Mat Franco: Reinventing Ordinary
By Rory Johnston
He seems like an average guy – although “average” might not apply to a 27-year-old magician who won America’s Got Talent last year and is now starring in his own two-hour network TV special, as well as his own big-budget show on the Las Vegas Strip.
Adventureland: MAGIC Live 2015!
Words by Steve Bryant
Photos by David Linsell
When Steve Bryant – and 1,499 other attendees – arrived in Las Vegas this summer at the seventh incarnation of MAGIC Live, they embarked on an adventure through the myriad realms of conjuring as performance, hobby, business, entertainment, education and more.
By Chris Philpott
One of the rising stars on the mentalism scene is Peter Turner, a British performer, creator, and consultant. Card tricks and mental feats proved to be a way out of a hardscrabble life, and he now travels the world, on the brink of international fame.
Plus Updates on…
- Matt Marcy’s Disillusioned.
- New artwork at the Houdini Plaza.
- A Moment With… Larry Wilson.
- Remembrances of Mike Hilburger, Norman Bigelow, and Johnny Aladdin.
- MAGIC Magazine “Conventions at a Glance.”
- An excerpt from Matt Marcy’s web series, Disillusioned.
- Clip from the NBC TV special, Mat Franco’s Got Magic.
- Performance video of Gregory Wilson’s On a Roll.
- All twelve of the products reviewed in the October issue, plus 492 reviews from previous issues, are all now available at the fully searchable “Marketplace” section of M360.
Twelve products are reviewed this month by Gabe Fajuri, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti, Peter Pitchford, John Wilson:
Blomberg Laboratories by Andi Gladwin
French Postcards by Chris Philpott
Voodoo by Liam Montier
Search Engine Pen by Jeff Prace
Magic with Faucett Ross by Lewis Ganson
Weapons by Eric Ross
The Jekyll & Hyde Test by Scott Olgard and Luke Jonas
Misbehavin’ by Kainoa Harbottle
Fisher’s Dream by Inaki Zabaletta
Roberto Giobbi’s Dai Vernon Seminar
Abra-Card-Abra by Jeff Wawrzaszek
X Coin Bend by Steven X
In One: Gregory Wilson
I’ve been fond of the classic Sack’s Dice trick since I first read it in the late ’70s in Bruce Elliot’s Great Secrets of the Master Magicians, but I never found anything magically or presentationally satisfying, as most routines were mere puzzles and never addressed what dice were most notable for – gambling! So, instead of continuing a futile search, I decided to just create a customized routine from scratch that revolved around my con man character and the attention-getting topic of cheating at craps. As Jon Racherbaumer puts it, this routine is aptly named since it progressively accelerates in a surprising and deceptive manner. He further states that Alfred Hitchcock famously said that “drama is life with the dull bits cut out” and this routine has the normal Sack’s Dice “contemplative parts” cut out – retaining and focusing on the spectacular visual aspects. With that in mind, get ready to shake, rattle, and roll.
This marks the second installment of “Your Magic.” Of the numerous contributions I have received, I have handpicked some doozies. This month, we feature three card items from some clever people from the north, south, and very north. First, the Seattle card expert Jack Carpenter shares a revamped classic that features one of the easiest of four-card productions; it will make you look like you live in California! Second, from Dallas, Trini Montes brings us to the backroom, where he goes to destroy fast company with an impossible location. Lastly, from Quebec City, Jean-Thomas Sexton shows us how a light touch and exact finger positions allow for an invisible palming technique during the innocent action of cutting the deck.
Finn Jon’s Esoterica: Standup OOTW
A deck of large playing cards is given to a spectator to mix. All the cards have a hole in them, so they can be threaded onto two pencils held by another spectator. The magician introduces the concept of red and black cards, and hangs one card of each color onto each pencil to demonstrate. The first spectator is asked to deal each card onto the two pencils in any order he wants, without looking at the face of the cards. When he has finished this, it turns out that he has put all black cards on one stick and all red cards on the other stick – Out of This World.
Loving Mentalism: Destiny’s Star
This month’s “Loving Mentalism” is all about a particularly subtle and beautiful force that ought not to work but somehow does. What’s more, it’s easy to do and lends itself to infinitely many presentational possibilities. The only drawback is that it does involve a certain amount of dealing and counting. However, with a little ingenuity, and a shift of emphasis from numbers to letters, these ugly processes can be subtly transformed into a strange, mysterious ritual that will confound and delight any audience. Can destiny compel a series of genuinely random actions to lead to one, specific outcome? Apparently so!
Bent on Deception: Rules? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules!
Comedy and rules just don’t play nicely together. Comedians are rule breakers; they take the world as it is and flip it on its head. They take language patterns and mangle them. They make you second guess everything that they do, and make you question the status quo. As the comedy troupe Firesign Theatre brilliantly stated in the title of one of their classic comedy albums, Everything You Know is Wrong.
The Monk’s Way: Eas(ie) Queen(ie) Mont(ie)
Our tricks depend on secret tactics to accomplish desired ends. However, along the way we can miss presentational, technical, and emotional opportunities to beef up this impact. Each moment in a method or presentation is an opportunity to make these kinds of changes. Remember Hamman’s cryptic response to the question of how he came up with his tricks? He “always began with the audience in mind.” Take any of your working effects and think about these kinds of emerging moments. Then, confidently respond to them. This months routine is a reworking of a Bill Simon trick.
Classic Correspondence: Benjamin Fuller to Charles Carter (Part 2)
Continuing on from last months installment, we join Ben Fuller for the second half of his four-page letter from 1933, which he filled with Australian show business news for his friend Charles Carter. Fuller had attended Dante’s show the previous night.
For What It’s Worth: The Old Man and the See
I see things. Recently I looked in a mirror and I saw an old man. He looked familiar – a lot like my father. I know many others have had similar experiences, but that is of little consolation. Fortunately, magicians seem to have a longer shelf life than most performers. But in the big picture, producers, agents, and many audiences prefer young, fresh-faced, and friendly performers whose lives revolve around contemporary culture.
Walkabout Soup: Highway Patrol
Americans tend to think of Australians as rugged, good-natured bush-dwellers who fight through hordes of spiders and crocodiles just to reach the store to buy milk. This sometimes comes in handy. Back in 2007, I visited Las Vegas for the first time. I was there to see shows. All the magic shows, all the Cirque du Soleil shows, and anything else I could squeeze in between them. I worked out that I could reach Denny & Lee’s Magic Shop by catching a bus to the south end of the Vegas Strip, then walking about a mile west. I did so. However, about a block away from Denny & Lee’s, I realized that there was a final obstacle separating me from the shop: the Las Vegas freeway. I could also see a complete lack of anything resembling a pedestrian crossing.
Your Stories: If You’re Nervous, Picture the Audience Clothed
If you were to ask any magician, “What is the most unusual magic experience you have had?” I’m sure there would be some doozies. But the location I performed at recently would be hard to beat. Cypress Cove Resort is a nudist place of residence – please don’t call it a colony – located just outside of Orlando, in Kissimmee, Florida. Imagine my curiosity when I was approached by a local agent (also a magician), asking if I would like to perform there. Although not excited about it, I also didn’t hesitate. After all, “a gig is a gig.”