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Topic: Original show?
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Oct 21, 2013 10:04PM)
I am amazed how many illusion shows I see are all using the same few illusions as many others. There was a time where illusionists strived to have something others do not. (until stolen by rivals and put in their own show) But those times the shows reached far less people.
Some would argue that there is nothing new but then why did so many latch on the same illusions that came out after 2000?

It makes me wonder, is there any illusion shows out today that are doing their own illusions. I am not talking about a routine but something that is not for sale to the masses? It seems many of the top illusion designers are not doing their own material but selling it to top pros and then eventually to everyone.

So who is out there doing their own illusions for the majority of their show? (if anyone)
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Oct 22, 2013 03:17AM)
I do a lot of original stuff
Most are thinking " How good can this stiff be because we've never seen him work" but I did a few seasons at a major amusement park (6 times 6 nonstop) and trucked-around three different illusion shows for 10 years so how bad, can he be either? I don't have movies on YouTube or circulate a lot of my stuff because I want to keep it. . All your going to see is a cheap video for librarys which I'm not really proud of but I didn't shoot it.

But here's some things that I've twisted.
Melting through Metsl A kind of spinning steel blackboard that I walk through.
My elastic lady. While not original in concept, the cabinet is only 18 wide and 24 deep and does not look like it does what it does.
My Assistants revenge a one of a kind (but truthfully the audience doesn't know or care)
There's a Lazy Susan in the base of my shadow box so the assistant spins around (the shelf has a "U" shape to go around the spindle.)
I have a three-box sawing/ vanishing box thing where two boxes are taken down, leaving and end box, then the other end box is put back-up but the first end is taken down.
There are a few escape routines using devices which has been published but no one else has made the items.
Then there is an Asrah -Agga combo that fooled the earths best builder when he watched me in Burbank.
So yes, and no. Not everything is original but there's enough differences that much of what I do is different.

I think that Mark Wilson was expert at combining two different illusions into one and DCs team(s) have reinvented so much stuff that my little contributions look silly compared to them. Then there was the Zebra trick that Doug and Debby did, now that was original.

Here's a movie of my vanishing bottle routine which, while not an illusion, hives you the idea. I am posting this because there are various complex parts that are not easily copied. http://www.jayleslie.com/mov/Vanishing%20Bottle.mov
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 22, 2013 05:51AM)
I don't do "big boxes" Jay (except for one phone promo show tour--and that was pretty much "stock" stuff.)but I do think that the big shows definitely have a "place" in the business. "Civilians" DO talk about what they saw at a theme park or on TV, OR "WHEREVER". --and that promotes MAGIC! --and that promotes me!!!(+ a lot of other guys who "eat off it"!


Posted: Oct 22, 2013 6:53am
The ZEBRA!!! Yes!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 22, 2013 06:20AM)
Most magicians do not create their own illusions. They buy (or build) the creations of others. This is nothing new. Your observations on the history of this is that of compressed time, and selective notation. Over the course of a hundred years, we tend to remember those who made a name for themselves, while the majority fade from memory.

I would imagine the name Fred Culpitt is unknown to many magicians today. Only those who study history would know him as the inventor of the Doll's House Illusion. They may have heard the name Servais LeRoy, but few would connect him to inventing the Asrah Levitation.

How about Cyril Yettmah? He invented the Shadow Box.

Bautier DeKolta invented of course, The DeKolta Chair. There was a subtle clue in there. ;) . But, did you know he also invented Multiplying Billiard Balls, The Vanishing Birdcage, and Spring Flowers?

I'm sure a lot more magicians can name a performer of one of these illusions, well before they can name the inventor.

Can anyone tell me who Professor Herwin was? Check your thumb and get back to me (one of the greatest illusions of all time, if also one of the smallest).

More often we remember a performer, rather than an inventor. With the explosion of media transfer these days, we not only have the joy of seeing the greatest performers, we are also surrounded by a daily dose of the not-so-great. Lots of attention is paid to the obvious copycats, sometimes rightfully so, and other times, I question the validity of the complaints. Look at how much attention is given to someone performing a rip-off illusion, or even a poorly constructed illusion, even if it was built by someone other than the performer.

A hundred years ago, most people would have been lucky to have seen a single performance of an illusion. To later see another performer perform the same trick... the odds would have been quite different. Fifty years later, the odds may not have changed much, but most assuredly there would have been many magicians performing the same illusions, as many of their competitors. Today, you can go on Youtube and see a dozen performances of almost any illusion you can name.

The only thing that has really changed is what we notice and remember.
Message: Posted by: DavidThomas (Oct 22, 2013 08:19AM)
I would put Franz Harary on top of the list as a performer who has created the most "original" illusions. Andre Cole would also be on the list. There are many other who have created one or two pieces.

The question you poise is also true of all other levels of magic. Most magicians whether close up, stage, parlour or illusionists perform magic created by others. This is also true in the world of performing arts. I have always been in awe of the 'creative" teams that create "stage musicals" operas, novels, ect. Most of us are actors who perform others works. The same is true with illusions.

I would rather focus my efforts on production and performance then trying to create something new that would be better in the hands of the people like Jim Steinmeyer.
Message: Posted by: Matt Adams (Oct 22, 2013 08:59AM)
I think guys have been selling their ideas for forever...while still fairly modern, consider the genius Jarrett who sold to the great Thurston (and more). He loved his illusions and wanted to get them seen - but he wasn't really interested in performing them as much as he was in creating them.

I think the saying is true - jack of all trades, master of none. No one will be the best at creating AND performing. One will always suffer - if not due to talent, then most certainly due to time.

That said, now that I've gotten to a certain level of performance for my show, I'm turning my sights on creating more than ever. My goal isn't to be the next David Copperfield (although it was when I was a kid). Now I just want to reach as many people with the gospel of Jesus as possible - and my show is my method for doing that. :)
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 22, 2013 10:14AM)
On 2013-10-22 09:59, Matt Adams wrote:
I think guys have been selling their ideas for forever...while still fairly modern, consider the genius Jarrett who sold to the great Thurston (and more). He loved his illusions and wanted to get them seen - but he wasn't really interested in performing them as much as he was in creating them.


This is very true. Years ago, there were creators, but also those who were the builders and sellers, like Thayer, Abbotts, etc. Many of them built exclusively, or semi-exclusively for select performers.

It is possible that the early creators built their own apparatus, but in most cases, I suspect they had others do it primarily, even if they had an active hand in the workshop. These individual creators could be either performers themselves, like Goldin, Selbit, LeRoy, Maskelyne, etc., or guys like Jarret, mentioned above.

Today, things are not that different. There are those who are known more for creating than for building or performing (Steinmeyer), those who build more than they perform or create (Gaughan), and those who perform more than they do either of the other (obvious). Sometimes, someone comes along with cross-over skills, but specialization is more the norm.

There are many advantages for the builder/seller... more modern tools, better marketing techniques, faster communication of ideas... all of which simplifies process and increases production. The competitive nature of business being what it is basically means that there will be entries that run the gamut of quality and price. This attracts a much larger cross-section of buyers. But, creativity and unique design is a much more rare commodity. Hence, more guys out there performing a lot of the same things.

This does not mean however, that there were more inventive magicians in the past, just more opportunities today for the non-inventive magician.

In many cases, the desire to be unique is still there, but like yesteryear, when they do come up with something different (usually in routining), it is copied by other performers, but more likely quickly brought to market with the knowledge that doing so is often more profitable. This is not always at the hand of copyists either. Lots of magicians make their living off other magicians.
Message: Posted by: Eldon (Oct 22, 2013 10:35AM)
Back in the day I had several original Large Illusions in my show. I developed a theme for the show and then would build Illusions to go along with the theme. (It is how I became a builder and the beginnings of "White Magic Mfg.") I still have most of these in my warehouse. These days I take the easy way out and do mostly stock stuff. I'm still doing my Zig-Zag which is innovative and truly different from others (if you can believe that).

Michael, I think Professor Herwin invented one version of the Vanishing Penny Box.
Message: Posted by: Edgar Alstad (Oct 23, 2013 03:24AM)
Bautier DeKolta invented of course, The DeKolta Chair. [/quote]

As you said, we rembember this because his name is attached to the name of the illusion. But if I remember correctly, he originally named it "The Vanishing Lady". Why, when and who changed the name of the illusion?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 23, 2013 07:09AM)
Hello Michael!

Eons ago, one of my professors (and it may not have been an original "line" with him)said:

"There are people who have SOMETHING TO SAY, and people who JUST HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING!"

You always have SOMETHING TO SAY! --Makes me proud to be associated with YOU!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 23, 2013 09:51AM)

I am not sure on that. I have heard however that he is credited with inventing the TT. I was not there at the time to verify that, though! ;)


That is a good question. Probably the victim of time and vernacular. I don't know. I also don't know when Metamorphosis became Sub Trunk, or when Disembodied Princess became Girl without a Middle, or when Lady from the Light became Shadow Box, or when Michael Ammar invented the Topit (joke).


The pleasure of our association is mine. Sometimes I have too much to say. Some people think that if they asked me what time it was, that I'd tell them how a watch is made. :)
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Oct 23, 2013 10:10AM)
I think you guys missed the point, trying to fill this topic with theory.
My question was direct and to the point. Only two answered it and maybe one was a bit self serving/ tongue and cheek as he later admits it is more TWISTS.(no offense to this person I am teasing)

Yes in Grand Illusion Harary
The fact is so many smaller shows just buy and I am not seeing a show I enjoy. I am sick of seeing, and forgive me for not knowing the commercial names, the tube and cube illusion, or pushing a person through another while standing, that Origami box. It seem many illusionists are just not trying to come up with their own material and sadly just tweaking the routine is not acceptable to claim being original.

Yes, as some said, it is that those who cant teach or in this case design and sell. I till think they could easily blow most out of the water if they took a few acting and stage lessons and could not only amaze the public but drive magicians crazy.

I think all this "availability" to buy plans or props does stifle creativity. Why create when there is so many wonderful ideas to buy. Sure for a while you are the only guy in town with the prop so it is new to them, but with TV and internet. since 2000 you see so many own these same props, have videos on Youtube and such and actually it seems OLD and any illusions like this really cant be tweaked as much as the illusionist thinks. They are fooling themselves that , in the audiences minds, they have changed the prop. But the core effect remains and it really does not matter how much you BeDazzle the prop.

So my question was not about why illusionists buy or why an illusion builder would rather stay behind the scenes.

I am more curious to see MORE recommendations of shows out there on tour that are very unique and have signature illusions. OK if I have to make it easier for you- It doesnot have to be the entire show and does not have to be THEIR idea. But it should be a show that you will not see the same illusion in any dressing, in any other show. Follow?

So I am sure Harary has a TEAM of thinkers but you will see stuff in his show that are unlike other shows (although it was getting a bit tiresome that every effect you would see him do on TV was a large vanish using similar methods)

There was a time you could go see a touring stage show of one of the greats and they would actually TRY to be different or better the other guy. I just see it as very cookie cutter today so wanted to go to make an attempt to seek out high end illusion shows with NAMES not cookie cutter (ie if you youtube Disney Mickey's Magic Show) You can see an illusion show using many standards but the illusionist is interchangeable. Brad Ross might be in one show but could easily be someone else in another country as it is the Disney format of uniformity" It is not that it is a bad show. Steinmeyer was a consultant but it is not a show one could put their name on and say "Oh that is the XYZ show, I have never seen anyone do that before."

So are there other names out there that have exclusive illusions that do not display the latest Magic Venture or other stock effect?
Message: Posted by: Matt Adams (Oct 23, 2013 10:37AM)
Oh, try Taylor Reed in Branson. He does a lot of his own stuff and performs it as well.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 23, 2013 02:44PM)
Hey Michael!
Cf. "Inside Magic" (George Boston). If my memory is functioning (I read it in the FORTIES) assistants on the Blackstone (pere) show, called "The Girl Without a Middle","NO GUTS"!

I don't know what they called "The Girl in the Tires", but I would imagine it was: @#^^<>%%!!!! (hee hee) I only saw it done a couple (maybe three) times. Once or twice by "pa" and once by "son". They called it "that" because those truck tires were HEAVY!

Jay saw it from the orchestra, the balcony, and the gallery. He told me that he was "flummoxed". George Johnstone, assistant before WWII) tipped it to Jay and me over coffee, upstairs at Inc. You wouldn't want to troupe it~!

Posted: Oct 23, 2013 3:46pm
PS" Didn't Pat Page invent "TOPIT"?--HEE HEE!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 23, 2013 08:18PM)

I think this is common among all types of magic, not just illusions. Actually, I see a lot more individual styles and unique creations with smaller magic. Perhaps it is easier to modify a concept when the props don't cost $10,000. I don't know.

But, I tend to agree that many illusion shows are less than unique, and that many of the illusionists are as interchangeable as the boxes themselves. But, I am not so much concerned with seeing new and unique creations in the realm of illusions, as much as I crave seeing performers who honestly bring something to the table.

Although I have only seen videos and never a live performance, John Bundy is one of my personal favorites. He and Morgan give the audience WAAAY more than a collection of boxes and weapons of singular destruction. I absolutely love what they do, but I'm not sure if they do anything other than great classic illusions.
Message: Posted by: Chad Sanborn (Oct 24, 2013 05:48PM)
I think it works this way...Magician A buys an illusion and puts it into his show. It gets rave reviews. Other people then buy it. The price comes down, knockoffs are made, and then more magicians copy that illusion. They do so, because Magician A was successful with it and they feel like they are as good as him/her if they are performing the same illusion. Plus they have the added benefit of knowing the illusion works for an audience. And can even steal the routine if they desire. Now they will perform this illusion until the wheels fall off. At which point they will look at what Magician A is now doing and will repeat the process all over again.

Not many people do original tricks that they both created and routined from scratch simply because its easier not to. And also because many cannot.

Creating magical effects takes a certain thought process that many people just don't have. And that's ok. You don't need to in order to present it well. But you do have to be creative in the presentation. And again many people would rather copy Magician A's routine than create their own. Simply because its easier.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Oct 26, 2013 02:41AM)
OK, finally... a new and original illusion (sort of).

These are smoking bells in Japan, but when I saw this, I said, "There is a giant smoke-filled Copentro in my future!" :)

Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Oct 26, 2013 08:57AM)
I'll go a different direction with this topic.

It's not so much the fact that so many performers are using the same illusions, but what they do with those illusions. Combining two or three otherwise-ordinary illusions into a compelling routine with a story line can transform those illusions into something else entirely in the eyes of an audience. Combining the simple production of a red rose with a Crystal Casket can turn an ordinary appearance into a love story, overflowing with color and drama.

I love to watch movies and television shows and read books about performance, creativity, and working harder than you ever thought you could to realize a dream. Shows such as Fame, Dance Academy, and even Bunheads and books about IDEO and Disney Imagineering give me loads of ideas that help me to dream or to imagine what can be done to "capture" an audience.
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Oct 28, 2013 04:20AM)

That's why I always enjoyed going to see Andre Kole's show. About 95% of his material is original and you never knew what you're going to see when you buy a ticket to his performance.

Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 28, 2013 09:23AM)
1000% right, Gerry! He certainly does think 'outside the box'!

I remember BOBBY GURTLER (Andre Kole's real name)from the early 1950s!!! "Things" like the ATOMIC STACK PILE are in my 'mental' memory bank.

I didn't see him work until about the late 1980s, when he was working in a church in California. There aint enough 'O's in SMOOOOOOTH to describe his performance.

Greg Bordner and I caught him in the early 1990s, in Lower Michigan. SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH!

Last time we met was at a Michigan Magic Day about 15 years ago. He is a GENTLEMAN!
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Oct 30, 2013 09:18PM)
Thanks guys. I was not really looking for theory or opinions on why so many buy the exact same illusions. I was saying I was bored of seeing it and wanted to see someone who is trying to be orignal rather than do what many magicians do, they see it, they see the reaction, they want it, they buy it. That is the easy road. I am not saying I have never done it. But it is constantly on my mind- do I want to do a trick as my competiton.
So while I can go with many of your thoughts, that was not my point.
I just want to see some shows that are not using the same old, (and new) stuff. :)
Message: Posted by: Kevin Ridgeway (Oct 30, 2013 09:29PM)
I'm not trying to be rude here...but if one views other magicians as their competition, then they are being short sighted and not setting themselves apart, not as a magician but as entertainment in general. And that truly has NOTHING to do with what you perform, but more to do with HOW & WHY you perform.

Just my opinion and experience.
Message: Posted by: DavidThomas (Oct 31, 2013 08:25AM)
Kevin, I agree. If a magician is trying to be "top" in the field, then there is a reason to be different and a need to create. Personally I have no interest in this. There are 100's of us that are performing day in and day out to audiences that have never seen a live magic show. I do respect and thank the creators in our field!!!
Message: Posted by: wanmagic (Nov 1, 2013 08:44PM)
David right on. Your general audience and clients I.E. those that pay you don't live and breath magic. To them if you are entertaining and have a good production it's a great show period. The trick is only a fraction of the whole performance. Really it doesn't matter how many different ways you vanish, cut in half, change, walk through something, or appear it is all the same ball game. The only people it matters to is magicians and they aren't paying your bills.
Message: Posted by: tristanmagic (Nov 2, 2013 12:49PM)
A lot of illusionists perform their own illusions.

In the US you have, apart from the top players like Copperfield and Penn & Teller, people like Kevin James who only does his own material or Nathan Burton who has some original stuff or Ed Alonzo.

In Europe you have Peter Marvey & Rafael who create their own material.

Also the Ehrlich Brothers & Dani Lary have original stuff but they also perform rip-off's...
Message: Posted by: tristanmagic (Nov 2, 2013 01:21PM)
Forgot to mention Topas, who uses his own unique presentation to existing effects & has created some original illusions as well
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Nov 9, 2013 10:39AM)
Right, but some seem to think that they don't reach same people so they all buy the same illusions. You can paint a different color or change the framing a little but that is not a "twist" .

I can understand your statement about competition. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck.
To quote Pete Mennie from an article in Vanish 10,
"When a client hires a magician, they are purchasing a magic show. A time filler. The specifics of the ‘show’ don’t matter. In the eyes of the client and the audience, it’s just ‘tricks’. That’s the product and the product is assumed to be of a certain quality otherwise it would be offered for ‘sale’."

While I could debate that as well, I feel it is more of the reality of many. Unless the client sees your entire show elsewhere, they are comparing apples to apples in their minds. While I understand your point is to stand above, if there are two that cut the lady in half, they most likely, care about it being a twist on the same version another guy is doing.

I am fully aware why many do the same illusions- availability and cost. The illusion if for sale and they can afford it. They can see how many shows it will take to pay it off. Or they buy plans (availability) and build it themselves. (affordability) . They also have seen the illusion performed and were fooled initially and saw the reaction. More magic is sold at conventions when they see it performed either in the show the night before or at a lecture. They see the reactions so want that same response.

I don't blame anyone for doing it but then make the point they will not stand out above the rest. And yes, if you must have what everyone else is doing, you should twist it, should "make it your own. (just don't kid yourself that the actual illusion is any different from the guy that does it as it comes out of the packing crate).

So that is why I posed the question of who was taking to that next level with stuff they create or have made for them but it is not for sale.

On 2013-10-30 22:29, Kevin Ridgeway wrote:
I'm not trying to be rude here...but if one views other magicians as their competition, then they are being short sighted and not setting themselves apart, not as a magician but as entertainment in general. And that truly has NOTHING to do with what you perform, but more to do with HOW & WHY you perform.

Just my opinion and experience.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 9, 2013 12:07PM)
Magicians doing totally different illusions then the common magician.

David Copperfield
Franz Harary

There are others but their names escapes me. Who is the guy that penetrates a 12x12 board in a enclosed glass structure.

Do to magic dealers that want to flood the market with magic tricks and illusions, we have a lot of magicians doing the same illusions. In earlier times there were only a handful of magicians, all doing their own magic acts. That is how it should be, but do to population growth, and capitalism, and a desire to perform magic, we have an abundance of performers.

It is not really the magician's fault but the lack of creativity in the magic industry. There has not been a small scale stage trick in generations. Then it is also not an issue of coping, but a desire on the individual person wanting to do exactly what he sees. Not to take anything away from the original performer, but to be able to do the same trick. Even if their were an abundance of illusions, they would still be doing the same illusions for just that reason.

There is hundreds of illusions not be shown from yesteryear, Many could use a new facelift of course. Look at all the Thayer, Owens, Abbott's illusions that no one touches. Why, the usual excuse is that it is old, when in fact, the illusions they are doing are old as well. Just depends on what one calls old. Old today is anything over 3 months of existence.
Message: Posted by: yadlig (Nov 18, 2013 11:29AM)
Original Illusions created and performed by David Copperfield....0

Rank / Position in industry......#1.

Just thinking out loud on the subject.
Message: Posted by: RNK (Nov 18, 2013 11:50AM)
My goal isn't to be the next David Copperfield (although it was when I was a kid). Now I just want to reach as many people with the gospel of Jesus as possible - and my show is my method for doing that. :)

This is great! May God Bless you on your journey Matt!

Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 18, 2013 12:08PM)
On 2013-11-18 12:29, yadlig wrote:
Original Illusions created and performed by David Copperfield....0

Rank / Position in industry......#1.

Just thinking out loud on the subject.

And your point is? David Copperfield performs mostly all original material. I did not say he created original material. You make a good point though. In a capitalists society, when a person thinks of an idea and ask others to create something, then hires and pays for it to be manufactured and created, and holds exclusive rights to that creation. Do we credit the person or team that made it come to fruition or the person who paid for it.

Today in the electronics industry, new inventions are constantly being created, but the man who actually invented the computer processor is not hailed as the inventor. Intel Corporation takes all the credit for inventing the processor. Most companies believe if you invent something while you are working for that company, then anything you invent belongs to them. It is usually in the very small print in the hiring policy.
Message: Posted by: Murray Hatfield (Nov 20, 2013 12:50AM)
As I read these posts a few things come to mind;

First - most of the top names in the entertainment world do not create everything that they perform. Actors, guided by a director, perform scripts written by others. Singers and bands often have hits with music and lyrics written by others. Dancers are choreographed and directed, even many comedians pay for jokes that are written by others. There are exceptions but there are many, many performers and artists who perform the works of others.

Secondly, even David Copperfield performed Origami, Walking Thru a Mirror, Things go Bump in the Night/Million Dollar Mystery, Pole Levitation and the Water Levitation, many years after these illusions were created for and performed on television by Doug Henning. While David and his team have created some stunning original illusions, he has also performed classics like The Ashra Levitation, Twister, Modern Cabinet, Zig Zag, Metamorphosis, Duck Bucket, Backstage with a Magician, Linking Rings, Dancing Hanky, Floating Silver Ball, Cut and Restored Rope, and more.

In my own circumstance with producing a new 2 hour show each year for the last 25 years, for my annual Canadian tour, I put a great deal of time and effort into both creating original routines and illusions as well as purchasing props from most of the finest creators and builders in the world. The problem is that even though, to the best of my knowledge, I had the very first Origami, Mini Kub Zag, Pole Levitation, Kalin's Fire Spiker, Interlude, Death Drop, Split Press, Suspended Animation, Bits 'n Pieces, Swords and Shields, Twin Penetration, Compressed, Twister, Arial Exchange, Jam, etc in Canada - all it takes is a few other magicians who decide to buy them and suddenly what was "different" and "unique" becomes commonplace.

I'm curious why the original poster focuses on the illusionists. It seems to me that I also see a great many close up magicians perform variations of the Ambitious Card, Triumph, 3 Card Monte, Card to Impossible Location, ACAD, Sponge Balls, Cups and Balls, Doc Daley's Last Card Trick, Sam the Bellhop, MacDonald's Aces, etc. Having said that I have also seen many of my favourite magicians ROCK with these and other classic closeup effects as I have seen some of my favourite illusionists ROCK with the above mentioned illusions…

…just saying'
Message: Posted by: GeorgePrikkel (Nov 25, 2013 05:19AM)
Scott en Muriel, from Holland, does a one hour show of all original ilusions. You can see some video's at they're website: http://www.Scottandmuriel.com