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.”

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.

Made to shake foundations: Justin Millers BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effectsJM is regarded as a pioneer in this new era of modern close-up magic on the Internet and the creator of a long list of well-reviewed effects. Despite those high marks, Miller’s biggest reputation is in performing fearlessly, courageously in a number of magician-unfriendly situations. Noisy bars. Busy streets. Dangerous districts. Miller takes ‘em all on.

It’s that drive to perform that powers The BOLD Project, filled with tricks that he said shouldn’t work, but do. Volume 1 was released this week; two more are due in the future.

Miller said that the project started from a passion to show the magic community the effects he uses on a daily basis — the ones that he relies on to produce POWERFUL reactions.

“These effects weren’t created to sell,” Miller said. “They were created to shake foundations and disturb thoughts.”

And he gets those results from a wide variety of spectators, from willing participants to downright ornery and difficult borderline hecklers.

For instance: During the first night of shooting the project in New York City, Team E was barely out the door when Miller spotted a loud group of six or seven people. “Bingo,” Miller said. He performed for the group — during the performance, they talked, yelled, joked, and even snagged the cards out of his hands and shuffled, dropping some on the ground. Unfazed, Miller finished a card to shoe routine (taught on The BOLD Project) — AND BLEW THEM AWAY. If you haven’t seen it, the full performance is on YouTube.

“Those guys are EXACTLY what I deal with on a weekly basis,” Miller said. “I love those guys. They fuel me, put a fire in me that I use to burn them.”

That fire is what BOLD is about, he said. He calls The BOLD Project his defining project; the one work he hopes to be remembered by. Filled with effects engineered to get shocking reactions, incredible insights and philosophy about performing and much more, the project reveals a side of Miller that he has kept to himself — until now. It reveals the subtleties and details that has enabled him to perform some of the most bald-faced, daring, brazen moves — all in pursuit of that magic moment where reality changes for a spectator.

“This project really shows a side of me I have never let anyone see,” he said. “But I knew it was important to be super-transparent if I was going to do this project, in order for the community to believe that these effects, methods and presentations … will not just work, but will become staples in their own sets, I knew I had to show that side of JM that I keep only to myself: my drive, my power, and ultimately my life force.”

INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top card

February 22nd, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top card

Most playing cards look the same from deck to deck. But the Ace of Spades is different. Aside from the backs and jokers, the Ace of Spades is usually the only card to feature a unique artistic design, depending on the printer of the deck. Some are simple as a paint sample, others are as ornate as a stained glass window.

Our custom decks of playing cards feature some of the most iconic recognizable aces in playing cards today. Our designs for aces quickly expanded into themes that encompassed entire decks, and that trend caught on like wildfire — today, collectors frown on new decks that feature only a custom ace.

We’re proud to be part of playing card history. But it raises the question: How did the Ace of Spades get to be so different?

INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top card

TAXING DECISION

Blame taxes. Before 1765, decks sold in England were stamped to indicate that taxes or duties had been paid on them, according to the International Playing Card Society. In 1765, an official ace of spades was printed; each deck had to use this stamp on its ace to indicate that taxes were paid. And the Stamp Tax mandated that the American colonies had to pay the same tax. The law changed in 1862, when printers were allowed to produce their own stamp designs. Though that law was abolished in 1960, the tradition of making the Ace of Spades ornate and decorative remains.

BUILT-IN TRADEMARK

INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top cardThe law that allowed printers to design unique Aces led to those printers developing brand trademarks. Several of those Aces, such as the ones found in Tally-Ho and Bee cards, are still in use after more than 100 years. Several card publishers, including Dougherty, New York Consolidated Card and Russell/Kalamazoo, used several different designs according to the brand of cards, according to information from “The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards.” But one printer treated the Ace differently…

LEGENDARY LADY

…the U.S. Playing Card Co., makers of the legendary Rider back cards used a single design for most of its brands. The design is iconic: It features a woman with sword and shield in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. The design was inspired by Thomas Crawford’s sculpture “Statue of Freedom,” which rested atop the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in 1865. Though other design elements have changed, the basic spade and woman have remained intact for almost 150 years.

INDUSTRY SEES A GHOST

INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top cardEllusionist’s first custom deck of playing cards was the Black Tiger, a tribute to Tigers, the first deck published by the USPCC. The Black Tiger Ace matched the company’s ace exactly. When Ellusionist printed its next custom deck, the Bicycle Ghost, it included an intricately designed Ace that revealed more details when turned upside-down. Though Ellusionist gaff decks had custom aces that could be swapped into a red or blue Rider back deck, the Ghost ace was Ellusionist’s first custom ace for a custom-themed deck. This started a long line of custom playing cards created by Ellusionist, where the theme quickly stretched way past the ace.

MOTORHEAD SONG

The Ace of Spades is immortalized by British metal band Motorhead, which in 1980 released “Ace of Spades.” Lead singer Lemmy Kilmister in 2011 told Mojo magazine that the song was “just a word exercise on gambling, all the cliches.” Though it peaked at No. 15 on the UK’s singles chart, it is regarded as one of the best metal songs of all time. VH-1 named it the 10th best hard rock song of all time in 2009.

IN GAMES

The Ace of Spades has long been considered the highest-ranking card in the deck, but only one major card game gives it top rank: Spades, the trick-taking game. Hearts, poker, crazy eights, rummy, cribbage, even solitaire have its value tied with other aces, or secondary to other cards.

CONJURING CONNECTION

INSIDE THE CARDS: Ace of Spades has a long history of being top cardPerhaps the place where the Ace gets most of its prominence is with magicians. Sure, we see performers work their favorite cards into tricks, but we also see those same magicians at some point produce an Ace of Spades as part of their routine — mainly because it is such a recognizable, beloved card. The card is also one of the most commonly chosen by spectators: We know a lot of magicians who, when asking spectators to think of a card, avoid the Ace because it would be too easy.

INSIDE THE CARDS is an occasional feature that dives into the history of a single card. Know any good legends behind cards? Let us know. Comment below or e-mail joe@ellusionist.com.

FOUR POINTS: These places will get you on the path to getting paid

January 21st, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: These places will get you on the path to getting paid

So you’re ready. Whether you’re following through with a new year’s resolution or a planned goal, you’re out to take your magic from practice to profitability. You’re ready to get paid for all your planning and work.

Time to make those cards pay for themselves.

It doesn’t matter what your plan for magic is, from building a list of clients in your town to making it big in Vegas. Before you can be the next Messado, Ollie Mealing or Adam Wilber, You have to start somewhere, and there is no substitute for the experience of actually performing for living, breathing people.

(David Stone’s Real Secrets of Magic Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are time-tested classics, and Ellusionist’s hardest-working worker Adam Wilber has filled up “Creative Magic” and The Worker Part 1 and Part 2 with great material for business-minded magicians.)

Drumming up business isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere. At the beginning of your career, you may have to content yourself with making a reputation, not money. Which is fine, because that’s an investment in your future. Instead of performing for cash, make a testimonial or the ability to pass business cards/put up flyers part of the deal.

You have two goals:

  • ~ Get your name out there and let people know what you do. This is done through good old-fashioned networking (a fancy word for “meeting people”). Whether it’s a business card, flyer or an actual performance, you want to spread the word that you exist.
  • ~ Show people that you deserved to be hired. This is done through excellent performance and interaction — AND by being a great team player at the place where you work your magic. Hopefully you perform for people who love your work and hire you in the future. And a testimonial from the right person can seal a deal down the road.

Here are four places that would be good for your business cards, flyers or actual skills. Out of respect to any working magicians in your area (and yourself as well), you don’t want to use these options repeatedly — use them as occasional tools in your toolbox:

 

FESTIVALS

This one requires a look at the calendar where you live. Even the smallest of small towns usually have one or two festivals, fairs or other celebrations, and that’s something you can be a part of. Maybe it’s a more regular event, such as an art walk or farmers market.

Find the planning group or coordinators and inquire about a trade of performance for a testimonial. Maybe — MAYBE — your performance character can be changed to match the theme of the festival, such as a Renaissance fair? If not, definitely note the style and vibe of the festival — you’d perform at an art walk differently than a holiday-based event, for instance. And be respectful: It may be easy to crash a big group and just perform. But the goal is NETWORKING — you want the organizers to know about your interest in performing.

RESTAURANTS OR MALLS WITH FOOD COURTS

Restaurants might be one of your main sources of business as a magician, so it’s good to learn the dynamics of performing there early. And not many consider food courts prime places for performances, but we disagree: There are a lot of people there from a wide variety of backgrounds. What a great opportunity for meeting people who might pay you in the future!

Ask the owner or management about interest in a magician, and be up front with them: You’re looking for experience, and are willing to work for one or two nights in order to get a name out and get a testimonial from that owner. And make that offer only once or twice: You don’t want to get in the habit of performing for free.

CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE OR BUSINESS GROUPS

Investigate membership carefully, because many of these groups require a membership fee. But they are filled with entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to build the number of interesting people they know, and you can be a part of that group. And these are the groups usually organizing the big parties that you should be performing at.

Teens, you may have an advantage in this point: Some business groups have young entrepreneur groups you may be able to join, which gets you access to your city’s movers and shakers (and those are often people eager to reward those who are willing to work for themselves.) Keep up your schoolwork as priority No. 1, but a little work in student entrepreneur or young business groups can pay off big for your magic.

EXISTING SOCIAL GROUPS

Groups of people are everywhere around you. Whether it’s a job, a group of fellow sports fans, a church, reading club, family get-together, a support group, friend’s birthday party… ANY group of people is ripe for you getting your message out. Keep in mind that your message doesn’t have to be an actual performance. A simple business card is all it takes.

While you might hesitate to perform for that social circle — and we completely understand why — don’t hesitate to tell them what you do, and be confident about it. Sure, they may razz you, but they’ll love hearing about how you’ve picked up magic, and they’ll be thrilled that your new business isn’t a multi-level marketing opportunity.

BONUS POINT: MAGICIANS’ GROUPS

Talk about a group tailored to your interest. Your local chapter of IBM or SAM knows all about your town’s business scene. And it’s filled with magicians who can give you performance advice of all sorts. If your area has such a group, the price of membership can be SO worth it.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to joe@ellusionist.com.

Gone forever: Last of Red Artifice decks handed out in promotion

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


Gone forever: Last of Red Artifice decks handed out in promotion

Just like our first edition Black Ghost decks, we knew we’d eventually run out of them. We just didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.

It’s official: We are out of Red Artifice decks.

They will never again be available from Ellusionist as a prize, promotion or anything else. They are out the door.

A little history: The Red Artifice was printed in 2011 alongside the first edition of the Blue Artifice deck. The red version was exactly like the blue, except for its red color, obviously, and the amount. Only 5,000 of the decks were ever printed. (Because borders were added to the Blue and Emerald Artifice decks, there are about 10,000 first edition Blue decks with no borders in existence.)

The manner of its release was different as well: Responding to feedback we received about the Black Ghost and Gold Arcane decks, it was first released for individual sale. We took 3,000 of the 5,000 and posted them up for people to buy at $6.99 each. The last 2,000 we reserved for promotions and prizes, such as a deal we posted during the days after Christmas: People could receive a Red Artifice deck when they bought any 12 of our other custom decks.

Because of a software error, that promotion cleared out our supply.

Gone forever: Last of Red Artifice decks handed out in promotionThe promotion was supposed to last for a 24-hour period. But because of the error, the promotion remained in effect for several more days. That means a lot of people who bought 12 decks, not really intending to take advantage of the sale, received the bonus.

We were tempted to go back through all the orders and retroactively remove the decks, but in the end, we decided to stand by the purchases until the decks were depleted. And when the Red Artifice were gone, we filled the promo instead with a rare Red Arcane deck. We apologize for the error, and hope that a gift of a just-as-rare deck that has been only recently passed out suffices (compared to the Red Artifice, there are so few Red Arcane decks actually in people’s hands — we’re looking at most of ‘em in the warehouse right now).

For the rest of us, we bid a sudden, sad yet well-deserved adieu. Goodbye, Red Artifice: You glowed like embers in a fire, and we’ll always burn for you. We send you off by showing Peter McKinnon’s incredible trailer that featured some of the first appearances of Bobby Motta, Mike Clarke and Shade.

Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

December 16th, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Artist Interviews, General


Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances. One of the secrets to his success at a strolling gig is, surprisingly, parking it at a table. The following are his thoughts about what a table can do for the working magician.

For many years I’ve been a regular performer at large scale events and in that time, I’ve prudently geared my material towards working at my own allocated table – a format which I believe (for such an environment) leads to the greatest desirable outcome. The concept isn’t original or groundbreaking, and possibly underwhelming to hear, but simplicity is often complexity in disguise.

The Audience

Within minutes of arriving at an event, you’ve noticed a large group of occupied guests, all gathered in a semi-circular fashion, their backs towards you, an oddity that quite literally stands out. The cause of their accumulation is currently indiscernible, but instantaneously your wise instincts raise a conclusive flag that SOMETHING in that vicinity is happening – a thing that evidently must be of value to have captured the attention and time of your fellow guests.

Your options are as follows: You can either stroll across and have your curiosity delightfully quenched, or secure a drink and engage in conversation, where the puzzling subject is destined to resurface. Both outcomes will ultimately end in your favour, as finally you’ll have discovered that the recent applause which cheerily beamed from the area of concern was generated most wonderfully by a magician — though ideally you’d have already acquired this knowledge firsthand & are partly responsible for that very applause, pleasantly finding yourself as a newly astounded contributor to the acclamation.

Now that your inquisition has been sated, you’re now privy to the secret and equipped with an exciting talking point. If you weren’t initially enticed, your swift beeline towards the action will imminently ensue, or amicably instead, you’ve opted to find a friend for the jaunt. But undoubtedly that moment of involvement is inescapably impending — perhaps when your social threshold needs recharging or, if you need an excuse to decamp or just simply because you’re too intrigued (the latter obviously being preferable), then you too will become an integral member of the alluring group, witnessing for yourself who everyone’s been talking about and feeling rejoiced that you did.

From that moment on, you spend your evening intermittently sharing the tale of your enthralling experience — continuing to propagate and embed a joyous memory.

Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

The Magician

After much deliberation, you’ve chosen the prime spot to base yourself. The guests are beginning to appear and all that’s entailed to bring forth your eventual hub of mystery and magic is to coax an audience into position.

From this point on, the fun is as much yours as it is theirs. A self-sustaining audience full of high expectations who have excitedly approached and accepted you in exchange for amazement — what more could you ask for?

Shortly into your set, you realize your performances are no longer disjointed and vulnerable to mistimed introductions, interruptions or imposing remarks, because whilst in your zone, the onus for a respectable demeanour is their duty. Under these circumstances, being surrounded by an enthusiastic, eager and cordial crowd, you’re able to relish in the perks of feeling at ease, you’re able to take full of advantage of copious table space without the flow-deadening hassle of making space and you’re able to maintain your optimal performance flow — which conveniently reciprocates back to the audience as reassurance, further building anticipation and establishing rapport.

Importantly, tricks can transgress to magic, as you’re able to partner your material with the attention it rightfully deserves — gratifyingly being able to provide your audience with the exact experience you want to instill.

This is all very well in theory, but in reality the advantages are only truly manifested if you’re able to fit the environment and deliver suitable material — for which, feasible adaptations may need to be made. But from my own experience it’s a worthwhile pursuit, as this presentational technique has immeasurably transformed the way I approach, view and enjoy a performance.

Discovering what works best for you and your audience is for me, the primary joy and key to creating magic — a personal process which unveils answers unique to you. I hope the above will prove worthy of your time & take you a step closer to a new and exciting revelation.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

November 28th, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Artist Interviews, Products


SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

One of the biggest joys we get at Ellusionist.com is seeing how you use the products we make, from decks of custom playing cards to videos showing what you can do with those cards. Thanksgiving always gives us a chance to settle down and really feel all the feels brought by the gratitude we have for all the customers who have kept us working our tails off over the last 13 years.

We love seeing what you do with our products. So many great performances, so many beautiful videos, so many amazing reactions. But every once in a while, one of you comes up with something completely, astonishingly different.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towersThe latest to bewilder us is Jeremy Griffith, who has his own idea of a stacked deck. An Instagram user, Jeremy has been posting incredible pictures of Republics, Artifice and Rounders defying gravity. At first, the cards and decks in his series appeared to be floating. And just when we thought we had it figured out, Jeremy moved the camera down and showed EXACTLY how he accomplished it.

And bewildered us all over again.

See for yourself: Deck boxes balance on top of coins, single cards, glasses, pens and more. Jeremy said there’s no glue, tape, invisible thread or seams. Everything is done using precision balance (as precise as hands can be, anyway), centers of gravity and plenty of patience for trial and error.

“The rules when this thing got started with me were simple,” he said. “Photoshop was out of the question and nothing could be bonding the cards. Also, I was only allowed to use what was in the picture, which is usually a deck and a flat surface.”

The Lake Forest, Calif., resident has studied magic for 23 of his 30 years. For all of those years, he’s had a small tremor in both hands. Nothing serious, medically — but annoying enough to where the tremors become a hassle. Taking up magic at 7, the tremors complicated things, he discovered. It was hard to get that soft touch with cards, so he stuck with coins for the longest time — the hard metal and constant motion was easier to manage.

But he eventually conquered cards. He learned a sort of dynamic tension similar to guitar players and used that to progress deep into card magic. Though he still has the tremors, it’s hard to spot them unless his hands are completely still, he said. Which makes us look at all those towers in a new light.

Talk about an impossible stack.

“Usually I’m just seeing how far I can go with the center of gravity before it becomes too unstable,” he said. Every level you go up gets harder to balance for obvious reasons, and as such, requires a lot more patience. But when you pull it off, it’s like shooting nothing but net from the half court line.”

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

The idea came to him when trying show a “static grace” that he couldn’t quite get in his live performances. The series also proves to himself — and many others — that physical limitations don’t always matter. He showed a few of his first pictures to a friend, Allec Blanco, who encouraged him to keep it up, and ramp up the difficulty. So he kept going. He added items and made each picture a little harder to pull off.

“A lot of those pictures required a patience that I normally don’t have. You have to move very carefully or everything topples. And doing it with playing cards, coins and the things I normally use in my performances seems to have a nice symmetry to it.”

After building each stack, Jeremy uses his iPhone 5 to capture it. He uses the phone’s camera, but then uses Instagram’s filter selection for coloring.

He doesn’t capture the failures, obviously. But rest assured, he said — he fails often.

“When the tower falls, I pout like a 4-year-old for half a second, and then I pick up the pieces and start again. Just like every other skill set worth having, this one takes time and a little more patience than I’m used to having.

“But the payoff is worth every minute for the impossible shot.”

Enjoy a few more of his impossible towers below. Then follow him on Instagram.

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: Magician shakes tremors for impossible towers

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING is a special feature on the Ellusionist blog that finds great images of playing cards, including our custom decks, and treats them like the works of art they are. Have you seen someone’s card work that we should feature? Email joe@ellusionist.com with links to images, not actual images.

Biggest giveaway yet: New releases, amazing contest start holidays

November 20th, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Biggest giveaway yet: New releases, amazing contest start holidays

Shortest holiday season of the year? Only one way to respond: THE BIGGEST HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY EVER.

The 2013 Ellusionist Holiday Giveaway is in full swing, and features two ways to bring home some insane loot — including 12 of our rare, limited decks of playing cards, a $1,000 shopping spree, a PlayStation 4, an iPad Mini and, our grand prize, a 15-inch Macbook Pro Retina and Canon T5i DSLR camera. Those two ways:

  • ~ Every order will receive a ticket number. Each week we’ll draw 10 winning ticket numbers, each with a chance to win a prize.
  • ~ Every order can qualify for guaranteed gifts — as you reach certain spending tiers, you’ll receive options for more goodies, including limited decks, signed decks in lucite cases and more.

All the details of the giveaway are available right here. And while you consider what to load your cart with, you’ll want to see this week’s latest major releases:

GAFF SYSTEM: Made to work with our Artifice playing cards, the Gaff System doubles down on every gaff deck we’ve ever produced. Filled with tricks that could easily stand alone and sell for upwards of $20 each, the Gaff System deck features 15 insanely visual effects, including a torn-and-restored routine where the card melts back together, a lingering shadow from a smartphone’s flash, a torn-and-restored box flap, the familiar joker helpfully pointing out a location, a ChapStick that becomes a chosen card and so much more. Developed by three of magic’s most creative minds — Daniel Madison, Eric Jones and Calen Morelli — this deck is FILLED with worker effects. Inspect each one for yourself, and see some of them in action.

MESSADO RINGS: Messado is one of the few performers who took the linking rings seriously. Working as a pitchman for a magic store in Atlantic City, Messado transformed the linking rings into Messado Rings, an amazing magic display. Know how laymen think they know the secret of the linking rings? They will watch rings link in mid-air and defy gravity. They will get to inspect these beautiful carbon-black rings up close, and then become part of the magic by getting to LINK A RING THEMSELVES. And they will forget what they think they know. A bundle features Messado teaching each of these dazzling moves and a set of rings in a slim leather case. A sellout at Magic Live, this is your new chance to pick up this incredible routine.

ANGLE Z: Years ago Daniel Madison released an effect that he didn’t think much of, but the magic community latched onto it. But even after the first time he released it on video, he didn’t dive too much into it. That has changed with Angle Z. A corner of a card is torn, made to vanish then reappear WHEREVER YOU WANT. Beyond the basics, however, are 90 minutes of undiscovered techniques, subtleties and philosophy from the creator. This effect has been used by many of magic’s top performers, including David Blaine, who featured it on his recent special “Real or Magic.”

We’re not done by any means. We will open a few more releases before Santa boards his sleigh. But until then, check out all the unique, eye-popping magic at Ellusionist.com.

Gaff System perfect for Calen Morelli’s use-everything style

November 18th, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Products


Gaff System perfect for Calen Morellis use everything style

Most magicians stick to what they know — cards, coins, mentalism. Calen Morelli has no such restraints. He’ll use rubber bands, lip balm, water bottles, pens, cellphones, T-shirts, gum… anything that spectators are familiar with.

So when Morelli was invited to be a part of Ellusionist’s Gaff System project, he immediately thought of ways to expand and push gaff cards for effects that hadn’t ever been dreamed up before. Such as a torn-and-restored trick, which turned out to be the first gaff card he envisioned for the project.


“I remember coming up with this in my car right after the call with Brad, when he asked me to be a part of this project,” Calen said. “That idea excited me so much to see what else was in my brain for these cards.”

 

Calen started magic at 15, after watching David Blaine’s “Drowned Alive” special. He found he had a knack for it, and quickly outpaced the sources from which he learned.

So he started making his own tricks. Starting green, he undertook a yearlong project, where he would create a magic trick each day, and post daily videos of those tricks to YouTube. Called “365 Days of Magic,” the tricks he created gained a large following in the magic community — so large that before he got to video No. 200, he was hired to work for David Copperfield as a consultant.

Gaff System perfect for Calen Morellis use everything style

He said that his unique approach to using atypical items came from a desire to be different and from a dissatisfaction with the material he had been learning. He said that expanding his horizons helped him stand out as an original among a crowd of card magicians, he said.

“I feel like doing magic with every day items is the simplest way to come across original to a audience.”

Even having landed a job with David Copperfield, Calen remains an active performer, filling his social networks with new performances regularly, and appearing with other online personalities, such as YouTuber Stuart Edge.

The grind of creating a trick a day taught him a lot about what works and what doesn’t, he said.

“I learned the process of creating a magic trick,” Calen said. “And how to very efficiently and quickly go from just a simple idea into a full, ready-to-perform effect … If a traditional method doesn’t work for my style or where/who I’m performing for, then it’s limiting me.”

That means Calen’s magic is particularly suited for gaff cards — especially a deck that pushes the boundaries of what gaff cards can do. Calen’s contributions include effects that transform a ChapStick into a chosen card and his favorite: The torn-and-restored trick he first envisioned.

Designed for use with our Emerald, Cobalt and Tundra Artifice decks, The Gaff System will be available on Nov. 19.

Ringmaster: Messado gives linking rings a fresh infusion of magic

November 15th, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Ringmaster: Messado gives linking rings a fresh infusion of magic

When Messado was a child, he went to a magic show at a neighbor’s house. When the magician asked for volunteers, Messado screamed and waved his arms eagerly, hoping to be one of the lucky kids picked. But it didn’t happen. The magician ignored him.

“I was heartbroken. I still am, 25 years later,” Messado said. “Back then, I decided if I ever became a magician, I would make everybody a part of it.”

That drive to involve has driven his take on performing magic. The creator of Messado Rings has transformed a traditional parlor or stage trick into an up-close, personal moment of magic, leaving spectators feeling like they just did the impossible. And he designed a set of durable rings and dizzying routines that will teach anyone how to create the same magic moments with their own spectators.

Messado Rings will be available on Nov. 19. The set includes a durable, heavy-duty set of rings, a leather case and an instructional video featuring the moves that have made Messado a rising star.

Business trip

Messado got his start in magic about 15 years ago during a trip to Atlantic City, N.J. He applied, and was hired, for a dealer position at the Sands. He was told he had everything the casino was looking for, and would be hired at $25 an hour.

One catch: He had to cut his hair.

“At the time my hair was to the middle of my back. I was like Samson, that’s how I felt when I was young. I told him I didn’t want to cut my hair, and tried to haggle with him. He said that those were the rules, so I told him that I regretfully decline.”

Dejected, he and a cousin made their way to a Houdini’s magic shop in the Tropicana Casino. The shop featured regular, hourly magic shows for only $3, so he and his cousin stayed and watched one.

Then another. And another. After the third show, an employee noted that he must really love magic (he did) and whether he knew any tricks (he did). Messado showed the employee his version of a Larry Anderson trick he learned. That led to an impressed manager, another application, an audition and, a month later, a new job working as a retail sales associate in magic.

Ringmaster: Messado gives linking rings a fresh infusion of magic

Recognizing rings

It was during that first demonstration that he learned that presentation was an important part of magic.

“It was a trick off of Larry Anderson’s ‘JawDroppers,’ where I renamed it ‘Guardian Angel,’ where everyone has a guardian angel that watches over them, and I’ll have ‘em come down and check … the magician I performed it for was blown away. That’s when I figured out one of my strong sets was presentation.”

It was in that job where Messado discovered the linking rings. He watched Anthony Salazar perform the routine over and over.

“I was always blown away by it,” Messado said. “I thought it was a really cool trick. He used smaller rings. He taught me the basics, and showed me how to link and unlink.”

He also noted that not a lot of other magicians were working with rings. Most others stuck to cards or coins. Realizing rings were largely left alone, Messado decided to make the rings his thing.

The store had bigger rings sealed in a package, and a set of smaller rings loose. Messado took those rings outside regularly and performed with them as a pitchman, snaring customers to step inside the store. Inspired by Salazar and Chris Capehart, Messado practiced every day, whether as a pitchman outside the store or an apprentice at home.

His skills grew with every movement. Before long, he started piecing together his own routine, developing his own moves — and after discovering some of those moves were created by Shoot Ogawa, he was able to meet and perform for Ogawa and his teacher, Masahiro Yanagida. Messado said he was blessed to be able to learn from them, and said he stands on their giant shoulders.

Sticking with the smaller rings, so that he could easily carry them and be ready to perform at the drop of a hat, he developed flourish-style ring movements that added to the magic. His routine includes a number of visual moves, including one where a ring slowly rises as it spins around another ring. He began fooling himself regularly, especially with his version of a jumping link that jerks up.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to do the rings is that it looked like one of the closest things to real magic. I used to say to myself, ‘I wish I could walk through walls.’ With rings, you can pass metal through metal, and that was pretty cool. As I practiced, and passed metal through metal, I got to where I couldn’t see (the gaff). I thought that if it was fooling me, I knew it would fool a lot of people.”

With that first magic show in the back of his mind, Messado developed routines that let the spectator hold the rings themselves. They get a chance to search the rings themselves for a gap they think is there, but never find. And when they make the rings link themselves, “they are completely destroyed in the best way,” Messado said.

“I never liked the idea of ‘lookit me, look what I can do’ in magic,” Messado said. “I wanted people to know they could do anything, or the impossible. It really creates a beautiful moment of magic for them.”

Philly pro

Now Messado is a performing magician that works a busy schedule of corporate clients and childrens shows. Before the introduction of Messado Rings at the most recent Magic Live conference in Las Vegas, he was known as an excellent performer with a stand-out ring routine.

Since that conference, his reputation has spread worldwide. He earned impressive reactions from David Copperfield and Jeff McBride, and his rings became one of the most talked about items at the conference.

Messado said the reach of his rings have stunned him. People from all corners of the world on the Internet have reached out to him — including a fan in Peru who sent a video of a Messado-inspired ring routine.

“My magic made it from Philly to Peru in a day or two,” Messado said. “Words can’t express how much joy I feel in my heart from all the love I’ve received from the magic community.”