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Inner circle
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Profile of Starrpower
Any stories out there of "Goof-ups" that were apparent to the audience, either that happened to you, or that you saw? And, more importantly, how did you cover (or recover)?

I'll never forget the major problem Blackstone had at the Orange Bowl. What sticks with me is that he handled it with such professionalism and didn't get flustered.

There was a cabinet made from "one way" glass (silvered glass?) It looked like a cabinet made of mirror, which you could not see into until the interior lights turned on. What was supposed to happen was the cabinet was shown empty, and when the lights turned on inside (making the glass transparent) a girl is there! Great idea, especially for a stadium where everyone cannot see into the doors. The solution of making the cabinet transparent at the correct time was brilliant! Unfortunately, the girl's dress got caught on the trap door, and when the lights came on she was tugging on the bottom of her dress, and the trap was wide open for all to see!

Blackstone quickly jumped in front of the cabinet that was facing the camera and began waving his arms in magical gestures. Finally, the girl freed herself and made her exit. She, however, was not nearly as elegant as Harry. While he escorted her down the stairs, his arms raised in acknowledgement to the crowd, she was bitching the whole time! You could actually read her lips on camera, repeating, "I was stuck!" Had she simply smiled and waved, too, the error would have been less damaging.

Another memorable moment was when Doug Henning fell behind the "special" platform and half his body vanished! I believe that was the last time he made a "live" special.

I was once doing a 20th Century" routine, and when I pulled the silks for the revelation, the "hidden" silk only pulled out about 2" ! I had to shake the silks a few times to make it "magically" appear, which by that time was pretty obvious. I felt like a real fool, but just moved on and didn't acknowledge it.
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Inner circle
Portland, Oregon
1322 Posts

Profile of rtgreen
On 2005-11-28 13:57, Starrpower wrote:
Another memorable moment was when Doug Henning fell behind the "special" platform and half his body vanished! I believe that was the last time he made a "live" special.

That routine had a couple of problems, but the dancers handled it very well. If I remember right, when Doug fell, the dancers moved in front of the table hiding the fact that Doug was missing. The whole routine was supposed to end with Germain's vanishing gong, but that totally failed and was very difficult to hide.

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New Jersey
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Profile of jwebyra
Michael Jeffries had a interview with Mr. Blackstone in one of his books. (Mr. Jeffries' book) Mr. Blackstone said that there were problems with the whole half time show. He stated that the lady who was produced didn't even practice the illusion and that is why that happened.
Thank you,
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630 Posts

Profile of plainman007
My girl assistant has been caught doing that. She opened the trap in a cabinet before the main doors were closed. We wanted her to be fast. But she was a little too fast. She ruined my career. LOL. It comes with the job. Anybody on the show screws up, we get the blame. People will say "his trick flopped" "he goofed up" etc ....they rarely say his assistant mucked up.
Frank Simpson
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SW Montana
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Profile of Frank Simpson
I must admit that whenever I am feeling bad about a show, I get out my video of Blackstone at the Orange Bowl. It is somehow comforting to see the "big boys" having difficulties. And Mr. Blackstone did handle himself with great dignity in a performance where not one single effect went as planned. Truly a lesson for us all!

As to the Doug Henning mishap, I was just watching that one the other day. Sadly we can't claim special help from the dancers, as their cover happened a little bit later (in time with the music) which was part of their choreography. (It was there to cover removing the modus operandi, as it had been similarly to get it in place at the beginning)

In about 1984 I was performing a show for an event at a local drug store and one of the things I performed was the Vanishing Birdcage (ala Blackstone). Well, suffice to say that the vanishing birdcage didn't. And there is no graceful way out of that one! All I could do was laugh at myself, make a joke of it with the crowd and move on! This does point out the importance of establishing a good relationship with your audience. The audience loves the misfortune of the "know-it-all" style of magician, but if you have a warm and friendly relationship with your audience they will forgive much more readily and move on with you. I am happy to report that the remainder of the show went very well and was well-received.

Another time, about 3 years earlier I was performing the Super-Needled Balloon...or I should say I was trying to. To this day I have no idea why, but I could not get the needle to penetrate the balloon. It was quite a sight (as I actually have this performance on video) to see me shoving this 18" needle against the side of a clear balloon and it simply would not go through! After stammering for a bit I tossed the balloon up in the air and stabbed it, popping it instantly.... Next trick, please!

These types of events inspired me to sign up for a few improvisational acting classes. I actually signed up my assistants too. I told them that our objective was to cultivate a real "thinking-on-your-feet" mentality, so that if something goes wrong we'd have a much better chance of recovering gracefully. It did make us function better as a team, particularly if there was a hiccup along the way. It was also a lot of fun!
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Inner circle
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Profile of Starrpower
That's true. On the other hand, when she vanishes perfectly they rarely say, "Wow! That assistant really got through that trap door in a hurry!" either.

We've all had mishaps, so rather than simply a thread of who screwed up and how they did it, I think this could be something to learn from. So, it would be interesting to hear HOW the acts "covered."

The Henning thing actually happened so fast that I think people really didn't notice. It was one of those, "Did I really see that?" moments, at a time when most of us didn't have video tapes to rewind and review. I have it on tape, and I don't recall dancers responding in any way (I'll review it and get back to you on that one.)

As for Blackstone, the entire staff was amateurs, I believe. Wasn't the girl the Orange Bowl queen, or some such thing?

I've seen Blackstone mess up quite a bit (but he's still among my very favorites, and was a gentleman.) I saw one show where he was doing the "Backstage" illusion, and after the box was picked up and placed into the larger box, the base trap popped open. I think maybe a piece of costume was stuck and the assistant was freeing it from inside. Not Harry's fault, of course, but it's his show ...

Another really funny one was left in a video intentionally by Dave Williamson. A little kid busted him doing (I believe) a double lift. He left it on his tape 'cause it was so funny! Nice to be able to laugh at yourself.
Father Photius
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Grammar Host
El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
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Profile of Father Photius
Worst I ever saw was a local telethon for a boys home, and Ted Quan, who owned a Chinese restaurant and was a pretty good magician, was doing several illusions. He attempted to do the sword suspension using Trixie (Dobson) Bond. Dan Johnson, another local magician, who was a pretty stout guy tried to help Ted lift Trixie on the swords. They probably needed at least one other. Long story short, they didn't get Trixie hooked securely and as Ted was preparing to remove the first sword, Trixie fell off. Fortunately she wasn't hurt seriously. Was live TV, think they eventually cut away when the director realized what happened wasn't supposed to. I had emailed Trixie a few months ago, she still remembered the incident vividly. Ted went on with the show and did a doll house illusion producing a kid next.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
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Manhattan, NY | Studio City, CA
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Profile of MattWayne
My memories,

Well my flubbed show happened to be my first ever. Sound familiar? Ugh- oh it was terrible. It was a festival- outdoors. I really have a disliking now for doing outdoor shows; even to this day. I was on the, 'rising stars' stage. Ha ha. Anyway... yeah I was a copycat. So ashamed. I remember wearing a mask (ala a white McBride mask) oh I was so hilariously stupid looking. I had a tux and tails. I didn't have any of the nice props of which I've acquired and grown with over the years. I had a roll on table that fell over during the show. I also had my grandfather (my harshest critic ever) build be a table using a music stand. That still is actually usable. But anyway- the cloth blew off of it. I remember having the worst spectator 'in the world!!' It was HIS fault that I messed up! I swear! Not to mention the adorable cherubs in the front row complained that they couldn't hear me. Ugh. I felt horrible. But relating this to the topic:

I opened- my opener!- happened to be the dancing cane. I worked so hard on this routine! Lots of work, ya know? Well low and behold the string broke. I still remember it: Tomasko running across to stage left after this wooden homemade dancing cane made out of a dow rod. It was right at the beginning too!! So, what did I do? What any other adorable seven year old would- I danced to the music and did some cane spins!

Moving right along. Then I did a rope routine. No comment on that one. My mother said she couldn't follow it. Maybe she couldn't hear me either. (Keep in mind please that I was STILL wearing this white kabuki styled mask!) Oh, it was horrible.

Then I remember doing the rice bowls. The rice bowls which Daryl owns now!!! Ha I remember he bought them off me just this July. They even had an added bonus- rice was still in them; that got caught in the 'lota' hole. Never bothered to get it out. And since I only used them one show- this particular horrible show- I didn't see the use of caring about my props at that particular devastating moment. BUT during this particular (well rehearsed as always!) routine- for some reason I remember dumping the rice out onstage and NOT into the given trashcan that was provided. Oh, I was so embarrassed!

Then came stratosphere. Now, anyone here knows that that truly is a simplex ""cute"" little stage prop for the average six/seven year old magi? Yes? Well gang- I screwed it up. Yup. No further comments on that particularly 'self' working magical feat.

I then got up the big kahuna spectator. Who was just so rude. I remember asking to borrow 20 dollars. And for some reason I forgot at the end to return his money to him. It was some trick I attempted to do. It didn't work out. He was the cause of the failure though- never I! But I remember he was just saying, "Keep the money, keep the money." I didn't though. Wise jerk he was. Ugh...

SOO... there could be more that I could add. Oh, and then after the show I tried to give back my 25 dollar check. I felt awful and sorrowful. I remember going to the car and crying. Ha ha. Wow. Then my grandfather came over and said- "Matt, you're not going to go very far if you let this get to you." Then he shut the car door.

Still here several years later. Much better than that first show:) My grandfather still comes to a few of my shows still whenever I'm home and in town! My harshest critic. But anyway- that was my two cents on tricks gone bad.

Best regards,
Matt Tomasko
Matt Wayne
The Celebrity Magician™ / / /

Creator of, 'Got a Light?' and others.
Spokesperson behind, TouchTricks
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