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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » John Calvert's Spirit Cabinet (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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dsilverfield
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I am working on a new show. That is why I keep asking questions about Illusions like Windshear and this one. I saw this on Hocus pocus for about 500$.
I know the Falkenstein and Willard version with the coat and I guess the same can be used to throw objects. What I want to know is is there more I would learn or is there some electronics involved or am I paying for a similar secret and a routine? Owners please help.
Thanks
alekei
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I learned from Falkenstein the Spirit Cabinet Basics, and I think that's enough. Mixing it with a little of creativity, in my opinion, it is not necessary to pay 500$ for the same illusion, even if the method is different.

I don't know the John Calvert version. So I can't say if it is good or not. What really matters is the final illusion, not the method.

Just my opinion.

Regards,

Alejandro
Harry Murphy
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Man, there are absolutely no electronics involved in the Spirit Cabinet routine. It is exactly what it seems. The Spirit Tie is the real secret to the routine. It can be found in several old books, for example try “Rope Ties and Chain Releases” (46 pages) by Burling Hull. It’s still in print and over 70 years old.

This is a technically easy routine and potentially funny. It is NOT a one-person routine. It is best performed with the “medium” tied up and in the cabinet and a person outside to insure that audience helpers are well managed. Minimally, two audience helpers are needed and two performers. It really fills a stage and can make a small show look big.

Well acted and with a fast paced routine it can be very entertaining. The punch at the finale of the person inside the cabinet having their pants pulled up, their shoes taken off, their jacket reversed onto the performer, and a bucket on their head gives a nice, visual, and funny ending to the routine.

I doubt if the methodology of the Willard and the Calvert versions differ to any great degree. Alejandro is right on the money when he says that it is the final illusion that is what matters.

PVC pipe and a couple of heavy bed sheets for drapes cost next to nothing and can give you a very nice cabinet. The other props are also cheap and easy to assemble. If you know the secret the whole thing can be put together for around a hundred dollars.

However, I must say that Mr. Calvert does all the work for you. He gives you a very well made and professional looking cabinet. It’s made to breakdown and to set-up easily and quickly, something that most homemade versions don’t do. He gives some other props and teaches the Spirit tie and outlines the routine. Most importantly he gives you his routine, one that has been audience tested for over 50 years!

Is it worth $500.00? To me, yes! Frankly, It is worth twice the price. If you don't already know a good Spirit Cabinet and don't want to gather all the props yourself then this is the way to go.

Can you put this kind of act together cheaper? Absolutely! But why bother when you can get a working professional’s set-up with everything you will need to start rehearsing the act right away.

If you already know the Willard version or one of the dozen or so other versions out there you don't need another one. The bottom line is that they are all pretty much the same.
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Geoff Weber
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Harry Murphy is right on the money with this.. I can't add anything more to what he said, other than I plan to add John Calvert's spirit cabinet to my own show. There are no electronics, and nothing about a coat, so I guess this may be a different than F&W's?
dsilverfield
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Thank you so much for the input guys. I think I will work on the F&W routine and then of course gather the props. One more question to Mr Murphy. Is there any book that teaches the workings on pulling the spectators pants up and the shirt off?

Aleikei I have replied to your P.M.
Thanks
the Sponge
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Quote:
Is there any book that teaches the workings on pulling the spectators pants up and the shirt off?


LOL. Mr. Calvert lectured here in Atlanta recently. He performed this effect and I had the "pleasure" of being within the cabinet. The only thing I will say is that things happen so quickly I barely knew what was going on. LOL!

s
Harry Murphy
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If you know the tie, you know that you are free to move. You just do it! I have had the honor of being the victim in several different performers versions of the routine (including Mr. Calvert’s). I had a bucket sat on my head my pants pulled up and my shoes taken off and tossed out of the cabinet.

This routine truly makes a small show look big. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Learn it. Get an assistant and work it. This can be an act unto itself or a central feature in either a magic or mentalism/spiritualist show.

It is one of those things that I perform almost every Halloween (midnight spirit/spook show).

If you don’t already know a version, and you really want to add something like this to your act then I think that the cost ($500.00) is low.
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dsilverfield
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Thank you so much for the input Harry and the Sponge. I shall buy it from Hocus Pocus.
Thanks again.
MarkTripp
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I too bought it, but am unsure if the price is justified.

Yes, you get the cabinet, rope, a bucket, some stuff to throw, two music selections on cassette (that may not be legal to use in a public show), and a very short tape on the bare minimum of the routine.

Page 433 of the Abbott catalog #25 has their "Spirit Seance" routine which comes with ropes, stuff to throw, and a FAR better routine (using the exact same method) that runs 15 to 20 minutes, rather than the 2 or 3 that the Calvert Routine does. No, you don't get the curtain, and yes, the one from Hocus Pocus is very well made and folds very nicely.

Tarbell also has this method in more than one place (6 and 8 I think), and you can get a full set for less than $500.

TO ME, I felt it was a lot of money NOT to get a longer explanation on technique and performance instructions.

My advice, if you are not good at making things, is yes, get the materials from Hocus Pocus (be careful about the music), but get the Abbott Routine, and practice your butt off to have a showpiece that no one is doing....
Harry Murphy
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Frankly, you could read the description of a typical Spirit Cabinet act and go from there. All you really need to know is the tie.

I didn't get anything but the manuscript when I bought the Abbott's version years ago (in the early 70's). I don't think they had an option then. You paid the $8.00 or so and got a mimeographed manuscript. It detailed the tie, gave vague instructions on how to build the cabinet, and outlined the act. I doubt if you would want to have it run for 15 or 20 minutes. Eight to ten seems reasonable.

When I saw and participated in Calvert's version, it ran for about ten minutes (maybe a little less). Clearly it was longer than two minutes. Heck, it took longer than two minutes to tie the performer up.

I know five or six performers that regularly feature it in their shows. Most recently (Saturday July 24th) I watched it performed (and was onstage help) by Mike and Donna Snyder. They have a homemade cabinet using PVC pipe for the frame and drapery material for the curtains. Theirs was a lively, fast-paced, and fun routine. I actually did the tying and Donna performed the move totally invisibly! I know the tie, I use the tie, and I missed Donna doing the necessary move. By the way, I believe that they pretty much do the Abbott's version.

I believe Shimada's daughter recently performed a very short, almost impromptu version on a magic special on TV (maybe one of those "Worlds Greatest" shows).

This is not a one-person routine. It takes a minimum of four people to successfully pull it off and make it entertaining. Typically there is the magician, his/her assistant, and two spectators. One spectator will have several "things" happen to him.

What you need is a cabinet (or screen depending on your angles), two chairs, two lengths of rope, a bell, a tambourine, a horn, several metal pie pans, a bucket (plastic or metal), and two spectators to help. One spectator should have a jacket to borrow for one of the tricks.

Now if this is too much and you want to do a one-person type of spirit cabinet show then buy Abbott's "Rapps Cabinet Act." You will get plans to make the necessary things to work the act. It is a one-person show. I don't think it is as powerful as the full version we've been discussing.

Then you could always go very small and build a Daylight Séance act. No cabinet needed. There are plenty of spirit manifestations going on behind a small drape held by the performer.

You have plenty of options to perform this kind of thing. It does not have to cost a fortune.

I still believe that if you haven't a clue how to start performing this type of routine that the Calvert version will get you going. In fact, I would buy the Calvert and the Abbott's manuscript at the same time.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
MarkTripp
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Well, let's look at the tape that comes with it.

You make the speech about meeting a ghost.
You go find an audience member.
You are tied and both sit down.
Curtain up, stuff flies.
Curtain down, you are still tied.
Curtain up, more stuff flies.
Curtain down, guy has bucket on head, etc.

That is not going to take very long.

Abbott's has MANY spirit cabinet effects in the catalog. Now, go here:

http://www.abbottmagic.com/

Click on the catalog.

Now click on Spook Material, read the Spirit Seance effect and see if there isn't more bang for the buck there. Don't confuse it with the Rapp's Cabinet.

Again, if you aren't good at making stuff, then get the items from Hocus Pocus, but if you really want something no one is doing right now, the Abbott effect is worth the effort.
mattisdx
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Andrew Mayne has an effect of this. Smile Very cheap, very easy! Smile
Harry Murphy
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As Mark explains this is dead simple for such a big, stage-filling routine.

The only real expense is making the cabinet. Assembling a few props should not cost all that much.

Routine: Select two assistants from audience. This can be a dead spot so have them identified before you start. You want good reactors, people enjoying the show and at least one with a jacket.

One spectator ties up the performer (need two lengths of rope here). The other spectator helps and examines the knots.

Performer sits on chair, props in bucket on second chair. Two spectators rise up the drapes and bells ring, tambourines jangle, horns blow, and pans fly! Drape is dropped and spectators reexamine the knots and tie and verify the performer is still tied up.

Jacket is borrowed and placed on chair. Drape up and more pans fly, more noise is made and drape is dropped. The performer has the jacket on and is still tied (a total impossibility!!)

Spectator is invited to sit on chair beside performer, second spectator and assistant lift drape, more noise, more things tossed and when the drape is dropped the spectator sits with his shoes off and gone, his pants rolled up past his knees, and the bucket on his head.

Performer stands and is untied, jacket is given back to spectator, shoes are retrieved and both spectators given a big hand as they head back to their seats.

The act is much longer than two minutes and has plenty of action, mystery, and even a laugh or two. It doesn’t need to be much more than that but can be. Mark is spot-on when he says to explore the spook tricks in the Abbott’s catalogue (and other resources too).

In all, a big looking routine that does not have to be all that expensive.


I don't know a thing about Andrew Mayne's version. Andrew has a gift for digging in old phamplets and repackaging some nice old stuff. I suspect that he is simply repackaging the Abbott's routine.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
dsilverfield
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Mark Tripp and Harry Murphy,
You guys rock. Thank you so much for being very informative.
I am going to outline the script that I have.
I am going to talk about an Earthquake in India (that's where I come from), show a few pics on the Av screen, and talk about a little girl who was part of the school's choir. Apparently her body was never found. One of the pics has this outline of a little girl holding a doll. And the fun starts. As I am busy with the intro, things have been set up for me onstage which includes a base, a chair and a bar stool. The chair and the drape are from the school, or so I say (I know it sounds a bit like DC).
Curtains raised, things fly, curtains raised a second time, things fly and a little girl in white holding a doll appears next to me and vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Audience member joins, pants go up and for the climax, I float on the edge of the drape using the bar stool levitation.
I am going to work on a few books and I will also be using a sneaky method to pull off the manifestations. Call me lazy but I think the effect is what matters.
I would like to hear comments on this presentation.
Please feel free to advise.
Thanks.

*******

Mark Tripp, the Abbott's product sounds like what I need. I will order one. In the meanwhile are there any video tapes, CD's or DVD's that explain a Spirit Cabinet? BTW I can build them as I do have quite a bit of experience.
Thanks.
MarkTripp
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Harry,

I have the tape from Hocus Pocus, and just timed it. The routine as shown, IF we count the set up and audience finding, runs just around three minutes. I KNOW he has done more, but what will the person who has never seen the effect live know? On the tape only one person is brought up, again, not talking about what we have seen, but what is there.

Now, if you'd read the *** Abbott effect, Smile you'd see the following:

1. Card selected, signed, returned to deck, shuffled, and put in mouth (I just use the lap with a small tray on it). The cards fly over the top of the cabinet, with the selected card in the mouth of assistant, or flat on the tray.

2. Slate writing on examined slate, lighting fast.

3. Borrowed handkerchief is knotted by spectator, placed on lap or tray, up down, and the knots are gone! Again, lighting fast.

4. Watch is borrowed, tied in a sealed cloth bag. Placed on lap or tray. Up/down, and the bag is empty. If using smaller female assistant the watch is on her ankle! If not, on the wrist of the tied assistant!

5. Bells and tambourines making noise and flying out (building to a finish).

6. Examined cane (if possible from member of the audience but we found not many have one) floats over the top of the cabinet..and if you work at it, is a miracle because when you drop the curtian the cane is in mid air when it falls and the assistant is still tied and "out."

7. The finish is the same as on the Calvert tape.

Now, how do I say this kindly, how about let's let the readers in here decide which version is a "throw off" and which one is a feature act in a show?

I felt when I got the set-up from Hocus Pocus that way too much was left out, and as put together in what you got, the trick was an interesting puzzle that did not have the punch as the above.

The switching of methods, using those that even if the person was free they couldn't do in the one or two seconds of cover, takes this into being a miracle. I did this as written in the Houdini show I did for years, and it was a real killer.

I just want to share it with someone who wants to have the strongest effect possible.

*******

P.S.

The REAL reason for buying it from Hocus Pocus is that it is THEIR cabinet!

The darn thing folds in two places and then rolls up. Opens up into a big cabinet and you never take anything apart.

The ease of that set-up is worth the price IMHO.
Harry Murphy
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Mark, I totally agree with you! The Abbott’s manuscript gives you way more bang for your buck!

My cabinet is a clumsy affair made from PVC pipe and some black bed sheets. It takes several minutes to set up and several minutes to break down. I’d love to be able to buy just the Hocus-Pocus cabinet.

I think that the Hocus Pocus deal would have been sweeter if it had included a performance tape of Mr. Calvert performing the routine (actually showing several different performers doing their version would have been great!). A performance only tape/DVD would have been nice. It would let people see the rhythm and timing of the act.

I am surprised that more people don’t include this in their stage shows. It is one of the technically easiest bits to perform. It is easier than most box illusions and weighs less.

If you ever want to get rid of the Hocus Pocus cabinet let me know.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
spkrosky
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Just a question for those in the know -- Which version details the segment with the borrowed coat? I think that is the piece that is most amazing to an audience. I've seen it in Tarbell, but it isn't written up as part of the spook cabinet routine, so I'm not sure if the tie is the same, etc... Thanks for the help.
MarkTripp
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Neither of these do the coat.

Harry,

Not a chance babe!

I use it in the entire Houdini show for several bits.

Just too nice for words.

Sometimes Hocus Pocus will have sales or deals, watch and who knows.

I got mine for $400 that way...
Harry Murphy
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Hey Mark, Had to try! The cabinet sure looks nice in the photos at the website. It is way better than I could ever make. I’d hate to spend that much just for a cabinet set-up. If anyone out there has one they are absolutely not ever going to use let me know!

As to the coat gag, come on it is obvious! It is obvious, that is, to anyone who knows Gysel’s spirit tie (which is the backbone of this act!).

OK get your old Tarbell volume six out and check out page 309. Learn the Gysel spirit tie.

BUT (and a big BUT here folks) DON’T TIE THE ENDS TO THE CHAIR. Rather after the ends are knotted several times at your waist, have them brought up and wrapped around your neck/throat and tied in several more knots.

If you have someone do that for you now simply put on the coat! Yep, if you did it right you just put on the coat and cross your arms. I cannot be more specific here without giving the whole secret away. Do your homework, read the book, learn the tie and follow my simple instructions above. It will make sense when you do the tie correctly. Man, it is almost self-working!!!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
dsilverfield
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Thanks again for the input guys.
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