest

Magic: Conjurers' audiences are most suspicious of extra effort

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The Jerx (previously) gave an audience at a magic show an app that let them tap when their suspicions were aroused.

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Watch Noel Heath's hypnotic card manipulations

The video is titled "Gothenburg Shuffle." See more on Noel Heath's Instagram.

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Japanese Magician Does Crazy Stuff with Credit Cards

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I’ve known Tomohiro Maeda since he was a teenager.

For a period he was well-known in Japan for his many two-hour television specials doing mostly card tricks for famous celebrities seated around a small table. It takes a great magician to keep the high-and-mighty seated for two hours with nothing more than a deck of cards. Above is a good example of one of his recent TV shows in which they also analyzed the brain during the performance of magic (even though it’s in Japanese, you’ll understand the magic tricks with little problem).

Tomohiro Maeda now writes life-style articles for magazines while continuing to perform magic at high-priced private events and he recently made a TV commercial for a Japanese credit card company.

And they also released a behind-the-scenes video.

I think we all wish we could do magic with our credit cards rather than be indebted to them.

Via Hey Presto! Read the rest

Derek DelGaudio's LA magic show will be stupidly great

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Our pal (and former Artist in Residence at Walt Disney Imagineering) Derek DelGaudio's new show In and of Itself is opening at the Geffen Playhouse on May 3rd and it will be stupidly great. His last show Nothing to Hide (directed by Neil Patrick Harris) is literally the best magic show I've ever seen, and I think this one will be better. It's not a magic show in any traditional sense. It's something new - something different and better. It's conceptual art but without pretension or self-indulgence and it happens to have incredible magic in it. Frank Oz is directing and Mark Mothersbaugh is writing original music for it. Read the rest

Unseen Magic: tricks that make you want to perform

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Patrick Kun's Unseen Magic videos compile 5-10 second clips of beautifully executed magic tricks that combine manual dexterity with fabulous showmanship. Read the rest

Magician/Inventor Rick Lax tells us his four favorite tools

Rick Lax created the TV show “Wizard Wars” and has written several books on deception. He’s a non-practicing lawyer, a former MENSA member, and now spends his time creating tricks for other magicians and for Penguin Magic, the biggest magic retailer in the world.

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Show Notes:

Facebook (as a marketing tool)

"I became a mayor of Facebook overnight and I’m still trying to process exactly how it happened … I’ve treated Facebook marketing like an experiment … If you google, “How to make a good Facebook video? How to make a viral video?” 12 different people are going to tell you 12 different things, so I just put enough videos up where I can experiment and I can see for myself what’s working and what’s not working … What I found out is that is not actually a factor in the video’s success, and I do this because I look at my most popular videos. I see what days are they posted, what time are they posted, and that has not been a factor … All the content creators who are doing so well on YouTube, they say, “Well, why should I go over to Facebook if I’m not going to get paid for it?” That’s really left a window in Facebook for new content creators like me, so I was able to just sneak in there and have a tremendous success as everyone else is boycotting."

Webcam

"Everyone says everything is fake … It’s frustrating because I’m not actually doing camera tricks. Read the rest

Only 29 inches tall, Matthias Buchinger’s accomplishments were gigantic (new book by Ricky Jay)

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

When Matthias Buchinger was born in 1674, he arrived without arms or legs. As an adult, he was under 2.5 feet tall. He lived to the age of 65, outliving three wives (his fourth wife outlived him, and he was rumored to have as many as 70 mistresses), and he sired 14 children. Most remarkably, Buchinger was an accomplished artist, magician, sharpshooter, and calligrapher. Buchinger's specialty was micrography: the art of writing tiny letters. He was famous throughout Europe. According to Wikipedia, “Buchinger's fame was so widespread that in the 1780s the term ‘Buckinger's boot’ existed in England as a euphemism for the vagina (because the only ‘limb’ he had was his penis).”

The author of Matthias Buchinger: "The Greatest German Living" is Ricky Jay, a famous magician, performer, historian of unusual performers, and writer. Jay’s biography of the extraordinary Buchinger includes many reproductions of Buchinger’s exacting pen and ink drawings, which he made holding a pen in his small fin-like appendages. Jay is a longtime collector of Buchinger original art, and this book includes several entertaining chapters about Jay’s personal interest in collecting Buchinger’s work and his interactions with other Buchinger-philes.

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Own a Piece of Houdini

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I don’t mean a lock of hair or a toe nail—nothing weird.

This Saturday, April 9, one of the largest auctions of Houdini memorabilia ever held will take place in Chicago, held by Potter & Potter Auctions. You can download a pdf of the catalogue. And the whole shebang is up on Live Auctioneers where you can also bid on these fabulous items from anywhere in the world.

Why so fabulous? No matter whether you are wealthy or not, you will likely be able to purchase something touched in some way by Harry Houdini, the world’s greatest escape artist and icon of the 20th century, in this auction.

Do you want a lockpick he might have twiddled between his fingers or toes to free himself from some diabolical device?

Or you can buy one of his sets of props that he used for the trick where he swallowed a bunch of straight needles and then some thread, thereafter removing the thread from his mouth with the needles dangling along its length.

There are buckets full of Houdini’s handcuffs and various forms of restraints, including these metal mittens that will set anyone into bondage a quiver; and a display of restraints also owned by Houdini and later used as a lobby display for the 1950s Tony Curtis biography of the escape artist.

Lot 120 features two canisters of 35mm film featuring 26 minutes of clips of Houdini, some perhaps not seen by anyone in 90 years. The frame grabs below are enough to make Houdini collector’s wet their pants. Read the rest

Inside Industrial Light & Magic's virtual reality lab

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Industrial Light & Magic’s Experience Lab (ILMxLAB) is a newly-formed supergroup of artists, engineers, sound designers, and storytellers prototyping the future of interactive, immersive cinema for Lucasfilm. Over at Bloomberg Businessweek, I wrote about my visit to the xLAB where The Force is quite strong:

"The way we do technology development here is really hand-in-hand with the creative goals,” says (Lucasfilm CTO Rob) Bredow. “The R&D is always in service to the story.”

For example, to port the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars film universe into the interactive realm, the Advanced Development Group engineers first had to figure out how the VR hardware could render the massive 3D model in just milliseconds, compared with hours or days for a film shot. Then Skywalker Sound built a surround system that realistically rumbles and whooshes as a Corellian starship should. Meanwhile, game designers and the storytellers hashed out the most compelling way for a Jedi-in-training (you) to battle an army of Stormtroopers with a lightsaber.

"THE SUPERGROUP REMAKING STAR WARS AND JURASSIC WORLD IN VR" (Bloomberg Businessweek) Read the rest

Watch: Magician dexterously floats credit-cards around Tokyo

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Zach Muller, a card mechanic (previously, previously) got a commercial gig for JAL that has him wandering the streets of Tokyo, dazzling people with amazing credit-card tricks. (Thanks, Magicpeacelove!) Read the rest

Playing cards for marijuana enthusiasts

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Neither of these decks are smokable, but they bring two of my favorite things together: weed and magic! For sleigh of hand, and other tricks, I always prefer the Bicycle brand cards, but the rolling paper inspired cards are fun as well.

Bicycle's Hemp Deck has a hemp leaf on the back, but the cards are made of your typical US Playing Cards stock and finish.

RAW rolling papers aren't as iconic as Zig-Zag, but if you want to tell a joint rolling story to accompany a magic trick, this deck'll help convince people they are looking at something special. They also come with a bracelet.

RAW Rolling Paper Playing Cards via Amazon

Bicycle Hemp Deck Playing Cards via Amazon Read the rest

A better vanish technique

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Andy from The Jerx points out that the traditional conjurer's technique of tapping once, twice, thrice-and-VANISH is a fundamentally unsound way to do a vanish, because you're showing the audience what the tap looks like when you're doing doing the move, and no matter how much you practice that move, you'll do something a little different that third time. Read the rest

Just look at this magic chexmix-filled banana

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Just look at it. Read the rest

Long-lost H.P. Lovecraft manuscript found

Photograph: David Linsell

The Cancer of Superstition, a non-fiction treatise commissioned from author H.P. Lovecraft, was found in a memorabilia collection in a defunct magic shop.

Magician Harry Houdini asked Lovecraft to ghostwrite the text for a book project, but died shortly thereafter. Now it goes to auction.

The collection bounced around after Beatrice Houdini’s death in 1943 and was never truly catalogued or ‘mined’ in all that time. The papers were never researched or inventoried,” said Potter & Potter president Gabe Fajuri. “In all that time, no one seemed to realise the significance of the manuscript.”

Fajuri said the collection was recently bought privately, and when “the new owner began sorting through the mountain of paperwork, he began putting the pieces together, and in the process discovered the manuscript and its significance”

From the excerpts, it sounds exactly as you'd imagine a Lovecraft text about superstition to sound ('superstition is an “inborn inclination” that “persists only through mental indolence”' etc). There is some debate over the authorship, with S.T. Joshi identifying CM Eddy. If you want it, expect to pay $25,000-$40,000 for it. Read the rest

How to do impromptu magic tricks without being a dork

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If you're like me, you've learned a few "everyday magic" tricks that you can do with things normal humans carry around in their pockets, and if you're like me, you've discovered that it's hard to casually do an awesome, perfectly practiced trick without being kind of socially awkward and dorky. Read the rest

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