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Topic: Costume Changes in Illusions.
Message: Posted by: MCM (Apr 20, 2006 11:48AM)
I was wondering about costume changes in illusions (not where the change is the illusion). What do folks feel are illusions where the change is good, bad, and ugly? The sub-trunk seems to be a popular illusion to do it in (and the most notorious given the "wardrobe malfuction" that Charlotte Pendragon suffered on TV). I would like to hear any good stories where you had faced "malfuctions" - or saw one. Finally, has anyone used an illusion as a place to duck into to change clothes outside of a show?

One story I have to share is a video I saw of a S&R look-alike duo (I don't know who they were) who did a Zig-Zag illusion where they excessively spun the illusion around and left the back facing the audience several times for long periods (both when the middle was slid over and back in place). Finally, when the assistant came out with a different outfit on, you could see the old one (obviously worn over this one) sitting on the floor of the ZZ.
Message: Posted by: Keith Jozsef (Apr 20, 2006 12:35PM)
This is an interesting topic...I really walk the line when it comes to costume changes as kicker endings. The major problem that I see, frequently, or should I say hear, is when spectators discuss effects after a performance. More often than not, the spectators remember the costume change more than the illusion itself! For example, after a standard performance of Origami, the assistant emerged in a different colored costume...After the show, my lay-friends commented on how much they liked "the one where the girl got into the box and came out wearing a diffent outfit!"-- As if having the box folded into a 12" cube and skewered in every direction with swords, was an afterthought! This is something most illusionists don't consider. That sometimes the effect is enough. Don't gild the lilly, as they say.

If all the spectators are remembering is the costume change, maybe the performance of the illusion itself wasn't that captivating to begin with.

Just a thought.

Keith Jozsef
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 20, 2006 12:43PM)
Costume changes are often used as an "extra kicker", to provide a surprise ending to a familiar illusion- Metamorphasis (sub-trunk) is a common recepient of the costume change, since the trick's been around for so long. I don't know how successful this is all the time- we've started to see "assistant changes" now taking the place of the simple costume change in certain effects (again, the sub-trunk.) For me, a costume change during an illusion doesn't really do much, unless it's integral to the plot of the illusion- for example, a spiker illusion where the assistant's costume is suddenly full of holes. Hmm, maybe I should play with this idea- perhaps a variation on the shadow box where a fully colored costume turns black and white, or perhaps the reverse for a greater impact.

As for changing [i]inside[/i] an illusion off-stage, in my experience it's unlikely- most actors/performers quickly lose their modesty when under severe constraints, and an illusion is usually too cramped to be helpful, anyway. I was in a theatrical production where one of the actresses had to make a full costume change into a backless gown in around 20 seconds, plus have a mic attached. She did this with the help of a female stage hand, just two feet out of view of the audience. The director provided a curtain in the set for modesty, but by the end of dress rehersals, it was clear the thing got in the way, so she just ripped off her old costume and pulled on the new one, without caring about who saw the bits beneath it (which was only two or three people, who had immediate entrances to make through the place she was changing.) It wasn't really a big deal.

That sounds like poor planning on the Zig-Zag. I would have attached a black lycra pocket to the inside of the cabinet to hide the costume afterwards.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 20, 2006 12:46PM)
On 2006-04-20 13:35, Keith Jozsef wrote:
If all the spectators are remembering is the costume change, maybe the performance of the illusion itself wasn't that captivating to begin with.

Just a thought.

Keith Jozsef
Similiarly put- frequently when the presentation is good enough, the audience doesn't even realize a costume change has taken place (DC's Origami springs to mind; I saw it on video, didn't realize there was a costume change until I rewound it to watch the illusion again.) This can also be a waste of resources.
Message: Posted by: Keith Jozsef (Apr 20, 2006 12:56PM)

I agree with your thoughts. However, when you say, "Costume changes are often used as an "extra kicker", to provide a surprise ending to a familiar illusion"--My question would be-- 'familiar' to whom? And the answer would be--magicians, of course! It seems perhaps that the necessity of a costume-change kicker ending came, as a result of magicians who perform nowhere else but at magic conventions, where the audience is almost entirely comprised of magicians.

It's amazing to us (magicians) that a standard performance of the sub-trunk still kills a lay audience...on the strength of the illusion alone! Perhaps we need to remind ourselves exactly who comprises the audience we're playing to.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make our magic look different than others, i.e. adding costume changes etc... I just think that laymen aren't exposed to enough magic to know/appreciate that you've deviated from a standard.

Keith Jozsef
Message: Posted by: Keith Jozsef (Apr 20, 2006 12:58PM)

P.S. I really like you're idea about a costume with holes coming out of a spiker illusion...may I steal it?!

Keith Jozsef
Message: Posted by: MCM (Apr 20, 2006 01:40PM)
I would LOVE to see more spike/sword, etc illusions with the "victim" coming out of it with holes in their outfit! Especially if it is one where there is no vanish of the person, this adding to the idea that the person was really in there the whole time.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 20, 2006 02:12PM)
Keith and MCM- Sure, go for it, but it's certainly not my original idea. I've seen it before in various acts, and read about it in one of the example illusions from "Seven Basic Secrets of Illusion Design".

Keith- you're right about magicians feeling they need to impress other magicians. Or, sadly, yes, trying to use a costume change to cover a deficiency in their presentation. Like I've said, I simply don't see the need for a random costume change. (I'll give another example of a plot-based one, though- I think Sigfried and Roy did a double sawing-in-half, then mixed the halves up, resulting in one girl with a white top and red bottom, and the other girl with a red top and white bottom. In this case, the costume change added significantly to the effect.)
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Apr 20, 2006 08:48PM)
On the other hand, my "Crazy Cabana" Illusion, (The Wizards' Journal #5) is specifically designed as a costume change Illusion, but the mystery is where all the other people are coming from and disappearing to.

The starting effect is that the Illusionist and his assistant enter the Cabana to change into (in my version we get into 1890's old fashioned bathing suits- but it's open to re-interpretation) swim suits for the beach, meanwhile other people emerge from the cabinet in one color suit, don't like it for some reason and re-enter the cabinet, whereupon a new person emerges in an outfit, and so on. The whole thing is done as quickly as possible and you don't know whether you're watching for the costume changes or to see how many people this skinny Cabana Cabinet can actually hold. It's great for producing the ensemble of an entire play cast for their final curtain call, with them coming and going, changing costumes, and finally all lining up along the front of the stage for the final bow. The Illusionist would emerge last, dressed only in boxer shorts, look down and gasp, then run through the Cabana to emerge in his fanciest dress outfit for the bow.
Message: Posted by: The Drake (Apr 20, 2006 08:55PM)
Greatest costume change ever.....

I don't know his name but he did an act where he went into a cardboard box which was impaled my many swords ( not a swordbox illusion ). There is very little room in the cardboard box before the swords were even stuck into it and yet the illusionist comes out dressed as a clown in full make up.

Its not just a color change but so radical it gets a great response from the totally surprised audience who never saw it coming.


Message: Posted by: Chris Murphy (Apr 20, 2006 09:09PM)

That would have been Hans Moretti from Germany (and Helga of course). He did an amazing Crossbow act as well. Personally I'd have loved to see the clown go in, get stuck with swords and never come back out... ohhhh here we go....

Message: Posted by: The Drake (Apr 20, 2006 09:21PM)
Thanks Chris,

Thanks for the info. I think I'll look more on Hans.


Message: Posted by: Chris Murphy (Apr 20, 2006 10:01PM)
No worries Tim, Stevens Magic did have a Moretti video - it may still be available. If you're looking for videos, he was on the David Nixon show, Paul Daniels and The Best of Magic. Possibly also on that EuroDisney special hosted by Blackstone too, I think he did a burning straitjacket escape. They also did a great Broom Suspension on a paper tree - a roll of paper, torn at the ends and expanded out - then the Broom Suspension on that, really great. I think one of the very strong points of the costume change was that it was so also a complete contrast in personality from the strong man looking Hans to a clown, not to mention the full make-up. A very strong unusual act, I think I saw recently the son has taken it over - or the crossbow bit at least - I'm pretty sure I saw that Helga died a while back, unfortunately.

Message: Posted by: Keith Jozsef (Apr 21, 2006 07:56AM)

Your illusion sounds very nice. The reason I think your costume changes work, in your piece, is because they are MOTIVATED. How many kicker endings do we see that have nothing to do with the piece that was just performed? Again, to those who brough up Hans Moretti...going from a circus strongman-type character to a clown, is motivated, within the theme of the performance--and thus makes sense.

Keith Jozsef
Message: Posted by: jimgerrish (Apr 21, 2006 03:18PM)
Thanks for the reminder about Hans Moretti. I just added him to Spellbinder's Brief Biographies of Magic Inventors on The Magic Nook web site, and included links to the Video and Moretti's own web site. So many inventors... so little time!
Message: Posted by: Shrubsole (Apr 21, 2006 09:15PM)
On 2006-04-20 22:09, Chris Murphy wrote:

That would have been Hans Moretti from Germany (and Helga of course). He did an amazing Crossbow act as well... Chris.

Indeed he did! - And possibly the only illusion that I still don't have a clue about :mad:

Why is this man (and Helga of course) not pulling in the same respect as many others?

that one illusion is one to stuff magicians and punters alike!

That together with his and her insain crossbow routine is the stuf that everyone else should avoid and thankfully HAVE!

But where are they? - I would pay good money to see that but why all the Copperfield interest when there are/were people like this doing in your face impossible illusions.

Hope to see them again soon if not in person.
Message: Posted by: LeeAlex2002 (Apr 22, 2006 02:22AM)
Helga unfortunately passed away in 2002.

Hans himself is getting on to be eighty years old.

Unfortunately the chances of seeing him perform again are slim, although he did carry on for a short time with his daughter Nicole after the passing of Helga.
Message: Posted by: kregg (Apr 22, 2006 06:24AM)
That blew me away when he reemerged as a clown.

I saw metamorphosis done with a costume change white to black.
An audience member whispered to their friend, "Did they change girls?"
His friend responded, "No it's the same girl."
I chimed in, "She changed costumes."
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (Apr 23, 2006 12:37PM)
On another note...anyone here ever spent good money on a girl's costume, only to have her rip it coming out of an illusion? Now that will definitely put a damper on your day, especially if your doing a second show that same day! :(
Message: Posted by: Lex Schoppi (Apr 28, 2006 01:47PM)
The best way is: hide the costume change! At first the magician slips into the costume of a stagehand. Now he can easy go from stage. Than he transforming in the middle of the audience or in the next illusion back to self.