John Bannon is a living legend and has contributed a number of neo-classic routines to the art of magic. He has a distinct style for creating that many performers are drawn to. There are many reasons, not the least of which are that his material is usually easy to do, always well constructed, and always powerful for a lay audience. Because of this, I was really excited to check out his latest DVD, Bullet Party produced by Big Blind Media.
In total, there are 14 items on the two-disc set. I won’t go over them all, but I will list my favorites.
Bullet Party- This is my favorite effect from the set. John mentions that it’s his current favorite trick as well. Take a look at the video demo.
John started with Alex Elmsley’s famous “Four Card Trick”, but worked out a way to allow each of the cards to change during the course of the routine. It’s easy to do and ends completely clean. This is the pinnacle of what John calls “Fractal Card Magic.”
One other point: even though everything is examinable in the end, you will have to assemble the necessary cards for the effect. This is a small task, but the producers (Big Blind Media) have gone to the trouble of including these cards in the package. This will allow you to start the “Bullet Party” right away.
Final Verdict- This is John’s final version of his famous “Directed Verdict” (Spectator Cuts the Aces) routine from his book Smoke and Mirrors. As mentioned on the DVD, there are a million versions of this kind of thing, but this handling has a lot going for it. It’s easy to do, the spectator has a free cut each time, and the cards may be turned over by the spectator at the end. This is already in the repertoire of many performing magicians. I have no doubt that this DVD will place it into the arsenal of many more.
Riverboat Poker- This is your typical poker demonstration with a few interesting wrinkles that may interest you. For one, the performer actually shows the audience how cards may be stacked using a formula. This is similar to the classic Vernon handling of the plot. The magician offers to repeat the demonstration a little differently.
One round of cards are dealt to five players. After each round, the spectators eliminate one hand out of the four. This makes the number of cards dealt each round smaller, seemingly making it harder to stack the deck. The spectators end up with at least three Aces. Of course, the magician finishes with a Royal Flush.
This is a poker demo that is dead easy to do. In fact, you don’t even have to remember the formula used. John introduces an instruction sheet as part of his presentation. If you want to look like a card sharp without putting in any real work, this may suit you quite well.
Poker Pairadox Redux- This is another poker themed effect for the non-card sharp. A packet of high cards are introduced and the performer explains the basics of Texas Hold ‘Em, namely that each player begins with two cards. A really good hand, he goes on to explain, is therefore a pair. The cards are dealt through in twos but none of them are seen to match up.
After a little magic by the spectator, however, each and every card is magically matched with its mate. I like the idea that John uses a poker presentation for a trick where neither your nor your audience have to know anything about the game. It’s super easy-to-do and instantly resets.
Wicked- This is a variation of Paul Harris’s “Grasshopper” effect coupled with a transposition. I particularly liked the first phase where John uses a Jack Parker count to get way ahead of the audience. Unlike some of the other packet tricks on the project, this trick uses cards you can pull from a regular deck.
Mega ‘Wave- This is the other “star” item from the DVD set. John has taken Stephen Tucker’s “Omega” routine (which is, in turn, a version of John’s own “Twisted Sisters”) and turned it on its head. Two packets of cards are introduced. The performer offers a demonstration of sleight of hand. One of the Queens in the first packet is named. Invisibly, it turns face down. “But remember, that was just sleight of hand,” the performer says.
“But if your named Queen was turned over in the other packet, that would be magic.” He picks up the cards and spreads to show that the named Queen is reversed in this packet as well. “Then again, how do you know that I didn’t just turn this one over as well? I knew you might think that… so I made sure to take this Queen out of a different deck.” The card is revealed to have an odd back. “And it’s a good thing you named the Queen you did, because it wouldn’t have worked with any of the others.” The rest of the cards in the packet are shown to be Jokers.
Finally, attention is directed to the original face down card from the first packet. The card is turned over to reveal one last message. Even better, it could reveal the magician’s contact details. This would make a nice souvenir for your spectator.
There is definitely a lot going on in this trick. If you choose to perform it, you will have to ensure that your audience can understand all that is taking place. It won’t suit everyone’s taste, but you have to admit that the working is very clever. John gets very far ahead of the audience for very little work, a staple of his creative style.
Bannon’s last DVD Bullets After Dark was a blockbuster release. I really enjoyed every single effect. I cannot say the same for these discs as a few of the items left me wanting more. That being said, this is still an outstanding offering. When you consider that “Bullet Party” and “Mega ‘Wave” could have easily sold for $20+ each with the included cards, I think you’ll find this DVD set a steal at only $40. I can’t imagine any card man being disappointed. Pick this up soon.
-Available for $40 from Big Blind Media