Barehand Fishbowl Productions
In “Chapman’s Corner”, Vol 5, #3 ; Nov. 1940 of Genii (p. 87), Frank Chapman writes:
Two of the most spectacular fishbowl productions I’ve ever seen . . . were made possible by the use of ‘the flowing robe’ . . . The first—Ching Ling Foo’s Giant Bowl . . . suspended between the legs by aid of a special harness . . . The second—a feature of the Long Tack Sam troupe . . . An empty foulard—an acrobatic flip- over—and the bowl produced in mid- air . . . Applause guaranteed.
So let’s start digging…
- ALBO, Robert J., LEWIS, Eric C., and BAMBERG, David. The Oriental Magic of the Bambergs. San Francisco: San Francisco Book Company. 1973. 229 pages. Limited edition of 1,000 copies. Cover | Full Title
Even after having been supplemented by The Ultimate Okito and The Ultimate Okito Addendum, this book – the start of the Albo “brick” – still is the definitive source for the performing magician. “This is without a doubt the greatest production of a single bowl of water ever performed,” the chapter begins. It (and a later chapter, The Mat Trick, utilizing a similar principle) are loaded with fine performance details – which represent “the real work” if one were to attempt to recreate the production of a 16.5” by 12” bowl filled with water. Discussed are the tempo of movements, appropriate attire, even walking technique. Much of this detail stems from a letter from Okito himself, but Lewis’ and Bamberg’s first-hand performance knowledge really shines throughout this Albo volume. Later volumes prepared only by Albo are clearing lacking this performer’s point-of-view.
A wonderful photo by Irving Desfor of Okito at the completion of this production with this very Albo apparatus in hand, can be found in:
- DESFOR, Irving. Great Magicians in Great Moments. Pomeroy: Lee Jacobs Productions. 1983. 208 pp. Cover | Full Title
The second source of real working knowledge of this illusion is that old workhorse Tarbell
- TARBELL, Harlan. The Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 5. Cranbury: D. Robbins. 1927, 2005. Eighth Printing. 417 pp. Cover | Full Title
- TARBELL, Harlan. BURTON, Steve and KAUFMAN, Richard, ed. The Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 8. Brooklyn: D. Robbins. 1993. 434 pp. Cover | Full Title
Lesson 69 in Vol 5- “Magic with Bowls and Liquids” – shows the foot and body work necessary to accomplish the effect. “Production of Stack of Four Bowls of Water” (2 methods) follows. A must read for those attempting the production of bowl on ground. For the smaller bowl-in-hand productions, don’t miss an improtant tip in Vol 8, Lesson 94 “Further Unique Mysteries” displaying the right and wrong methods of retrieving the bowl.
As is customary with Goldston explanations, the one you’ll find in –
- GOLDSTON, Will. Will Goldston’s More Exclusive Magical Secrets. London : N.p.. N.D. 490 pp. Cover | Full Title
– Offers nothing in the way of details, besides the broad stroke of the secret by way of illustration. He also has diagrams a self-releasing hook, which I can’t imagine is practical and would add considerably to the overall weight of the bowl.
Moving on to Chapman’s second example, that of Long Tack Sam (1885-1961) and his somersaulting fishbowl appearance. You can find you more about Long Tack Sam in
- MULLHOLLAND, John. Quicker than the Eye. New York: Junior Literary Guild. 1932. 259 pp. Not in collection.
- FLEMING, Ann Marie. The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam. New York: Penguin. 2001. 170 pp. Cover | Full Title
- GOLDSTON, Will. Will Goldston’s Who’s Who in Magic. London: Will Goldston Ltd. N.d. 114 pp. Cover | Full Title
Theo Dore claimed in Abracadabra magazine, Vol. 40, #1032 that ”He did a somersault across the stage without using his hands, which he had first covered with a small shawl. When he landed on his feet you saw that he had a bowl of water in his hands.” I also found a description in the Linking Ring of him performing this stunt at the age of 70! Unfortunately, I think you’ll have to experiment with the somersaulting all on your own!
If you tire of these oriental robes, or prefer not to hang heavy objects in your crotch area, “The Naomi Goldfish Bowl Production” appears on page 255 of the All Baker book mentioned earlier. Dispensing with the chinese robes of the past, it represents a way to produce a small water bowl while wearing a regular suit.
Performing the trick in evening wear was not new to Baker, however. Gibson (see Aerial Fishing) informs us that (Carl) Herrmann the Great performed “the production of fishbowls while wearing evening clothes” in 1848, as did John henry Anderson, “The Great Wizard of the North”, in the same year. Robert-Houdin, concludes his first work with a detailed explanation of the effect in The Secrets of Conjuring and Magic, reprinted in
- KARR, Todd, ed. Essential Robert-Houdin. N.p.: The Miracle Factory. 2006. 664 pp. Cover | Full Title
And also in
- SHARPE, S(am) H. Conjurers’ Hydraulic and Pneumatic Secrets. N.p : Hades Publications. 1991. Cover | Full Title
The latter also includes a reprint of Phillippe’s 1832 methods from Sharpe’s earlier Ponsin on Conjuring.