Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Kid In Town!

Hello, new readers!

My name is Cris Johnson and I will be reviewing products available here on Hocus Pocus! With this first post, I'd like to introduce myself to you.

First of all, I am a full-time working professional magician, mentalist and stage hypnotist. I've been "full time" since 2003, when I quit my day job right after I got married. I have an EXTREMELY supportive wife who is also one heck of a web designer. You can see a couple of examples off her work at and

Although I do quite a bit of corporate work, I specialize in schools, grades K-12, offering assembly programs for students on certain educational or "character education" topics as well as motivational programs for teachers.

Since I am usually in front of groups of 350-500 students, my specialty is stage work. I do, however, have a passion for close-up effects, so my reviews will be a mix of stage and close-up.

I enjoy all forms of conjuring, so I'll cover manipulation, stage, mentalism, mental magic...basically anything except the large stage illusions. I can't fit big effects (like the size of a Zig Zag) into my SUV and I doubt Paul's going to ship one to me for review all the way from California to New York, but nearly everything else will be covered in some fashion.

When Paul asked me to review tricks and equipment for Hocus Pocus, I was extremely flattered and delighted to take over reviewing effects, as Mike did a SUPERB job with his Trick Talk podcasts. Since they were so well-received, I was initially of the opinion that I would need to come up with a new name, but Mike graciously encouraged me to keep the "Trick Talk" name.

My goal with these reviews will be to give readers detailed reviews on each product with several factors in mind. Here are the things i will try to address in each review:

* Value for the price

* Angles

* Ad hype vs. the "reality" of the effect

* Durability - Working pros can be tough on props!

* Quality of the prop

* Quality of instruction - is it clear and easily understood?

* Thoughts on who the effects will "play" to (ages? Market? Environment?)

* Effect on the audience

* Overall rating - After much thought, I am going to use a 10 scale - that is, rate the effect from 1 to 10

There may be other factors, but the main bottom line will be simply, will this effect play in the real world? I know there are hobbyists and collectors out there, so I will try to address those concerns depending on whether an effect warrants consideration. For instance, a thumbtip, regardless of manufacturer, will not usually be considered a "collector's item," but a really cool prop with quality craftsmanship (like the Alakazam Hats) obviously would.

Some of my reviews will be for newer items while some will be for older items. For instance, I have a list of effects I will be reviewing that includes Max Maven's Nothing DVDs, Losander's ExCaliber Table, Jay Leslie's Cube Libre and many others which have been out for a while.

Reviews on older effects will be beneficial because I'll be able to give a honest perspective on how it plays after I've really grown comfortable with an effect.

On the other hand, I will try to include as many new reviews as possible. For instance, I just ordered Bobby Motta's "alive" and Jimmy Fingers' "Master Magellan Leviation," so you can look forward to those reviews very soon.

Finally, I am receiving no financial compensation for doing these reviews. It was my desire to deliver an honest, outsider's opinion on the effects. Quite frankly, I've been dealing with Paul for years (even before he started carrying my products!) and he has ALWAYS told it "like it is."

In other words, if it's crap, Paul would tell me, so when we discussed the idea of me reviewing effects, we both agreed on honesty.

Those of you who remember listening to Paul's guest spot on Mike's podcast when Paul discussed an effect and relating it to "Horrible Herman" can attest to Paul's well as how well Paul tells a story.:)

If you've got a certain effect you'd like to see reviewed, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Also, to boost views in this blog, I may hold a contest from time to time and winners will receive one of my products free of charge (Woo-Hoo!), but all of this is in the very early planning stages.

Thanks for reading this "intro" blog and I certainly look forward to hearing your comments. Feel free to contact me via email at Thanks again.



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