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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Voodoo in Reverse? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Kathryn Novak
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At the request of Caleb Strange, I have reposted this topic here. You can find the original in the "We Double Dare You!" forum. (It was on page 1 at the time of this post).

As we're drawing nearer and nearer to Halloween, this is an idea I might be using at my Halloween party. The idea of using a voodoo doll to play a prank on someone (an unsuspecting guest) has always appealed to me. But using the normal voodoo effect seemed so cliche and overdone. So I started thinking- what if the reverse happened? What if the person was injured, and the doll showed signs of pain or suffering after the injury had happened to the real person? For instance- say the entertainer's "hand" is cut with a sharp piece of glass/nail/knife. It'd be a little scary if the doll, which had no previous signs of wear or tear, showed a slash in the hand- with a drop of blood or two running out of the "wound". Then it could even be taken a step further. A little later on, a seemingly "serious" injury- such as a burn- could happen to the performer- and the doll might burst into flames! It's a bit extreme, but with the right moments of distraction from the doll and a little extra help, it could be done. Of course, I'd lose a doll in the process, but they're relatively easy to make. The doll would have the performer's likeness, of course.
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Doug Byrd
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A performer by the name of Glen Strange has been doing this routine in a comedy vein (pun intended) for probably 20+ years now. It is one of the most hilarious routines I have ever seen. If you ever get a chance to see a Glen Strange show do so. It is a hoot!

Of course you want to do it in a more serious and spooky tone.

Doug
"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc"
Kathryn Novak
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What would Halloween be if not spooky?
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Caleb Strange
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I must say that the skewed logic of this effect appeals to me. I like routines where the magic is unexpected - where events seem unplanned, beyond your control even. Therefore, as Kathryn has gone to the trouble of posting her great idea, and so that this thread doesn’t die a lonely death, let me post this variation. I call it:

Mirror Doll.

You are at a party and you explain that, as part of your research into sympathetic magic, you have obtained what some occultists call a ‘Mirror Doll - a device which, when activated, is said to reflect the particular psychic state of the connected soul. You place this doll (an ugly looking, twisted foetus of a thing) onto the table, and it leers disturbingly at the spectators.

A demonstration would best answer the many questions of the other guests, you claim, so, with your host’s permission, you...

Ask someone to hold the doll tightly at the wrist, while another volunteer takes your pulse; this second person is told to nod in time with your heart beats, so that everyone can see; this they do. As you tap the table with your free hand, in time with the nods, you explain that you will now attempt to transfer some of your own life energy into the doll. You concentrate for a minute or two, and then, remarkably, your pulse slows, then stops completely. All is still and quiet.

You pause, and then say to the first spectator, ‘You will feel it momentarily...’ You nod. ‘...feel my energy in the doll. Nod when you do.’

Suddenly, this first spectator starts nodding; it seems impossible, but he does feel your life force now pulsing in the doll. Again you tap the table to mark its beat. Then, almost in a whisper, you say, ‘And now you will feel it slowing - dwindling; it slows... it fades... it is gone.’ Sure enough, the first spectator confirms that your energy has left the doll.

You turn to the second spectator, and say, ‘My energy returns. Feel it return.’

And slowly, hesitantly, your pulse returns; till it grows ever more steady and strong. And you thump the table stoutly like a drum.


Now, having established this spooky connection between you and the mirror doll, you can develop things further with Kathryn’s routine. Here’s what I suggest:

The Mirror Doll is sat in a position of honour on the mantelpiece, as the party continues. You, of course, are asked to demonstrate one or two more of your strange wonders, and charming devil that you are, you comply. Things go rather well, even though, a couple of times, you’d swear you saw the Mirror Doll move. There it goes again! Other guests also are unnerved by the unseeing menace of its eyes. But you dismiss it all as imagination, and, the party swings along very nicely...

That is until you cut your left hand, badly, on a glass in the kitchen. Blood spurts thickly from the wound, and you grow pale. You just about manage to stem this teeming flow with a handkerchief, but the gash looks very deep; it clearly requires stitches. One of the other guests (a designated driver) heroically volunteers to take you to hospital, and, reluctantly, you accept her kind offer, and leave.

The remaining guests wipe away the sticky mess, and then the host quips, ‘Well, I don’t know about you lot, but I could do with a stiff drink!’ And everybody laughs, and goes back into the lounge.

And that’s when they see it - the Doll. With the deep gash in it’s left hand, and the dark blood hardening on its sleeve...


Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
montz
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Excellent idea Kathryn - some spectator's deserve a beating now and again, and if that can be disguised in the context of an effect, all the better!

Celab - excellent! well worth losing a finger for!

And was that Luke Jermay's "For Andruzzi" I spied lurking in the first phase? What a use for it...

Excellent post.

Liam.
Caleb Strange
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Montz, thanks for the kind words. Yes, it is the pulse stop from my good friend's Luke Jermay's 'For Andruzzi', followed by some stuff I've adapted from another of Luke effects (to be found in his forthcoming wondrous tome 'Building Blocks'). Together they make a nice sequence, I think, that leads well into Kathryn's routine.

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
David de Leon
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Excellent work all around folks! I particularly like the idea of using the pulse stop as a means of demonstrating the transference of life force between the performer and the doll. As well as segueing into a voodoo doll type effect (reverse or otherwise) you could also utilise this when animating a golem. Here is a rough idea:

A table in the centre of the room has been cleared for your use and a couple of candle sticks have been brought out and lit. You sit down and people gather round. A small black ornate box is placed on the table and opened. Inside is a packet wrapped in damp cloth. You pick up the packet, place it on the table and peel back the cloth to reveal a cube of dark clay.

You pause as if gathering your thoughts, then draw a deep breath and start working on the clay. Slowly the clay is shaped into a prone figure. As you work you whisper strange words and draw symbols on the body of the figure. People barely notice that the room has grown colder, but shiver and huddle closer together. When the figure is finished you make a slit for a mouth with the nail of your thumb and then lean over and give the figure the kiss of life.

[Lots of words, but I really like the idea of making a figure from clay in front of your audience. I also think that a lump of clay feels less gimmicked than a ready-made figure, though of course it is not.]

You then ask someone in your audience to take your pulse and to beat out the rhythm on the table. Another person is asked to place a gentle finger on the breast of the figure lying on the table. Your pulse eventually slows, then stops and the person touching the figure is alarmed as the golem’s chest seems to throb and grow warm. Your pulse returns and you ask the person touching the golem to withdraw their hand.

[This is basically the same as above with the addition that the figure gets warm.]

After further incantations the golem stands up of its own accord. It stands still for just a moment, then totters and falls to the table. Almost the same instant as the figure falls the candles flutter and extinguish.

[If the room is cold enough (or if you are doing this outside) it would be nice to a have a single steamy breath escape the mouth of the golem before it falls. And perhaps an audible sigh]

When the lights have been turned on someone notices a streak of perfect white in your otherwise dark hair. Transferring your life force to the doll has a cost; what did you think?

A sceptical spectator tears the doll apart, looking for trickery, but there is just clay and more clay, still slightly warm. You gently admonish them for their treatment of the figure and perhaps bury the remains together in the garden as atonement.
The Curator
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Or you can dwelve in some kind of Dorian Gray effect.
An image of you is decaying or burning while you seem unhurt by some auto mutilation...
Another strange idea, I used years ago was a kind of voodoo match. You burn a match and quickly blow it. Then you paint it like a real match. Then you make a xerography of that match. You try to lit the "real" match on a matchbox but it doesn't work... Then you try with the color copy, and it works. The image start burning and the paper follows...
I used this trick when performing for a copier company, years ago. The only thing to do is to hide a second and real match under the copy, with the yellow (or red) head of the match plced behind the head of the copy. Lit the real match , etc.
Try the effect, it's impressive.
Caleb Strange
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David, I loved the golem idea - especially the business of actually building of the thing there and then. There is something very powerful and engrossing about this. The details, too, are very telling. As for the 'price' of your magic idea, it is a wonderful application of your 'Magic as real' thinking.

Christian, I loved the Voodoo match routine, and also the Dorian Gray effect. For a while I've flirted with the idea of developing a supposedly immortal character (kind of like Saint-Germain). I'm not sure quite how one would express this, so that it was theatrically convincing. I suspect that just blurting out 'I'm six hundred years old' wouldn't quite work. So to that end I was thinking of using old photographs/engravings/woodcuts in which one's character could be seen moving through history (like Zelig or Forest Gump, but very much more long-term). Anyway, your Dorian Gray effect is another (and excellent) way of indirectly expressing one's immortal nature.

Many thanks, both of you, for sharing. Smile

Regards,

Caleb Strange.

P.S. The Café's very own Cogliostro might be the one to ask about longevity Smile. Incidentally Giuseppe, when you were known as Cagliostro, how exactly, WERE you involved in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace?

And are you and the beautiful Lorenza Feliciani still an item? She sounds like quite a woman.

If you wanted to go Lovecraftian with this, an artist's wooden model (those little poseable dolls which are used for reference when drawing) would make a good prop. They can be made to tic and jerk in an agreably disturbing manner.

Several storylines suggest themselves: the inherited/purchased object with a tale attached (gifted artist dies young and horribly, amid rumours of dark practices etc); the poor artist who carves his own doll out of wood from a gallows tree, with disasterous results; the mediocre artist who necromances/channels an Old Master to steal some of his genius - temporary success, but it all goes terrifyingly wrong. And so on.

The deeply unsettling work of artist Austin Spare springs to mind.

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Kathryn Novak
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This effect might even have a different ending. Caleb's idea of having the cut so deep the magi must be taken to the hospital gave me the idea. The excuse could be made that few shards of glass got embedded into the wound. A few tears from the magi- me- and then a hurried exit from the room with the kind spectator. A few moments later, the cloth doll can be seen actually crying- with a few small slivers of glass glinting just above the wound, half inside the doll, where there were none before! Couple the glass in the doll, the blood running from the wound, and the tears- and you've got a triple whammy. They'd have to be presented one at a time, of course, but it can be done quickly if timed correctly. I'd use the fire idea, but I don't want to set off the smoke alarms in my apartment. It'd be kind of anti-climactic. Smile
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cubreporter
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Kathryn, Caleb and others: Excellent! Caleb, did I detect a hint of Umberto in there? David, I LOVE the idea of the Golem; very frightening. I would love to use it with permission. I, once upon a time did quite a bit of this type of magic, before selling my soul to corporate performing (big mortgage etc.) Stories of unusual creatures, unnatural happenings on unlit, lonely roads do not sit well with the Fortune 500 set! I will still, on rare occasions, when the guests have mellowed, the fire is lit, and the wine bottle is low, possibly bring out an object of some curiosity, given to me by a funny little man who ran a funny little shop...and then go into some twisted variation of a Doc Shiels routine. Thank you all for re-kindling my love of bizarre magic. So very satisfying, to touch upon primal fears.
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Turk
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Following up on Kathryn's thoughts, here's a warped presentation idea:

Use Pyro Perceptions and have blisters form not only on your thumb and finger (normal PP presentation) but also on the voodoo doll's thumb and finger (or hand or paw...whatever)!!

This sounds like something that crazy Peter Marucci would do.

Mike
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This must not be Kansas anymore, Toto.

Eschew obfuscation.
David de Leon
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Cubreporter please use any of my ideas; I am thrilled if anything I write at The Café is put to use.
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