Whether I am hired by a business to perform some corporate magic, or engaged by a private party for magical entertainment, one factor I always try to incorporate is customization. I really enjoy using my mind and creativity to think up something new that will amaze the client… something they haven’t seen before.
For example, I’ve been hired to perform at a fundraiser this week called the Ghost Gathering at the Heritage Museum in Orange County. All the entertainment is going to be Halloween-themed and spooky, but more “Disneyland-scary” versus “Psycho-scary”(!). I’ll be performing roaming magic and short shows throughout the evening.
So… what to do to be different and to match the atmosphere? Well, it will be taking place after sundown on the grounds surrounding a historic mansion. I’m actually creating a character of a Magician who’s passed on to the spirit world – but has come back for this one dark night. So in my mind the tricks are going to have to reflect this theme. So here’s one thing I’ve created:
The Coffin Cards: There’s a magic trick that involves five cards with numbers all over them. A spectator looks through the cards and mentally chooses a number. Then the magician concentrates – and reveals the number hidden in the spectator’s mind! I like this trick because it can have a different result every time, so I can perform it all night as I walk around. But… how to “spook-ify” it? Here’s what I did: I found an actual mini- coffin made out of wood at a craft fair. It’s only about seven inches long. Then I made up the number cards out of card stock, and cut them into the same shape as the coffin so they would fit inside. I purposely painted the numbers on the cards in a rough pattern, to make it look more like some bizarre artifact rather than a magic trick. Then a last-minute flash of inspiration: I burned the edges of the cards so they would have a rough-hewn look, and also match up with the story I am going to tell about the coffin being discovered in the ashes of a creepy house that burnt down. So here’s the result:
I feel that I accomplished my customization goal, which was to make a prop that was strange and unusual, and would support the spooky feeling of the event.
Since we’ll be outside, I’m also going to juggle, because it’s a powerful visual that will be seen by many people as they are walking through the grounds. I’ll certainly juggle fire, and I also have some blades: an axe, a scythe and a machete – that will add a little “danger” and excitement to the presentation. But – it’s a “Ghost Gathering”! How can I do some creepy juggling?
Here’s what I came up with: wouldn’t it be great as you watch the juggler that you slowly realize that one of the items he’s juggling is a skull? And then — the eyes light up? That sounded fun! So I got to work with a prop skull and rigged up some electronics to make that happen. Green seemed to be the appropriate color for the eyes, so I went with that. And there is a small switch hidden at the base so it lights up at my command. Here’s how it came out:
It was really enjoyable to create all this! So if you ever decide to get into performing magic, I hope you too will take the leap to customize your magic effects for yourself or your audience. Customization is a lot of fun, and really makes you stand out from the crowd!