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Topic: Wanting to get into illusions
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 2, 2003 10:57PM)
I've been into magic for about 2 years now and I've done mostly street and close up, but I really want to start doing stage shows with big illusions.

Does anybody have any suggestions for what would be some good illusions to start with? Thanks for you help.

Message: Posted by: Alex Tan (Nov 3, 2003 02:24AM)
Start with the classics like Subtrunk, Sword basket, Chair Suspension, Head Chopper.

They are classics for a reason. They will also help you learn how to present illusions and not to mention that they are also more cost efficient.

Most importantly, have fun!
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 3, 2003 02:27AM)
Yeah I'm ordering the Sub Trunk plans from Osborne Illusion Systems next week. Is the stuff by Andrew Mayne any good? I've heard mixed reviews of some of his stuff.
Message: Posted by: Kingry (Nov 3, 2003 03:53PM)
Make sure you have plenty of storage space, and a means of transportation.
Message: Posted by: briansmagic (Nov 3, 2003 07:09PM)
Sub Trunk was my first illusion and it was a GREAT starter. Although the exchange is difficult to master, it is still a good starter that I highly reccomend. And when you do master the exchange it is well worth the hard work.
Message: Posted by: M-Illusion (Nov 3, 2003 07:55PM)
I agree...Sub. Trunk is excellent to begin with. Not only is it something that's great for a beginning illusionist, but it's so powerful that it can stay in your shows even long after you've expanded with other illusions.
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 4, 2003 02:30AM)
Yeah I'm definitely going with the sub trunk. What's your opinion on the Asrah levitation? I've always loved this effect but is it a bad one to start with?

Thanks for all the help.
Message: Posted by: Don (Nov 4, 2003 07:34AM)
It is a bad choice. You can only do it were you have control of the situation. Which means you probably wont use it much. It is better to get iilusions that you can use under all or most circumstances. Then you can use them at all times and get maximum usage and polish the presentation. If you have the money to just spend and don't care if you use it much or can say that you will have control of your staging situation then go for it. But I think you will derive more pleasure and functionality from something you can use.That way you'll be polishing your presentation. entertaing your audience and getting a return from your investment. You guy's agree? :bigsmile:
Message: Posted by: Alex Tan (Nov 4, 2003 11:38AM)
I definitely agree. Asrah does require you to have full control of the performing area and chances of performing the illusion would be rather limited. Don't make the same mistake I made where I got a Asrah that hasn't been used many times, taking up storage space.
Message: Posted by: gulamerian (Nov 4, 2003 03:13PM)
I have been doing illusions for the past 27 years. When choosing illusions start with ones that can be done surrounded. This way you will be able to use them in any situation.
Good luck.
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 4, 2003 11:57PM)
The nice thing is, is that I do have a stage that I have use of and full control over what I can do there. I've been told I can do a show whenever I'm ready so I'm not too worried about being surrounded, but what are some good Illusions that you can do surrounded?
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Nov 5, 2003 03:29AM)
HI Twitch,

I am in the same boat as you are - been into magic a few years with the desire to do illusions. Fortunately, I've had several opportunities to do them over the past few years.

My theory on Illusions is this - they can be very cool, and very amazing. However, they can also be stupid. In my opinion, illusions that make heavy use of colorful boxes are stupid. I'd rather have in my show illusions that will truly amaze people -that have some theatrical or emotional appeal.

The Sub Trunk definitely falls into this category, I think. In the past I've also done a levitation, appearances, a comedy routine based around the idea of turning a girl into a tiger, and even a box illusion that resembles the "stretcher."

I'd like to think I choose them based on the fact that they are unique, or can be presented as unique.

For this reason, I would not choose something like the head chopper, or a simple chair suspension. I wouldn't put an illusion into my show just to have it - I would carefully evaluate WHY I should have it before spending lots of money on something stupid.

If you're going to have a levitation in your show, for example, why not make it the best one you can possibly afford? If just a chair suspension is all you can get, then don't put the levitation in yet. Wait until you can get something classy, where the person will rise from the floor and float at your command.

I am not saying anything here that is new, I am sure most share this opinion. However, I urge you not to buy the same old things everyone else has just so you can do illusions. When choosing them, even if they are classics, make sure you choose carefully!

For what it's worth - I share the opinion of others in recommending the Sub Trunk. This is a classic, and uses a box. However - the audience has no idea it uses a box. To them, it uses a trunk to trap the magician. The effect is truly amazing!

Look forward to hearing about what you decide to buy.

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: philblackmore (Nov 5, 2003 09:33AM)
Also learn some stage magic with smaller props. You are unlikely to be able to fill a show with just illusions initially.

Maybe manipulation or things like zombie, Linking Rings or silk magic. This will give you experience on stage and a chance to develop a stage personality and presence, without spending thousands on illusions.

Try McBride's Magic on Stage videos.
Chair Suspension is a great illusion. It takes up very little space in your van, can be performed surrounded and you can use a member of the audience as your assistant.

Compared to other levitations the effect is strong because you can perform it at the very front of the stage or on the dance floor using chairs that have been used throughout the show. I've performed the chair suspension for years. I've looked into upgrading it, but having a big prop at the very back of the stage is not my style.
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 6, 2003 11:45PM)
Wow thanks for all your help, I've decided to go to go with the Sub Trunk and I'm also getting the first 2 volumes of Paul Osborne's books. I'd love to hear any other suggestions if you have them.
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Nov 7, 2003 01:18AM)

Good choice. You will really like the Sub Trunk. Are you going to build it, or buy one?

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 7, 2003 02:13AM)
I'm going to build one that way it will match the look that I've devleoped in my shows over the years both magic and DJ wise.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Nov 8, 2003 01:49PM)
The subtrunk is as basic as the thumb tip. Life would never be the same without it. Mine is a Chalet and is on added wheels which have to be blocked up on stage so it will stay put. But that is no problem. The wheels make it very useful as a real packing crate and getting off and on stage fast. It also makes it easy to live with the rest of the time. Remember that most props spend more days in storage than minutes on stage.

You made a good decision. Enjoy!

P.S. Make sure you put better handles on it than you have ever thought anyone would need. They will get tested often by real life off stage.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: djvirtualreality (Nov 8, 2003 03:38PM)
Where can I find plans on building a Sub Trunk? I would rather buy one, but the ones I have seen are like $1500!!! I'm only 15, I don't have that much money lol. Is there anywhere I could buy one for around $100-$300?
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Nov 8, 2003 04:15PM)


That is Chalet Magic. I highly recommend them. Lucy and I use six pieces of their equipment in our two-hour show. The price will pleasantly surprise you. The quality will knock you dead. We use it. Some of my Chalet equipment is over twenty years old and still playing shows. In my forty-two years of magic I have had only one piece of Chalet equipment pulled from service because of serious damage. It blew off an outdoor stage in where else? Oklahoma! (Winds there are Texas size! Kansas just gets the wind in movies.) It was not a sub-trunk. The producer bought me another one that I still use. In fact I used it in the two shows Thursday. It is great stuff you will keep.

Good Luck!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: djvirtualreality (Nov 8, 2003 04:22PM)
Cheaper, but still very expensive. Could I just possible build one? I know how to, but I would like the metal one, not wood.
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Nov 9, 2003 04:28AM)

When wanting to do the Metamorphosis illusion I ran into the same problem -- too much $$$! Every once in a while you can find a nice cheap one for $400 on eBay or on magicauction.com.

So I decided to build on myself and did so for probably a couple hundred $. It is not as nice as one I could have bought but it serves the purpose. I bought the plans from Misdirections Magic in San Fran. DO NOT repeat DO NOT buy the plans from Tannen's because they will screw you over. :(

It turned out nicely. If you want a video of me doing it, send me a PM!

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Nov 9, 2003 03:50PM)

How do you rate the quality of the plans from Misdirections? What was included in the package? Which of their plans do you recommend? I especially want a nest of boxes. But for what I want to do, they will need to be custom work.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: JSMagic (Nov 11, 2003 07:05PM)
Hey, In mark wilsons course in magic (10 bucks, small thick black book) theres some stuff on a few stage illusions. Check it out - the only thing I can remember is a tip over trunk (how to build it) - but theres more. Josh
Message: Posted by: Evan Williams (Nov 11, 2003 08:10PM)
Hi DJvirtualreality,

I just finished my sub-trunk the other day! It ended up costing me roughly $100. $50 for a kit I found with all the hardware (locks, metal corner pieces, hinges for the trunk, hardware needed to make the gimmick, etc) and about another $50 for wood.

Fortunatly, I have a grandfather that has a full shop in his basement. With his help and the tools he had, it came out great.

I also contructed a curtain to use for the illusion for about $20.

Grand total of about $120 for everything. The only other accessory I might buy for this illusion is a mail sack or some kind of escape shackels.

Use your resorces and look for good sales/kits for everything you need. Just some advise since I'm in your shoes (being an average, broke 15 year old :bwink: )

Hope this gives you some ideas,

Message: Posted by: knightmagic98 (Nov 11, 2003 09:39PM)

I hope you get Jonathan's permission before using the Pendragon's cloth handling.
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Nov 12, 2003 01:23AM)
Hi Evan,

Indeed, you may not know, but that cloth tear move is something Jon Pendragon came up with. David Copperfield also got Jonathan's permission to use a similar move in his "Cocoon" illusion. It is cool though. Perhaps you can invent a new move that looks just as cool?

Anyways that's sweet that you made it for $#120. Where will you be performing it?

AmazedWiz -

The only plans I bought from Misdirections were that of the sub trunk. They were the Paul Osborne illusion plans. I received a large blueprint as well as a packet of instructions explaining how to build and perform the effect. They were both of good quality, and the customer service at that shop was superior to any other magic shop I've dealt with.

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: David Garrity (Nov 12, 2003 12:01PM)

I believe that writing a post that encourages others to steal someone's hard work (Pendragon's cloth handling for the Sub Trunk) is extremely bad judgment.

Other people's acts are not a catalog for anyone to pick and choose what they would like to take. Unless it has been published it is not yours for the taking. Jonathan Pendragon spent a long time working on that variation for HIS show, not yours.

Seems that I remember a thread a few months back where you announced that you were going to make your own "Kevin James Bowl-A-Rama" as well.

There are a number of effects/illusions in magic where the originator of the effect is not clear or is in the public domain. However, with these two items the lineage is very clear. And by just taking them you are showing a major disrespect for magic and the designers who work hard within this field.

I am not sure which is worse, the fact that you are stealing this proprietary material for use in your own show without compensating the designer or the fact that you are posting this behavior where all the world can see.

I don't mean this to be a personal attack. But I posted this in hoping that you would change the way you currently add material to your show before it comes back to bite you later.

Message: Posted by: Evan Williams (Nov 12, 2003 03:09PM)
Hi guys,

First off, I am sorry for any kind of misunderstandings I have written. The first one on my part, being that I did not know it was specifically his idea of that type of change. I plan on not using that in my show at all now. I will come up with a change of my own.

About the "Bowl-A-Rama", mine is completly different than the marketed version Kevin James sells. The gimmick itself is completly different, and I spent hours thinking and designing my version. Also, the routine is different since it has an added kicker that makes it even more powerful that is NOT possible with James' trick at all.

Yes, I started designing my version after seeing Kevin's, but the gimmicks and illusions are so different I see no problem with me building it.

I guess the only thing I really "borrowed" from Kevin James was his idea of making something big produced from a sketchpad. Think of all T&R card effects. They all have the same idea, a card is signed, then ripped up, and restored. The same general idea, except the handling and gimmicks being different. No stealing. If the handling/gimmicks were the same, then of course it would be stealing. Since they have their own ideas, the effect is not stolen. I think the same goes for this.

As you can see, I am a young and immature magician and still have a lot to learn. These are some of the types of things I came to the Café to learn, and they have been helpful in multiple ways.

I hope this clears some things up and rights the wrong.

Message: Posted by: Paul Mazzoni (Nov 13, 2003 05:43AM)

I would like to thank all of you for the advice that you have posted here. I have also been performing magic for a few years now and would like to do larger more elaborate stage productions. I built my own Sub Trunk(the first and only illusion I perform thus far) for about $200 and it does its job.

As you all know when performing most illusions(especially Sub Trunk which seems to be the most popular) you need an assistant. I was lucky enough to have a friend that was available to help me with my shows. She is no longer available to perform with me and I was wondering if anybody would give me some advise as to how a begining illusionist can go about finding an assistant.

Thank you and have a magical day,
Paul Mazzoni

p.s. this was the first time I have been on the magic Café and it was a positive experience.
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Nov 13, 2003 12:54PM)

Here are some of the things I have done to some success in the past in finding an assistant:

Went to my old high school and asked the performing arts teacher to ask if anyone was interested, Got 2 assistants this way.

Randomly asked a server at a restaurant I was eating at.

Contact a modeling agency (works only if you have some $$$ I have found)

Hired a girl who had one of those internet modeling sites and was available independent of an agency. She turned out to be the best one I'd had!

Those are all ways that worked for me. I am sure there are many others! Oh, I also asked at one of those small dance studios too, and got some interest that way.

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: johnnymystic (Nov 13, 2003 03:31PM)
Some advice on finding an assistant...find a nice young lady that likes magic and if your lucky enough marry her! ;)

Worked for me, plus she might have a harder time quiting on you for she will probably like the money you make.

Johnny Mystic
Message: Posted by: Twitch (Nov 13, 2003 10:33PM)
I was also wondering about assistants even though my show is still in the planning stages I'm going to need one soon enough.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Nov 13, 2003 11:19PM)
Go to a dancing school and audition some ladies.
Message: Posted by: Paul Mazzoni (Nov 14, 2003 02:03PM)

I appreciate all of the advice on getting an assistant. Although I do now wish to get married so I think I will try the schools and dance studios. For me right now I think that will be the best way to go.

Paul Mazzoni
Message: Posted by: magictim (Nov 20, 2003 04:55PM)
If anyone is interested I still have illusion works vids for sale.
Message: Posted by: Plaz (Nov 30, 2003 10:23PM)
Well I have also been doing illusion shows for a couple of years and started out with a sub trunk that I made. It’s a great trick and I love it. You can try to find assistants through friends and also family if you want to go that route. As far as good tricks you can do surrounded, I have a few that I like that can be done surrounded and they are sub trunk, doll house, crystal box, and cube zag.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 4, 2003 01:07PM)
Illusion Jack,

Thanks for your appraisal of the plans and kit. It's always nicer to get the story from some one who has been separated from his money first and see if he is still happy. You sound like a happy customer. We all like that!

Thanks again.

Posted: Dec 4, 2003 2:31pm
Finding an assistant -

Johnny Mystic, I agree with you. I married mine. And now I am her assistant some of the time. She learned from Pam Hayes (Mrs. Johnny Thompson) the importance of owning your own magician. (Those lectures are dangerous! It was a SCAM convention.)

Pete Biro, I agree with you too! Lucy was a ballerina, model and taught modeling in Los Angeles before becoming a physician. At the tender age of 63, she still dances two nights a week. That lady is a great partner in the show and adds a lot of class to this old cowboy’s act. Her training is very valuable in selecting volunteers from the audience that move well. (I can use ALL the misdirection I can get!)

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Dec 4, 2003 11:24PM)
AmazedWiz -

No problem. I just got the sub trunk out again for a show coming up on the 22nd and it’s still holding together nicely. I think I built it a little big, and the trap could stand to be a bit more deceptive, but it works. I might rebuild the lid. For those of you who I told I would get a sub trunk video to, I will still! I need to finish editing it then it'll be sent to you in Quicktime format.

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 5, 2003 09:41AM)

I've never had an assistant complain about having too much room. Besides, I have the easy part of the subtrunk routine anyway. My job is just to get out. Lucy's job is to get in, fast.

You do know that some people use two subtrunk tops. One solid one that is displayed on the trunk in the lobby before or after the show and the real one used in the show. Since mine is a Chalet and won't open from the outside, I just show it closed and locked to the rest of the world. (In fact I use a huge Key-Rect Lock that is used earlier in the show. "There shall be no working key before it's time.")

If your trap rattles, clear silicone from the tube will work to make some "bumpers" that just look like a blemish in the finish. Be very sure it is dry before the surfaces touch. Closed, there should be nothing to see.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Kendrix (Dec 6, 2003 01:17AM)
I agree with Pete Biro. Dancers make the best assistants. I would stick with ones trained in Ballet, Jazz, Modern over Hip-hop. I have found it very hard "to teach" the ability to get in and out of an illusion in a graceful manner.
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Dec 6, 2003 01:29AM)
Hi AmazedWiz-

I thought about doing the 2-lid method, but the show I built it for didn't have a lobby display, nor did anyone inspect the box before the show, after the show, or during the show. During my next show, however, I will allow the opportunity to inspect, briefly, and I will hold the lid in a certain way so that it can be shown. It's not perfect because I built it with my friend, in retrospect maybe I should have bought one but this one works and it amazes people, so I am happy. :)

I also thought it would be cool to build a trunk with 2 traps both top and back. That could provide for some cool ways of getting in and out! The best of both worlds in a manner of speaking.

I also get out, rather than into, the box. I think it makes more sense - the magician escapes, rather than the assistant escapes. This makes it seem more like the magician is the one doing something magical. I love the idea of this illusion and right now I do a very basic, traditional performance - I am always trying to think of cool ways to change it up that haven't been done by someone else already!

--Kack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: gulamerian (Dec 6, 2003 10:23PM)
Start with the classics. Sub Trunk, Zig Zag, Head Chopper. Also your first illusion should be something you can close with. If you start a show with an illusion and don't do another later, it's kind of a let down.
Message: Posted by: MagicbyZak (Dec 8, 2003 12:33PM)
Just the other day I was on google.com searching for info on sub trunks and I stumbled upon: [url]http://www.infantino.net/subtrunk.html[/url] can someone check this out and let me know what they think? Actually during my search the other day I stumbled across all of you here at this 24 hr Magic Café. What an awesome site looks fantastic. Just signed in this morning for the first time and have found so much information just here alone on what I originally was looking for. I also came across another site that has an All in One Illusion show: [url]http://www.magiccrafters.com/beta-test/page3.html[/url] does anyone have any feed back about this?

I am in the same boat as a couple of others, wanting to get into bigger Illusions. I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to invest in first and really wanted to do more research. My apartment already looks like a magic shop but with out the bigger Illusions.

I checked out [url]http://www.chaletmagic.com/catalog.html[/url], which AmazedWiz recommended and that looks good as well.

I was a bite confused when I read about Evan Williams using the Pendragon's cloth handling. Was there something I missed from another posting or did someone see something on his website. All I recall him stating was “ I also constructed a curtain to use for the illusion for about $20”. I am just curious how that post lead to that fact that he was using someone else’s handling. I do respect Evan for writing such a great reply in his defense and it is true that ignorance is bliss. Not saying that Evan is ignorant because he doesn’t seem to be especially having a website that I wished my own looked like. But maybe when I get my new PC I can spend more time on updating it since I only put it together in the beginning of this year and spent like 2 hrs on it and that was it.

So besides Misdirections plans and the book from the website I mentioned above [url]http://www.infantino.net/subtrunk.html[/url] is there any others that anyone would like to share?

Evan Williams,

Where did you buy the kit for $50?

I look forward to hearing from all and any of you.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 9, 2003 01:10AM)
Thanks for the shared homework. (I don't even have to spell subtrunk!)


Never apologize for the "basic standard" performance. Much of magic is like classical music. We'll do it over and over until we get it right. The audience loves it and expects it. It is classic because it works! Why should you expect to find a good way to put on your shoes before your socks? Some problems don't need solving.

Think OUTSIDE the trunk!

Message: Posted by: Twitch (Dec 9, 2003 11:52PM)
I got my Osborne sub trunk plans yesterday and I'm heading over to Home Depot tomorrow to get started on this thing. Out of curiosity, does anybody know of an Illusion similar to Criss Angels "scarecrow" where your assistant actually passes thru your body? I've seen it a ton throughout the years, but not where I can find it.
Message: Posted by: Evan Williams (Dec 21, 2003 08:35AM)
Hi MagicbyZak,

First, that post led to the fact that I was using some else's idea was because I ended up taking out one line of it. It said something like, "this worked similar to the Pendragon's where it will rip down the middle." Was it exactly like his? Not at all, I had put a lot of thought into it and also gimmicking the cloth.

I did put that cloth away, seeing as it will never see a public performance. Instead I made up something of my own which has been working like a charm.

Actually, concerning grand illusion I am quite clueless and "ignorant". I am an amateur working close-up and kid show magician, but my stage show is far from being completed. I was glad that I was straight up told that I am not allowed to use that idea, and that someone else owns it. I was not pleased when people right away thought I already knew what I was doing, was completely wrong, and did it anyway. I am learning, and do not know who invented and owns the rights to every little idea in stage illusion.

About the $50 kit full of all the hardware; I actually have no idea where it came from. It was a present from my grandpa who helped me build it. I'm sure if you look around online at lumber crafts and project stores, you will come across something that will work.

Message: Posted by: J.S.llusionDesigns (Dec 21, 2003 07:25PM)
If you do levitation, do not worry too much about getting the new models. Old ones are good; also the people do not know the difference.