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Topic: Multiplying Billiard Balls - Canes and Candles
Message: Posted by: MikeJRogers (Oct 5, 2003 06:08AM)
Hi there,

I'm thinking of putting together a manipulation routine, involving billiard balls, candles and canes, to enter in some competitions. I have some experience in stage magic but I havn't done the multiplying billard balls before.

Do billiard balls, canes and candles work well together? Would it be better to just focus a routine around just around the billiard balls or just billard balls and candles?

Also, keeping in mind I'm only fifteen and have moderately small hands, what do you believe to be the highest quality multiplying billiard balls?

Thanks for you help,

Mike J Rogers :wavey:
Message: Posted by: -The Scot- (Oct 5, 2003 12:30PM)
Highest quality billiard balls are definitely made by the House of Fakini.

Candles, canes and balls might go together, it all depends how well you routine your routine.

Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 6, 2003 10:00AM)
Hi! :)

It took me two years to be able to perform MBB's for people. The practice involved is extensive! It has to be done without a thought, as if the things were a PART of you. Of course the inch and three-quarter, German wooden ones were all I had at the time, and were a little harder to handle.

That made the Ireland rubber Golf Balls a BREEZE to handle afterwards.

If you're really serious about performing that effect, I recommend Fakini's set. Worth every penny IMHO. Don't get sold on fancy holders, and such...just plain wire holders under the edge of your coat or vest will do nicely.

Music must match your style. I made that mistake years ago in the Disco era...man. What a lesson I learned. The music must go hand in hand (pun intended) with the act. Every move choreographed. Video tape yourself from every angle possible.

Finally, Jeff McBride's World Class Manipulation series is a great investment...

Hope this helps! :)

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Oct 6, 2003 12:06PM)
I think the most important thing you need to figure out before you start on your act, is to ask yourself, who you are, what is your character on stage, what is your style and what do you want your audiences to feel during the performance and after it is all said and done?

I know this may seem strange, as it does to many performers, but this "homework" really is crucial to developing an act that not only works, but leaves the audiences thoroughly entertained and wanting more.

Every performer that walks onto the stage is a character of some sort and each character has his own style and message he/she is trying to get across. You need to determine first what your character is going to be like on the stage. What is he all about? How does he conduct himself? Is he funny, serious or sauve? The character also needs to be one that you can pull off well. In most cases, a character that is similar to your own true self, usually works quite well.

Once you have this character, then everything else in the act can start to relate back to him. What is the character doing in the act and why is he doing it? Will the audience understand everything that I am trying to convey? If not, how can I change my characters motives and movement so that the audience understands better.

I could go on and on, but I will leave you with this thinking. It really is a good thing to spend the time thinking about this. It really makes an act stand out if the time is devoted to it upfront.
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 7, 2003 12:46PM)
Hi Kyle!

Too bad you're so far away, as (in your avatar) you look like a great performer! I'd like to see that billiard ball performance! Are those white Fakini's in that pic? The red jacket's GREAT! That background's awesome as well. Great points you make about character!

I think that's the reason I just do tricks, now. I never quite found that "character", and it showed whenever I did a stage appearance (rare). I've always been very comfortable behind a microphone (Radio announcer for over 30 yrs), but in front of people (more than just a few at a time), I freeze up. Try too hard.

If one does an entire act, one "theme", so to speak, one effect should follow another smoothly, seque into the next, making "sense" all the while. Not as easy as it sounds. Copperfield follows a strict script. Every move choreographed. One cannot imagine the hours of grueling rehearsal, over and over, until it's perfect.

Hey, it's gotta be worth putting that much effort into it, if it's going to "shine". Relating to your audience is one of the most important aspects of stage performing as well as parlour, close-up, even one-on-one (which is what I do most).

I wish I was fifteen again, knowing what I know now... :shrug:

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Oct 7, 2003 02:41PM)

Thank you for all the kind words. May I qoute you on that? hehe It is good for my ego I guess. Just teasing you. I do appreciate what you said though. Thanks.

Let me answer some of your questions for you. I do not know if I am such a great performer. I do know that I entertain my audiences every single performance I do. If I do not leave them happy, smiling and have had fun, then I am not doing my job as I should be.

As for my billiard ball performance/act, I do it differently then most do. I present it as a "personality" style piece. I talked about this in depth on a different thread.

The basis for the piece is to touch the audience on an emotional level and therefore connecting with them because they can relate better to me as one of their own, not just a funky guy on stage doing interesting things.

The balls I use are 1 3/4 inch Fakini balls. They simply are the best I have used. I also use colored bouncy balls for my color changes. These are very cheap but they match the feel and size of the Fakinis and work well for me.

The red jacket was a long time in the making. I wanted to make sure that I stood out at any event I performed for. I also knew that I wanted to be different and not just the same old black tux. The jacket fits my style better and relates better to the character I present on stage. It also helps for people to remember me. I also wear a nice spat style shoes that you would see a ganster wearing in the roaring 20's. I like them as they create more accent to my character and people tend to like them.

As for my picture, I am a graphic designer. I design my own promotional materials and logo design for other magicians and clients. My avatar was a small part of a bigger poster that advertises my performances.

Findng a character and a style that works for you is never and easy thing. Some take many years to even find it and it is an on going thing that keeps evolving as you learn who you are on stage and who you are not.

I have just tried a lot of characters over the 17 years I have been doing magic. I guess I found my character by knowing what was NOT working for me. I have realized what I can get away with and what audiences expect from me when I am on stage.

It is hard to find a real character that works. This is the case because most good characters stem from our own personality. People just feel too vulnerable to put their true personality on stage for everyone to see. This is why too many of us hide behind a personna that just does not work.

Well, I could go on and on, but I will leave it at this. I hope it sparks further thought and discussion. Please feel free to PM me if you want to talk on a more personal level about your own character or act.
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 10, 2003 01:26PM)

I will eventually buy a set of those Fakini's...I guess the white ones will do, as the hot pink ones aren't my style. I wonder if they'll ever be made in bright red?

Also, do you need to buy two sets? I've always done Ireland Golf Balls, and they come FOUR balls to a set (and I won't make any jokes about tomcats, LOL!), with two shells. Fakini sets come THREE and a shell. Kind of takes away from the ending where four solid ones are shown and bounced.

Besides white and pink, have you seen any other colors by Fakini?

Hope to see your act someday, Kyle!

Message: Posted by: iwillfoolu (Oct 10, 2003 05:04PM)
A super cool point made above about finding your character before deciding on what props to use definately applies here. Thankfully though House of Fakini makes golf balls, mini balls (for cups and balls),billard balls in 4 sizes (1 3/4", 2", 2 1/8, 2 1/4), eggs and thimbles each in Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Magenta and White.

If you are working with candles and canes take a look at anything by Fantasio or Ginn.

Message: Posted by: Brad Jeffers (Oct 10, 2003 05:41PM)
Mike, you were not specific about what kind of candle effects you were contemplating, but if you are considering the multiplying candles, just be aware that this and the muptiplying billiard balls are the same effect - just done with different objects. I personally, would not include both of them in the same act.
Message: Posted by: MikeJRogers (Oct 10, 2003 07:00PM)
Brad - I wasnt planning on doing the multiplying candles but that gives me an even better reason not to, lol thanks.
I was only thinking of doing an appearing and vanishing candle and then as a finale about 5 candles appear on my table in one of those holders with arms, if you know what I mean. I don't think canes and candles really fit with billard balls. Do you think a cane, candles and fire (just a little) act would play bigger than a billiard ball routine?

Thnaks for yur help,

Mike J Rogers
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Oct 10, 2003 09:54PM)
It gets really back to my point early on. It is not about the tricks you perform in the act it is what you are doing with those tricks and how you are entertaining your audience that really matters.

We as magicians get way to carried away trying to impress ourselves or impress other magicians. How many times have you seen a manipulation act of skill where the lay audience is just going HUH? Too many if you ask me. It is the same reason why too much dancing canes or too much linking rings gets boring fast.

To a lay audience a vanish and an appearance is all they understand about the billard balls. You must do soemthing with your presentation to add something more to it. Get the audience more involved in the act.

This can be done through the use of transition pieces in the act. The billard balls are a theme that keeps coming up throughout the act but at no time is a long drawn out effect in its own right.

For example you could do a few billard ball moves with a siingle ball. Then the ball is tossed up into the air and changes into a white silk. This silk is then waved and a candle appears. You do a few nice candle moves and the candle vanishes and chganges into a rose which you place into a vase on your table.

This gives you an idea of a manipulation style act that does not get boring for an audience to watch. There is transition happening. The audience gets to have more fun because nothing is too drawn out or repetitive.

Another way to solve the problem of what to do in the manipulation act is to simply present the manipulation act not as an act of skill, but as a magical story being told. You have a simple plot and a character on stage. Through the use of pantomime and music you tell this story that just so happens to have magic in it.

If you go this route, then your giving your audience so much more to get excited about. It is not just them reacting to your skill and technique. They get excited about the story and about the plot. They start to feel and sympathize with your character and you connect more with them not just from the great magic but because they can relate to what is happening.

Bopttom line is that anything will "fit" into an act if you make it work and give your audience a reason to watch.

As always I look forward to hearing anyones thoughts on this. Please feel free to PM me if anyone wants a more detailed explanation of character building or how a manipulation act can be routined differently.
Message: Posted by: MikeJRogers (Oct 11, 2003 09:18PM)
Wow - what an awsome response thanks Magic4u an others it's all been really helpful. Magic4u I really like your ideas I think I'll PM you later to learn more lol, thanks so much for your help.

Thanks again,

Mike J Rogers :wavey:
Message: Posted by: -The Scot- (Oct 12, 2003 04:11AM)
Mike if you do chose to use the multiplying candles, there is 2 nice routines in 'Routined Manipulation' by Lewis Ganson, which you might want to check out!

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Oct 12, 2003 08:34AM)
Thanks for the kind words. I would be more then willing to help you out with your act or give you some advice and ideas. Please feel free to PM me at any time.

it is so easy to put a manipulation act together. However, it is very HARD to put a manipulation act together that is different, unique and entertaining.
Message: Posted by: Chris Capstone (Oct 20, 2003 12:48AM)
One thing to consider when selecting billiard balls is the color of your costume. I had an interesting evolution of my routine in this regard. I started out using white Fakinis. I did the moves in front of the body. I wore a black vest with a regular tux jacket and the balls showed up very well in front of the vest. After about a year I decided I wanted to work in white tie and tails for a more classic look. I had to change my routine and do the moves with the arm extended out to the side because the white balls didn't show up in front of the white vest and shirt. The backdrop where I work is black velour so the balls showed up well this way. By the way, this method of displaying the billiard balls is the way most of the older books show, but it is quite awkward to stand face-on to the audience with your arm extended and your hand rotated so your palm faces upstage. After a few weeks of this I noticed my shoulder hurting. This became such a problem that I dropped the routine from my show for a while. I needed to do the balls in front of the body again so I needed to get some colored balls, or change my costume back which I didn't want to do. I wanted a classic red color but Fakini's only come in flourescent or pastel colors. So I started looking into red wooden balls. At the time I was looking the only option for newly manufactured balls was Owens. I needed 4 and a shell but I didn't want to spend $300+ so I ended up getting some really nice vintage red wooden balls from Mario Carrandi. I see now that Joe Stevens has Mikame wooden balls available in both white and red for about $140, that's a good deal because you get 4 solid and 4 shells in a Mikame set. Anyway, so now I use these very old red wooden balls, which show great in front of the white vest and shirt, and with some unexpected added benefits: I can clack them together for a great sound which helps convince laymen they are solid (can't do with Fakinis), the red laquer finish is very shiny under the lights, (Fakinis will dull out to a mat finish with prolonged use) and the shell on the Fakinis can't hold a candle to my vintage wooden shell in terms of its shape. Don't get me wrong, Frank makes a great product, and if you happen to drop a ball, his Fakinis will at least give you a chance to recover (they bounce), but don't feel you have to get Fakinis in order to be able to do a good routine. I used to think Fakinis were the only way to go, but now I've completely changed my opinion. It really all depends on your specific situation. With all this technical mumbo jumbo it's easy to loose sight of the most important thing which is your presentation. The posts about discovering your performance persona or character are right on the money. Create a theatrical framework in which you can present your billiard ball manipulations that will give the effect meaning to your audience. Start with this first. Then comb through the literature and find the technical information that will enable you realize the vision you see in your mind's eye. Of all the routines I do on a regular basis, my billiard balls are my favorite. I've been opening with them for the last 3 years. I encourage you to have fun with them and let a sense of playfulness come out in your original routine. You'll end up with something that will showcase your unique personality, which can't be duplicated by other performers.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Oct 20, 2003 09:43AM)
WOW that is one long paragraph. haha

You posted some great information here and I would like to point out the importance of evaluating your entire act even if your just changing one simple item.

A change of the color of an outfit can often times impact how the audience sees and enjoys your act. It was nice to see you work this out with the clothes and continue to examine and fix the problems that came up rather then giving up.
Message: Posted by: Chris Capstone (Oct 21, 2003 10:44AM)
It was nice to see you work this out with the clothes and continue to examine and fix the problems that came up rather then giving up.

Giving up is not an option...I have to make a living. My venue operators expect a quality act that will draw people. Whenever my wife starts thinking I'm a perfectionistic magic fanatic, I remind her how nice it is for her and our four kids to be able to eat and wear clothes!
Message: Posted by: ufo (Oct 21, 2003 11:58AM)
I have had a life long fascination with ball routines. The canes can be useful and a transition I got from the late master Shimada was the first ball of the routine appearing on top of the appearing cane. The cane can be put under the arm and used (somewhat) like a wand to accentuate vanishes, etc.
"Routined Manipulation" is a great book for info, the McBride tapes are outstanding. Also remember to watch some of the great ones.
The cane implies the costume issues that others have touched on. The formal dress manipulator invokes memories of Cardini and, of course Lance Burton. Watch, learn and experiment! Go get em!
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 24, 2003 09:36AM)
Yep, and while we're on the subject of the wooden MBB's...

Red wooden balls from Germany. Bright red and laquered beautifully...however, drop them once, the laquer chips off. I eventually stopped using them when the stuff started flaking off in big hunks. I tried to paint them with red epoxy paint, but that was a joke!

I miss those. They only came as 3 & a shell, but were all I had when I started out. Inch and three quarters, if I remember right...hmmm, wonder if you can still get a set today? Generic, no-brand German-made, come in a little red cardboard box with a lid and some cheesy instructions...love to find 'em. Just to keep as a collector set.

Great thread!



"Mike" e-mailed me:

"...Tannen's still sells those...cheap!"

GREAT! Two sizes available...I'm on it!

Gotta practice with 'em over a carpet! LOL!

Message: Posted by: RandyStewart (Oct 28, 2003 11:30AM)
The German variety was my first set as well Dougini. Bought my first 3in. set for a whoppin' $5.25US. I also dropped one and tried repainting with lousy results. Avoid the German sets if you suffer from sweaty hands in which case the Vernet or Fakini sets may work best. However, the German set still remains one of my favorite.

Here's a link with photo to one of many providers on the net.

Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 30, 2003 11:17AM)
Thanks, Randy!

Just bookmarked that...