"A Golden Moment"
A few years ago at a company dinner (I'm thinking Birmingham, but certainly somewhere in the West Midlands) I was performing a trick with a back door key in which you can manipulate the end of the key, sliding the bit along the shaft then handing it to the spectator who then finds it impossible to move it back to its original position. If you're a magician you'll probably know this trick as either "The Golden Key" or "Kinetic Key" or "The Key Experience" depending on whose version you buy. (I think the original version is Kinetic Key). The one I was using at the time was very well made and looked just like a regular back door key. If you get one beware, there are some very shoddily made versions out there! (Avoid the "Key Experience" version, it looks good but doesn't withstand serious inspection well. I had two, they both broke).
So anyway, at this particular gig, having already exhausted a fair bit of material, (i.e. most of the best stuff that I do) I was searching in my pockets for what to do next and decided to bring out the key. Picking up the patter from part way through the effect it would usually run like this:
Me: "If someone stole this key they would never be able to use it to get into your house, do you know why?"
Lady Spectator: "No"
Me: "…Because it's not your key".
(Side-splitting stuff, I know. However on this particular occasion the patter instead went like this…)
Me: "If someone stole this key they wouldn't be able to use it to get into your house. Do you know why?"
Lady Spectator: "Yes, because mine's a dead-lock Yale and yours is a three gauge multi-lever".
Yep…I'd forgotten I was performing for a company of lock-smiths.
What's Another Year?
It was the summer of 2010. It's a Friday afternoon and I'm booked to perform as close up magician at a nice little hotel somewhere in Warwickshire. The event is a wedding and when I turn up, there on the grounds of the hotel, outside on the lawn I can see the happy couple and about a dozen guests just chatting and drinking.
But something doesn't feel right. It looks to me as if everything is over, other than the few guests I can see there is no one else around. I was booked to work through the wedding breakfast and I'm getting the sense that I'm somehow late and that I've missed it altogether.
Wondering if they had changed the times and hadn't told me, I approached the bride and introduced myself as Russ Styler, the magician they have booked for the wedding, upon which I received a rather blank stare followed by the bride wondering if the groom had perhaps booked a magician as a surprise. The groom denies this and the realisation sets in that I'm at the wrong wedding.
I ask the bride her name which doesn't match the name that I have in my diary, thus confirming my fears. Thing is, I'm at the right venue, therefore I must have the wrong date. Today is a Friday, so with more weddings taking place the next day - maybe I've slipped up with the date and maybe the wedding is tomorrow? Or maybe they gave me the wrong date to begin with? Or maybe they had a last minute change of venue and forgot to tell me?
The only thing to do now is call the client and find out. So I call her, explain that it's the magician calling and ask her to confirm the date of her wedding. The date is identical to that which I have in my diary….except for one small detail…the year…
It seems I'd turned up a year early.
The How Not to Guide on "Catching a bullet in the teeth"
He's not with us anymore, but magician Billy Wells was a very elderly but likeable fellow when he came to lecture at the Wolverhampton Circle of Magicians sometime in the mid 1990's. Joined by another gentleman whose name escapes me now, this other gentleman did much of the actual lecturing on Billy's behalf for reasons I can't quite remember but I'm guessing were probably health, hearing or eyesight related. Any lay person as a fly on the wall would have no doubt found the whole situation mind boggling considering that this guy was about to demonstrate that most notorious of effects in the magicians arsenal - the art of "catching a bullet". (Arsenal...geddit? lol... Oh please yourself!)
Billy's cohort for the evening then informed us that the effect was to be performed with duelling pistols that had been lovingly made by Billy himself. In fairness the pistols certainly looked the part. After taking a few moments to remind us of how many people have lost their lives performing this effect, (Chung Ling Soo being the most famous of course) he and Billy proceeded to give us Billy's very own, very well worked demonstration of the this effect.
In all honesty, despite the rather chequered history of the bullet catch illusion, none of us seemed remotely worried about this performance. After all, we all know that it's trickery and that no bullets or "shot" will actually be fired from the gun right?
So Billy's mate takes the gun and at a distance of about twelve feet aims it straight at Billy's face. The firing of the gun is immediately followed by an unexpected loud clatter against the plate glass window of the hotel. The sudden shock that is collectively felt by all the other magicians in the room is thankfully offset by the fact that Billy is still standing. What state his underpants were in at this point though is anyone's guess. Puzzlement, then laughter follows as Billy's mate admits that although he had cunningly stolen the shot from the gun (as required by the method) a second piece of shot, perhaps left in the gun from rehearsal or something, was still in there. The words "The Crow" and "Brandon Lee" spring to mind here.
Frankly we were just glad that Billy's mate was such a crap shot!
A Warped Ending
Those of you who have been in magic for any length of time will be aware of the two-card classic that is Roy Walton's "Card Warp". A clever little close up card trick that occasionally results in someone asking you to restore the two torn cards at the end of the effect.
I've recently started doing this after coming up with a simple method that suited me. However, at a recent gig, not only did I manage to restore the torn cards (the King of Diamonds and Ace of Clubs) but somehow also managed to change their identities to the Six of Hearts and Four of Diamonds at the same time?!? Seems, I'd accidentally mixed up a practice set of cards with the actual ones I was meant to be using. So, an interesting ending but one that made no-sense what-so-ever.
Last updated 12th April 2016