Cris Johnson here...barely, but I am here.:)
This blog entry will probably be a bit on the short side as I'm still sick as heck. My wife thinks it's from exhaustion and I'm not inclined to argue with her. In the last 7 days, I've hit 5 states and two parts of Canada. I'm certainly grateful for the work, but there are times when I wonder what in the world I'm doing...and then I talk to my friend Paul Romhany and hear about HIS traveling and I wonder what I'm whining about.:)
Our salon/hypno-clinic is coming along nicely...today, we had the electricians in installing exit signs and emergency lighting as per the town regulations. We should be opening in a couple of weeks. To say we're excited is an understatement.:) I also received VERY promising news from a recent weight-loss client - she's lost 12 pounds and has ZERO cravings for some of the unhealthy foods she craved in the past. This was really encouraging to me, as this is all still quite new to me.
Finally in the 'personal news,' I have to report that our chubby cat Jorge passed away this week. He was an older kitty at 14 years old. He was quite chunky, so I used to call him to bed by saying, "Come on, Fat!" He was a sweet, affectionate cat and I miss him terribly.
On to this week's review...Levent's Salt Pour Gimmick & DVD. It's available for $40.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=8977
EFFECT AND DESCRIPTION: A magician pours a shaker full of salt into his left fist. Suddenly the salt disappears from his left hand and reappears in a long stream from the right hand.
This legendary trick has been featured by such great magicians as Dai Vernon, Roy Benson and Fred Kaps, and it has been written about in the acclaimed book “Roy Benson By Starlight.” As a result many magicians have been hoping to include it in their acts. But the perfect gimmick has been unavailable.
Finally the wait is over! Levent, the author of “Roy Benson By Starlight” has taken Roy Benson’s original Salt Pour Gimmick and he has added many unique design features that make it by far the best gimmick ever produced.
Custom molded out of durable and corrosion resistant flesh-colored plastic, “Levent’s Super Salt Pour Gimmick” never requires painting or touching up.
The lightweight material is slightly translucent so that under proper stage lighting conditions the magician can see exactly how much salt remains in the gimmick as the salt is reproduced. This feature is crucial for magicians that wish to choreograph their salt pour routine to recorded music.
The following are among the advanced physical features:
A very large flared opening which makes it effortless to fill with salt and allows it to be thumb palmed very securely;
A high salt capacity egg-shape that ergonomically conforms to the shape of your closed fist, thus making it easier to palm;
A concave base enabling the gimmick to sit upright and be ready to use in the prop case which also provides an indentation for your thumb making it easier to do the Benson “Turnover Move” as well as allow for better control during Vernon’s salt flow control technique.
The gimmick includes a DVD, in which Levent teaches the various Salt Pour techniques from the past masters of magic such as Dai Vernon, Roy Benson, Ross Bertram and Fred Kaps. Levent’s comprehensive lessons show the real secrets, such as how to covertly introduce the gimmick into your hands at the start of the routine, how to control the flow of salt when it is reproduced and how to secretly ditch the gimmick at the conclusion.
Additionally, Levent gives the Salt Pour historical context by explaining its progenitor, namely the legendary Tobacco Sleeving routine of the vaudeville headliner Emil Jarrow.
Levent also teaches the entire Salt Pour routine that he currently performs in his comedy magic act. Plus, he includes multiple variations such as the production of the salt from both fists. Finally as a bonus he reveals the secret of his earlier routine in which a borrowed wrist watch is transformed into an hourglass, the sand from the hourglass is used for the Salt Pour trick and at the finale the sand magically transforms back to the borrowed watch.
“This is the best salt pour gimmick ever made, it is the REAL work!” -- John Thompson
“This is not only the best gimmick I’ve ever worked with for the Salt Pour, but the DVD is absolute GOLD! Even if you don’t want to do the salt pour, it is an education in magic to watch this DVD.” -- Marc DeSouza
“It is perfection.” -- Pete Biro
“This is prestidigitation of the highest order... Your DVD and gimmick are simply the best. This is one of the best buys I ever made!” -- Jean-Guy Aubry
“This is a brilliant, well designed and superior prop.” -- Harry Murphy
WHAT YOU RECEIVE: An incredibly well made plastic gimmick, pictured in the ad and a very comprehensive DVD.
QUALITY: The gimmick itself is very well made, of tough plastic. The shape and design of the gimmick is such that it's easier to conceal and handle in the hands and pour the salt. It's also slightly translucent, allowing users to see how much salt is left in the gimmick. This is a terrific value.
The DVD itself is nicely produced and Levent himself gives the buyer an incredible history of the salt pour as well as in-depth teaching of not only his own handling but also the history of the effect, details on the different gimmicks over the years and most impressively, detailed handlings from several great magicians over the decades.
This is in particular a terrific value as this gives the buyer the option of selecting the handling he/she likes the best.
MY THOUGHTS: I've always been fascinated by the salt pour and recently, I needed a new non-verbal, music effect to start my shows for repeat audiences (typically I use either Kevin James' bowling ball effect or my parasol routine for first-time audiences).
I love the simplicity of the effect, how it's really a rather small effect but one that can play for large audiences. It's also a splendid example of skill magic (manipulation) but the angles are not nearly as bad with some of the handlings as other manipulation effects such as card palming or billiard balls, meaning this will play in more venues.
ANGLES: As I mentioned, the angles on many of the handlings Levent presents are pretty forgiving for manipulation-type magic. You wouldn't want to do it surounded, but as I often say, if you're doing stage magic completely surrounded, in my view, you're in hell.:)
MARKETS: This is, to me, the rare effect that would probably play well to nearly any age audience, with the possible example of the difficult teen market.:)
DIFFICULTY: Some of the handlings are tougher than others, but most are in the 5 out of 10 range in terms of technical difficulty. It's not going to take a year of your life to get a handle on this but at the same time, this is certainly not something that you can do right out of the box. I feel this is within reach of anyone willing to put in some work.
MORE THOUGHTS: After watching the terrific DVD and working a bit with the gimmick, I must confess I'm flabberghasted as to why anyone would pay $300 for a salt pour gimmick. Bear in mind, I'm not opposed to spending a lot for a good quality magic effect or routine (I have a lot of high priced stuff) but I can't see how, if you're interested in this classic effect of magic, how you could do any better than this version.
I give it a perfect 10 out of 10.
NEXT WEEK: I tackle an older release, Banachek's Radio Magic CDs.