How to butcher Interlude on national television

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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/18/13 11:59 AM


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Postby erdnasephile » 07/18/13 12:07 PM

Ugh...

What I find even more disturbing are her comments that seem to imply that the majority of magicians hate women and are bullies, saboteurs, etc.

Once again, magic wins!
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Postby Jim Riser » 07/19/13 03:34 PM

I thought that she looked great but needed a better builder. Things happen when working live and I would not condemn her on this performance. I do not know her nor have I seen her performances elsewhere.

She has obviously had a tough time getting established in magic and this will be a setback. She seems like a survivor and will move beyond AGT.

I have never liked the illusion and feel it was a poor choice for AGT but it is too late to undo this decision and no one asked me anyway. I do feel her disappointment.

She has looks and stage presence. I would love to see one of her full shows before judging her as a performer.
Jim

P.S. If that prop was mine, I would move it to the back of the warehouse with a sign on it saying "lesson learned" and never let it see stage lights again.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/19/13 04:06 PM

Since Siegfried and Roy, the Pendragons, and David Copperfied all successfully performed "Interlude" as part of their shows for years, I would say the fault lies with the performer, and not the prop, which has a proven track record.
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Postby Jim Riser » 07/19/13 04:11 PM

Richard;
I still would like to know who built that prop. We all know who built the versions that you mentioned. They are reliable for years plus the performers are solid.

it was not a good choice on her part. Has anyone seen her do anything else?
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Postby Tom Stone » 07/19/13 04:26 PM

Jim Riser wrote:I thought that she looked great but needed a better builder.

I know nothing about the build quality, but I don't think that whoever designed it understand what J.S and J.P tried to accomplish with this piece.
For example, the placement of the horizontal support bars here makes it seem that the person is coming through, and drooping from, the lower abdomen. With properly placed bars, the penetration is higher up and doesn't look droopy.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/19/13 04:36 PM







Not fair comparisons I know - but when you are going to perform such a classic illusion ... and play the gender card to boot ... you better be at the very top of your game. Otherwise its less about your gender and more about your abilities as a performer.
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Postby jkeyes1000 » 07/19/13 06:04 PM

Take away the theatrical drama, the music and the choreographic prelude of Copperfield's or Siegfried and Roy's adaptations and I think most of us would be less than Mesmerised by the illusion. It just goes to show how important presentation is.

That and timing. The individual that writhes her way through the apparatus needs to be in perfect synch with the magician or it looks awkward and frankly disgusting.
Last edited by jkeyes1000 on 07/19/13 08:03 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 07/19/13 06:48 PM

Barry and Stuart's version
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/19/13 08:40 PM

I assume you guys know that not everyone does "Interlude" the same way. That has something to do with it.
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/19/13 09:24 PM

Jim Riser wrote:Richard;
I still would like to know who built that prop. We all know who built the versions that you mentioned. They are reliable for years plus the performers are solid.

it was not a good choice on her part. Has anyone seen her do anything else?
Jim


There's some video (under the "press" menu) on her site: http://arianblack.com/
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/19/13 09:25 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I assume you guys know that not everyone does "Interlude" the same way. That has something to do with it.


I read that somewhere ;)

I think JP had to alter the original method to accommodate his particular physique.
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Postby Jim Riser » 07/19/13 11:02 PM

erdnasephile wrote:
Jim Riser wrote:Richard;
I still would like to know who built that prop. We all know who built the versions that you mentioned. They are reliable for years plus the performers are solid.

it was not a good choice on her part. Has anyone seen her do anything else?
Jim


There's some video (under the "press" menu) on her site: http://arianblack.com/


Well, after looking at her videos, I can truthfully say that I have seen MANY male performers do much worse presentations. Her usual presentation of this illusion requires much more time than allowed by AGT. This could have contributed to the mishap. She may not have a stage manager to check the condition of the prop before presenting it. Moving illusions around can damage hidden parts. Until I see or hear anything from someone in the know, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
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Postby Tom Moore » 07/20/13 10:58 AM

On all the "got talent" shows your own people set your props in position; they're not wheeled on by the house crew unless you ask them to so any blame for it not being set properly lies with the performer alone; you are also NOT forced to go on stage and start performing until you're ready; nor are you forced to actually perform once you're on stage so if you think your prop isn't set properly it's entirely your fault.

Looking at other video's of her performing this effect she makes the same fundamental mistakes (watch the Masters of Illusion video of her performance and you can see the director desparately looking for camera angles that cover her mistakes) in her choice of method and presentation; this effect relies on an optical illusion and physiological qualities that are unique to the male form, relies on costume elements that are "traditionally" male tailoring and relies on /not/ having giant wings and superfluous dancers draped over the prop that make it look twice the size it actually is. It also relies on the performer doing some rehearsing!

The core effect of interlude is a very weak one but with a strong presentation that plays to its strengths it's a miracle; but butcher the presentation and it's nothing at all. This performance was a masterclass in how to get just about everything wrong both as a "got talent" contestant and on how to present Interlude.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 07/22/13 05:59 PM

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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 07/24/13 01:04 AM

Interlude was Jim Steinmeyer's idea. John Gaughan made the prop, I named it. Charlotte and I were the first to present it.

The first Interlude was built around me, literally. Jim, John, Charlotte and I worked out a method that suited the muscular physiques that Charlotte and I possessed: small waists and broad shoulders. We utilized Charlotte's gymnastic background in the use of the handles that adorn the prop. My well developed lats (I was also a gymnast) helped me fill out the prop.

Jim Steinmeyer showed me his original idea when I asked about an illusion where two people seemed to meld through each other. We went from there with all of us working to realize the illusion which I believe is a great illusion in the right hands and one of Jim's finest designs. John Gaughan built the original prop hand crafting every piece to perfection. Charlotte and I worked so hard on the original presentation that by the time we premiered it on John Fisher's "Best of Magic" we were bruised to the point we both required body make-up.

Illusions require an understanding of physical movement, appearance and persona. It's like music, not everyone can play every piece well. Some pieces suit certain performers better than others. It astonishes me that this not better understood by magicians.
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 07/24/13 02:09 AM

I'm always surprised when people use it as a publicity shot
with various contortions & twists clearly visible

A google image search will show you some shockers

I like the illusion in the right hands
but it seems a very easy one to do very badly
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/24/13 03:48 AM

@Jonathan - thanks for taking the time to share the background to the illusion. It's fascinating anecdotes like that, that make the Genii Forum so special.
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 07/24/13 06:00 AM

I googled Interlude images and found a photo of Charlotte and I presenting it on "Best of Magic" in 1989 (the background is a yellow/orange with a firework gobo on it, I am in a white "poet shirt", Charlotte in a bare mid-drift black costume). I believe this is the photo Jim displays on his website. This was the first presentation of the illusion, ever. It shows what Tom Stone was talking about, which is critical to the presentation, Charlotte appears to be bursting out of my chest and not my stomach.

The illusion was tight to our bodies to the point that we had to synchronize our breathing to our body movement in order to get the best angle (not even remotely kidding). After I was mauled by the tiger I had to rework our choreography. After the arrow accident (the arrow hit liver, stomach and heart) there was so much damage that we had to stop presenting it.

This illusion got a great reaction in our show and with all due respect, what is a great illusion without a great presentation? I never saw a prop get applause by itself.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/24/13 11:43 AM


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Postby Andres Reynoso » 07/24/13 02:35 PM

Jonathan Pendragon wrote:
what is a great illusion without a great presentation? I never saw a prop get applause by itself.


Wise words
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 07/24/13 08:46 PM

Craig, that's it. Within the first year of performing the illusion we altered Charlotte's hand grab to the lower handle so that her shoulders were parallel to the ground when she pushed through. You can see what I mean about a tight prop. Magic collector and performer Chip Romero now owns the Illusion.
We did three illusions in that show, all were the work of Jim, John, Charlotte and myself, including a beautiful Artist Dream (new methods devised by Jim and me) that revitalized the illusion's popularity and a "Bump" designed by Jim that fooled magicians... at the time no one knew I had an identical twin brother.
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 07/24/13 11:23 PM

Jonathan Pendragon wrote: so that her shoulders were parallel to the ground when she pushed through.


Yes, that's the point so many forget
or sadly don't understand
and it's amplified in still shots
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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/24/13 11:52 PM

Besides Jonathan P. and Johnny Eck, I wonder how many other magicians have taken advantage of having a twin to create an effect.
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 07/25/13 03:07 AM

Not many. Harry Blackstone Sr. had an older (not sure of age difference) brother who could double him. Le Roy hired similar looking people and used make-up and constant motion in the illusion the Flying Visit. JE was part of an illusion and not a magician, from what I remember. Many magicians have hired twin assistants, but actual magicians (of note) who had an identical twin brother they used in the show? I am the only one I know of other than Alfred Borden :-).
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Postby Timothy Hyde » 07/25/13 04:17 AM

there's always The Twins

http://www.theillusionists.com/
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/25/13 03:24 PM

I think what Jonathan's insightful comments prove is that contrary to what a lot of magicians think, any grand illusion is very easy to do badly.

Magicians who think they could be Copperfield if they only had the cash are delusional.
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 07/30/13 07:19 AM

pendragons1.jpg
pendragons1.jpg (70.28 KiB) Viewed 1941 times
pendragons22.jpg
pendragons22.jpg (64.02 KiB) Viewed 1941 times


Someone sent these photos to me. They were posted on Magic Cafe. My best guess is that they're from a television show we performed on, on the island of Majorca (Spain) in 1991, I was 38. We had just performed at FISM where I presented the Interlude bare chested. This shows the physical nature of the effect and how tight the prop was to my body. I filled the prop even without the poet shirt I normally wore. It also gives you a feel for the visceral presentation Charlotte and I worked out. That presentational idea fueled the work on the prop to fit our vision of the effect. Clearly we were not thinking of a generic prop but rather one built to our bodies and our sensual and very athletic presentations.
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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 07/31/13 09:07 PM

I have taken this all rather personally, it's hard not to, considering my history with the illusion. West and I had dinner with Frankie and Jim recently, I know it's gotten to him as well. One guy "borrows" another's routine on the same show, a serious ethical breach, and it doesn't get nearly as many views as Ariann's misfortune.

I am not giving Ariann a pass, I was very upset at the sabotage remarks. When she worked the Magic Castle, she presented Interlude. I came backstage after the show to work with her and her assistant on the effect, but even then I could see structural problems in the prop which no amount of coaching could solve, this is not a John Gaughan built prop that Jim OKed.

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Postby Tom Moore » 08/01/13 11:01 AM

I'd be keen to hear how you'd "fix" her performance; aside from the construction of the frame itself personally i'm unsure that any female could be "the magician" and present this deceptively since it is so fundamentally based on the male physiology surely?
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Postby CraigMitchell » 08/01/13 04:30 PM

"One guy "borrows" another's routine on the same show, a serious ethical breach, and it doesn't get nearly as many views as Ariann's misfortune. "

Not to condone Collins choice at all - but the one performance is done by a youngster just starting out ( and to be perfectly honest - I sincerely hope he does well ... yes, he may have made a mistake at this early juncture - but who hasn't ? He will hopefully learn from that moving forward. He comes across well - fresh, young and vibrant and hopefully goes far ) ... the other is by a 'professional' who you have pointed out is ostensibly using a ripped off version of Jim Steinmeyer's illusion. Not only is Ariann aware then that the prop is not authorised - but continues to make use of it, nonetheless. Unfortunately 'youthful exuberance' is no defense here. This is a working pro.

Again - with Joanthan knowing more about Interlude than anyone - his assessment that "I could see structural problems in the prop which no amount of coaching could solve" speaks volumes.
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Postby Diego » 08/03/13 03:36 AM

I remember seeing Ariann Black in The Theater in The Magic Castle, and how she connected with the audience very well, who became very enthusiastic with her card work and other presentations.
She set up one part, where she told the audience a story about her childhood...playing in the backyard, blowing soap bubbles, etc., that enhanced her already likeable persona.
When she then started her presentation of Interlude, with her assistant, their very suggestive moves/choreography(?) leading up to the illusion, were regarded as tacky/silly to some, offensive to others. (Person in front of me cracked to his date, "70's soft porn.")
(I heard she was asked to cut that part out for the rest of her run that week, don't know if that is true.)

Watching how they struggled with it, then thinking of Princess Tenko, who thought she IMPROVED(!) it by having two men inside, while she showed how FAST she could get thru it...showed how some may not UNDERSTAND the illusion, they want to do that others have defined.

As I turned to walk out, I noticed Jonathan sitting behind me and told him, "What I just saw only more confirms how much that illusion is YOURS, and that no one can ever take it from you."

Jonathan's notes in this thread of all the thinking and rehearsal that went into it, shows how they made it the very physical, sensual, primal, and mystifying presentation, The Pendragons will be remembered for.
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