Draven Reviews: Mugshot by Kevin Schaller

not approved Title: Mugshot
Artist: Kevin Schaller
Producers: Kevin Schaller?  I can’t find any producer credits on this product.
Link: You can purchase this from any of your favorite Murphy’s Magic retailers.
Retail Price: $25.00 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: About 30 minutes give or take
Notes: A lot of build it yourself gimmicks will be required.

 

 

Features:
•    Teaching
•    Effects
•    Trailer

Mugshot offers the magician a selection of six “practical” and “commercial” effects that were designed to be performed on the street or at a serious magic gig.  Creator Kevin Schaller hopes that you will find these tricks easy to perform, and easy to succeed at.

The only catch is that I would consider none of these effects “practical” by any definition of the term.  As a working street magician (busker) and having worked a number of restaurant and private party style gigs in my life I can say that none of these tricks are tricks that I would consider strong or practical enough to use in a real gig environment with a paying client.  If by commercial Kevin means to be used for a webcam then yes.  He’s at least got that part right.  This is a collection of cute tricks for the webcam and or Youtube but they quickly fall apart when you put them in front of a real performing situation.

The names selected for the tricks, such as “Firearm”, “Sham”, “Singularity”, “Mask of Sanity”, and “Dark Hourse” as well as the name of the DVD (Mugshot) have nothing to do with the effects.  This is just another product from a young kid trying to come up with “new” magic all the while trying to make things sound cooler than what they really are.  Kevin has built the hype car but failed to install the hype engine.

I’ve got to give Kevin some credit.  His ideas are pretty original.  He’s obviously an out of the box thinker for a young person of his age.  However I’d encourage him to spend more time with R&D testing his products before he releases them for consumer consumption.

The problem I have with Kevin’s teaching style is that it’s nonexistent.  He doesn’t teach you anything.  He just goes through the gimmick assembly with a musical beat playing in the back ground and flashes words of what you are suppose to do on the screen.

Another huge problem I have with this entire DVD as a whole is that there is absolutely zero performance videos of these tricks for any live spectators.   All of his handlings, during the performance part none the less, look so unmotivated, so unnatural it practically telegraphs “I’M BLOODY DOING A SECRET MAGIC MOVE RIGHT THIS SECOND!  DON’T LOOK!”  This alone makes this products claim to be “practical for street or serious magic gigs” a farce.  Kevin doesn’t deliver a single line of patter, and his performance character, if you can even call it that does not support or justify a mute or silent act at all.  This entire DVD is a lot of look-see-do magic that is done for the sake of doing something to look “cool”.  Having never met Kevin before, and knowing nothing about his magic background, other than what I’ve seen with this video, I’d question if Kevin has even entertained for a real audience or just does card tricks for his youtube channel friends.  I’d question if he even knew how to handle a real audience.  These are not good questions to have going through your mind after having just bought a DVD from him that’s supposedly full of material that I’ll use in “serious magic gig” situations.

Having said all that let’s take a look at the tripe he’s trying to pass off as “serious magic”.

Singularity:  (What Kevin says about it) A visual change of a playing card clipped to your baseball cap.  This gives your spectator an impossible and unique souvenir.
My Impression:  For starters this requires me to be wearing a baseball cap with one of those plastic size adjuster things in the back.  This just has never been a fashion accessory I’ve ever made practical use of when working for any paying customer.  Be they a corporate client or even on the street corner busking.  A base ball cap is just too casual for my liking.  I mean it’s great that magic exists with them but this isn’t something I’d ever use.  Also the gimmick assembly for this effect is just not something I’d ever consider using.  And even in his demo, his fan change is hardly subtle.

Sham: (What Kevin says about it) Change any liquid inside a drinking cup.  Lemonade into real lemon juice, water into ice, or coffee into coffee powder.
My Impression:  What you see is him take a sip from a straw, supposedly drinking a colored liquid.  He removes the lid and straw throwing them away and then pours a crap load of sugar out of the cup.  The gimmick construction for this mediocre effect is once again more involved than what it’s worth.  There’s a thousand and one ways to do this change better than what he’s created. “Hospitality” from Magic Tao is just one of them.  Also you can’t let the spectator see down onto the top of the cup OR see the lid and straw after you remove it.

Firearm:  (What Kevin says about it) Turns any baseball cap into a utility prop without harming it.  Make cards shot out of the cap or change cleanly.
My Impression: Any performance video that opens with crappy camera special effects for a magic trick already loses a few points in my book but I’ll ignore the poor editing choices in favor of giving this effect an honest fair opinion.  In Firearm you use your baseball cap to cover up the deck and send a selected card(s) flying from under the base ball cap all projectile like.  This is once again dependant on a card made gimmick that you’ll only use for this one effect.  When it comes to ending a card trick there a thousand and one better ways you could do a card reveal before having to do this one.  Does anyone still read Tarbell or Card College these days?

Mask of Sanity: (What Kevin says about it) A highly visual penetration of a straw into any bottle, no matter if it is plastic or glass.  No holes or slits.
My Impression:  First off the “no holes or slits” is utter bull crap.  There is a hole in the cap and there is a slit in the straw.  Don’t lie to us to sell your cheap crappy magic.  Secondly, you’re not going to be able to let the spectator see the straw or the cap unless you switch out for an ungaffed version.  Once again this looks way better on a youtube channel than it would in practical live performance.

Dark Horse: (What Kevin says about it) Visually link a rubber band onto your cap.
My Impression: Once again you have another trick that the gimmick construction outweighs the strength of the performance.  You have to gimmick a baseball cap and put a normal rubber band onto a sleeve pull in order to do this linking effect.  Seriously Crazy Man’s handcuffs or Marcus Eddie’s “Stairway” in his DVD titled Five would be better selections to perform in a “serious magic gig” environment than this tripe.  This is a classic example of just because you can doesn’t mean you should when it comes to performing magic tricks.

Snapback: (What Kevin says about it) Rip and restore a signed card.  Hand it out after.
My Impression:  Ignoring the convoluted gimmick you have to build the handling alone suggests strongly to the spectator that there is something sticky on the card that shouldn’t be there.  If you want to do a signed Torn and Restored card then I highly recommend you look into Joined by Dario Capuozzo.

By the time I got to the end of this DVD there wasn’t a single effect on it that I could find myself saying “Yes this justified my purchase.”  Not only is this DVD a waste of your time it is a waste of your money.  Maybe Kevin Schaller has some creative ideas but he’s got a long way to go before they become usable in a real world environment, let alone commercially viable as a marketable product.  I wouldn’t even recommend this DVD to someone who just started learning magic this afternoon, that’s how bad it is.  This product has fail written all over it.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 1
Crappy magic created for a Youtube generation with no performance skills by the creator or practical real world applications.

Teaching Quality: 1
Kevin’s lack of stage presence is so prolific that it follows him into the tutorial portion of the DVD.  His nonexistent teaching quality has only added to the complete failure of a product that Mugshot is.  The teaching style of this video is just shows you generally what they want you to know and then flashes words on the screen.

Video & Sound Quality: 1
The same repetitive back beat music that plays throughout the entire DVD is highly annoying after the first two minutes of it.  I ended up just watching the entire DVD on mute, and the scary thing is it didn’t take anything away from the experience (performance or learning)!

Overall Quality: 1
Every time I’m tempted to fail a product I have to ask myself “Is this REALLY as bad as Alpha Cards by Jessie Feinberg?”  In the case of Mugshot I can honestly say that not only is it as bad as Alpha Cards but it is quite possibly much, much worse.  To slightly adapt a quote from the singer / songwriter Meatloaf: “This is a leamon and I want my money back!”

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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