Almost Famous

A twenty-year-old picture of me with three other magicians recently appeared as part of an auction on eBay. In the picture I was identified as "A Little Known Piano Player." Some may wonder if this was intended as an insult, but to me the anonymity was a blessing in disguise. Back then I really looked like a geek.

Lots to look at this month. Let's get right into it.

The Annotated Magic of Slydini

By Lewis Ganson. Annotations by Slydini as dictated to Dr. Gene Matsuura. 7 x 10 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 297 pages. $59.95 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Orders: 1-800-626-6572. Fax: 530525-7008. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.llpub.com.

Slydini's magic first came to the attention of magicians in Series 8 of the Stars of Magic. Three tricks were featured: Slydini's Cigarette Miracle, Flight of the Paper Balls (more popularly known as the Paper Balls Over the Head), and the Flyaway Coin Routine (a fabulous routine that is rarely performed). There was an addition lesson, The Art of Using the Lap as a Servante, which was to have been the first in a series of lessons, compiled by Dr. Jacob Daley. Due to the untimely death of Dr. Daley, only the first lesson was published under the Stars of Magic banner. In 1958 Slydini lectured throughout England. One result of this tour was the decision to produce a book on Slydini's magic. Lewis Ganson (who had previously written books about the magic of Dai Vernon) was the author, and the book, The Magic of Slydini, became one of the seminal treatises on the art of misdirection.

L&L Publishing has reprinted this classic text in a new edition titled The Annotated Magic of Slydini. The annotations come from Dr. Gene Matsuura, who spent many hours with Slydini discussing Slydini's classic routines, and making notes on the information Slydini imparted. Dr. Matsuura recorded these notes in his personal copy of The Magic of Slydini. These notes became the basis for the annotations incorporated into the present volume. As Dr. Matsuura writes in his Introduction, "The thinking reflected by the annotations in this new edition originated solely from Slydini. I was simply the transcriber. Though the words and phrases are mine, the content of each note resulted from discussions with Slydini himself.. .these notes are not in any way my versions or opinions or thinking about Slydini's material."

The routines presented in the original The Magic of Slydini book are, of course, classics. Included are two lessons on The Art of Using the Lap as a Servante, The Paper Balls in the Hat, three routines using cigarettes, the Coins Through the Table, The Flight of the Paper Balls, The Helicopter Card, and Slydini's Knotted Silks. A major layout change has been made to the new edition - the photographs have been placed next to the appropriate text. This certainly makes it easier to learn these routines. Dr. Matsuura's annotations are incorporated using blue text. Brackets have been used to delineate information that is incorrect. In some cases this information should simply be ignored. In most cases Dr. Matsuura provides corrected information.

I'm sure that at this moment you are asking the question, "How much new information is included in the annotations?" The answer is, "A lot." I've known Dr. Matsuura for more than twenty years, and he is one of magicdom's most conscientious note-takers. We can all thank him for his conscientiousness. There is an impressive amount of new information here. For example, the explanation of Slydini's Knotted Silks almost doubles in length due to the addition of the Matsuura annotations. A few routines have no annotations, but most have been annotated extensively.

Do you need this book if you already own the original? I think so. The corrections, clarifications, and supplemental information render the old book obsolete. Of course, there are two problems with Slydini's magic. Much of it requires that the performer be seated, and all of it is tied to gestures and actions that were natural for Slydini, but will likely appear unnatural for almost anyone else. Fortunately, careful study of The Magic of Slydini will reap great benefits, whether or not any of the routines are actually performed. Also, one of the best routines in the book, Slydini's Knotted Silks, can be performed standing. (This routine was a favorite of the late Michael Skinner, who performed it to perfection.)

I extend my personal thanks to Gene Matsuura and L&L Publishing for making this text available. The Annotated Magic of Slydini is highly recommended to any serious student of magic.

Ibidem 2

Edited by P. Howard Lyons. 8.5 x 11 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 380 pages. $65 postpaid in US. From Hermetic Press, Inc., 1500 SW Trenton St., Seattle, WA 981062468. Fax: 206-768-1688. Email: [email protected]

I miss Howard Lyons. I only spent time with him on a couple of occasions, but his sardonic wit and razor-sharp intelligence made every encounter a memorable experience. Howard was the editor and publisher of Ibidem, a magazine devoted to close-up magic that enjoyed a sporadic publishing schedule from 1955 to 1979. The magazine was hip, funny, and contained some of the best card magic ever published. Original issues of Ibidem are very hard to find, and when they are offered for sale they fetch a high price.

In 1993 Kaufman and Greenberg published a hardbound edition of the first 16 issues of Ibidem. The plan was to issue two more volumes that would contain the remainder of the issues of Ibidem plus the content of Aziz, a magazine that Howard never got around to publishing. Time passed, but the subsequent two volumes did not appear. Many of us feared that they would never appear. Fortunately, Stephen Minch's Hermetic Press took over the project, and Ibidem 2 is now available.

This second volume contains issues 17-28. The emphasis is on card magic and the contributors include Ed Marlo, Ken Beale, Stewart James, Norman Houghton, Bill Simon, Lin Searles, Neal Elias, Sam Randlett, Francis Haxton, Jack Avis, Bill Miesel, Harry Riser, Ross Bertram, James Randi, Martin Gardner, and Howard Lyons. Included in the book are full color reproductions of the original Ibidem covers. These were designed by Pat Lyons, and are hilarious. (My favorite being issue #26 with the Swami who "Sees All - Knows All.")

Card enthusiasts will encounter enough material to keep them busy for many months. I will mention two issues that warrant extra attention. Issue #19 (known as "Marlo's Revenge") contains some excellent routines using gaffed decks. Issue #28 contains a treatise by Ronald Wohl (known as Ravelli) on delaying the set-up deck. Anyone interested in memorized deck magic will find that a study of this treatise will pay big dividends.

I am absolutely delighted that Ibidem 2 has finally been published, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in card magic.

Best of Friends Volume 1

By Harry Lorayne. 6 x 9 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 559 pages. $59.95 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Orders: 1800-626-6572. Fax: 530-525-7008. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.llpub.com.

Card junkies looking for a 500+ page fix will find much to play with in Best of Friends Volume 1. BoF was (I believe) one of the biggest magic books ever published at the time it came out in 1982. The contributors include some of the best creators in magic: Larry Jennings, Ed Marlo, Phil Goldstein, Herb Zarrow, Allan Ackerman, Paul Gertner, J.K. Hartman, Jeff Altman, Tom Mullica, Jim Swain, Jon Racherbaumer, Bob Farmer, Harry Lorayne, and many, many more. (I bought this book when it came out in 1982, and I probably tried every single trick in it. I still occasionally use one of the tricks Jeff Altman contributed. It's a real gem.) Over 120 items are included, and all are described in the inimitable Lorayne style. Harry Lorayne reprinted the book five times, but it has not been available for many years. For the card nut, this book is manna from heaven.

Rovi: The Story of a Man and His Magic

By Richard Owen. 7 x 10 hardcover. 173 pages. $40. From H&R Magic Books, 3839 Liles Lane, Humble, TX 77369. Phone: 281-540-7229. Fax: 281-540-4443. Web site: www.magicbookshop.com.

Ifor Perry was born on November 29, 1919 in Caernarfon, Wales. Ifor became fascinated by magic at a young age, and in particular loved magic with playing cards. He joined the Royal Corps of Signals during World War II, and often entertained his comrades with card magic. After the war he worked as a printer and began to perform magic as a parttime pro. He used the English spelling of his name ("Ivor") to produce his stage name,

"Rovi," and became known throughout his native country and the magic world as Rovi the Welsh Wizard. Rovi died in 1996.

Rovi: The Story of a Man and His Magic contains a biography of Ifor Perry, reminiscences from his friends, and information on Rovi's card techniques and routines. Be aware, however, that there is very little that is new or innovative here. Rovi used time-tested techniques, and his variations on these techniques were minor. In addition, it is documented by many different people throughout this book that it was Rovi's personality that endeared him to his audiences, and it was his personality that made his tricks so effective. Because of this, anyone planning on adding any of these routines to their repertoires will have to plan on spending a lot of time reworking the presentations to fit their own personalities.

Rovi: The Story of a Man and His Magic is a heartfelt tribute to a man who was obviously loved and respected by his friends and peers. Unfortunately, the writing style is very dry, and the trick descriptions do not in any way evoke a sense of Rovi the performer. Those who knew Rovi will certainly want a copy of this book. The biographical information will be of interest to historians, and those seeking simple card techniques and audience tested card routines may find Rovi's material to be useful.

The Joys of Magic

By Emil Loew. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 98 pages. $22.50 postpaid in the US. From Emil Loew, 1120 99th Street, #403, Bay Harbor Islands, FL 33154

Emil Loew has had a long love affair with magic. He was born in the Netherlands in 1910. He was forced to flee his homeland during World War II, and eventually ended up in New York City. He worked a variety of jobs and became acquainted with many of the magicians in New York. Mr. Loew was successful in the business world and he performed magic as a part-time pro. In 1967 he started the Magicians Lecturing Service that brought more than 60 magicians to the United States from overseas.

In The Joys of Magic, Mr. Loew recounts stories from his life in magic. At the age of 91 he retains both an enthusiasm for magic, and a fondness for the many friends he has made. Historians will certainly want to add this book to their collections. The book is unfortunately marred by very poor production values. Desktop publishing allows even self-published books to have a professional appearance. Sadly, few of these resources seem to have been used in the production of The Joys of Magic.

New Self-Working Card Tricks

By Karl Fulves. 6 x 9 softcover. 144 pages. $5.95. ISBN 0-486-41371-3. From Dover Publications, Inc. Available from most bookstores. Web site: www.doverpublications.com.

Karl Fulves continues his series of "Self-Working" magic tricks with this new book of easy-to-do card tricks. The 95 tricks are divided into categories such as Impromptu Card

Tricks, Tests for ESP, Die-Ceptions With Cards, Tricks With Aces, Rouge Et Noir, and Games of Chance. Joseph K. Schmidt has provided over 100 illustrations.

As with his previous books for Dover, Fulves has provided the beginning magician with some excellent material. In addition to his own creations, Fulves has adapted tricks from such luminaries as Martin Gardner, Stewart James, Jack Avis, J.K. Hartman, Walter Gibson, John Scarne, Joseph Dunninger, Sam Schwartz, and Frank Garcia. The book itself is gaffed to allow you to perform a book test.

I own all of the books that Fulves has released through Dover Publications, and I recommend them all. The beginner will find some excellent tricks that require little technical facility, and the most experienced magician will find a wealth of ideas that can be tweaked with the addition of a little "muscle magic." At $5.95, New Self-Working Card Tricks is an enormous bargain, and should find a place on your bookshelf.

Side Show

By Howard Bone with Daniel Waldron. 6 x 9 softcover. 137 pages.$12.95. ISBN 0941543-28-5. From Sun Dog Press. Available from most bookstores.

Howard Bone joined a carnival during World War II. He had served in the Armed Forces, but received a disability discharge. Because of the war, Howard assumed that able-bodied men would be in short supply and the odds were good that he would be able to find employment. He got a job selling tickets for the Ferris Wheel. The job lasted only two hours (Bone was fired for taking a swing at a customer), but Bone's life in the world of the Carney lasted 40 years. Side Show, subtitled My Life with Geeks, Freaks, & Vagabonds in the Carney Trade, is a fascinating story of a life spent in the subculture of the carnival worker. It is a world that few of us have any experience with, and for the most part, it is a world that no longer exists.

Howard Bone was a side show magician, but he also worked as a "Talker" on ballyhoo platforms, fought local tough guys in the Athletic Shows, sold tickets on the midway, labored as a Canvasman putting up and tearing down tents, and was an all-around carny hand. After leaving the road he became friends with Robert and Elaine Lund (of the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan) and Penn and Teller. (Teller wrote a profile of him for The Atlantic Monthly.) Bone retired to his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, and died in 1997 at a Veterans Administration Hospital.

Bone authored several published books, including Hurry...Hurry...Hurry!, which revealed the methods for traditional side show stunts. He also began and destroyed many other manuscripts. Fortunately, one manuscript, titled To Dance Onstage, survived and it is from this manuscript that editor Daniel Waldron has shaped Side Show. The book is an easy read, and it presents a fascinating story. I know that many readers of MAGIC have an interest in the world of Side Shows and carnies, so I wanted to bring Side Show to your attention. I enjoyed it and I think you will, too.

How to Become Your Area's Top Children's Entertainer!

By Eric Paul. 200 page manual in three-ring binder, plus floppy disc. $99.00. From Eric Paul, 42 Manavon Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460. Fax: 610-917-9351. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.epmagic.com.

Here is another course on the business side of professional entertainment. In this case, Eric Paul offers information on how to promote and sell your services as a children's entertainer. This is a very complete package of information, including discussions on advertising, booking the show, preparing for the show, stage, sound, and set-up information, personalizing the show, post-show information, and information on taxes and insurance. Mr. Paul provides numerous examples of promotional materials, give-aways, forms, phone scripts, and much more.

Mr. Paul is obviously a student of the Dave Dee school, as many of the ideas that are found here can also be found in the course Dave Dee sells. There's nothing wrong with this, as much of Dave Dee's approach can be found in the works of other marketing gurus. Mr. Paul has adapted this information to meet the specific needs of the children's entertainer, and I have no doubt that if someone was diligent about following the advice the result would be an increase in the amount of shows they do. Best of all, Mr. Paul offers a 90-day money back guarantee. If you're not happy, send everything back and Mr. Paul will refund your money. I don't see how you can go wrong. If you are a children's entertainer who is looking to increase your business How to Become Your Area's Top Children's Entertainer is worth your serious consideration.

Crayon Magic

By Jeff Brown. 5.5 x 8.5, softcover, stapled. 60 pages. $10 plus $3.50 p&h. From Jeff Brown, 135 W. Second Street, Juneau, AK 99801. Phone: 907-586-1670. Email: [email protected]

For an audience of children, crayons are a natural prop. Jeff Brown has assembled a mini-encyclopedia of crayon magic. There is a variety of magic offered here, although many of these routines are simply tricks that would normally be performed with cigarettes or pencils. Included are ideas from Ron Dayton, Martin Gardner, James Swoger, and Billy McComb. Crayon Magic is a worthwhile collection, especially for the kids' show performer.

Lecture Note Department

I want to bring to your attention a couple of new lecture notes that have arrived at the review desk. Andrew Wimhurst, the talented Australian card man, has been lecturing in Europe and the United States throughout the month of May. If you didn't get a chance to see him you can pick up his new notes directly from him. He has two manuscripts available. Something Wicked ($10) contains two false shuffles designed for the close-up magician. Jiggery Pokery ($15) contains some previously unpublished effects, plus some updated handlings of routines previously published in Down Under Deals and Low Down Dirty Tricks. Andrew is a magician who uses both his hands and his head. His routines are well constructed and designed for the real world. You can get both manuscripts for

$20 plus $2 p&h. Contact him at Andrew Wimhurst, 1 Beech Place, Jerrabomberra NSW, 2619 Australia. (Email: [email protected].)

Barrie Richardson, author of the marvelous Theatre of the Mind, has a new set of lecture notes out. Titled Concepts & Deceptions, the notes contain some added information for routines from Theatre of the Mind, some routines published in the magazine Club 71 (a magazine that is little known here in the United States), and some previously unpublished material. Of particular interest to me was a very offbeat deck switch. As with all of Barrie's material, everything is completely worked out and very ingenious. The notes sell for $20 and you can get them from H&R Magic Books (see the Rovi book above for the address).

CAB 2000

By Dustin Marks. Mac/PC hybrid CD-ROM. $49.95 postpaid when ordered from directly from www.dustinmarks.com. Also available from your favorite magic shop.

Dustin Marks is the author of Cheating at Blackjack and Cheating at Blackjack Squared. CAB 2000 contains material from both books, plus new and updated information. You receive a hybrid CD-ROM that is playable on a Mac or a PC. When you put the disc in your CD-ROM drive it autoplays, bringing up an introductory menu. This menu allows you to install a codec that is needed to play the video clips. (Make sure you install this codec, it has no negative effects on your system.) After installing the codec, click on the "Skip Intro" option. You're not going to miss anything. This brings you to the main menu, offering two choices, Moves and Mockery. The Moves section will be of most interest to magicians. Included are methods of getting cards out of play, hand mucking moves, methods for stacking cards, hole card moves, methods for ringing in coolers, methods for returning cards to play, and miscellaneous moves. The information is presented in Adobe Acrobat format, which provides both text and photographic illustrations. In addition, many of the moves have video clips, so you can actually see the moves in action. The combination of text, illustrations, and video clips makes it easy to understand what's happening with the moves. (Be aware, however, that this is not really a teaching tape. The moves are demonstrated, but they are not thoroughly explained. Anyone with any card handling ability will be able to figure out what's going on.)

By the way, when you are presented with the main screen, there is a Help File option. Click this before you do anything else. Navigating around CAB 2000 is not particularly intuitive, and the help file will aid you, especially when you try to navigate back to the main screen.

The second half of CAB 2000, titled Mockery, contains interviews, articles, photos, and "stuff." This is very much a mixed bag of information about gambling and the casino industry.

All in all, I found CAB 2000 to be informative and entertaining. If you have an interest in the methods of the casino card cheat, I'm sure you will find this CD-ROM to be of value.

The Magic of David Regal Volumes 1-3

By David Regal. Available on videotape or DVD. Each volume $29.95, all three for $84.95 postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Orders: 1-800-626-6572. Fax: 530-525-7008. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.llpub.com.

Slyly encoded beneath the 1's and 0's of the DVD version of this new release from L&L Publishing is a subtle subliminal message: David Regal is the man. At least, that's the message that I got. David Regal writes for television and is the author of the recently released magic book Close-up and Personal. The majority of the material on these three DVDs comes from that book and from Star Quality, written by Harry Lorayne. The emphasis is on card magic, although there are a number of tricks that use miscellaneous props.

Volume One, titled Tricks!, presents a variety of magic, and would be a good choice if you can only afford to purchase one volume of the series. The DVD begins with a series of six tricks arranged into a performance set. This is often the set that David performs when he works at the Magic Castle. My favorite tricks of this set are Clearly Impossible (a coins through table routine), Pasteboard Massacre (in which a portion of the deck is magically cut in two), and There & Back (an impossible transposition of a borrowed ring). Other offbeat tricks on this volume include The Half Deal (in which the spots are dealt off a card), All Strung Out (a prediction effect using different colored strings and wooden beads), and Deep Guilt Aces (a frighteningly fair method for allowing a spectator to cut to and turn over the four aces).

Highlights of Volume Two, titled More Tricks!, include Illegal Collections (an amazing solution for the Collectors plot), The Joker Works Overtime (a wonderful variation of the Chicago Opener), and Cups & Balls & Cups & Balls (a routine with a great call back and a very sneaky method). David often uses this latter routine to close his formal close-up shows.

Volume Three, titled Enough with the Tricks Already!, features card magic that can be performed impromptu. Be sure to pay attention to Primate (an ungaffed version of Bill Goldman's Monkey in the Middle), The World's First Card Trick (an impossible prediction), Dave's Move a Card, and Four the Hard Way.

These DVDs succeed on many levels. David Regal is a fine performer, and his presentations are very entertaining. He is also a very sneaky creator. I guarantee that you are going to get fooled more than once. Best of all, most of his creations are not difficult to perform. Any magician of average ability should have no trouble learning these routines. And don't forget: David Regal is the man.

The David Regal series is the first release from L&L Publishing that is appearing in both videotape and DVD formats. All future releases from L&L will be in both formats. To this I say, "Hurray." The instant accessibility of any segment of the DVD allows you to avoid the fast-forward frustrations that accompany the viewing of a magic videotape. The DVDs have a system of menus that allow you to immediately access any of the performances, explanations, or supplemental material on the disc. At the present time the DVD version of the Regal series can only be ordered from L&L Publishing. If you have a DVD player it would behoove you to invest in this format.

The Magic of David Regal Volumes 1-3 are some of most enjoyable videos I've ever watched. Whether you're looking for material to add to your repertoire, or you just want to be entertained (and fooled), I think you're going to get more than your money's worth. Recommended.

(By the way, if you'd like a set of videos autographed by David Regal, you can order them from him at David Regal, 825 Bethany Rd., Burbank, CA 91504. The price is $84.95 postpaid.)

Get Real Volumes 1-3

By Todd Lamanske. Each video $30. All three for $80 plus $6 p&h. From Moonbeam Magic, 1609 Park Lane, Kearney, MO 64060. Phone: 816-628-4147. Fax: 816-628-4421.

The most important aspect of my development as a magician was my association with Harry Riser. Although we spent hours talking about technique, theory, and naturalness, the most important thing that Harry did for me was to help me develop my internal editor. He helped me understand why certain methods were good while others were no good (NG, in Harry's terminology). The development of this internal editor was a painful process, and mostly came about by my showing Harry something I had created and Harry saying, "That's really NG, Mike." Over time, I learned the difference between a true methodological improvement and a mere cosmetic variation. My time with Harry caused me to set high standards for myself, and to hold others to these same standards. Without having gone through this process it would be difficult for me to evaluate my own creations.

Which brings me to this series of three tapes by Todd Lamanske. They have been heavily advertised with full-page ads in this magazine. Recently, Mr. Lamanske has sent tapes to well-known magicians asking for criticism and quotes. Unfortunately, this is something he should have done before putting these tapes on the market. Had he done so, he might have avoided having to read the bad news here.

Mr. Lamanske explains that the routines on these videos are ones that he has used professionally for many years, and I have no doubt that this is true. However, what he presents to us are mild personalizations of standard plots, pedestrian presentations that rarely go beyond "the adventures of the props and the hands" (to use Eugene Burger's phrase), and technique (especially coin technique) that at times caused me to cringe.

Volume One begins with Nothing Up My Sleeve, an inferior version of Mark Prines' Tonight Show Silks, which appeared in Dean Dill's Intimate Miracles. (Dean performed this trick on the Tonight Show). Mr. Lamanske makes no mention of Prines' routine. The technique Mr. Lamanske uses to vanish a silk with a thumb tip is atrocious. Next is Fresh Prints, a variation of Dai Vernon's Fingerprint Trick. Not only is the Lamanske method a step backward (losing one of the most important features of the Vernon method), but Mr. Lamanske also makes no mention of Vernon. 2-Na Sandwich is an inferior version of Bro. John Hamman's Signed Card. Dream On is actually Carl Andrew's Déjà Vu routine. No credit is given to Carl.

It just gets worse as we move to other two volumes. Mr. Lamanske's Chop Cup routine is the Don Alan Chop Cup routine, with additional loads. No mention is made of Don Alan. Hard Eight is John Bannon's production of an eight ball from a card case. Mr. Lamanske defends his variation by stating that he (Lamanske) vanishes the ball at the end of the trick. This he does by heaving it into a Topit. I'm sorry, but simply ditching the ball at the end does not make this a meaningful variation of John's trick. Mr. Lamanske also performs the Card Under the Drink and the Card on the Forehead. As I have stated at other times in this column, anybody who can palm a card can get a card under an object once. What makes the trick interesting is trying to do it more than once. Mr. Lamanske offers nothing that is better than previously published information.

To be fair, I will mention two routines that I thought had some merit. Mini-Morphosis is a signed coin in Lippencott box routine. It's clever, but it demands that you use a Topit. Flying Aces is an Ace Assembly that requires a bunch of gaffed cards. It would certainly fool laymen, and might possibly fool magicians.

If you are a beginner to close-up magic, it is possible that the material offered here might be of some use, although it would be a big mistake to emulate Mr. Lamanske's performance style. However, if you are new to close-up there are far better ways to spend your money. You should invest in books that bear the names of Vernon, Bobo, Roth, Giobbi, Wonder, Carney, Burger, and Jennings. Get Real Volumes 1-3 are a waste of your time and money. They are not recommended.

Jerry Camaro on the Bottom Deal

The Card Magic of Martin A. Nash Volumes 4-5

From A-1 MagicalMedia. Camero Video $29.95. Nash videos $29.95 each, both for $54.95. Postage and handling free in US, Canada, and overseas air. From A-1 MagicalMedia, 3337 Sunrise Blvd., #8, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742. Orders: 800-8767785. Fax: 916-852-7785. Web site: www.a1magicalmedia.com

Curiously, a number of videos explaining methods of false dealing arrived at roughly the same time. Jerry Camaro on the Bottom Deal focuses on only one move. Volume 5 of the Martin Nash series contains information on several different false deals. The Ed Marlo video Seconds, Centers, and Bottoms (reviewed next) also explains many different false deals.

Before we look at the videos from A-1, I'd like to offer a gentle and respectful suggestion to anyone out there who is considering doing a videotape on the bottom deal. Be very careful how you use the phrase "absolutely no finger flash." You might want to actually videotape yourself doing the deals to see if your left fingers are flip-flopping around. Both the Camaro and the Nash bottom deals display noticeable finger flash.

The ad for Jerry Camaro on the Bottom Deal states, "Complete Expert Instruction on the Camaro Bottom Deal." On the video this consists of exactly three minutes of explanation. Now, to be fair, Jerry does tell you just about everything you need to know in order to do this bottom deal. However, I don't think that the move should be called "the Camaro Bottom Deal." Basically, Jerry does a strike bottom deal using Ed Marlo's Master Grip, a technique that has certainly been around for a long time. Jerry explains how to grip the deck, how to extract the bottom card, how to achieve a rhythmical deal, and how to minimize noise. One important fact he does not mention is this: your success at mastering this type of deal is going to depend on the size of your hand. My hand is too small to grip the deck in the manner explained. If you have very dry hands (as I do), you may experience problems trying to extract the bottom card.

Jerry explains 10 effects using the bottom deal. Unfortunately, many of these are simply variations of a basic Stop Effect. (You deal cards, the spectator says stop, and you bottom deal on the last card.) There are some poker deals explained, but I'm not sure that holding out a bunch of cards and then doing deceptive bottoms during the first round of dealing enhances the Marlo-Gardner Poker Deal. Jerry Camaro on the Bottom Deal does deliver information on one type of bottom deal, but you might want to investigate other sources of information before you shell out your $30.

Martin Nash explains a wide variety of false deals, multiple shifts, and false shuffles on Volume 5 of his video series from A-1. There is a lot of information presented here, and I think the would-be card expert will find much to work on. Volume Four of the series contains eight card items, including information on the Infinity card and the tabled faro shuffle. Mr. Nash's mastery of the latter move is otherworldly, and it may be possible to learn it from the video. Of particular interest is a center dealing demonstration that uses the Infinity card. If you wanted people to believe that you were the greatest card handler on earth, this routine would fit the bill. Be aware, that the material on these two videos is for the serious card student only.

Edward Marlo: Seconds, Centers, and Bottoms

By Ed Marlo. $39.95. From Randy Wakeman, 12362 S. Oxford Lane, Plainfield, IL 60544. Email: [email protected]

Seconds, Centers, and Bottoms is the name of one of the books of Ed Marlo's Revolutionary Card Series. (I think these books are still available from Magic, Inc. They are a tremendous value.) On this videotape of the same name we get a chance to see legendary card man Ed Marlo perform many different false deals and passes. The video is a transfer of what looks like home movie-type footage, and the video quality can only be categorized as average. However, the image is clear enough that you can see and understand everything Ed is doing. Be aware that this is not really a teaching tape. Ed demonstrates and in most cases gives a brief explanation of what he is doing, but this tape will be of most value if you already have Ed's books in your library. Fans of Ed Marlo, will find this tape to be a real treat and a valuable addition to their video libraries. Of the Ed Marlo tapes that Randy Wakeman has released recently, I found Seconds, Centers, and Bottoms to be the most interesting.

The Ultimate Levitation

From Splashes Creative Services. $11,000 plus shipping. Email: [email protected]. Web site: www.splashescreative.com

I don't often get the chance to review an illusion in this column. Bob Kohler suggested that I visit Bob North at Splashes Creative Services and take a look at his Ultimate Levitation. I'm glad I did. This is a seriously clever piece of machinery.

You can see a picture of the levitation on page 5 of the January 2001 issue of MAGIC. Unfortunately, the picture does not do justice to the illusion. The levitation is performed on a stage built on a triangular framework. This stage stands 21 inches high and is 78 inches across. The illusion does not need a black backdrop, nor are there special lighting considerations. You can also perform it well in front of the backdrop. The ad copy is slightly deceptive, but I'm not going to tell you why, because that would tip the method. Let me just tell you that it seems impossible that the assistant would rise to height she does, since you can see underneath the illusion and the base stands 22 inches off the floor.

Several things about Bob North's company impressed me on my visit. First was the ingenuity of the design. Second was the commitment to quality control. Each of the levitation units is tested hundreds of times before the illusion leaves the shop. Third, Bob can do custom work, and can modify this illusion to fit your needs.

Obviously, this is not cheap, but no quality illusion ever is. If this is a prop you think you can use, you will not be disappointed in The Ultimate Levitation. Contact Bob via email for more information.

Say Cheese

By Mike Bent. $22.50 plus $2 p&h. From Mike Bent, P.O. Box 79080, Belmont, MA 02479. Email: [email protected]

Here is a wonderfully goofy trick from the wonderfully goofy Mike Bent. The effect is based on Michael Kaznetsis' Polageist in which an image of a selected card magically appears on a Polaroid photograph. Say Cheese uses the Polaroid Joy Cam compact instant camera. Mike provides you with a variety of images, including playing cards, cheese, UFOs, and pentagrams. It is a simple matter to gaff the camera with one of the images. You then position the spectator in the viewfinder, snap a picture, and when the picture develops there is an extra, eerie image on the photograph. Because of the design of the images you'll want to steer toward a lighthearted presentation rather than a serious demonstration of psychic ability. (Visualize Uri Geller performing in Toontown.) Simple to do, simple to set-up, and the gaffs are reusable. If the effect appeals, Say Cheese is worth checking out.

The Gambler's Marked Deck Stealth Linking Pins

From Houdini's Magic Shop. Gambler's Marked Deck $14.95 plus $3 p&h. Stealth Linking Pins $20 plus $3 p&h. From Houdini's Magic Shop, 6455 South Industrial Road, Suite L, Las Vegas, NV 89118. Web site: www.houdini.com

Here are two items from Geno Munari's Houdini's Magic Shop. The Gambler's Marked Deck is a deck that is marked, stripped, and has a one-way back. The instructions provided explain a simple system for stacking the deck. Two methods are offered for determining the position of any card: a small chart and Walter Gibson's Card Dial. 100 easy magic tricks are also explained. The Gambler's Marked Deck is of a decent quality, and the marks are fairly easy to read once you understand the system. However, since the back design does not match any familiar back style, I think this is just a trick for the novice. If you're in front of real people and you pull this deck out I fear you'll be greeted with the proverbial, "Are those trick cards?"

The Stealth Linking Pins is an all-in-one Linking Pin kit. You get five 3-inch pins, two small black pins, and two bronze pins. The instructions consist of various routines by Han van Senus (which originally appeared in Apocalypse), Karl Norman, Dan Garrett, Jim Hunter, L.V. Lyons, Gerald Kosky, Jim Klayder, and Geno Munari. It is Munari's routine that gives the trick its name. Apparently, there is a black art principle that can be used with the black pins, although the instructions are not exactly clear about how this works. If you have never done a Linking Pin routine, The Stealth Linking Pins may be a worthwhile investment, since you get all the necessary props, plus a variety of routines to play with.

It's Not Magic, But.

I recently picked up a Verve compact disc re-release of an Oscar Peterson album titled On the Town. In the liner notes to the CD, Neil Tesser mentioned "a thirty-something, conservatory-trained, Las Vegas-based pianist with the decidedly non-monomial handle of Mike Jones .[who] has quietly established himself as the logical successor to the stultifying virtuosity of Oscar Peterson." "Wait a minute," I thought. "I live in Las Vegas, Mike Jones lives in Las Vegas.I should track this guy down."

I did just that. Mike Jones is superb piano player with a jaw-dropping facility on the instrument. He has three CDs on the Chiaroscuro label. You can find them online at www.chiaroscurojazz.com/catalog.php3. The discs are titled Oh! Look at Me Now, Runnin' Wild, and Live atSteinway Hall. All are terrific, but you might want to start with the Steinway Hall disc. Mike's style combines elements of Oscar Peterson and Dave McKenna, and he swings really hard. At the present time Mike plays at the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower in the Paris Hotel. Unfortunately, the piano is not placed for optimal listening pleasure, but it's worth a visit if you come to Vegas.

(By the way, also in the Chiaroscuro catalog are four CDs by John Costa, who was the piano player on the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood program. Costa was one of the best jazz piano players who has ever lived, and his discs are a delight.)

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