PO Box 603   Shokan, NY 12481
845-657-9903  justalanmagic@verizon.net


The Magic of Just Alan
Featured in a Genii Magazine Cover Story
Just Alan's Published Magic Routines

Love, Aunt Doris

Love, Aunt Doris
Created by Just Alan
Described by Joseph Ricciardi
Genii Magazine (April, 2000)
      "I am so pleased to have a beautiful routine from Just Alan in Genii. He is one of the most gifted performers I have seen in years."
Richard Kaufman, Editor

Joseph Ricciardi, who has explained Just Alan's routine "Love, Aunt Doris," for us, uses the phrase, "I believed we were simply talking," to describe Alan's segue into a performance. Think about that the next time you're going to do a close-up trick for someone. Instead of being gung-ho, try conversing and sliding into the performance sideways. The spectator will be all the more surprised -- because he will have thought you were just talking. Now, the whole point of explaining Just Alan's routine is not to describe the method. You can use any method you want. The point is to explain his psychology, show his patter construction, and give you a feeling for the piece. If you're interested in buying the marketed method he uses for changing the bills, refer back to "Genii Speaks" at the beginning of this issue.

The Magician as Dreamsmith:

Perhaps the greatest goal a magician can strive for is to lead her or his spectator through an enchanting and uninterrupted dream. This assertion is based on some simple observations: people who are in the midst of experiencing "good magic" focus on the action, not the method; people who experience "good magic" are enraptured by the plot, however subtle or direct; people who experience "good magic" are moved, sometimes to surprise, and occasionally to something deeper and even more human.

Thus the elements of a dream: action, enrapture, plot, and emotion. Now consider the two special qualities of the magic-dream experience: enchanting and uninterrupted. Enchantment has its roots in incantāre to utter an incantation, cast a spell. It is synonymous with "to charm," connoting attraction and delight. Consider the projected personalities of your favorite magicians. Do they charm you? Are they a delight to watch? Compare them to your least favorite magicians: Isn't there something decidedly unattractive about how they carry themselves?

But the most important insight from the "magic as dream" theory is in the word "uninterrupted." There can be nothing which distracts the dreamer from her or his enchanted slumber. Every move must be a non-move, lest the dreamer awaken as if reminded, "Watch out, he's about to do something sneaky!" Every manner must be natural, and must be entirely consistent with every other move and mannerism. Every prop must fit with the theme and care must be taken that they also blend and cause no interruption. Nothing can enter the performance moment that might rupture the fragile dream state.

If the magician can weave this dream state then he or she will have accomplished something far greater than parlor entertainment or puzzle. The magician will lead the person through an experience that may broaden the spectator's understanding of himself and the world.

Just Alan's routine "Love, Aunt Doris," is one such dreamsmithed moment. Everything about the routine has been planned so as to contribute to the continuous, uninterrupted state of enchantment. Everything that occurs is decidedly natural.

Yet, how many of us could have conceived such a moment using the simple effects Just Alan has woven together? There is a folding bill trick where a two dollar bill becomes two ones, and the ones become a five. Ho hum. Then there is the "change wallet" where a picture changes to another. You might find these tricks in any magic catalogue, perhaps called something deceptively trite like "Super-Switcheroo Wallet." But as Just Alan's routine shows us, the tricks are mere cutlery, the routine is the meal.

And even more so, it is possible to do magic that does not seem like you are watching magic. One can only imagine the emotional experience this creates for everyone.

This routine is based on two simple effects: the transformation of a two-dollar bill into two one-dollar bills, and then into a five-dollar bill; and the transformation of a photograph and some stamps in a wallet. Just Alan uses an effect by Bill Pryor called "Impossible Dream," for the bill transformation, and he uses Ton Onosaka's style of Himber Wallet for the transformation of the photos and stamps (though any plain-looking switching wallet will do). There are many ways to transform the bills, both simple and difficult. The method you use is beside the point, and I'm sure you'll find one that works well for you. The presentation is what we wish to explain.

When Just Alan first showed this to me, I had no idea he was "doing magic." This is an incredible starting point since it eliminates the need to lull the person into an openness to "suspend belief." There is nothing to suspend -- I believed we were simply talking. "I want to show you something very interesting. I don't know if I've ever shown it to you -- have I? This is my mother and my Aunt Doris."

Alan shows an old photograph, in a wallet. The photograph shows two young children, twins, and is dated 1917. The wallet also contains a few old stamps, used, torn from the corners of envelopes. "They were identical twins. I found this wallet when my mother passed away and I found the photo and these stamps. My mother and her sister were pen pals and my mother used to save stamps. But that's not the most interesting thing -- this is."

Notice how the moment is focused on the story. The prop is explained as part of the story -- simply something he found, but look what was inside. Alan removes an old envelope from the wallet, worn and creased.

Love, Aunt Doris

Love, Aunt Doris Just Alan made this envelope. In order to fit the plot, it had to look old, so he had to make one himself since modern envelopes wouldn't look right and the dream wouldn't last. The wallet is put aside, onto a table. "This is the envelope I found inside."

"Look what it says, `To my nephew, Alan. Happy Birthday'". As he turns the envelope over, he shows a message from his aunt, written under the flap and reads, "`Save this for good luck'". "Every year for my birthday, from the time I was one year-old until I was 40, my Aunt gave me one of these." He removes an old two-dollar bill, with writing on it.

"Did you ever see one of these? Oh look at what my Aunt wrote on the bill: `Happy birthday Alan, Love Aunt Doris' My mother never let me spend it. That's why I still have it. I would have taken it to the store and spent all of it on candy or on something. But my mother put it away". The emphasis here, as elsewhere, is on eye contact and timing. These are the elements of a real story. If the magic is going to "transcend," that is, become more than a trick, and more like an enraptured moment, then the story has to be delivered this way.

"Look -- the creases are still in it from when I was a little boy. I used to fold it up at night (Just Alan folds the bill along the creases) and dream that by magic ... (He waves his hand over the folded bill and snaps his fingers) ... I could change the two dollar bill into two real, one dollar bills that I could spend."

What is especially intriguing here is how Just Alan works the creases into the story, quite naturally. Nearly every folding bill effect requires pre-formed creases that are a cause for suspicion. But here Alan uses them to lull the spectator further into the dream: "... as a boy I used to fold it up at night and dream ... ." Who hasn't done something like this?

Love, Aunt Doris
Love, Aunt Doris Just Alan unfolds the bill and shows that it has transformed into two one-dollar bills.

"Oh, and look at that (Alan gestures to the two written messages, one on each bill, and reads) -- "Happy birthday, Alan" and "Love, Aunt Doris". The genius here is the writing which transfers the two-part message, now on two bills. This carries attention away from the "trick" and deeper into the story of his Aunt's loving gift.

"Remember what I told you. My mother and Aunt Doris were identical twins. But my mother never gave me a two dollar bill." (Just Alan folds the bills along the creases again). "My mother always gave me (Alan waves his hand over the bills and snaps his fingers) five dollars for my birthday."

He unfolds the bill and shows the transformation into a single, five dollar bill. Note the use of magical gesture. It really is the only time you think there is a trick here. The first time he does it, you think it is just a demonstration of his childhood fantasy. Now we see it is real magic.

Love, Aunt Doris
"Look at that: `Happy birthday, son. Love always, Mom'" Alan lets it sink in a little while putting the five dollar bill back into the envelope. Then he reaches for the wallet again.

"That's an interesting thing, but there's even something else I'd like to share with you. When I think of my mother and Aunt Doris, I never think of them from 1917." (Alan waves his hand over the wallet and snaps his fingers). "I think of them at their 80th birthday party."

Just Alan opens his wallet to reveal that the photograph has transformed into a color photograph showing his mother and aunt at their 80th birthday. The weakest moment in any "change wallet" routine is the transformation.

Usually, the wallet sits in the hands of the magician and the magical gesture is made. Alan sets the wallet aside which eliminates suspicion.

When the transformation is revealed, the emotional moment is at its peak and I believe this overcomes any suspicion. The transformation is nothing short of miraculous: at first we see his mother and aunt vibrant and youthful. But they are depicted in a brown-edged photograph from 1917. The stamps are old, and worn. The feeling is of nostalgia and quaintness. Then we are lulled into Alan's childhood dream of making money by magic. Finally, the transformation of the photograph. The feeling is one of triumph over time-trancendence. This is a powerful theme, a classic of literature and our collective unconscious.

The final moment comes after a simple gesture to the stamps, now transformed into modern ones.

"She's still collecting stamps."

The item that you just read about Just Alan using in his routine, "Love, Aunt Doris," is a very deceptive triple bill change by Bill Pryor called "The Impossible Dream." A two-dollar bill changes into two one-dollar bills, and they change into a five-dollar bill. It has to be the easiest method I've ever seen for something like this: no sleight of hand is required and the bills are all genuine. You fold and unfold and it happens. When you consider that it takes $9 worth of bills to make the trick, the $38.50 price is well worth it.
For updated price and shipping information, or to order the routine, Love, Aunt Doris,
Call 845-657-9903
Write to us at: PO Box 603 Shokan, NY 12481
Or email: justalanmagic@verizon.net
Note: All prices are subject to change.

Just Alan will customize his Magic for:
Sales Meetings, Motivational Speaking, Work Shops, Weddings, or any Special Event.

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