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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Curtis Kam's The Rat Pack... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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kamus
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I can't help but notice the relative lack of people who are reporting that they are doing this. Smile

Also who is going to come here admit they injured themselves with this. A few cautionary tales wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Despite the fact that I'm a professional concert pianist when I'm not being an amateur magician, I think I have to get this just to see what everybody is so jazzed up by. It'll take some real deliberation as to whether I try this or not though as my ten fingers support a wife and two kids. Nine or less fingers just doesn't cut it for a pianist.

Also, a belated hello and thanks to Curtis who taught me and Karen Berris the Sybil cut at a diner during the first Collector's Workshop Convention in DC. Considering that I just about injured myself learning that cut, I would have to be especially extre careful learning Rat Pack I would think! Smile

Anyway, congrats to Curtis- a real pro and a real nice guy to boot.

-Dave Kane
il illegetimi est non carborundum

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sugam
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Hi Curtis,

Thanks for the tips. I will have a crack at the modification again. Even though it may be rare, I guess I sure don't want that possibility happening in a performance. Plus, with more room it makes the deck more stable.
Will work on fine-tuning the presentation, and the encore effect as well.

As far as getting killed by the trap, common sense and concentration! Don't daydream and you'll be fine.

Awesome stuff - buy it! Learn it! Perform it! Make people laugh and cry!
kamus
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Rat Pack: a dissenting opinion.

At the risk of swimming upstream against all these positive reviews, I feel compelled to offer a few comments which may be construed as negative.

It's not my intention to turn people off to this trick but to add a little balance to what has been a nearly uninterrupted series of glowing reviews. I have also stated my admiration for Curtis in a post above, so I don't have an axe to grind.

First, what's good about this DVD?: Curtis is sharing a routine from his professional repertoire that he has honed over many, many performances and he has done a lot of research to make this as safe as possible for others to do. In addition, the production values are good (though not the second coming as I would have expected from comments on this forum). Curtis does a very good job of presenting the material, though his spiel turns somewhat redundant towards the end of the DVD. The featured effect is dramatic and will certainly garner reactions from the right audience.

What I didn't like: Although this is one of Curtis' signature effects, I feel it is a little overpriced for what is, after all, a single effect, a rather simple one at that, albeit a dangerous one. Twenty or twenty five dollars would have been fairer, though I know it's difficult to put a monetary value on someone's creativity, research and experience.

Also, the big problem I see is that the trick is simply not deceptive or magical. I think that a lot of spectators will see exactly what you're doing. I saw the other version that was posted here and I feel exactly the same way about that version too. The audience, who is burning you intently, can simply see what you are doing. I think that many of them won't buy the "I'll raise the trap so you can see it better" bit which makes reconstruction simpler. I will admit that the mini deck version looks better, but it also seems correspondingly more dangerous. I suspect that the deceptiveness of the trick can be improved but (as Curtis alludes) at a greater risk to the performer.

None of this is to say that you won't get big reactions from this but I think those are reactions to the stunt/danger aspect and not the magical aspect. The reactions would be more like that you would get from hammering a nail through your nose as many sideshow performers do. When I think of the reactions Tamariz received from the finale of a performance he gave in DC (where he produced something like 20 coins under 20 cards completely unexpectedly) -he simply blew the room away. They were responding to the magical aspect and he didn't incur any risk to himself. I know it's apples and oranges to some degree but I also think you get my point. Get a big reaction from producing an oversized anvil out of your hat like Sylvester does (or whatever) without putting you or your audience at risk and you'll get reactions equal or better than to the "Rat Pack"

Which brings me to my final point: the risk is simply not worth to it to me. And I can't imagine why it would be worth it to anyone else who makes their living and their magic from their hands. That said, I'm sure this may be right for certain perfomers but most would be advised to give it very careful consideration before plunking down their hard earned magic dollars.
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Curtis Kam
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David,

First of all, thanks for reminding me about meeting you and Karen, that was a fun night at the first WMS, I think. As I recall, both of you picked up the cut pretty quickly. I hope it has served you well in the years since.

Regarding your latest post, if you've decided that Ratpack is not for you, I can't disagree. It's not for everyone. Concert pianists, especially.

However, I would hate for you, or anyone reading your post, to miss the thrills and chills of Ratpack for the wrong reason, or based upon a misapprehension, so I should point out the following:

Regarding deceptiveness, I can and do disagree. Don't discount the fact that you have shuffled the deck quite convincingly, and you have made it a point to establish that the selection is not on top, nor near the top, and ditto for the bottom. Provided you are able to do this convincingly, (and doing something simple like this convincingly is not at all easy) the effect is at least as "magical" as catching the selection out of a shower of cards, only more dramatic and dangerous.

Considered another way, the method in Ratpack is about as well hidden, or not hidden, as the method in such classics as the card on the ceiling or My Lady's Looking Glass. And they seem to work. Have you ever revealed a four of a kind using the Hofsinzer toss? Weren't people decieved?

This is a bit moot, since if you want to improve the deceptiveness, all you need to do is palm off the selection, have the deck shuffled by a spectator, and then add it back on for the revelation. Would you agree that this would help hide the method? If so, wouldn't you also agree that the original handling, if done deceptively, accomplishes exactly the same thing? I do, since I've tried it both ways in performance. And there's no gain in impact if the spectator shuffles. That's because either way, they believe the card's lost in the deck, and nowhere near the top or bottom.

Admittedly, this is a stunt. There is a time and a place for stunts. Ask any magician who's ever had a major television special. No, this is not as magical as that Tamariz performance you describe. But what is your point here, really? Just because you can recall a routine you liked better, the Ratpack is overpriced? How much did you pay to learn the Tamariz routine? I doubt it's even for sale, but I hardly think Tamariz would let it go for as little as you paid for Ratpack.

And even if the Tamariz routine were available to you for 30 bucks, if, as you say, both routines get big reactions, is there not room in the magic store for both? Suppose you actually do the 20 coin production, or the Anvil production, in your act--then what? You can't expect to do another big production. If only you had some other way to get a great reaction out of the audience....hmmm....what could that be?

If you simply believe that stunts are beneath you, and you've got other ways to get great reactions, that's fine. You're a better magician than me, David Copperfield, Lance Burton, and Harry Houdini, all of whom have had to rely upon the lowly stunt to thrill a crowd from time to time.

As much as I strive to present creative, abstract "material fantasies" to my audiences, there is still room in my act for a good, old-fashioned visceral thrill. In the end I applaud the inherent spirit of recklessness, the same spirit that brought us mysteries like the bullet catch, the handcuffed dive, the "Russian Roulette" routine, and other greats that remind the audience that "it ain't all just cute tricks".

Thanks for your thoughts, I hope mine are of use to you.
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kamus
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Curtis, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I must admit I felt somewhat guilty saying *anything* the least bit negative about Rat Pack given your personal generosity to me and yes, although I had looked at Sybil in the Chris' book, it was your teaching that made it finally work for me. I also recall being blown away by your Kamnibal Cards. And no, I'm far from being a better magician than you.

That said, let me respond to your points: As far as deceptiveness goes, you've had the benefit of scores of performances and if you say it decieves, then I defer to you. I will say that I wasn't deceived by either performance I've seen. Unlike a lot of magicians, I *am* easily fooled (I love being fooled and try to put my spectator's cap when I watch magic) and although I had no idea where the card went in the deck, it was clear to me where it was coming from as you plucked it out. The elevated position of the deck and the magician's hand position seemed to be clear indicators of this. Also, the flurry of cards happens afterwards and as there is little misdirection at the *moment* I suspect that I'm not the only one who sees exactly what's happening. I think it's of little consequence that the card has been shown lost when one sees where it ultimately shows up.

Of course, I'm aware that I'm watching this on DVD which doesn't convey the atmosphere that the participants at the table are experiencing and so perhaps the anticipation of the magician placing himself in peril acts as a misdirective element.

As far as pricing goes, I won't argue with you. I am aware of other single trick DVDs and yours is placed on the higher end of the price spectrum but is by no means outrageous.

I was not attempting to directly compare you or your trick to Tamariz or Sylvester. My point was that what really matters is getting a good reaction by whatever means. I was just trying to point out to others on the forum here that big reactions can be garnered by other tricks (though, perhaps not quite the same way as Rat Pack) with little or no risk to one's hands.

I also was not trying to denigrate Stunt Magic- I was, again, trying to communicate to forum readers that this more of a stunt than a magic trick (though obviously both) and that one would be advised to consider one's performing persona before adopting this trick.

I also wanted to add to the many warnings that you and many others have given that this trick is very, very dangerous and that I thought the risk factor for me was way too high.

I also want to make it clear that this is a good product and I recommend it to people that think this would work for them. I appreciate your comments and your talent and I hope this is a success for you- I merely wanted to offer some additional comments that I hadn't seen posted by others. Obviously if no-one else echoes any of my reservations then readers here will see that my comments stand alone and will disregard them in the time honored fashion.

Thanks for the dialogue

Dave
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Wizard291
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Ok, so reiterating - please could someone fill in quite what's so earth-shattering about the DVD? No disrespect but it seems this topic has pulled some major names in just to reccomend this (+ that they do) that make it sound like one of the biggest releases of recent times. Anyone that's seen the video on "that" other site can see it - I'm just curious as to the price not even including the rat trap, and why it's SUCH a massive killer?

Would a professional demonstration be available on the net, to compare to the bedroom version?
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DMC said; "Ok, so reiterating - please could someone fill in quite what's so earth-shattering about the DVD?"

Earth-shattering? Nothing that I'm aware of, just a teaching DVD.

DMC said; " I'm just curious as to the price not even including the rat trap, and why it's SUCH a massive killer?"

If you have read the previous postings then you know the price is $35.00. While some may view this as on the high side, I do not. The Magic Bakery produces what I feel is top of the line products for magicians, with Curtis Kam's The Rat Pack being our very first release with plenty more offerings on the horizon. Since you obviously do not own one of our products, then you have no way to compare the production values with other similar products. You do, however, have the thoughts of many of the folks who already own this DVD.
As with any good effect, how well it plays depends on the skill of the performer presenting it.

DMC said; "Would a professional demonstration be available on the net, to compare to the bedroom version?"

As of this writing, no. Perhaps in the future we may load up samples of our various DVD's. Hope this helps and thanks for your interest. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
Wizard291
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Thanks Stevey for the information - I understand the pricing + whatnot, hear the super production values and don't doubt them - it's just odd that a revelation such as this of a single card receives such AWESOME groundbreaking reviews from some of the peeps that have contributed to this convo. Granted it's pretty hot + the danger element's a catch, but worth all this build up? Quand meme thank you for the input Mr Brooks.

XX
kamus
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Not to be Mr. Wet Blanket here again but I find the comments about the "super production values" puzzling. Yes they are good and I have no complaints, but I have seen a few videos of late that had equal or better production values. Please understand- I'm not trying to knock the production values at all. I just fail to see what is so "super" about this. To my mind this aspect has been a little over-hyped. That said, I'll look forward to further Magic Bakery products in the future.
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MagicJared
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Note that I have just glanced at some of the above comments, so excuse me if I'm saying the same thing as everyone else. But my first impressions also were that its not that great of a trick, although it makes for an impressive stunt. But, that's me, and since we're all magicians here its easy to take basic card moves for granted.

For a crowd of non-magicians this is much more than our biased eyes can ever truly appreciate. And although at first I was unimpressed by the DVD, by the end I started making plans to go get a rat trap of my own to perform it.

Like others have said, I like the idea of the miniature deck better, but that has a lot to do with me being paranoid about what seems to me as obvious; but as I stated before your average audience will be impressed regardless.
martysh
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I debuted (sp?!?) The Rat Pack last evening as I began my street act downtown. Played it up strong and really got a crowd for the rest of the set (egg bag, balloon swallow, rings, then the cups and balls with super finish). The Rat Pack really served me well and scared the crowd into watching me for what was yet to come.

Worth all the trouble of the last few months to get it going. It sure fits well in a street act. So I have no complaints and have full expectation that this will pay well for me in the future (oh I rather asked the crowd for a dollar or two before I endangered my livelihood before I grabbed the card even before they knew what was coming... it helped to drop the hint that I accept gratuities oh so well.)

This trick has done everything and more than I expected from it. If you notice it is the only new trick from among the classics that I showed. I made a lot of money last night for just 2 hours.

Marty
Greenville, SC
Curtis Kam
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Thank you Marty, for the "Word on the Street" so to speak. Real-life experience is gold, and nothing speaks louder than success.

I haven't tried this on the street, but for trade show work, I have found that if you start with it to gather a crowd, (as you did) you can hold them there through the rest of the act by promising to do it again, but with the mini deck. ("The smallest cards in the world...") Makes for a good running gag.

Of course, you probably have your own way of building the tip, but you might want to keep this in your bag of tricks.

Congratulations!

Slow Traps and Fat Hats,

Curtis
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harishjose
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Hi,
To stand on the shoulders of giants and pass a remark may not be fair. I got this DVD and here is what I thought of it:

1) Money wise- Expensive. I was hoping for some bonus routines too. (I am amazed at the future productions (upcoming titles - Palms of steel 4,5,6 , and Reed's DVDs). I have a feeling we are in for a treat. Smile

2) Routine: Excellent build up. I don't think, we can have this much suspense build up in any other close up routine. In a word, AMAZING.

3) Main flaw: Even though we may try to show that we are taking the card from the middle, its a bit obvious what's happening. Atleast to me, it was obvious.

4) I might suggest this as an opener. It brings attention. Infact it demands attention. Like I said, the suspense build up is amazing. Not for everyone. I would certainly try this and then go from there. I would also try to add some subtlties of my own (being a perfectionist).
Looking forward for the future treats from The Magic Bakery,
-Harish
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jkvand
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I got this DVD after reading the review in the Linking Ring a couple of months ago, and I am very pleased with the trick. I practiced it countless times, and definitely have a healthy respect for the trap, and have since performed it about 6 or 7 times. People love it!

It is definitely one of the most memorable card tricks I have ever done, and I think it is well worth the risk involved. As stated many times before, there is risk involved, but it is minimized by the proper practice and handling. I have practiced this A LOT, and performed it since, and have not yet gotten caught in the trap, and I don't plan too! I understand that this isn't for everyone, but for those who like a blend of magic and stunt effect, this is a killer! Thanks for sharing your routine, Curtis!
-Jeff
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harishjose said; "Money wise- Expensive"

I appreciate your thoughts and will try and answer a few of your comments the best that I can. Smile
Regarding the price, you can expect all our DVD releases from The Magic Bakery to carry the same price.
There are a variety of reasons for this, our products are produced with the highest standards in mind. From the packaging, menu inserts, the collectors coin, etc to the actual video production on the disc, we have spared no expense.
Because we are not shooting our DVD's using cheap consumer model equipment, or burning them on a home computer, our production costs are quite high. However, as you will see with all our releases, you do indeed get what you pay for.
Remember too that we also pay the performers a fair price, arrange for their travel to our studio (Curtis was flown in from Hawaii) and in several cases we have traveled across country to capture the magical moments as it were. All these things contribute to the final price - (which in a small cottage industry like magic) does not make that much money in the end.
Will everyone like every disc we release? I doubt it - but that's life. Smile

harishjose said; "I was hoping for some bonus routines too"

Indeed their is a bonus routine - The DVD includes an extra BONUS routine which uses a Miniature Deck! (different handling from the main effect) - For really tough crowds, as described Here!
Naturally, we also included a few outakes, credits page, etc.

harishjose said; "I am amazed at the future productions (upcoming titles - Palms of steel 4,5,6 , and Reed's DVDs). I have a feeling we are in for a treat"

Indeed. You can expect a slew of great magic titles from the likes of CURTIS KAM, REED MCCLINTOCK, STEVE DOBSON, JACK CARPENTER, TOBIAS, STEVE MEYHEW, RICK ANDERSON, DORIAN RHODELL, and many others. - Stay tuned!

That said, I'm glad you are enjoying the disc and I thank you for your support of The Magic Bakery.
:five:
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churken
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Having recently purchased this effect, I will chime in as saying I think it is great. I use it at the restaurant where I work in the bar area. I only do it at the bar because of the danger factor, and I don't want some kid going home and sticking his hand in a rat trap.

As far as the cost goes it is worth it. You WILL get a reaction and you WILL freak people out and you WILL be remembered based on this one effect. How many other effects can you say that about.

I think that looking at it as "I had to spend $35.00 for a dvd with only one trick," is a poor way to see things. You are paying the $35.00 for a specific piece of knowledge that will reap rewards far beyond the money invested if used properly.

All I'm saying is that $35.00 is not that much to pay for a trick that is a reputation maker.

Curtis, this is a great effect and in my opinion well worth the money. The only negative is having to pick up all the cards after the trap snaps.

Paul
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I bought this when it first came out, and it works great for the type of crowd I perform for. For those who think it being obvious what you are doing, you must be doing it wrong. I hit those cards hard and fast like a card stab, they have no idea. Not for the faint hearted thou, have pinched myself more than once, but not for awhile now. I love it, best card trick!
mtpascoe
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I haven't bought this yet, but many have commented on having to pay so much for it. For an item that will be great as a closer, I would pay twice as much. (As of this writing it is twice as much) The fact that it is a single item should not matter. The 101 uses for Svengali deck is just a come on to laypeople. We magicians should know the value of a single item and it's worth.
mtpascoe
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According to the Victor website, there is an “S” and “F” imprinted on the pedal. All of this talk about bending the unit is confusing. It seems by these instructions is all that you need to do is move the locking bar towards the “S” side of the box in that direction. Tell me if I’m wrong.
Curtis Kam
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Mt--

It's not a matter of moving the bar. The shape of the meatl plate has to altered, for reasons explained on the disc.

That was as of a few years ago. Recently, I've seen traps with enormous plastic trip pedals more frequently. I've never tried working with one of these, but it just doesn't look like it offers any advantages to this trick.

Thanks for recognizing the value of a strong closer. It is that, and a good "unifying thread" that can tie a show together.

And did I mention "Packs small, Plays big"? Probably.

As for those who think the method is obvious, I will point out that you do show the top and bottom of the deck before it's set into the trap, in a manner that's, IMHO, as convincing as in "Leipzig's Opener", and that effect is reliably deceptive and impressive. However, if you want to fool magiicans, with a little thought you can come up with a way to show the audience everything you want to, and still get the card. I know it's possible, because I have that method, and it honestly took only a moment's consideration to come up with it. I'm sure you can do likewise, especially those of you who would immediately say "it's obvious" after I told you how I do it.
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