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Topic: Zig Zag or Modern Art
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 16, 2009 09:19PM)
Just taking a quick poll:

Of course Zig Zag has been done so much more, but what's the better illusion in your opinions? In other words, what do you all think is really more baffling to a lay audience?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Message: Posted by: TaylorReed (Nov 16, 2009 10:05PM)
I think that the Modern Art is the better choice! Even though its also been done to death... THE moder art is cool because you can open two doors and see major body parts top box and bottom box... The top box also slides all the way over...
The Zig Zag illusion is a much larger box which is also a negative for traveling and the fact that the smaller a prop the more deceptive it appears..
The Modern Art is smaller and cooler.... The only thing that I like better about the ZZ is the two blades... I have performed them both and think that the way magic has been exposed on TV..... That the MODERN IS THE BETTER CHOICE...
I think that Owen Redwine builds one of the best.
I hope this helps you out.
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Nov 16, 2009 11:20PM)
If you've seen the best of the best... as in Robert Harbin himself doing the illusions.. you'd know that the Zig Zag is the only choice...

Though I own one for the moment.. I don't think that the modern art is a very deceptive illusion.. the ONE solution in a layman's mind is the only method availalbe.. and the table has NEVER looked like a separate part of the prop... (Dan Sperry excepted)...
Message: Posted by: Frank Simpson (Nov 16, 2009 11:43PM)
My opinion is that they're both excellent illusions, and while one might be better for one performer, the other will be better for another.

Both can be performed well, and both can be performed poorly. So it is kind of an unanswerable question.

For me personally, it's the Zig Zag.
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 16, 2009 11:50PM)
Good points from all!

Keep it coming as I really want to hear what all you experts think about this one!

Message: Posted by: TaylorReed (Nov 17, 2009 12:26AM)
If your going to go with the ZZ illusions I think the best builder for that illusion is edfmagic.. THey worked for John Gaughan for over twenty five years and have better prices than John Gaughan.... The main thing that I didn't like about the Zig zag illusion is the box is normally to big... But the Zig zag that Edf magic makes or did make back in the day when they worked for John Gaughan was really the best that I'd ever worked with... THe center extra slide and the tickle box.... The first zig zag that I owned as a child was the CHUS magic version from Hong Kong I believe it was ..... Then I had the Chalet version and then last but not least... The John Gaughan Version which was really the real deal..
Now keep in mind that the EDF guys are the same guys who have built every Origami, Interlude, Pole Levitation and any other prop that came thru Johns shop for around twenty five yrs between the two of then Eric and John...
http://www.edfmagic.com My wife built their web site around 4 yrs ago....
They have great prices and build some of the best stuff around....
I got the ZZ used, it once belonged to PETER REVEEN>>>>
I hope this helps.
I just think that the ZZ seems dated even in the way it looks...
People remember seeing even Donny and Marie do the effect back in the 70's..
with the Modern Art it looks kinda Modern and It's not seen as often...

I came up with a double zig zag illusion in the late 90's and then I talked with Copperfield about the effect.... IT was going to be a do as I do illusion....
HE loved the Illusion and the Idea... But he said if we do it .... IT has to be anything but a Zig Zag illusion... I really would rather not go into the routine that I invented.. So as you can see the way David Thinks...
Now he wouldn't even do the Modern Art because he does Steve Fearsons Effect with no box... IT's hard to beat.... NO BOX>
David was looking for a do as I do effect and he ended up going with the rope trick for the special and my idea didn't make to the special...
Same thing happen with my origianl sub trunk.... He was already build the Cacoon Illusion or as he told me it was going to be the Bed Sub trunk with a head board and Hand cuffs and stuff..... A lot changed before it made it to TV>>>>
But he said that my trunk wast the best that he had heard of...
I hope all this helps you out...

Posted: Nov 17, 2009 1:38am
I forgot to tell you who to deal with if you ever go with edfmagic..
Ask for Eric Olsen or John Uhern. They own the company and are great guys to work with.... The name of the Comapany is Entertainment Design and Fabrication=====www.edfmagic.com I hope this doesn't sound like a commercial for these guys, but they are just the best that I've ever worked with and I've been doing magic for 39yrs now..
Thank you again,

Taylor Reed
Message: Posted by: Illusion77 (Nov 17, 2009 12:43AM)
I have to agree with everything that Taylor said. Eric and John at EDF are two of the very best builders in the world and two of the nicest people in the business.
Message: Posted by: Chezaday (Nov 17, 2009 12:53AM)
I think this has been discussed a few times before. The Modern Art is simply a more visual illusion, hands down. I restore the girl with the doors open .. you can't beat that. Owen Redwine built the one Jim photographed for his book: Modern Art. There are a couple of dozen Owen had built years ago and yes, they are the very best out there. He told me "You better like the color as the prop will outlive both of us." Scary but true ...

The Zig Zag Lady does hold a special place in my heart .. after all it was my first illusion way back when. Of course I sold it as it was just collecting dust after I added the Modern Art to the show. I hope to add an Owen Brothers Zig Zag to my collection one day .. it's a beauty.

The guys at EDF are great .. Erick has been very helpful over the years. I would trust them with any project. They know illusions .. inside and out.

Message: Posted by: CMMAGIC (Nov 17, 2009 04:18AM)
The Zig Zag gets a better response with my audiences , I tried Modern Art but ppl's reviews wanna know " why don't the legs move ?

Harbins ZIGZAG is also not used as much as modern art these days . so to laymen its NEWER
Message: Posted by: Edgar Alstad (Nov 17, 2009 05:18AM)
I agree with makeupguy's argument. Also, Steimeyer himself claimed in one of his books that ZZ is an almost perfect illusion. If the staging is right, the three parts seem to have separated completely, and there is no doubt the girl is still inside the box. Modern Art may be more visual, but ZZ is still more deceptive IMHO :)
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (Nov 17, 2009 08:44AM)
Most of the illusions that are performed today have been exposed by the masked one. So if you use that as your criteria of what to perform or not perform, you will simply quit doing stage magic.

Through the years, how many times has the classic sawing a lady in half been exposed? Yet there are many performers still getting mileage out of a thin sawing.

The Zig Zag is a classic of magic that will be a staple of magic acts to come. Ed Alonzo is getting great reactions with Britney Spears, so a whole new generation of audiences is being exposed to the illusion. As mentioned before, it is imperative that the illusion be built and designed properly. Too many magicians have used home made props that are simply not deceptive. How many pictures have you seen of a guy standing there with the middle section half way over? This is simply fooling no one, except the guy that bought/built it.

Here is a video sample wherein the assistant is too large for the prop:

Here is a 70s performance by Mark Wilson, using a John Gaughan prop, one of the first televised performances of the Zig Zag in the U.S.:

And here is Talyor Reed's Zig Zag, being presented by Reveen:

Clearly still deceptive after all of these years!

The Modern Art is a new classic of magic. Like the Zig Zag, it can be performed in many situations where the angles are bad, and is much more visual than the zig zag, with more of the body exposed. I also favor the Chezaday opinion of the full view restoration. It is an incredible visual for the audience.

With the Zig Zag, costuming is not as important as with the Modern Art.

So now all you have to do is decide which prop suits YOUR performing style.

My 2˘

Message: Posted by: chmara (Nov 17, 2009 10:22AM)

Modern art -- is a much stronger visual illusion. You do not have to speak for it to look good - and eeven marginally acceptable magicians can act their way through it if they have an OK assistant. I would prefer to see it "dressed" in a way that would differentiate it from the "stock" models -- use the principle but cut with lazer, blow torch - different knife --- turn the box industrial -- or ancient feudal or Chinese.

BUT - for great magic -- audience involvement and a magician who can talk -- a well made COLLAPSIBLE Zig Zag (yes it can fold flat) made in the narrowest (smallest) size -- and using the original art, to my eyes has a touch of elegance that can be viewed close-up!

I feel Blackstone did Harbin's creativity a disservice by turning the illusion into a demonstration that did not involve a close up witness checking the missing middle ---- The illusion was made when cabaret and night club audiences were right on top of you -- and you wheeled on and off a dance floor. Moving onto stage and not having someone look real close removes the audience involvement and intimacy from the routine -- even though the ttrick remains the same.

Just my 50 cents worth after using both.
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Nov 17, 2009 10:40AM)
If you're going to perform modern art, make the cutting more believable. The best performance I have seen was with a chainsaw. (The magician started it and laid it down .) Don't go with that butter knife that's usually used. Everybody knows there is no way that could cut anyone in half. Go with a real-looking chainsaw and put that in the spot where the knife goes instead.
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 17, 2009 01:28PM)
Thanks again to all for your most complete thoughts and responses.

No worries Gregg- Opinions are JUST what I'm looking for here.

Steve, I realize that this may have come up before on the Café`, but I wanted to get a fresh new forum going on the matter and it has truly sparked some serious interest in seeing what you all have to say on the subject of these 2 fine illusions.

Taylor, I appreciate you pointing out edfmagic. I'd not seen their site yet. Very cool! In the last 2 years, I've officially gone from close up guy to full on grand illusion guy. Not that I don't still perform close up, but at this juncture, I really enjoy busting out the big guns for the big show! I guess you could say I'm taking a real David Lee Roth approach to it and it feels just like living in paradise! I also must say that collecting all the illusions thus far has been just as fun as performing with them.

Chris, thanks for sharing those clips. I believe I may have saw 1 or 2 of those live back when I was 7 or 8! Funny you brought up the Brittney Spears thing. I don't have either of these props yet, but I saw that clip on Youtube, and thought...wow....everything old really is new again! Then thinking back on when the last time I actually SAW ZZ being performed on stage? Well, it must be over 25 years now. One thing I think is so huge about performing this that all of these performances is missing is a black backdrop! However, as you said, it's still VERY deceptive without it.

So far, for me I have to agree with Makeupguy, Frank, Carl, and Edgar I suppose. Mind you that I'm very much trying to look at this from a layperson's viewpoint and not a magician's. I think that is very easy for us jaded magi to do these days. Especially since ZZ is so old and had been done so much when we were children or younger so to speak. I hope I don't make people upset by saying this, but when I've seen modern art from the first to the last performances I've seen on stage, I see manikin legs....plain and simple. Which is why I wondered what some of you who have used both on the same tour have received reaction wise. Even knowing how ZZ is done, it still looks totally impossible to my jaded eyes....blackground or not!

Still interested in more debate though.........I'm not buying both of these.

Thanks to one and all!
Message: Posted by: TaylorReed (Nov 17, 2009 01:59PM)
I typed this stuff hours ago and then my computer got jammed... So some of this stuff may have been talked about since... I haven't had time to stop and read all the updates.... I've been in some pretty big meeting today on some possible great things to do with the ZZ in the future....LOL
Zig zag can't be that bad since Britney Spears is doing it on tour with one of the best in comedy magic. "Ed Alonzo"

I remember my friend Melinda doing this illusion back in the day with a guy that she would cut into thirds with the music... I'm too sexy for my love...

I would just like to see someone do something really new with the illusion. Even Copperfield 20 something yrs ago performed a more origianl routine with a painting of a girl in a wedding dress on the prop... He then went on to dance with the box and the girl in the box while she was all cut up... I saw David perform this live at a magic convention many yrs ago and it was great... All the magicians said why didn't I think of something like that...

That's why I came up with the double zig zag illusion that no one is aware of but just a few people... one old beat up looking zz from the past for the audience member to use and a beautiful brand new zz for me to use ... remember this was a do as I do effect... The magician would be the teacher and the aud member would be the student... The student would use an empty box and the magician would use a girl in his box... That's all I can say for now, but this would have and still could be a show stopper for someone... the ending has a kicker that would leave the audience spell bound...

I'm still a big fan of the modern art, but the zz is a classic of magic and the lay audience still loves it and it still fools.....zz is the illusion that I really looked up to as a child... I couldn't believe how cool it was and I use to look at the photo in the chus magic catolog all day ever day in school....

The first time that I saw the zz being performed live was at a mall show in Houston, TX as a child ... The performer was mark Wilson and it blew me away..

So I don't want y'all to think that I think that the zz s----, I just think that the modern art is more of the new thing... Steinmeyer is the best of our time...
This is all just an opinion...

I forgot to mention that I do an original version of modern art in my show...
I call it double modern arts... You can see a small clip of it on my website.
I'm not very good on the computer... I don't know how to cut and paste etc...
My wife is an expert, but really gets fed up with my lake of computer skills...
This double modern art effect I nothing like the double zigzag illusion that I have scripted and sketched out and ready to go.. It's more of a comedy routine...

My double modern arts start off the back sides look like speaker etc.. I could explain more about the effect if anyone would like to know more...

I hope you like it and sorry I forgot to mention it before...
Message: Posted by: Chase (Nov 17, 2009 11:14PM)
If the audience thinks "fake legs" with the modern art, then the staging needs tweeking.
If you've ever seen Kevin Spencer perform Modern Art... he and Cindy get GASPS when he slices her. Their prop is a standard design with the "butter knife". Just goes to show how presentation is everything.

Zig Zag is a favorite of mine, as it was the first illusion I ever saw in person (It was Ed Alonzo at Dogpatch USA theme park!).

I recently bought a used Modern Art from Christopher Starr. With a little work I was able to perform it with Harbin's patter, close up, with a volunteer from the audience. It's just a matter of volunteer management and proper staging.

Finally, I selected the Modern Art over the zig zag because, after examining both illusions, my team agreed that, while the MA could be used close up, it was also the most visible at a distance. I perform at several rodeos a year, and the Modern Art cabinet REALLY changes shape when you seperate the halves. The zigzag, when viewed from a steep incline, loses some effectiveness. You can't see through the center section because the top section blocks the view. Just a thought.

Good news is, you can't make a bad decision in this choice. Both are gems!
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 17, 2009 11:28PM)
Very good point about the elevated seating! I perform at a couple of amphitheatres where that could be an issue for the peeps way up in the nose bleeds......

Message: Posted by: Hansel (Nov 18, 2009 03:31AM)
To my taste, I like the Modern Art...They look modernistic and well build would be a piece of art, but being realistic as these days I watch audiences beeing fooled with a Zig Zag,
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Nov 18, 2009 07:32AM)
Hi Taylor,
I have a friend (who has stopped performing magic for about 10 years now) who used to perform a double zig zag swop illusion, where the middles swoped places (a la sawing in half) was very clever!
I have modified my zig zag so the middle moves out an extra 2 feet! I also use a thin base middle principle for the part the lady hides her body, it is very deceptive! I love the zig zag, but with all that being said the modern art is a great illusion and might have more lay audience appeal simple because more of the lady's body is exposed and for that reason looks fairer to the audience. The Pendragons had a nice interactive modern art version on tv some time back!
Message: Posted by: TaylorReed (Nov 18, 2009 01:42PM)
That's cool that your friend has a double zz illusion where the middle can be swithched out, but that is not what mine does.... Mine is a completly different effect.... I like the sound of what you did with the base idea...

I know that you were not trying to tell me that a double zz had been done before, you were just telling me what a friend had done...

I just wanted you all to know that my double zz effect is not that one..
Thank you,
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 18, 2009 11:21PM)
Hey Swann,

Can you expound on this mod to your ZZ? I'm not quite picturing what you mean? Feel free to PM too.

Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Nov 19, 2009 07:33AM)
Hi Zaprig,

We simply took the part where the girl is hiding and beveled the corners to make a "thin base" type of effect, It also allowed us to take away the sliding metal part. I know many of the older guys might not agree & think why try to modify Harbins masterpiece and change a winning recipe, but I have always loved the ZZ and experimented a bit, and it just made sense to make the "hiding place" as thin as posible. I will try to post a picture of it. The part where the middle moves out an extra part, is a bit hard to explain, again I will try to post a picture.
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Nov 19, 2009 09:16AM)
A picture would be great, Swann101.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Nov 19, 2009 12:02PM)
They are both too common. It is time for something new.
Message: Posted by: w_s_anderson (Nov 19, 2009 01:01PM)
Dynamike....that comment makes you sound more like a playa hater and not a congratulator ;-)

Posted: Nov 19, 2009 2:10pm
Yes they may be common, but I guarantee that 99% of your audiences will never have seen one. I think as magicians we become jaded because it's only us that will have seen 20 different performances of a Zig Zag. It's like saying, don't use a TT because all beginners use one. That is true, but if your performance is good enough many people who are in the know won't even be able to tell you the method. I can't tell you how many times I have done my version of a silk vanish while table hopping and heard someone say something to the effect of "WOW!! I have seen that trick done before with the f*ke th**b thing, but I have no idea how you did it." I guess I'm trying to say that any jack@$$ can make the Origami look horrible, just like any great performer can make a TT look like real magic. A prop no matter big or small it is, or how rare or common it has become is still just a prop. A great performer can make it look like it's new. Long story short.....it's not that size that matters, it's how you use it that counts. Trust me, I've been hearing that all my life... :-D

Just my thoughts on the conversation
Message: Posted by: MrPrestoHypno (Nov 19, 2009 03:34PM)
I like my Modern Art, but when I built it I made changes to make it work and look better.
Message: Posted by: TaylorReed (Nov 19, 2009 03:42PM)
I'm surprised that no one asked about the routine that I have on the double ZZ routine that Copperfield loved..... I didn't even come close to telling you the entire bit...

Message: Posted by: Frank Simpson (Nov 19, 2009 04:50PM)
On 2009-11-19 14:10, w_s_anderson wrote:
Yes they may be common, but I guarantee that 99% of your audiences will never have seen one. I think as magicians we become jaded because it's only us that will have seen 20 different performances of a Zig Zag. It's like saying, don't use a TT because all beginners use one. That is true, but if your performance is good enough many people who are in the know won't even be able to tell you the method. I can't tell you how many times I have done my version of a silk vanish while table hopping and heard someone say something to the effect of "WOW!! I have seen that trick done before with the f*ke th**b thing, but I have no idea how you did it." I guess I'm trying to say that any jack@$$ can make the Origami look horrible, just like any great performer can make a TT look like real magic. A prop no matter big or small it is, or how rare or common it has become is still just a prop. A great performer can make it look like it's new. Long story short.....it's not that size that matters, it's how you use it that counts. Trust me, I've been hearing that all my life... :-D

Just my thoughts on the conversation

Excellent points! When the dust clears it really needs to be a personal decision, based on personal needs and objectives. There have been some very good points made about both illusions. The good ones are the neutral ones that invite intelligent comparison. The opinions are only valuable as opinions, and are not likely to be of any real use in determining which will fit a performer's needs.
Message: Posted by: JVHarrison (Nov 19, 2009 07:12PM)
If this is to be answered from the lay audiences point of view (i.e., without a magician's concerns of exposure and overuse), the Zig-Zag wins this one hands down. I firmly believe that Zig-Zag is far more visually perplexing than Modern Art. Really, just take a step back from each illusion and ask yourself which is more baffling. It has to be Zig-Zag!
Message: Posted by: w_s_anderson (Nov 20, 2009 12:05AM)
Ok Mr. Reed, I'll bite. May I please hear about the double zig zag? :)
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Nov 20, 2009 03:23AM)
Hi Taylor,
I would be very interrested to hear about the double ZZ too! If you want you can PM me.
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 20, 2009 07:22PM)
Hey Swann,

I'm twitching over here to see those pics! Sounds VERY interesting and if it increases the deception factor I'm ALL about it!

And yes Taylor, do tell!

Posted: Nov 20, 2009 8:26pm
Oh, and not to de-rail my own post, but can just a few of you ZZ owners tell me what the rigs weigh in an ATA? Just looking for an average of some quality built pieces.

Thanks to all for your contributions... It's been most helpful!!!
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Nov 21, 2009 12:13PM)
Hi I'm trying to upload the pic's but apparently the file is too big, will try to sort it out, am a bit stupid with that stuff!
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 22, 2009 05:49PM)
Swann- Just send it to my email address. I PM'd you. Thanks!

Message: Posted by: TaylorReed (Nov 23, 2009 01:00AM)
Just trying to log in...
I just spent 20 min typing the entire zz deal and it wouldn't let it go

Posted: Nov 23, 2009 2:24am
I finally got it to work... Go look at the new post..
Double zz by Taylor Reed
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 23, 2009 07:55PM)
See my comments Taylor.

Any luck yet Swann???
Message: Posted by: Swann101 (Nov 24, 2009 01:55AM)
Hi Zaprig,
Have emailed you the pic's. Let me know what you think.
Message: Posted by: Zaprig1 (Nov 26, 2009 09:16AM)
Hi Swann,

Responded via email. Most creative!

Well, it looks like I've extracted some very good info from all and I thank you!

In case you're curious, I've purchased a Zig Zag for now, so this really was a big help and that's what the forum is all about! My performance will not be so traditional though. I read a great idea (JC I believe) that would incorporate a drape around the middle of the prop/girl prior and during the "pulling". I invision my assistant flicking the fabric with her hand etc., but then this builds to the "magic moment" when the drape is ripped away for the big reveal. I think this could be most powerful, especially to the new generation who have likely not seen the ZZ.

If there are any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. To me it just seems like a practical way to add value to the WHOLE presentation.


Message: Posted by: James FX (Nov 28, 2009 10:23AM)
Hey Swann, do you think you can compress or minimize the size of the files so that the pictures can be shared here? You modifications sound VERY intriguing!
Message: Posted by: hbwolkov (Dec 2, 2009 04:08PM)
Both are an excellent choice. It is all matter of individual preference.
Message: Posted by: Kyle^Ravin (Dec 3, 2009 02:45AM)
Just got a Zig Zag built by John Gaughan. LEt me tell you, its a work of art. I used to think the ZZ was three boxes stacked atop each other. Till I got this one. There are loads of machanics to ensure a smooth operation of the illusion and the best thing you see, is quality. The artwork doesn't do it for me but ultimately, the prop is made perfect! In fact, its so well made, it fooled me closup! I tried it on my assistant and when I took one step back, I was like, WOAH! the Zig Zag's got my vote!