Magic for blind people

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Stefano » 06/09/02 09:58 AM

I would like to propose a little challenge: Magic for blind people.

I was thinking about study magic effects in order to address them to a group of blind persons.
I would like to entertain a group, all together at the same time. Do you have any suggestions, experiences or recommendations.

I think mental magic it will be appropriate any suggestions where I can find effects or some material that I can adapt to this kind of situation.

Thanks in advance for your interest
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Postby Guest » 06/09/02 12:03 PM

Whit Hayden has published a couple of "tricks for the blind." I believe you'll find them in his "Street Magic" notes. Check http://www.scoundrelsstore.com/

I can vouch for the effectiveness of the card thing.

Doug Conn
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/09/02 09:58 PM

Whit's effect is awesome. I once did a show for the blind (I was not told in advance that there were blind people in the audience)... so what we did was I had a "narrator" describe some of what I did.
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Postby Tom Stone » 06/10/02 08:49 AM

John Carney's "Current Classic" works excellent with just a few small changes.

Let the person hold out his/hers hands, palm downwards. Take a sponge ball in each hand and hold them underneath his/her palms. Now do the last sequence of the effect, and let them follow the balls with their hands.
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Postby Guest » 06/13/02 10:22 AM

Use stooges!
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Postby Guest » 06/13/02 02:20 PM

While touring for National School Assemblies, I encountered a unique situation. One of the schools had a mixed audience; half of the students were deaf, and the other half were blind!

We had the deaf students in the front, with a teacher on stage signing my patter. This was no problem, and I've done many shows for groups where some of the students are deaf and my patter is signed for them.

We put the blind students in the back, seated in concertric circles of chairs, surrounding a sighted teacher who described what she was seeing to the blind students. Her descriptions didn't bother the deaf students a bit, of course, but it drove me nuts! What she told them, and what she left out was often unbelievable. I certainly got a new insight into what laypeople think about magic.

I've only done a few shows for all deaf groups. One of the difficulties, in getting a deaf assistant on stage, I discovered, is that I tend to make lots of eye contact with my volunteers. But, when they're looking at me, they can't "hear" the signed patter. The result is that the flow of the routine is slowed down, and the timing of everything feels way off. Still, I've found the deaf groups to be very appreciative and enthusiastic about the performances.
One of the more memorable experiences was joining the students of an all deaf school in their cafeteria for lunch. Public school cafeteria's are very noise, of course, but this one was eerily quiet. Only the sound of tableware on plates. But, there were dozens of conversations going on all around me. Since signs can be seen from great distances, some pairs of students were on opposite sides of the large room and were conversing easilly and without disturbing any of the dozens of conversations going on at the same time.
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Postby Guest » 06/14/02 03:21 PM

Eugene Berger tells of his experience of entertaining a blind person with visually unimpaired folks,and he used the blind man AS a stooge
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Postby David Alexander » 06/18/02 07:33 PM

More than 35 years ago when I was in my early 20s I worked a blind audience in Orange Co and made the local papers...a large article with several pictures. It was a real challenge that required advance planning and a lot of thought.

I began by telling the audience that I wasn't going to take advantage of them if they wouldn't take advantage of me. That got a good laugh and we were off to a good start.

I performed effect that could be felt, with the audience's hands right on top of mine as I worked. You have to reorient your thinking, and work towards fooling their sense of touch and not their eyesight. The Gypsy Yarn and the T&R Cigarette Paper were effects I did alot that night. Thank you Nate Leipzig.

The trick that made the paper was the Vanishing Birdcage and the expression on the blind woman's face when she "felt" it vanish. She had her hands around it and then it was gone...and she and the others I did it for were fooled. I even did the Blackstone bit of guided examination of the sleeves.

It was a great experience...and the publicity didn't hurt a budding professional's career, either.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/19/02 08:06 AM

There is a magician named Richard Turner that is legally blind. He is one of the most incredible gambling demo magicians anywhere. I believe he has a video out. If you haven't seen him, find the video.

Sat. Night Live had a comedy sketch one time about a show for the blind. It was really funny as the actors were not very good and stumbled about... the punch line on the gag was that someone at the rear watching said, "I guess it's OK that they aren't very graceful, the audience can't see that..." To which the second party responded, "No... the audience can see, the actors are blind!" :D
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Postby Guest » 06/19/02 08:38 AM

I have seen some footage of Turner. I agree, get the video if you can. This guy has got some chops!

I dont recall if what I saw was a video of him, or some kind of documentary. They also showed him lifting weights and hitting a bag.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/02 05:32 PM

Hello, English is not my native language, so I hope you can understandme. A friend of mine wrote a book "Proyecto Mara" (Maras Project) about Magic for blind people. Mara is the name of blind girl. The book is in spanish. In the next days I will treat to get the book and then I will comment to you about this matter.
Regards from Rosario, Argentina
Eduardo
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Postby Guest » 06/26/02 03:26 PM

Richard Turner "The Cheat" is a two volume set that is still available. He is so danged good. I didn't realise until almost through the second tape that he has very poor vision. To see his hands, you'd never guess though.
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Postby Guest » 11/28/02 07:57 AM

Sponge balls work very well for obvious reasons as Tom mentioned earlier. Also coin in the bottle and other coin work like coins across where the coins can be counted by hand before each stage of the effect. Fun topic! :cool: I couldn't resist adding the guy with the dark shades...
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Postby Dave Egleston » 12/02/02 11:29 PM

My Mother lost her sight in an auto accident about 6 -7 years ago - She says she appreciates my card tricks more now than before - Funny lady! but she keeps falling for the card under the ashtray - almost everytime
I went to a Richard Turner lecture in Sacramento about 10 years ago - This guy is unbelievable! but also about half a card shy - He does things like parboiling his hands for hours a week - uses an emory board to sensitize his fingers -
His estimation work is the best - he can take a card and completely lose it in a deck - then tell you exactly how many cards deep your card is - no false counts - in fact the spectator did the counting. Our best card guy was chosen as his "assistant" and he kept checking for stippers, breathers, keys, punches, slick cards, et al and reported for about a month after the lecture, "nothing funny" This Turner guy is the "real deal"

Dave
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Postby Guest » 12/04/02 04:21 AM

Working magic for blind people is not easy.

I once tried using sponge balls for blind people, but since they can not see the transfers, they are constantly wanting to check the magician's hands, and they always want to open and check what is placed into their own hands. If you try to place a number of balls into the spectator's hand as if it were only two, for example, the blind person will immediately open his hand to check how many you put there.

Try having another magician perform the effect for you while your eyes are tightly shut, and you are trying to figure out the trick. Blind people are naturally alert to people taking advantage of them, with change, etc., and are not easy to misdirect.

Mental tricks can be effective, but often rely upon verification by trusted sighted friends of the blind person.

Having the blind person pour water from one styrofoam cup into a cup in his other hand and using slush powder to make the water disappear might be a possibility, but again you would find the blind person wanting to feel inside the cup to see what happened, and they are often more sensitive to changes in weight and balance.

My Routine for the Blind is really great in the right situation, and involves making the blind person look like the star--as if he/she is psychic. It uses an impromptu code so that the blind person is made a conspirator with the performer, and then fools the blind person using Brainwave, and Out of this World. But it only can work if you are working for only one blind person, with his/her friends around for support and verification.

The blind person needs to hear their gasps of amazement in order to buy into the whole thing, and be sure that people aren't taking advantage or making a fool of him. This type of routine doesn't really play for more than one blind person.

David Williamson has a great funny story about trying to use my routine on an elder blind person, and how badly it went wrong. David Acer wrote it up.

So it isn't an easy task. I would love to find better answers to this problem, and think that it is wonderful topic.

Love to see that book, Eduardo. Mara's Project sounds really interesting. Is it available in English? I would be glad to find a Spanish copy if not.
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Postby Guest » 12/04/02 05:05 AM

Two ideas just came to me, but again they are not stage tricks, and would only work for one blind person, or at least, one at a time.

There is an old effect with a Jardin Ellis Ring, where the spectator makes a fist and then points the thumb straight up. The ring is placed firmly onto the thumb, and then everything is covered with a handkerchief.

The performer reaches under the handkerchief and removes the ring, (actually the shell) and then the performer pushes it right through the handkerchief and back onto the spectator's thumb. The illusion is great and is one of touch. The spectator can not feel the solid ring left on his thumb because of sesory memory retention.

The spectator could be allowed to touch the shell in the performer's hand before it is palmed and brought back down on his thumb. Since it is not really a vanish, it doesn't matter that the blind person can't see the transfer.

Other handkerchief and ring effects might also play, such as one of the the coin through ring routines. In this a half dollar is placed in a handkerchief and the corners brought up through a finger ring. The spectator can feel everything, and then holds onto the ends of the handkerchief. Then either the ring is removed under the impossible conditions, or both the coin and ring are removed.

Another great trick that would work for the blind is Charles Gauchi's marble trick where the blind person hides a marble in one hand and the magician always guesses where it is.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 12/04/02 03:30 PM

You know what's weird. I have a Braille deck of cards given to me by a friend of mine. I wonder what effects you could make work for a blind audience.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/04/02 03:48 PM

When I was working and living in Acapulco I had a friend who happened to be blind. We met regularly and played Continental. He used a Braille-marked deck. The deck was rather thick, as I recall, but the markings were placed so he couldn't "read" the deal, only what he had in his hand. He had several older decks and I was always amazed how well he could read the flattened marks. Nothing like sensitive fingers and lots of practice.
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Postby Guest » 12/04/02 03:51 PM

I also recall reading a story about a magician that used the blind person as the star for a card trick and it may even be the same thing Whit mentioned earlier. It was the old trick where the magician tells the table of spectators if the card held up to his head is red or black then tells them the number on the card. In this version, the magician codes the card color and number by tapping the blind persons foot under the table enabling the blind person to act as the medium or star. I have since tried this and it works very well. It does take a second to teach the blind person the code but this is done as you explian to the audience what you will attempt to do. You simply say, "if the card is red" ---then tap the blind persons foot once for red and twice for black and pause then tap out the number...Is this clear? Then ask the blind person if they understand. The other people at the table will just think you are asking the blind person if they understand because they are blind and can't see. Ofcourse they end up seeing all! I can't remember where the story and original idea came from though.
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Postby Guest » 12/04/02 04:43 PM

That is my routine the "Impromptu Card Code," also known as the "Routine for the Blind." It was first published in my lecture notes in the late seventies, and is included in my new book Street Magic.

It has also been the subject of a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul #3 , and of a television show featuring magician George Tovar playing my character.

David Acer wrote a story about David Williamson's funny attempt to make the trick work. Dan Harlan put a more complicated version of the routine that is not geared for the blind on one of his video tapes.
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Postby Stefano » 12/19/02 04:01 PM

Dear Magically friends

Thank you very much for your post really appreciate your effort. :)

Id like also to add that in Genii Magazine October 2002 (great special number!!) as you probably noticed there are some interesting add to our topic;
Roberto Giobbi wrote pag. 41 a curious anecdote during one of his performance, and Barry Taylor his encounter with world famous tenor Andrea Bocelli pag. 20

Sincerely
Stefano
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Postby Guest » 12/19/02 10:33 PM

Whit, thanks for the clarification. Small world huh? It's my pleasure to post with you. I have found your thoughts (on this subject and others)to be very informative.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/02 10:40 PM

Originally posted by Stefano:
I would like to propose a little challenge: Magic for blind people.
That's no small challenge! Also offers a great social gain by opening a new market. I was going to suggest using more cognitive methods, then realized I have no idea how they imagine their environment and what cues they use in navigating the world. Something to find out about. Thanks.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby David Alexander » 12/20/02 12:41 AM

It should also be noted that "blind" is a legal and medical term and does not mean a complete absence of vision. Many legally blind people are partially sighted to one degree or another, and any performances for them should take that into account.
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