This week has been extremely exciting as the time off from the road has done wonders for my health. Most of my gigs the last couple of weeks have been local gigs, within a couple hours' drive, so that makes my life easier.:)
As I mentioned last week, I've got a few more products in the works. The first is a complete, scripted, show-in-a-box for the corporate market that nets me a LOT of money each year. The course will come with a full script, alternate trick ideas, marketing materials including fliers, what to say when the client calls and much more. This is my baby, my pride and joy.
The second product will be "Cause & Effects Volume 3" in which I share my presentations for classics of magic such as Silk to Egg, Snowstorm and many others. These routines are what I use to make my living so I know they work. Feedback on the first two volumes has been very, very positive!
The third product will be all about producing quality demo videos right in your own home without any fancy equipment. Sure, the software for computers is out there, but over the years I've distilled the formula down to a few simple essentials. By using this format, I guarantee you WILL book more shows.
The products are still being written, but if you want any questions answered, I'll try my best.:) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My free monthy ezine, "Cause & Effects" is still ongoing - sign up free by emailing me at email@example.com.
Oh one more thing - I'm REALLY super-psyched about my friend Paul Romhany's new series of routine booklets devoted to classics of magic such as the Half_dyed Hank. Paul's thinking is always top-notch and I'm counting the days til the books are released...
Onto this week's review...It's the Appearing, Floating Microphone Stand. It retails for $99.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=4384
EFFECT: The Magician strolls onstage with a small lunch sack. He looks inside as if to find something magical. Sprinkle a little bit of glitter into the bag, immediately a microphone pole emerges from within. It seems to take on a life of it's own as it grows and grows. This looks like pure magic, but it is only just the beginning of the magic that soon takes place.
The magician looks out into the crowd, hands the bag to a spectator to hold, and then continues pulling about three more feet of the microphone stand out of the bag! If that wasn't enough, it doesn't end there:
The magician removes the entire staff from the paper bag, yet it appears to be way too tall. The magician comments that the mic stand may be fine for Wilt Chamberlin, but unfortunately it won't work too well for someone like him. Mystically and slowly as the magician taps on the mic clip, the pole begins to shrink while remaining in full view! Down it goes. Now, the magician plugs it into the base that is under the scarf on the floor. Now for the most amazing part:
The microphone stand seems to take on a life of it's own as it floats and bobs and tries to get away, but it is no match for the magician's skill as it eventually obeys his commands and comes to rest gently on the floor to a well deserved applause!
WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The floating / growing mic stand, the base, foulard, and floating gimmick, along with a few pages of written instructions that include blurry black and white photos.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The written instructions are not bad, but the blurry photos are quite bad as occasionally its tough to judge what in the world you're looking at. These instructions are for me at least proof that, contrary to what many magicians think, learning from the written word is not the "best" way to learn. Some folks out there may put out a decent product yet lack the writing skills (and photography skills) to put together a set of written instructions. They are OK...but the order of pages and layout made for a frustrating experience.
QUALITY OF PROPS: Here's where I have a BIG problem. When I opened up my package and after I read the instructions, a key piece was missing, namely the 'gimmick' that enables the pole to stay in the base after the growing business. OK, I'll just say it...the magnet was missing. That's not good.
Next, the way the effect works relies on a certain kind of gimmick being inserted into the side of the pole, in two holes. I won't reveal the gimmick, but it's based on an old, classic, highly reliable principle, so no complaints there. The problem with my appearing pole(s) is that there were no holes, meaning I had to cut holes into my own gimmicks. Very bad indeed.
Fortunately, the good folks at Hocus Pocus immediately got me the parts I needed, so their stellar customer service still rocks.
Finally, the last problem with this effect is that the microphone clip is too small to hold a standard wireless handheld mic. I'm a hypnotist and I own a Shure SM58, which is pretty much the industry standard / workhorse and the clip on my mic stand prop would've snapped right in half if I tried forcing my mic in to the clip. I checked and there are some wired mics that probably would've fit, but to float a mic stand with a wired mic on it would be cumbersome at best. Once again not good...and there's no way to swap out clips from the prop without ruining it.
On the plus side, the floating gimmick was well-made and crafted to blend in well with the black foulard, which is also of good quality, though perhaps a little small.
ANGLES: If you're familiar with other floating effects of this type, (and you know what I mean...) you'll be aware that the angles are pretty good. The effect will look good from the front and sides (if you're careful with the sides) but the rear view is a big no-no.
THE WORKINGS OF THE EFFECT: Realistically, the only effect this prop is really good for is either making it appear out of the bag OR making it float. I feel that to do both is not really feasible. Why? Well, if you're familiar with Appearing Poles, you have an idea of how the 'appearing' part works. You also know that as the prop 'appears' there is some sliding going on.
When the 'appearance' part is over, the two holes to accept the floating gimmick will probably not line up.
Despite all of the flaws, the floating itself really does look magical. I feel the best way to present this is JUST as a floating mic stand and if you can find a wired mic (or at least a realistic looking toy) that will fit into the clip, having the prop set up at the beginning of the show will look very innocent from a slight distance.
Oh, and that business in the ad copy that talks about "shrinking" the stand in full view of the audience by tapping the clip? Due to the shoddy nature of the poles' construction (especially around the ends) no way in the world will that fly by an audience.
MY RATING: As far as doing everything as described in the ad, I would say this is an abysmal failure. If you are JUST floating this, it does look good, the working is pretty easy and it looks magical. However, due to the horrendus number of mistakes with my unit along with the poor instructions and the general shoddy nature of the construction, I can really only give this a 4 out of 10. I don;t feel this will hold up over the long haul for the working pro. I'd recommend saving up and buying a Don Wayne Floating Mic Stand (if they're still available) and there's more you can do with the floating part of the effect.
NEXT WEEK: 21st Century Phantom by Oz Pearlman