Mailbag #6

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I bought Thor’s Hammer and plan to use it with Electric Touch+ by Yigal Mesika. Would love your feedback on how to make it better presentationally, methodically, and in terms of effect. —EB

What the hell is thor's hammer? — Me

It’s literally Thor (from Marvel)’s Hammer! I bought a replica. —EB

Ah, okay. I thought it was the name of a trick or something. I'll think on it. If I have any good ideas I'll let you know (or post them in a mailbag post). — Me

Okay, first, don’t write me looking for a way to justify every dumb purchase you make. You bought a replica of Thor’s hammer? That’s your problem now, not mine.

But I did think of a somewhat fun presentational possibility here.

EB mentions using the hammer with Yigal Mesika’s, Electric Touch which is a trick that allows you to give someone a mild electric shock. The idea of using this big hammer which—according to lore—has the abilities to level mountains, and using it to give someone a tiny Bzz of a shock is funny to me. So I would make that the presentation. You have it on a shelf in your house and someone mentions it and you’re like, “Yeah, I found this guy who makes these replicas. Or maybe he buys them and puts them through some process, I’m not sure. It’s kind of silly, but he actually gives them some power. Not a lot. Like .1% or .01%, I forget of the actual power the object is supposed to have.”

Then you harness the “power” of the hammer to give them a little shock.

Now, in and of itself, that’s not really a trick. They will think, “Oh, he’s got a hammer that somehow delivers a little shock.” The strength of Electric Touch as an effect is that you’re empty-handed. As soon as you have something in your hands that could conceivably house some sort of electronics or something that could create a spark, you’ve kind of removed the magic element from it.

So, by itself, it’s not a great idea. But the idea of knowing “some guy” who makes these replicas that have a tiny sliver of the real power is something you could exploit, either for the purposes of a mini “show” or just as a long-term presentational hook.

So maybe you have a shelf of replica items from different super heroes. For example, a Superman cape that you wear and allows you to “fly” a couple inches in the air (Balducci Levitation). Or a replica Aquaman staff that allows your goldfish to communicate to you an image that you never saw (impression pad).

ESP, pyrokinesis, manipulating time, changing objects… pretty much every trick can be recast as a very mild super-power. And having a collection of rings, and amulets, and capes and other replica items that give you these abilities is the sort of thing that could be a fun way to frame your magic if you’re into that sort of thing. I don’t have a deep interest in, or knowledge of, super-heroes/comics, so it’s probably not something I would pursue long-term. But I’m sure for some people it could be a framing tool—a “presentational style”—that they could utilize for years, and have an ever growing display of items in their house that they could use to lead into various effects.

How do you deal with people that insists on you actually having magical powers?

And no, I am not talking about kids, I am talking about  adults who even after you tell them it IS just a trick...they still keep insisting that you must have "powers".

This has happened to me 4 or 5 times over the past year, mainly after either showing some coin tricks or silk magic...and no, I am not one of those that pretend I do have some secret power […] —H

This sounds like it may be a cultural thing, as I don’t know anyone who could see a coin or silk trick—no matter how proficiently performed—and think, “Well…so much for my understanding of physics.”

There’s a few things that might be going on here.

1 - A couple times in my life I’ve had people try to suggest that what I was doing was “real” in some way. “There’s no way to fake that,” they would say. Now… would they really bet their annual salary that it was real? Would they even bet $20 that it was real? Probably not. What they were actually doing was trying to get some hints as to how it was done, essentially they were trying to pressure me into exposing the trick because they knew I was uncomfortable with them thinking anything was “real” about it.

2 - They may just feel like they’re playing along. “He’s pretending to do magic, so I’ll play along as if he’s doing magic.” To know if they’re doing this, make your presentation about something else other than yourself. If your presentation is about a flower with hallucinogenic properties and they play along with the idea that the tricks you’re doing are a result of them smelling this flower, then you know they’re just taking part in the theatricality of it all. But if they say, “You’re lying. That’s not a hallucinogenic flower. You have real magic powers.” Then you know it’s the third option.

3 - They’re dumb.

If they’re dumb, and they’re going to believe a trick is evidence of real magic power, it’s not your duty to educate them. What I would do, in that case, is probably lean into the idea. For example, you make a coin disappear and they start suggesting you possess supernatural powers. You say, “Yes. It’s true. I’m an all-powerful wizard. I’m a very special human. You’ve heard of Christ, right? Total amateur. Please don’t tell anyone about me! The world-government is trying to find people with awesome powers like I have, and lock us away forever. They’re scared of us.”

Don’t try to dissuade them. Just push the idea as far as possible. That should make them second-guess their thinking.

Your post - the OOTW with jizz - I had a similar idea a few years ago, but the premise was that I collected playing cards which were found at crime scenes. Seriously, you can buy these things online - people go into the houses after the police are finished or whatever and pick up innocuous stuff where horrific crimes have happened, and you can buy them online. (i've no idea if this is true).

And then the cards can be different backs, it doesn't need to to be a 26 split, etc, and you shine the light and done.—RD

If, for some weird reason I can’t conceive of, you don’t want people to think you’ve cum all over your playing cards, this could be a good alternate presentation for the black-light OOTW.

However, if you use cards with different backs, you do run the risk of them remembering putting certain cards in the same pile, only for them to end up in different piles (or vice versa). it’s a relatively low risk, but something to keep in mind.