Thursday, July 30, 2009


This is the first effect I've ever purchased that told me to try it on myself before reading the instructions just to see how magical it was. You have to give them credit for that. Unfortunately, the effect didn't work right for me when I did it on myself, but after learning the principles I was able to perform it flawlessly for others. This is truly a simple effect that really makes it look like real magic has occurred. There are no fancy moves on your part other than just keeping pressure on the deck as you fan it out to show their card has vanished. You are dealing with a variation of the rough/smooth in part of the deck, and it has a tendency to not work without a good amount of pressure on it. You're not breaking your fingers with a vice grip or anything, but it's definitely not a Mirage deck.

The effect is good, but It's not perfect. The deck can't be examined afterward, and unfortunately the effect can't be performed with a signed card unless you can dupe the signature. If you want to change the ending slightly, it's possible to do a switch with a signed card for the ending, but then you wouldn't need the KONA deck since you're controlling the cards. Also, this is pretty much a one-time one-trick deck. It's impossible to repeat this trick or even perform it around the same spectator, and you'll have to do a switch immediately afterward if you want to do something else.

This effect does have potential, and if you're not the greatest card handler in the world then this is a nice way to put a card trick into your act with a minimum of practice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Emotional Intelligence (E.I.)

I wish I could say something really spectacular about this video, but it is at best mediocre. I have to give Jermay credit in that he didn't edit this thing down during the performance because he could have and we would have understood why. When the person you're performing the trick for on the video actually looks bored and keeps looking around as if to say, "When will this be over?", it's time to get another trick. That being said, this is an incredibly long video with a lot of teaching on it. Even though it's only one routine being taught, the teaching can be applied to other mentalism effects.

This is basically a three-phase effect that is supposed to supply perhaps 15-20 minutes of material for you. If you choose to do this, however, you are going to bore your group to tears unless they really find you fascinating or are simply really good friends. Jermay seems to go on forever before actually beginning the effect, and then unnecessarily explains to the spectator how the first letter of the cards form the words "THE SCAM". After talking about fake psychics, then mentioning "THE SCAM", the spectator is then supposed to believe you can read emotions and minds for real? Nope, not gonna happen.

Derren Brown has performed an effect very similar to this, but his pacing is much faster and it serves to streamline the whole thing. I'm not saying you should rush through the effect, but I AM saying you should "trim the fat" on the presentation given herein. Jermay has some nice ideas on cold reading that you can apply to other work if you want to.

I do like the fact that you get to involve another spectator during phase 2 so this becomes a little more interactive for others. Also, if you can somehow get phase 3 to work flawlessly for you, it ends with a bang. That's going to take some practice though, and you're going to miss it a bit in the beginning.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Aunt Mary's Terrible Secret

This is a full performance in one routine. You basically play a 3 phase gambling routine that's tied to the story of Aunt Mary. Is it vital that you repeat the story? Pretty much, yes. But it's not that hard to learn.

Keep in mind that this is a 25 page booklet and you have a lot to learn before you perform this. You won't be doing this effect 10 minutes after you get it. That being said, it IS something you can do with any deck of cards (after you set it up) and it's something you'll be remembered for.

I, for one, would have rather seen this as a DVD simply because of what's involved, but the book is easy to follow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bigger Finish

This is a fairly strong effect that requires just a small amount of practice. Jay presents four different ways of doing the effect, ranging from basic sleight of hand to almost none. He also teaches two good forces to help your spectator find the right card. Everything is taught in detail and even a complete beginner could pick this up in a few minutes.

This couldn't be called a perfect closer necessarily, but it does fool a lot of people and sets you apart from a lot of other card guys out there. The gimmicks are printed on quality stock and pass a relatively quick inspection as they go from your hand to the spectator's.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tear Down

This was one of the first Andrew Mayne effects I could actually use. Most of the DVDs or books I have purchased of his contain concepts that could never work real-world, and I've often felt burned and have stayed away from many of his products because the descriptions don't tell it all. That being said, I love this trick. If you're looking for a torn-and-restored-newspaper routine that's relatively easy while still playing big, you'll love this.

For one thing, it's impromptu. I mean that. Unlike other TnR routines that require some setup of a particular section, this one is good to go at any time with any newspaper.

Second, it involves a signed newspaper. You have to admit that's pretty unique for a routine like this. You can even hand out the paper at the end for the spectator to keep (or read again if they don't mind it being crumpled up).

It plays relatively great, but there's a horrible moment where you have to ditch the paper shreds and it doesn't look good. The clean up offered here is completely unbelievable, and you'll notice how awkward the moment is while watching it demonstrated in the video. It's as if he had a great concept up to that point, but ran out of ideas for the finish. You'll have to tweak this part to make it clean. Other than that, this is pretty good for the price.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Card College Lighter

Much like John Scarne's Card Trick book from years ago, Giobbi has developed an entire book of effects that require no sleight of hand. He also takes it a step further by putting this into sections of openers, mid-routines, and closers so you can put together your own routine if you'd like. So how are the effects? Up and down.

Some are pretty good. "The Card Sharp's Triumph" is one that takes a few minutes to learn but makes people think you have way more ability than you actually do as long as you build it up right. There are also a couple of poker routines and one routine that involves choosing a movie star from a list of 150 of them, counting down cards, and finding your chosen card matches the one held by the star in a photo that's been sitting in a sealed envelope the whole time. Unfortunately, making a decent photocopy of the picture or the list is next to impossible thanks to the way it's laid out in the book, so you can plan to do a little bit of doctoring on another photograph later if you have the skills (or know someone with a baby you can photograph).

Will you use every routine in this book? No. But they are all explained in detail with great illustrations so it's easy to follow along. Even if you don't use the routine as written you can probably find a few things to change here and there to make it your own.

I've been doing card work for a while, and I still found a few things in this book that I loved and added to my repetoire immediately.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


As long as you can keep in mind you're not seeing Max Maven in action here, you'll probably enjoy the simple effects available. Some of the mentalism offered is straightforward and plays well to a small group or even two individuals. The "ESP with Playing Cards" routine plays well for a layman audience, but it won't fool anyone with even a beginner's experience in magic until you get to the sandwich effect at the end. That pays off well, I'll admit.

"Flip Flop" is so complicated it almost confuses the spectator in the video. The "Hoy Book Test" and "Pick-A-Date" are old routines that are probably on several other videos out there (Ross Johnson's "Simply Psychic" has a better version of the book test that involves describing entire paragraphs rather than a single word, and the video costs half the price). To be fair, David's method does allow a certain impromptu handling if you're at a party and you know someone is going to ask you to do some magic for them.

"Grey Elephants in Denmark" really blew the audience 1995 when Max Maven did it on "World's Greatest Magic". Unfortunately, since then it's been so over-used you can't even consider trying it any more. My 13 year old son came home from school trying to pull it on me because his friends had taught it to him. You might fool a few folks with it, but it's a risk.

"Jumbo 8 Card Brainwave" is probably one of the best effects on the video. It can be adapted for regular Poker size cards if you don't want to play it big for stage. His handling is good on it and for the effect it doesn't take much practice (one move is all you have to learn). He also does a couple of routines using ESP cards that you might consider. It should be mentioned that they can be adapted for use with regular playing cards if you tweak them a little. That would allow you to throw in a little mentalism in the middle of your card routine if you wanted to.

So all totaled we have one killer routine, two fairly good ones, two that can be tweaked to be useful, and four that probably shouldn't have been used. If you're just getting into mentalism, you might consider this, but if you have any experience with it you can skip it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


If you watch the demo video for this, you're going to immediately freak out and think this is real magic. Hey, it's about as real as you could hope for! You borrow a spectator's quarter, and proceed to freeze it with your breath like Superman.

In theory this is one awesome effect. It's a lot better than the other "Frozen" effect out there that came out years ago (the signed coin appears in a block of ice in the magician's hand), but both fall victim to the same problem: impractical set-up.

This is not an effect you are going to do impromptu. As a matter of fact, there is a very tight window between setup and performance of the effect. You can't leave home thinking you'll do that trick today and wait an hour to actually try it. You've got at most 15 minutes to get it done after you set up, and that's pushing it. Adam Grace does give some pointers on packing it to go, but it's going to require fairly roomy pockets.

There is another setup he shows you that does allow you to do this the trick impromptu. Truthfully, I doubt he ever does this himself though. You might love the idea, but it didn't seem practical to me.

And finally the biggest problem: I've never gotten the effect to work. I use the exact same items he does on the video, I set them up the exact way he describes, and I've never had the effect work once. Forget 15 minutes, I'm trying it within 2 minutes of the set up and it still won't work. That may be just me, but I can't remember the last time I couldn't get an effect to work at all no matter what I tried.

You may get it and you may love it, but for me it's just too limited to be practical. I have to say though that if it works for you like it did on the video, you'll blow the spectator's mind.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Silver Dream

If you watch the demo video for this, you're going to immediately be thinking this is done with gimmick coins. You would be incorrect. What you see is done with 3 coins, and only 3 coins, and it is done in such a way as to make it completely clean when you are done.

Justin Miller has created a symphony of coin manipulation with this routine. Watching it performed is like watching some piece of fine art being sculpted from nothing. You think it's amazing when you see it? Wait until you see what it takes to make it happen!

Miller gives you a wonderful play-by-play breakdown on how to accomplish this miracle. His work on sleeving is incredible, and the moves are so smooth you'll never get caught once you get it down pat. The only "iffy" move was the final vanish which you'll probably catch right away when watching it. Every other movement is perfectly subtle and impossible to catch, but that final vanish is a little obvious. Granted, the spectators will probably never catch it though.

If you decide to do this in a warmer climate using short sleeves, you can still make the magic happen if you use an expanded coin shell. This will give you some angles to worry about that the long-sleeved version doesn't have, but it's more practical in some situations.

This will take practice, and lots of it. The sleeving moves alone will have you picking coins up off the floor for quite a while, but once the move is smooth it can even amaze you when it happens! Major props to Justin for sharing the work on this incredible routine!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


For a visual card change, you would be hard-pressed to come up with something more impressive than "Believe". The spectator chooses a card and signs it, the card is lost and another pulled out. After tearing a corner off and placing it on the table, the magician suddenly changes the corner of the indifferent card into the corner of the chosen card--without ever apparently touching it! The torn card is turned over and it is seen to be the signed card...even though the spectator saw it as a different card just before it was laid down.

I'm not usually very high on one-trick DVD's that cost $20 or more, but I have to make an exception here. The change is so visual that there's a good chance you'll hear your spectators actually gasp when it occurs.

Joel Paschall does a great job of teaching this effect and the moves involved. Even the clean up is relatively easy and of course it's ready to go at a moment's notice. Understand something: this will take practice. There are 2 key moves you'll have to have down pat before considering this, and Joel's one-handed double-lift (yeah, you read that right) alone will take some time. Once you have it down though, I guarantee it'll be the only double-lift you use.

This will require a table to perform properly, so this isn't really a stree magic effect. If you're into table-hopping though, this is something you seriously need to consider. Actually, it's something every serious card worker should consider.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Simply Psychic

I was hesitant to purchase this video since it was so cheap and I'd never heard of Ross before, but I'm so glad the salesman at Tannens talked me into it. This is a wonderful video and goes into the theory of mentalism and doesn't just show you effects and moves on.

I have to say the first few effects aren't that great. They're more demonstrations than any kind of mentalism. Stick with it though, because things really get good as it goes on. I found five routines I used almost immediately, and that's almost unheard of for me! Most of the time I'm lucky to find 2 effects on the same DVD I actually want to use, but Ross has put together some incredibly simple mental magic that is easy enough for a beginner but that blows away even seasoned magicians if done properly.

Don't get me wrong: you aren't going to fool everyone every time. And since this is mentalism it's going to depend on you to be the showman and sell the effect, but for the amount of practice and effort you have to put into them (not to mention the fact that ALMOST all of these have no chance of failure if done properly), you can't beat it.

The only major change I immediately saw was Omar's Prophecy. As Ross does it, there is that chance of messing up at the beginning just to prove a point...but there's no reason for it. If you apply the last two principles to the first one you have zero chance for failure. He even mentions doing this in his explanation, but still feels his way works best to show the "1 in 3" on the paper. I adapted the handling for parts 2 and 3 into part 1 (which eliminates the chance of missing with your prediction) and have never had anyone question it. Other than that, you're pretty much ready to go out of the box with this video. Awesome magic at an incredible price!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Digital Dissolve

While the Copper/Silver Transpo isn't a new effect, "Digital Dissolve" add an element to it that makes this version stand out among the rest. Steve Dusheck has tweaked this effect to turn it into an instantaneous miracle in your hands.

Watch the demo video and you'll see how fast this happens. Literally in an instant the English penny becomes the half dollar right before the spectator's eyes. And as soon as the transformation occurs you can drop the coins into the spectator's hands and they can examine them all they want to. There is only one move involved and it's really easy to learn. Once you get it down you'll be performing this effect over and over again.

I keep this one close, and I often just do the effect for myself--and it still gets me even though I know how it's being done! That doesn't happen often. It's so strikingly visual that is just begs to be performed.

The coins are high quality, and the gimmick needed looks like it will last forever if treated right. The instructional DVD gives you everything you need to know about the effect and the move involved. It also helps with ideas for the clean up at the end. If you're into coin magic or just want something to sprinkle into your routine that's different from cards but you don't want to spend days learning the sleights, this is something you must own.