Thursday, July 28, 2011

Murder By Magic Q & A and REVIEW: Facelifter by Andrew Mayne

Hi All,

First off,THANK YOU for those of you who have purchased my Murder By Magic: The ULTIMATE Corporate Magic Show course! This has been an incredible winner for me and has allowed me to book gigs I normally would have a tough time selling against other, more established, corporate performers.

I've received some questions about Murder By Magic, so I thought I'd address a few of them this week, to give those of you more info to consider so you can choose whether or not to take advantage of the $200 discount that's going on til August 11, when the price jumps from $795 to $995.

Here we go...

QUESTION: "How much do I have to invest in new props?"

ANSWER: "The real answer is, depending on what routines you already have in your set lists, maybe NO money! I have several effects just for the Murder By Magic show. One custom prop by Nick Wenger cost me about $1000, but it was a CUSTOM job and when I fly to a gig for Murder By Magic (quite often, to tell the truth) I can't bring it - TSA would kill it - so I most often use an effect that fits in my pocket. That being said, Nick's prop is amazing and I use it WHENEVER I can...and I tip the workings in the book.

The reality is I designed the show for me and since I travel a lot, most of the entire show will fit in a briefcase as I perform it. Of the version I perform most often, only 1 of the effects would not fit into a briefcase or something of a similar (slightly larger) size.

I'd be willing to bet if you had to invest ANY money into the show, it would be less than $100. Many of the effects are mentalism-based and quite small. Most of the effects could be found in books and/or DVDs most magicians may have. Of course, there are a few "larger/pricier" options that I enjoy performing, but affordable options abound and most play just as well - if not better - than my version.

QUESTION: "How long is the show, and can I make it longer/shorter?"

ANSWER: "The show, for me, runs 50-60 minutes. Again, I designed it for my own corporate work. Most of my clients want either a 45 or 60 minute show. I time it out at between 50-60 minutes as I have found it works best for me. However, the structure of the show is such that a longer or shorter show is a snap. In the book of alternate routine suggestions, I give the buyer an additional batch of routines that would EASILY enable you to stretch the show to 90 minutes, if you wanted to do a full evening show. I've done it and while I feel a good corporate show (after dinner, awards, holidays, etc) is best at that 50-60 minute mark, you may feel differently."

QUESTION: "Can this be adapted for other markets?"

ANSWER: "Yes, in fact, I've done Murder By Magic for high school groups and hotel/restaurant owners looking to draw more of a crowd on certain nights. It's unique and not as intimidating-sounding as a hypnosis show or a (potentially) dirty comedian.

QUESTION: "Are there any restrictions about where I can do this program?"

ANSWER: "The answer is NO - no restrictions at all...although if a buyer were to perform this at a magic convention, I would immediately label the person as not too bright, as the presentation of this is everything and doing it at a magic convention would be like just GIVING it away.:)"

QUESTION: "Are there any costumes?"

ANSWER: "Not unless you want to. I wear my normal "business casual" attire of black slacks, dress t-shirt and jacket, but that's just me. If you want to play a 'character' and/or wear a costume, you certainly may, but if you're worried about it, no, nothing like that in the Murder by Magic program as I perform it."

QUESTION: "Do I have to 'set up' anything with people before the show?"

ANSWER: "Not at all. When I perform for adults, I perform 'cold,' that is, when I walk out to do the show, the only person I've spoken to very often is the person who hired me. The ideal situation is when NO ONE knows what form of entertainment is going to take place. NOTHING needs to be 'set up' before the show with anyone - no 'pre-show,' no assigning roles, nothing."

Still more questions: Here's the link for murder By Magic:

Still MORE questions? Email me at

On to this week's review...It's Facelifter by Andrew Mayne. It's available for $13.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link:

QUICK NOTE: I've received a LOT of new the coming weeks, I will be reviewing the following:

Portable Phantasm Pro II
Frozen Glow
Fish In A Bottle
Lethal by Bobby motta

That being said, I have not had time to work on or test these products, so I decided to go 'into the vault' and review an older product. Mayne's Freefall DVD came in the mail today, so he's on my mind.

Facelifter EFFECT: The magician, at any point in his show, picks up a n old beat-up card board box. He places it upside-down over his head, and proceeds to rip open a hole in the front so that his face is visible. He then lifts the box a full foot above his shoulders, stretching his neck to an impossible length! Next, he twists his head a full 360 degrees and back again. Finally, he removes his head entirely and then replaces it! Unreal!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A fully illustrated booklet detailing the effect, building of the prop and more.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Mayne is a pretty good teacher and writer and the photos and illustrations in the booklet are quite clear. Good work here.

DIFFICULTY IN BUILDING THE PROP: As long-time readers of my blog may remember, I HATE building props. That being said, the time in my life when I was working on this effect was several years ago when I really did not have the money for really decent props. I found the building of the basic box quite simple. The rest of the gimmicks were a little tougher, especially the face, as getting the "face" to look right without distorted features was a little tougher. Still, we're not talking about a hard build here. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

DIFFICULTY IN PERFORMANCE: Essentially, the basic performance involves you putting a box on your head. Obviously, the actual performance is more nuanced than that, but we are not talking about a difficult effect - a 1 in terms of difficulty, but as you'll see below, there's a more intangible difficulty that proves (at least for me) quite difficult to overcome.

MY THOUGHTS: I've bought a fair amount of Andrew Mayne stuff over the years and none of it has made it into my "A" performance set list of any kind (corp, kids, etc.) This was one of the first things of his I bought and I really wanted it to work...I guess I was going through my "street magic craze," and wanted to be the 'cool guy' instead of myself.

I really feel that a cardboard box really needs a storyline or some hook as to WHY you'e using a box. In most cases, in the environments I perform, a cardboard box is going to scream "cheap" to my audiences. Obviously there are exceptions, such as Peter Loughran's Gremlins in a Box, in which a cardboard box adds to the charm/realism/story of the effect, but in this case, Mayne notes this effect is intended to be a quick effect to be done rapidly, without giving the audience a chance to digest the effect. By saying this, to me, he's kind of letting the cat out of the bag. To me, he's saying, "Do the effect quick, so no one catches on to what you're doing." It's almost an admission of a low-quality effect.

Also, Mayne has released so many "Make a cardboard and/or cheap version of a classic illusion" type products that I really he really filling his stage with a bunch of cardboard box tricks (like his truly dreadful Voodoo Box) or are his products intended as a way to just put one such illusion in a show? I wonder indeed.

With all that in mind, I have to credit him for clever thinking and clear, complete instructions. Unfortunately, the handful of times I performed it, the effect sat there like a lead balloon. Some people even asked me after the show, "What were you supposed to do with the box?" In other words, the effect did not register as 'magic' (even BAD magic at all). Still, each of us is unique as a performer, so maybe your luck would be better than mine.

MY RATING: 4 out of 10.

NEXT WEEK: Richard Griffin's new Slingshot effect!

Questions? Comments? Email me at



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