Have you ever noticed that Disney cartoons generally have a scary segment in them? The fear factor has been a part of entertainment for years, from horror movies to roller coasters. People enjoy the adrenaline rush, or the superiority of thinking, "I'm too smart to open the cellar door when I hear weird noises coming from the other side."
As Halloween approaches you may consider adding a bit of the fear factor, age based, to your program. No, don't do a guillotine trick for the kindergarten class. Here are some simple examples:
Blacklight (see other posts) allows the room to be dark and the show to go on.
A floor spot. Use a workman's utility light in a floor stand to shine a light from the bottom up. It casts cool shadows on the wall, particularly if it is further away. Caution: These lights can get VERY hot and should never be near the audience.
A scary animal. Example: The Warthog, the bulldog, the alley cat. After doing several animals at a birthday party I ask the kids if they are ready to see the scariest animal of all! Lions are afraid of it! Gorillas run from it! Elephants stampede to get away from it! Then I bring out the skunk.
A scary story. Use your vent to tell a scary story (again, age appropriate). Hansel and Gretel would have been considered a scary story in the past. Preschoolers like, "Going on a Bear Hunt".
Have your animal try to bite you. Perfect for the crocodile. When you look away he opens his mouth wide and closes it just as you look back.
Terrific ideas Tony. I especially like the work light on the stage floor. I've got a library show coming up in Oct and I'm going to try that.
Remember, this is the time of year to go "prop shopping" in all those halloween shops. That's where I found a rusty cauldron, chains and fake barbed wire that became home for last years termite puppet, Clint EatsWood:
What I'm about to tell you is for the audience that I would hate to perform for the most. Boys, ages 11 and up. Now with the way I present the following tricks, It is the audience I love the most. I tell the parents when they book me that everything I do is 100% safe, but that by showtime, even they will have doubts because of the way I present the tricks.
After I do tricks that are supposed to be dangerous to me, like smash and stab, catching a dart between my teeth shot out of a dart gun, and a few others, I now say I have some very dangerous tricks to perform on audience volunteers. With this age group there is never a shortage of someone wanting to still volunteer. Then the fun begins after I select the first one. I then uncover the daggers that are in their stand of the dagger chest head illusion. I say, that this has been on back order for 6 months because this trick is so dangerous, there is only one maker of it and very hard to get. Anyway, UPS delivered it as I was backing out of my driveway to come to this show. All I had time for, was to unpack it. Please give me a minute to read the instructions. (This is something I made up myself.) After many hundreds of hours of practice, the dagger chest illusion should be safe for most magicians to perform, blah, blah, blah. The makers of the dagger chest illusion are not responsible for any accidents or injuries that might result during the performance of this very dangerous illusion. I then produce another thing I made up. The no liability form. It is a form that says I am not responsible for any accidents that might happen. I have the volunteer print his name and then sign the form, along with 2 witnesses. Many times I have boys chicken out by now. Eventually I perform this trick which of course is safe to perform.
In future posts, I will detail the way I perform my next 2 tricks. The hand chopper, and the visible sawing through body routine. I have so much fun seeing the scared looks on these boys faces.
Since we don't know the kids we perform for it is a good idea to be cautious of doing things they may try to repeat (on their little bro'). I had a neighbor whose 11 year old grandson asked for some rope. He asked what he needed it for. He was planning to have his brother tie him up in a plastic chair and then push him into the pool so he could do an escape trick! He had seen Criss Angel do something like that and wanted to be a magician.
I also had a 5th grade student who saw someone demonstrate that electricity could go through salt water. The 5th grader cut an extension cord and was getting ready to put the wires into a toilet bowl when his mom caught him!
So you never know! I don't use fire tricks and try not to use the rope thru neck trick anymore.
September 24 2009, 1:32 PM
There's a nice Frankenstein in the directions that come with the drawing board. You can also see several image samples on the Axtell site for the board.
Magic Montana Santa
Re: Fear Factor
September 25 2009, 7:39 AM
Maybe it's because I'm Santa... but I don't do tricks to scare my volunteers... I'm an entertainer and prefer to create an atmosphere of wonder and amazement, not fear.
September 25 2009, 2:16 PM
I can tell you this: People love to be scared, especially teenager boys.
Just check out the success of any horror movie. I've been working at a Haunted
House and just last Saturday night we had over 1,000 people go through. As we get closer to Halloween that figure will go up to 3,000. All of this in just a 5-6 hour time period. Halloween is the next biggest money maker next to Christmas.
There is no possibility of anyone getting hurt in the illusions I do, and the way I present the illusions, I get quite a bit of laughs as well.
I do not do any of these routines if young children are there. This is established before hand. I also say before hand that I am a professional Magician and that NO ONE should ever try anything that I do.
This being said; This is another idea for a fantastic illusion called the hand chopper. The version I do allows me to cut a cucumber in half before hand.
I again invite a volunteer up after I have done the dagger chest illusion.
I have my hand chopper covered with a cloth. I say that I have bought a $500 trick for $50 off of E-Bay. It came without the instructions. I then uncover the Hand Chopper. I say I did the trick for the first time last Halloween and had disasterous results. The boys hand got cut off. I then ask him if he is right or left handed? I will use his less dominant hand just in case. I ask; "is there a hospital near by?" I tell the boy that the good news is if there is an accident he will not have to go to school for 6 weeks, and that doctors are pretty successful in sewing hands back on. I then have him sign the no liability form. I say that I think I now have the trick figured out and will prove it by trying to cut a cucumber in half and it not getting cut in half. I've practiced this 23 times at home and it has worked every time. Of course when I try it, it does cut the cucumber in half and I try to hide it by holding the 2 halves together. I then proceed to place the boys hand in the illusion and push the blade down on the count of three. It looks like his hand drops in the basket. I hold his hand down, and pull out a fake hand, shaking it the whole time. Then seconds later I let the boy show that his hand is alright, and I always get a big round of applause and laughs.
My version of this, is a 100% safe trick. Never do anything that will place anyone in a dangerous situation if they might react differently then you want them to do. I see no way that someone could mess this trick up.
September 25 2009, 3:16 PM
Wow! We see two sides of the pendulum here. If I had to vote I'd go with Montana Santa, playing it fun and non-scary. But you've given some great ideas for junior hi and high school audiences, I think.
(not encouraging anyone to do this...just information on this fear subject).
This message has been edited by axtell from IP address 188.8.131.52 on Sep 26, 2009 10:16 AM
September 28 2009, 4:54 AM
As Dr. Blood says on his web site, many of his repeat customers were growing up and growing out of his target market, so he came up with Dr. Blood.
One also must not do any trick to a volunteer if even their unknown reaction
would do them harm. I saw some stupid magician do smash and stab with a female volunteers hand on youtube. Of course when he tried to smash her hand down on a cup that did not have a spike under it, she pulled away enough out of fear, to actually get a spike driven in her hand.
One can also do the supposed dangerous tricks done on himself or an assistant.
Never do anything that is not 100% safe.
This brings me to the last trick that I do and how I do it. The visible sawing through body. I bring my own table that will support over 300lbs. (VERY IMPORTANT) You would never put anyone that big on the table, but make sure it will hold a lot of weight. I invite a volunteer up to the stage. About 170lbs. and under. I say how dangerous this trick is. The makers of this trick say it is 90% safe. (It is really 100%b safe, unless you are crazy or stupid.) I then show that the table is ungimmicked. I show that when the saber saw is on the wooden guide that fits over the body there is only 1 inch of clearance between the end of the saw blade to the top of the table. I say I have never done this before and since it is 90% safe I figure I can do it 9 times before something will go wrong. I then show the saw is real by cutting through a piece of styrofoam. I then ask once again if they are willing to volunteer for this. I then say that no one should perform this trick at home. I have my volunteer sign my fake NO LIABILITY FORM with 2 witness signatures. I have then get on the table which also has a pillow for their head, and put the wooden guide over their waist. I then put on a pair of safety glasses to prevent any blood from getting into my eyes, and offer them a pair as well. Lastly, I put on a crazy wig saying that someone here has to be crazy to do this trick, and I guess it is me. Turn on the saw and slowly cut through the volunteers body. I then act shocked and surprised after it worked without harming my volunteer, and ask everyone to give them a big round of applause.
Teenagers love this effect. I always make sure no young children will be present.
Oh, Tony, it looks like my effects would even scare you and that is the whole idea. LOL!!!!!!
This message has been edited by wizardpa from IP address 184.108.40.206 on Sep 28, 2009 4:57 AM