FOUR POINTS: Going back to basics always good practice for experts

May 12th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: Going back to basics always good practice for experts

Think about how long you’ve been into magic, and all the arcane, obscure material you’ve hunted down. From memorization techniques to NLP, from gambling cheats to elaborate gaffs — look at all the material in your library and rate how complicated they might be.

Got it? How many of those books or videos are intended for beginners?

FOUR POINTS: Going back to basics always good practice for expertsSeriously: Got a copy of Card College? Crash Course in Card Tricks? Tarbell? Royal Road? When was the last time you looked at one of the basic beginning books and reviewed it with an experienced mind?

We know of at least one group on the Internet devoted to going back in time. Members of the secret group are revisiting Roberto Giobbi’s “Card College,” all five volumes, and making videos based on the principles taught. Their goal is to get a deeper understanding of the magic taught within.

And the first step was Vol. 1, where sleights such as the thumb break, step, overhand shuffle and ribbon spread are taught. Tough stuff, eh? Yet these experienced card workers, most of whom have regular paying gigs, devoted the time to holding a pinky break.

It’s genius for a lot of reasons, but four main ones stand out:

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Canadian magician making most of appearance on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’

May 5th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Canadian magician making most of appearance on Britains Got Talent

We’ve long complained about the awful treatment that “America’s Got Talent” has given to magicians. And we’re pleased to see that the U.K. version, “Britain’s Got Talent,” is nothing like its American counterpart.

Namely because the show just introduced us to a magician who got our attention. Meet Darcy Oake.

Be honest: How long did it take for you to realize he was doing a dove act and it was cool?

The Canadian magician has wowed on the show, impressing the salty Simon Cowell, who said that Oake is the best magician they have seen in eight seasons. He’s impressed a lot of us at E, too, for a number of reasons — mainly, because he had us riveted throughout that short routine.

“He did for a dove act what Blaine did for close-up,” said Brad Christian, Ellusionist founder and CEO, who also said there’s a lot to learn from this short video:

  • ~ His appearance. The street wear set him apart from other stage magicians, because he had a style we can relate to.
  • ~ Check out the restrained routining. Everything is precision, yet relaxed and confident. No flashy moves, no gestures, no dancing. When he holds up an egg, you know it’s an egg.
  • ~ There’s a lot of confidence here: Because he is relaxed, he doesn’t NEED to have the big flappy arms and wavy fingers that most stage magicians use. Because of that, he commands attention — and we pay it.

We can’t wait to see more of Oake, and to hear how he does in the show. We agree with Cowell: He could win it.

What did you learn from the performance?

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.

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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.

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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.”