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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » CHAIR SUSPENSION (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MagicalDesignPro
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I was wondering if you could give me your opinions on this effect. Does the effect go over well with your audiences? Is it a "WOW" type of effect or does it just get an okay response.

Also, is there any know footage of Harbin himself performing this?

If you don't own the effect, I'd still be interested in your thoughts.

THANKS!
Magicduck
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I have used the effect. Also have a photo of Harbin performing it, but not a video. It does, however, show what his props looked like. The "board" looked much like a canvas stretcher.

I like the harbin version better than any chair suspensions. I have not, personally, gotten as good a reaction as I would like, however I may not have performed it enough to get it just right. Penn and Teller get a good reaction with it. In some ways I think it plays a bit more like an odd "novelty" of nature/physics as a terribly dramatic illusion, as in Asrah.
quack
Dennis Michael
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It's greatest advantage is that it can be done surrounded and in close quarters such as birthday houses.

It is better than the Princess Flying Carpet, but has a less of an impact than the Sword Suspension. Now if surrounded is not an issue and stage work is perferable, what is powerful is two chairs, the kind the audience is seated on, and a board in between them removing both chairs via the Super X suspension is a powerful illusion when presented right.

It is still enjoyable to watch. Selling the chair as a normal folding chair can be difficult as normal chairs change regularly. It is rare to find wooden chairs. Look over the prop before buying it, if possible. There seems to be several versions of it on the market.
Dennis Michael
Steven Steele
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I have had no problem with mine. The greatest effect it has is that it books more shows. When I added this one effect, it has done more to sell more shows than anything else I've done. As others have said, it isn't an earth shaking illusion, but the mom's and dad's love seeing little Sally or Billy floating in air with the magician.

Talk about your Kodak moment.
Magical Dimensions
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I really don't like the effect. But I will pass this little bit on. My old time friend uses the CHAIR SUSPENSION for two illusions.

First he lays a boy on the board and goes right into the sawing in-half with a jig saw.

After the sawing he then goes into the suspension.

The people really like the combined illusions. Plus the chairs are out in front of the people longer and when they think the effect is over (sawing) they are hit with the suspension.

For the people who uses the chair suspension, I hope that you like this idea.

Ray Noble
Alikzam
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I've used and own this effect. I have found it to be a good illusion with a good responce. However, I also had my worst magic experince using this trick. I was doing a Bank X-Mas party when trying to put the board back under the person on the table (me) the chair and the board fell over with me on top. Wasn't a very good experience : Anywayz, Its a good trick and isn't very big if you have alot of equipment anywayz. Its small enough to fit in a car, so its worth it.
Magicduck
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Further Comments: Good comments here. The post just above could have been catastrophic. If a person fell during this illusion, and received, say, a back injury the magician could be out of business and busted for most of a lifetime. The illusion seems benign enough but there is always a tiny risk that some unforseen weakness could fatigue the equipment. For that reason, I built my own suspension, which I trust more than the commercial ones. I used quite ordinary looking wooden chairs, with oak replacing the factory's side rails. And the back of the seat is plywood, with a block of 1/8 steel on the back. This supports, with minimum sag, 200 lbs. Just the same, it still makes me a bit nervous.

Den has a valid point. Chairs, with the exception of the super cheap aluminum ones which are not very suitable, change so much that it is hard to have something that looks totally ordinary. Summers are pretty close, as long as one does not see a bit of work on the back. The ones I made match one another exactly and look quite ordinary, but I have found this: A chair is typically for sitting. So have them out during the act. Do some effect with an assistant where you both sit for a moment or two, it helps establish that they are really chairs.
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Alikzam
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Ya the person that fell was me! I've been performing magic since I was 8 so I was about 11 at the time, and still under 110lbs. Wasn't a very good experince at the time, but it made me a better. ( and more cautious magician )
martini
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I have had an Abbott's Ultra Modern Suspension for years and got a lot of mileage out of it, but then one day someone asked a question....That balancing trick was great, but why is the chair leaning back so far? After that I took a good look at the prop and realized, it does lean back far more than a normal chair would. I put it in the closet and never went back to it. Sometimes it takes the insight of others to call attention to the obvious.
Marty
Michael Messing
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I have used a Harbin Chair Suspension for several years with great response. The key is to use a good one where the board is removed.

I knew it was going to be effective after using it for the first time. I was doing a show for a high school audience of deaf kids. When I removed the board and chair, several of the kids walked up to the foot of the stage and stared with their mouths open!

I always use my own assistant for the illusion. I think it is too hard physically on an audience member.

Michael
Steve Hoffman
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Martni, I gotta say that if we all followed the standard of putting away in the closet any device or effect after one person asks a skeptical question, our closets would be full and our stages and repertoires would be empty!

The fact that one person commented on the Harbin chair leaning back a bit more than most chairs doesn't strike me as a reason to abandon it. Simply respond "Oh, really? I hadn't noticed" or something nonchalant like that.

Remember, too, that there some people out there who don't particularly enjoy magic, and those types simply see any magical effect as a challenge to their puzzle-solving abilities. They stare at everything like Sherlock Holmes trying to find clues to solve a crime. Sometimes they hazard a guess that is uncomfortably close to the actual principle or gimmick underlying the effect. Sometimes they are way off. Frankly, even a chairback leaning further than a normal chair doesn't really explain how a person is floating on the chair's edge.

Look, if we could really suspend a person in mid-air, we wouldn't need ANY chairs, would we?? We'd just exercise our powers of sorcercy and leave the person floating mid-air with no chairs nearby.

Still, it's an effective illusion.

Steve Hoffman
mailto:steve@goodnote.com
Magicduck
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Martini/Steve,

I have to go along with Martini on this. First off, I meant to post in my last message that, of all the chairs I have ever seen, the Abbotts are the least ordinary looking..I forgot I had meant to do that until I saw your post.

Then I saw the message from Steve. He has a good point about not taking everything a spectator says too seriously, but in this case one needs to know that the Abbott suspension you are talking about, if it is the classic they have sold for years...is not a Harbin style. With this one, a board is put on the chairs, a person lays down and then one chair is removed...but the board stays in place.

With a true Harbin, which has only been made popular again in the past few years, the board, or stretcher, is removed so the person appears to be unsupported except by the one chair.

One of the better presentations I have seen for the original concept...board stays put..was in an old MUM. The idea was that the magi tied a couple helium balloons to the foot end of the board, then pulled the chair. It takes some of the suspicion away from the balance concept and puts it on the balloons. But it still makes it mysterious because it does not make sense to anyone that a couple balloons would support a person. Anyway...an idea.

Finally, as far as good effects being done with some rather crude equipment. About the first time I saw the "Harbin Style" chair suspension come back into use was in the early years of Penn and Teller. They do the bit with a board and two bright red wooden chairs. They still do this sometimes in the live shows. If you see it, take a look at the "board" they pull out. It must be about 4 inches thick and looks hollow. A typical chair suspension board today is a thin sheet of ply which might have an unsuspicious upper edge...like a stretcher. In spite of the oddity of their early 80's equipment, they still have probably the best known version of the trick anywhere.
quack
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martini
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Steve, you are so right, but as magicduck pointed out, the Abbott chairs lean way too far back. When I had first bought my outfit, I thought it was great and wondered why many others in my area were not using it. It was not until that one person pointed out the lean, that I realized, opps it really is that bad of a lean. I currently have a Harbin style that Chalet made and it is by far so much superior to my old Abbott outfit.
Thinking back on my youth, I am constantly reminded of many mistaken choices along the path of a performing life. The Abbott outfit is no longer in the closet, my youngest (17) is using it to hold three cages in her room, talk about misuse of props, and she told me she could care less about the lean of the chair, the cages fit perfectly, and the unit fits in her room like a glove. Oh well, that's life, isn't it nice that we can all laugh about it now.
Marty
Hayre
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This is an old thread, and this explanation may also be nitpicking. But the Abbott chairs do not have a bad lean. I placed Abbott's chairs next to vintage wood folding chairs. The lean, or angle of the seat back/front leg, is IDENTICAL between the real chair and an Abbots chair.

What does look worse on the Abbott chair is that the angle between the chair's back and the SEAT is greater. The seat is perfectly flat or level to the stage...on the real chair, the seat actually angles upward from back to front...making the angle between seat and back less severe.

I have a picture which I can email if you are interested.
marksmagiceye
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I use the Harbin Chair back and the super X levitation. The Chair back gets the same or greater reaction from the audience. I always use a lady from the audience. People will stand up at the back of the audience!
thomasR
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Both the Super X and Chair Suspension have pro's and con's.

The Chair Suspension is a real winner in that it can be carried out and set up on stage in front of the audience and there is nothing to hide. It can be performed surrounded, no angle problems at all. (Harbin was a true genius.) If the illusion is performed correctly, as per Harbin's instructions (Penn & Teller are the only one's I've seen do this... anyone know of others?) it can get an extremely strong reaction. Much stronger than a Ladder Suspension that costs 4-10 x's the cost of the chair (depending on which model chair suspension you purchase.)

But the Chair Suspension is not really a "Floating Lady" Illusion... which is a nice marketing term that can be used with the Super X. Also.. the Super X is a great prop to have for photo opportunities.
jay leslie
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To clairify: many say "the chair suspension can be assembled in front of the audience."

That statement should be "The chair suspension should be assembled in front of the audience".

Part of the beauty of the chair suspension is the fact that each part should be put together so the audience knows they are seperate and not welded together.
Pete Biro
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If you saw Harbin perform it you would be blown away, Same for his presentation of the Zig Zag I have seen him do both ASSEMBLING it in front of the audience. If you want one, get the detailed instructions from Harbin's book. I get the same kind of chairs he had from a man in England, then had John Gaughan do the build. When I stopped performing I sold it to a top trade and corporate performer.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
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