Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Project 365 (193/365): David Blaine

.:195/365: David Blaine:.

Warning: graphic video ahead!

Ladies and gentlemen, we cap this month off with the very man who brought magic into the mainstream in the new millennium, David Blaine.

As one of the most recognizable names in magic today, David Blaine definitely deserves a lot of credit for having resurrected magic in a way that nobody dreamed possible: he made magic cool. And by “cool,” I don’t just mean “cool to watch.” I mean that thanks to Blaine, performing magic has never seemed cooler than now.

With a very diverse bloodline, David Blaine’s unique looks lent itself well to the “mysterious stranger” persona he has met a lot of success with. What few people realize though was that starting out, David Blaine was actually your typical chatty magician. Lo and behold, witness what a good image consultant can do for you, eh?

Starting his career as a TV street magician in 1997, David Blaine has starred in multiple TV specials where he demonstrated his effective style at magic. Nobody would say that he shook the world up with his routines, but he made them seem gritty, edgy, and in doing so, real. By removing the gap of the stage between the audience and the magician, David Blaine has captured the imagination of the people by doing magic that is every bit in-your-face. Using a very deliberate pace, and a calm, gentle tone, Blaine managed to convey that he was the real deal to all the spectators he encounters by sheer strength of personality.

As Blaine went by, he began incorporating a lot of endurance feats in his magic specials, so as to give the audience something big to look forward to, and to gain even more publicity than one normally would in performing a TV magic special. With an excellent team behind him, and Blaine’s undeniable physical fitness, he has weathered a whole slew of different endurance feats that seem to prove without a doubt that Blaine is more than just a guy who does “tricks”, but someone with remarkable gifts that cannot just be explained as mere sleight of hand.

To be honest, Blaine isn’t a stranger to controversy either, whether with people who expose his magic, or even those who doubt the veracity of his physical feats, but through it all, David Blaine has inspired an entire generation of magicians, arguably more than any other magician before him ever has, if only for the sheer reach of his mileage at present. Would people say he is a better magician than the Copperfields, the Blackstones, and the Houdinis of our time? Probably not. But would they say he ranks way up there as one of the most influential magicians the mainstream has ever encountered? Without a doubt, he certainly fits that bill, and it could be argued that as far as influencing people to get into magic, he may very well hold claim to having garnered the most converts. Pretty much every single guy who has started doing street magic since 1997 would probably owe their roots to David Blaine’s influence, more than anyone else.

That Blaine performs mostly simple routines tends to underscore the fact that magic isn’t about how simple or complex a routine is but about the way one packages a performance. Blaine is a living testament to this, and nobody can deny that his presence tends to give a kind of ominous aura to any kind of magic he does, even if it’s as simple as a 2-card monte.

Personally, I wasn’t really influenced by Blaine into getting into magic, simply because I was into magic all the way back from the days that David Copperfield was still wowing audiences with his TV specials. Despite that, I have to tip my hat to Mr. Blaine because if it wasn’t for him, the demand for magicians would probably remain restricted to Vegas and children’s parties to this day. Mr. Blaine, thanks for making magic cool. We owe you for that, big time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Project 365 (194/365): The Raven

.:194/365: The Raven:.

One of the cleanest vanishes of money barring the government, the Raven vanish has got to be one of my favourite routines because it’s just poetry in motion, watching how clean the vanish can be. Once the coin’s gone, there are no angles to worry about, you’re practically examinable, and it’s just one of the simplest routines to ever pull off on the fly as long as you’re ready for it.

Coin vanishes are generally awesome, and normally takes a supreme amount of skill to execute very well (Just ask Mr. Rannie Raymundo!). The Raven allows you to bypass a lot of the technical barriers in favour of just flat-out making a coin vanish cleanly, quickly, and efficiently.

Definitely one of my favourite routines, and comes with so many possibilities for you to play with. I don’t think much else needs to be said than for any magician who wants a sleight-light coin vanish, this should be one of the first things you consider.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Project 365 (193/365): Sinful

.:193/365: Sinful:.

Wayne Houchin made a name for himself with this routine, as this was one of his first ever performances. Many people feel that a coin through a clear bottle is a better routine in general, but personally, I like this one all the same, because it’s one of the best penetration effects I’ve ever seen.

Admittedly, as this month almost draws to a close, I realized I’ve done a lot of penetration effects in street magic month, but I’d rather still call this street magic month than “penetration month”, seeing how unfortunate the implications of such a title would probably be. Heh.

Anyways, Wayne’s performance of this routine is smooth as silk, as can be expected of the man. What really

For The Lulz

.:Thank You, Blog Na Pinoy!:.

Last Saturday, I was part of an awesome shoot by photographer extraordinaire Mike Yu. It was a long-delayed process, but I’m finally in Blog Na Pinoy under the Lifestyle category. And of course, here’s the awesome picture that resulted from that shoot...

My lame attempt at doing the People’s Eyebrow.

.:Copywriting Fail:.

So I was going around town the other day, and I couldn’t help but notice some of the signs that were littered all around me.

But really, with the huge show by Bench showing up soon, I couldn’t help but think if they really had no other choice except to name a show featuring underwear models “Uncut”. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to know the unfortunate implications of a title like that, right? But nooooo, they just really had to go ahead and go through with it, regardless.

The results are typically amusing and face-palm worthy...

In some cases, the results are downright terrifying...

Aside from Bench and their ::snicker:: Uncut show, I also noticed something in Market! Market! the other day, and it was a conspicuous dessert offered in the supermarket with this Engrishtastic tagline...

It reads: Chocolate Coating Cake – You know that sweet things make you smile. We love to see you smile with your people. So just taste the cake.

And of course, the piece de resistance: a product hawked by Gerald Anderson, no less. Nestle Fit n Right is a pretty awesome drink packed with L-Carnitine, meant to burn fat and aid weight loss along with proper diet and exercise.

Yes, it burns fat. But I think you should really specify what your product burns when you’re referring to it with some yellow-looking liquid in the background...


I know we’re not close, Mr. Anderson, but I think you should see a doctor about that...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Before The End Of The Weekend... Heh.

.:I’m Amused:.

I had a brush with celebrity last Friday. Check this out. Heh.

So apparently, they aired one of my guest bits on the Front Act Show with Mike and Stanley, and you’ll see what happened around 1:45 on this clip...

Apparently, my skill with the ladies needs a lot of work. Heh.

It’s good to know that great things have been happening lately, though, as I’ve had an amazing show with Mike, Stan, and Uli last night in Grub, and of course, there are a lot more things that we can look forward to in the coming days as the machinery starts roaring back into full steam ahead. It’s going to be an awesome time, to say the least.

.:The POC On The Rise:.

My latest article was published on The POC recently, and it’s called “Beating Around The Odds.” I hope you like it, and you should check out what’s going on in the Sosyal channel as well, as my good friend Fabucelles continues writing about soap opera stars in the way only he can.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Guesting Later On Front Act!

.:Another Fine Night!:.

I met some awesome people at last night's show in Taumbayan with Stan and Sir Ony. Look for us to be doing even more shows soon, though. Heh.

Tonight will be awesome too, as we take over Grub in Paranaque around 9:00PM. I'm sure it's gonna be an awesome time.

.:Front Act!:.

Around 4:30PM, catch "Front Act" on Solar 9 with Mike and Stanley. It's bound to be fun. Check it out!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Project 365 Smorgasbord (190-192)

.:192/365: Warp One:.

Paul Harris brings to us an update of the Vodoo Warp routine, and makes it perfect for the street magic setting. “Warp One” does away with the second, extraneous card, and produces a visual illusion that makes jaws drop and builds reputations in an instant.

Imagine taking a card, folding it in half lengthwise, then showing that the top half of the folded card is face-up while the back of the card is still clearly visible from the bottom half. It’s as if the card twisted itself in half, and your eyes appear to be fooling you oh-so-eagerly. There’s just something so amazing about the execution of this routine that one can’t help but be impressed when you see it, and best of all, the ending is perfect and clean: you give them the card, clearly twisted in half, as a nice little souvenir that they can take home and show off.

Yup, you can even have them sign the card! There is simply no need whatsoever for duplicates or any of the like, and Warp One just really makes a lasting impression on the spectators you perform them for.

.:191/365: Cyril’s Icy Trick:.

Here’s a street magic routine I doubt anyone can perform locally, for obvious reasons. Then again, we have very resourceful magicians here, and maybe they can do this in a walk-in freezer or something.

Cyril borrows a few items from a spectator, then lays it down on the ice for everyone to see. Then, with some water and a few gestures, he magically makes the items just go right into the ice, and you actually need to use an ice pick to dig the items out!

Cyril has been doing some really amazing stuff on the streets of Japan for a while already, so I must say that this performance is par for the course, although from a magician’s point of view, it certainly looks a lot harder than anything else he has pulled off in recent memory.

.:190/365: Tagged By Richard Sanders:.

Richard Sanders is pretty good at doing these routines, and takes the “pick a card, any card” script to a whole new level with this particular effect.

What you see is rather simple: a card is selected from a deck, and the performer calls your attention to a dog tag hanging on his neck. He gently waves the dog tag over the deck of cards, and next thing you know, the card is already impaled onto the chain. A visual penetration that happens right before their eyes, and yet the card appears to be none worse for wear, and is simply physically, inextricably linked to the dog tag. You can even give the dog tag away, if needed be as a very powerful souvenir to end your routine.

This is an amazing street magic effect that definitely wows people and gets their attention like no other. It also doesn’t hurt that you can give it away as a souvenir, which gives you a very nice edge in name recognition, as you can have that memento replete with your name or number or signature or anything else your heart desires.

Definitely a routine worth the price, and something you can easily add to your arsenal at a moment’s notice. When it comes to effective street magic, Richard Sanders is one of your best bets, with his wide variety of applications and his ingenuity.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Project 365 (189/365): Feats Of Endurance

.:189/365: Endurance Feats:.

While not strictly street magic, this is undoubtedly something made popular by David Blaine, so we feel rather inclined to discuss these things.

To say that David Blaine is popular as a street magician is a given, but he is equally as popular for his endurance feats, which he has performed for the public to view over the course of his career. We’ve seen him live in a block of ice, stay balanced on a small platform for weeks, break the world record for holding one’s breath underwater, and a host of other feats of endurance that simply defy conventional wisdom about the limits of the human body.

Admittedly, both purists and skeptics alike have taken Blaine to task for including these feats in his magic act, as the former feels it detracts from his magic, while the latter assume that like magic tricks, there is a “cheat” of sorts to these feats, thereby making them non-feats by extension. The veracity of his achievements are put into question, and in turn his credibility as a performer becomes undermined when all of these things are put together.

Truth be told, this is a crying shame. If one needs to make a personal distinction between one part of Blaine’s act from the other, I feel that it inevitably exposes a weakness in melding both aspects together, despite the inherent talent and strength of the performer on both sides of the divide. If there were a way to really enhance both aspects of his performance without necessarily putting his credibility into question, then perhaps that would allow magic to have the kind of legitimacy it deserves as an art form, rather than to find itself mired again and again in the quagmire of people looking down upon it as merely a compilation of “tricks”.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Project 365 Backlog (187-188)

.:187/365: Cup O’ Change:.

One of David Blaine’s most popular routines involves him approaching a street beggar holding a mug of coffee, shaking the mug, and then producing a whole bunch of coins from it, much to the surprise and delight of the mendicant.

If there’s one feel-good routine magicians tend to perform, it’s money productions. Admittedly, this doesn’t bode well in the realm of counterfeiting and the obvious question of why a magician who can produce money can’t make himself rich is also an inevitably uncomfortable byproduct of such routines, but when used sparingly, these performances certainly amuse and delight more than most other performances, despite the lack of gigantic props or gargantuan preparations.

There really are few routines one can perform that grabs a person’s attention more than conjuring money from thin air, eh?

.:188/365: Prohibition:.

Without a doubt, Charlie Justice’s version of the coin/cap in bottle routine is flat out the best one ever. Prohibition is visual and without a doubt powerful, and can be done with a borrowed bottle and half of the time, even a borrowed coin, assuming the coin can fit into the bottle (Like, say, a mineral water bottle.).

Prohibition utilizes a very popular but not necessarily commonplace magician’s item that has so many infinite uses that if naming it didn’t cause problems in terms of exposure, I’d heartily write a full article about just to extol its virtues and its importance for the arsenal of a magician, especially those of the mentalist persuasion.

The routine one-ups the other coin-through bottle routines I talked about yesterday simply because Prohibition is done at a fast pace and any setup required can be done practically on the spot, and cleanup is extremely simple, for that matter. You borrow a bottle, you demonstrated to them how to put a cap into the bottle, you show them the cap, you have them hold the top of the bottle so that there’s no way you can slip the cap back in the hole, and then you visually tap through the glass of the bottle and visually push the cap into the bottle from the bottom. The fact that the magic practically happened in the hands of your spectator would not be lost on them, and really impress them suitably.

If you still don’t have the item that makes all this possible, you really ought to get it. There’s very little reason for a street magician not to have it if they ever intend to have a wide range of routines that involves very simple yet deceptive touches here and there.

Monday, June 21, 2010



This has been a very eventful weekend, and meeting up with new friends like Cat and talking to old friends like May, as well as dropping in on ToyCon for both days.

Things have been going pretty well, to say the least. It’s been nice to finally have some peace and quiet for myself. I’ve been re-evaluating where my life has been headed, and I’m finally letting bits and pieces of optimism back into my life.

It’s been over a year since my world was turned upside down, and I’ve realized from that time on that I can only really count on me, myself, and I. I’ve allowed everyone but myself to dictate my life, and I’ve allowed myself to be angry and hurt for long enough. I guess I have to make a stand now and just remind myself that I can only be as happy or as miserable as I allow myself to be.

Recently, a good friend of mine, Corinne, went back to the United States after spending a few weeks vacationing here in the country. We caught up with each other, and I guess she’s helped me see a few things that I’ve been ignoring for the longest time. I can’t really thank her enough for having kept me sane and for reminding me to look at what is truly essential, and, to take a page from “The Little Prince”, the fact that these essential things are “invisible to the eye.”

Standup comedy. Commentary. Magic. Mentalism. Hosting. Radio. The corporate world. All of these things have dominated my life for so long, mostly a genuine attempt to fill in the void that I felt in my life from the day things turned upside down. It’s funny, really: after being told for so long that it was all nothing to me, after having another’s self-realizations projected upon me, I’m not really the one who’s already “quickly moved on,” have I? I guess given that it’s no longer got anything to do with rebuilding the past, it’s got everything to do about the hatchet job my self-esteem has taken, and how I have no idea where to even begin.

I remember performing for Mike Unson’s show last June 12. I remember performing for Giselle Sanchez’s party the week before that. I remember the things I’ve been up to in the Disenchanted Kingdom. How many times I’ve played heart doctor for friends. How hard I try to fit in with my officemates during the outing because I really don’t want to be “that guy.” I remember having five or so shots of tequila without feeling the least bit tipsy, and just feeling more ticked off with myself each passing moment. I remember so many things going on, but I can’t remember what I’m doing this for anymore. I seem to have lost all reason and motivation to be the best that I can be.

I still believe that He has plans for me, no matter how I may tend to defocus on the fact that I still have faith in spite of everything that has happened. The many changes I’ve seen both directly in my life and around me have never ceased to remind me that no matter how bad things are, I still have to keep on going because I’m not living just for myself. Everyone has a role to play in this planet, and the role isn’t always self-serving.

Perhaps with all these personal tragedies going on, the message is to escape from myself, and to focus on the Other. To finally live what I’ve written, not “plagiarized”, about for two years. It’s easy to look at things from an academic standpoint. The detachment certainly has its advantages, but these issues are not merely political issues of the day, or soapbox moments. These are real issues people have to deal with.

The past week, I found myself investigating the phenomenon of political correctness and privilege in a far more critical manner than the flippant dismissal I used to toss it because of the way we have made a parody of what it really means to be decent human beings: to understand the differences between human beings, and to respect these differences. That in respecting the differences, we find it easier to achieve through equality despite the disparities that exist.

Many people know this about me already: I have very strong beliefs when it comes to gender issues, whether feminism or gay rights or anything else. As I read more and more about the issue of privilege and the tone argument, the more infuriating it became to me to realize how many valid gripes have been swept under the rug because of these “tricks,” and I’m one of the people perpetuating it.

Whether it’s racism or sexism or homophobia, there’s still so much to be done. I don’t really know how all these realizations and this desire to be an ally in the truest sense of the word erupted from a moment where I felt so incredibly alone, and where I felt like everyone except me was in on the joke that we call my life.

If my life is really headed for the dogs, I guess the least I can do is devote what’s left of it to alleviating the quality of the lives of those whom I can influence. There’s still so much to do, and I can’t let the depression and the despair and the year-long suspension ;) override my worth not intrinsically, but my worth to the pursuit of an egalitarian society.

So I guess I have my work cut out for me. There’s still so much to be done, and I’ve decided that I will not allow this negative energy become little more than merely draining. I want this negative energy to become a positive force for change even if only in my own way.

Let today mark a personal drive and commitment to look at things in a far more critical way.

Project 365 (186/365): Passing Through, Bullet, And Factory Sealed

.:186/365: Passing Through, Bullet, And Factory Sealed:.

All things considered, the coin through bottle script is one of the most interesting penetration effects in street magic, because certain versions of the effect allows you to hand the spectator the bottle with the coin, which results in massive bewilderment to be had by everyone.

Admittedly, these three routines are all very similar, but each of them have their own uses, and you would best be served by learning all three variations. Passing Through allows you a very visual penetration but doesn’t allow you to give the coin in the bottle away after, while the latter two can do so, but are rather angle sensitive to a small extent.

In either case, I feel that it’s quite an entertaining routine, and it’s definitely worth learning, especially since Passing Through, specifically, can be pseudo-impromptu. There is one particular way to make a coin through bottle routine practically impromptu, but I think I’d rather set that aside for tomorrow, as that one is definitely one of my favourite routines of all time, on a personal note.

Penetration routines definitely stay in vogue for quite a while. I suppose there’s a lot of interest in the script, and it’s hard to top something this in-your face, and a routine that can practically be examinable before and after the whole thing, which lends to even more credibility for the performer.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Project 365 Two-Fer (184-185)

.:185/365: Dove Beheading:.

I apologize for the graphic nature of the title, but that’s exactly what this routine is about.

Anyways, if you wanted to shock and get people’s attention, I guess this routine is your go-to. I won’t say much about it, and would prefer you watched the video. :P

.:184/365: Resurrection:.

David Blained gained some measure of infamy when he performed an apparent resurrection of an apparently dead fly.

To be honest, I feel very uneasy when the topic of resurrection is broached. I guess in the realm of magic, if someone is capable of resurrection, then why is he not doing this for people? It becomes a very scary prospect when other people begin to make demands of you as a miracle worker, and quite frankly, that’s why resurrection is strictly off my setlist. I don’t need the aggravation.

This is not to say that this particular effect was not performed well, but it certainly makes some unfortunate implications with regard to the performer...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Project 365 (182/365): Richard Sanders

.:182/365: Richard Sanders:.

Richard Sanders is one half of the Sankey-Sanders sessions, and like Jay Sankey, a very accomplished and prolific producer of quality magic. When you look at his resume of material, from Fiber Optics to Interlace to Tagged, he definitely has a lot of great street magic to go around, and I’m definitely a fan of his effective teaching style and his comedic approach that doesn’t get in the way of his magic.

Sanders is already a household name among many performers because of his skill and wide range of material. He has excellent card routines, knuckle busters, a ring routine, a top-notch rope routine, and many other noteworthy highlights in his career. Having been a great performer for over a decade already, he manages to mix his infectious comedic stylings in harmoniously with his brilliant performances, all the while emphasizing just how good he really is when given the chance to really wow people.

A three-time “Magician of the Year” at Magic Montreal, his credentials certainly speak for themselves, and people are always free to check him out, even book him, if they wish, at his website.

And since I tend to be writing and giving glowing reviews about a lot of still-active magicians over the course of the Project 365, I decided that from this day on, I’d give a chance for people to reach these performers via their websites if the information is available to me. That way, I could be helping them out in my own way by vouching for them as a working performer who has also cut his teeth in the tumultuous but rewarding world of magic. All due apologies to other magicians I have brought up in the past, though, as they obviously won’t be reaping this mild benefit.

In any case, I hope you guys get to appreciate the genius that is Richard Sanders. This man has given so much to the magic industry, and he just keeps on giving with each new idea he comes up with. Truly, he is one of the best performers to ever hail from the land of the maple leaf.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Project 365 (181/365): Daniel Garcia

.:181/365: Daniel Garcia:.

I figured that since these two are a loveteam of some sort, it would be best to follow up Wayne Houchin with Daniel Garcia.

Now, Daniel Garcia is, like Wayne, fairly popular in the magic community, and has a plethora of effects that he came up with over time. Just watching all three volumes of The Daniel Garcia Project should already clue you in as to how prolific a mind Mr. Garcia really is.

Granted, the man has a few clunkers like “Fallen,” but on the average, his material is generally top-notch, and always well-performed and well-taught. Heaven knows I’ve seen enough pretenders on YouTube who try to teach a Daniel Garcia effect and end up doing it very poorly. I’m also a fan of the fact that he’s brilliant and quick-witted enough to actually do an improv card story routine (that’s not safe for work, so I’d rather not put it up here) without a moment’s hesitation. I’ve seen how he works, and how he thinks, and there is no limit to this man’s creativity.

Like Wayne Houchin, Daniel Garcia has several routines that I personally use, and really, with a library of reputation makers as extensive as his, it’s hard not to find something I could perform, such as, well, Kaos.

What I think makes me admire Daniel Garcia as a performer and as a thinker is that he definitely is no slouch on both fronts, and doesn’t make the effect about himself. He’s willing to let a routine do the talking for him, rather than overpower it with his antics, much in the way that Jay Sankey is sometimes guilty of. At the same time, DG’s sense of humor is very catchy, and light-hearted. That’s definitely a plus, as his humor doesn’t feel very contrived and flows very well with the rest of his work.

So all in all, here’s a big “thank you” to DG as well, who surprised me recently when I discovered that he has already made the jump to Theory 11 as well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Project 365 (180/365): Wayne Houchin

.:180/365: Wayne Houchin:.

I figured now would be a good time to talk about Wayne Houchin, as street magic is right up his alley.

One of the young up-and-comer performers of our generation, Houchin has established himself as a premiere performer and thinker in the magic industry, having grabbed headlines from the very first moment he performed an upside-down straightjacket escape in the middle of a busy thoroughfare at the tender age of sixteen. The man has taken his act to the streets, to the bars, and all the way to the stage.

A man who has not only proven his skill in magic and even mentalism, Houchin, as one of the consultants to Criss Angel’s program, “Mindfreak,” has contributed a great deal to the industry with his own creations and effects that have become household names over time, such as Sinful, as well as his take on Stigmata. As one of the performers for Ellusionist at the time, he definitely gained some measure of notoriety not just for being an excellent perform, but for being quite a hit with the ladies, at the same time.

In the late 2000’s, Houchin jumped ship from Ellusionist to Theory 11, thereby cementing his status as a revolutionary force in the magic industry. His subtleties and skills are laudable, and his ability to create stunning effects without requiring an inordinate amount of dexterity has allowed many new magicians the opportunity to shine in other aspects of the art, such as story-telling and exuding charisma. Personally, I’ve used at least two of his routines, and will continue to do so, simply because he has made it simple to be amazing.

So I guess this short bit on Mr. Houchin is both my way of acclaiming the man and thanking him for the measure of influence he has had on me. He may not have altered the way I perform the way Penn and Teller or Derren Brown have, but it’s safe to say that seeing how I’ve used routines that originated from him, his repertoire is definitely something I find effective and impactful enough to include in my performances, as I tend to cherry-pick only the routines that would grab attention in my performing style, and there’s no question that Wayne’s extensive body of work really has something for almost any performer looking to buffer their repertoire as well.

The scariest thing about Wayne is not how successful he has been in the industry. To me, the scariest thing is he truly believes in his heart that he hasn’t even begun just yet. There’s more to come from this man, and with a mind as prime as his for magic, the sheer potential of contributions he can bestow upon the art staggers me.

Wayne Houchin is already big at present, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he kicks it up another notch just before this decade ends.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Project 365 (179/365): Coin Bite

.:179/365: Coin Bite:.

David Blaine made this popular, as did the movie entitled “Click”, if I’m not mistaken. A highly-requested and highly-exposed routine, the coin bite is exactly what the name of the trick indicates: a routine involving biting off a piece of a coin and then spitting it right back on.

It’s a pretty nifty routine, and requires a bit of audience management, but I’m sure you can go places with it so long as the audience has never seen the coin bite before (That’s the hard part, unfortunately.).

As you might notice, self-explanatory routines with an excellent video to boot result in relatively short entries. Regardless, I’m sure the coin bite as a routine certainly speaks for itself, and has managed to amaze plenty of people for a long while already.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Project 365 Smorgasbord (176-178)

.:178/365: Cellphone Through Bottle:.

Just because this is the best version I’ve seen online, I’m giving you Criss Angel’s version of the Cellphone Through Bottle routine.

Penetration routines tend to normally involve secret holes and the like, but Mr. Angel has taken a lot of subtleties to indicate this was not the case with this particular bottle, first of all by using a glass bottle in lieu of a plastic one, then by pouring out its contents before starting with it to indicate there are no leaks in the bottle in question. The fact that he then gets to borrow another person’s phone and just slam it right into the bottle definitely seals the deal and really stunned everyone who was watching him perform, and I’d really like to assume these weren’t paid actors this time.

Well, there’s not much else I could say about this routine, right? Just watch it, enjoy it, and all in all, one of Criss Angel’s better efforts on his TV show.

.:177/365: Panic:.

I love a street magic routine that plays off so well it can actually have a place in a cabaret or even stage setting.

Aaron Fisher’s gem of a routine called “Panic” is essentially a card transpo routine that stuns people because whereas most transpos involve one card switching places with another, this involves four cards switching places with an entire deck.

The method is deceptively simple and undeniably effective. Unless you’re surrounded by grabbers, this routine just really floors people in less than two minutes, and is generally one of the best closer routines I’ve ever seen.

I think I’ve seen multiple versions of this routine in the past, but really now, how many of them can be done this close up and without having to use really unwieldy gimmicks? Even if the average magician could probably figure out the method just by watching the video a couple of times, they have to admit that it was a pretty brilliant touch from Mr. Fisher to do it the way he did. I’m still actually impressed with how clever it was, and how many people really react pretty vividly to a deck practically disappearing right before their eyes.

.:176/365: Theory 11:.

We’ve heard the apocryphal stories that attempt to explain why Theory 11 has come to be: that it was a response to the failings of Ellusionist, that many disgruntled performers wanted to show that they can one-up the E, and so on and so forth.

Theory 11 is a fairly recent magic company that does pretty much the same things Ellusionist does, although with even more emphasis on one-trick DVD’s than the E, who at least had several compilations. For better or worse, this is healthy competition on the online magic front, and Theory 11 has been doing very well in getting top experts to share their insights and even contributions for their videos which have been priced competitively, to say the least.

I’m a bit biased for T11 mainly because they seem to have a better roster of performers on their side, including renowned card manipulators Dan and Dave Buck, the rad bromance of Daniel Garcia and Wayne Houchin, the legendary Lee Asher, and a host of other thinkers and conceptualizers who saw what made Ellusionist tick and decided to go into the business for themselves.

Despite that, I guess that like Ellusionist, I’m fairly wary of how Theory 11 has been marketing itself, and if it will also fall into the “all sizzle, no steak” criticism that is often levied against the E. Personally, I don’t really hate the Ellusionist that much, but I feel that they have inspired a generation of kids who are into magic for all the wrong reasons, although that’s not really directly their fault, and it’s not like they actively encourage the culture.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have no notions of altruism when it comes to magic. Magic is indeed a profit-driven industry. When people have resorted to stealing each other’s secrets in the Vaudevillian era, among other shady practices, it’s hard to talk about “the integrity of magic”. Despite that, I feel that even as a business model, something has to give when it comes to the saturation of magic to the point that it becomes way too mainstream for magicians to actually establish themselves in a niche, but a profitable one. As the villain in “The Incredibles” put it, if everyone becomes super, then nobody will be.

Ultimately, Theory 11’s motivations for coming out and producing (so far) quality material has been laudable and pushes Ellusionist to compete by stepping up their quality all the same. For as long as this upward trend of making magic better and better continues, I suppose I’m willing to concede to the unfortunate existence of a few fly-by-night magicians, given how it has become easier than ever to learn, which to me, is an important thing. Yes, magicians keep secrets, but divulging secrets shouldn’t require someone to have a degree in rocket science to understand what goes on. At some point, all professional magicians had to learn from somewhere, and so long as the quality of instruction is kept intact, I suppose I have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Ellusionist and even Theory 11.

If you’d ask me what it is about Theory 11 that sets them apart, I would have to flat-out say that it’s Lee Asher. I am a big fan of the man, and between him and Brad Christian, with all due respect, Mr. Christian, it’s not even close.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Project 365 (174/365): Ellusionist

.:174/365: Ellusionist:.

I don’t think Theory 11 and Ellusionist are that far apart, but this video just felt so appropriate for me to use to get my point across.

For years, we’ve had excellent magic from L and L magic, giving us quality material although with less than stellar production values. They may not have slick sets and great split-cam angles, but they more than made up for it with the quality learning that you get from magicians like Aldo Colombini, Richard Osterlind, Daryl, and Bill Malone.

See, these instructional videos were around even before David Blaine burst into the scene, and they were doing very well, and influencing a very meticulous new generation of magicians who had a kind of esteem for their craft and were fully capable of versatility, given the nature of the product. Was it perfect? Of course not. But we could do without the sizzle if there was a lot of meat in the steak, and more often than not, when it came to this facet of the material, the L and L videos delivered in spades.

And then came Ellusionist.

Not much is readily available about Ellusionist’s history, save for the fact that it is nowhere near as old as L and L or even Penguin magic, and that its frontman, Brad Christian, has an abnormal amount of attachment to wearing eyeliner (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.). I would peg it to have started only around the 2000’s, maybe the late 90’s, at the earliest, and it certainly revolutionized magic videos as we know it now. Gone were the days where we only needed to see a magician perform, then explain, but there had to be some slick production values behind it. Snazzy music, awesome editing, great DVD packaging, maybe even some easter eggs.

And the tradeoff? Well, you get one trick per DVD, more often than not, and woe upon you if you fall for Ellusionist’s copy writer, who seems to have taken some lessons in exaggerations and half-truths from either politicians or Doc Hilford. You will find yourself flabbergasted half the time how Ellusionist could publish such dreck, dress it up with some bells and whistles, and then price it at $30 plus shipping and handling.

Ellusionist has become a haven for gimmicked-looking *normal* decks, and routines that don’t really deserve to be published, let alone as a one-trick full-priced DVD. Occasionally, some really good effects will come out worthy of your attention, but more often than not, you’re better off just going somewhere else that gives you more than just hype.

The thing is, I want Ellusionist to be so much more than what they are right now. Unlike Criss Angel, I actually wish they would succeed, but not in this way. When you have to separate two coin-in-bottle effects instead of just selling both in one DVD, then you know it’s turned into a money-milking machine instead of a genuine desire to uplift magic for everyone.

Ellusionist, as a person who has supported your products for a long time, I feel dismayed it’s come down to this. I wish I could continue telling people to run to you whenever they want to learn magic, but outside of “How To Do Street Magic” and maybe Brad Christian’s “Crash Course” series, I really can’t do that in good conscience.

In all honesty, let’s give props where they are due: Ellusionist has certainly changed the production quality of magic videos in subsequent releases even from other publishers, but what we now need is quality of material, and truth in advertising. Otherwise, we end up alienating many budding magicians because they would feel gypped after buying an E video that offers them nothing but empty promises.

I wish E the best, in all honesty. I wish that they continue developing, and learning to up the quality of the material they release. I may not have awesome effects out there to compare, but that also means I don’t charge $30 a pop for them, either. The E gets to do that. The least they could do is be honest about their deceit. I mean, we’re (hopefully) all magicians here, after all.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Project 365 (173/365): The Biddle Trick

.:173/365: The Biddle Trick:.

This routine is one of the easiest card-upside-down-in-deck routines simply because even the name of the routine gives you an idea what it takes to do it.

As a street magic routine, this is completely impromptu. It requires zero setup, zero gaffs, and minimal sleights, to say the least. Very quick to execute, very straight to the point, and has a nice little script for you to play around with.

Personally, the Biddle trick is something I would use if there’s no way for me to spread cards on a surface for me to do a more elaborate Triumph-style routine. I believe it’s more effective to use the Biddle routine as it appears to happen right in the hands of the person you’re performing it for, which just adds to their shock and consternation when things do come to a head afterwards.

There isn’t much I could say about this one except you really should learn it, and the mileage you can get out of it is rather significant.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The End Of Many An Era...

.:More Bits From The POC!:.

I managed to have an article published again for Blogwatch, and this time, it’s all about sex education. The RH Bill brouhaha is still far from over.

Meantime, my good friend, Fabucelles, is starting a new series aside from his/her regular “Eh Ano Ngayon” bits. He/she’s tackling our soap opera stars, and the opening salvo is all about Kim Chiu. This ought to be good.

.:The End Of Many An Era...:.

The past couple of weeks, we have seen a lot of things come to a halt after years of having grown accustomed to them. It’s been weird seeing how these things just disappear right before our very eyes, but what can I say? I guess some things just can’t last for as long as we want them to.

Requiem In Pace

The past couple of weeks saw the demise of two great personalities in the entertainment industry: Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper. I was never a huge fan of either, but I sure would miss both of them, especially Christopher Walken and his sheer insanity with whatever character he decides to portray. Gary Coleman’s passing was most unfortunate, though, as it seemed to be a result of an unfortunate accident that could’ve been prevented.

2009 was really marred by tragedies, so let’s hope that 2010 doesn’t follow suit, although after Francis M and Michael Jackson and Ondoy, it’s hard to think of a string of tragedies to top that. Personally, I hope to never have to find out what it takes to top that.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

Recently, Mag:Net Bonifacio High Street has closed shop once and for all as well. This shocking turn of events has left a lot of Rockeoke and SPIT fans suddenly homeless and nothing to do on Mondays and Thursday nights. True, the Comedy Cartel still exists to perform on Mondays and Thursdays, but while Monday night in Spicy Fingers is okay for the people in the Fort area, the insurmountable trip on Thursdays to Votre may prove to be too much of a problem.

I was there during the last SPIT show with MarkPoa, Addy, and Wilson, so it was a pretty fun night. We even ran into Christian Silva, although he was with his other friends, and of course, SPIT was extra hyped that night. It wasn’t the last show for them by any means, as they still perform in Katipunan, but there was something about that night that simply made SPIT even more fun than it normally is, and I still cannot fathom how good these improve comedians really are.

I didn’t stay on for the Rockeoke swan song though, as I didn’t have anyone else with me by then. It didn’t seem wise to Rockeoke on your own, as that’s a pretty depressing thing to do.

The Schism

Standup comedy in the Philippines as I know it has forever been changed. I don’t really know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I guess we’ll just have to see in the coming months.

Last Friday’s show featuring Jon Santos and Tim Tayag was definitely a hilarious night, and with all the talks about big things coming up for the Comedy Cartel soon, everyone’s definitely excited about what could very well be an explosion for Pinoy standup comedy. Whether this is an explosion of the good or bad kind unfortunately remains to be seen.

For now, this situation bears watching.

Project 365 (172/365): How To Do Street Magic

.:172/365: How To Do Street Magic:.

This seminal compilation of acts is precisely the very video series that has put Ellusionist on the map. A collection of some of the best magic routines you can use in the everyday setting, this is the video that really allowed a lot of people to get out there and do street magic and give rise to the YouTube generation of magicians.

While some would criticize this video as a video that was riding on the coattails of David Blaine’s popularity, few could possibly deny the influence this video has had on the rest of the industry, by opening up magic to a new generation of younger magicians who have come to appreciate magic to the point where most of these magicians have undercut the industry because of both their amateur level of skill and their willingness to perform purely for applause.

Regardless of how you look at the effects of this video on the magic industry in general, there is no questioning the quality of the material presented in this video. Brad Christian is an excellent and meticulous teacher, who carefully goes over the material and the methodology of each of the effects in loving detail. The initial birth of Ellusionist, after all, was borne out of a genuine passion for magic, rather than mere profit, although today, that may be put into question.

In any case, if you wanted to get started on street magic, this is the compilation to get. It combines classic card effects, the Balducci Levitation, and some other routines that don’t involve cards at all, which gives you a nice variety of effects to work with as you are on your way to becoming a street magician. Personally, I couldn’t recommend a better video compilation for beginners, as this really has it all, and is well-produced enough for anyone who wishes to learn to really follow and gain a deeper appreciation for street magic as they go along.

Out of all the videos I’ve come across, I must say that this video really does get the job done, and is a must-have for any street magician, whether because you need it to learn, or for posterity’s sake. Get a slice of Ellusionist before they decided to release all their effects only one at a time, and get your money’s worth for this one.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Quiet Weekend...

.:Posting More Tomorrow, But For Now...:.

My latest article for the POC.

This has been a quiet weekend, although I don’t think I’ve ever been depressed in my life. It’s like this pervasive cloud I can’t shake off of me...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Another Project 365 Smorgasbord (168-170)

.:170/365: Kaos:.

Here’s one of the routines I really love from Daniel Garcia: the card through window routine that has some unique touches all its own.

Kaos is an interesting take on the card through window script because instead of just tossing the deck of cards at the window, you drag the whole process out by slowly pulling the card through the window from the other side. Given how you show your hands empty to begin your “surgical” procedure, Kaos can not only stump and impress people, but it really leaves you so clean at the end of the routine, and requires zero assistants or any similar shenanigans.

In fact, out of all the routines I’ve seen from Daniel Garcia, this is really the first routine I’ve really enjoyed and even used in performances from him. This is me, over three years ago, performing Kaos in Megamall. It was a pretty cool performance, and my first street magic stint ever recorded, so I was exceptionally happy how the routine turned out, and how convincing pulling the card out of the window really seemed to them.

Ultimately, this is a routine that I would use whenever the opportunity presents itself. It’s hard to find the appropriate windows and the like for this routine, but when you get to do it as I have done so many times in the past and even most recently, during my Mentos street magic tour, it’s a routine that I definitely use to make my reputation. Learning this routine and mastering the slick presentation that you can utilize for it will pay dividends for any street magician.

A word of warning, though: this routine is obviously not performable when completely surrounded.

.:169/365: Cyril Takayama:.

Cyril Takayama is an American magician of Japanese and French roots. With a troubled childhood that he somehow managed to turn around in his favour, Cyril’s very colourful life story has involved him reaching the highest of the highs after subjecting himself to the lowest of the lows, having made a living for a while busking in the streets of Tokyo until he found a very generous benefactor to support him and his talents.

As a performer, Cyril’s skills are top-notch, and he is very much capable of performing excellent sleights and is capable of talking through his routines as he walks his spectators through it. He also exudes a larger-than-life persona when he’s in Japan, as people around him seem to regard him like some kind of a rock star. He is definitely quite a performer, and personally, I’m very impressed by the immense amount of skill he demonstrates whenever he does his routines.

I chose this routine mainly because I don’t think there’s much to talk about when it comes to showing off how a burger appears and disappears from a menu at a fastfood restaurant. Cyril definitely performs this well, although I am rather sceptical that he can do this routine in just about any fastfood corner, which makes me feel this can’t be genuinely considered as street magic, per se.

If you look at Cyril’s exceptional talent and his ability to speak at least two languages well (I’m not sure if he also speaks French or Korean.), he definitely has the tools required to become one of the biggest street magicians of our generation. We will always respect David Blaine as one of the first people who put street magic on the map for this millennium, but when it comes to sheer variety and an ability to really connect to a person such as myself, it’s really Cyril who does the trick for me, pun intended. Blaine is no doubt a great performer, but his insistence on hyping his stunts more than his actual magic tends to distract from his contributions to the art form.

With the world in the palm of his hands, Cyril can only continue to grow by leaps and bounds as a performer. He has all the tools he needs to really make it, and I, for one, am glad that this magician who has started merely as a street busker is now one of the most popular performers here in Asia.

.:168/365: Balducci Levitation:.

One of the most beloved and beleaguered routines in the street magician’s arsenal, the Balducci Levitation is arguably one of the routines I get most frequently asked to perform that doesn’t involve a card, a fork, or a coin. This routine is just stunning to look at when done perfectly, and can demonstrate the seemingly impossible feat of levitation, all the while making jaws drop because of the sheer height one can achieve if they knew how to maximize the levitation.

It’s a very simple script, really, and one that just requires a little bit of audience control, more than anything else: you ask them to stay away from you because of the inherent dangers involved in self-levitation, then while they’re there, you proceed to levitate off the ground for everyone behind you to see. It can shock anyone who sees it without ever having seen the routine before, and has definitely resulted in cases of mass hysteria.

A word of warning regarding this routine, though: as awesome as it is, this routine is one of the most heavily exposed routines in magic. Almost everyone knows how it’s done now, and with that, you should learn to choose your audiences carefully when performing this.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Project 365 (167/365): 2-Card Monte

.:167/365: Two-Card Monte:.

One of the most popular routines utilized in street magic, the two-card monte is one of the first things you would learn simply because it’s fast, it’s entertaining, and it engages the audience from the get-go.

The routine works very similarly to the classic three-card monte, which is an actual street hustle routine that has been in existence for century, except for the important fact that the two-card monte doesn’t use a table for you to place the cards on, and the magic apparently happens in the spectator’s hands.

I don’t really need to describe this routine in detail, as I can see that the video does cover most of the basics, but seriously, this is one routine you need to learn if you ever plan to be a street magician, because the mileage you can get with it is just so awesome.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Project 365 (166/365): Jeff Sheridan

.:166/365: Jeff Sheridan:.

Many magicians might know him in later years, but Jeff Sheridan is generally recognized as the man who brought street magic into public consciousness as early as the late 60’s, with his unique and engaging performing style that never fails to attract the attention of people who pass by and see the man at work.

Unlike the later understanding of street magic as guerrilla magic, Sheridan was normally tasked to entertain people on the street as a magician. He is an excellent silent performer with world-class skill in card manipulation, resulting in him being the man who taught one of the most recognized card manipulators in the world, Jeff McBride. Despite the fact that Sheridan may not immediately ring a bell to the average person, his influence is felt to this very day, because aside from having been an early mentor to Jeff McBride, it is also somewhat of a legend that David Blaine, in his youth, witnessed Sheridan at work, which has resulted in him becoming a street magician himself years later.

Sheridan is world-renowned as a lecturer and educator for future magicians. He has toured around the world to lecture possibly even more than he has toured around the world to perform as a magician. With his amazing skill and his mysterious but at times funny silent magician gimmick, he has managed to establish himself as a very esteemed member of the magic community.

I really wanted to start with Sheridan because to my recollection, he was the first modern street magician. David Blaine or (Shudder.) Criss Angel may be the most popular, but Sheridan blazed that trail, and as I’ve seen his work not only with cards but his beautiful cut and restored rope routine, I must say that I am a big fan of Jeff Sheridan’s meticulous work ethic and amazing charisma. For a performer as silent as he is to capture the imagination of people requires an unbelievable amount of skill. Teller has the unfair advantage of a loudmouth Penn providing not just misdirection but a break from the deafening silence. Sheridan has none of that.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Project 365 (165/365): June Is Street Magic Month

.:165/365: June Is Street Magic Month:.

I think this is going to be a pretty good month, as we revisit the very movement that sparked the unprecedented rise of magic this decade: the (re)discovery of street magic.

As most people would know by now, magic is arguably the only art form that has never been primarily about the art form upon its inception. Music and painting, for example, have had very atheistic origins for the most part, although an argument could be made that it was also made as a way of historical bookkeeping of sorts. In contrast, magic was not something that came about as an art form. Religious leaders who used magic to demonstrate “powers” used it to peddle their influence. Performers used it for profit, whether for busking or for charging for their services. It’s strange when you think about it, but magic was never really about the art form as it was about the money.

In the 80’s and 90’s, magic was relatively popular, and more so in the United Kingdom, where the likes of Paul Daniels and Tommy Cooper could be seen performing magic on television on a regular basis. Despite that, these magicians were generally known as stage or parlor magicians. The popularity of David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, and the Pendragons only emphasized the apparent distance that exists between the magician and the audience.

When David Blaine burst into the scene, he broke all of those expectations. Not that street magic is anything new, but David Blaine did something that not even Copperfield managed to do: he made magic hip, edgy, and accessible. From thereon, many other performers followed suit, including Criss Angel (*shudder), Keith Barry, and locally, Erik Mana and Bearwin Meilly. This newfound popularity for magic came with its own pros and cons, although for now, let us celebrate the reinvigoration of the art form for this month, rather than bemoan its new set of problems.

We’ve seen people do card tricks, read minds, levitate, put their lives at risk, and everything else in between over the last decade. We’ve seen people elevate the stature of magic into something larger than life and one of the most profitable businesses of all time, as Ellusionist and Theory 11 would be all too happy to tell you about. Street magic is magic that draws a crowd immediately and at times, shamelessly. We’ve seen close-up magicians before, but the true performer who takes it to the streets is certainly on a whole different level altogether. In the streets, people are more likely to grab your stuff, to heckle you, to give you a hard time, or to even harass you. Despite that, the best of street magicians have demonstrated that they are seasoned performers who definitely know how to capture the fancy of the average man on the street.

For the month of June, let us celebrate the awesomeness that is street magic month. It’s one of the most colourful, and certainly most aggressively-growing form of magic at present, having seemingly given the “power” of magic back to the hands of the masses rather than in the hands of a stage performer who is far too larger than life for today’s generation to ever truly appreciate (Although personally, I would dispute that.).

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this insane video. It’s not really David Blaine, but I’m sure you knew that already.