Phonetastic (Joe Hernandez)
- Difficulty: INTERMEDIATE
- Category: VIRTUAL MAGIC
- Product Type: MAGIC BOOK
ALL OUR COPIES HAVE BEEN AUTOGRAPHED BY JOE HERNANDEZ
Phonetastic is a collection of fifty-two magic tricks you can perform over any phone. Almost all the routines are ones that were either created or refined by Joe Hernandez for virtual use, although many can also be performed live.
With the cell phone as the number one means of instant communication, performing magic over the phone is an excellent way for magicians to share their magic.
Imagine having a card secretly selected, placed back in the deck, then shuffled, and you reveal the chosen card. You can also have a pair of imaginary dice rolled and be able to tell the chosen number. There is even a gambling routine where the spectator deals himself the winning hand without realizing it. Also includes a revised bonus trick from the legendary John Scarne and the introduction to the JDH Principle, a new magic method that is being revealed for the first time.
First Edition. Published by Joe Dez Publications in 2022. Written by Joe Hernandez, 244-pages, 6”x9”, perfect bound, softcover. Foreword by Meir Yedid. All our copies have been hand-autographed by Joe Hernandez.
Joe called me and performed a time clock routine. It fooled me badly. I felt like my head was going to explode. I had to take ten Tylenol. …Will Fern
Every once in a while, you run across a gem or two that makes you smile when you perform them. Here’s a book just brimming with such treasures! …Darryl V. Harris
Joe has created a fantastic collection of effects in this book that will completely blow your mind! Whether performing over the phone or on the internet, you will mystify your spectators and give them something to talk about for a long time. I highly recommend it. …Mike Spade
Over a few weeks, Joe called me and performed several of his phone routines. They were so devious and entertaining that I was mystified each time. It will be great to have some of these effects in my arsenal. …Frank Reyes
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A Marc DeSouza review from the May 2023 issue of MUM Magazine.
This is a great concept for a book — 52 effects (plus a bonus effect) that can be performed remotely, via telephone, for anyone. With some minor adjustment, most of these can also be performed over Zoom. This is definitely a book for the current era we live in.
Full disclosure: Joe has been a friend for many years. I believe I am able to review this book in an unbiased manner, but I have also had the pleasure of experiencing the performance of several of the routines firsthand.
Let me begin by saying the book is very well produced and well written. There is no particular order to the effects presented and you could turn to any page, learn the effect, and perform it (with adequate rehearsal) in short order. I would urge you to begin with the introduction, as it contains very important information about the best ways to perform these routines for maximum effectiveness. Joe discusses the differences between in-person and telephone magic. He emphasizes that the presentations hide the methods and make for entertaining and engaging magic. This is a key element to everything that follows. In each routine, Joe describes the effect, teaches the method in detail, and gives you great scripts. Throughout there is also a lot of additional information concerning the reasoning behind the routine and great psychological tidbits to enhance your performances.
It would be pointless to pick out individual routines, but there are effects such as a number of variations on The Clock Trick, a plethora of Spelling tricks, variations on the 21 Card Trick, and some amazing card revelations under impossible conditions. Joe has taken routines that previously required you to be in the room or use complex setups and reworked them with some incredible principles so that you can do them completely remotely. Obviously, there is no sleight of hand involved, but there is a price to pay. You must be utterly present in the moment to make these work.
Many of these routines are “process heavy.” Some of the process is complex and requires you and your audience to pay attention. The challenge is to make that process entertaining and not feel like it has anything to do with the method. Many of these routines require you to make notes during the performance to make them work. You need to constantly pay total attention during the performances to ensure success. You need to be able to give very clear instructions to your participant. This all requires skills that are different than sleight of hand — it requires sleight of mind, but the dividends gained will be priceless.
So much of this material is mathematically based. How else? We’re not doing real magic here. The challenge is how to camouflage this and Joe gives you some wonderful scripting that does just that. Follow his instructions and you will have some remarkable magic that you can perform, made all the more incredible by the fact that you are not even in the room.
This feels like a wonderfully complete book. It feels even more so when you read my favorite chapter, “The Appendix.” Joe makes constant reference to this chapter throughout the book and for good reason. It contains some very valuable tools, not the least of which is the revolutionary JDH Principle. This is the method he uses in place of stacked cards to achieve many of the effects. It is a brilliant idea and when properly incorporated into the effects, brings the impossibility of the routine to
the next level. Finally, he gives you pages of additional scripting that can be inserted into the routines to cover some of the procedures in an entertaining and engaging fashion. There are specific hunks of script to be used in different portions of the presentation laid out in detail.
To echo Joe’s direction, you want to learn two or three of these at any given time and use them to entertain friends and clients sparingly. You do not want to inundate them with these routines. Used judiciously, they will entertain and baffle in a way that people are not accustomed to. This is highly recommended.
A Rolando Santos review from the April 2023 issue of The Linking Ring Magazine.
When well-known New Jersey magician Joe Hernandez’s book, Phonetastic, arrived for review, I grimaced and shook my head. I’ve always found phone tricks to be tedious and procedure-heavy. They are also risky to present because they require that the performer give the spectator concise and clear instructions over the phone or computer screen. However, the more I read the book, the more excited I became. I kept fooling myself as I worked on the effects. Phonetastic turned out to be exceptional.
Hernandez has skillfully minimized many of the negatives associated with phone tricks. As a result, I ended up with much more than just a new trick or two to use. I have some unique methods and a set of ninety intros, outs, and plot phrases that I can easily mix and match to create material in all areas of my magic performances.
The first effect, A Trick You Can Call On, is brilliant, engaging, and versatile. Your volunteer freely shuffles the deck and deals down to any number. The card at that number is his selected card. More cards are dealt on top of it. Then the spectator deals cards face up until the performer calls for them to stop and reveals the name of the selected card. Hernandez learned this effect from the late Frank Garcia. He uses the method in various forms throughout the book, but this is the most straightforward version. If you do not learn any other effect or method in Phonetastic, A Trick You Can Call On is something you could use for the rest of your career for several types of magic. The method works for a phone effect, a mentalism stage effect, or as a bizarre effect for clairvoyance and séance work using tarot cards.
Another effect that I like is Second Guessing. First, the spectator removes any card from the deck and places it face down on the table. Next, the performer selects a card and puts it face up on the table. Finally, the spectator secretly picks any spot card between two and nine and places it face down next to the face-up card. After a series of instructions, the spectator’s total is the same as the two face-down cards. Second Guessing got a good reaction, and it is quick and easy to do.
There is also a propless variation of an effect called Holy Craps. A spectator imagines a pair of dice, mentally rolls them, and remembers the two numbers. (For this example, let’s say a four and a five.) One die is silently assigned to the performer and the other to the spectator. The performer reveals which number belongs to which person. This effect uses some basic math in order to work, which I thought would be monotonous. But after I came up with a storyline about how conmen used to rook the casinos in the fifties, the effect played very well.
If you perform for military personnel or events, Time is Ripe is the effect you want to learn. It is one of the few tricks I have seen that works using military time. After shuffling the deck, the spectator thinks of any hour of the day. Deal twelve cards to form a clock. The card at his thought-of time will be his selection. The performer reveals the thought-of-hour and the selected card. This effect uses either standard or military time depending on your performance venue.
The book has fifty-two self-working tricks plus a unique variation of an effect first created by John Scarne. Telephotographic Perception is one of the most useful effects in the book because you don’t need a deck of cards or anything else except your phone. The performer sends a single photo of eight objects via text to a spectator. First, the spectator freely chooses any item. Then, the performer names various objects before settling upon the selected item. There is no fishing involved. The method is straightforward and foolproof. Telephotographic Perception can be repeated with a different item in the photo because it works with any of the things the spectator sees. Although the as-written effect has you text the photo to a spectator, some people may not want to share their phone number with you. In that case, just show the photo on your phone and do the effect. The method is from a classic 1951 John Scarne effect that Hernandez updated for Zoom or a cell phone. I had trouble getting my head around this until I decided to trust the self-working nature of the effect. Once I did that, I could focus on the spectator and the story while the trick worked itself. Telephotographic Perception entertained and baffled people. Once you gather items and take a photo of them, it’s on your camera roll and becomes an anytime, impromptu self-working miracle!
Of course, “self-working” doesn’t equate to automatically entertaining material. All the effects in the book are sound, but they must be brought to life on Zoom or the phone screen. The performer supplies the energy, verbal skills, psychology, and a significant degree of “believing what you sell” to make these effects pop. What to say and how to frame the storylines for these kinds of effects are the areas that perplex and ultimately undo most magicians. Hernandez has decades of performing experience and clearly understands the problem. He has devised a way to help the performer make the audience interaction more effortless and entertaining. The solution is something that I have never seen in another magic book. There is an Appendix dedicated solely to sentences, phrases, outs, and basic plots to use with any trick in the book. They can be used for any magic presentation and most mentalism performances using your phone, over Zoom, or at live venues. You can quickly access ninety phrases to find what works for you or the venue where you will be performing.
Instead of reading endless effects to find a plot or phrase that you like, all you need to do is go to the index and learn two or three terms that work for you. The list also serves as a creativity Kickstarter. Hernandez’s solution is pure genius and one of the book’s selling points. In addition to excellent performance material, there are strong, plausible storylines and outs within easy reach of any performer.
Phonetastic would also be a good resource for people wanting to explore storytelling, séance, and mystery entertainment. The book teaches you how to handle an audience that cannot see you by teaching you how to give precise, clear instructions. I was surprised by how often I fooled myself as I learned each effect. That made practice fun and gave me confidence when it came time to perform the tricks.
Phonetastic is a book you want to read with a deck in hand, although there is one pitfall in the book that got me. Many procedures and storylines are similar, so confusing the methods is easy. Hernandez and Meir Yedid, who wrote the forword for the book, both advise picking one or two effects to learn. They were right. I have twenty-one orange-colored Post-it flags marking effects that I want to use, but I couldn’t keep the methods straight. I eventually selected three to keep on my active performance list. The first effect in the book, A Trick You Can Call On, is at the top of my list because the method can be adapted for Bizarre Magick and plays strong. Next, an effect is called Telefortune because it can be done quickly for radio spots, I also chose Telephotographic Perception because it’s visual. I can carry it on my phone, and the method is straightforward. However, there are at least eighteen other effects that I could have easily called a favorite.
It is rare to find a single book that provides excellent, virtually self-working material and a list of ready-made interchangeable storylines and phrases that take the fear and hard work out of creating entertaining magic presentations. Phonetastic can do a lot more for your total magic persona than simply give you a couple of new tricks. Highly recommended.