Magic and Blind People

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 12/26/05 10:05 PM

I'd like to hear some of your experiences. Have you ever performed for a blind person or group? Have you ever taught a blind person a trick? Have you ever seen a blind person perform magic?

I am trying to compile all the info I can for an upcoming book. I have tons of info already. I'm just searching for more!

Thanks everyone! As you can imagine, I've been laughed at many times on this topic. The very first person to take it serious was Tony Spina although, he did say in all his years of running Tannen's he never had the experience. Jeff McBride offered some valuable insight to me a few years ago but he too never had the experience.

I know of a magician in MN who is blind and makes his living with it. He's very good too.

I have taught a few blind teens some card sleights and it's amazing how fast they pick it up. There's a whole world of people who have never experienced our art and I am determined to expose them to it.

This post is not a joke! Please help with any info you may have.

Thanks again!
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Postby cgscpa » 12/26/05 11:11 PM

Magician Barry Taylor was invited to perform for Andrea Bocelli and wrote about his experience in an article that appeared in Genii about a year ago. There are a few pictures posted on Barry's website HERE under "References".
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/26/05 11:40 PM

I know he has his own forum to watch these days, but I hope Whit Haydn sees this and elaborates on the following: I have heard him tell a story a few times about performing at a table with a blind young woman. Instead of trying to perform for her, he was able to secretly communicate with her and made her part of the show. Its a wonderful and inspiring story.

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Postby David Alexander » 12/27/05 12:58 AM

When I was in my early 20s I did a special show for a group of blind people, doing close-up, one-on-one, for each of them in turn. The local paper was there and I received several column inches the next day with at least one photo that I remember, doing the Vanishing Birdcage for an older woman.

She put her hands around it, felt it...and then it was gone while she was holding it, with just me holding bother her hands. The look on her face was marvelous and she was just as fooled as anyone who could see the vanish.

As I told them at the beginning....I wouldn't take advantage of them if they didn't take advantage of me. They were a lot of fun and we all had a good time.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/27/05 01:01 AM

In thinking about this, I remember one other trick I did: The Hindu Yarn. Since I use yarn, not thread, and disguise the restored yarn perfectly in the course of the effect, I was able to have two people put their hands all over mine as I did the trick, feeling what I was doing as I went along, letting them examine my hand thoroughly as one of them held the torn pieces, and then feeling the thread restored after I picked it up from one of their hands.
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Postby Jacky Kahan » 12/27/05 01:50 AM

Last year we had Whit Haydn lecture in Belgium and he had some great stuff related to Blind People. Check him out! and his lecture was one of the best !

all the best and BEST WISHES to all !

jacky
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Postby Guest » 12/27/05 04:15 AM

I was once asked by a blind friend to perform a magic effect that she could see.

So I did Ill Be Damned (aka The Dam Coin Trick, aka Coin Through Rubber).

I held the coin in place with a finger tip. She held the coin by its edges, and she felt that it was laying on the sheet of rubber. Other (sighted) friends confirmed that.

With a finger of her other hand she pushed down on the coin. It passed through the rubber into the glass.

She felt it vanish, she heard it fall into the glass, and the other spectators excitedly confirmed what shed seen. She was gobsmacked, as they all were.

Dave
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Postby Guest » 12/27/05 05:48 AM

Until (fingers crossed) such time as Whit Haydn comes along to add his thoughts, you might want to have a look at his Impromptu Card Code: A Routine for the Blind which can be found in his book Street Magic.
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Postby Guest » 12/27/05 11:02 AM

Thank you so much for all your replies!

I look forward to reading more. Please keep them coming! Please don't be surprised if I contact a few of you.

Here's my little story on how I first experienced how a blind person could do magic.

I was a demonstrator in a magic shop and an 8 year old boy walked in with his mother. The boy was obviously blind. His hand clutched his mother's forarm and his eyes were glazed.

I asked how I could help them and he asked,"Do you have any fake doggy-doo?". I laughed and told him he came to the right place. I told him we had 4 different kinds. I asked him what he was going to do with it and he said,"Tomorrow I'm getting my first seeing eye dog. When nobody is looking I'm going to toss it behind him." He then said that he would start sniffing the air and say,"excuse me, but did my dog make again?" and he began laughing hysterically. Needless to say, I was laughing too. His mother just rolled her eyes and said,"He's been like this since day one. A born joker."

I asked him how he would know when people weren't looking. He told me he just knew. He said he could feel it. I said,"You know, you'll be sort of doing a magic trick. One second nothing is there and all of a sudden something is there." He looked excited.

I asked him if he knew what magic was and he said,"Sort of.".

I asked him if he wanted to learn a magic trick since he was in a magic shop. He replied," How could I do a magic trick if I've never even seen one?". I asked him if he'd be willing to try and he said that he would.

I performed the Ball and Vase for him. I normally had a neat little story to go with the trick but now I suddenly realized the story would not work for him. I had to resort to the way I performed it when I was his age. "Now I take the ball from the vase. Now I put the ball in my pocket. Now I cover the vase..." No real entertainment value there. I let him touch the ball and vase (of course hiding the gimmick). When the ball re-appeared under the lid his mother let out the gasp we all love to hear and the boy started laughing. I then made the ball go back to my pocket and the gasps and laughter continued.

Now I had the mother walk away and I gave the boy a private lesson (5 minutes). His expression when he learned of the gimmick was the same as every other 8 year old child I ever taught the trick to. I held his hands and walked him through the entire process and then he performed it for me. He did it perfect! We called mom over and he showed her his new talent and he did it perfect. Even the palming of the gimmick at the end so he could hand her the ball, lid and vase. She was dumbfounded. She had no expression at all. He asked her what was the matter and she got a tear in her eye and said,"You never cease to amaze me son! You did that perfect! You are a real magician!" The boys face was glowing! They bought the trick and I told his mom that if he enjoys it that she should seek out a magic shop in their area (They were from out of town) and see if they can find a magician to teach him more.

That moment changed my life and I have since sought out blind kids and taught them some magic. I've learned some pretty amazing things about blind people. I'm still doing my research with a few kids and I hope by early summer to have enough information compiled to be able to publish a book. I would actually like to write 2. One that caretakers of blind children can read and learn some basic magic that can be shown to the blind. And one that is a little more in depth for the magicians of the world. The latter would document my research and share the things I've learned about blind people and how they can see magic. It will showcase a few magicians who have performed for the blind as well as a few who are blind themselves. It will also have a section on suggested tricks that work well for performing and teaching.

It has been a tough task but I know it can be done. My experiences have shown me that blind people can see the wonder we create just like anyone else, with a few slight alterations in presentation.

-Chris Welles
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Postby Guest » 12/27/05 03:11 PM

That is a wonderful project. I have always had an interest in performing for the blind and deaf, each of which has its own difficulties. I have performed for deaf magicians, and there are numbers of them with their own organization. I am not aware of any blind magicians, though I believe there is no reason why a blind magician couldn't be successful.

I do know that blind people are much harder to do magic for than you would think, and that many of the effects that would first come to mind for working for the blind don't work at all--sponge balls for example.

Some of the tricks that can work for the blind are (1)Gauci's marble trick (the magician has to guess which of the blind person's hands is the marble in?), (2) the Jardine Ellis Ring trick in which the ring is placed over a blind person's upright thumb, covered with a handkerchief, and then removed, only to be magically forced back onto the thumb through the handkerchief, and (3) my routine for the blind using the Impromptu Card Code, Out of this World, and Brainwave with the blind person as the psychic.

The story of my first use of the last routine for a blind girl is published in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul #3.
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Postby Guest » 12/27/05 03:32 PM

Thank you Whit,

I have had the experience of performing for the deaf too. It's funny, when the subject comes up (blind and deaf magic) I get less laughs about performing for the deaf. I guess since so many stage acts are set to music it seems a little more reasonable.

Your suggestions for effects are great. I'm very excited to try out the Jardine Ellis ring on someone!

Here is a link to a blind magician in Minnesota:
The Amazing Jeffo

-Chris Welles
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Postby Guest » 12/27/05 10:14 PM

Hi everyone,
I am new to this forum. I noticed a few posts about anonymous vs. real names and figured I'd change my displayed name to my real name now. Sorry, I just got into the habit of using Pez D. Spencer on the internet.

Back on topic:

Thanks again for all your input and I look forward to reading more of your experiences. I'll keep you'se posted on my work on this project and I truly hope it opens a few eyes that normally thought they could see.

-Chris Welles
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Postby Curtis Kam » 12/28/05 02:43 AM

Chris,

You really should get in touch with Reed McClintock. He told a story in his lecture in England that is similar to yours, only he managed to do a trick for a little girl who was both blind and deaf.

I can't do it justice here, but he'll be happy to talk to you about it. You should be able to contact him through reedmcclintock.com.

Good luck with your project. Reed looked for weeks for an effect that would work for this girl, and a resource like yours would have been a godsend.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 12/28/05 03:39 PM

Chris:

I had a fairly regular audience member at the Renaissance Festival who was blind. I got him up with me on stage, along with another person, and we did "Grandmother's Necklace." Afterwards, I gave him the ropes as a souvenir. He was not totally "pitch black in a cave at midnight" blind, but he was so blind he could barely see light and dark. He had a pair of "super spectacles" that would let him do some examination of things. He really examined those ropes closely.

About a year later, he signed up for a class I taught throug Leisure Learning Unlimited. He told the class that he got interested in learning magic from being at the Renaissance Festival and taking part in the show.
Bill Palmer, MIMC
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Postby ggarcia » 01/01/06 01:07 PM

Mr Klamm from Klamm Magic in Kansas City may have some valuable input on this subject as well as Richard Turner here in San Antonio.
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Postby Guest » 01/02/06 03:09 PM

I shall never forget the time I approached a table and launched into my guaranteed-applause getter, The Magic Square, when to my surprise I ascertained that the little girl for whom I was demonstrating the many astounding ways that columns of numbers could be added was, in fact, blind. Thinking quickly, I wadded up the paper I was writing on, let her feel it, then went into Slydini's Paper Balls Over The Head. With each successive vanish she became more and more perplexed, and the harder her family laughed at her. Soon total strangers at the restaurant had pulled their chairs closer just to watch. Tears of frustration began to trickle down the child's cheek, an obvious sign that I was truly nailing her to the wall. Since I'd done it so many times I handed the next paper wad to her father and brother, both who executed the move flawlessly and left the girl even more bewildered. Taking a bigger chance, I asked the girl to gently place the ball between the teeth of her seeing eye dog and keep her finger on it. One well timed chop to the dog's back and the ball shot backwards down its throat, feeling to the girl as if the ball vanished while she was touching it. Her father and brother then helped me lift the dog and fling it over her head as well, seeming to her that her dog had also instantly vanished. "And he's never, ever coming back again," I quipped as I bowed and made my exit. The postscript to this wonderful story is that years later I got a letter from the girl, which since I don't read braille is meaningless to me, but what touched me was that also enclosed in the package were both of her eyes, which she'd clawed out of her head in frustration and disgust.
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Postby Mark Collier » 01/02/06 07:58 PM

I once was called to a restaurant table to perform for a blind and deaf person. They asked me if there was anything I could do for this person and I said yes but had to think for a minute. He had an interpreter that could do 'tactile sign language' in his hand so I could give simple instructions.

I chose coin in the bottle because I knew he could feel the vibration of the coin as it bounced around inside the bottle. As soon as I asked the interpreter to have him examine the coin and the bottle, he got really excited. He knew what was about to happen and tried to fit the coin inside and felt all around the bottle.

I had him hold the (loaded) bottle in one hand and the coin in the other. I put my hand on his and tapped the coin against the bottle. On the count of three, I snatched the coin as it hit the bottle and left him with the bottle with the coin inside.

There was no question that he understood the impossibility of what had just happened.
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Postby Guest » 01/03/06 12:09 AM

Originally posted by Whit Haydn:

The story of my first use of the last routine for a blind girl is published in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul #3.
I remember reading that when it came out. The story is called "How Magic Helped A Blind Girl TO See," on page 23 of A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul

You can use Amazon.com's "search inside" feature to read it here .

Search for "Whit," not Haydn, Michael Jeffreys, who wrote the story, refers to him as "my friend Whit" with no last name.
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Postby Tom Ladshaw » 01/11/06 04:29 PM

You might try contacting Paul Diamond for some insight (sorry) into working with sight impaired folks. 20 years ago when I worked for him, he gave a monthly magic lesson to an older blind gentleman by the name of Mike (I've forgotten the last name). I filled in a time or two when Paul was unavailable. Mike always had a list of things he wished to learn. He also had the only Braille book I've ever personally handled...which just happened to be "Royal Road to Card Magic". Paul was an excellent one-on-one teacher and Mike was a fine student (quick learner, etc.).

Tom Ladshaw
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Postby Guest » 01/14/06 10:17 AM

Hi, I am a magician from Venezuela,south America and want to share this wonderful experience with a blind kid. I was at my small shop and a blind kid came to say hello since his parents had told him I was a magician.
I offer to shoew him a trick, I didnt know what to do. Until I figured out tha The ball and vase trick was the most apropiate to do. I let him fell the vase all around and told him to lift the top and take the ball out and handed to me...then cover the vase..I said some magic words and helped him lifh the top so he could fell how the ball came bak...He was very surprised..I helped him place the top bak and made the ball vanished magicly. He raised the top with me helping and he could fell the empiness of the vase..I told him to open my hand so he could fell the ball...He got very excited and I told him if he wanted to learn it..I tought him the principle behind of it. And we practiced it for a few minutes until he got it...I told his parent that he was going to show them a magic trick...He performed the effect and the parents couldnt believe he was doing magic..The kid got so happy because he knew his parent saw him doing magic, I was a very emotional time his parent were so happy they cried of joy, and I reallly felt great to see how The boy (9 years) was so happy...I believe that the ball and vase trick is such a powerful effect since I experienced that moment. I hope some of you give it a try and let us know your experience..Ciao by now,
Mago Mai
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