Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In Lizzie's Hand

It's October! Time to review some SPPOOOOOOKKYY products!

Okay, that was weak, even for me.:)

Nevertheless, I will indeed be devoting every review column this month to items of a 'spooky' nature.

Oh, housekkeeping first...

Next month's ezine topic was originally going to be my take on mentalism's hallowed "too perfect" theory, but that's going to get pushed back a month. Why? Today's show had the power go out!!

350 kids...and no power! How did I handle it? Also, in August, I had a gig for Verizon Wireless - a three hour workshop where I spoke to 150 I said, for 3 hours. Two SECONDS after I hit the stage, the facility's mic dies! How did I handle it?

the issue will be about handling things when DISASTER strikes YOUR show! My solutions weren't dramatic or any deep 'secret...' more of a mindset thing.

It's going to be a GREAT issue! sign ups are free by emailing me at (By the way, in the end, both shows kicked ASS!)

Now, on to the reviews...because I've been sleeping on a crappy hotel bed and my back is killin' me.:)

Today I review...In Lizzie's Hand by Bruce Kavlar. It's available for $35 from Hocus Pocus. Here's a link to the ad copy:

EFFECT: While reading a copy of a letter supposedly written by Lizzie Borden (who was accused of murdering her father and step-mother), the performer is 'possessed' by something and slams his hand down on the paper. After he takes his hand away, there is a bloody handprint on the paper...and NO marks of any kind on the performer's hand.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: 25 sheets of special paper with Lizzie's 'letter' printed on each. You are receive a special something used to make a something which is used to make something....which enables you to leave the hand print. how's THAT for cryptic?? You also receive a thorough booklet of instructions and background on Lizzie Borden.

QUALITY OF PROPS: The paper looks and feels like regular paper (unlike flashpaper, which NEVER passes for 'regular paper.') Good stuff. My only quibble is the fact that you need to buy refills....I don't have an issue with purchasing refills, but my fear is I will fall in love with an effect and find it's no longer produced. Fortunately, the first time I bought this effect was 5 years ago. I just re-bought it again a few weeks ago and Voila! It's still around. Whew!

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Bruce does a good job giving you the basics needed for the effect in addition to other ideas. The Borden background info is a nice bonus. 10 out of 10.

DIFFICULTY: Depending on when you perform this, this can either be a 1 out of 10 or a 10 out of 10. Let me explain...if you open with this effect, the physical requirements of the effect are simply slamming your hand down on the paper...or just resting your hand....slamming is NOT necessary, so to me, not being forced to 'act possessed' was most welcome indeed!

However, the requirements of the effect dictate that you must put something on your hand. It's invisible to the eye, does not have anything to do with heat, and leaves no marks on your hand. However, finding the justification to do this in the middle of your show will require some scripting, choreography, and planning on your part.

It's not terribly difficult, but it's one of those things I can see some performers not putting any thought into and therefore subjecting the audience to seeing the performer 'doing something behind the curtain' and not being too subtle about it.

The time you DON'T need to spend practicing any moves for this effect would best be spent working on scripting and motivation. I'm just sayin'.

EFFECT ON AUDIENCE: This does not get the type of effect that a dove steal gets, nor is it necessarily supposed to. I myself do not perform spirit magic, but I did purchase this effect for use in a more...'scholarly,' educational type of show, and effects in such a setting (seance, spiritualism, bizarre magic performances, etc) are often more subdued.

This effect plays well, but the biggest thing to work on is your acting skills, especially if you want to use the 'possession' plot that Bruce advertises. I have, in my lifetime, seen exactly ONE magician with the acting chops to really pull this off. And no, it wasn't anyone you've ever heard of.

I sure as hell don't have that kind of acting ability and therefore will be using the effect in a more subdued fashion, as my friend Jim Kleefeld recommends in his wonderful "Tales From Beyond" package.

MARKET: Don't do this for little kids' birthdays, OK? Can we all agree on that? LOL Otherwise, I think this will play best for high school, college or adults' groups...again with the proper PRESENTATION. (Yes, I'm stressing that a LOT. This effect NEEDS a good presentation. It will DIE if you try to simply let the effect play itself. Trust me.)

I can recommend this effect for the simplicity, but the practicality leaves it a little wanting - unless you're opening with this, some planning will be necessary to plan on how you will do the 'dirty work' as discussed in the instructions.

RATING: I'll give this a solid 7 out of 10.

Until next time....more s-p-o-o-o-o-k-y magic next week!

Now I'm off to rest my back. More shows tomorrow...I'm grateful for the work, just wish my back would ease up....:(


Cris Johnson

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