Eugene: Illusions For Princes
©1983, published by Magic Limited/Lloyd E. Jones
Illustrations by Eugene Poinc
Hardcover, 91 pages
Image courtesy e-Bay seller JayandLefty
Comments (Stewart Tame): This is probably my favorite book out of my entire collection. Poinc writes some of the most entertaining prose I've ever read in a magic book. And he has a wonderfully dark sense of humor that seems to parallel my own. Detailed plans for the illusions in this book are not given: just sketches with as much detail as necessary to understand the workings: because, "...since it's unlikely that you can rebuild an assistant to fit an illusion (and if you think you can it's rather presumptuous and worrisome from a theological and psychiatric perspective) it seems logical that the illusion be constructed to accommodate your assistant as they do tend to vary in size." It's one my lifelong dreams to see him perform live. Descriptions of each effect are Poinc's, with my own comments following if necessary.
vii Illusions for Princes or Paupers by Eugene Poinc: Brief description of each effect. Source of all the following quotes.
1 HUMmmmBUG: "a gourmet germ from outer space grows instantaneously and happily devours the illusionist! (surprising comedy)" Very flashy visual appearance of giant germ under plastic dome on giant microscope slide.
7 Zen Zoo: "production of one animal or a thousand. (seems impossible, can simply be astounding or hilarious)" Livestock (rabbits, doves, etc.) produced from box suspended above stage, illusionist can walk completely around the box, number of animals produced limited only by budget and patience of audience.
12 Gargoyle: "a grotesque 'stone' figure turns into a handsome Quasimodo and lovely gypsy Esmeralda; they kiss and float away! (enchanting entertainment)" Cabinet empty except for gargoyle figure, doors closed, opened to reveal two people, both levitate.
16 Ogre Swords: "six samurai swords in a rack block top entrance to a cabinet; the illusionist leaps from platform and penetrates the deadly sharp blades. (stunningly dramatic, absolutely baffling)" Pretty much as described, blades can be examined if so desired.
23 Help! by Donatien de Sade & Poinc: "Marquis de Sade-istic; sweet innocent maiden crushed by spikes, cremated to tidy things up, reappears good as new. (breath-taking, colorful if you goof and she bleeds)" Did I mention Poinc's sense of humor? Provides alternate staging in which female assistant turns tables on illusionist and performs the atrocities on him.
27 Yukon Yoga: "a mystic shivers in an igloo; told to warm self with spiritual thoughts: but his mind creates a bikini clad Eskimo girl; performer suggests fur coat more apropos so ... polar bear materializes! (novel indeed, and you don't need a live polar bear)"
30 Maze: "transposition of Atlantean woman and Being from a different planet. (unusual theme, clever deception)" Magician and assistant don costumes and paper mache heads, when assistant removes mask it turns out to be magician, magician seemingly never completely out of sight at any time.
35 Tiny Ton: "using a single gene from Geisha girl's earlobe, the lustful illusionist tries to produce the rest of the desirable lady in a tea house; stupendous appearance! The geisha? Nope, an elephant. Sorry, wrong gene. (puzzling, delightful climax)" Appearance takes place in cabinet that's fairly well above the level of the stage.
38 Sky Horse: "sheet of glass in frame blocks top of a ramp representing border between earth and spirit world; Apache warrior on horse gallops through the glass, instant penetration in full view of audience. (dynamic magic, can be stage-filling production number)" This one requires split-second timing to work.
43 Venus Vortex: "from 'garbage' ala rag pictures, magician creates a living Goddess of Garbage for the non-discriminating. (can be presented with absurd sophistication or rampant lunacy; practical and inexpensive to build)" Stage set with garbage can, paper tacked to wooden frame, and battered wooden easel, magician sets canvas on easel, opens garbage can, uses trash to make picture of woman, female clad in suitably garbage-y costume bursts through paper.
48 Jabberwocky: "children invited on stage; flowers, animals, elves produced, and finally a Jabberwocky dragon. (surprising, different, grand fun)" All produced from seemingly bare stage with garden backdrop that seems to provide no concealment.
52 Lotus Flow: "an empty lotus flower revolves on a pedestal, petals open gradually revealing a materialized oriental beauty in kimono; magically she changes into a wild exotic dancer with flip of giant fan. (novel contrast, beautiful production)" Giant fan sits on table, backdrop and stage can be seen through legs.
56 Lost Dimensions: "a gold clad male and silver dressed woman transpose in futuristic chambers; suddenly a flood of 'Time Warp' creatures from caveman to astronaut appear from both chambers. Two methods. (modern theme, thought provoking)"
61 Circle of Doom: "center of a slanted tube is blocked by whirling blades, cabbage or melon shredded: assistant slides through length of tube and emerges unshreded. (mystifying, looks fiendishly dangerous)"
64 Volcano: "a volcano-like cabinet shown empty erupts spouting fire and smoke and finally: the volcano goddess Madame Pele appears, arms outstretched, hands aflame. (spectacular)"
67 Quantum Quandry: "three panels individually spun to prove no concealment possible: then three people appear. Suggested religious theme; or child of future and family relationship. (clever basic idea; easy and inexpensive to construct)"
72 Deep 6: "Male and female wearing diving gear in two water-filled tanks instantly changing places, then climb out: suddenly exotic fish and mermaids materialize in both tanks. (different to say the least)" Deep sea-diving equipment with only faces visible through glass portals.
76 Oops: "a lunatic vampire and a clown with aspirations to be ominous create havoc on stage when not magically transposing from cheery polka-dotted casket to properly somber one. (hilarious bedlam)" Vampire that acts like clown and clown that acts like vampire banished to their respective caskets (polka-dotted one for clown), audience sees clown's wig showing above fence behind caskets, both opened to show transposition, fence removed to show clown wig on rod than runs length of fence, caskets closed, clown and vampire transpose again, stand side by side, cloth brought out to cover them, vampire holds up one side, clown the other, cloth drops to show person dressed as half clown-half vampire.
80 Ultra-Fright: "three haunted doors hinged together serve as a Spirit Cabinet; strange manifestations occur, silver ball floats out, then hideous hag appears; gypsy theme. (wonderfully weird)"
85 Nuts & Dolts: "three huge nuts on a bolt used to produce six madcap clown that drive the performer to distraction. (different, funny)" Nuts removed from bolt and stacked on table, clowns climb out of stack.
89 Imp Press: "tall reluctant assistant is squashed down into a number of imps (children or midgets) who create uproarious mischief. (gloom to joy, fun!)" Cabinet on platform above stage, doors open on all four sides to show empty, closed, assistant in cabinet, weight dropped in from above, imps pile out and slide down slide attached to platform.