Before I get to this week's review, I want to quickly echo my friend Paul Romhany's words last week regarding the negativity in magic. There's a certain magic forum out there which is a cancer to the art form. Avoid it if you really want to grow as a magical artist and performer.
As a sidebar on this topic, I got "thumped" by a few people regarding the perfect 10 scores I give out. With that in mind, here's a quick review of how I score tricks, books etc....
1. I judge it on the quality. Will it fall apart? Is it well-made?
2. Instructions - is the product explained well? Is it easy to understand how to perform it?
3. Does it do what it claims in the ad?
4. Is it workable in the real world? I'm a real world pro and an effect for "special occasions" does not hold much interest to me.
5. Angles - an effect that has nasty angles will often get a lower score as it relates to #4.
Let's take Paul Romhany's Briefcase Illusion last week. I gave it a 10 because it's practical for the real world. Also, it fooled the hell out of me when I watched the video. The instructions to construct the prop are crystal clear. The book is well-produced so the quality is extremely high. I've seen it in action, so I know the ad copy is accurate.
Does this mean it's the perfect effect? No, as 'the perfect effect' will differ from performer to performer. What rocks my world may not rock yours...for instance, as a stage guy, I could not care less if something is "examinable" in most cases. Why? A stage guy usually does not have time to allow things to be examined as it slows the pace of the show.
In the example of the Briefcase Illusion, for a stage illusion, the angles are perfect (depending on how you use it) and since Paul teaches you how to construct it so it packs flat, it's extremely practical for the real world.
With that being said, it's a big effect so a birthday performer will not have use for it.
Still, for the realm in which it was created, the Briefcase Illusion IS a 10 out of 10 based on my parameters.
I'm also very fussy what I buy, so since I've researched something before I perform it, chances are I know it will fit my needs.
The other thing I want to announce is my NEW blog, www.ProfessionalMagicTips.com! This blog is a FREE blog that covers magic, mentalism, performing philosophy and much more. It's an off-shoot of my Cause & Effects newsletter but this blog will be updated at LEAST once a week, usually more than that. Be sure to check it out for marketing tips, guest articles, road stories, sound system tips, equipment tips, travel tips and much more!
With that out of the way, here's this week's review: Fish In A Bottle by Dick Barry. It's available for $75.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the ad link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=15927
AD: Fish in a Bottle by Dick Barry, its another Hocus Pocus exclusive!
A plastic water bottle is shown to contain only clear water. The cap on the bottle is secured tightly so nothing can enter the bottle.
You state the bottle contains an "INVISIBLE FISH". The bottle is handed to a spectator to hold. The spectator is asked to confirm that he/she can only see clear water in the bottle.
You drape a black silk over the bottle, STILL HELD by the SPECTATOR. Tell the spectator if they say, "I believe in magic" the fish will APPEAR. Once that is said, you slowly pull the silk from the bottle. What was once a bottle containing only water now has a BEAUTIFUL LIVE GOLDFISH swimming around inside the bottle. (What makes this such a wonderful effect is that the magic happens close-up in the spectator's hand.)
NO MAGNETS OR MIRROR TYPE GIMMICKS ARE USED.
The bottle can be seen up-close BEFORE and EVEN EXAMINED after the performance.
No sleight-of-hand involved.
No harm to the fish!
Learn in minutes!
Comes with the bottle, black silk, special gimmicks and completed instruction, including color photographs.
Furnish your own fish. A truly memorable magic effect your audience will always remember.
WHAT YOU GET: Full-color illustrated instructions, the bottle, extra gimmicks, a black silk.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The instruction is rock-solid and there are even care instructions for the fish, in particular the Siamese Fighting Fish, which Barry claims would be a good choice for the effect. Having owned several of these fish in my lifetime, I can attest to the fact that they are very beautiful and quite hardy as well.
The effect is simple to perform and looks EXACTLY as the demo video claims. There is no deception so that's nice.
ANGLES: This is the rare effect that can be done surrounded, as long as the spectators are a couple of feet away from you. An extemely observant spectator might spot "something" in the handling, but only if they literally had their head resting on your shoulder! Realistically, you've gotten nothing to worry about here.
MARKETS: It's the production of a live fish, so I'm going to go out on a limb and claim this could be done for ANY age group. I myself used to produce a fish using a different method years ago and I can tell you that causing a live fish to appear magically is very arresting for any audience.
QUALITY OF PROPS: This prop is supplied in a protective cardboard mailing tube, similar to how I transport my Clearview Airborne. Good decision, as any plastic water bottle needs protecting if it will last. The rest of the supplied props are good quality. No complaints here.
MY THOUGHTS: This almost a perfect effect as the use of the bottle and the workings of the effect allow you to use a larger fish than traditional methods of producing the fish. Since the fish can be bigger, the effect can play to a bigger audience. This is happy news.:)
I say this is "almost" a perfect effect but the fact is, before the fish makes his appearance, the little guy is OUT of water til the magic moment. Barry assures users that the fish will be fine for a few minutes and while he's technically correct, it does mean the fish is NOT happy. Since I'm a big proponent of protecting the living critters we use in a show and seeing to their comfort, I must take a little off of the score.
This feature also limits the effect to an opening effect only. I love the effect, the video looks great, and it can be performed surrounded....but the fish being out of water til the big moment does in fact make me hesitate in giving this effect a perfect score. 8 out of 10....so close!
Until next week, be sure to bookmark www.ProfessionalMagicTips.com and visit it early and often!