Optical illusion magic trick

optical illusion magic trick - Thatcher

Last year the local libraries had a theme of “Strange but True”, so I created a Strange But True – Game Show magic show. For that show I wanted something a little bit different than just a standard effect, so I started looking at different optical illusions magic tricks that I could add into the show.

I had seen a couple performers use the Thatcher optical illusion and decided it would be a great addition to my show.

The Thatcher effect or Thatcher illusion is a phenomenon where it becomes difficult to detect local feature changes in an upside down face, despite identical changes being obvious in an upright face. It is named after British former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on whose photograph the effect has been most famously demonstrated. This was originally created by Peter Thompson, in 1980. [Wikipedia link]

The only problem was that I didn’t like the sample faces that were available online because children had no idea who the people were. That’s when I decided to create my own Thatcher Optical illusions out of people that they would recognize.

I created three illusions with famous celebrities children would recognize including Salina Gomez, Justin Beiber, and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter). Upside down the faces look totally normal, but turn them 180º and you’ll discover that the eyes and mouth are facing the wrong way.  Read More…

Progressive Learning and Hypnosis

If you’re reading this blog then you know the importance of progressive learning. To be a successful performer you need to be continually learning and developing new skills. Somebody who embodies this principal to its fullest is Corporate Hypnotist and Peak Performance Expert Wayne Lee.

I first met Wayne Lee when I was about 17 years old, which was about 10 years ago. Wayne and I were both hired to perform a highschool graduation party. I was going to be doing some close-up mingling magic, and Wayne would be doing a full Hypnosis show. Wayne flew into Kelowna from Edmonton with his two crew members and rented car then he also picked me up and we drove to the event together that was just out of town. We would be staying in a hotel overnight, and drive back the next day. I remember it vividly because this was the first time I ever had a client pay for my own hotel room. I hit the big time! lol

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Making your testimonials more visible on Facebook

Previously I’ve written about getting amazing client testimonials, and my last post was about posting photo’s taken at the event on Facebook. In this post I’m going to talk about combining these two techniques together.

If you post a customer testimonial as a status update it will quickly become “stale”. That means that once the information has gone past people’s homepage that it won’t ever be seen again.


However, if you post a photo online it gets added to an album so whenever people go through that album they will see the picture and that content lasts a lot longer. Instead what you want to do is combine a photo from an event, along with the corresponding testimonial from that event as a DESCRIPTION on that photo. Now that testimonial will last a lot longer on your account so people will see it.



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Temporary Tattoos

Today Laura Martin (aka Beebop the Clown) shared this great tip with me. This time of year it seems that everyone has the cold or the flu, and this means that you may end up with fewer children then expected at parties. This can be a problem if you’re offering balloon twisting, a magic workshop, or facepainting where the smaller turnout may mean you’re finished early.

For an extra activity you might want to get some temporary tattoos. Since it’s is so lightwight you can take these to nearly every party and have them as a backup activity. Display them in the pockets of baseball card sleeves from the dollar store for quick selection and carry then in a 3 hole duotang binder.

With just a tiny binder there’s huge value added to the client. You can even offer temporary tattoo’s as an up-sell to your clients for an additional fee.

Personally I’ve never offered temporary tattoos at my shows before, but with such a small investment and the portability, it sounds like a no-brainer. With the huge range of temporary tattoos on the market there’s even an opportunity to enhance a themed party. I know for smaller parties this would be a huge hit.

Have you offered temporary tattoos at your show before? Let me know if you give this tip a try!

Buying the perfect domain name

There are lots of things to consider when selecting a domain name. A good domain will be something that people can remember, that’s unique, and matches your site content.

Whenever I need to purchase a new domain name I always go through the same process:

  1. Brainstorm different ideas
  2. Create a shortlist of the good ideas and make sure the .com is available. You can see if a new domain is available by searching for it on www.GoDaddy.com.
  3. Ask a few people what they think of possible names
  4. If I’m not 100% satisfied with the name, I’ll go back a few hours later or days later and see if I can come up with a better name
  5. Register the domain name

Here a photo of my brainstorming sheet when I was trying to come up with a domain name for this blog:

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We teach our audiences

Sometimes while performing an audience or volunteer will act differently than we expect or want them to. This behavior isn’t necessarily good or bad but good spectator management is the key to a successful performance. Anything that can happen on stage, will happen.

I believe that most of the time audiences will react in a certain way based on the expectations that you’ve established through your personality.

As an example, imagine a children’s performer presenting a routine where a child volunteer is selected to be on stage and the routine is structured so that the child disobeys the magician to the delight and joy of everyone in the audience. Each time the child does something that the magician “doesn’t want him to do” the audience bursts out laughing. What does this teach the audience? That they can you do whatever they want on stage and it will be funny! Imagine the next routine in the show where the magician selects a volunteer to be on stage, and the kid disobeys the magician “for real” this time. Maybe throwing something that they were supposed to hold, or dropping something intentionally. To the child it may be funny, but it may disrupt the flow of that particular routine. In this case the performer has unintentionally taught the audience how to behave in a way that is undesired.

With experience you learn how to deal with these situations, but the first step is to be aware of WHY they’re happening.

Here’s a great example of this concept. Here’s a clip of the amazing Justin Flom is performing on the Ellen Show.

In this clip Ellen was offered to select a cookie, under the assumption that she was supposed to do something with it for the trick. But at the end of the routine you can see her confusion when she’s left with a cookie that she didn’t do anything with. This taught her that when offered something, that it isn’t part of the trick.

You can see this psychology in the next routine when Justin offers her a mint. She assumes that it isn’t going to be part of the effect so she pops it into her mouth. Thankfully it was inconsequential to the effect, but it demonstrates quite clearly exactly how our actions teach our audiences how to behave.

What are your actions teaching your audience? Think about these things when watching video recordings of your show. You can either change what is causing the audience to behave in an undesired way, or anticipate it and find new moments within that structure to entertain your audience.

Facebook Fan Pages for Performers

Facebook is an amazing tool to market and brand yourself, but I don’t have a fan page. Instead I use my personal profile to market and brand myself and I’ll explain why.

Here’s the typical scenario. You have your Facebook profile made up of friends, coworkers, clients, magicians, and other acquaintances. Then you read online that you’re supposed to have a fan page— all your competitors are doing it- so you decide to create one too!

Why fan pages aren’t very good for for most most performers

  1. So you invited all of your Facebook contacts such as friends, coworkers, clients, magicians, and everyone else on your account to try and get that number up as high as possible! Sound familiar? This is what 90% of people do, and already you’re off to a bad start… The only thing you’ve done is basically duplicate your friends list onto your fan page. Ideally you should ONLY be posting your work related updates to your fan page. But if you’re like me performing its part of your daily life. There is no separation for me. So you either post to your own profile or your fan page…. or even worse you post to both. Please don’t post to both because now that you’ve added all your friends and family and everyone now they will see your update twice in their news feed. You’re spamming all the people who decided to like your page in the first place. You shouldn’t spam your friends. So far you haven’t done anything at all, you’ve just shifted your audience from one place to another and you’ve created more work for yourself.
  2. Take a look at the people that are you on your fan page. Are they actually your target audience? Your buddies from school, that cute girl from that party, and that magician that lives on the other side of the world aren’t going to hire you. Instead you should sending your message out to past clients and prospective clients, people you’ve built a real relationship with that’s worth something. (Hint: Newsletters and email works way better for converting sales anyway)
  3. It’s harder to get people to like your fan page than it is to get somebody to accept a friend request. You’ll be working way harder to get people to like your page instead of friending them.
  4. People would rather be your friend than a fan anyway so give them what they want! (While you’re at it you can be my friend) Facebook is social NETWORKING. It should be a two way conversation where build a relationship with them. If they only ‘like’ your page you won’t see their updates and you have less opportunity to interact with the things that they post.
  5. Your updates don’t show up in people’s news feed as often. (Apparently there’s a new option where you can pay to get your story promoted now for pages.)
  6. You may eventually neglect your fan page because you have a larger audience on your personal profile. I’ve looked at a lot of magicians fan pages (here’s some) and you can look at their wall to see how often they’ve been updating. Most of the time they don’t update very often. What’s the point in having a fan page if you aren’t going to even update it? Just stick with your regular profile that you’re going to update more often anyway.
  7. How many clients do you work with in a year that will ‘like’ your facebook page? How many likes do you need to have on your profile for it to look good to prospective clients? If a client is looking at your profile and you only have 30 fans… it doesn’t exactly instill confidence. Does 100 look impressive? 200? 1,000? 5,000? For most of us you’ll have maybe a few hundred people who  are your target clients. If you do get into the 1,000’s then it’s worthwhile to have a fan page (see below).

Video Interview with Tommy James – We Live and We Learn

Earlier this week Tommy James made an interesting post on The Magic Cafe. Here’s that post:

I have something I NEED to share with everyone who has purchased my Lop Sided Cyclops or intends to buy one in the future. We all need to learn from our mistakes and I hope MY mistake will be a learning experience for anyone else. I just received a letter from a teacher at a school that I need to share. I’m not proud of it in fact, I’m hitting myself in the head and saying “Why did I not foresee this as a possibility!???” Please read her letter and then I will tell you how I responded.

Dear Mr. Tommy James,
Last week you put on a performance for our school. Most of the children enjoyed the show greatly, you were funny and magical. However, I would like to bring to your attention, a skit that I found very offensive. When you did your flying eyeball trick, you mentioned a “monster” who had one leg shorter than the other and walked around the stage limping. You had no way of knowing this, but in my class, I have a student who was born with a birth defect and has one leg shorter than the other. The minute you said that, he looked at me and several students looked at him. I am writing to you, to ask you to eliminate this skit from future performances. You never know who will be in your audience, monsterizing a physical defect can be very hurtful. Please consider this in the future.

Thank you,

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