The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

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Joe Mckay
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The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 9th, 2018, 1:38 pm

I have been re-reading the annotated edition of Jarrett Magic that Jim Steinmeyer put out a few years ago.

This time round my brain has been much better at grasping a lot of the details that passed me by before. Illusions are not my area of expertise. As such - it has been an interesting challenge studying this area of magic. Steinmeyer's work has really made Jarrett's magic come alive for me. He did a great job with this legendary book.

One of my favourite tricks in the book is the Twenty One Person Cabinet Production. It makes for quite a practical illusion. You can see Doug Henning perform it here. There are no camera tricks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkV34rtGzqI

Steinmeyer provides a nice twist to the Jarrett original. The Cabinet apparently produces 22(!) people in the video above. As the cabinet is opened up for the final production - one of the cheerleaders goes round the back and sneaks back into the cabinet.

I am looking forward to playing around with Guy Jarrett's clever coin vanish that makes use of a hooked coin. And there are a few other things in there that I am looking forward to studying further with my next read through of the book. I would also love to see a performance of his Bangkok Bungalow illusion. The thinking behind this is diabolical. It is as if Paul Harris designed an illusion.

I was really intrigued to see Jarrett's Whirling Car Tyre effect described in the book. It is an incredible trick and the secret is wonderfully offbeat. It is like something Lubor Fiedler would come up with. The strange thing with this trick is that Theodore Deland also came up with the same method. In his trick he uses it to float a skeleton. I prefer the version by Jarrett though. Still - the Deland effect will be one of the highlights in the upcoming Kaufman book.

In some of the back issues of GENII, I read that an artist called Doug Young put together the Jarrett Whirling Car Tyre illusion. It was demonstrated at the 2009 Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. It also featured at the 2010 'Magic: The Science of Wonder' exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Wonder that Richard Hatch performed at.

I contacted the artist and he sent me a link to a video of the trick:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFdxg2lOC12/?taken-by=dougyoungalive

It is interesting to hear how loud the illusion is. It adds a weird touch to the overall effect. The tyre is spinning in space with no visible means of support. Also - you can blow smoke through the center of the tyre as well, to show there is no support there either.

Magic tricks that can and standalone and demonstrate an impossible effect without the presence of a magician is a big passion of mine. You rarely see this sort of thing in magic. [1]

Doug mentioned that he exhibited the trick before the rise of smartphones. But since then - he has found that the flash from a smartphone camera will give away the secret. It is one of those odd problems that would have been unimaginable when Guy Jarrett first invented it.

Here are some other things Doug had to say about his experiences putting together this wonderful trick:

I didn't have the money to do too much experimenting, so I just dove in and built something similar to the design in the book.

I did change a few things. First the tires back in Jarrett's time were much lighter than they are today, and I knew this was a problem, so I made my tire out of paper. As you may have seen I am an artist, so making a believable fake tire was not hard.

What was hard was the wire. Jarrett says he used fine metal wire, and I lost track of how many different wires I tried. All of them broke so I switched to mono filament and that worked nicely.

Second I do not work with metal, so the interior hoops and pulleys are all made out of wood which I believe led to the work being much louder than I would have liked.

Third Jarrett had his motor mounted off to the side running the the main pulley with a drive belt, out of space concerns I just had my motor directly connected to the main pulley (like a fan motor), again I believe this lead to a lot of distracting noise.

If I was to remake this my main focus would be on noise reduction.

Here is a link to the artist's website. He lives in New York.

http://dougyoungalive.com/

I have also looked in to Jim Steinmeyer's work as a Disney Imagineer (the creative team who work for Disney). Jim added a nice illusion touch to the Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin ride. It occurs at the end of the ride. Ahead of the ride - is a wall with no exit for the train to pass through. But not to worry - Roger Rabbit moves a giant portable hole over the wall - to allow the train to pass through.

Just like in the movie.

https://youtu.be/X7KbvDaFnZk?t=5m23s

Bravo once again to Jim Steinmeyer! Other than Richard Kaufman - I cannot think of anybody else who has given so much back to the magic community.

Joe Mckay

[1] The recent Gaetan Bloom book has some nice examples of standalone magic tricks. And Lubor Fiedler's ingenious Phantom Clock from Tenyo has always been a favourite of mine. You can see it here:

https://youtu.be/jGRkxS-aLqg?t=1m14s

Along similar lines is the interactive 'Magic Show' book by Mark Setteducati:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o7N0W9oqm0

Joe Mckay
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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 9th, 2018, 1:49 pm

I should add that U.F. Grant had a book devoted to standalone magic as well. You can find it here:

https://www.lybrary.com/window-stoppers-p-2917.html

Below is something I have written elsewhere on the forum. It discusses the most unusual trick in the U.F. Grant book linked to above.

-------------

My favourite book by U.F. Grant is Window Stoppers. This is a collection of publicity devices designed to be placed in the front window of a shop in order to attract interest. Grant has some great ideas in this book. Some of it reminds me of the type of offbeat thinking you would usually only find in the work of Lubor Fiedler.

Below is a description of my favourite trick from this book. It is taken from an email I sent to a magician friend:

I am fascinated by those magicians who would build a specially built room and spend years developing just a single trick. There is something awe inspiring about that. You see this with the Hooker Rising Cards. And it is the sort of thinking that Lubor Fiedler demonstrated in a couple of his tricks as well.

Yesterday - I read 'Window Stoppers' by U.F. Grant. And at the very end of the book it talks about a weird trick where you make a miniature hologram of a mermaid appear inside a fishbowl. She can wave to you, talk to you and everything.

The secret involves having a woman dressed as a mermaid (ie. half-naked) inside a large shell. You then place reflecting mirrors in a tube above her head. This tube goes through a hole in the ceiling - where it becomes a pillar on the floor above.

Then via a Pepper's Ghost type principle - you are left with a 3D ghostly image of a miniature woman who is about 3 inches tall. And you place the image inside a fish bowl (which is resting on the pillar) for spectators to look at and interact with.

This trick was done about 80 years and ago and must have been one of the strongest tricks in all of magic. It is a shame it is not more famous. It seems it was just passed off as a funny curiosity back then as a way of attracting people to visit shops.

Sadly - the same trick would lose some of its power today - since modern technology has made it easier for people to use their smartphones to create Pepper's ghost miniature illusions.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Jim Steinmeyer » April 9th, 2018, 3:47 pm

Thanks, Joe, and I'm really glad you enjoyed the book. Jarrett is an incredibly interesting and an incredibly dense book. I've revisited it every few years, and if it makes you feel any better, I keep finding things that I hadn't fully appreciated or understood. The book seems to grow more interesting, more informative, with your understanding of illusions. I know that sounds weird. I can't explain it. But it really is like that.

But I've got to correct you. I didn't do anything clever or novel when we did the 21 Person Cabinet.

That cabinet was built directly from dimensions of one of Jarrett's original cabinets, which I had a chance to examine and measure. It was beautifully built by John Gaughan, with a number of improvements. I'll safely say "improvements" because John's shop welded steel, and Jarrett's cabinet was bolted together, so there were a number efficiencies with the modern one.

We produced 22 people not because I snuck someone back into the cabinet. We absolutely didn't do that. The cabinet held 21 cheerleaders plus Bruce Jenner. We brought 22 people out of there, simply because, in rehearsal, we found that we could. It's a really great trick that is impractical for almost any performer, in almost any setting. But it's an example of Jarrett's incredible thinking and his ability to generate novelties with really novel methods.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 9th, 2018, 4:34 pm

Thanks for the response, Jim. And the correction.

I was convinced you snuck another cheerleader into the back for the final display!

I know zilch about illusions. But I was just wondering if that would be a valid method? Or would it be considered a bad method?

From what you said - it means you could (apparently) produce 23 people from the cabinet.

I have a soft spot for mixing principles in other areas of magic. But when it comes to illusions - I am guessing you guys prefer to do it "legitimately" rather than throw in a bold scam like that? Since if that bold scam is spotted - it would rob some of the mystery from an illusion that is otherwise entirely deceptive?

I sense a sort of Paul Harris quality in Jarret's thinking. In terms of looking for bold and sneaky methods. But I will need to re-read the book a few more times to see if that is a fair description.

Thanks once again for all your efforts in magic. I am re-reading a lot of your books at the moment and really enjoying the experience.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Denis Behr » April 10th, 2018, 7:31 am

Joe Mckay wrote:Steinmeyer provides a nice twist to the Jarrett original. The Cabinet apparently produces 22(!) people in the video above. As the cabinet is opened up for the final production - one of the cheerleaders goes round the back and sneaks back into the cabinet.

I must ask, as this is presented as fact or something that is in the book: Was it just guesswork on your part?

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 10th, 2018, 10:49 am

Complete guesswork. And I was corrected by Jim above. Which I am grateful for!

The trick is called the Twenty One Person Cabinet. And 22 people were produced. So I thought one of the cheerleaders snuck back in at the end. If you watch the video closely - you will see why that occurred to me.

Apologies once again for not making it clearer that it was a guess on my behalf. I should have used the sentence "...it SEEMS to me that one of the cheerleaders sneaks in the back at the end..."

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Denis Behr » April 10th, 2018, 11:59 am

Thanks for the clarification. I agree that one could think that the one girl who walks towards the cabinet (probably to take off one of the panels for the final reveal) could be mistaken for sneaking back in.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 10th, 2018, 12:13 pm

Yeah - I thought the girl went round the back to take off the panel and then sneak back in. A couple of seconds before the other panels were taken off.

All of this leaves me wondering if this mistaken idea is actually a good idea? In terms of apparently producing 23 people. Instead of 22 people. But I am not sure what to think since I am not an expert in this area.

It is probably not worth it since it would take a wonderful trick that can pretty much be done surrounded (at least for the final 3/4 of the trick). To one where the final load of one of the cheerleaders would be exposed from the extreme left and right.

It is a case of wondering what hat to wear?

Is this a trick for TV? Or a trick for a live audience? I was too young to watch the Doug Henning specials when they were first broadcast. But something I read was that they were performed live before an audience AND they were broadcast live as well. This was Doug's way of trying to eliminate any suggestion of camera tricks or special effects. It would be wonderful to see modern TV magicians challenge themselves with a similar approach.

As such - the emphasis with Doug's approach is what will fool a real audience in real time. Rather than how to take advantage of camera angles as part of the method.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 10th, 2018, 1:22 pm

Over at Ask Alexander, I checked out Steinmeyer's original version of this book. The one he released 30 years ago.

His introduction for that book contain a couple of delightful quotes I will share below.

Magical secrets is a rather tragic science. When the truth is known, there is more technology in a ballpoint pen than there is in 90 percent of any conjuring apparatus.

A paragraph later, there is this lovely quote from Henry Hay:

As Henry Hay wrote: "The decline of the waistcoat has affected magic more than the invention of the communications satellites."

This side of magic is something Steinmeyer is very good at capturing in his work. One of my favourite quotes in all of magic is the following from his book, Art & Artifice and Other Essays on Illusion:

Magicians guard an empty safe. There are few secrets that they possess which are beyond a grade school science class, little technology more complex than a rubber band, a square of black fabric or a length of thread.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Tom Moore » April 10th, 2018, 3:37 pm

I’m quite sure Jim has his own views on this but in my shows and research I’ve generally found that audiences don’t count during a routine so producing one or two “extra” assistants wouldn’t be noticed by 99% of the audience and the few that do pay enough attention to count would also notice the doubling up of certain people and notice that in the final tableaux there were only 22 people on stage even though 24 were produced so the average audience either wouldn’t notice or would think /less/ of the effect if you double up.

There are a few routines (generally based around the “million dollar mystery” genre) where magicians produce the same assistant multiple times with costume changes but again I’m not convinced that audiences really count them as different people, especially when at the end of the routine that “magicked up” 50 people there’s only 6 people on stage.

It’s a common theatrical / choreographic trick to sneak several people on / off stage in a routine without the audience noticing so that costume changes can take place ready for the next scene which would further suggest that audiences generally don’t count dancers. David Williamson also has an “illusion” which exploits this principle to great comedic and magic effect that I have seen floor 2000 magicians who definitely /should/ have been counting.
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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Joe Mckay
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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 10th, 2018, 4:22 pm

I wonder if we could do a version of the Piano card trick - using a stage full of people?

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Tom Moore » April 11th, 2018, 8:38 am

I'd have to go digging as it was 30 years ago but there was a Daniels / Bongo routine that was essentially the Piano trick on stage with people. As i referenced before David Williamson has done a lot of work in this area too so almost anything that jumps to the front of your mind now has probably already been done by one of these 3 people.
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 11th, 2018, 1:25 pm

Earlier today, I decided I should prepare a list of all of Jim Steinmeyer's contributions to GENII magazine.

All of his Conjuring columns in MAGIC magazine (plus some bonus ones) are already compiled in his excellent Conjuring Anthology. But since then - he has published a ton of stuff in GENII magazine as well.

Anyway - after a quick google - I found an interesting tool that should be of use for others. It is a searchable GENII index:

http://genii.somee.com/

When you run a search for the name 'Steinmeyer' you will find a comprehensive list of all his contributions since 1999. Exactly what I was looking for.

I didn't want to faff about with the GENII online archive since it is a pretty terrible website. When I search for something - I like to be able to open results in separate tabs (you do this by clicking the right button). This is an efficient way to search material on a site.

Sadly - the GENII archives don't allow me to do this (I use Firefox). You cannot right-click to open results in a separate tab. And it means you have to keep going back to the Search bar and repeating the same search over and over. Incredibly frustrating and time consuming. And it also means you have to remember which of the search results you have already opened. This is very inefficient when searching for a term that has appeared dozens of times over the years.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Ted M » April 11th, 2018, 11:22 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:A paragraph later, there is this lovely quote from Henry Hay:

As Henry Hay wrote: "The decline of the waistcoat has affected magic more than the invention of the communications satellites."

Magic maybe, but mentalism...

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 15th, 2018, 1:42 pm

This post from Will Randell (back in 2004) on The Magic Cafe does a great job of expressing why I find the 21 Person Cabinet such a charming illusion.

This has been one of my favorite illusions ever since I read about it in Jim Steinmeyer’s THE COMPLETE JARRETT. Still, I had to take it on faith that it was deceptive since I’d never seen it performed. But the other day I got to view Doug Henning’s performance of the illusion from one of his old TV specials, and guess what? It looked great!

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, 21 people are produced from a cabinet that’s obviously too small to contain that many people. Doug Henning actually produced 21 cheerleaders plus 1 Bruce Jenner. And it looked impossible.

Why do I love this illusion? Let me count the ways:

1. Jarrett created a specific presentation to go with it. The success of the illusion depends on following Jarrett's script, which stresses the impossibilty of the illusion before it begins. Otherwise it doesn’t even come off as magic.

2. The method is tipped to the audience during the presentation, only to be ruled out as a possibility. How often does THAT happen?

3. The cabinet isn’t even shown empty before or during the routine, yet the productions are still mysterious.

4. This is a rare one. Who has a cast big enough to perform it in a regular live show? Maybe Siegfried & Roy could have done it, but I can’t think of anyone else.

http://themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=89572&forum=7&start=0

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby erdnasephile » April 16th, 2018, 8:04 am

A few years ago at IBM/SAM, I was completely fooled by the Steinmeyer version of Jarrett's "Sawing an Egg" (performed by Alex Ramon).


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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 16th, 2018, 8:57 am

It was great seeing that. Thanks!

I really hope to see Bangkok Bungalow one day as well. It would make a nice trick for the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Brad Henderson » April 16th, 2018, 10:49 am

Joe Mckay wrote:This post from Will Randell (back in 2004) on The Magic Cafe does a great job of expressing why I find the 21 Person Cabinet such a charming illusion.

This has been one of my favorite illusions ever since I read about it in Jim Steinmeyer’s THE COMPLETE JARRETT. Still, I had to take it on faith that it was deceptive since I’d never seen it performed. But the other day I got to view Doug Henning’s performance of the illusion from one of his old TV specials, and guess what? It looked great!

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, 21 people are produced from a cabinet that’s obviously too small to contain that many people. Doug Henning actually produced 21 cheerleaders plus 1 Bruce Jenner. And it looked impossible.

Why do I love this illusion? Let me count the ways:

2. The method is tipped to the audience during the presentation, only to be ruled out as a possibility. How often does THAT happen?


quite often. In fact it’s one of my favorite ruses. I started using it after
reading Tamariz’s The Magic Way. Many tricks and presentations do just that. Not that this isn’t a reason to love the trick - but it’s just not uncommon.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 16th, 2018, 12:49 pm

Joe, The LA Conference on Magic History is no more.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Tom Moore » April 16th, 2018, 12:52 pm

Yeah er, there’s a lot of illusions where the method is revealed and disproven - I’ve yet to see a sub trunk where the magician didn’t ask the spectator to bang the lid “to check there’s no trapdoors or “that these handcuffs aren’t fake”
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 16th, 2018, 1:41 pm

I like the boldness of the method behind the 21 Person Cabinet.

You tell the audience what the secret is. But it seems too impossible to be true.

That has a different flavour to pointing out a standard secret that is believable and then, as a double bluff, using it anyway.

But what do I know? I am not an expert in this area!

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Travis » April 16th, 2018, 6:57 pm

The LA History Conference has been discontinued?
I am so disappointed to hear this news. I’d hoped to finally be able to attend one day.

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 20th, 2018, 3:38 pm

Barry & Stuart have an entertaining illusion here called The Red Carpet. In the style of P&T - they explain how it is done before repeating it with a twist ending.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWgEmNDeJNQ

I am interested in learning more about illusions. And am just wondering if the method they exposed is an old one that is already famous among magicians? Or if it is a method that Barry & Stuart came up with themselves? I am just curious since I like the ingenuity involved in the method. As such - I would like to see if there is any history behind it?

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Re: The Complete Jarrett - Jim Steinmeyer

Postby Joe Mckay » April 20th, 2018, 5:59 pm

One other thing. In the June 2011 issue of GENII - Jim Steinmeyer has an article in which he gives his thoughts on some of Guy Jarrett's advice to magicians.

Jim builds on what Jarrett wrote 75 years earlier. And updates those opinions so they will strike home with magicians in the 21st century.

It makes for a refreshing read.


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