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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The December 2002 entrée: Banachek » » The bullet catch » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Banachek
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V.I.P.
Houston
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This story first saw it?s light of day on another network. But for those that have questions, hopefully this will answer most.

THE HISTORY OF THE Penn & TELLER BULLET CATCH!

I have been and it has been brought up on other networks "how much input did Banachek have on the Penn & Teller Bullet catch?" First lets say, as Jamy Ian Swiss correctly notes, P&T call it the "MAGIC BULLET". That alone should tell you how much. But back to that later.

I first performed my version of the bullet catch around 1985. At that time I worked with a partner. The idea came as a brainstorm while in a fishing store. I had been playing around with an idea of how to do a 100% safe bullet catch. Looking at some items there, I knew I had it. Three factors were important, one, it had to be safe (unheard of in previous methods) and two, it had to fool everyone and three, and I wanted a sheet of glass to break with no gimmicks.

Shortly after, my stage-partner and I began to perform the catch in various ways. Sometimes a dot was drawn on his mouth and he was set ablaze (full stunt body burn). Sometimes we simply played it straight. One time we even pretended he got shot, rushed to the hospital. The next day it was all over the radio, yet no one could locate the hospital he was at. Later that afternoon we called in to relate it had been a hoax to gain publicity for that evening?s event, the real thing. The club was packed, standing room only.

We started to get the label of "Daredevils" and my bookings for my mentalism stage show through agents started to go down. Shortly after performing my first buried alive stunt on 'IN SEARCH OF HOUDINI' my partner and I parted ways. I then performed my version of the bullet catch alone, using a preset vice and preset foot marks on the floor, the spectator whom marked the casing fired the gun in the vice, and the person that marked the head stood off to my left. All in all, I preformed the bullet catch around 40-50 times. In fact, it was how I met my wife, I did not get to perform it that night, but met my wife instead, but that is a personal story and has nothing to do with the Penn & Teller "Magic Bullet." I quit performing the bullet catch shortly after. In fact, I think I performed it only one more time after meeting my wife, Heidemarie.

On April 14th,1994 Penn and Teller showed up at my house in a very large limousine. Thinking they had just come in from out of town and not realizing what big stars P&T were, and knowing how much I travel in cars, my non-magical wife asked if they wanted to take a shower or freshen up. P&T were not taken aback, but I am sure that for a moment they wondered what James Randi had set them up for. (Randi was the connection between P&T and myself.)

P&T had come to visit. We talked quite a while about different ideas and in passing I briefly, about 2 seconds, mentioned the bullet catch and that I never performed it any more.
That night I spent with P&T at Magic Island. Next day I spent with Teller at Charlie Randall's House. I quickly came to find out what an amazing man Teller is. Very clever. As we talked I realized what great respect he and Penn have for each other and how they complement each other perfectly. Little was I to know at the time how ingenious these two fellows are.

That night my wife, son and I went to the show. It was the first time I had seen them live, I was delighted. It was one of, if not the best shows I had ever seen.

On the 16th Teller called and out of the blue mentioned they were interested in the bullet catch. Could I bring all my props to their hotel in the morning? Sure I could.
Next day I was at the hotel with my 357 (actually a .38) with a scope on the top. My glass holder and some real bullets, a magic marker and some other bits of business (Sorry guys).

It took some convincing, not much, that my method was 100% safe. P&T asked to take the props, gun and all. I was ecstatic. We talked on the phone a few times; I suggested a laser sight instead of the scope. They had thought of that.

They asked how much I wanted for it. "Your friends of Randi, you have helped him at times and I respect you both for that, play with it and we will talk later."

During the next few months I was amazed. P&T took gun-training classes. Talked to the FBI. Every day they were thinking up a new way to improve the effect, a new wrinkle in the routine. After a few problems, they perfect the P&T Magic Bullet.

Teller called and made the invitation that he and Penn would like to fly me in and put me up at Bally's so I could go and see the show.
Sat, June 10, 1995 at 9 P.M. I entered the Celebrity Showroom, I was seated Sect A table 106 seat 1. The show commenced. Again, I saw the wonders of P&T that I had seen and been entertained with in the past. I also witnessed their wonderful version of the Spirit Cabinet, it is hauntingly frightening. Finally, they got to the 'Magic Bullet?, It was great, incredible, but more important, it was P&T. Oh, the method for the marking and watching the bullet go into the gun, the breaking of the glass was mine, but the rest was all P&T. You know what, they fooled me with part of the routine. The part that fooled me may have been inspired by my magic marker but it fooled me bad.

It is interesting that everyone talk's about the glass and the loading of the gun, but what gets me is no one is talking about the fact that Penn or Teller (In the first stage version that includes tossing a coin) never put their hands to their mouth at all?
And speaking of the coin toss, at Bally's they used a house $5 token with Teller on one side, and Penn on the other. The spectator gets to select how the outcome will be, and Penn and Teller never, come near each other at all during this and after. (Speaking of tokens, they also have a Blackstone token that you might want to grab up if they are still available.)

After the show P&T met with me in Teller's dressing room, the same one Frank Sinatra use to have. We talked, I raved, I mentioned one or two small things, things P&T had already discussed (did I not say they thought out every little detail).
As I left, they both thanked me. Teller placed something nonchalantly in my pocket.
Back in my hotel room, while undressing I reached in my pocket. There was an envelope, inside was a check for the bullet catch. When I saw how much it was for I was shocked. It was more than I would have ever thought of asking for, even if I was selling it to someone other than P&T. On top of that I felt immense guilt. P&T had taken my small time effect and turned it into something first class. It has so much of P&T all over and so little Banachek that I barely recognized it. Teller later assured me, that they could not do the effect without my method and would not have ever thought of doing it had I not assured them that my way was safe.

I have heard many explanations for the Penn & Teller "Magic Bullet", most are way off, a few have come close, but no-one I have run into has yet figured out the full method.

Since that time I have shared a few brainstorming sessions with P&T. In fact, I gave them an awful lot for their new book, but again, Penn & Teller took my ideas and made them unrecognizable, they made them pure P&T. Talking with others I notice that originality comes hard for some people. I think up thousands of ideas no matter how silly, sooner or later I come up with a gem. I must of sent P&T hundreds of E-Mails and out of all those effects they found another they liked, the Psychic Ring surgery. Again though, they came up with their own presentation.
Speaking of presentations, all through the years each performer has had only one presentation for the bullet catch. P&T have three, and probably by the time I am done writing this lengthy treatise on the Magic Bullet, they will have thought of another. Every thing Jamy Ian Swiss writes about P&T is true. They do lock themselves in a room for a week at a time and brainstorm. They are always thinking, always improving. They have a definite direction that they want to take each effect and they want it to be original. On top of that they are genuinely nice guys. Teller still writes to my son and they have since had my wife and me as guests once again at Bally's

How much of the "Magic Bullet" is Banachek's? I feel that it is very little, and by now probably even less.

And that brings us back to where we started, the name "Magic Bullet!" Penn & Teller do not claim they catch the bullet that is fired from the gun. They think their audiences too smart for that. But they do want them to think that there is some magic to the bullet that causes it to get from one side of the stage to the other therefore they get away from calling it a bullet catch, and call it the "magic bullet."


By the way, on my web site http://www.banachek.com I have posted a new effect in the Performers only area. You will need to figure the passwords to get in.
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
dAvId tOnG
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sInGaPoRe
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Thanks banachek for giving us such a detailed history of this effect. No doubt P&T had lots of good stuffs, but the bullet catch is the BEST of the lot. If i'm ever in vegas and watch the P&T show, it is because i wanted to watch this live! Smile
Scott Xavier
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Inner circle
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Banachek, Thats an awesome effect on your site! Not P&T, but a true reputation maker, if your trying to imppress a booking client on the other end of the line.
Banachek
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V.I.P.
Houston
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thanks, but the methodology goes back to Sam Dalal as far as I can tell. I only lay claim to the routine. That is if you are talking about he bullet catch effect?
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
Banachek
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V.I.P.
Houston
1079 Posts

Profile of Banachek
Just wanted to clear something up, my last post referred to the business card effect on my web stite, not the real bullet catch
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
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