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Steve Brooks
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I'm going to preface this review by giving you a little bit of history. You see, I'm no stranger to the magic of Wayne Houchin. In fact, Wayne and I both live in the same area of northern California. While Wayne lives in the small city of Chico, I live just minutes away.

That said, I'm usually in Chico at least once or twice a week (I once lived there and plan on returning in the very near future) and I've had the opportunity to not only meet and talk with Wayne on two seperate occassions, but have watched him perform dozens of times as he amazed onlookers during the Thursday night Farmers Market which runs during the spring and summer in downtown Chico.

Local farmers gather to peddle their fresh fruits and vegetables along side various vendors, while musicians, clowns, jugglers and most often magician Wayne Houchin perform in the street for the large crowds of curious patrons. Like Wayne himself, many of these folks are students at Chico State University (MTV once labled the city of Chico Party Town USA while Playboy magazine has been known to send scouts to the Chico State campus).

When I learned that Wayne and Ellusionist had teamed up to produce a DVD, I was more than just a little curious. After all, Wayne is one of the local boys as it were and I was anxious to see what he was up to. My first thought was: how the heck do you top the huge success of the now famous Quarter through Soda Can?.

The answer is quite simple really. Take a novel idea, dress it up so it has an edge to it, then team up with folks who are very experienced at producing and marketing such affairs. The result: STIGMATA. So the real questions are: Does it live up to all the ad hype? AND - Can anyone do this effect successfully? Read on...

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Stigmata DVD by Wayne Houchin & Ellusionist
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Disc Description: WITNESS:
From Ellusionist and acclaimed performer Wayne Houchin (creator of Sinful, the signed coin through soda can) comes Stigmata.

The spectator thinks of anything. A NAME. A NUMBER. A MEMORY. With the thought in mind, the spectator squeezes your wrist. Tightly.

When the spectator releases, RED MARKS appear on your arm where they were squeezing. These marks of blood under the skin then slowly, visually, clearly RE-ARRANGE THEMSELVES into the shape of the spectator's selection. Seeing is believing.

EXPERIENCE:
The unparalleled DVD features in-depth, PRECISE instruction on multiple applications of this ingenious technique. Armed with this knowledge, you will have the power to unleash an effect on your spectators that some of the brightest minds in magic have regarded as a GOLD-CERTIFIED GEM.

ON DVD VERSION ONLY:
Gain access to a Special Features section that includes an exclusive interview with Banachek regarding performing Stigmata to total perfection, an early performance of Stigmata on television, and additional raw, uncut performances.

No gimmicks, props, or setup. No reset. Impromptu - in every sense. Everything is taught in complete detail. Available in high resolution download and DVD. Easy to perform but your performance will be everything


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I'll begin this review by stating up front the concept of STIGMATA is something that Wayne Houchin and Banachek both created independently. While extremely similar in concept, there are subtle differences. (In regards to this matter, Banachek posted on the Café saying; "Wayne's method allows those who can't do my version due to skin color, hair, dryness or such, to perform stigmata. It has sort of the same effect on people but is indeed different in workings. My version is also discussed for completness however, I gloss over it on my DVD's Wayne really has the real work on this and anyone can perform his version. IT is certainly not a rehash in any way whatsoever.")

In fact, one of the bonus features on the disc includes an interview segment which showcases Wayne and Banachek discussing how both of them arrived at creating the initial effect, and just how each of their handlings and presentations differ from one another and why. I found the interview both educational and entertaining and am glad the producers chose to include this piece in the package.

Having said that, the effect itself is rather interesting in so much as you will either love this or you'll hate it. A lot will depend on your personality, the venue you normally work in and naturally your own personal style of magic (e.g, I can't imagine gospel magicians doing this in church without the risk of being burned at the stake Smile ).

Those who admire street magicians such as Criss Angel or David Blaine will no doubt find this effect to be just what the doctor ordered. Likewise, performers who specialize in presenting story based or bizarre themed magic will find multiple uses for the principle used in Stigmata as well. The trick can easily be performed as a mystery or something more esoteric and spooky (God help the general public should John Edward discover this disc). Finally, It is pretty much a given that mentalist will find this effect extremely appealing. Smile

So what about the DVD? For starters it is very well produced. Broadcast quality video accompanied by good audio made viewing this a pleasure rather than a chore. Nothing worse than having to constantly adjust the volume while watching a DVD, and thankfully Brad and his team at Ellusionist know something about video production.

The disc begins by letting the viewer experience Wayne performing on the street and various other locations in and around Chico. Performances were shot on the street, in
Bidwell Park ( it might interest some of you to know that the park was used as a set for Sherwood forest in the original 1938 film of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn) and in front of various local businesses. I believe the reactions of the spectators to be genuine and Wayne does a credible job in presenting this mini illusion.

The disc allows us to see Wayne present Stigmata three different ways. As a card prediction, revealing a name that means something to the spectator (e.g, a friend, relative, etc) and finally, matching a number that the spectator only thinks of. In all three presentations, the final prediction or match appears on the performers arm. For most lay people this will be insane to say the least.

After said performances, we are quickly ushered into the studio where Mr. Houchin begins Stigmata 101. Everything is covered here (well almost - I'll get to that in a moment) and Wayne actually does a great job in the teaching of this effect. Advice is offered in the preperation, handling and actual presentation of Stigmata and just about anyone can grasp the basic idea in a matter of minutes.

Out of the three presentations taught, I believe that the card prediction and knowing a name that the spectator thinks of (and written down on a business card) are both within the range and skill level of the average magician. Wayne even assumes you may not have vast knowledge concerning card work and goes the extra mile to give you a couple methods to ponder over. Smile

Likewise, the presentation involving the guess of a name by the performer (which makes use of a pen and a business card) is taught so clearly that I think even a neophyte could do this. If all you ever perform are these two presentations, you will no doubt achieve great results and have people running and screaming in no time - buy Stigmata now!

However, for this review to be totally honest, It is the last presentation that I have a few reservations about, the effect where a freely chosen number the spectator merely thinks of appears on the performers arm. I'm not saying this cannot be done, it can. But - I venture to say it may not be presented quite as easily as Wayne manages to do per his performance on the disc.

Let me qualify the above statement a bit. While I'm not going to expose the actual secret to Stigmata, I am going to point out the fact that not just anyone will have the ability to perform the presentation of having the spectator think of any number and then show the same number appear on his arm...successfully that is.

Here's why: In order for this presentation to be 100% successful, a good understanding of the science and practice of the psychological force is a must. To his credit, Wayne does teach a basic method to make this all work. However, as well as this is taught, it is still nothing more than a crash course. As such, many of you are going to have problems due to not having a complete understanding of the how and why of this principle which will either work for you or in many cases fail.

Yet, there is hope. First, if this last presentation is the reason you are considering purchasing this disc, but you have little or no experience using the psychological force, I recommend that you go ahead and buy the disc anyway. Then, I want you to order a copy of Banachek's Psychological Subtleties.

The book will set you back a few dollars, but believe me, you'll be glad you did. Smile
You should also know that purchasing and then reading Banachek's book does not in any way guarantee that you will be able to grasp and then use psychological forces of any kind on your audience. But, it will give you a much greater understanding in just how and when to use such a force and more importantly - WHY the force can work or fail.

Now, having said all of that, I think as a whole, Stigmata is certainly worthy of your attention and deserves much of the hype surrounding it. When presented properly to a lay audience, it is an absolute miracle that appears to have absolutely no explanation. This is a high end disc which does an admiral job of allowing you to learn how to perform several cool effects using a very clever idea. The price is low considering the value you will receive and I like the idea. Recommended. Smile

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My rating:
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Suggested retail is $29.95 (DVD)
(also available as a Download)

Available exclusively from:

team.ellusionist
ellusionist.com llc.
p. 866.244.2426 (toll-free)
Ellusionist.com

You may email Ellusionist.com at:

team@ellusionist.com
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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