This isn’t a review of a specific product. Rather I’m taking a look at the series of Reel Magic Magazine DVDs released by Kozmo Magic. They are… in a word… excellent. I have no idea how Kozmo organizes, films, edits, produces, and ships these for such a low price. This is easily one of the best “bang for your buck” deals in magic.
As of this writing, there are 31 issues: each one featuring an interesting, prominent figure in magic. Jay Sankey, Paul Harris, Joshua Jay, Bill Malone, David Williamson, Wayne Houchin, Daniel Garcia, Dan and Dave Buck, and even David Copperfield have graced the covers over the six years in which the video magazine has been produced. You can see the full list of guests on www.ReelMagicMagazine.com.
What’s great is that these interviews (at least so far) have not been shallow “please introduce yourself to everyone” affairs while the guest shamelessly plugs their latest products. Instead I’ve found the interviews to be interesting, honest, and insightful. Jay Sankey openly addresses criticisms about his hypercharged product release schedule. Joshua Jay talks about how he sees almost no correlation between the quality of a magic release and its popularity. Eugene Burger argues that the Chicago Opener is a bad effect. These are fairly hard hitting topics in the magic world, and it’s a testament to the magazine that the guests feel free to open up to share their thoughts in front of the camera.
Then there are the columns. I won’t list every one, but I will mention a few of my favorites.
Tricks of the Trade by David Regal– This is my absolute favorite segment. David has a tendency to primarily review products that he likes. So, if you enjoy watching review shows to see products get trashed, look elsewhere. However, David isn’t pulling any punches or being dishonest. There’s a wealth of great material being released constantly. David just chooses to stay away from bottom of the barrel products in favor of showing off some things you might actually have a chance of wanting to purchase. It’s a great look into a wide variety of magic products both new and old. I always find his comments and recommendations informative, and David is entertaining as hell.
Kid Show FUNdamentals by Silly Billy- I no longer perform kid shows, but I spent my college years gigging it on many weekends. Still, while I may have lost interest in performing magic for children, I recognize the talent, skill, and patience it takes to be successful in this field. David Kaye (a.k.a. Silly Billy) does a great job each month of taking a look at one specific principle or trick in kids show magic and really diving deep into its history and variations.
Coin U by Kainoa Harbottle- This is a new segment to Reel Magic, and it is a welcome addition. Kainoa is a joy to watch. He is an expert sleight-of-hand artist who can make the most difficult moves look easy. His background in higher education (he was a college English teacher for almost a decade) makes him an excellent teacher. I look forward to seeing more of his column.
Move Monkeys- This section is hit and miss. It is often unclear whether it is supposed to be devoted to new moves or just cool sleights that may or not be original. I sometimes cringe when I see a move performed on this segment that clearly belongs to someone else or that brings nothing new to the dance. That being said, there have been some excellent contributions over the years (including Ryan Schlutz’s Pivotal Peek).
Tricks- If you’re looking for tricks, you’ll get your fair share here as well. Each issue contains at least 3 effects that are performed and explained. In general, these routines have appeared on DVDs from other companies. However, there are often Reel Magic exclusive tricks that you haven’t seen anywhere else.
Any way you look at it, Reel Magic Magazine is a tremendous value. You can subscribe and receive 5 issues by mail each year for $60. If you’re late to the dance, you’ll be especially interested to know that Kozmo has just started a new On Demand service which gives you streaming access to every issue in the catalog as well as future issues immediately upon release. The streaming costs only $5 per month. This is a no brainer. Whether you watch the DVDs or view it on your computer, Reel Magic Magazine gets my highest recommendation.
– Available from www.ReelMagicMagazine.com
P.S.- I’m not sure how long it will be up, but you can currently watch Issue 28 featuring Joshua Jay completely free here: http://www.reelmagicmagazine.com/index.php/issue-28-josh-jay-free.html