Favorite levitation?

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Kendrix » 02/28/03 09:48 AM

What is your favorite levitation? I don't mean to perform necessarily. I favor the "Water Levitation". I am not sure but, I think Doug Henning did it initially. I have been told that Copperfield bought his illusion and redid it. I especially like the ability for the assistant to curl around the magician. When I had my last platform Levitation built I paid quite a bit extra to a well known illusion builder to add this feature. He could never get it to work, but never refunded my money either. Remember guys, "Always get it in writing".
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Postby GAMOLO » 02/28/03 05:40 PM

I supose some may yell FOUL since I build the GAMOLO, but if you know me then you know I have played with them all.

Yes, the "Water" levi built for Doug was nice....but remember, we are talking here about a MAMMOUTH piece of equipment....nothing anyone today, even Cooperfield, would schelp around. It was hydraulic....really a GAMOLO ONE on steriods!
Like everyone else, I dropped hydraulics in the early 1980's because of the weight & size. But, there is nothing smoothier than a hydraulic rig and nothing else can lift enormous weights.
Its just that they are so over engineered for a performer's needs. The hydraulic rig I built for S&R can lift 500 lbs.! Lynette weights 120....so you can see why the world downsized to electromechanical pistons.
To answer your question....If money was no object....I would have Owens or Johnny build me a custom, one off, hydraulic. But, if I needed something more practical, affordable, and AVAILABLE....then I would purchase a GAMOLO.
Reason? The European made Yogi, etc. products are [censored], unreliable, cables jam, wiring assbackwards, etc., etc. You don't have to take my word for it...just ask anyone who has purchased one....they all feel burned.
You might be able to locate an old Abbott's Astrophere....but the chain belt driven motors tend to break and its really designed to work off a flat bed truck or deep in stage three with a large backdrop.
I would also avoid the old "Lighter Than Air" (1200 lbs.!) chain belt driven rigs since they were very loud & drained all lights!
If you are satisfied with just a suspension...Abbott's Super X still gives great photo ops!
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/28/03 06:13 PM

You are right about Abbott's Super-X for photo ops. I shot a pic of David Copperfield at the Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills doing the Super-X on top of a dinner table.

Sure, all the diners were friends... but what a photo.

Some Hindu-type mage made the tabloids with a photo of the Super-X--pretty stock looking shot, but the headline he came up with was priceless.

Magician's Assistant floats up and away--hasn't been seen since.

IMHO--the most magical levitation is still the Asrah... it has that mysterious look.

Yogano did a killer one for us (IBM Show) some time ago where the effect was done up on a clear glass (maybe plastic) platform. The entire gaff was built into HIM... The harness on the lady was small, as she was scantilly clad.

To do it, he had a difficult time walking... sort of an exagerated limp.

But his "cover" was fabulous. He came on playing a saxaphone and moving about in an eccentric fashion... like Jazzing to the music.

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Postby Pete Biro » 02/28/03 06:15 PM

OK, the worst?

Bob Brown and Brenda (self contained on his body)! argh.... :D :D :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/28/03 06:16 PM

Every time I "send" I think of another...

Arturo Brachetti and Galina do a very amazing version of "flying" with a super simple hookup... no overhead wires, nuttin' -- very magical and very pretty effects. :genii:
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Postby Guest » 03/01/03 10:42 AM

Copperfield did schlep around the water levitation and performed it here in my home town during the late 90's. It is very big and looked even bigger on the small stage of the local theatre. (Its road case wase labled "golden Showers II and I believe it was built by david mendoza magicraft) It took a long time to extract all the water from this thing wich the crew was doing with a shop-vac.
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Postby Guest » 03/01/03 10:53 AM

To add to my previous post, thegolden shower name was stenciled on the side of the road case, in the newspaper the day of the show it was billed as either the Barvarian water suspension or the Bolivian suspension. Oh, and about the favorite levitation, I am really entrigued with self levitations right now. (fearsons box, balducci, and have been blowing people away with the King levitation) the levitation I think is my absolute favorite is Walter Blaney's Step ladder levitation. This is my favorite because it does not require tons of rigging and if your lucky enough to get your hands on one it can be performed just about anywhere. I also think Copperfields Flying Illusion is probally the best levitation, not my favorite but probally the best.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/01/03 11:13 AM

One of the best presentations... (and I cannot recmember his name... he was in Las Vegas, a fantastic puppeteer/magician)... anyway...

There was a tv show with him doing it in his backyard... he had an assistant levitated, then put a PLASTIC BOX, about the size of a coffin... around the lady as she floated. And she wiggled adn writhed around inside the box (OK, she was a trained acrobat contortionist)...

And to see this really blew one's mind.

The plastic case was in two pieces, and slid around her, half from each side (hint)!

But it was spectacular. I also believe the AGA stuff was buried under the lawn.

Help me with his name... he is no longer living, died too too young.
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Postby Max Maven » 03/01/03 02:55 PM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
One of the best presentations... (and I cannot recmember his name... he was in Las Vegas, a fantastic puppeteer/magician)... anyway...

There was a tv show with him doing it in his backyard... he had an assistant levitated, then put a PLASTIC BOX, about the size of a coffin... around the lady as she floated.

Help me with his name... he is no longer living, died too too young.
The performer was Barclay Shaw. The show was "That's Incredible!" But he also did the levitation on stage, during long runs in Las Vegas at the Tropicana, then the Riviera. His last gig was headlining his own show, "Grand Illusions," with Goldfinger & Dove and Jade, for a successful two-month run at Caesars in Lake Tahoe.
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Postby Pepka » 03/01/03 05:26 PM

What about Rick Thomas' levitation where he causes the girl to dance in the air. Due to the way she moves and the backdrop he uses, I'm pretty certain this is the Copperfield/Gaughn "Flying" rigging. Any others share the feeling?
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Postby Don Spurrier » 03/01/03 05:29 PM

As I recall Barclay Shaw's levitation on TV, it was done beside a swimming pool. Unfortunately, I don't recall year, network, etc.

Barclay was a clever magician, but it was his puppeteering that got him booked. He did a full evening magic show at one IBM Convention (Cleveland?)(year?)that was replete with everything that can go wrong. When Barclay told it, it was one of magic's funniest stories. I wish the show, or story, could have been recorded. In any event, there were many comments as to how Shaw professionally handled each crisis so that he was always one step ahead.

He always described a levitation that he was building to break into Vegas. He had plans to levitate a nude model. The cradle would be crafted from flesh painted fiberglass. The girl's downstage arm and hand would hide the edge of the cradle. I guess he never could sell it.

Anyway, I found him to be an interesting magical character, and I hope that someone with more info can do an article on Barclay someday.
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Postby Don Spurrier » 03/01/03 05:35 PM

In response to Pete's inquiry as to the worst levitation, I have to submit the Floating Piano, done by anybody, anytime! That's an illusion that really sucks! I recall Siros' presentation of that effect at an IBM Convention, Knoxville, TN, I think, when, from backstage, we heard the cry, "Heave Ho!", and the piano suddenly levitated into the air! It was magical!
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/01/03 06:46 PM

Max, thanks for remembering "Barclay Shaw" -- he was truly one of the brightest thinkers... his puppet work was PURE MAGIC... His clown was ALIVE... and his naughty chicken was hilarious.

He took me to his wherehouse and showed me a huge number of illusions he had designed... all great stuff.

But that levitation was the best.

I remember meeting the assistant, she was in a s how with John and Pam, part of an acrobatic/gymnastic trio...perfect for the levi.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/01/03 06:50 PM

About 50 years ago, I was an assistant to Arthur Bull, a fine gentleman and ontage was known as "Francisco." We toured a midnight spook show, but one time we worked a convention in Oakland.

Not sure if it was IBM or SAM... but it was in the Oakland Auditorium theater (full proscinium).

We were closing with the Asrah levitation. I was the guy pulling the strings backstage.

Arthur was at the point where the lady (form) was high in the air, but just within his reach.

He was just about to grip the cloth and whip it away to show the lady floating up there had vanished...

BUT....

Just then someone opened a backstage door and a huge gust of wind came out onto the stage... caught the cloth... got under it... and the cloth suddenly rose up off the form and floated OUT TO THE AUDIENCE....

IT WAS A MIRACLE...

For years Arthur was asked "how did you do that?"

He really didn't like it, as it took away from HIS MOMENT... I don't think he realized how great it looked to the audience.

:genii:
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Postby Guest » 03/01/03 08:02 PM

Pete:

How could you say that about Bob Brown and Brenda's levitation? I always thought it was the most entertaining platform illusion I ever saw. You obviously didn't approach it in the right humor.
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Postby Guest » 03/01/03 08:10 PM

"The Floating Piano", done by Lee Grable was well done and received, by the audience I saw it with about 32 years ago, in Santa Rosa, CA. It's purpose was an illusion that could (and was) hyped
for publicity, but it also was highly entertaining/mystifying...part of one of the best performances by a magician, I had seen.
BUT the Copperfield "Flying" is the greatest. No other performance has lifted the audience to their
feet, for standing ovations, by itself alone.
A big fan of Busby Berkeley musicals, I wondered how those (on screen)audiences, supposedly watching these amazing numbers live, would have felt if such a production beyond reality, had been
actually presented for them. I felt that feeling when I saw "Flying". A great experience and memory!
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/01/03 10:43 PM

Let us not forget Christian Fechner's "self levitation" from the bar stool. A beautiful effect if there ever was one.

And Danalin, when he won the FISM Grand Prix, did a comedic self levitation almost as a "throwaway" that I really liked.

Veronin's levitation of himself behind a cloth is great too...

Coby, sort of levitates, but really just "grows" behind a cloth too...
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/01/03 10:45 PM

Slightly off topic...

As a trivia quiz question, where does my name appear in the book Magic Circle Magic ??

See next message. :confused:
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/01/03 10:47 PM

There is a photo of Lewis Davenport, out on the street in London, levitating Betty Davenport.

On the street, going behind them is a double decker London Bus. On the bus is a sign that reads: Give a BIRO for Christmas !!

A "Biro" in England is the generic word for a ball point pen. (Invented by fellow Hungarian Ladaslo Biro). No Relation :( :( :(
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Postby Bizzaro » 03/03/03 02:30 AM

well for us low budget guys who don't have the money for the expensive stuff (Or for those of us that think certain aspects of levitations don;t make any damn sense.) I go in for the Fearson Levitation ala' my upgrades. (The FFFF, not that box thing.) It works close up or on stage and really gets people. Up close I have to say that there is a bit I do that people love that uses to ITR or the like. I prefer it for thus reason:

No matter what, no matter how, this is all they remember.. it floated. Unlike us, they do not know the many dozens of ways to float shutff. They just know one word.. magic.

Floatation, coin trick, card trick, rope trick, etc etc... to them it's all magic. It's up to us to make it worth something.

Ahem, I went off on a tagent..I'm back now. I like that one dood who's name I forget (Craig Dickson I think.) with the eyepatch. His bed levitation is cool, but when the girlie swivels around, much like the new "Elevator" floatation, the pivot point gives it away.

Anywho.. there yah go.

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Postby GAMOLO » 03/03/03 05:49 PM

Random thoughts:
In his last performing years Bob Brown & Brenda absolutely performed the worst levitation. Bob was really too old & Brenda too heavy to properly display it. Bob ENTERED the spot bent over and nearly always FELL OVER from the weight when he tried to straighten up. He should have bagged the effect when he was in his prime.
Blaney's effect is, of course, a suspension, rather than a levi....looks great dead center on... but I have been in Convention theaters where, from high in balcony seats, one could see the track.
Likewise, the sharpie college kids take opera glasses when Cooperfield plays college venues. The word is out (correctly) that just a slight magnification is adequate to pierce the lighting and thus enables one to see the wires.
Incidently, guys have done GAMOLO in Vegas & Mississippi with nudes...thats old hat.
I had suggested to Fetcher that he do his GAMOLO bar stool self levi with a nude for the guys at a special midnight show but he chickened out. I heard Harry Anderson, when he did the bar stool for his TV special, did do a bit for a closed, invited group where he used a nude girl. Never got a promised picture of same though.
I always thought the huge black art set and flashing blinding lights ruined the Floating Piano for me.....a surprise for the audience, maybe, to see a huge thingie floating, but I don't think a great mystery to anyone.
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Postby Guest » 03/17/03 11:24 PM

First time post here...

It probably improved but I saw Lee Grabel's piano in (I'm guessing) '48 or '49. Very jerky and very non-magical. As I recall he used a girl pianist from a three piece pit band. BUT the hugh banner on the marquee pulled 'em in. Spokane, Post Street Theatre.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 03/18/03 01:24 AM

I always liked Andre Kole's self levitation. The moment when the lighted proscenium receeds is truly fabulous. I saw this performed in a VERY small college theater and even though I thought I knew some of the work involved, it looked truly impossible.

As for worst levitations, I can offer this story. It may not be the worst, but for at least one person it was certainly the most uncomfortable.

I was working as a stage coordinator of sorts for a magic event in Louisville, Ky. Past IBM President Bob Escher was on the bill, and he asked that I assist with the Asrah. For those that know me, I was to be the other guy drapping the cloth. They don't make cables strong enough for me to apprise the other role.

I was particularly happy about this because Bob happens to own the Asrah table which belonged to Howard Thurston. (I happen to own one of Thurston's forms.)

We rehearsed with his assistant/now wife Sandy. All was well.

The show was another story. You see, the top of the table is disguised with a series of ridges in the elastic. What I didn't realize was that these were actually a series of SEPARATE elastic bands which traversed the table. I just assumed it was a stitching with only one opening to allow passage for the girl. Afterall, that would make sense, no?

I was wrong.

Showtime. Cloth. Bob and I each duck our hands into the table and open the way for Sandy.

Sandy enters the table, and as we cover, she pops up to the top again.

We press down.

Sandy pops.

(The popping was accompanied by wriggles and exclamations)

Press, pop. Press pop.

Apparently Bob and I had seperated two different strands of elastic and poor Sandy had one of them running down and through her "midline", thereby causing the impression of a rather irritated toaster.

Bob, ever thinking, gave one final press and held Sandy down as he blocked the front of the table with his body and escorted it off stage himself.

I would like to say Sandy made her appearance in the back of the house smoking a cigarette, but the story ends as one would expect. Sandy appeared, the audience applauded, and to this day Bob and I laugh whenever someone mentions the Asrah.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 03/18/03 11:40 AM

For me, the best presentation was unquestionably Aldo Richiardi's (Richiardi, Jr). Actually, I should say "presentations" -- his classic levitation with all its grace and mystery and the wonderful levitation he did of his son Ricardo in a kiddie car on the Ed Sullivan Show. In terms of the former, it was the Richiardi levitation with all its focus on the magician and the magic of his movement that convinced a young Doug Henning to take up our art. Later Doug would also add the latter -- the levitation of a child in a miniature auto -- to his act as a tribute to Richiardi.
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