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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Chair Suspension (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
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I watched Harbin do it live (I booked him so I could see him). I had John Gaughan build mine from English park chairs I brought home from London as excess baggage.

It was maybe the best one ever made... Harbin's plan and Gaughan's skills.

When Harbin did it he had the spectator "hold your legs up" he'd say.. as he removed the board.

And I counted the time he had her "suspended" IT WAS THREE SECONDS.

It killed. Of course, it was all Harbin's presentation and sell.

I stopped doing the kind of shows with it, and a Zig Zag... and sold 'em.

The current owner is a top corporate pro and loves it.
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Eshla
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I've always wondered something.

I've seen a couple of chair suspensions, and on one occation the performer used a giant hoop to prove there was no wires. Am I the only person who thinks this is a bad move? It makes it more "like a puzzle", and there are more entertaining ways to prove there are no wires.

Do you think a hoop is a good idea, or does it just narrow down the options and eventually leave the audience with only one possible sollution: the chair.

Tom
xx
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Sorcerer
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I think using a hoop would be ok.
Remember Pendragons' sword suspension. To me it's a perfectly accurate way to prove there is no external supports.
Zaprig1
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Will the European model not afford a couple of felt covered strong neodymium magnets on the inside of the board to hold it firmly at the bottom of gi&%&!#? I'm VERY anxious to know now as I have this model on the way to my door as I type this and if there's no good way to support the board, it will be more or less worthless to me. This to me AND lay people are 90% of the deception on the suspension from what I've learned with my heavy duty Jack Gwynne Walk Away over time. I did a study on this with my X and lay peeps a few times and the results were overwhelmingly unanimous. It's a floating board...


My main reason for buying one is for smaller shows and my giant X is just too much of a monster to lug and set for very small shows and rooms, but I still want a practical suspension effect that works. Oh, and I bought Kyle's e-book last year and he convinced me that this is worthy of my show in any event!

Thanks Kyle!

As for hoops, I won't be using one for the chair. I think it looks awkward and kinda spills the beans and beauty actually. Walt and I were privately discussing this recently and he will tell you that the hoop turns a perfect right brained illusion into a left brained puzzle. I absolutely agree with him on this when applied to the chair only even the puzzle seems to be solved for them. I use one for my X as it's almost expected by the audience it seems, and when is done magically and dramatically it gets gasps almost as if they weren't fooled UNTIL that moment! Just my two pennies though...
Zaprig1
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PS. I got the mag idea for the board from Walt and WILL be adopting it for my X and hopefully the Chair. I'm not sure if he first thought of it, but none the less is genius and one of those "why on EARTH didn't I think of that???" ideas! I can't wait to try it!

A perfect example of magi helping magi. Thanks Walt!
magic4u02
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Zaprig: You are most welcome. My pleasure. I personally do not use a hoop for the chairs. I just think it is overkill in my opinion. The audience sees what is really happening. For me to pass a hoop over it is basically me trying to overstate the obvious. It also causes much too much time that the helper is suspended.

Thanks again for the kind words on my ebook. Much appreciated.

Kyle
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Christopher Rinaldi
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I have the Jim Sommers version and for the past few years I have had problems with it for b-day party shows. I used to like performing this effect using the birthday child but recently I have stopped including it in my b-day shows.

Most kids just seem to be too rolly-polly these days, I swear to God most kids I've wanted t use for this trick are just too wide and heavy for me to feel comfortable. Now real young kids are not so much a problem, but I'm experiencing issues with kids under ten years of age here.

Apparently there IS a health problem with many kids in the USA.
donrodrigo
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I wanna thank Mr. Peron for the words he used,nice.
My model was made in england and personally shipped to me forgive me but no names.
I will say it is the reinforced model.

When I use it the audience young-midle and old give me a great response.
magicdoctor
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This was part of a estate I bought can anybody tell the maker?

http://s375.photobucket.com/albums/oo197......pension/
Michael
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JamesinLA
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I would like to hear more about how Harbin presented the trick and how that made it more powerful an illusion. He had a special way of wrapping the cloth around the spectator/assitiant? Thanks.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Pete Biro
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Jim: You need to read his book. Harbin details it all in it. Bear in mind he did not do this with a little kid, he performed it primarily in cabaret shows for adults.
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Donal Chayce
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Quote:
On 2010-04-22 13:30, JamesinLA wrote:
I would like to hear more about how Harbin presented the trick and how that made it more powerful an illusion. He had a special way of wrapping the cloth around the spectator/assitiant? Thanks.

Jim


Jim, I know that the Harbin book is hard to access, and I don't want to tip too much and thereby upset those who own it. However, I will tell you that Harbin did two things that others who perform this illusion rarely do, and both of these things were worked into his presentation so as to make contextual sense: (1) Harbin didn't wrap the cloth over the volunteer's arms and shoulders; instead, he left their arms outside of the cloth and had them hold their arms and hands in a specific position to (supposedly) help effectuate the suspension (think pushup); and (2) Harbin tied the cloth around the volunteer's body snugly--but not tightly--in two places (below the chest and above the knees) with wide fabric ties that were sewn to the cloth.

The latter reinforces the shape of the volunteer's body through the cloth, which makes for a better visual (it keeps them from looking like a shapeless bag of laundry). And both of these things reduce the audience's focus on--and awareness of--the cloth.

There are a few other things that Harbin did, both in his presentation and vis-avis the construction of his props, that raised the success of this illusion several notches above most of the presentations we see today.

If you'd like to see a contemporary example of someone presenting this illusion in the Harbin fashion, check out the clip of Penn & Teller performing it at Magicopolis on the "Ten Years of Steve Spill" DVD.
JamesinLA
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Okay, thanks guys. I will check it out because if I could see a performance that grabs me it may inspire me to attempt a presentation of the illusion.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Christopher Starr
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Here is a previously posted YouTube link of Penn & Teller performing their chair suspension. Video quality is poor as it was recorded by a camera phone by an audience member. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Xnxxkiggw

Based on the comments of both Pete Biro and Donal Chayce, they are presenting it very closely to the Harbin routine. Note that the actual length of the suspension is only about 3-4 seconds. Seems to go over very well with the audience.
Donal Chayce
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Thanks for posting the link to that clip, Christopher. Yes, while their script differs in many places, P&T present the illusion all but exactly the way that Harbin instructed. I believe that their props were constructed per Harbin's instructions as well.

Regrettably, what's missing in the clip is how P&T get into the illusion. Harbin, who let us not forget created this version of the chair suspension, emphatically stressed the importance of assembling everything in full view of the audience. Most of the magicians I've seen present the illusion skip those preliminaries under the guise of making things "easier" and "safer", believing that it doesn't make any difference to the success of the illusion; i.e., it doesn't negatively impact the deceptiveness factor. They're wrong--it does.

Somewhere in cyberspace there's a clip of P&T presenting this illusion in its entirety at some outdoor location. Another Café member sent the link to me via a PM several months ago; unfortunately, I saved the PM but I didn't make separate note of that information and the PM was eventually automatically deleted. If you can find that clip (I've tried, thus far unsuccessfully), you'll see what I mean.

BTW, there's an insightful treatise on presenting this illusion in Geoffrey Durham's wonderful book, Professional Secrets.
Pete Biro
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That P&T clip is as close to Harbin's as probably ANYONE has done. Other than the fella that bought mine.
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Zaprig1
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Donal,

You're right about that clip of P&T doing the full routine outside. I saw the clip about 2 years ago and have not seen it since. It just seems to be gone from YT. It was outside in the day light...could have been Vegas even, and they were completely surrounded by specs and cameras from what I recall. The quality and sound were good as well. I'd just like to know how Harbin went about setting it. That really is the only missing piece for me at this point. My European version sets easily by myself, but I think it looks more natural it both my assistant and I each grab a side of the board and set one side of the board down at a time to "set it right the first time" with no adjustment needed and still make it look natural. Any thoughts on this?

If someone locates this, PLEASE post it again. After seeing the bad quality video that's been posted, I've completely changed my attitude towards how this illusion is best performed and Harbin's way certainly provides the best deception as well as lends to more audience anticipation and final climax IMO.

Thanks,
Christian
magic4u02
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Hi Christian,

I hope I will be trying to answer the question I think you are asking yourself. Are you trying to work out the best way to "set" the prop before the audience? In other words you want to put the chairs out and attach the board during the show as part of the actual routine itself. if so, that certainly can be done and there are obvious benefits towards doing so.

However, as one knows, there are also some factors that you really MUST be conscious about. No matter if you set the illusion up aheadof time, or you set it up in front of the audience, safety has to be #1 priority. You simply can never place anyone on the illusion unless all safety checks are in place and you know for a fact that the illusion is properly set.

Now this can still be done if you are setting it as part of the routine. It just means your saftey checks have to be built into the routine and choregography so that it makes sense to what you are doing.

If you are going to set it in front of an audience, here are some points and tips that may help you a great deal:

- I always angle the chairs and illusion a bit when I am setting it up and presenting it. I will always angle the anchorage chair slightly back more then the other. So in a way it is not perfectly parallel to the audience. It is not a drastic angle but a subtle one. because I also have my leflfer table on the stage at that point. this forms a nice "V" shape when the audience looks at it.

What is nice about this is that it takes a lot of the "heat" off of the one areaof importance. it also is effective misdirection of sorts because it creates proper focus on the area I want them looking at.

- Proper Focus: This can be obtained through what I mentioned above. I try and create focus in areas I want the audience looking at. It is misdirection of sorts by causing the audience to look where I want them looking. by having the one chair further and closer to the audience, the chair clostest gets more attention and more focus placed on it.

When my wife and I go to place the board on the chair, she gets more focus as I also have her do a greater movement (choreography) before the board gets placed on. This is using the simple notion that greater movement will often cover a smaller movement. The smaller movement is obviously me doing what I need to do to "set" the illusion correctly.

- Ease in Set Up: If you both are setting the oard on the chair, that is exactly how it must look. it must look easy and natural. It must appear that the board is simply being placed and laying on top of the chairs with ease. Almost a balancing act of sorts.

This will only come with a lot of practice and patience. You must get it to a point where you can place it on with ease, no struggles and without obviously looking directly at it.

When my wife and I were working this out, we actually spent time just taking a regular board and placing it on the chairs. I can not tell you how much this helped. It really allowed us to know how it should look and feel to us and to the audience. We then set to recreate that look and feel with the actual board itself. by doing so, you will learn a great deal with how it needs to be handled.

- Handling: When I pick up the board, my hand closest to the audience actually grabs the board edge further down the side. Kel's hand does the same thing so we mirror each other. But what happens is that my forearm does a lot of the dirty work by creating more "coverage". Obviosuly I can not describe it in too much detail here in the public forum, but I hope you understand what I mean. I also hold the board close to my body.

Now because the chairs are angles the way I have them angled, I am also causing more coverage at that point as well.

- Slight of Feel: Ok this sounds really crazy, but a lot of what I do to get proper set up of the board is through feel alone. I am a deaf magician so for me, this is a bit more natural any ways. I relay on feeling and touch to ensure I have correctly placed the board on.

In my model I use, it is very easy to know if you are aligned properly. The attachment pieces of the chair and board basically line up with each other. I can know I am correct by running my hand on it gently. If they are not aligned, I can feel an overlap. If this happens it is easy for me to slightly move it with my hand. However, through doing it so many times, my hand can naturally guide the board into place as it is being placed on.

Double Check: Although I can feel that the board and chair are set up correctly, I will always do a double check to be certain. This I do in the process of stepping back away from the illusion as part of the routine. As I step back from it, I visually am staring at the hook up. I can see clearly in just a second if I am set correctly or not.

I hope these tips and suggestions are of help to you. I can go into more detail in a PM if anyone wants me to. Just did not want to give away too much here. thanks.

Kyle
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Pete Biro
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Harbin worked a lot of dinner events, on a dance floor. He would set things on the fly by himself.

He often walked in with two large canvas bags over his shoulders, and remove the bits for his Zig Zag and build it up right in front of the audience. After all, there is nothing to hide.

As I recall, and it's been about 20 years ago since I worked with him, he just walked on, dragging two chairs, then went to the wings and brought out the board and set it on the chairs.
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Zaprig1
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Greetings again Kyle,

Your attention to detail in your explanations is most appreciated as always!

Regarding the set when you say "When my wife and I go to place the board on the chair, she gets more focus as I also have her do a greater movement (choreography) before the board gets placed on. This is using the simple notion that greater movement will often cover a smaller movement. The smaller movement is obviously me doing what I need to do to "set" the illusion correctly."

Here's what I envision: Myself approaching and getting behind the upstage angled chair first (keeping the board low and almost in place) as my assistant must stretch a bit to get around the downstage chair, thus having to keep the board a bit higher and lowering the board down as mine is basically set just a second before and ensuring the proper "marriage" is made by feel as you explain.

Do I have this right? This is something that I'd thought about doing as it were, but your recommendation to NOT look at the board and also add the subtle upstage angle to the set is great thinking and makes perfect sense for the proper focus of the illusion.

Thanks again Kyle!
Christian
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