Lee Asher Teaches the Brute Force Force for Free

Inside Magic Image of Frustrated MagicianLee Asher is one smart cookie.
His writing is always helpful, complete and thoughtful.
We subscribe to his electronic newsletter and are frequently delighted by the neat ideas and moves he offers.
Sure, sometimes the moves are tough to do and we may practice them for a while before returning to our well-practiced 45-minute version of the Twenty-One Card Trick (imagine Bill Malone’s classic Sam the Bellhop but without the flourishes, difficult sleights, interesting story, audience interaction; but twice as long without a big finale).
But like Miley Cyrus or someone looking to boost their immunities against sub-tropical illness, we need the exposure.
Today’s contribution from Mr. Asher is a great technique to force a spectator to select a card from a deck.
We do not wish to engage in the debate whether a magician should ever “force” a card on an unsuspecting audience member.  We understand and appreciate both sides of the argument:
Pro: it is the very foundation of Card Magic.
Con: it violates the volunteer’s free-will.
And while we appreciate the spirit of the debate, we are against the current move here in California to get Proposition 99 on the ballot.  We just don’t believe the government should come between a magician and his or her audience.
The proposition — though well-intentioned — is misguided and would have unforeseen consequences.
The proposed law would require a performer or establishment where more than one performer appears to provide “adequate” notice that customers may be “manipulated” into make choices that otherwise appear to be fair.
The Magic Castle has not issued a statement on this proposition and while we realize this is really intended to go after other, more “adult” segments of the entertainment spectrum, it would take much of the fun out of performing and watching magic.
If you begin a show by explaining that you will be manipulating the audience into making choices, the audience is tipped to the bit.
That may work fine for those who can use such a warning in their act like Derren Brown or Max Maven but for those of us who lack talent and are excited to hit a Classic Force once or twice in a week of work, it makes things tougher.
One of the best things we have going for us is that the audience has no idea what we are doing.
Some nights, we share their mindset.
The proposal will likely not make the ballot and so this is not a problem for magicians or adult entertainers earn their income by lying to their customers about the freedom of their choices.
Political rant aside, Mr. Asher teaches a great, easy force today to subscribers of his magic newsletter.
It is based on the Charlie Miller, Classic Force (table version) which was thought to be published in one of his many Magicana columns in “Genii Magazine”. However, this is not true. Charlie Miller’s table pass appears in print, for the first time, in Harry Riser’s book Secrets Of An Escamoteur (2006).

The Brute Force force works well.

We just tried it out on a fellow passenger on the express bus. He had no idea how we did it. Now he is watching as we type this and so we cannot write the secret here.

We know he is still reading what we are typing and he should realize that is very rude and he should stop.

Really. Stop reading. When is your stop? You might have missed it because you are so intent on reading what we are typing.

Check out Mr. Asher’s great site and learn the secret to the Brute Force force today.

Meeting Our Old Friend Murray Hatfield for the First Time

Inside Magic: Murray Hatfield and TeresaWe finally had a chance to meet our friend and big-time illusionist Murray Hatfield this weekend at the Magic Castle.  He and his better half, Teresa were wrapping up their sell-out week in the Palace of Mystery and he went from his last show on Sunday directly into his lecture in the Parlor of Prestidigitation.

When we say ‘directly’ we mean, immediately.  The applause was literally still going as he entered the Parlor to begin his session with us.

We have written about Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield for nearly a decade; chronicling their tours of Canada with Illusions: Magic ‘n Miracles.  They have brought the full-evening magic show to lucky cities across our neighbor to the north on a yearly basis – each year with new illusions and a new featured performers.

Even though they stopped each year in our former neighborhood of Windsor, we never had a chance to see them perform or to take Mr. Hatfield’s kind invitation to see the show and meet afterwards.

It only makes sense, then, that we would finally meet in Hollywood, California.

Mr. Hatfield and Teresa put on an incredible show.  We have seen approximately a million illusion acts in our short time on this earth, but few can compare with the staging and presentation we witnessed.  They are fast, charming and mystifying – even to jaundiced magicians who have seen millions of illusions.

The audience loved the show and the performers.  They truly connected with the crowd from their opening and all the way to their incredible finale.

Mr. Hatfield comes across as a very modest but capable person who is fully in control of the illusions he and his lovely wife present.  He knows what is about to happen and cannot wait to share it with his new found friends.

That’s either a great act and tough to pull off year after year, show after show; or, he is sharing his genuine nature.

As we learned at his lecture, it is no act.  He is someone who has wanted to be a magician since he was a child.  He loves the art and enjoys people.  That’s a pretty good combination for someone who wants to do what he does for a living.

His lecture was a great chance to learn from someone who has created a new touring show every year for the last 25 years.  Yes, he taught us some tricks – good ones – but more importantly, he told us his secret of staging any performance for maximum audience engagement and enjoyment.

Mr. Hatfield taught the lecture attendees a special five step mnemonic device arrange a performance. Achieve all five and the show will succeed, he promised.  It does not matter if one is performing close-up or a big-time illusion show.

His stage show follows that formula to great success.

It was an honor to finally shake hands with Mr. Hatfield and a real education in how a true professional works.

Luke Jermay and Champions of Magic in Hastings

Inside Magic Image of a Magic FanThe Champions of Magic comes to Hastings’ White Rock Theatre next week, April 12th.

The theatre (apparently the metric spelling of “theater”) is billing the evening as a chance to encounter an “award winning team of liars, swindlers and cheats for a spectacular night of trickery you’ll be trying to work out for a long time to come.”

What a great craft we practice.  There are few professions where an audience could be asked to pay to see “liars, swindlers and cheats.”   Strangely, we work in two of those crafts: the law and magic.  Perhaps it says something about us or perhaps we should avoid introspection because it leads to the spiraling agony of regret and shame.  Either way.

The Champions Of Magic features four of our best doing what they do better than any of us.  

Three veterans of our art will perform: Luke Jermay is well-known to audiences and magicians on both sides of the Atlantic ocean and was most recently headlining in Las Vegas, was the inspiration for the American television series The Mentalist and consults with Derren Brown to produce some of the most stunning effects seen by modern audiences.   

Ali Cook is the star of Sky One’s Secret World Of MagicMonkey Magic and Dirty Tricks.  

Fay Presto, is distinguished member of The Magic Circle, has been personally requested to perform for Queen Elizabeth six times, is a favorite of JK Rowling and appeared on the ITV’s  Heroes Of Magic.

 They are joined by the 2012 Magic Circle Close-up Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum – billed as one of the world’s top young magicians and has received great praise from Derren Brown.

Promoters promise  a combination of elegant classics and cutting edge alternative magic resulting in “a mastery of card manipulation, death defying stunts, sleight of hand and spectacular illusions.”

We wish we had a way of getting to Hastings to attend this amazing collection of amazing talent and can only hope it will be exported to our shores like the other great UK products: fish and chips, The Office, table manners, The Beatles, some seasons of Doctor Who, statistics-based epidemiological public health, the ruler (not the “Ruler”), Benny Hill, English Muffins, Canadian Bacon (indirectly) and the ability to identify non-toxic mushrooms in the wild.

Carrot Top to Lead Houdini Previews in Vegas

Carrot Top - Scott ThompsonWe were as shocked as anyone to read the news today in the Las Vegas papers that Houdini, the musical biography slated for the 2015 Broadway season will preview in Sin City starring Scott Thompson a/k/a Carrot Top.

The more we considered the choice, however, the more we were able to see the logic.

It is a brilliant move for Carrot Top and the producers.  Carrot Top brings great name recognition to the project and Las Vegas is a perfect location to ready the show before bringing it to New York.  Plus, the show’s backers needed to do something to counteract the negative press it has received as of late.

We have been following the show’s progress over the last few years and were disappointed to read that Hugh Jackman had to bow out of the lead role due to “scheduling conflicts” and that its original book writer, Aaron Sorkin has also left the show.  Still with music from Stephen Schwartz and our favorite magician providing the story, we know the show will be a hit.

It is not clear whether Carrot Top will star only in the Las Vegas previews of the show or if there are plans to have him follow the role to the Broadway stage.

Carrot Top observed that in many ways, Houdini was a “prop guy too.”

We suppose Houdini did use props in his shows (but then again, most magicians do) and Carrot Top has a well-deserved reputation for being the best Prop Comic ever, so the reference makes sense.

Carrot Top is currently doing capacity shows at the Luxor in Las Vegas and has been honored as Entertainer of the Year and Comedian of the Year on several occasions.  We have no reason to believe he will have any trouble adopting the role of Harry Houdini and singing his way into yet more awards.

Sebastian Walton – Young Magician in Age Only

Inside Magic Image of Sebastian Walton - MagicianSebastian Walton is the real deal.  We watched this young man perform in the Parlour of Prestidigitation at the world-famous Magic Castle and were blown away on many levels.

First of all, he is young.

Not “Young for the Castle” kind of young but younger.  Young as in “you cannot buy liquor or rent a car or legally join on-line dating services” kind of young.

He claims to be 18 and that is possible but what is unlikely is that he is that good with so little in the way of real life performing experience. He has won several of the Magic Circle’s young magician awards, performed on UK television and has been seen by royalty.  That is a lot to accomplish in a decade.  That is a lot to accomplish in a lifetime.  The closest we have come to being viewed by royalty involved a webcam with someone who said they were a royal or something like that.

How can someone just 18 years-of-age know how to handle a sophisticated magic audience in a foreign country with such skill?

Presumably he has never been booed off the stage by seven year-olds whilst (that’s UK talk for “while”) performing a show for free in a public library during a heat wave in coastal Florida all the while wondering if his borrowed dove is going to survive waiting its production in the big finale.  He has never tried to squeeze in one last performance of a home-made Zig-Zag before his once svelte female assistant goes into labor. We doubt he has ever herniated himself trying to blow-up balloon animals for a mall’s worth of demanding kids.

There is only one explanation for this phenomenon.  He must be talented beyond his years.

He began his routine with an extraordinary routine wherein any audience member called the name of a card and he caused it to rise from, shoot out of, escape or otherwise mysteriously appear from a freely-handled deck of cards.  It was something to see.  We were in the back row of the Parlor and were blown away by his presence and audience management abilities.

We were in the back row because this young man has followers who cued (UK talk for “got in line”) to get the prime.  Some of the fans were from his home country and were very polite and proper in their refusal to allow us to sit on their laps or lay across two of them.

But even from the cheap seats, we marveled at how he owned the room and he held them in his unblemished (by liver spots and excessive wrinkles seen on performers of our ancient demographic) palm with a charming confidence.

We were honored that he came downstairs to the Museum and caught part of act.  We wanted to stop our ramblings and messy sleights to introduce him to the room ala Ed Sullivan (a reference Mr. Walton will need to do the Google to learn) but were so self-conscious that we thought it best to remain focused on the task at hand (wrinkled and bespotted though that hand was).

He performed incredible demonstration of card dexterity for a cheering throng, we tried to remember which side of the TV Magic Cards we were supposed to have face-up.  At least that was what we felt at the time.

Mr. Walton will be appearing at The Castle this weekend and should not be missed.  He is a genuine star – not a genuine “future” star or promising young performer — the real deal.

Check out his impressive credentials and promotional materials on his website here.