Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Book and REVIEW: Confessions of a Needle Swallower

Hi All,

First, some GREAT news - my buddy Paul Romhany told me today that his two new books are on their way to me! The first is his Headline Prediction book, of which I am a co-author. I'm super excited to see what Paul has done with this classic plot of mentalism.

The second book is volume two of Performing Mentalism for Young Minds book. Volume one was sensational! While I contributed to volume one with a couple of killer routines, I was nonetheless blown away by the quality of material in volume one. I've contributed to part two as well, but by the sounds of things, I'm going to be blown away again.

Also, I am looking for people to review my NEW book...but it's not a magic book. This book is actually a book geared toward parents. The book is filled with tips and techniques to better improve communication with their kids. It's highly influenced by my studies in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which for lay purposes is the study of language patterns for communication.

If you want a FREE PDF copy of the book sent to you in a week or so (my projected finish) email me at The only "fee" for the book is you must agree to email me some quotes I can use when I market the book.

Also, I have a TON of new goodies coming to me. Here's just some of what I'll be reviewing over the coming weeks...(some is new stuff, some not so new):

Jitters by Peter Loughran
Butchers Blade by Tim Wisseman
The Black Box by John Kennedy
Comedy Ker-Plunk Wand by Tommy James
The Big Reaction by Andy Nyman

...and a few others on the way.

Now, because I've got "creepy" stuff on the mind (I'm putting together a seance), I'm going to review an oldie but a goodie: Confessions of a Needle Swallower by Steve Spill. It's available for $49.95 from Hocus Pocus.

Here's the Ad Copy:

Routines of this caliber only come along once in a very long time.

We are proud to offer Steve Spill's incredible routine for the classic Needle Swallowing effect "Confessions of a Needle Swallower". Over the years there have been a multitude of methods for performing this classic effect.

Many famous performers have and do feature this effect in their shows from Houdini to Penn & Teller. The reason is simple: this effect has it all, mystery, danger, intrigue and in Steve's version COMEDY. Ask any agent in show business what's the most important aspect of any variety performance and they'll tell you it MUST be funny.

This is most important in a routine of this type. Audience's come to a show to be entertained. Tricks in the "Geek" category must be handled correctly to get the most entertainment value from the performance.

"Confessions of a Needle Swallower" is the definitive routine. It's all here. Steve's method is totally practical and very safe. His presentation has natural comedy that any performer can score the big laughs with every show.

Pros are always looking for routines that pack flat and play big. "Confessions of a Needle Swallower" is it. The gimmick and needles weight about 2 GRAMS. Add in the spool of thread and the flashlight and your total weight is maybe an ounce or two!

But such small props just how big of an audience can you perform the routine for effectively. The answer really comes down to lighting. With a spotlight the needles shimmer and reflect the light. In fact I believe they show up better than razor blades. Razor blades on edge are basically invisible. Teller KILLS with his version of the Needles at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas before over 800 people!

Of course you can perform "Confessions of a Needle Swallower" in almost any situation from close-up, to parlor and stage.

So what's the effect? The barebones are the performer places a single needle on his tongue and swallows it. A second needle is swallowed all under test conditions. The performers mouth is shown completely empty, under the tongue, under the top and bottom lips, the sides of the mouth. No doubt the needles have actually been swallowed. Twenty needles in all go down the gullet. Next a length of white cotton thread is swallowed. Now the impossible happens. You bring everything back up and all of the needles are now on the thread. It's stunning!

Two things raise "Confessions of a Needle Swallower" apart from all of the other versions First; Steve's method is brilliant and easy to do. Second, Steve's presentation is hilarious. All you need to do is follow his script and you're done, the big laughs are yours.

Included in the product are the training DVD and the special gimmick. "Confessions of a Needle Swallower" is sold without the needles, thread, threader and flashlight for two reasons. The first is to keep your costs down. You can buy the props for the same price we do. No sense for you to pay for marked up costs for shipping, handling and distribution. Second, you will need to replace the needles and thread periodically. Needles will eventually rust and the thread wears out. The needles and thread are readily available. "Confessions of a Needle Swallower" is a routine that once mastered can be built even if the airlines loose your act!

The training DVD was shot and produced at the HD studios of Bob Kohler Magic. The DVD contains 3 shows for you to see. The first is a TV show from 1988; the second is a comedy club performance in 1998 and last is a show we shot this fall at Magicopolis, Steve's incredible theater in Santa Monica, CA. Make sure you stop in to see Steve's show if you're in the area.

The explanations are in-depth and contain all of the work, tips and methods you'll need to perform "Confessions of a Needle Swallower".

If you follow Steve's instructions the routine is very safe and easy. It's also easy to learn as Steve starts you off on the learning curve using toothpicks!

One important note! Swallowing needles is dangerous. "Confessions of a Needle Swallower" is a TRICK. You don't actually swallow needles or thread. But you do put real needles into your mouth. Without proper training, thoughtful practice and care putting anything in your mouth can be dangerous.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: An extremely well produced DVD and a small gimmick...actually it's a holder of sorts for the needles and keeps everything organized before and during your show.

QUALITY OF GIMMICK: The holder is a simple little thing that you can replicate for yourself if you've got multiple performances in one day. With care, the little holder will last quite a while. Mine has lasted a few years, but in the interest of complete disclosure I only perform this 12 or less times per year. To replace or duplicate, the holder will only cost you a few cents. When you see it, you'll understand.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: I've said it many times, but it bears repeating: Bob Kohler puts out the best videos in magic. They are well-lit, broadcast quality with an emphasis on detail - you'll have no questions after watching the DVD.

I also really like how Steve Spill gives you three different performances, in front of different audiences, so you really get a sense of how this will play.

Finally, Steve gives users new methods to reduce tangling. After having done this around 50 times, I can say that Steve's anti-tangle set-up does work most of the time. I think I've had issues 2 or 3 times and with that low rate of trouble, I'm fully prepared to say I probably did something wrong!

DIFFICULTY: While this does use real needles, Spill does give you some cool tips to minimize risks. The routine itself is extremely easy from a technical point of view, allowing the professional to concentrate on performance.

Despite the ease of performing, be prepared to put in some work to make all of the 'moves' naturalistic and smooth.

ANGLES: While I would not recommend this for closeup, mostly because you could not repeat this easily unless you have several 'set-ups' ready to go. With that in mind, I have done this surrounded for an outdoor BBQ and for a small group in a living room. I feel it plays best on stage and with proper lighting, you can do this for several hundred people. I've done it for 500 teens in an auditorium before and with the stage lights properly set up, people can see the light twinkling off of the needles as they come out of your mouth.

MARKET: This is the one area where this effect sinks...if you do this effect for a family show, you're an idiot. Sorry. Even times I've done it for adults, some people are very uncomfortable with this effect.

I've done it mostly for teens and even this jaded group is often grossed out by the effect.

THE VERDICT: I'll give this a 9 out of 10, only taking off one point and that's only because this is NOT a 'for all occasions' type of effect. If you are a performer who can use this effect, such as a college performer, I highly recommend this economical and reliable solution to a classic plot.

Until next time...


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    2. I am very enjoyed for this blog. I feel strongly about it and love very important information. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.
      scripts, NLP, vance, book, advertisement