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Arguably one of the greatest close-up magicians of all time, Don Alan’s consummate skill as a sleight-of-hand performer was only surpassed by his ability to take an audience and turn them into a cohesive group of new friends having a great time. In his book on Don’s magic (In A Class By Himself: The Legacy of Don Alan), Jon Racherbaumer referred to this phenomenon as the Circle of Fun. Racherbaumer wrote, “Good performers understand the nature of personal space and use it to bind spectators together in an acceptable, agreeable manner. Don did this gradually, delicately, brilliantly, and intuitively.”
Much of the same could be said for Bill Malone, an obvious heir to Don Alan’s sneaky throne. His work embodies many of the same qualities that made Don one of the most notable magical performers of the last century. A Bill Malone performance is not just a series of tricks—it’s a show in the truest sense of the word—and it’s why Bill has been entertaining the rich and famous for the last 25 years. People fortunate to be a part of his audiences truly become part of Bill’s own circle of fun.
Just a quick glance at the list of notables he’s entertained over the years reads like a Who’s Who’s list of movie stars, recording artists, even royalty. You’ll see names like Jay Leno, Brooke Shields, Olivia Newton-John, Donald Trump, Tony Bennett and Princess Stephanie. And, the list of celebrities on his client list is only surpassed by the number of Fortune 500 companies on his corporate client list.
His appearances on national television are the stuff of legends and include spots on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” “The World’s Greatest Magic,” “Champions of Magic,” and “The World’s Wildest Magic.” So, how did a kid from one of the not-so-great sections of Chicago end up getting paid exorbitant sums of money to do card tricks for people the rest of us only read about or watch on TV?
It started with the Treasure Chest, a well-known magic and novelty shop in the Windy City and early lessons with magician Lee Wayne. As Bill developed his skills, he began to frequent and fraternize with Chicago magic legends such as Ed Marlo, Heba Haba Al, Ernie Spence and Jay Marshall and actually began to perform at some of the area’s legendary magic hotspots such as the New York Lounge.
Later venues, A Little Bit of Magic, Houdini’s Pub and others, followed over the years and gave Bill the opportunity to hone and shape his performing character. The path eventually led to the Boca Raton Hotel and Resort, a spraw ling Five-Star/Five Diamond hotel and restaurant complex that now plays host to Malone’s Magic Bar.
So, the long and short of it is that if you’re interested in commercial close-up magic and someone with the consummate experience of a Bill Malone speaks, you should listen without question. And, speak he does on four new videos from L&L Publishing. Bill Malone On The Loose is classic Malone, shot in Bill’s natural environment; that is, surrounded by people who, when they aren’t doubled over with laughter, are sitting there with their mouths open in absolute amazement.
Material from Bill Malone produced expressly for the magic community has been in relatively short supply; he’s too busy working. His video appearances include a portion of the Stevens volume on Restaurant Magic (which I had the pleasure to share with Bill) and his self-produced video on what has become one of his signature pieces, “Sam The Bellhop.” He’s been written up in the magazines, of course, but unfortunately, the big book of his magic by Lance Pierce has yet to be published. (Interested parties can check out a tasty morsel from this as-yet-unreleased gem in the November/December 1993 issue of The Magic Menu.)
Thus, magicians everywhere will greet this new video series very warmly. And, well they should, because Bill tips it all here. Everything that makes Bill Malone one of the most highly paid and successful close-up magicians currently performing is on display here.
Let me touch on some of the highlights of this new set for you. The first volume and the first performance set begin with a surprise—a remodeled version of Michael Skinner’s “Ultimate Three Card Monte.” And, those of you who have long ago dismissed this effect as just another packet trick will not believe how much entertainment value Bill wrings out of it. You’ll be digging it out of your magic drawer in no time.
Not one to save the big guns for last, Bill jumps right into “Sam The Bellhop.” The first time I saw Bill perform “Sam” was on the set of the Stevens video. Though this shoot was ten years ago, I still remember standing behind the cameras watching Bill’s set with Dan Fleshman, who also appeared on the video. Dan looked over at me and just shook his head. I immediately understood his meaning; we were watching a classic.
Bill’s take on the Ambitious Card is next and just when you think you have it figured out, the ending will knock you out. It’s title, “I Don’t Even Have A Pocket,” hints at the powerful, yet convulsively funny, ending.
Though Bill’s reputation as a “card guy” precedes him, I guarantee you’ll love his take on the Slydini Silks. His routine, “Test Of Strength,” can be performed in any venue, even close-up, as he ably demonstrates here. If you’re not familiar with the trick, silks magically untie themselves no matter how tight they’re knotted—by the magician and the spectator both. It’s a great demonstration of prop and audience management and if you don’t know how it’s done, it’ll fool you quite badly.
Highlights of Volume 2 include “Counterfeit Money,” Bill’s take on the classic Bill To Lemon. Designed for stand-up performance, Bill’s version is a worker with no wasted moments or movements.
My favorite piece on Volume 2 was Bill’s version of the ubiquitous “Spectator Cuts To The Aces” plot, called “Cut ’Em High And Tie” here. It’s a great example of how Bill gets as many people as possible into his circle of fun. I just came off a month of performing at post-grad and post-prom events and this trick played so well, it immediately replaced the version of “Spectator Cuts To The Aces” that I was using previously.
Once again, a non-card piece anchors the volume and Bill’s version of “Matrix” is presented in the guise of a magic lesson. If you’ve been looking for a presentation for your own version of this effect, you’ll learn much from the way Bill justifies the use of the cards and coins. Once again, what could easily be magic for magicians is turned into a commercial gem by some clever thinking outside of the box.
On Volume 3, you’ll once again find great handlings for two standard
off-the-shelf props that you may have long since discounted as outdated or
overused and these are great ways to start and end Volume 4. The lead-off
trick is Bill’s handling of the Mental Photography deck, a true eye-popper
for laypeople and the last effect is, believe it or not, an Invisible Deck
routine. However, in true commercial Malone style, Bill will teach you how to
take this fairly standard effect and use it to get a guaranteed standing
ovation from your audiences.
In between these classics, you’ll find lots more terrific magic, including an updated handling for “Apex Aces” with a reappearance of the Aces that fooled me completely. It’ll take some work, but those of you who put the time in will have a truly singular piece of card magic.
You’ll also love Bill’s synthesis of two effects, Paul Cummins’ “Count On It” and David Solomon’s “Cutting Tens” (last seen on Eugene Burger’s “Magical Voyages” series). This one also made it into my “new material” repertoire and the kids at the post-grads and post-proms loved it.
Also not to be overlooked on Volume 3 is Bill’s version of “Cards Across.” The handling is straightforward and streamlined and, yes, it’s the same version he performed on ABC’s “Champions of Magic.” It’s suitable for close-up and stand-up and even if you already do a version of “Cards Across,” I’ll almost guarantee you’ll replace yours with this one.
On Volume 4, the floodgates are really let loose as Bill turns many classic plots (“Twisting The Aces,” “Reset,” and even the hoary “Four Burglars” trick) on their heads. He’ll even have you digging out your Color-Changing Knives (you probably left them right next to your copy of “Ultimate Three Card Monte”) when you see the audience reaction to his supremely commercial handling of this age-old effect.One of the highlights of this volume for me was Bill’s treatment of “Skinner’s Matches,” a beautifully impromptu trick that will leave your spectators with a mysterious souvenir of a completely impossible event. You’ll also have a ball, as I did, fooling your magician friends with the “Two Card Impossible Location.” Virtually impossible to reverse engineer, you’ll leave them scratching their heads as you find two cards peeked and then mixed back into the deck under impeccably fair conditions.
Volume 4’s climax is a multiple card location that is sensational and rightfully a closer for his, or anybody else’s, act.
As valuable as the material on these four volumes is, the advice that Bill dispenses at various places throughout the production is perhaps even more so. How do you develop a performing character? How do you handle drunks or troublemakers? What do you do when a trick goes south? Bill has advice on all of these topics and more and it’s advice learned and refined in the white-hot fire of actual performance.
You’ll also discover that Bill is a very good teacher and spends a great deal of time during the explanation segments not only going over the mechanics of each trick but emphasizing the little nuances, again the kind that can only be gained in a quarter-century of performance, that can turn a trick that will amuse an audience into a miracle that people will remember for the rest of their lives. And, like all L&L productions, care is taken to give the viewer the very best view of the action during the explanations so nothing has to be left to guesswork. For example, the overhead and tight shots during Bill’s explanation of the Slydini Silks (a trick, by the way, t hat perhaps enjoys its best exposition ever in this series) flattens the learning curve immeasurably.
Needless to say, I’m confident that you’ll absorb and enjoy these videos as much as I did. You’ll find your own favorites, of course, but more importantly, if you learn the lessons that Bill is actually teaching here—that is, how to thoroughly entertain with magic—you’ll be drawing together your own circles of fun in no time flat!
For the last 25 years, Bill has made his living performingmagic and along the way, he’s made numerous appearances on national television (including NBC’s “World’s Greatest Magic” and “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”) in addition to performing for high profile clients that, if listed, would read like a “Who’s Who” of corporate America.
In the “On The Loose” series, you’ll see why Bill is one of the most entertaining and successful magicians of our time—and you’ll learn some powerful, commercial magic at the same time. Besides tricks, you’ll be privy to inside information from a guy who really knows the business side of magic—tips that will help to bring your own performances to life and make your business as an entertainer more successful.
With Bill Malone, it’s all about presentation, style and timing, so sit back and enjoy your front row seats for one of the funniest magicians on the planet. You’re entering the Malone Zone—and Bill is on the loose!
Ultimate Three Card Monte-
Bill’s comical presentation of the Michael Skinner Classic! A great way to open your close-up show!
Sam the Bellhop-
Bill’s signature effect as seen on TV’s World’s Greatest Magic, explained with all the moves and timing in complete detail.
I Don’t Even Have a Pocket-
An Ambitious Card routine with a hilarious ending.
I Should Have Done It Myself-
Guaranteed reaction every time with this seldom seen idea! If it’s good enough for Fred Kaps, it’s good enough for you!
Cheating in Las Vegas-
with the Aces A display of card control Bill has been performing for over 20 years.
Back the Way They Were-
Commmercial thoughts on presentation for Dr. Daley’s Last Trick. This classic should be in every professional’s close-up bag!
Test of Strength-
The Slydini Silks is truly one of magic great secrets. See Bill Malone’s performance and hear him explain this classic of magic!