Steve Thompson: A History of the Innovative Creator

By Joshua Jay - Saturday, March 4, 2023

A book test…but with a magazine you have in your home.

Ring flight but on a keychain that looks like something you’d actually use.

And now, perhaps best of all, a full glass of beer from an empty paper bag.

I first met Steve Thompson years ago when I was performing at a magic convention in Ireland. He told me then that he wasn’t a professional performer, but I was struck because everything he showed me had a certain polish, and a “touch” that was uncommonly thoughtful. Who is this guy? How does he come up with this stuff?

He explained to me that, by day, he’s a consultant for businesses, and helps them maximize their performance and productivity. And years later, as we became friends, I understood that this is also precisely what he does in magic: he takes existing plots and tweaks them to maximize impact. He squeezes every bit of power he can from a trick, and teases out new moments, extra handling ideas, and simply makes things better.

Our first collaboration with Steve at Vanishing Inc. was “Glance,” a book test using ordinary-looking magazines that appear borrowed or supplied by the spectator. I use “Glance” in my parlor show, and it gets an insanely great reaction every time.

I also keep it on the coffee table in my home, so that when guests come over and start flipping through it, I can stand across the room, ask them to think of any long word inside, and read their mind. “Glance” is a simple idea at its core—to do the best book test method, but rather than build it inside a book nobody has heard of or that looks suspicious, we build it into the most commonplace of objects: a magazine.

When people ask me my very, very, very favorite Vanishing Inc. release, it’s an impossible question to answer because I like every single thing we work on: Andi and I simply don’t take on projects unless we feel that we would honestly use the piece in our own shows. But I have to admit: I think my very favorite of all time is “Glance.” It’s been out for nearly a decade, and it still astounds me when I perform it in my shows.

Fast forward ten years. Steve Thompson is back, with a new release, in which a paper bag (what our British friends would, unfortunately, call a “sack”). The bag is shown empty in the most convincing way, and then, with an audible thud, you produce a full glass of liquid. Simple. Elegant. Impossible.

This effect has been a long time coming, as we wanted to get both the instructional materials and the props absolutely perfect. Our COO and Head Product Manager George Luck has been, as usual, a perfectionist about the whole thing, and when coupled with Steve Thompson’s own drive for absolute perfection…the results take…a very long time.

But I hope you’ll agree with me that the wait has been worth it, because "Appearing Glass” looks like just about the best liquid production I’ve ever encountered. The innovative new method allows the bag to be seen as empty right up until the glass appears, you can even let them reach in and grab it themselves. It’s easy to do, plays terrific on a stage or during walkaround, and can be added into your show with a minimum of rehearsal.

Like “Glance” and everything else I’ve seen Steve develop, this gets my highest recommendation. We have another Steve Thompson effect coming up, which is as different to this drink production as it is to a magazine book test. I’m equally excited for that, but until that time, I hope you’ll join me in saluting the brilliance that is…Steve Thompson.

Buy "Appearing Glass"

Appearing glass by Steve Thompson

Reader comments:


Sunday, 05 March 2023 11:33 AM - Reply to this comment

You’ve got some strange British friends! A sack in Britain is very large. Think of a coal sack that, in the old days, would be carried on a workman’s back. Sacks are large. Kids climb into sacks and use them for sack races. You would probably get a couple of hundred drinking glasses in a sack. You are referring to something in the UK we call - a paper bag! (I think your British friends are playing a joke on you).


Tuesday, 07 March 2023 18:37 PM - Reply to this comment

I have heard them called paper sacks in the North of England.It might be a North/South thing
but then again I have heard an awful lot of British magicans say 'Fantastic! whenever a spectator completes the difficult task of returning a card to the deck!
Any way well done Steve!

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