Floating the [censored] Dolls

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Postby Todd Karr » 06/02/08 07:46 PM

Hi, everyone

I've been asked repeatedly about the levitation of the [censored] Dolls at the MTV Movie Awards Sunday so I thought I'd share the story with the Genii Forum. I couldn't diminish the surprise before last night's show, but now it's been seen.

Kimberly Wyatt of the [censored] Dolls choreographed her barstool levitation for Celebracadabra with Murray and the Dolls' choregrapher Robin Antin at my house last year, and Robin asked me if I could arrange for all the Dolls to float.

I didn't hear back from her till earlier this month...a very tight time frame! Unfortunately, as you've seen on Celebracadabra, the European barstool levitation we used was fragile and fickle, and failed during the show. So I came up with a completely new design that was much more dependable and practical.

I had designed a barstool levitation back in 1988 and had twenty years to think about improvements! The new version had adjustable speed and other features to make it work in a challenging concert situation involving precise timing. I also made it easy enough so the girls only had to sit down on the barstools and concentrate on their dance moves. This meant moving the controls to an offstage control box so the dancers wouldn't have to set off the rise themselves.

My builders completed the job in record time and got everything perfect the first time...unbelievable. The Dolls management sent over custom pink roadcases, and the barstools were on their way to rehearsal.

At the rehearsal studio about 10 days ago, we began rehearsing the illusion. The choreographers worked out dance moves involving the barstools so they would appear to just be props in a dance routine, leading into the float naturally. They decided to have Nicole in the middle and not to have her levitate, since they felt she'd look odd singing as she floated.

The Dolls suggested ways to position themselves to conceal the method and because of their training as dancers, they were able to be in the exact proper place every time, no variation. Quite amazing to watch. They also had the physical ability to perform upper-body dance moves while keeping their legs stationary. In all, Kim, Ashley, Jessica, Melody, and Nicole were total pros, great dancers, and nice people, too.

Robin and the choreographers had me speed up the tempo to correspond to the music, and her vision was to have all four float at the same time...perhaps the world's first quadruple levitation. However, this entailed triggering all four devices at the same time, so I used a special bar to set them off simultaneously.

Rehearsals went great. The levitations worked perfectly every time without a single failure. Combined with a great song and the ladies' moves, the number looked superb.

Saturday was rehearsal at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Studios near L.A. When I arrived, I watched stagehands using their muscle to plop the props and controls into place...good thing we built them solidly.

Then the director let us know that the controls would be split up, two stage left, two stage right, and they would have to be set off by union hands! Good thing we kept the controls simple! However, this meant that I would give a verbal cue to the stagehand working the controls on my side, while the stage manager next to me relayed the cue via radio to the other side of the stage so the prop man there could start the other two mechanisms. Everyone worked in synch, and the rehearsal went perfectly.

Sunday, as I drove to the show, I heard on the radio that Universal Studios had a huge fire on their backlot, demolishing sets and buildings, but the report said the awards show would go on! Almost all day, we watched black smoke rise from the fire, but run-throughs continued.

Backstage was amazing, with all the A-list stars passing through. Just before the show, it dawned on me that the Dolls were wearing new costumes I hadn't seen before...and I had to check to make sure nothing was dangling that could get caught in the equipment. No costume problems, fortunately, so I could breathe easy.

The elaborate [censored] Dolls set began about an hour into the show. I checked the speed controls to make sure everything was properly set and then took my place by the stagehands. As I waited for our number, a guy crammed himself next to me on the narrow walkway. I looked at my new Siamese twin and it was Johnny Depp. I said "Bonjour" - he lives in France. He smiled, said hi, and amiably punched me in the arm before going onstage to accept an award.

The number started, the Dolls rose from the set, and after two minutes I gave the cue. The girls rose as one and descended before continuing their routine, and as the pyro blasted and fire pots heated my cheeks, I cheered for the amazing Dolls and a successful adventure making these icons of femininity levitate.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/02/08 08:38 PM

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Postby Ichabod*Brain » 06/02/08 08:51 PM

"My builders completed the job in record time and got everything perfect the first time...unbelievable."

[color:#FF0000]What's the chance of getting these red hot builders involved in the production and release of all of those paid in full Martin Gardner Deluxes and high end flip card sets?

Seems like a raft of us have been magically transformed from customers into providers of 0 APR intermediate term financing for your outfit.

Care to take a break from the giddy whirl with the [censored] Dolls and get up close and personal with a printing press?[/color]
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 06/02/08 08:53 PM

And, if interested, you can see a close-up of the stools and the Pink Roadcases Todd speaks of in this MTV "Behind the Scences" at the [censored] Dolls rehearsals for this appearance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2hy5lcQ ... re=related

Nice Job Todd. I work with theatrical entertainment at Universal Studios, I wish I had known about this, I would have tried to catch it there live. I was across the lot watching smoke billow below too tho:) Thankfully you went on without a hitch, as did your levitations. Nice.
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Postby Todd Karr » 06/02/08 09:09 PM

Hi, Ichabod. Sometimes our projects take a LONG time, especially with my busy schedule. I do my best! Martin Gardner's on track for this year, and anyone wanting a refund for a preorder is ALWAYS promptly sent their money back. If you are a customer, let us know!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/02/08 09:21 PM

Good books take time, Ichabod. As Todd says, you can always get a refund if you're itchy.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/02/08 09:58 PM

Had a follow-up interview with Kimberly today about the levitation and the Dolls as well.. She's very generous with her time!
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Postby Todd Karr » 06/02/08 10:37 PM

Kim's awesome to work with. After the disappointing mechanical failure on Celebracadabra, I was very glad to see her finally float on camera.
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Postby Robert Newman » 06/03/08 12:11 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Good books take time, Ichabod. As Todd says, you can always get a refund if you're itchy.


With all due respect to Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Karr the above quotation is a trifle flip and greatly tangential to the complaint raised by the man.

As to the statement that good books take time I should like to point out that taken the same relative time period Edward Gibbon's descendants, heirs and assigns would still be wrestling with Volume II of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

To the contrary, if espoused time spent in planning and production is a linear function of quality and success, how does one explain such results as the Yugo and Microsoft ME?

Good books take time. Bad books take more time ie. It Takes A Village, and no books ie. Joe Gould's Oral History of Civilization, take the most time of all. ;)

"Hi, Ichabod. Sometimes our projects take a LONG time"
This is a magic book, Todd.
Not a pioneering work on curved space and pulsars. :)
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Postby Max Maven » 06/03/08 04:41 AM

I don't think the reply was flip at all. There are magic books that are churned out quickly, but there are also magic books that take many years to produce.

Most magic texts are done by one person, perhaps with some small input from one or two others. Magic books are frequently delayed, sometimes because complications arise -- some positive (such as discovering additional information late in the game) and some less so (such as having major surgery). Both of these reasons are among those that have delayed two of my current book projects, one of which I've been working on for about fifteen years.

The books Todd Karr produces are among the best of the current era, and they're worth waiting for. If someone has paid in advance and is unhappy with the wait, they can get a refund. Why does that warrant complaint?
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Postby Robert Newman » 06/03/08 05:14 AM

Max Maven wrote:[color:#990000]I don't think the reply was flip at all.[/color] There are magic books that are churned out quickly, but there are also magic books that take many years to produce.

Most magic texts are done by one person, perhaps with some small input from one or two others. Magic books are frequently delayed, sometimes because complications arise -- some positive (such as discovering additional information late in the game) and some less so (such as having major surgery). Both of these reasons are among those that have delayed two of my current book projects, one of which I've been working on for about fifteen years.

The books Todd Karr produces are among the best of the current era, and they're worth waiting for. If someone has paid in advance and is unhappy with the wait, they can get a refund. [color:#3333FF]Why does that warrant complaint?[/color]


[color:#990000]That, Mr. Goldstein, is a matter of personal opinion. [/color]

There are magic books that are churned out quickly, but there are also magic books that take many years to produce.


Into which category did Protocols... fall?

[color:#000099]If that point is difficult to grasp your "prescience" fails to include any elementary concept of the time value of money and opportunity cost. [/color]


In logic, if a statement is true, then its converse must also be true. If the terms of an engagement for your services called for you to perform for a year or two prior to being paid, you would likely squeal like a pig caught beneath a gate.
Ichabod entered into a contract with the publisher and that contract was based upon a seller dictated condition.
"If you pay me now, I will deliver your book/cards/CDs on or by a certain date in the future."

The offer of a refund of the original purchase after holding his monies for a year or so is not an equitable remedy. Specific performance is required here and, at least to him, that offer is, if not illusory, devoid of any financial equity.

Magicians, magic book readers and magic book publishers are subject to the same set of contractual protections and obligations as the rest of the population

Casting the aggrieved party in the role of persona non grata is an old dodge and approaching the seller's responsibilities in the matter as an unobjective apologist gives the real cause of the problem a free pass.

If you fail to see the connection then imagine your response to an automobile dealer who asks for the entire purchase price of your special order car in advance and misses promised delivery dates again and again.
It may be a great car, even the world's greatest car, but I assure you that even the most forgiving and understanding individual would be "put off" by the dealers procrastination

The only difference is one of magnitude of the dollar amounts involved.
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Postby amp » 06/03/08 07:43 AM

Kudos go out to Todd for his floating [censored] and his wonderful books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/03/08 07:43 AM

My goodness.. did someone get up on the wrong side of the bed today?
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Postby Magic Mike » 06/03/08 10:06 AM

Apparently, Viacom has removed all the linked videos in this thread. So, we can't see The Dolls........or the levitation.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 06/03/08 10:15 AM

Robert Newman wrote:
Into which category did Protocols... fall?

Interesting question.

So how long did it take to write Protocols?
Probably an afternoon.

How long did it take to put together?
Probably thirty years.

Anyone who thinks there is a lot of money to be made in publishing magic books for the magic marketplace has no idea of what is really going on or the economics involved. Magic publishing is largely a labor of love.

And yes publishers should keep to their deadlines but for varying reasons this isn't always possible.

I suspect Todd made more profit from his recent consultancy than the profit from any ten publications combined and when you are in the real world with a family to feed, that will be a priority.

The book will be published and within a couple of years will be worth a lot more than you've paid for it.

And Todd, if I might suggest, nay, urge you, to immediately refund the disgruntled customers and ban them from ever buying direct from you again.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/03/08 10:38 AM

Enough gruntling, please.
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Postby Bob Kentner » 06/03/08 10:39 AM

Every product I have purchased from Todd has been exceptional. If you want the best quality product, you search for a fine craftsman. A fine craftsman will not turnover a product to their customer until it meets their exacting standards. Which means sometimes you have to be patient when ordering in advance of production. If patience is not your strong suit, I recommend Walmart.
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Postby Gord » 06/03/08 10:54 AM

The levitation was wonderful.
I especially like the was it was choreographed into the lead singer (Nicole I think???) raising on that platform. Very smooth.
Well done Todd.

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Postby Gord » 06/03/08 10:58 AM

Magic Mike wrote:Apparently, Viacom has removed all the linked videos in this thread. So, we can't see The Dolls........or the levitation.


Mike.
MTV Canada is rerunning the show at 1pm and 7pm on Friday. The performance is at approx. 1hr 10min into the show.

Gord.
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Postby Bob Kentner » 06/03/08 11:06 AM

On a lighter note. Although, not my kind of music, I agree with Gord. The levitation did look good.
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Postby Bob Kentner » 06/03/08 11:10 AM

It's still on youtube. Search for [censored] dolls.
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Postby Todd Karr » 06/03/08 11:38 AM

Thanks for the nice comments, everyone. The illusions had to be performed three-quarters surrounded, no backdrop, non-magicians, and only a week of rehearsal...quite a challenge. The choreographers felt it would look odd having Nicole sing while floating so had her rise in the visible lift.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/03/08 11:39 AM

Magic Mike wrote:Apparently, Viacom has removed all the linked videos in this thread. So, we can't see The Dolls........or the levitation.


It's still working at [url]magicnewswire.com[/url]
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/03/08 11:51 AM

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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/03/08 12:01 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Here is the YouTube link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5HKcYrcL1Q


I didn't use that link because of the overlay promoting rapper Yardie aka Da Xclusive King.. and I thought it a bit rough.. but that works too.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/03/08 12:05 PM

And.. for those that want to see it as intended.. it will be rebroadcast today at 5pm on MTV
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Postby Robert Newman » 06/03/08 02:22 PM

Yes, I agree with you Mr. Kentner. Patience is indeed a virtue.

And virtues are often rewarded, even financially so, especially when the practicioner of that virtue's email address, appears on surrepticious refund offers received of late.

What option are you personally going to select?

The overt espousal of patience when one is among the elect to realize a tidy profit by being so is not virtue, but hypocrisy.

And you can take that to WalMart.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/03/08 02:43 PM

Oh, crap, please cut it out Doc. If you want a refund ask for one. You can always order it again later when it actually ships.

If you haven't bought the book, then just leave it alone and let customers have their say.
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Postby Gord » 06/03/08 02:48 PM

Todd Karr wrote:Thanks for the nice comments, everyone. The illusions had to be performed three-quarters surrounded, no backdrop, non-magicians, and only a week of rehearsal...quite a challenge. The choreographers felt it would look odd having Nicole sing while floating so had her rise in the visible lift.


Well whoever made the decision, it was a good call. It worked very well.
You also mentioned the girls still moving their top halves while floating. That was also really well done. Overall a top notch illusion.

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Postby Robert Newman » 06/03/08 03:36 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Oh, crap, please cut it out Doc. If you want a refund ask for one. You can always order it again later when it actually ships.

If you haven't bought the book, then just leave it alone and let customers have their say.


You pay the bills here Richard. Although I strongly disagree with your classification of my small efforts in the defense of another "crap" I will comply with your order :cry:

The Mutual Admiration Society is now free to resume their normal activities."

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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/03/08 03:51 PM

Robert Newman wrote:The Mutual Admiration Society is now free to resume their normal activities."


Wow.. as I said.. someone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

Oh well... moving on...
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Postby Max Maven » 06/03/08 03:53 PM

Just to answer the question that was posed to me, The Protocols of the Elders of Magic was created before there were searchable digital files of magic magazines, which is why the project took eleven years.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 06/03/08 04:17 PM

Max Maven wrote:Just to answer the question that was posed to me, The Protocols of the Elders of Magic was created before there were searchable digital files of magic magazines, which is why the project took eleven years.


Thanks Max! It was well worth the effort and time!!!!
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Postby Robert Newman » 06/03/08 04:54 PM

amp wrote:Kudos go out to Todd for his floating [censored] and his wonderful books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Obviously some individual who became lost on his way to the Magic Cafe.

Finis.
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Postby RogueMD » 06/03/08 05:07 PM

Robert Newman wrote:
amp wrote:Kudos go out to Todd for his floating [censored] and his wonderful books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Obviously some individual who became lost on his way to the Magic Cafe.

Finis.




Ok...that me made me laugh!
I hope this forum remains large enough for divergent opinions...thoughtfully and tastefully represented.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/03/08 05:10 PM

Max told me about the Protocols several times while he was working on it over the years. The research, much of which he did at the Magic Castle Library, took ages. He was quite pleased when he found the final "item" for a particular year.
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Postby Todd Karr » 06/03/08 06:29 PM

Max, thanks for the kind words. Incidentally, I sent Max the final quote for the Protocols.

Now, can we get back to the Dolls?
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Postby RogueMD » 06/03/08 07:18 PM

Todd Karr wrote:
Now, can we get back to the Dolls?


Yes indeed!

My wife and I were actually very impressed with Kim...there was a lot more to her than initially met the eye! My wife was impressed with her "chutzpah" and she really seemed to be a "genuine" person...glad to see she was that way with you also.

Gratz by the way for your MTV success!

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Postby mai-ling » 06/03/08 08:32 PM

i don't get the point of the [censored] girls.
you will remember my name
http://www.mai-ling.net
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Postby Todd Karr » 06/03/08 08:35 PM

Thanks, Michael. Kim's well-spoken and poised. What amazed me working with her and the other Dolls was that they rehearsed the magic like a dance routine, learning every move as a beat, then making it flow together with precise timing. No giveaway blinking, guilty hunched shoulders, wobbling, or telegraphing.
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