And it’s not only his magic, but Potassy, who spent time in a Russian prison-of-war camp during WWII and entertained dignitaries behind the iron curtain during the Cold War era, has a fascinating background and story.
Video quality rarely deserves mention in a magic review, unless it's very poor. However, the video on this DVD is not only excellent, it's the first instructional video that I've seen in glorious widescreen. Undoubtedly, a trend for the future.
The first disc offers Potassy’s amazing stage show. In “Sympathetic Silks,” one of his signature effects and opener, two sets of scarves mysteriously tie and untie under increasingly humorous conditions. For the finish, all the scarves instantly tie themselves together. This one is baffling, visual and entertaining.
The difference with this version is that Potassy is actually putting sharp razor blades into his mouth. While I’ve seen other versions of this effect, Potassy can perform this anytime in his act and at the end, he’s left completely clean. It’s a great version of the classic, but one that can potentially cut the performer.
In “Pickpocket,” Potassy performs a card trick and then repeatedly produces cards and then personal items from the jackets and pockets of spectators. The kicker is a stolen wristwatch. Potassy makes this one hilarious and entertaining.
In “Newspaper Tear,” Potassy explains how to perform a torn and restored newspaper effect, but then, in a twist, the explanation leaves the audience even more amazed and baffled.
A reference to the famous prison, in “Sing-Sing,” a freely chosen card is signed by two spectators, shuffled back into the deck and not only found in the performer’s wallet but between two metal plates that are sealed with rubber bands in both directions. This is "card to wallet" on steroids.
A baffling bit of mentalism, in “The Prediction,” a spectator chooses a book from a stack of normal paperback books and a word is freely chosen. Another spectator chooses the name of a major city. The performer opens an envelope that has been in plain view throughout the routine and it’s found to contain two correct predictions. This one is really good. Potassy has masterfully dressed the routine with elements that help to conceal the method.
As an encore, which Potassy’s audiences always demand, there’s “The Encore Card Stab” A card is chosen, lost into the deck and spread face down on a table. The performer is blindfolded yet manages to find the card by impaling it on the tip of a knife.
Throughout his routines, Potassy executes precise, well-placed and humorous misdirection that relies on an unusual prop (an everyday item that's not commonly used in magic stage shows). Potassy's approach to stage management and misdirection are something that all magicians can learn from.
Max Maven conducts an in-depth and interesting interview with Potassy. Here, Potassy discusses choosing tricks, performing magic for 66 years and working with assistants and tells stories about his years in magic.
Most fascinating are his meetings and performances with Soviet dignitaries during the Cold War era and his tale of how magic literally saved his life. Get a clever screenwriter to add a bit of fictional Cold War intrigue to the mix and there’s probably the basis for a movie here.