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MichaelKent
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Darrin,

Your post makes me wonder about methods of actually shooting "safe" projectiles. Police and Riot Teams often fire "Less than Lethal" weapons at rioting crowds. (I still have a rubber bullet that was fired at me during my college days at Ohio State). Do they have less powder in the rounds? What keeps them from being less lethal than mistaken projectiles in the barrel, like in Soo's death and Denny's stories?
MarkRobertson
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My day/real job is in Emergency Management in a police station. Often you read about "less than leathal" projectiles in the media, but in police lingo it is actually "less leathal" (as in not as leathal) they can still kill. Those rounds will go through a sheet of plywood and if they hit you in the head they won't be any less leathal. The reason they don't penatrate a persons cheast is because they hit with a large surface area. The rubber bullets I have seen demonstrated are very large and fired from a shot gun, the same goes for the bean bags. By the way the "beans" are steel shot in a bag.
Reis O'Brien
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I think Ching Ling Soo did the best... ummm... except for that last time.

I'm thinking of trying the water-balloon catch. It's risky, so I'm not sure.
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Todd Robbins
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Firedice,I have one word for you...EGGS. Catch a egg unbroken in the mouth. Now that's a nice variation, even if I do say so myself.
landmark
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Quote:
On 2004-05-11 17:09, MichaelKent wrote:
Darrin,

Your post makes me wonder about methods of actually shooting "safe" projectiles. Police and Riot Teams often fire "Less than Lethal" weapons at rioting crowds. (I still have a rubber bullet that was fired at me during my college days at Ohio State). Do they have less powder in the rounds? What keeps them from being less lethal than mistaken projectiles in the barrel, like in Soo's death and Denny's stories?



If I remember from my protest days correctly, rubber bullets used by riot police are generally non-lethal because the correct way to use them is to fire them at the ground and then they ricochet and hit their targets. However, one reads reports from time to time of situations where the police use them incorrectly and fire them directly into a crowd, and that's when the fatalities happen.

Jack Shalom
The Village Idiots
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I remember as a kid seeing a guy, I don't know who, really catch a bullet on "that't Incredible."

Slow mo you see the bullet leaving the riffle and going in his mouth. He held a metal block between his teeth.

My dad, being a cop and gunsmith, thought it was the dumbest thing he had ever seen. Yes, because of the less than loud report, he said they used fewer grains of powder than normal. Still crazy!!

You may remember he bled from the mouth. Real blood. Claimed it was only his 3rd time to try the stunt. I would stick to magic.
Some are born idiots.

Some are made idiots.

Some have idiocy thrust upon them.
Reis O'Brien
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Quote:
On 2004-05-14 17:13, Todd Robbins wrote:
Firedice,I have one word for you...EGGS. Catch a egg unbroken in the mouth. Now that's a nice variation, even if I do say so myself.


Eggs! I'm not THAT crazy! I could get a piece of shell in my eye! That could cause an infection and make my eye hurt. No, no, I'll leave that to the professionals!
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Ted Lesley
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Friends,
I have known Ralf Bialla for more than twenty years. As you possibly know, I got his unbelievable "Vanishing Radio" (see me perform it on "hocus pocus" webpage) from his widow after Ralfs untimely death. In the former night-club "RED ROSE" I have seen him perform many many times. In the first years he performed his nightclub-act in that club. In later yesrs he did the "Bullet-Catch". First this trick wasn`t a success, because his patter was wrong. I helped him to change it and after half a month only, the bullet-catch turned out to be a sensation.

Ralf was a GREAT showman and he did everything, to get in the newspapers. For publicity purposes he had "steel teeth" implanted in his mouth, which werde covered with a pair of specil dentures. If a newspaperman asked him, how he catched the bullet, he took the dentures out to show the steel teeth and unvailed the story, that in fact of tis special teeth he could catch the bullet.....!!!! He told everybody, that he was injured by the bullet many times and he really WAS!.....but not by the bullet.....it was something else, what made it happen. The "injuries" were set in advance for the newspapers......because he could make it possible to be hit by the bullet or not, at any time he wished. I can`t let you in the secret here, that I can do in another forum in the Café, if you wish....?!?

To tell you the truth, I did not like the act and I was very happpy, as it was purchased by an amateur magician,who used it a couple of times in the nightclubs and after a short while the act with the name "Ralf Bialla jun" disappeared without a trace from the scene and he was never seen again!

Ralf Bialla´s nightclub-illusion act, was the most baffling one I ever have seen. His creations were incredible and he was a very very strong performer....and he was a GREAT FRIEND and so I remember him and his wonderful wife Inge in admiration

TED LESLEY
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Mick Ayres
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Gentlemen,
Greetings! I have registered on the Café just so I might add my two-cents to this discussion.
So far, there are several misconceptions and assumptions being made about the Bullet Catch on this forum...to be fair, Mr. Banacheck and Mr. Lesley have made the most accurate statements.
In the early eighties, millions of television viewers watched a young man named Carl Skenes catch a .22 rifle bullet in his mouth on the hit-show THAT'S INCREDIBLE. The precision-target rifle was ungimmicked (with the exception of a condenser microphone attached to the stock near the ejection port so the resulting 'bang' was louder than usual with a .22 rifle...normally, the sound isn't much more than a strong hand-clap). The bullet was not tampered with in any way.
Carl placed a special metal box in his mouth that was designed to 'trap' the bullet and protect his teeth from the resulting fragments. A piece of duct-tape covered the opening of the box and a large paper-dot was place on the tape to give the marksman an aimpoint on which to focus the crosshairs of the scope.
The marksman asked if Carl was ready and Carl nodded...unfortunately moving his mouth off-target. The bullet was fired and entered the box so close to the leading edge that the bullet split Carl's upper lip. This can be clearly seen on the slow-motion footage. A split lip bleeds profusely and Kathy Lee Crosby and Fran Tarkenton (the show's hosts) were speechless after realizing that the danger was real.
All of this information can be found in a historical article I wrote titled "Carl Skenes: Biting the Bullet" which was published in THE LINKING RING about five years ago. The article was an attempt to give Carl the credit he deserves.
He is the only magician I am aware of who has truly performed the Bullet Catch (if you think about it, ALL the others are faking it). Curiously, even today, when I speak to other magicians about Carl--they refuse to believe that someone has actually pulled it off...until they see the film. His act (presentation, choreography, and staging) was
'borrowed' by Dorothy Dietrich after the show aired and she managed to gain some notoriety...although she never truly caught the bullet.
In the book, TWELVE HAVE DIED, the author ignores Carl's contribution (probably because the show's hosts did not want to say Carl was a magician...but this wasn't a trick).
For the record, a year ago Carl was offered five figures to perform the stunt again, this time on the RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT television show. However, his wife, children, myself and a few other friends talked him out of it.
This is a seriously stupid way to get publicity (not when there are so many other options). Carl was struck with bullet fragments in the face at least seven times while performing the effect--he quit doing it more than a decade ago.
What is Carl doing today? He is a full-time magic entertainer at the Disney/MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida...he's been a favorite with the guests and visitors for over six years.
Hope this helps clear the air a bit.

Yerz,
Mick Ayres
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Harry Murphy
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Mike, I remember your article in the “linking Ring” and remember thinking “that is the absolute craziest thing I have ever heard!”

I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety that Carl must have felt every time a loaded rifle was pointed at him. I can report that the times I performed the bullet-catch (with hand remember!) I started to sweat heavily, my heart would pound in my chest, and I would start to hyperventilate! AND I KNEW THAT THE GUN WAS LOADED WITH A LOW POWERED BLANK CARTRATGE!!! What must Carl have felt knowing a real bullet was coming his way?

I wonder what the marksman must have felt? I had one man actually faint on me on stage because he believed that he could hurt/shot me. Lucky for me it was a different time than today, a time when people didn’t sue at the drop of the hat!

Carl deserves all the credit in the world for even attempting this stunt! He is lucky to have survived the many accidents. Thankfully we don’t have to read about “The Thirteen Who Died”!

Thanks for signing up and helping keep the history straight!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
constantine
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The most memorable bullet catcher was Melborne Christopher on the Garry Moore show, live. He had the bulet fired through a sheet of clear soft plastic, an inovation he credited to the show's producer.
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Mick Ayres
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Harry,
You're absolutely correct...the tension IS palpable. In fact, during the taping of the THAT'S INCREDIBLE episode, Carl's wife Tina was in the studio audience and decided after that night no one was going to shoot at her husband except her. It was driving her crazy.
So she learned to put a bullet where she wanted it. It helped that the rifle was a precision-match firearm designed specifically for the purpose. It might be an understatement to say that Carl was careful to avoid disagreements with the missus before going on stage.
As you implied, it's a lawyer-happy world out there. In fact, the article almost did not get published. Phil Wilmarth (senior editor of The Linking Ring) was justifiably concerned that a naive, young magician would take the idea and run with it...straight into a tragedy.
So, we rewrote the article and made sure certain details were left out so the stunt could not be recreated with the information provided.
Finally, I can't emphasize the incredible foolishness of this stunt. It is so dangerous that a dozen performers have lost their lives...even while working with gimmicked props, guns and bullets. Despite the most careful precautions, accidents still happen.
You want publicity? Go hang off a water tower in a straight jacket. Better yet, predict a headline.
Remember, Kellar was right.

Yerz,
Mick Ayres
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evanmartin
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I've been thinking about Carl Skenes for 25-some years. I saw him perform the bullet catch on That's Incredible when I was about 10 years old. The next summer, me and my dad went to Myrtle Beach and stayed at the Lakewood campground. Lakewood had a really cool carnival attached to it and we went just about every night we were at the beach. The park had a really cool magic theater - that was my favorite attraction Smile. One night, we go in, sit down, and my dad tells me that they guy who just walked on stage was the same guy that we had seen catch the bullet on tv!!
That was one of the coolest moments of my childhood.

I can't remember the act now - it's been a long time - but I do know that he didn't do the bullet catch. Foggy memory seems to suggest that he was doing rings, cups and balls kinds of illusions, - stuff out hats, card tricks, etc - but I'm not sure. Also, I'm reasonably sure that he was alone on stage.

On that's incredible, he had a male assistant - I don't remember seeing his wife do the shooting, so that must have happened after the that's incredible segment. Carl either showed the metal box that he put in his mouth on TV that night, or he showed me and my dad after that show at Lakewood (I can't remember which.) But I do remember that it looked like a small top hat (almost like a monopoly piece). he put the "brim" of the hat against his teeth, while letting the cup portion of the hat to rest inside his mouth. No one mentioned it here, but I remember that the assistant on stage used a giant stabilizing rig to hold the gun. the rig looked more like a huge piece of furniture than anything else. it was taller than the assistant, had tons of gears and clamps - but was mostly made of wood and looked very heavy. they explained that this was to prevent any kickback. Carl, however, didn't have anything to steady his body - which, as suggested by other posts, was a major problem.

By the time we saw him in Myrtle Beach (circa 1980-81) he told me and my dad after the show that since doing the TI tv show, he'd missed the bullet once and that it went through his cheek and broke a few teeth, and that he had decided to stop performing the bullet catch after that.

I never knew what happened to him after that - but I've always wondered.

I remember thinking at the time that it was kinda sad to see a magician that could once catch a bullet in his teeth, making a balloon dog for me. But he seemed like a really great guy and took time to talk with us, so I didn't have any trouble thinking of him as a hero from then on.

Any chance anybody has seen a video clip from that's incredible floating around the web?

Evan
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I've just re-read this topic, and I hate to contradict my friend Banachek, but...

He did not do the original buried alive. It's a much older stunt than he is.

And the breaking of glass in the bullet catch didn't originate with him either. I have an antique tray, used for the breaking glass, that also pre-dates him.

It doesn't change the fact that he's a brilliant thinker, and a great performer.
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evanmartin
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OH cool. I don't know who wrote this, but I just found this quote on the web at http://www.jumptheshark.com/t/thatsincredible.htm:

"The bullet catch show-- the bullet catch dude is my stepdad, Carl Skenes. I remember watching it (before he met my mom) and we thought he was a complete idiot. 1 year later, they were married, and SHE became his sharpshooter (the old sharpshooter was his best buddy from college). P.S. He never went into the hospital, his gums weren't bleeding (just his lip), and he DID do the bullet catch 4 more times after that, twice on Puerto Rican TV, once on Venezuelan TV, and once on Japanese TV. They were supposed to do it on Ripley's Believe it or Not 2 years ago, but TBS network execs pulled them at the last minute due to fears of copycats and liability. My little brother (now 18 and in the Navy) started wanting to do the bullet catch around age 16. Mom freaked. "When you turn 18 and move out of the house, you can have whoever you want to fire a gun at your head. But as long as you're living under my roof..." What the heck kind of weird family am I in?"

3 people voted for the bullet catch show as marking the day T.I. jumped the shark.

Evan
Banachek
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Just correct a correction by my good pal Harley. I have never said breaking glass was mine. I said "the method (including the glass and "

The method used in this version was and is mine and uses no gimmick tray or frame. That is a big difference than saying I invented the first way to break a glass, something I would never claim. This has been done for many, many stunts long before I was born.

And as for the buried alive, I was the first to be buried 9 ft under the earth in a Plexiglas coffin, chain and handcuffs, one continues camera shot with no cut aways from above and in real time. Yes, even the old fakirs did buried alive stunts, so yes you are correct buried alive stunts were done prior. Heck we can even find them in old manuscripts but this is not what I said.

Hope that clarifies a bit better.
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Mick Ayres
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Evan,
Your posts are bringing back memories for me. A few years before Carl was performing at the Magic Harbor theme park in Myrtle Beach (where you saw him as a child), I ran the small magic shop there. It was called 'Hugo Greystone's Magical Emporium'...Hugo was a fictitious character name developed by Paul Osbourne (I believe) for the theme park when it first opened in the early 70's. Eventually, I left the theme park in the mid-70's and went to work as a magician for the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum on the boulevard in Myrtle Beach. If you want a sure-cure for insomnia, you can read more about those days in a recent interview I did at InsideMagic.com.
The writer from the 'Jump the Shark' post, is Carl's step-daughter Christy. Eventually, Carl and his wife had two more children, Victoria and Carl Edward. The whole Skenes family is packed with talent. Carl is still performing as a full-time pro--he stayed overnight in my home two days ago while doing a show in Savannah. His wife Tina, teaches dance and travels the country as a competition judge for dance championships. Also, she is my favorite singer--Tina has an incredible voice; I've never heard her hit a bad note. Christy is now a full-time mom and writer--she has a blog website called 'The Southern Thinker' that is definitely worth a read. Victoria sings and dances in full-blown stage shows and musicals all over the country--her soon-to-be fiance is a nationally-ranked water-board champion. Finally, Carl Edward (who just finished his Navy boot camp experience this past weekend) is a fine sleight-of-hand artist and dancer as well. The guy tap dances better than he walks. He worked for Magic Masters at their Disney location in Orlando before joining the military. His chops and presentations are well-honed and only getting better.
Carl has a video copy of the 'THAT'S INCREDIBLE' shoot, along with clips from the Japanese shoot. You were right about the tripod rifle stand...it is a huge piece of equipment. Smaller ones were available but the larger version was simply more impressive to the audience. For the record, Carl used to attach a tiny condenser microphone to the side of the rifle, hidden from the audience. In reality, a .22 caliber rifle only makes a sound like a loud hand clap when it goes off. The microphone fed the sound through the PA system and it became a startling 'BOOM' when the trigger was pulled, making the audience jump in their seats.

Best,
Mick Ayres
THE FIVE OBLIGATIONS OF CONJURING: Study. Practice. Script. Rehearse. Perform. Drop one and you're done.
evanmartin
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Mick,
aw man, you beat me to saying that it was Magic Harbor at Lakewood campground. My dad called me last night and said it finally came to him that the amusement park was called Magic Harbor - but I didn't remember any of the other stuff. thanks for posting all of that in your last message.

I'll just take a stab and guess that you probably have tons of old photos from the day. Any chance (if the pics do exist) that you could post them on the web somewhere and put a link to them here?

Thanks for the great details!
Evan
nucinud
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Nine years ago for my 50th Birthday, my wife got us tickets to see Penn & Teller at Stony Brook.
Long story short, I was chosen to load Penn's Pistol for the bullet catch. I still have the bullet and shell. Seeing it live up close and personal was amazing. Being apart of it was unforgetable.
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croftorama
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Balloon dog? I haven't seen Carl Skenes make a balloon dog in 20 years.

http://www.skenesentertainment.com/balloonmagic.htm
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