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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Which cups, which balls, which wand? (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Lee Gazlay
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I have a Magician's Wand - Brown with Brass Tips. It has a solid feel, is weighty and well balanced. Very professional looking (fine finished brown wood, brass tips, and brass center ring where it separates into two halves). It's great for spins. Best of all, it's relatively inexpensive.

-Lee
ZachDavenport
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Where did you get it?
Reality is a real killjoy.
jakeg
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I was using a wand that was a roll of cardboard that cane on a wire hangar from the cleaners. Never heard a complaint about it, didn't ding my 60 year old set of cheap copper cups either.
A few years ago, I saw a YouTube post of a busker in an airport do a routine with 3 plastic bathroom cups. I really liked it and wish that I had saved it.
ymumagic
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Hey Lee, welcome to the Café!

I use Ammar's wand, it has an incredible feel.
If you can't find it you can try to contact him through his website, which is what I did.
Lee Gazlay
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Hi ZachDavenport, I got my wand on Amazon. It's made by Magic Makers.

Hi ymumagic, thanks for the warm welcome! I believe my wand is the same as Ammar's wand.

-Lee
ymumagic
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Your welcome Smile

If so then you are in good shape.
Pirouz
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3 red Solo cups, 4 rolled up napkins and a wooden mixing spoon.
Pirouz
TheAmbitiousCard
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But you'd have to have a routine that works with 3 solo cups.
i'm not sure all routines would be a match for those cups.
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Oz62
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I think I have the same stainless steel cups you have. I think they're pretty good for the money but I got two complains:

- They are a little too light. When you cover the individual balls, you have to be very careful not to knock off the adjacent cups.
- The bottom of the cup is not wide enough to balance three monkey fist balls easily.. I do it, but I have to be very slow revealing three on the top of the bottom of the cup, otherwise one rolls off the cup.

That's being said, those are the only cups I have and they work ok. I use the tango wand and find it slightly too long, but that is completely subjective.
Mad Jake
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Sherwood. and Sherwood and Sherwood.
For quality Paul Fox Cups spun on Danny Dew's Paul Fox tooling visit us at www.airshipmagic.com
Al Kazam the Magic Man
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Sherwood = $$$ Sherwood = $$$ and Sherwood = $$$$$

Plus the manipulation balls = $$

Plus their load balls = $$$

All up I have 2 sets of cups, 8 load balls, and 8 manipulation balls = I can't see myself ever using anything else = Much happiness. Smile
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
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Also on Facebook
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Lawrence O
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I respectfully disagree with both Dick Oslund and Montana76 and think that my friend, Bill Palmer, even though his advice are very pertinent, is falling short in his sharing of his huge experience. Here is why:

There are many types of magicians performing in many various circumstances. Some are more wealthy, some are less, and this conditions to some degree the type of audience they perform for.

However the common point is that we all perform for spectators. Therefore what counts to make a nice routine is to SHARE some magic rather than SHOW.
“Younger” magicians with less experience, who came to magic to gain a social recognition, that was frustrated in an earlier part of their lives, have an urge to “show” and demonstrate their skill. Hence, (IMHO), Dick Oslund and Montana76 misconception “It’s about the performer, not the props”. This tends to express a notion of challenge of the “catch me if you can type”. However as the professor use to repeat “where there is challenge, there is no magic”. In my analyzed experience, the ego centered “young” magician performs “magic jugglery” but in his audience there is not the slightest doubt about the fact that this is not magic happening in such acts, it’s the performer that fools them.

My contempt is that what primarily counts is SHARING MAGIC with an audience. Then the character or protagonist (not the performer which cannot be the performer as a person to avoid a social challenge) becomes important because he is the one in which the audience and the performer share to project into. Then, naturally, the props have to be consistent with the character.

Bill Palmer for example enacts the very set character of a wizard performing in fairs and shares with the spectators the feeling that middle age by-stander would FEEL when watching such a wizard. Many street magicians, making money with their knowledge, go along that route brilliantly or poorly.
Some other magicians perform as amateurs and, since “amare” in Latin means “to love” an art without practicing it for economical reasons, it’s no pejorative term. Some of them are excellent magicians: John Ramsay was a grocer and he was using silver painted cardboard cups for which he had adapted his moves (including the way to take hold of the cups). He was performing mainly for magicians and his character was still the one of a grocer (matching his short and thick hands).

Bob Read was mainly performing for his professional circle of cloth commercial traders and therefore needed to maintain an impromptu and casual feel to share his magic. Hence each of his cups for his Penultimate cups and balls, was totally (and intentionally) different from one another. The Professor for his (less known) impromptu routine was using glasses covered with newspaper. Alciphron, the first recorded C&Bs performer in antique Greece, was performing with pebbles (contrasting with the white backdrop of his clothes as Bill is indicating). Lots of the impromptu performer in this category perform sitting (kind of like Tony Slydini) as standing in front of close friends or assimilated would seem conceited.

Life treated some performers better (economically) born in more expensive places and they naturally perform in their richer circles (who pay more for good magic, by the way). Therefore it makes sense for them to use nicer looking cups like the beautiful Sherwood cups, but I’ve been performing for decades –and before Sherwood came with his beautiful cups in such circle at the highest level with Paul Fox heavy spun steel cups (or, in some instances, with a common drinking transparent glass and a Renaissance cup, hand made by the Italian jeweller “Buccellati” –not concerned with magicians and at a cost way over the Sherwood cups- of which Bill Palmer’s museum holds one.) The Professor having become famous and performing in better paying social circle or on TV paid shows, was using -for performing Jean Caroly’s 1902 published routine and having only added 1905 Silent Mora’s wand spin-, some beautifully engraved silver cups.

As to the balls, the rule is the same: how are they going to be perceived by the audience sharing a magic moment with the performer in watching the character in action? For impromptu situations Charlie Miller was suggesting crumpled bills (as mentioned in this thread) but this would look really “cheap” and “poor taste” in an executive venue. Ed Marlo did suggest the use of crumpled aluminum foil: it looks impromptu, it’s shiny, it contrasts with the backdrop. John Carney uses grapes… Michael Skinner used tea cups and cherries…
Now for a street performer, using monkey fists or small baseball or cricket balls, makes a perfect sense in the audience’s MIND… and Magic is not about deceiving the eye but deceiving the MIND. Only beginners and newbies are primitively after the recognition of their skill. When the technique can be felt behind an art, it’s no longer an art but a craft.
All of this isn’t sufficient to explain what is the most important in a C&Bs act. So let’s get there: it takes first a SCRIPT with some form of a STORY. The story has a protagonist attempting something paradoxical against a much more powerful antagonist, and to be shared needs to be emotional.

There is an infinite choice of protagonists (which restricts as suggested the choice of cups and the choice of balls). Ricky Jay introduced himself as an historian of the noble art showing in sequence several types of sets with different types of effects to illustrate how the C&Bs evolved in history. Johnny Thompson makes a very credible vocal evocation for magicians of Max Malini, Charlie Miller, Dai Vernon…
Pop Haydn is a XIX century southern swindler… Bill Palmer and Master Payne figure wizards around the end of the middle age…

Then there must be an antagonist stronger than the protagonist (otherwise the protagonist wouldn’t need magic to save him from the impossibilities presented). The antagonist can be a person referred to (like the authorities –police, sheriffs…- against swindlers, or scientists fighting like Houdini, the illusions of magicians or swindlers, or religious fanatics torturing jesters to make sure that they were not doing devilish deeds…). They can also be extremely established concepts, confirmed by experience (like transpositions or a solid going through a solid are impossible –which, by the way, is the reason why having shifted the old effect of the cup through cup into a gag not making anyone laugh or smile, should possibly be reconsidered.)

Then the story needs a thread with a suspense: spectator have ot be kept in the expectation as to whether and how the protagonist will succeed not to be defeated by the antagonist (and naturally it will ultimately be thanks to the help of “magic”, whatever it is). Simple demonstration of successive effects isn’t sufficient and soon gets against the problem of the duration of the act. When a story is fascinating and carried by a suspense, spectators don’t want to know the end in advance and would certainly not like to be sure about the end (exactly like the end of each chapter of a very good novel or of each episode of a good series on TV bring THEIR OWN SURPRISES).
This is not a series of effects quickly chained by a “performer” who wants to show off just because he feels he can. Past the first surprises, no matter how skillful the magician, this soon becomes offensive (especially to ladies) and boring.


But when the story is really interesting, bringing surprises after expectations, humor after tension, like Master Paynes’ routine or Kent Gunn’s blue language one, the routine is always too short (even if, as we learned from Robert-Houdin, we should “leave them wanting more”.) What makes a routine interesting, is best explained in Kenton Knepper’s small booklet Rants into Raves and Miracles of Suggestion. We are not preacher explaining life to idiots (in many instances lots of spectators are smarter than we are) nor carpet sales people putting their material on display one after the other. We claim to be artists

Therefore a good script has to be ACTED in a personal way, not just be told (if the performer is of the rare species who have a well rehearsed meaningful script). Why? Because another aspect has to be considered: the ACTING TALENT of the performer to give life to the protagonist as well as to the antagonist, and create doubt and expectation along the story. People like Gazzo or Cellini don’t really have an exceptional routine (except for the watermelon as last large load), but they know how to interact with the audience: they can ACT

In conclusion, the choice of cups, the choice of balls, the choice of large load, need only to be consistent with the ACT and concur to its being shared with an appropriate audience… but “it’s not the performer”, it’s not even “the effects”, it’s the SHARING of magical moments with an audience thanks to a riveting story offered by a great actor knowing how to vary his voice, create a convincing body language….

I apologize to the ones who thought they had a good routine just because they could fool some people around: for normal non magicians audiences IT'S NOT FUN TO BE FOOLED.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
Bill Palmer
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Etienne is possibly overstating my wisdom, knowledge or experience. I could have written more, but I felt that this particular thread didn't call for it. I gave the bare bones of selecting a set of cups, balls and a wand.

I basically touched only upon the mechanics of selecting the props without considering the spiritual experience of performing for an audience. Etienne fairly well nailed it. It's a matter of sharing the magic with the audience.

Some of you may be laboring under the delusion that people enjoy being fooled. As Etienne has pointed out, for normal non-magicians, it's not fun to be fooled. This is especially true if the performer has an attitude that conveys the idea that he knows he is smarter than the audience, and that's why he is able to fool them. There is a saying in Spanish -- Ningun gusta un burro intelligente. On the other hand, if the performer allows himself to become the victim of his cockiness, he may be able to gain some sympathy from the audience.

I recently wrote a new lecture which I have been doing at music conventions called How to be a More Effective Performer. It's based upon the premise that at a certain point, a performer may have the proper skill set to play many pieces of music perfectly, but somehow is not able to make the audience appreciate what he is doing. It's also called the World's Shortest Lecture. The entire lecture is one word -- Namaste.

When I give the lecture, I introduce it with the last three sentences in the above paragraph. I say the word, thank the audience and begin to walk off stage. I pause, look at the audience and say, "Evidently, nobody in this audience speaks Hindi. That's not a problem. I'll translate it for you. "Namaste" is used very much like the word "Aloha" is used in Hawaiian. However, the actual meaning of the word is "My soul greets your soul." And that, my friends, is what entertainment is all about.

From that point, I explain how to make the audience like you, how to present yourself, how to present your tools (whether it's a saxophone or a thin model sawing, there isn't much difference!) I give them a few tips on showmanship (most of them have no idea what that is in the first place!) and some tips on why certain theatrical rules and traditions are important to observe.

But the big thing is this -- if you are going to perform for an audience, the first thing you must do, before you even step out on the stage is convey to them by your facial expressions, your gestures and your body language that you love them. If you do that, they will love you back. Granted, you need to know how to do your material. That has to be so well ingrained into your being that you don't have to think about what comes next, what sleight you are doing or any of that other background static that can kill a performance.

You also need to believe that what you are doing is really magical. If you don't, your inborn magician's guilt will betray your duplicity.

In Fourth Dimensional Mysteries and Farewell Performance Punx discusses the difference between what he calls false magicians and real magicians. One aspect of this is that false magicians are more interested in the latest gimmick, gadget or doo-dad, while real magicians are more interested in producing art that touches the hearts of the audience.

Each artist has his own way of doing this, but the principles are the same for all of us.

Thanks for pointing these things out, Etienne!
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Wizard of Oz
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Two fabulous posts Lawrence O and Bill Palmer. Thank you.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
cosermann
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Quote:
On Dec 26, 2016, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Two fabulous posts Lawrence O and Bill Palmer. Thank you.


Such posts are exactly why I lurk around here.
Regards,
Eric
Al Schneider
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Just thought I would toss in a few cents here.

Most of my work lately has been in coffee shops. Usually one that is near where I live. I find it odd that so much about the appearance of the props is discussed. Just performing seems to define that for me. I have a table set up for me in the back of the shop. Just a small space. Curiously, my props are like a junk yard, they lay all over the table. I essentially chat with customers and pick up something and do it. I don’t put stuff away or get it out of some kit beside me. Takes to much time. Most of the material is not gimmicked. That which is hides in an easily accessible pocket. People often pick up one of my props during a “chat.” Sometimes that drives the “show.”

It seems this thread has merged to performance attitudes. Here is a thought I presented at a lecture at a convention in Minneapolis. There are two kinds of performance styles: interesting and interested. Interesting performers attempt to be, well, interesting. They want the audience to look at them as if they are special. (= boring) The interested performer is interested in the welfare of the audience. The interested performer presents some “effect” the audience can become engrossed in or attached to. The interesting performer attempts to communicate with the audience using the force of voice. An interested magician tends to communicate with his or her magic.

When I perform I enjoy the audience looking at some effect that happened on the table or in their hands. Often, I feel as if I am ignored as the audience looks at the effect with wonder. It is my habit that when revealing the result of some magic event, I retreat from the scene and allow the audience to be alone with some magic result. This is done with appropriate body language. (example: don't look at them, lean back, etc) After that, I return to “take my bow.” And I always think that I bow to the audience as they are the final judge.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
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