'Sharp' Russian Roulette origin?

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

Postby Jon Allen » 09/09/07 03:09 AM

On another forum (you can guess) there is talk of the Russian Roulette using spikes/nail/knives. It is claimed the routine originated with an unpublished Gary Kurtz effect. A counter claim says that the method Gary used has been ripped off but the effect is much older.

For my own curiousity, can anyone up on the history of this effect shed any light on who may have first decided to try and avoid injury through stabbing their hand down on a sharp object?

Jon
Jon Allen
 
Posts: 242
Joined: 02/02/08 01:00 PM
Location: UK

Postby Guest » 09/09/07 12:30 PM

"Mac" MacDonald?


--kidding.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 12:19 AM

Ive always thought that the spike thing was no more than a variation on the old caps and penny trick.
This trick goes way, way, back.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 02:23 AM

Caps and penny?

Do you not agree that inserting an element of extreme physical danger elevates the drama in a simple effect (or puzzle, really) like this and adds up to a major, important evolution?

To put it another way: does the possibility that Kurtz's trick is an evolution of the old caps and penny trick give others the right to rip it off?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 06:17 AM

Originally posted by Joe Pike:
Caps and penny?

Do you not agree that inserting an element of extreme physical danger elevates the drama in a simple effect (or puzzle, really) like this and adds up to a major, important evolution?

To put it another way: does the possibility that Kurtz's trick is an evolution of the old caps and penny trick give others the right to rip it off?
I agree with you whole heartedly on both counts.

regardless of the origins of an effect, rip off versions are just plain wrong.
:)

D.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 06:19 AM

Originally posted by Dale Shrimpton:
Originally posted by Joe Pike:
[b] Caps and penny?

Do you not agree that inserting an element of extreme physical danger elevates the drama in a simple effect (or puzzle, really) like this and adds up to a major, important evolution?

To put it another way: does the possibility that Kurtz's trick is an evolution of the old caps and penny trick give others the right to rip it off?
I agree with you whole heartedly on both counts.

regardless of the origins of an effect, rip off versions are just plain wrong.

I have always thought though, that as a whole it is still more of a puzzle, than a magical effect.

:)

D. [/b]
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 06:51 AM

Bank Night?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 09:01 AM

I cannot resist asking a follow up question. Who was the first to fail and impale their own or a spectator's hand while performing this effect? Why are magicians/mentalists still attempting it?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 09:11 AM

Nothing like adding the thrill of real bloodshed to a show...
Guest
 

Postby Jon Allen » 09/10/07 11:29 AM

Originally posted by John Wilson:
Why are magicians/mentalists still attempting it?
For the thrill of possibly ending up on YouTube? Audiences do like to see danger but if the magician decides which cup to smash down on, is it no more than a puzzle for the audience to work out how you knew? It comes down o presentation but I have seen several where someone simply passes their hand over the cup sand decides, for no reason, to smash a particular cup. I think it's an effect where performers assume the strength comes from the effect itself rather than any presentation. That's why I like Shattered as it leaves the decision to someone else and, indirectly, fate.
Jon Allen
 
Posts: 242
Joined: 02/02/08 01:00 PM
Location: UK

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 11:46 AM

Well, do you think that the specific type of danger makes a significant difference? I'm pretty sure the entire "spikey thing under the cup" genre was preceeded by the "if I screw up I drink acid" effect.

I don't know anything close to an exact date, but I presume that the invention of at least one popular version of the "acid test" must have been coincident with the popular sale of Alka-Seltzer.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 12:39 PM

I think the "Acid Monte" type of effect was created by Lubor Fiedler
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 02:10 PM

Do any of the preceding effects resemble the Kurtz effect enough that the current plethora of knock-offs become justified or acceptable? If so, how? In what way?

For example, saying that the Acid Test effect is the same as the spiked effect is like saying that the color changing silks is the same as the color changing deck. As far as the two effects involve a color change, yes there's a resemblance. But in terms of the context, method and inventive process, they can hardly be considered "the same". The best you can say is there's a thematic similarity. But to see Kurtz do the spike then go, "oh that's just Lubor Feidler's Acid Test - that's going straight into my act tomorrow" isn't valid or ethical.

To me it just looks like Kurtz has been comprehensively ripped off. (I believe it was Kurtz who first hurt his hand, and that was how it came to the notice of magicians. It was soon after that was publicized that the rip offs emerged into the market).

Joe
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 03:25 PM

I'm sure Banachek used to do an effect by wrapping 1 real and 2 fake knives in paper and then have an audience member stab him with them.
I don't know the time line or the relationship to the Kurtz effect mentioned though.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 03:47 PM

Joe,

Interesting question, and I suppose it depends on what similarity there is between the purported "knock off" and the original. If you're saying that changing the prop (i.e. knives instead of acid) makes it a different effect, in spite of the "thematic similarity", then what about broken glass bottles instead of knives? Is that a "knock off"?

What about a "Japanese Ninja Caltrop"? Pellet Rifles? Blank Guns? Or a large nail?

Granted, there are some clearer examples that involve knives themselves, and we might as well start there.

That raises the question, was the Kurtz effect the first? For me, that suggests we look to precedents. I'm just suggesting the Acid Test as an early point in that search.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 03:54 PM

When it comes to knives and stabbing I always think of Steve Spills "Grab and Stab". A very funny routine played for comedy but the basic premise is there.

All the best,

Kranzo
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/10/07 05:30 PM

Yes! I'm number 7777! Sorry that this has no relevance to the topic at hand... :D
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/11/07 03:00 AM

Originally posted by Curtis Kam:
Joe,

Interesting question, and I suppose it depends on what similarity there is between the purported "knock off" and the original. If you're saying that changing the prop (i.e. knives instead of acid) makes it a different effect, in spite of the "thematic similarity", then what about broken glass bottles instead of knives? Is that a "knock off"?

What about a "Japanese Ninja Caltrop"? Pellet Rifles? Blank Guns? Or a large nail?

Granted, there are some clearer examples that involve knives themselves, and we might as well start there.

That raises the question, was the Kurtz effect the first? For me, that suggests we look to precedents. I'm just suggesting the Acid Test as an early point in that search.
All good questions and observations, Curtis.

Joe
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 10:18 AM

I'm working at a disadvantage on this one; however, I remember a routine with a bill spindle that had been gaffed with solder. This came out in the 1970's, and, to the best of my memory, was in a book called Hex!. I can't locate my copy right now, so I can't give you a title. But it had a lot of that kind of material in it.

"Acid Test" as published in Magick Magazine was by Zorka, whoever that is/was. It goes back to the 1970's as well.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/14/07 01:16 AM

Just to answer the question about my roulette. I first performed it in 1976 in a mall in Washington, PA. It involves 5 knives. Three fake, two real. Two are stabbed into my stomach, one I slamed my hand down on like the stab routines you see today.

As far as I know I was the first to do a roulette with knives.

In the early 80's Kurtz saw me perform this at a convention in Florida and asked if it was in my lecture notes. I told him that it was not as I kept it for a signature piece since no one else was performing a roulette with knives.

A few months later, Kurtz was performing a version with knives. I could not be too upset as he was performing with all the knives upright. A version that seemed to be based upon the spike stab in Magick. I was disappointed. Even more so when on The World's Most Dangerous magic he said he was inspired by the idea of the danger of knife with no credit. More so when I heard he was hurt in the trick and called to give my condolences since i had influenced him and he said I had not. But it is what it is and water under the bridge.

By the way, in that first show in the mall I performed a roulette with acid and another roulette. I was young and silly and had no concept of a routine but sure had some great ideas come out of that show that I still use today.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/20/07 07:54 AM

I've published Steve's (Banachek's) acid roulette routine in a very limited publication for members of a select group (with his permission, of course). Please don't ask, the routine is NOT available today, nor can you purchase it used.

Steve mentioned being "silly," back then. Silly doesn't cover it, he was crazy .

As to Gary's routine, it provides zero-percent chance of a mishap, unlike the various and ridiculous mechanical and electronic versions of the effect, unless the performer has very, very poor eyesight, or incredibly bad lighting.

The Banachek knife routine, in my estimation, beats them all for dramatic effect. As he notes, this routine is his and his alone. I have a reasonably extensive collection of literature on magic and effect history. As far as I'm able to tell at present, the Banachek routine was indeed the first "Russian Roulette" to employ knives.

Greg Edmonds
Guest
 

Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/20/07 08:04 AM

If Gary's routine provides "zero chance" of a mishap, how come he stabbed himself in the hand?
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20647
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby Guest » 09/20/07 03:08 PM

Hi Richard. I thought someone might ask.

I can put forth only three theories.

1: Gary hurt himself on purpose for the publicity it would generate; possible, but not likely
2: He was (as previously noted was necessary) not careful enough about lighting or
3: He employed a method other than the one he used on television in "Most Dangerous..."

While it's difficult to discuss without revealing the actual (and incredibly simple) method, if one knows a bare modicum of mentalism techniques, I'll take a "stab" (yes, pun intended) and let those interested read between the proverbial lines.

The method used on the television program made it impossible to "screw up" unless the performer closed his eyes and decided to depend upon his "actual" psychic powers. Not recommended.

After the show, Gary became upset when he said others were "stealing" his routine, apparently thinking that not only the knife, but also the "stab roulette," was unique to him.

I told him, at the time, that the concept was not his to steal, with either knives or other sharp or "pointy" objects. As Banachek notes, it appeared in Bascom Jones' MAGICK years ago, and very likely saw print before that. I saw the late New York and Florida mentalist Lee Noble perform the effect, using a spike, at least five years before Gary's performance.

Once more, from personal experience seeing the performers, and from the available literature, I must agree with Banchek that he, indeed, was the first to do a knife roulette routine.

Greg Edmonds
Guest
 


Return to Magic History and Anecdotes