Thursday, September 30, 2010

Motorized Growing & Shrinking Head Illusion

Hey everyone, Cris Johnson here with more magic & fun!

Quick housekkeeping...

This week's blog will be a bit shorter - partially because of the item I chose and partially because I'm slammed this week - I soon embark on my October run, in which I only have ONE weekday when I'm NOT performing. Whew! Fortunately, I'm not doing much on weekends so I can catch my breath.

Which reminds open note to my pal Paul Rohmany: how in the WORLD do you stay sane??? I know your travel/performing schedule is a HECK of a lot crazier than mine.:)

On another note, I know Bobby Motta's new release "Taste" has attracted a lot of attention. I just ordered mine this week and I know Paul did, too. Soon we can compare notes - LOL!

The latest issue of my Cause & Effects ezine is going out early next week and will feature a simple booking tip that I know a lot of magicians are not using, so this simple tip is really worth your attention. Sign up for free by emailing me at

Next, a BIG thanks to all of you who have made my Clear-View Airborne a big seller! Hocus Pocus just ordered another batch two days ago. My wife & I are waiting on the shipping tubes so they will go out as soon as the tubes get here, probably on Saturday, if I had to guess.

Another HUGE thanks to those who continue to make my latest book, "Cause & Effects Vol. 2" a GREAT seller! I just sent a batch out to Hocus Pocus yesterday. It seems a lot of people see the value in obtaining real-world, polished performance routines. I make no bones about it - my Arm Chopper routine alone slays every time. With 22 laugh lines/bits (10 of which before the prop is even brought out) I lay claim to it being the FUNNIEST arm chopper routine for kid or family audiences ever.

You can still get the book here:

On to this week's review!

It's...The Motorized Growing & Shrinking Head by Bruce Kavlar. It's available for $59.95 from Hocus Pocus. The ad copy is here:

EFFECT: A spinning black & white disk causes the audience to see the magician's head SHRINK! An audience member appears to have a GROWING head! Incredible!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The plastic spinning disk, a small electric drill, hardware to mount the disk on the drill and written instructions

QUALITY: The disk itself is made of thick, good quality plastic. That said, if it bangs around in your case, it will get scratched, so I advise you to do as I did - sew a fleece bag to house the disk, keeping it away from harm. The electric drill is a simple black & decker model (or similar) that is rechargeable (it comes with a charger) so this device allows you to do the effect and "go green," and save money by NOT needing new batteries. I know there's a cardboard version of the disk, but I advise against it as I doubt it would hold up.

VALUE: For sixty bucks, this thing is a STEAL. Good quality and the effect is amazing.

DIFFICULTY: There is NO sleight of hand, so from the technical standpoint, this gets an easy "1" out of 10. The challenge with any self-working prop, there fore, is your presentation.

MARKET: I've done this for elementary audiences, teen audiences and family audiences and it kills. I haven't done it yet for adult audiences, but due to the optical illusion nature of the effect, I'm sure it would play. The ONLY age group I could see this NOT working for is the daycare/pre-school age. I've done it in schools of K-5 grades and occasionally, a kindergarten age kid will cry when I talk about my head shrinking, or such. To me, it says the kid took me literally. I feel daycare age kids would too, and besides, for the optical illusion to work, the person must stare at the spinning disk for 15-30 seconds and many daycare age kids can't sit still that long for something like this. (I used to perform 60 or so daycare shows a year.)

MY THOUGHTS: Another consideration: at least in my experience, at a birthday party, the kids would not 'get' the effect to work. I partially chalk this up to the kids being too close for the optical illusion to work. That doesn't make sense when I think about it, but I do maybe 3 birthdays a year and I've tried it at all of them and this effect falls flat, as the kids claim "it didn't work on them." Beats me, maybe I'm doing something wrong.

That little problem aside, I've KILLED with this for audiences of 100-500 people. They REALLY get into it. I've booked more than one show on the strength of this: "Oh, we HAVE to have you at our school and you HAVE to make our principal's head shrink!"

There's no sleights and the only angles to worry about is making sure your audience is facing you. If your audience is on "three sides" of you, two thirds of the won't see this. If you're surrounded, even more people won't see it.

However, if you have an audience in front of you, it's hard to go wrong with this. Since it's an optical illusion and not really a "trick," it can give your show a unique break in the middle.

HIGHLY recommended - a perfect 10 out of 10. I've used it about a hundred times at schools and it always plays great.

Until next week...


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