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.”

Halloween a day for magic, but magicians use powers all year

October 31st, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

Halloween is the day when the magical world collides with the mundane, where muggles and wizards intermingle as easily as breathing. But away from all the ghosts, witches, spooks and other creatures, magicians often use their skills for not-so-magical means. From investigating the paranormal to helping design special effects, magicians find ways to bring their power into the world every day of the year.

And some of those instances are just downright strange. Here’s some of our favorite ways that magic has had a profound effect on real life:

Houdini fights with spiritualists

Halloween a day for magic, but magicians use powers all yearHoudini’s connection with Halloween is terminal: He died in 1926 after sustaining an injury from a surprise punch to the stomach. But some have theorized that his death was more than an accident — it was murder.

The people who wanted to kill him were spiritualists — members of a movement that believed in helping the living speak with the dead. Houdini exposed the movement’s use of sleight of hand, special effects and trickery. His battle with the spiritualists, brilliantly detailed in “The Secret Life of Houdini” by Kalush and Sloman, was intense and even involved a feud with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — the creator of Sherlock Holmes and thus the most unlikely proponent of magical communication with spirits.

Magicians debunk con artists

Halloween a day for magic, but magicians use powers all yearHoudini isn’t the only magician who has called out con artists: When someone has used sleight of hand to claim actual magic powers, magicians such as Derren Brown, Penn & Teller and others have stepped in to set things straight.

None is more famous for this than James Randi, the magician who, after retiring at 60 as the Amazing Randi, started a new venture of investigating paranormal claims. He is most famous for a fight with mentalist Uri Geller, where Randi challenged his spoon-bending claims. The founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation has a standing $1 million challenge to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of paranormal, supernatural or occult powers.

Pepper’s Ghost adds spiritual spice

One of the most used special effects by theater, amusement and other performance professionals, Pepper’s Ghost has brought rappers back to life and allowed ghosts to haunt Disneyland. Basically, the apparatus allows objects to morph and disappear as if made from thin air.

Originally created by Henry Dircks in 1862, John Pepper improved the design remarkably in such a way where it could be used in theaters. Pepper’s first version was used to great effect in Dickens’ “The Haunted Man.”

Magic used to fight a war

Halloween a day for magic, but magicians use powers all year

There’s still much disagreement about how much Jasper Maskelyne was used by Allied forces fighting against Nazis in World War II — a story on starts out with the disclaimer, “Much of what follows might be complete b***s***.”

But there was definitely a fake army built to misdirect Axis forces to the Allies’ actual invasion of Egypt. The effort involved disguising tanks to look like trucks, making inflatable dummy tanks, manufacturing ammo dumps, construction sounds and dummy guns. Cracked wrote that the piece de resistance was a dummy water pipeline, which led to a successful Allies invasion on Oct. 23.

FOUR POINTS: Criss Angel’s return to TV is good for your magic

October 14th, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Criss Angel, General

FOUR POINTS: Criss Angels return to TV is good for your magicWe hear the feedback, we read the comments, and we get it: You don’t like Criss Angel. From mild annoyance with his reliance on TV tricks to outright disgust about how he treats other magicians (such as Dynamo, Jan Roven and Joe Monti), Angel doesn’t count many magicians among his Loyals (the name for his die-hard fans).

His new show, “Believe,” is an extension of the Las Vegas show he’s built over the last three years. Following a similar format as “Mindfreak,” the show highlights 11 illusions, from a straitjacket escape to that falling sword illusion — you know, the one that looks like it was stolen from Jan Rouven and failed pretty badly during the live execution.

But the reactions we hear from you about Criss: Wow. His show hasn’t even aired yet, and already we’re hearing about it. Magicians are complaining about how a performer that relies on camera editing, stooges and special effects is dominating the magic landscape.

Most magicians see failure. We see opportunity.

Us? We are THRILLED to see him back on cable TV. From the look of his teasers, he’ll be basing each show around a signature illusion. And the first segment appears to be a collection of close-up magic. If it’s more Mindfreak, then what may be bad for Criss Angel is good for the rest of us. Here’s four reasons why.

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FOUR POINTS: These non-magic books are must-reads for magicians

September 22nd, 2013 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points

FOUR POINTS: These non magic books are must reads for magicians

When we dive into magic, we tend to choose the deepest of the deep ends. That’s part of the thrill of magic: This art is so full of brilliant secrets that we stay underwater after the dive. From books to videos, from tough techniques to performance philosophy, we swim so deeply that we grow gills.

So much so that it’s easy to forget that there are other kinds of books out there, covering a myriad of subjects.

All of which can help your magic.

If you have a burning desire to take your magic further to the point where you want to make a career from it, then you are going to have to be more to the world than just a magician. You must be a networker, a dreamer, a promoter, an entertainer, a worker and in all other respects a regular Renaissance person. Because of the nature of being a magician, more is expected of magicians than other people. We must learn to be so many other different types of experts and have command of many other situations.

Unfair? Sure is. FOR THEM.

The work that this art takes gives us a head and shoulders advantage in virtually any situation we can think of. Our members are more than just magicians — they are accountants, fitness trainers, attorneys, opera singers, journalists, marketers, restaurant managers and more. From the pros who have a day job to the pros who do nothing but magic, our members have a dizzying breadth of experience.

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