Northern California - United States
Posted: Oct 4, 2003 9:42am
A LITTLE PRE-HISTORY...
Jean-Eugéne Robert-Houdin, known as The Father of Modern Magic, performed throughout Europe in the 1840s and 50s. He was one of the first magicians to perform for the public in theaters, and one of the very first to popularize the wearing of formal attire when performing. Up until that time, magicians were generally known to wear the typical gown and the cone like wizard hat ala Merlin.
An accomplished clockmaker, Robert-Houdin excelled at constructing all sorts of mechanical marvels, many appearing on stage during his full evening show which not only consisted of extrodinary feats of magic, but often showcased the latest scientific marvels which most of the general public knew nothing about at the time.
Well read and educated in the latest scientific findings of the day, Robert-Houdin was one of the first people to find a use for electromagnetism. He created an effect called The Light and Heavy Chest. He would invite a member of the audience on stage to try and lift a small wooden box he said he kept in order to store his money. Mr. Houdin's volunteer always did this easily. Then Robert-Houdin would command the box to stay where it was, so it could not be stolen by any would-be thief. But, no matter how hard the volunteer would try after that, he could not move it.
Unknown to his audience, Robert-Houdin had constructed a simple yet very effective electromagnet which turned on and off by a secret assistant off stage. The magnet was hidden under the stage and reacted quite nicely with a metal plate which was inside the box.
Then, in 1856, the French government asked Robert-Houdin to travel to French-occupied Algeria. They feared that Algerian magicians who apparently performed amazing feats of magic would encourage the Algerians to rise up and fight the French soldiers. The French wanted Robert-Houdin to perform for the Algerians, hoping to convince them that the French magician had even greater power. He did, it worked, and a potentially bloody war was totally avoided.
The Gravity Box
Effect & description: Sitting on your table is an attractive wooden chest that measures about 7 3/4" square. Not only does this box hold your props, (which is clearly seen to be unremarkable, save for it's gorgeous quality) but there is something very special and magical about this particular box.
Invite a spectator up to help you with an experiment in mind control/hypnosis. Hand the box to the spectator for them to hold as you explain how easily susceptible some people are to hypnosis. Placing the box on the floor, you open the top and place a white silk inside. Now, you begin to hypnotize the spectator, explaining that the silk actually weighs a ton! Literally!
The spectators are now instructed to try to lift the box. They can't! The spectator strains and sweats but is unable to budge the box! How is this possible? After all, you aren't standing on any false floors or using any superconductor magnets or even using a stooge! It must either be hypnosis or... magic! The box is opened the silk is removed and guess what -- the chest is now lifted easily!
This version of the LIGHT & HEAVY CHEST is new and improved, made of polished black walnut and manufactured by master craftsman Doug Malloy EXCLUSIVELY for Hocus Pocus! It's furniture quality is only enhanced by gleaming brass hardware, a beautifully finished interior, and a heavy duty gimmick that would require the Incredible Hulk to lift the box! The box can be shown freely, at all angles, before being set down. The simple act of either reaching in for an object or pulling out an object sets the gimmick in a second; it's always ready!
NO ELECTRICITY, WIRES, MAGNETS OR MAGNETIC CONCEPTS OF ANY KIND, NO ELECTRONICS, AND NOTHING IS ATTATCHED TO YOU AT ALL! THERE ARE NO TRAYS, FALSE FLOORS, OR HEAVY TABLES USED. The Gravity Box IS ENTIRELY SELF-CONTAINED AND FEATURES A BRAND NEW AND INGENIOUS PRINCIPLE IN MAGIC
As a small boy I recall reading about Robert-Houdin performing this piece of science turned magic trick, and always thought how very cool it would be to have a box like the one used by Mr. Houdin, but quickly realized that this dream would probably never be possible.
Through the years a small handful of individuals managed to construct similar boxes, but very few of those that were built ever saw the light of day. Those that have, such as Tom Yurasit's very well made Light Heavy Box, (which sells for $2500.00) are far beyond the financial means of the average performer. In addition to the hefty price tag, most of these models require the performer to use a large performing area in order for the apparatus to function correctly. Let's face it, most of us regular magicians work in restaurants and living rooms to make our living, large stages are few and far between!
Well friends, I am happy to report that this sad situation has all but vanished! Thanks to the good folks at Hocus Pocus! and the expert know-how of master craftsman Doug Malloy, the answer for many of us who have always wanted one of these bad boys has finally arrived, a little baby that they simply call The Gravity Box.
The method for The Gravity Box is so devious that I have had nothing short of a blast playing with this for the last few days. Quick and ever so easy to operate, which gives you plenty of time to work on a unique presentation or story that fits your own particular performing style.
There are just so many ways this could be presented, and I can just imagine David Copperfield or Lance Burton using this very piece of equipment. Although you may be tempted to keep this in a display case along with your other collectables, I guarantee you'll want to keep this with you instead, trust me on this one... it's that good!
For myself, I will probably use this as a running gag in my stand-up shows, as I do mostly comedy magic.
This prop begs for the performer to find perhaps a father and daughter in the audience, or maybe a Grandmother and a body builder to team together. This is priceless material in the making here folks.
As the above description states, the box is made from Walnut and is absolutely gorgeous. If you have ever seen one of Dean Dill's boxes, you know what kind of quality I speak of. But the best part is the modus operandi itself which is a breeze to operate and is practically indestructable... this box, if cared for, will last a lifetime and then some. Each box is carefully put together by my good friend Doug Malloy who is one of the finest magic builders in the business, that's a fact.
What you receive is, The Gravity Box, and a few pages of simple instructions which also include a little history of the box itself. Nothing more is included, but then again, you don't need anything else except of course YOU!
But, you better hurry, as there is only a very small number of these boxes being made. You snooze and you'll lose.
Available exclusively from Hocus Pocus
Suggested retail: $395.00
2311 McKinley Avenue, Fresno, Ca. 93703
Order Toll-Free!: 800-407-4040
Questions, chat: (559) 266-5150
24-Hour Fax: (559) 266-4517
You can also contact Hocus Pocus directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To visit the Hocus Pocus site: Click here!
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