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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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Dr. K
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Thanks for the medical advice, Doc. By the way, I found that I stopped smoking when I put down the two Boy Scouts that I was rubbing together when I was trying to start a fire.
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Avocat
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There are certain effects that draw a great deal of power from somewhat archetypal images burned into our minds and, by extension, the minds of our audiences. This applies to tricks for tricks' sake, like the linking rings; although they resemble nothing in our everyday experience, they’re so commonly associated with magicians that they’re recognized immediately. It's a bit of shorthand that saves the time and effort of exposition or explanation and builds up the effect with images and meaning from the audience's own collective memory.

It's one reason why Ericksonian hypnotherapy probably won't play well on stage – it's just not what audiences are accustomed to recognizing as hypnosis, and so they won't react to it as well without a LOT of prompting from the performer. (I realized as I was writing this that probably somebody has made it work or is dreaming up ways to make it work, but oh well.)

Point being, a rat trap carries that sort of archetypal weight (and without even being associated with magicians!). It's automatically powerful drama, precisely because of the ingrained image of someone's fingers squashed in the thing (usually it's a cartoon image, but that's actually a good thing).

That's the power of this particular effect, and what makes it play so well for showrooms, and probably why, although you can perform it close-up, it's probably way too intense.

Good drama is essential to our craft. A rat trap is dramatic. Automatically. That's what, in my view, makes this effect so powerful.

Plus that, you can't beat an effect that actually combines a stunt with a trick. So much of what we do is either one or the other (i.e., stand on top of a very large pillar OR levitate, but not at once). It's nice to have something in your arsenal that satisfies your own machismo as well as demonstrating a "magical ability."
magicsoup
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How come no one sends me beta copies?...Hint hint.
sirbrad
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I doubt any sensible magician would actually put his career, or hands at stake for one little trick. I suspect there is no real actual danger involved, and most of it is just hype to help market it due to the danger aspect that everyone gets thrills from. Unless there is a disclaimer and no one under 18 can buy the effect for obvious reasons. Would a magician really want kids to go home and try to replicate this? I am sure the trap tension is manipulated somehow.

If it is as dangerous as the claim,I quite honestly don't see the point. Why risk being injured when you can entertain with so many other safe effects? Seems to me like this borders going stuntman like Blaine did in a sense, and could be subject to attempted duplication by others at home, especially kids and cause many injuries.

I am just not sure it is all worth it, as there are many other "safer" effects out there that can entertain just as well if not better. However since I do not own it I cannot make a full honest assessment. I base my opinions on the information given, whether or not the danger is extreme as it is projected to be, or if it is just marketing hype I do not know.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
Tom Cutts
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The danger is very real. The trap is very real and you are reaching into it.

I would agree that the very real risk may not be for everyone. There are ways to perform this which greatly reduce the risk, but they do not entirely eliminate it. As has been said, even getting a glancing blow from the kill bar is very bad.

You take the risk on yourself by even attempting to learn this.
Turk
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I just don't understand exactly what is being sold here. If, as Tom Cutts states, the danger and the trap are very real, and (implicitly?) that the trap is not gimmicked, what exactly are you buying? And, is the perceived danger theoretically possible but, in actual practice, minimal in expectation? Or, minimal in actual result and severity?

Are you buying only a methogology for being able to remove a card from a deck of cards placed on the rat trap's trigger? Are you buying instructions only? If not, and, if the rat trap is included, a new question arises: Is the rat trap gimmicked?

If ungimmicked, why is the rat trap being included? Couldn't you just as easily buy the same ungimmicked rat trap from your local hardware store? Why go to the expense of shipping an ordinary ungimmicked rat trap. My brain tells me that you must be buying a gimmicked rat trap. Still might be dangerous but still a gimmicked rat trap.

Again, my question. What exactly are you buying? (No methology revelation, please.)

Why am I asking? Because if the effect is, in reality, a gimmicked item and/or the danger is minimal but the perception is to the contrary, I'd be interested in this effect. Instead, if the effect is ungimmicked and/or the danger (or risk of danger) for severe injury is very real and high, I will pass. Heightened effect is one thing; geek magic and unreasonable danger is another. Until I know which one the Rat Trap is, I'll hold onto my money.

Mike
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Steve Brooks
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sirbrad said; "I suspect there is no real actual danger involved, and most of it is just hype to help market it due to the danger aspect that everyone gets thrills from"

Actually, you are wrong. Go back and read the posts in this discussion and you'll see what I mean. Smile

sirbrad said; "Unless there is a disclaimer and no one under 18 can buy the effect for obvious reasons. Would a magician really want kids to go home and try to replicate this? I am sure the trap tension is manipulated somehow"

Plenty of disclaimers on The Magic Bakery website advertising, the DVD packaging and numerous times on the disc itself including a warning before the disc begins playing.

Concerning someone being 18, one of the traps used on the DVD was purchased by a seven year old at the grocery store. Seems the vendors do not consider a rat trap a dangerous item (as opposed to a firearm, etc). However, Curtis does address the issue of what type of audience one would present this effect too. Care should always be taken in performing certain effects for children which have an element of danger or use potentially dangerous items or substances (i.e, Flashpaper, Knives, etc).

sirbrad said; "However since I do not own it I cannot make a full honest assessment. I base my opinions on the information given, whether or not the danger is extreme as it is projected to be, or if it is just marketing hype I do not know"

I agree and appreciate your honesty. Smile

Turk said; "Until I know which one the Rat Trap is, I'll hold onto my money"

Not too sound sarcastic Turk, but that might be the best course of action for you. The Magic Bakery website explains the effect at length but does NOT give out the modus operandi, not many effects in magic do - you are purchasing the SECRET of the effect and more importantly - the routine and workings that Curtis has perfected over hundreds of performances.

This topic is of course in a REVIEW forum and to be fair, since you have never viewed the DVD (How could you, its not out yet) it would be rather difficult for you to actually REVIEW The Rat Pack DVD which is what this discussion is all about. Most of the folks commenting here have either watched the DVD or seen Curtis Kam perform the effect in front of a live audience. That said, comments from anyone else are pure speculation at best.

Turk said; "What exactly are you buying?"

You are buying a high quality DVD which shows how one performer prepares and performs a truly dangerous effect. You are presented with an actual performance in front of real people and almost an hour's worth of explanation. No rat trap included, you can purchase one at your local grocery store for under $2.00.

I will add that the effect is VERY strong and the DVD explains and teaches you everything you need to know. The effect is not difficult to do, but does present a very real element of danger for the performer. But then again, that's the point of the entire presentation and exactly why it's a thrill for the performer to perform and for the audience to watch. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
sirbrad
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It is not my dispute in the fact that this creates more drama, but the question of whether or not any real danger truly is evident, and above all is it worth it? Could a possible injury come out of this that actually would be a career ending one? Maybe not, But why gamble if you rely on your magically inclined hands to put food on the table? To do so when you are already making a great living would be a little absurd, unless you are so bored with your act you need a little feistiness to keep you from falling asleep.

It is not a question as to whether or not we want the specs to assume it is dangerous, exciting, or dramatic, but more so is it worth it to the performer personally? What also seems to be suggested is that magic cannot be interesting unless it appears to provide some element of danger, or extreme drama, and this may start another trend soon.

I guess that is why Blaine went to stunts, as he was not satisfied with the reactions he was already getting, he wanted to intrigue the human mind even more, and it's natural curiosity of death and danger. Just how much farther will magicians continue to push the bar? Curiosity kills the cat Smile Performing the effect with real fear may actually pose a health risk to some, let alone the actual physical risk possible. I guess no need to concentrate on showmanship or presentation, because the fact that you are sweating profusely will be theatrical enough.

The other question that this issue leads me to is, what 'out' is there should you actually get "snapped?" Is that simply the Magi's problem? Will it be proposed as a comedy skit when the magician is running around the stage with his fingers in his mouth most likely cursing, and in actual REAL pain while the audience is laughing hysterically?

Will the show be put on hold until the magician recovers, or is he just expected to continue on, and "suck it up" and continue performing like a man?
These are the unanswered questions I would like rectified. If real danger is apparent, why risk it simply to amuse others, when you can still accomplish this with many other effects that are completely safe? Are we actually trying to entertain "ourselves" here more so than the audience, or is it just a manly/ego thing?

If caught in the trap during a live performance, will this undermine the magician's ability as a performer should it be interpreted as a mishap, and not as part of the show? Could this hurt the magician's career? Will the increased practice of the effect reduce the odds of injury, or the unpredictability of the trap going off prematurely?

I think the effect sounds interesting, but I am just not sure it is all worth it in the end, unless someone can answer all the questions above. Especially what is expected of the performer should he get caught in the trap. I too agree with the above poster as to "Just what am I buying?"

If nothing is gimmicked, and a gimmicked trap does not come with the dvd, what is to stop anyone from just going out and buying a trap and trying to work it out? Being that the danger/trap is all REAL, and you are never absolutely safe from injury. I just don't get it. I checked the calendar, and it is not April fool's day yet, so I guess this is not a joke right?
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
Steve Brooks
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sirbrad said; "It is not my dispute in the fact that this creates more drama, but the question of whether or not any real danger truly is evident, and above all is it worth it? Could a possible injury come out of this that actually would be a career ending one? Maybe not, But why gamble if you rely on your magically inclined hands to put food on the table? To do so when you are already making a great living would be a little absurd, unless you are so bored with your act you need a little feistiness to keep you from falling asleep"

The question as to whether or not one wishes to perform an effect that may be truly hazardous is naturally a personal choice. After all, there are plenty of effects in magic that look dangerous but are actually very safe to perform.

However, I have a friend who is a Juggler and he is able to juggle seven items continuously - no small feat. As a finale he juggles several knifes - they are real and very sharp. Now, he will be the first to admit that doing so is quite dangerous and is something that several of his juggling friends do not attempt. However, it works for him. Naturally one could always argue as to whether or not watching someone juggle balls as opposed to knifes has any more appeal to an audience, but again, that is a personal choice of the performer. I guess one could always use plastic knifes...

sirbrad said; "What also seems to be suggested is that magic cannot be interesting unless it appears to provide some element of danger, or extreme drama, and this may start another trend soon"

We have suggested no such thing and we are by no means attempting to start any new trends. What we have done is produce a DVD which teaches you the mechanics of performing an exciting effect. Further, we do not attempt to hide the fact that this effect is NOT for everyone. It would appear that this is a trick that does not fit your personal style or act, and that's okay. Smile

sirbrad said; "I guess no need to concentrate on showmanship or presentation, because the fact that you are sweating profusely will be theatrical enough"

Again, we have never said or implied this attitude. In fact, if you had actually viewed the DVD you would find that Curtis stresses the importance of theatre and presentation for this effect. Smile

sirbrad said; "I think the effect sounds interesting, but I am just not sure it is all worth it in the end, unless someone can answer all the questions above. Especially what is expected of the performer should he get caught in the trap. I too agree with the above poster as to "Just what am I buying?""

As to What you are buying, I have already answered that question. As to any other questions, if I were to answer all of them there would no longer be a reason to purchase the DVD. Again, this topic (forum) is for reviews of DVD's, hard to review something you have never purchased, seen or used.

sirbrad said; "If nothing is gimmicked, and a gimmicked trap does not come with the dvd, what is to stop anyone from just going out and buying a trap and trying to work it out?"

Nothing - and if they choose to do so I wish them the best of luck. Actually, Café member IanKendall already asked a similar question back on page two - I answered him there.

sirbrad, it is obvious (at least to myself) that this DVD is not for you and I appreciate your candid viewpoint. I have attempted to the best of my ability to answer your questions, but I will not type out the entire script of the DVD. For those who purchase the DVD I will add that I think they are in for a real treat. For those who do not, they will have extra cash to purchase something that more fits their personality and or style. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
sirbrad
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Steve, Thanks for the insight. Keep in mind I am sort of playing the Devil's advocate here, and I am not entirely certain whether or not this effect IS for me yet, that is why I am asking the questions! Smile Steve said; "there are plenty of effects in magic that look dangerous but are actually very safe to perform." Well that is exactly what I wanted to know regarding this particular effect. Is the danger an illusion, or very real? Or is that part of the big secret also? I am sure you will say it is very real, so if that is the case then that answers one of my questions. If the danger is truly real, I am glad you are being honest about it up front, as I believe that is necessary for buyers to know.

Also what type of affiliation do you have with this product that you are answering the questions? Just curious. Are you endorsing it, or did you have a hand in its creation? I guess like anything else it is tough to truly say if an effect is for one so to speak, until the money is spent. I would not know for sure until I could examine the workings, and weigh the risks/rewards ratio.

It just seems to me that this effect is more about 'personal gratification' of pulling off a stunt, as opposed to dramatic theatre for an audience. Especially if one could come up with a similar method that was actually more safe, or entirely safe. If two magicians did both do you honestly think the audience would know the difference? Well unless they are psychic themselves I doubt it, so as long as both performers are equal in presentational/showmanship ability.

I also noticed you did not answer my question about an OUT should the trap snap the magi, is that included as well? Or do you include with the dvd just a few bandages and a get well card should any mishaps occur? Smile Let me guess, I have to buy them too, and if I get snapped it is my problem, at least it will get horrendous laughs, so it is a WIN/WIN situation right? LOL
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
Turk
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Steve,

With all due respect:

I specifically did NOT ask for a specific methodology. I asked a very simple question as to whether or not the rat trap is gimmicked, or not. Why? Because if the rat trap is ungimmicked, I have no desire to learn (or even practice) an effect using an ungimmicked rat trap.

My question was a very fair question and was motivated by very real concerns of the risk of serious harm. When you are dealing with magic that is dangerous or potentially dangerous, that is a far cry from dealing with magic that involves the disappearance of a silk using a TT. With potentially dangerous effects, potential buyers deserve to understand the actual risk prior to purchasing the effect.

But, not to worry, in the end, by your refusal to answer whether or not the rat trap is gimmicked, it appears that you have answered the very question posed. If I am incorrect in this assumption, that will quickly become clear as this item is released and as magicians begin to review and to discuss the effect amongst themselves and on magic forums such as the Café.

Mike
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sirbrad
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I agree Mike. I will wait for reviews, that is if the people who bought this still have their fingers intact, and can actually still type.
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
Steve Brooks
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sirbrad said; "Steve, Thanks for the insight. Keep in mind I am sort of playing the Devil's advocate here, and I am not entirely certain whether or not this effect IS for me yet, that is why I am asking the questions!"

I completely understand. I am doing my best to answer all your questions but don't want to spoil the party as it were. Smile

sirbrad said; " Is the danger an illusion, or very real?"

If you are careless or are not paying close attention the danger is very real. Also, because a rat trap is a mechanical device (and a cheap one at that), I would keep Murphy's Law in mind. But then again, tricks using flashpaper can be dangerous too.

sirbrad said; "Also what type of affiliation do you have with this product that you are answering the questions? Just curious. Are you endorsing it, or did you have a hand in its creation?"

That is a fair question, though you would not have asked this if you had actually read the information on The Magic Bakery website. That aside, I actually produced and directed The Rat Pack DVD.

Turk said; " I asked a very simple question as to whether or not the rat trap is gimmicked, or not. Why? Because if the rat trap is ungimmicked, I have no desire to learn (or even practice) an effect using an ungimmicked rat trap.
But, not to worry, in the end, by your refusal to answer whether or not the rat trap is gimmicked, it appears that you have answered the very question posed
"

Actually, I have not refused to answer your question. The information you seek is on the Official Rat Pack webpage and I have said as much.
However, to save you all the trouble, here is the information:

-----------------------------oOo------------------------------

The plot is a familiar one - the chosen signed card is lost in the deck and the magician offers to find it. But this time, something is very different. This time, the audience sits on the edges of their seats, eyes riveted on the deck, inescapably bound by the tension in the air. Nobody talks, nobody breathes, until the performer succeeds, or doesn't.
What makes this card trick so gripping? As the realtors say; "location, location, location". In this case, the location of the deck.

You see, the deck is sitting in a fully armed Rat Trap. Just like the ones from the hardware store - because It is one from a hardware store! And, as everyone in the room knows, one false move and a solid steel bar crushes anything between it and the deck of cards. Faster than the eye can follow. In approximately .047 seconds! (in case you're interested)

Against those odds, the magician claims he can, with just one hand, riffle quickly through the deck, locate the chosen card, and remove it, all before the killing bar of the trap brings a premature end to the evening's entertainment.

The Rat Pack is more than a card trick, it's a pain-defying test of your speed, skill and nerve. The S.A.T. for indoor daredevils. Ed Marlo on "Fear Factor". It's a sensational feat of card magic only attempted by the very best...or the very stupid.

Make no mistake. The selected card really is in the deck, and you really do pull it out just before the killing bar smashes everything else. This part is not a trick. It's a simple stunt performed under high pressure. No acting ability required here. The tension is real because the drama is real, as is the potential for injury.

The rat trap used is almost exactly the way it comes from the store. In fact, we do not include one with the DVD, as it would just raise the cost of the effect. You are shown a simple alteration that makes the trap extremely sensitive to any movement of the cards. There are no gimmicks. No shells, magnets, threads, or subtle verbal manipulation techniques involved. But, there is also no guarantee for your safety - ordinary rat traps do not come with such a guarantee, sorry.

If loud sudden noises frighten you, you are not going to like the audience reaction. They will appreciate the very real danger you're facing, and repay you in the end.

If you do trade shows, this effect is simple, yet stupidly spectacular enough to stop traffic. If you do corporate speaking, you'll find you have everyone's complete attention just before you reach into the trap - it's message time.

If you perform on the street, this effect guarantees you'll gather a crowd. Those of you who work behind a bar or in night clubs already recognize the potential here. - Great for tough crowds - nobody heckles The Rat Pack . And yes, it's completely examinable and you can perform this bad boy close-up and surrounded.


Hope this helps. Smile
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Dr. K
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Great questions from Turk and Brad, many of the exact ones that I think should be asked about this piece of magic. I hate bandwagon reviews and much of the automatic, naïve, and lemming-like behavior that can be generated on some sites. (See my previous post on page two of this thread.)

And I always appreciate direct, honest, and incisive questions about magic. Thanks again to Turk and Brad for not jumping on the wagon without looking first, and to Steve for answering the questions in great detail for all of us.

That being said: From personal, first hand (and first thumb) experience: it's a real rat trap. You demo that it is real ahead of time in a very dramatic way. You could get hurt, which does add drama to it. The routine for it is excellent, as is all of Curtis Kam's stuff. I have seen him do it a number of times.

Not everyone will want to do this. There is a gimmicked rat trap trick about to come out on the market, recreated by Ken Noyle from a very old concept, if the general concept of doing something like this intrigues you.

I have not seen Curtis’s DVD. When I do I will review it here in detail.

However, the reviews of it from those who have already previewed it here -- the likes of Reed McClintock, Whit Haydn, Carl Andrews, and others -- indicate that not only is it a great piece of performance magic (and I concur), but that the production values are second to none. For those who may not have yet taken the time to go through this whole thread, the following are some of the thoughts on the DVD from those who have already seen it:

"The production quality is incredible. I've never seen such clarity in a magic DVD before." - Dorian Rhodell

"This is not everybody's cup of tea but it is an awesome stunt to ensure an audience reaction. Whether you succeed or fail the audience will definitely remember your performance…I've just been watching the performance over and over and saying to myself, 'That's just nuts!'" - Sk8rDave

"The production values are awesome--the best I have ever seen on a magic DVD...This is a great, dramatic presentation that is bound to wake up everyone at the table." - Whit Haydn

"Don't be suckered into thinking this is just a stunt. This can be a very special signature piece with built in tension and drama as well as that which you bring to it." - Tom Cutts

"If you like an element of danger (although with practice you really minimize the real danger), this routine can be a reputation builder....’His hands are so fast...." - Carl Andrews

Again, I am not the bandwagon type, but I have seen this performed, and I know the kind of audience reaction it gets. There are a jillion things that could be performed by each of us as magicians. This is just one of them. And it may be the one that some of us will use. It is at least a great deal of fun to think about!

I’ll repost when I get the DVD and perform the trick for an audience.
Dr. K
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I wonder how serious an injury one would get. I love performing things that look risky but aren't really. If an accident happened could you keep performing?
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I don't know of anyone else other than myself who has actually tried this and missed, magicsoup. The glancing blow I got on my thumb (again, my thumb was not totally trapped) caused searing pain that would have made continuing to perform quite difficult if I had been in front of a live audience.

Curtis has said before that he saves this trick so that he can conclude with it, or at least have it second to last. If he misses, he can use one of several outs. If he gets it, he is still set for another trick as an encore/finisher.

And a word to the wise and the interested: When I missed it was because I hadn't practiced the moves well enough first, I wasn't properly set up, and
I hadn't discussed the approach throughly enough with Curtis ahead of time. I just wanted to jump into it and see if I could do it. Pure hubris on my part, unadulterated false pride in my own abilities.

However, I believe that with practice this trick can be performed safely...

...most of the time!
Dr. K
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Curtis/Steve, would it be a benefit to the effect to let's say, put a pencil in the trap and have it snapped, sort of to sell the audience on the reality of the trap. Kind of like when stage performers chop a lettuce head in half when they perform the guillotine?

Chris
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the saddest are, "It might have been"

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Absolutely, Chris. I usually (and you'll see this in loving close up on the DVD) use a large carrot. The shrapnel is less likely to be harmful, and the carrot can be 2 or 3 times thicker than the average finger.

Then, of course, one asks for a volunteer from the audience....
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Review King
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Curtis, thanks for the info. a pencil shard could hurt someone. a carrot is great thinking!

Here's my feeling on this. I'm ordering it and here's why: First of all, I have all of Curtis' products and use his effects. Second, It's the first DVD project, in a long line of many to come, by Steve Brooks. He put up this Café for all of us and doesn't charge a cent.

This is not an easy or inexpensive site to run. I'm all for being cautious about ordering products because we all work hard for our money and it's okay to be prudent. Here is a chance for us to support original, creative thinkers and help our craft.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
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Anyone here see "Misery"? What Kathy Bates does to James Caan is less gory than what her character does in the same scene in the book. And yet the movie version (at least on screen) was horribly effective nonetheless, probably BECAUSE it was less gory and therefore easier to believe.

For the same reason, a performer risking his fingers in a rat trap is arguably more effective than a Russian Roulette routine, precisely because it's more believable that a performer would risk his fingertips than his life.

As for how safe it is, that's for you to decide once you learn the method. It practically goes without saying that any seemingly dangerous stunt actually IS dangerous, if performed improperly.

That's why the real question is one of dramatic risk, not actual risk. It just seems to me that a rat trap is more "realistic" a stunt, and therefore more believably dangerous, than a pistol stuck into your ear. It's also why this effect is probably best taught via DVD, to cover not only the secret method but also the presentation tips and techniques that turn a stunt into real theater.
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