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Harley Newman
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A couple of years ago, I figured out how to have a couple of guys hold a sword at shoulder-height, and then I'd lean up against it, on my neck, with my body at about a 45 degree angle. I love the stunt, but haven't yet found quite the right way to present it.

There are a couple of things I've tried, to make it more interesting. I'll mention them later, so as not to pass on my particular predjudices about them to you.

Any ideas?
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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drwilson
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It was interesting when you did this with Mark and me holding the blade at your workshop. I agree that this is tough to present, as we discussed at the time.

Your Bed of Nails starts out by de-mystifying the feat with the large Bed of Nails, with possibly an audience member on it. Then you re-mystify it by using only four nails, or these days, one.

This probably isn't the right approach to a sword feat. You wouldn't want to de-mystify the Ladder of Swords, and you certainly don't want to have an audience member step on a sword.

So we are left with considering the picture of you supporting your body using only your neck on the sword. Do people view this as dangerous or painful? Some other feats with less possiblilty of injury look more dangerous. And then there is the problem of getting into it and getting out of it, as Dai Vernon famously said with respect to magic effects.

As for getting into it, I can imagine a story line. You could talk about how Samurai are supposed to contemplate their own death, or even to consider themselves already dead. Maybe this is part of the final training of the warrior.

Still, somehow, the image isn't terribly compelling. I guess that I would like it better if your feet were tied, and suspended, not touching the ground. So you'd be supported by the ankles, with your neck resting on the blade. Is this feasible? Somehow, having your feet on the ground just wrecks this for me.

As for adding other things, I know that you've advised others not to pile things on top of simple escapes, so anything that is not directly related to having your neck on the sword is out. That really has to be the focus, we just have to get rid of the stuff that is in the way. For me, that's your feet on the ground, and probably the guys holding the sword also. It ought to be suspended in a frame.

Not much here, but maybe a start.

Yours,

Paul
aggieman
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I have a story idea, I am new at this and all, but if you would like to hear it I will write it out.
Harley Newman
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I think Paul has hit a couple of nails on the head.

The Samurai line, is very similar to one I just tried, that ended up being too complex for the audience to follow. It involved the ritual by which a person possessed by a fox spirit, was given the sword, and expected to commit seppuku. In seppuku, one slices one's belly open, in silence, and if that doesn't do it, you cut your own throat.

I used this stunt as a follow-up to a multiple fox-trap routine, which also used Japanese mythology. Again, too complicated. It'd work with a highly intellectual audience, but how often do we get them?

I like the idea of having feet off the ground, though I'm not sure I could do it. I get a strong visual image of neck on sword, and then feet using the sword-ladder from a completely different position than the regular presentation. It would mean carrying another piece of equipment, but that's never stopped me before, much as I like to complain about it. I shall have to consider that one. I like the image. This is powerful, and actually, would require no dialog.

I also used a medieval Euro poem, from a soldier pining away for his true love, who's run off with somebody else, so he's suicidal. Didn't work at all.

I used a prop for the sword, that looked like a crutch, made of two entwined snakes. Where the heads angled out at the top, the sword went through. It wasn't stable enough, and the blade didn't show.

I've also cut fruit, having it between my neck and the sword, as I got into position.

Ag, I'd love to hear your story. You never know what will click an idea.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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TAIT
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I have a twist on this act the man that cannot beheaded. I don't no a block on the back of the head across the neck what do you think?
Chad M Kuykendall
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I'm wondering how the effect would be affected by the introduction of a sword swallowed before the neck is balanced on the other sword blade. Story telling would be rather null at the time but I'm of the mind that most talking is done what with the adam's apple being so close to a metal point. Forgive me that I can't remember if you can swallow blades. It can be hard to remember at times because Harley Newman equals flippin' amazing.
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Harley Newman
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Somehow I think that using a sword inside, and one outside, might be overkill, thought the way I intend, it'd only need to kill once.

Yes, I swallow swords. I had to learn the skill, because I wanted to do a plunger. And I do. It's pretty funny!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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gsidhe
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I haven't gotten a storyline that would feed into the stunt that would be particularly original. I personally would combine it with an illusion such as saw to demonstrate that it is you will alone that either allows or disallows matter to pass into your flesh. Saw allowing harmless matter to pass into your neck as though it was butter, and your will not allowing the sword to pass.
Downfall to this is that the illusion might weaken the thrill of the real stunt.
But I am still brainstorming.
What came to mind for the most impressive presentation was springboarded off of Pauls thoughts. How to get your feet suspended with your neck on the blade.
Have your ankles tied together, the sword in a rack (Or even use your sword ladder if it it would allow it from the back)
Place your throat on the blade and have your ankles crank winched up. This would use your neck on the sword as a pivot point and you would move up very smoothely and slowly to horizontal. You would still have the safety net of being able to use your hands on the stand to adjust yourself or hold your weight if needed.
Disadvantages- It would take a bit of time to get you to the full horizontal, and I don't know how long you can hold it together. Also additional rigging and the need for an assistant to crank you up. Could also be difficult to get out of (There is no quick exit)
Just my preliminary thoughts,
Gwyd
Harley Newman
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This is an interesting idea, and is in the mix.

I see a couple of difficulties with it. One, needing to carry the equipment. Two, the fact of using it will take a lot of control out of my hands. I reeeeeeally like being in control of all aspects of the stunt.

If you think about, for example, sticking your hand in a trap, the whole thing is your timing, and your ability to deal with all parts of the situation. Think of it as links in a chain, the links are you, and the trap. If you choose to have someone else get the trap off you, they're only a decorative link, not weight bearing.

In this scenario, links are you, the sword, the rope, the winch, the supporting frame, and anyone who's involved in operation of the above. The more links there are, the greater the probability of one of them breaking, in a thing with no room for error. None of those links are decorative.

One of the things I like in this, is that it's very close in concept to bed of blades. I try to stay away from having too many showpieces that duplicate, so bladebed is a thing I've stayed away from, but this might take it to another place.

I wouldn't do a bed and a ladder in the same show. I wouldn't do bladebed and BON in the same show, and BON will always win out, in terms of most shows.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
drwilson
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So how about this: you get your feet in the sling and up they go. You get into a kind of push-up position with your hands supporting your upper body on some kind of frame that holds the sword. You lower your neck onto the sword, then hold your arms straight out or even slightly bowed back in a kind of crucifixion pose. To get out, you reverse the sequence.

It still involves gear and a frame, but some of the things are done in sequence. It would have a kind of aerialist look to it. Maybe instead of being winched up you actually use a portable trapeze.

Yours,

Paul
gsidhe
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Ya beat me to it Paul...
That way you could be sure the winch is tied off and secure, have even a bit longer to both adjust yourself and build tension in the audience. I was thinking about the winch rig- It doesn't even have to be that tall, no more than a 6' tripod (It would look better with 8', but sometimes you have to be practical.)
Of course, you could do a celing rig, but that is very location dependant.
It is just such a great visual! I really want to see this. It would be a rather magesic, surreal sight.
Gwyd
jeremysweiss
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Sling and a sawhorse. The sawhorse is perfectly aligned with a blade mounted on a second sawhorse placed parallel with the blade as the replacement for the cross piece of wood.

Place neck across the two horses (and therefore the blade) with feet through the sling. Lean back so your neck is on both sawhorses. Sling gets elevated until you are horizontal. Wooden horse is removed, leaving you sort of lounge suspended, balancing with your neck on the sword. To get out, you simply lower the sling. Hot chick can come sit on you. Do a whole piece on how danger can enhance an erotic encounter. (Ok, so I am kidding about those last two sentences, but I'll think of a storyline.) Maybe the old, place an apple across the neck and have a swordsman cut it in half bit--problem there is then it is no longer one man show.

Hmmm...How about "I don't think that by the Geneva convention, this amounts to torture"...GWB
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Harley Newman
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Being up in the air would be good.

Adding more control...

How about just using, for the feet, something like a hurdle? It's solid, based on the floor, no extraneous movement, totally under personal control, and minimal equipment. Or, simply, a frame similar to a bladebed. I wish I could do a handstand...that would open some other possibilities.

For height, it could be done on a riser, or a table.

I like the push-up, going into it. Very clean.

It also reminds me of the old inversion beds, where you lie on a padded board, with your feet hooked under a bar, and when you lie back, the balance changes, and you're upside down. They're great for the back. That could be a design connection also.

Movement is a problem in this. Momentum of any kind, will result in unpleasant slicing. So figuring how to make the momentum relative, might make a difference. Hmmm.

There's a feeling in this, that's close to how I'm doing the one nail. I'm getting a couple of strong guys, kneeling, facing each other, about 6' apart. I lie down between, position the bed, and have them hold my hands and feet, for my stability, to prevent any side-to-side movement. And then I raise myself into the air, on the nail, parallel to the floor.

I'm doing it as the capper to the show, because I really can't focus on the audience at all, there just isn't room in the stunt. I've asked a couple of folks how it looks, and watched their jaws drop, just from the memory of it. So I guess it works.

I love the process of learning presentation details from the audience. They can always be trusted to let you know, when you're doing it right.

You guys are great!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
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