Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TWO Banachek Items Reviewed!

Hey Everyone, I'm back!

Before I get into this week's blog, I want to publically thank Paul Rohmany for his kind words to me. Last week was NOT fun and Paul (along with his wife Natalie) was incredibly kind. I also want to thank those of you who emailed me your best wishes - it realy means a lot.

Secondly, I want to thank those of you who have invested in my latest book, "Cause & Effects, Volume 2." I'm preparing the fourth shipment to Hocus Pocus today and I'm thrilled that so many people (including a world famous performer) have seen the value of this collection of real-world, polished-over-two-decades presentations.

My personal two favorites in the book are: 1) my presentation for the old Split Deck and 2) my incredibly hilarious arm chopper presentation - it's suitable for Disectos, Arm Choppers, etc. There are nearly TWO DOZEN laugh points in the script, many of which occur before the prop is even introduced! It's gold, I promise.

My friend Cody Fisher, upon hearing this presentation (I told him over the phone) has been nudging me to hurry up and finish this book for months.:)

You can read all about it here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13367

Also, the August issue of my FREE ezine, "Cause & Effects," will be going out later today. I'm going to be taking care of it today, after I finish this blog. To join, shoot me an email - crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

One final note...I'm going to be changing up the blog a bit. I'm going to start adding a 1-10 scale of two categories: difficulty of physical handling and difficulty of psychological handling.

The first one of physical handling is self-explanatory, but the psychological handling can refer to necessity of scripting, such as in an effect that needs good verbal handling for, say, a psychological force. It may also refer to a Bizarre magic effect in which mood is crucial. On the other hand, an effect like Kevin James' Bowl-A-Rama does not necessarily require a great deal of scripting. I myself walk out to music and just 'do it.' (Not to say a good script could not greatly enhance it...)

Of course, I will continue with my overall 1-10 scale rating of the effect itself.

Now, onto this week's reviews - TWO items by Banachek!

First, Psychkinetic Time. It's available for $19.95 from Hocus Pocus. The details are available here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=8666

THE BASIC EFFECT: While holding his/her own watch, a spectator names a number. Amazingly, the watch's hands move that exact number of minutes!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A very detailed booklet with clear, concise instructions and very helpful photographs that detail the physical handling.

MY HISTORY WITH THE EFFECT: I've been doing this effect for years. I know it's been out for years, but I chose to review this item this week because it made a difficult situation better for me. Let me briefly explain...

My father-in-law's viewing & funeral was this past week. I don't particularly care for my wife's side of the family so I was completely lost during the viewing. The funeral director and I got along very well and he really got a kick out of what I do, so while my wife was surrounded by family members, I sat with Jeff, the funeral director. I wound up performing Banachek's PK Time twice that night, flooring both him and his partner.

While I've used the effect for years, because of this past week, this effect now holds a special place in my heart.

MARKETS: I've done this for high school audiences, corporate audiences, family audiences, etc. I personally only do it for family audiences where teens or adults are actively engaged. I have found that young kids (10 and younger) don't get into this as much.

ANGLES: As long as your spectator management is solid, you can do this surrounded, as I feel it's best as a close-up effect anyway.

INSTRUCTION: There are several pages of instruction in which Banachek really stresses the necessity of following his script and why it works so well due to the psychological handling and convincers. The close-up black and white photos really help convey the positioning of your fingers for ease of handling.

PHYSICAL HANDLING: You are doing a bit of manipulation of the spectator's borrowed watch, but the physical handling is not difficult...maybe a 2 out of 10. While the handling is critical, you are dealing with very minute, tiny movements and in my experience, these are easily covered by a bit of motion - keeping your hand moving during critical moments.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HANDLING: Here is where this routine shines. As Banachek details, people may or may not believe you did something "tricky" in order to get the watch hands to move, but the fact that the person chooses how many minutes the watch will move...while the watch is in their OWN hand...is what really brings this into 'miracle class.'

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I will say that the added bit of having the watch move exactly the number of minutes that they say while the watch is in their hand is not going to work 100% of the time. Banachek explains in detail just how to maximize your number of 'direct hits' and even how to 'massage' the results so it seems you have a direct hit when you really didn't.

I personally have a 75% - 80% success rate, but even when I'm way off, the effect on the spectator is incredible - THEIR watch's hands moved in THEIR hands! It's unreal.

You'll need to put some work into fine-tuning your approach and that's the investment that will pay off in this effect. I'll give it a psychological handling rating of 7 out of 10. It's not that it's difficult, but it is crucial to the success of the effect.

OTHER NOTES: Banachek offers alternate handling tips for "difficult" watches, such as Rolexes or certain Fossil watches - the kind where the stem must be unscrewed before the time can be changed. Personally, I simply skip over those watches - there are enough people wearing a variety of watches...still, it's nice that Banachek included this.

MY OVERALL RATING: There's no way I can give this anything other than a 10 - it's the perfect mentalism effect - it has a visual component, can be done surrounded, involves a borrowed object and there's evidence of the 'magic' after the event is over. It's perfect...really. And the price? WAY too low.

I know it's been out for a while, but I do know that as many of us (myself included) gravitate toward the new effects, it's important to remember the great stuff that's come before.

Now, as promised, I am going to cover another effect. I decided to stick with another effect by Banachek, so I'm going to reveiew Psychokinetic Touches, released by Steve Shaw (Banachek's real name.)

This is another effect that has been around the block, but others have offered different methods and variations on this theme. I myself offer a presentation (no secrets) in my "Cause & Effects Vol. 2" book.

EFFECT: A spectator feels the physical sensation of being touched, despite no one being anywhere near the person. The effect is totally impromptu and uses NO props.

WHAT YOU GET: A comb-bound booklet that details the effect along with a somewhat macabre presentation.

INSTRUCTIONS: This is another effect in which the physical handling is revealed in detail, despite the fact that the actual 'moves' are minute. Banachek does a good job detailing the physical aspects of this routine...and I have a soft spot for comb-bound books as that's what I typically release.:)

ANGLES: If you are careful, this can be done surrounded. There is a 'move' of sorts, but the timing of the move is done during the off beat and besides, this effect involves your entire body, so as a result, keeping the dirty work hidden is not too tough.

MARKET: I've done this for 12 year olds all the way to senior citizens. Everyone loves it, but I would NOT do this for very young kids. Why? Consider the effect and what the child is going to perceive...

"Mommy! I saw a magician today!"

"What did he do?"

"Well, he told me to close my eyes. Then I felt something touch me."

Need I say more? LOL Keep this for tweens, teens, and adults, please.:)

Also, I should point out that this is intended for a stage or parlor piece, not for strolling.

PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL HANDLING RATING: I could almost cut and paste what I said about PK Time - the physical handling is not difficult - a 1 or 2 out of 10 - so the real work comes from the psychological handling. Scripting with this routine is critical - I personally did not care for Banachek's supplied script/presentation, but that's OK...at a recent lecture, he explained that he provided a handling that he never intended to be viewed as the definitive handling, preferring instead to encourage buyers to come up with something original.

Aside from the scripted presentation, there are some critical aspects of the routine to keep in mind regardless of your script, which Banachek covers. I'll give the psychogical handling an 8 - this is even more crucial than PK Time in that spectator management is more important.

OVERALL RATING: I've been using this for around 6 years. I've read on message boards that the effect is "ballsy" and requires "nerves" to pull off. Frankly, I've never understood that view. I'm not criticizing it, only pointing out that I have a hard time empathizing. Currently, this effect, with various presentations, is in 5 or my theme shows, so I get a LOT of use out of it. The rating? A perfect 10.

A guy like Banachek realizes he has a good reputation and thus doesn't release crap.:)

Until next week, send any questions, comments, etc. to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.


Cris Johnson

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