INSIDE THE CARDS: Joker the newest, wildest card in modern deck

April 14th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General, Products


INSIDE THE CARDS: Joker the newest, wildest card in modern deck

One of the more enigmatic cards in the deck is the joker. Its designs far exceed the Aces of Spades that usually command a deck’s attention. Jokers can be sublte or strange, restrained or resplendent, workman or wonderful. Though we’ve long been known for our killer designs for Aces, we have always been partial to the joker card, because of how we contributed to the card’s evolution in the deck.

A little history first: The common suits in a deck of playing cards are French in origin — spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds are variations of the tarot deck’s batons (wands), cups, swords and coins (pentacles). The French streamlined the tarot’s four court cards per suit to three — the jack, queen and king.

But the joker isn’t from the tarot.

Read more

FOUR POINTS: Pursuits of magic, music have much in common

April 4th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: Pursuits of magic, music have much in common

We’ve met so many magicians, illusionists, sleight-of-hand artists and other performers that we’ve lost count of the times we’ve lost count. Some of them have successful magic careers, some just love performing. All of them are incredible.

And we can’t help but notice all the things that they have in common: They are largely outgoing, have no problem talking to anyone anytime, are creative and so much more.

One of the less common things we’ve seen that magicians have in common is a deep connection to music. Not every magician might know an arpeggio from an allegretto, but most seem to have a strong sense of rhythm and tone. Whether they choose music for a show or play music on their own, magicians just have an ear for music.

It got us thinking exactly what makes magicians and musicians mesh so closely.

Read more

Never left magic: Raymond Singson kept performing during service in Marines

March 31st, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Never left magic: Raymond Singson kept performing during service in MarinesThe U.S. Marine Corps is one of the toughest branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Standards for admission are higher. Marines are members for life, and pride themselves on being “disciplined, professional warriors”; the best of the best.

“So it was always really fun to see that stoic facade fall apart when they were amazed by something,” said Raymond Singson. “I worked with Marine Drill Instructors for the past three years. These are some of the hardest, most intimidating men the Marine Corps ever trained. They are responsible for making men out of boys and getting them ready for the challenges of war. Despite that, some of my favorite memories in magic were making these drill instructors scream and giggle at each other like children by doing magic for them.”

Before Singson served as a Marine Officer, stationed in places such as San Diego, South Carolia, Iraq and Afghanistan, he was a magician featured in Kard Klub and earned a reputation for redefining reveals in Stained Skin. He has rejoined Ellusionist as lead forum manager and content writer. You’ll see him on our Performance HQ Forums, on the Ellusionist Blog and more.

He got his start in magic early, with a copy of “Royal Road to Card Magic” that he bought at 10 years old with his own money. That led to a key moment with his dad that cemented his love of magic.

“Everything about that orange, hardcover book exuded mystery to me,” he said. “I remember legitimately fooling my dad for the first time. It was such a rush, it was like a power trip. When first starting out in magic, I wanted to experience that over and over again.”

But what really made Raymond connect with getting a reaction was inspiration from David Copperfield. Before seeing the legendary stage magician, he had an idea that magic was just a method for fooling people, but Copperfield showed the power of emotion, and how it bolstered the rush from performing.

“It’s not until you experience magic a different way — GOOD magic — to acknowledge that it’s art,” Raymond said. “For me, that was Copperfield. After seeing Copperfield, I knew magic could be a worthwhile emotional experience for people. I also knew it was something I’d do for the rest of my life.”

Never left magic: Raymond Singson kept performing during service in MarinesTrue to his word, magic has remained an important part of Raymond’s life — even as a Marine. Care packages always included playing cards, so he was able to keep up his chops and make jaws drop. No matter where he was stationed, he always performed for fellow Marines, locals, anyone. Those performances, for him, highlighted how “human and dynamic” everyone is — even in the face of one-dimensional portrayals of servicepeople and citizens.

“Magic strips away so many layers and just reveals an awesome innocence in people,” Raymond said. “I performed magic for Marines as well as the locals, and it was really interesting to see how similarly they all responded when they saw magic. Regardless of rank, culture or background, magic reminds us that we’re all equals at some level. Not many performance arts do that.”

Lately, mind-reading and mentalism has snared his attention. Influenced by the work of Derren Brown, he’s been diving into Annemann and other work. With a drive to study how to get in someone’s head and challenge core beliefs about the way the world works, Ray is enjoying the exploration.

“After performing close-up magic for 15+ years, I really appreciate how people respond to mind-reading so dynamically,” he said. “Even today, epople still legitimately believe in the possibility of psychics and the paranormal. So phenomena like mind-reading feels much more possible and real to people, and I enjoy that because it really facilitates a human connection.”

Ollie Mealing: The unique creative process that led to moves in Control

March 10th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Ollie Mealing: The unique creative process that led to moves in Control

About 10 months ago, Ellusionist introduced Ollie Mealing’s Control — 11 controls infused with finesse, refinement and class. The collection of beautiful, natural sleights represents a brilliant combination of skill and magic that lets audiences appreciate the beauty of card handling without spoiling the mystery.

The project was his Ellusionist debut — soon after filming that project in Toronto, he was hired by Derren Brown to work on his “Infamous” tour. Despite a packed schedule of working with Brown and filming new performances, he got a chance to recall a bit about the filming of Control and one of the biggest lessons in creativity that can be learned from it.

It’s been more than two years since I flew to Toronto, yet it still feels like yesterday! After a long flight, you can imagine how nice it must have been to be greeted at the airport (two hours late) by Ellusionist’s very own cinematographer extraordinaire, fantastic magician and dear friend Peter McKinnon. I still haven’t forgiven him.

The next few days consisted of shooting, sightseeing, laughing at Pete’s ridiculous (in a good way) anecdotes and generally being pleasantly introduced to new ways of life and the Canadian dream! (Something to do with loyalty to Tim Hortons and escaping rush hour.)

So on to the point of this post, the project itself — how the controls came to fruition and a few things which up until now I haven’t previously mentioned.

Read more

Made to ‘shake foundations’: Justin Miller’s BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effects

March 7th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Artist Interviews


Made to shake foundations: Justin Millers BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effects

Maybe it started when he was performing in Las Vegas with Lance Burton’s show at the Monte Carlo. Maybe it was when he delivered his first magic lecture at 13, or managed a magic shop at 15. Maybe it started during his first shows, held in his garage when he was 7.

Justin Miller really can’t point to a time when he hasn’t had a fearless attitude about magic.

“It did not come overnight, but it did come easily for me,” Miller said. “I have no idea why; it just did. That’s not to say that in the beginning, 13 years old or so, that I was not shaking every time I performed for anyone, because I most definitely did!”

The more he performed, the more confident he grew in what he showed. That confidence bred an attitude to try anything and everything in order to get more astonishing reactions.

Read more