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Bill Hegbli
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I was wondering if anyone has seen or performed a magic show of all props. Using such equipment as the Silk Cabby, Jap Box, and the like. When I was introduced to books at the local library, The Modern Conjuror was a wondrous book of prop magic. Each trick description had it own section. There was no suggested order to use these items in a show.

Everyone only speaks of the inconvenience of performing prop magic, but never if it is even as good as none prop magic. It is just as magical to restore a cut handkerchief with the Abbott's Hathaway Handkerchief Cabinet, then to use the method that non box method.

The problem as I see it is that the prop has to be brought on and off or front and center stage and then exchanged for another table. Anyone have any idea or suggestions for performing a prop based magic show with or without an assistant?

Would it be more like performing a grand illusion with flamboyant dancing and moving about with the box, or more bring on, take off, next.

If one went to say Abbott's Magic and paid thousands of dollars on props like the Canary Cage, how would these best be presented in a show context?

I just thought being I have never read anything like this, it would be an interesting discussion topic and may help someone as well.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
hugmagic
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I remember Sid Lorraine used to routine props for guys that would send a list into the TOPS magazine. Pretty creative though most of the guys never bothered to take the time to do.

I remember one contest act that had "V" of tables on stage each with a prop to work off. I remarked to Dick Oslund who was backstage with me " I had not seen so many table since W. W. Durbin. Durbin had a table for every trick. For him to navigate on stage, he had to dodge and weave his way around the stage.

My own act is done without an assistant and is basically prop magic. Since it is mainly flowers and silks, it is not as cumbersome as some props. I use a background set that allows me to get load, pickup props and dispose of the produced articles. I have a table that holds the Atomic Cocktail routine. The third stand is a plume stand that changes to a botania.

Early on I used a nightclub table, retrieving props from shelves in the table. The problem was I kept vanishing behind the table as I got a prop. The next generation (which I still use sometimes) is a modified open box table. This replaces the background set. I still use the Cocktail table and plume stand.

I am not a dancer and do want to pretend to be one. I know where my props are and every move is with a purpose. The hardest part is what to do with the produced articles when produced. It has taken almost 30 years to hone this act down. The good part is with prop magic, you can concentrate on the patter and not stress about the manipulation. Manipulation is wonderful if you have the time to rehearse. I don't as do many people. Once you learn a prop's mechanics, now you can get creative with the storyline and concentrate on the audience. Often guys look at my act and say it is just box magic. Exactly. And anyone can do it. But to make it look good and entertain, takes thinking and some practice like everything else.

'This is a great topic. One should never rule out prop magic as it often looks the same to the audiences as far as the effect.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Frank Simpson
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The key phrase I see in Richard's answer is "...every move is with a purpose." This is what can keep such a presentation from simply being a parade of hardware. When all is said and done, it is the performer who will make the difference. Two magicians could perform an identical set of effects with one thoroughly entertaining his audience and the other boring them to tears. Showmanship is EVERYTHING!
Bill Hegbli
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Than you Richard and Frank for your responses.

I often thought maybe instead of a table for every trick, it might be just as good to have a serving tray to replace the table. The trays could be in order on a long banquet or meeting table, and each pick up and placed on the main center stage table. Then replaced and the next brought forward. Maybe instead of the long table being long side to audience the ends were facing the audience, thus you could step backwards without turning your back to the audience. True you path could get long when it get toward the end of the table. Then again, having one on each side could lesson some of that travel. Today shows have to be 45 minutes to an hour, which could mean a lot of prop tricks.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
hugmagic
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The problem with a tray is it still must be cleared or moved. With proper prop management, an open box table that has a projecting shelf to the sides or front works well. Then you are simply going into the box and replacing the first prop while taking out the second. Or you can have a dump box or can to discard into and repack later. Using a stage set to work the at lets you incorporate the design to facilitate the use of props.

A 45 minute show is going to be rough with only prop. A couple of audience participation things will add to the time. Things like Linking Rings (with two spectators), Miser Dream, 20th century, Card Across, etc., will all add to the time without significant increase in props. It is kind of like an illusion show. It is very hard to do an hour illusion show without some smaller in one pieces. Even the old timers used the smaller stuff. The key is to develop memorable routines that engage the audience. Otherwise, you would need three semi trucks full to do an hour show.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Chessmann
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I think a fascinating presentation might be a themed show of - I'm sure someone can find a better phrase for it than I will here Smile - magical *items* obtained from around the world.

Obviously, the performance would need to focus on the entertainment more than the items, but I have never had a problem with 'prop magic', and always love a little back story/history on the items I'm looking at...even if the back story isn't really true Smile

In the right hands and presented well, I would love to see something along these lines.
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
john wills
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Talking about apparatus magic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl......Yi_rulVQ
I have fond memories of the act of The Keeners.
Much apparatus, but a very professional performance!
Dick Oslund
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ANY magic trick uses props. Even a mentalist uses "simple" props.(Possible exception: Meir Yedid's "handies"!)

A TT is a PROP! (the audience never (?) sees it, BUT, A TT IS A (SPECIALIZED) PROP. A 12" silk is a prop. A deck of cards is a prop! A botania is a prop, Chinese Sticks are props. A Chinese Chopper is a prop. GEOMETRICK is a prop.

If I understand Bill's thinking, he is thinking of LARGE PROPS, as compared to small props. --Boxes, tubes, and bags!

Harry Blackstone Sr. trouped his show of "1001 Wonders" in a railroad box car. When we saw the show in 1945, my dad thought that the Dancing Handkerchief was the best trick in Harry's show. --and Harry didn't even have to pack the handkercief! He BORROWED it! Harry also did the Dream of Princess Karnak. The "levi" required a CREW of men, half a day, or more, to set it. Was it worth that effort? Ask anyone who saw it!!!

Does a grand piano produce better music than a violin! IT'S THE ARTIST, NOT THE INSTRUMENT! --Victor Borge! Jascha Heifetz!

Nate Leipzig used mainly a deck of cards. T. Nelson Downs had a hat and a handful of coins. Houdini vanished an elephant. Thurston vanished an automobile. -- SHOWMANSHIP!

IMHO the size of the prop has no relationship to the entertainment produced. It's the artist. THE PERFORMER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PROP!

YES! Frank Simpson: The performer's presentation, plus his S H O W M A N S H I P!!! is what produces ENTERTAINMENT!!!

The performer who uses "boxes and tubes" and the performer who uses coins, cards, silks and/or rope, each have self evident "challenges" or "problems" to be concerned about.

Either performer must be able to ENTERTAIN, using his chosen "tools". Let's never forget that MAGIC IS NOT INHERENTLY ENTERTAINING. The performer must,using his particular abilities and SHOWMANSHIP, make the performance ENTERTAINING.

So, Bill, I think that it would be much harder to do a "boxes & tubes" type of prop act, considering the typical conditions that face performers today.
Just having enough room to set prop tables in the average performing space is a big challenge. Privacy to allow "setting" and "loading" is often unavailable. As already noted above, just the challenge of moving props "on and off" can be almost insurmountable.

When a principal asks what I need, I reply: "A flat spot to stand on, and an audience facing me!" --and that is not always easy to get!!!

In my chosen market,it was necessary to design and produce a show that could play virtually anywhere for almost anybody. It was commercially successful for years. The props for the 45 minute program weighed slightly over 20 lbs, and the complete show could be set in about 4 minutes. Packing up and moving out needed about 2 minutes.

I used these criteria in selecting the tricks to include: VISUAL EFFECT, VISIBLE PROP, VERSATILE EFFECT (AND PROP), ANGLE PROOF PROP, RECOGNIZABLE PROP, PROP NEEDS LITTLE--OR NO--SET UP, NO TABLE NEEDED, SPOT ADAPTABLE, PACKS SMALL AND LIGHT, AND PLAYS BIG. I'm going to explain in detail, those criteria,in my book.

I would never look "down" on a magician who prefers boxes and tubes. De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum. Each os us must find his own "way".
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Bill Hegbli
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Dick, I understand, but this guy went to Abbott's and they sold him $5000 in magic boxes, books, DVDs and silks and he wants to do a magic show with them. He does not want to Pack Small and Play Big, he want to Pack Big and heavy and Play Big, he even bought an extended van to drive to his events. He told me he wants to feel like he is giving his client his money's worth. He thinks if the only had a few dollars invested he cannot charge more then a few dollars for a show.

Dick if you don't have any suggestions that is okay, but to follow Opera's classic line that every person has to find his own purpose in life is kind of saying, I have no idea - and don't want to play. The Café is a place where magicians help magicians, not telling them to just figure it out on their own.

He got the largest Die Box they make, a Silk Cabby, Jap Box, Multiplying Bottles, Mutilated Parasol, Canary Cage, Lion and Cobra, Abbott's Cage Transformation, Abbott's Cube On Release, Hathaway Handkerchief Cabinet, etc. Just to many to list them all, but you should get the idea.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
billappleton
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I have trays that fit my table. I set up each tray back stage and bring them on and off, one at a time. This involves all kinds of bad stuff like turning your back to the audience, being gone for a second, etc. But I can load up some pretty volatile stuff like liquids, animals, fire, etc. and it all goes off just fine. Except for the pauses when the trays move.
Frank Simpson
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Something worth thinking about is that props can add a value to a show in the same way that scenery adds to a play. If well-designed, they bring another level of delight to the visual aspect of the show. Having all the show's props displayed throughout could look like a stage setting unto itself, or it could look like a cluttered mess. It takes a discerning eye to create a compelling picture on stage, whether with props, assistants, or the performer himself.

A stage full of props can be a lot of fun! But so can a blank stage. Look at plays such as The Phantom of the Opera, renowned for it's opulent scenery and gigantic falling chandelier, vs. Our Town which has very little, if any scenery. Both are incredibly compelling shows, each designed to produce a specific look and feel. They are the product of design.
Dick Oslund
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I'm back!

When I said ..."each of us must find his own way." I was trying to point out that, no matter how much you or I or anyone has attempted to advise some guy, he may listen, but,eventually, he will need to make up his own mind. We can advise, coach,& mentor, but when it comes to making the decision, it's up to him. (None of us can dictate!) I have, more than once, spent an hour composing and writing a letter to someone in the Café. I think that I have credentials! But, it was apparent, from his reply, thatI had wasted my time. His mind was "made up" and he didn't want me to confuse him with facts!

I'm sorry to hear that the guy spent so much for a bunch of "boxes and tubes". It appears that he went in to the shop suffering with the delusion that he could buy a magic show.

On the wall in the Showmen's League clubhouse in Chicago hangs a sign, and it perhaps explains the situation. It says in large block letters: "You cannot smarten up a chump!"

Maybe he was lucky that they didn't sell him $10,000 worth of "boxes and tubes". It's not your fault that he is delusional.

A fool and his money are soon parted" is an old, but, too true proverb.

I've seen "magicians" (no doubt,you have too) whose presentation "told" the audience that if they had "that boz" they could do that. Maybe this guy saw one of those "magicians"!

The only advice I might offer this guy is: "Open a magic shop (you already have the stock!) and try to unload the stuff on someone else.!" Hee Hee

I always advise young magicians that they should NEVER go into a magic shop, and ask, "What's new?" The guy behind the counter will immediately go into "selling mode", and you know what's going to happen!

I suspect that not only is he a chump, he is also "invincibly ignorant". --i.e. his mind is made up! don't try to confuse him with facts!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Bill Hegbli
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All I can say is that there was a traveling carnival here in town years ago. I was surprised to see a magician with his assistant performing on a flat bed stage. After his short performance, I introduced myself and we went to his trailer and had a nice conversation. All the magic he did came straight from Abbott's. It was all stock items. Their act was exceptionally good, put to music he dubbed there in his trailer. It was so good, I went back the next night to see them again. I can only remember the Mutilated Parasol. Being he had a lady assistant, it was a team and she was exceptional to keep everything moving.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
hugmagic
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Bill,
I understand what this gentleman is thinking, though I do not completely agree with it. He obviously needs direction on this but it is hard offer much that will help with such general information. There are so many things to consider...Does he feel comfortable using patter? Does comedy fit his style. Does he use an assistant. Lot of questions.

One thought is to use a wheel case. I mean a physical case like an ATA case but on made of plastic which is lighter. Some of these case have a variety of drawers in them and a table that folds out. He could set something like this and use a flash cloth over it to dress it up.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
JNeal
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This has been a fascinating thread! I remember visiting Charlie Miller once at his place and he was repacking his cases to do a cruise booking. Now Charlie was an expert at sleight of hand, but equally an expert at apparatus magic...and his act had plenty of it! Amongst the props; rice bowls, mutilated parasol, coin bucket, stamp album and hank box (as a vanisher of stamps!) were about a half a dozen plastic Caféteria trays.

I asked him what the purpose of the trays were, and as you clever members might surmise, he had them numbered and each was to hold one of the effects all set up backstage. Then he would hire a ship's dancer to bring him the trays in sequence... as he called for them. Of course, he was meticulous in detail and set up the trays himself. but to the audience, it looked like he only had one tray... and a well trained assistant!

Not a perfect solution to the situation as outlined above...but one that worked for Charlie!

Personally, I love apparatus effects and would love to put more into my show...if not for the weight and space issues in transporting them. Okito always said that creating a trick was easy, learning a trick was easy...and building a trick was easy...but coming up with a way to move and pack it efficiently.... well that is often a more difficult proposition.
visit me @ JNealShow.com
Payne
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The trick is not to end up looking like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0VcOcG4l18
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Dick Oslund
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Master Payne>>>

Carl Ballantine would have been rolling in the aisles!

At first, I didn't realize that it was a "cod" act! --Wasn't it?

He must wear out a pair of shoes at every performance!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dick Jarrow sent me a list of "compliments" he used when he visited a bad show, and it was necessary to go backstage and "say something" to the magician, who knew Dick was in the audience.

Here's a few samples:

GOOD isn't the word! Words can't describe a show like yours That was a show I'll never forget! I can't remember when I've seen a show like yours....That was some show....Now I know why everyone is talking about you...


Posted: Jul 2, 2014 06:00 am JNeal>>>

I never got to know Charlie WELL! But, the few times we met were great experiences! --Especially an occasion in Wichita. Conrad Haden, Harry Schilling, Charlie, and myself. We had an entire afternoon! That night he did his routine with Al Baker's Rice Bowls. (I'm still laughing, and that was 40 years ago!)

I was a "regular inhabitant" of Charlie's "suite" at Jay's, and Jay and I had many conversations about the honorable Mr. Miller!

Okito was right! I remember having a Merv Taylor Suitcase Table built (back in the '60s--when they were no longer 'on the market".) I took a few weeks off to go deer hunting after it arrived. I never saw a deer! I spent the vacation, sitting in a blind and working out in my head, where each prop would "go". I started using it a month later, and my "plan" worked. Yes!!! The "logistics" are as much a challenge as the performance!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
hugmagic
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Boy, did JNeal and Dick hit a nerve. I have been doing the act for almost 30 years in one form or another. I have spent the last 20 years learning how to pack it down.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Bill Hegbli
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Richard, don't let it bother you, just listen to the latest Ken Kelly Podcast by a guy who does Illusions at his school shows.

Take a listen if you have an hour to kill.

http://www.magicianbusiness.com/educational-magic/

David Ginn also did large prop or apparatus tricks in his school shows. What it been something like 40 or more years of school shows.

There is a difference when you are working for a merciless agent that demands you do 3 and 4 shows a day in different towns and cities and when you have control over your own schedule.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
JNeal
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Dick Oslund- You had me rolling jn the aisles with the "Jarrow non compliments'

Here's a couple more that float around: "I've never seen you better..." "Only you could come up with that..."
visit me @ JNealShow.com
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