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Topic: Dr Sawa
Message: Posted by: michaelvincent (May 12, 2006 03:12AM)
Hello John

I know you are a great fan of Dr Sawa.

I have seen him perform once on British television, "The Best of Magic", it was truly memorable and thrilling. He performed his sea shells routine.

I am curious to know what is about about Dr Sawa that resonates with you so much.

I must say, your interpretation of the Slot Machine is so practical and such a great opening effect.

I spent many months working on this effect because it is the sort of magic I visualised performing. What a great way to frame an effect around the lure of gambling. This is an inspired piece of magic, not for the faint hearted but judging by audience responce it has proven to be one the highlights of my show. Thanks for sharing it whit us.

Michael Vincent
Message: Posted by: John Carney (May 12, 2006 11:05AM)
It is a shame we have not heard from Sawa for a while. When I first heard of him as a boy, from the pages of Genii magazine, he was a revelation. Here was a guy that didn't just find cards and vanish coins. He had an effect or a concept in mind first, THEN he thought of a way to accomplish it. And the effects were great!

Instead of just vanishing coins, he "deposited" them into his fist where they were swallowed by a slot machine....ending with the appearance of a dozen half dollars (jackpot!). A branch from a tree was shown and lady bugs suddenly appeared on the leaves. Strips of black and white cardboard laid on the table just so, became a playable toy piano.

Too often, as magicians, we only think of what has been done, with new methods. Another way to control the card, another way to conceal the coin...... another ordinary magic trick. Sawa's plot are beautiful and poetic. The magicians from Japan definitely have a different approach to everything. Sawa is at the top of this way of thinking.

Many of his plots use elements of nature in the presentation. In one effect, he moves an aqua colored silk on the table and speaks of "sea waves". One by one, sea shells appear washed up on the shore. Finally, a large oyster shells, and from this dozens and dozens of pearls! Beautiful.

Perhaps it is an "eastern" way of thinking.....a whole different world view and philosophy that touches everything from magic to social interaction and simple office supplies. This might be the result of Japan's isolation from the west until the last century, or because eastern philosophy often uses elements of nature as metaphor to better understand humanity.

Magicians from the west would do well to study not just Sawa's magic, but a different way of thinking in general. Think on the right side of the brain for a while. The right brain processes from whole to part, holistically. It starts with the answer. It sees the big picture first, not the details. There are more possibilities because there are no limitations......the imagination is unlimited.

Know that in magic, if you can dream it, you can make it happen....well, at least eventually. It may not happen overnight, but you can find a way to realize it. Once you are in magic for a while, and familiar with its many tools, rules and principles, you can always find a way to accomplish something.

My favorite minds in magic (by no means a complete list, but the top for me) are Sawa, Gaeton Bloom, Finn Jon and Tommy Wonder. These guys don't just follow the pack, they push the envelope!

thanks Michael,
Message: Posted by: michaelvincent (May 12, 2006 01:09PM)
Hi John
Thanks for your reply.
You have given me more than I expected in my simple question.

You raised the point of humainty, this is a word which isn't usally associated with magic or modern day magicians. How can it be when audience abuse has become fashionable. Reality television robs the audience of any joy.

Dr Sawa's magic, his Sea Shells, the toy piano which I also remember seeing triggered strong emotions for me because it speaks of humanity. The humanity which cries for acknowledgement.

When you spoke of the eastern way of thinking, you reminded me of how much I enjoyed the film The Last Samurai. That film taught me so much about respect, dsicipline with a purpose, the code of Bushido and hounor.

When I saw Dr Sawa, Slydini, Channing Pollock, and Rene Lavand, I was exposed to magicians whose entire being was fused with these qualities. These magicians to me, were like Samurai warriors, magicians whose entire code was to up hold a tradition of excellence and rasing standards.

Thanks for your responce, very stimultating indeed.

Message: Posted by: myoungbauer (May 12, 2006 05:26PM)
Hi guys

Thank you for your thought-provoking analysis of Dr. Sawa's magic. He has always been one of my favorites, ever since seeing his name brought up by one of my other favorites, John Carney. John, your mention of him at the beginning of Carenycopia, as well as your handling of his Slot Machine plot, lead me to explore Dr. Sawa's magic, and it's been a fascinating journey. So thank you.
One thing I would add is that another quality of Dr. Sawa's magic is he finds meaning in the props themselves, without imposing any complicated metaphors on them. That is, a rope is simply a rope, rather than symbolizing the
"journey of man" or some such thing. Metaphorical magic can surely work, but sometimes simply letting a rope be a rope, a coin be a coin, it can feel less contrived to an audience. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. . .
John, just a quick question. In Carneycopia, it mentions your "Thirteenth Victim" being inspired by Dr. Sawa's "Billy Goat Trick," a trick which "has not yet appeared in an English text." I've always wondered what that trick was, if it's appeared in print yet, or if it was something you were shown or told about.

Anyways, thanks again for your time and thoughful responses.
Message: Posted by: John Carney (May 12, 2006 07:09PM)
I agree, one methaphorical magic trick might play well, but an act of them would not go down well.

Re: Sawa's billy goat.......I don't want to go into too much detail, as I don't know how much Dr. Sawa is comfortable with.

Lets just say, Sawa makes a "billy goat" hand puppet (impromptu), then feeds it rolled up napkins. He then feeds it a rolled up dollar bill which it devours.....it then regurgitates.....four quarters.

It really is more charming than my description. I'm just being cagey.

I hope to see another Sawa book published someday!

Message: Posted by: myoungbauer (May 13, 2006 12:38AM)
Hey John

Thanks for your respectful answer. It does indeed sound like a charmming trick. I always thought "Thirteenth Victim" was one of the highlights of Carneycopia, thanks for your thoughts concerning some of its origins.


Matt, who also hopes to see another Sawa book published someday!