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Jordan Piper
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Blackstone Sr. & Jr. did an illusion where they floated a lit up light bulb. Can this be adapted for a street performance? Can you buy this trick or did the Blackstones have exclusive rights and where can you buy the trick if possible?
Harry Murphy
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NO! This is not a street effect. The Blackstone used a combination of principles melded together to get one of the finest bits of magical theatre there has ever been. This is a theatre/stage routine requiring controlled lighting and a number of assistants. It takes a lot to look simple and magical.
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He performed this every year at the Abbott's Get Together, and I was fortunate to see it several times. I don't know if it is available. Smile
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Terry Holley
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In my opinion this was one of the greatest tricks I have ever seen.

I was fairly close to the front and the bulb floated out just a few seats over from me.

I can't express in words the feeling I had during the routine. The music was great and Harry Jr.'s voice was so memorable. Truly a classic presentation!


P.S. Don't even think about attempting it with the Aero Floating Light Bulb!
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Unless one is working in a place where there's an obvious "fourth wall," one has to be careful when performing effects wherein there is opportunity for folks to get a little grabby with the props. The light bulb seems to be one of them to me.

And, as Harry notes, not only does it take a few assistants, but the lighting must also be fairly controlled. Performing under street conditions, whether in an open area or against a store facade, exposes one to light from directions that one cannot always anticipate, whether day (sun and car/store window reflections) or night (street lights/headlights). I don't think I've ever used any sort of IT- or T-based effect while busking.

Regardless, I would still encourage you to try other, less ponderous effects. It's amazing how much performing under such conditions will hone your magic. Since folks on the street don't care about you, they'll tell you if they catch you. And, since you'll never see them again, just accept their suggestions/criticisms/derision while waving goodbye. *laugh*
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All I know is I wish I could see this performed in person. This would be wonderful!!! I have found that only a few tricks in magic are good enough to really see live. This sounds like one for sure! Can you imagine how this must look?! Sitting in your seat only to see a light bulb floating overhead! Sounds awsome to me, mainly because the farther away the effect is from the performer the more suspension of disbelief. I bet people's mouth's are truly Smile and they have to be scratching their heads for day's to come. I wish I could obtain this trick! Very cool indeed...

Houdini 10-31-26 Smile
Harry Murphy
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In truth the floating light bulb trick is not a trick. That is it is not ONE trick. It is a series of different tricks melded together to present a singular effect. It uses more than one method to accomplish the effect.

The effect is direct and simple - a burning light bulb floats. However, what the audience sees is the light bulb suspended from a finger, floating across the stage and through hoops, and then floating directly out and over the audience.

All of the techniques used are in the literature and have been in the literature for years. They are just not conveniently organized and clearly not under the title “floating Light bulb”. In fact most of the literature discusses floating objects other than light bulbs. It is all hidden in plain sight!

I had lunch with Harry Blackstone, Jr. during a convention in Baltimore (OK, I was only one of 20 magicians that was at the table with him and his wife). One of the guy’s at the table asked if he was ever going to release the Floating Light bulb. Harry actually laughed and said that it was already “out there”. He said that any search through some of the older books would give anyone who really wants to know all the information they need.

The beauty of the effect was in the presentation of Mr. Blackstone (elder and junior). It only demonstrates that knowing the secret is not being able to do the magic.

As an aside, Stevens Magic is selling a videotape of Harry Blackstone Senior, which includes a performance of this effect.
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All I can say is wow, your knowledge of Magic is wonderful! I am a new Magi and anything I can learn is of a great thirst to me. Thank you for explaining that the
"Floating light bulb" is a series of tricks melded together, now I won't sound so ignorant to talk about it. Smile I will definitely grab that tape you speak of. Having lunch with Mr. Blackstone jr. must have been a thrill!

Houdini 10-31-26
Bob Gerdes
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I was lucky enough to see Harry Blackstone Jr. perform this during one of his shows in Naples FL not long before he passed away.

I wasn't in the front of the theatre like Terry (in fact, I was in the dead last row), but I was still blown away. It was simply beautiful and extremely magical! Smile
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His effect is beautiful, how many assistants would you need to perfrom it.
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Ok to say NO it can't be done on the street is wrong!!! If the original was a big stage trick re-invent it, create and perform, think of a way and make it possible Smile
Ty Argo
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If I'm not mistaken, Lance Burton now utilizes this method to perform his floating birdcage effect. Didn't Lance receive an award from Gay Blackstone too?
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Pete Biro
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I have been lucky to have seen both Harry Blackstone (Sr.) and Harry Jr. do this effect. Sidenote: Bill Smith, Las Vegas illusion builder, was the MAIN backstage assistant for Jr.

Now, with help of Gay Blackstone, Darren Romeo is now featuring this in his stage presentations. I believe he, for Siegfried and Roy, is now working of Florida.

Anyway, it seems to me that Hollywood Magic has the manuscripts for sale for both the Bulb and the Blackstone Dancing Handkerchief.

They are pretty simple -- but require tremendous selling and theatrical setup experience.

It is not how it is done, it is how it is performed.

Regarding doing it on the street.

If you work at NIGHT... fine, because you need it to be dark (not just to hide the work, but so the LIT BULB can be seen to be glowing).

You could, I mean SHOULD, work out your own routine and your own way...

You could use one of Scotty York's small (appliance size) bulbs and do it up close ala the floating cork....

Only the limit of your imagination is what would stop you...

Smile Smile Smile
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Or, if you can find Burling Hull's "Floating Lightbulb" manuscript, you will see the work involved in just the mechanics of the effect.

This is an effect that is truly a matter of the performer making the effect!

Cheers! Smile

aka Steve Taylor

"Every move a move!"

"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
Scott Xavier
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I was a young boy of 8 years old when I got to see Mr Blackstone perform this at the Blackstone theatre in Chicago. Strangely enough, I just found my signed playbill. Ah, the magic is in the memories, not the trick.
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I was just digging through all the past articles, but anyways, how does everybody seem to know how this trick is done? Is it on the net anywhere?
Bill Palmer
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On 2003-06-20 06:40, devilsmagic wrote:
Ok to say NO it can't be done on the street is wrong!!! If the original was a big stage trick re-invent it, create and perform, think of a way and make it possible Smile

I hate to throw a wet blanket on your creativity, but this is one routine that shouldn't be done on the street. At least, it shouldn't be done using the techniques Blackstone uses. This, I think, is one of the biggest dangers of so-called "street magic." We get wannabee Blaine Clones who know a handful of card tricks who accost strangers on the street and inflict magic upon them. That's not art. The Blackstone Floating Light Bulb is.

Juvlace wrote:

I was just digging through all the past articles, but anyways, how does everybody seem to know how this trick is done? Is it on the net anywhere?

Part of it is because some of us have been doing magic for more than 30 years. We didn't learn magic off the internet. The net is NOT the sum total of human knowledge. In fact, you will find more useless c**p on the net than you will real knowledge.

It's sad to say that real magic catalogues are almost a thing of the past. If you will find some good catalogs -- Abbott's, Tannen's, Kanter's , Owen Magic Supreme and read through them, you will have an idea of some of the books and manuscripts that were printed in the past. While the catalogs are gone, the books and manuscripts aren't. You can still order these things from used magic dealers.

But you are asking good questions.

Bad question -- where can I get Blackstone's Floating Light Bulb?
Good question -- where can I learn ways of performing the Floating Light Bulb?
Better question -- how can I adapt this masterpiece to my performing conditions without ruining it?
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Harry Blackstone jr., what a class act.

There is a story in Magic about him towards the end of his life. He was working with Rich Bloch on some show and collapsed on the stage during rehearsal. Rich held his head as he lay on the ground and said "Harry, are you comfortable?"
Harry replied "I make a living"

Grace to the end.
Still with the Chinese circus Smile
The Mirror Images
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Just Saw Darren Romeo perform this great effect when I was out in Reno. It was very well done. I don't think the lighting was proper cause you can see what was holding it and where it was coming from depending on your seat. But it was still amazing.

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This topic takes me back......when I was 7 I was at the public library. I was looking at magic books (for a paper on Houdini) and I saw a picture of a man floating a lightbulb through a hoop. I tool that book home, and pondered day after day on how it was done. I returned the book, and I never knew who it was. When I actually started practicing magic when I was 13, I finally figured out how it was done (in the picture) and that started my love for stage magic (wrong topic, I know). Just 2 years ago I finally found out who it was. I just forgot about it and didn't put a lot of energy into who it was. I feel kinda stupid now!
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