Bob Taxin wrote: "I watch the spec as I pass my hand over each bag,..."
A small point, Bob, but I think an important one: when an audience member assists (or otherwise takes part in) your routine, they technically become a "participant," and no longer a "spectator."
No offense intended, please note, but when we get older, have been reading for hours on end and the like, simple noun choices can help keep the mind clear. I appreciate your input; it's apparent you've been able to work the concept to best dramatic effect (in your "Death Trap" scenario, but I've heard of others failing with that particular method more than once.
As a professional mentalist and hypnotist (having also had a small illusion show at shopping malls, schools, and corporate events; and having performed close-up at restaurants, festivals, corporate and civic events for decades, too), I've seen MANY versions of the roulette concept.
Max, as usual, was very helpful with historical perspective. I now recall seeing the Phoenix discussion decades ago.
Banachek has visited the plot many times, as he notes, and I believe he may well be the first to do the routine with knives. Jonathan, I don't think anyone would imply (by quoting Banachek) that you'd take anyone else's material. I'm glad to hear you're focusing on mentalism now; the physical stress on your body over the years has to have left many scars, and perhaps this new channel for your creativity (or new focus, anyway) will be cathartic. I really did very much enjoy your illusion work, however. Perhaps it's a discussion for another time and place, but I think the grand illusion spectaculars (in what I regard as magic's second "golden age," have peaked, and that audiences have now moved on to some degree). I love illusions, mind, but look at show closings, ticket sale decline and additional factors, there's evidence to support the latter view.
Back to Banachek. I published a book for the PEA a decade ago (with contributions by and for members only), and the "acid test" Banachek speaks of earlier was detailed within. The method used (as opposed to the one appearing six decades earlier in "THE DRAGON") by Ban (then still Steve) is indeed VERY dangerous.
I added several points to, perhaps, make the handling a little safer in my editorial notes and illustrations for the project, but I also noted that one would have to be crazy to attempt the routine (as Banachek agrees, he himself was early in his career, when it came to taking chances).
There are, of course, several ways to perform the routine which provide NO real danger, but create the illusion that the risk exists. I've enjoyed creating psychic illusions (as I prefer to call them, as opposed to those who believe in the more truly "psychic" acts of palm, aura and cold reading -- the latter are not the same, for some).
The roads Banachek has taken, however, cause my efforts to pale by comparison. The "advantage" (taking Jonathan's initial points at the beginning of this thread into consideration) the "real" acid method used by Banachek provide, I suppose, are the facts that the ethereal aspects of the routine all rang true. The act, the psychological feel, and the very ambient smell in his version all made the reality of his routine hit home.
To my thinking, the effect was indeed TOO strong, and for the reasons Jonathan mentions, and several more I and Banachek himself mentioned in the write-up of his "acid test" should make this fact obvious.
The performer in danger concept is, I believe, unique to the magician (or "mystery entertainment artist," as the late Marcello Truzzi called us). For that reason, it will likely be around as long as magic/conjuring/illusion is (are). I frankly admit I don't much care for the concept, though I've "played with it" myself over the years once or twice, as I don't care for the bullet catch effect (Banachek's contribution to the Penn and Teller version is well-known, too). SOME audiences, however, seem to love them.
Terry mentions that Banachek's knife routine bored audience members in Florida years ago. This could not have been the version I've seen him do; the latter is simply the most dramatic I've ever seen.
If I had to rank a "best" application of the concept, it would have to be friend Christopher Carter's performance on Donny and Marie's talk show. Search "YouTube" for "Donny and Marie 'Tarantula'" for the performance. To me, this was the most genuinely entertaining version of the "effect" I've seen.[quote="Bob Taxin"]I have done "Death Trap"(by Hocus Pocus) dozens of times. I engage the spec who places the knife by saying that unless (s)he is a psychopath or really wants me to get hurt, (s)he will react when I pass my hand over the bag concealing the knife. I watch the spec as I pass my hand over each bag, and the audience is watching me and also watching the spec. I occasionally pretend to be about to slam my hand down on the knife and then change my mind. I have always had a great reaction and have had people call me to ask me to do that effect at their events. I've also done Maurice Fogel's effect with nooses. The problem for me with all these RR effects is that when the effect succeeds, nothing happens! I try to add my own twist at the end, so the blow off is "something" rather than a safe "nothing".
Having provided still further evidence of my talent for meandering endlessly, I'll stop typing now.
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