January 2000 Did We Make It

It's rather odd, sitting here at the end of November, typing a column that will not appear until the first part of January. Was the Y2K problem as serious as everyone thought it might be? Or was it smooth sailing all the way? Are you sitting in front of your fireplace, reading this issue of MAGIC while sipping a cup of tea? Or did the whole world go straight to hell, in which case the fact that I've just come up with the ultimate method for Stewart James' "Fifty-one Faces North" is not really that important after all.

I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Happy New Year.

World Class Manipulation Volumes 1-3 By Jeff McBride

I am unsure how laymen perceive manipulative magic. If you use the definition that magic is something that has no logical explanation and no rationalized explanation satisfies, then manipulation falls short on both counts. If a magician produces fans of playing cards, or makes billiard balls multiply or change color, the most easily rationalized explanation also makes sense logically - the magician is good with his hands. As with juggling, are laymen suitably impressed with the skill involved, making complete bafflement unnecessary? I don't know.

One reason manipulative routines are easily dismissed as magical juggling is that they so rarely have any meaning. (An exception to this is the Miser's Dream, in which the production of money certainly resonates with any human being.) An audience member may rightly ask, "Why is the magician manipulating these cigarettes, cards, balls, or thimbles?" An easy (and correct) answer is, "Because they are of a convenient size and shape to be comfortably manipulated." ("I do this with coins, because I can't do it with manhole covers.") Cardini devised a brilliant approach for instilling meaning into a manipulative act: the magician (who is a bit tipsy) is as baffled and frustrated as the audience. The magician isn't making things happen, things are happening to him. This shift of focus transforms the act, making it into one in which the manipulation is the means, rather than the end.

Therefore, if your goal is to produce the sensation of magic (as defined above) you must devise an act in which there is a logical reason to use the props involved, and there is an underlying meaning to the events that occur. How are you going to do this? I have no idea (which is why I don't do a manip act), and this is a challenge at which few succeed. However, if you want to learn the essential techniques of sleight-of-hand with coins, balls, and thimbles, you will find almost everything you need to know on the three-volume videotape series Jeff McBride's World Class Manipulation.

Jeff McBride is well qualified to teach this type of material. He has had a lifelong interest in manipulative magic, he has had the benefit of personal contact with some of the finest manipulators of the past 30 years, and he has the chops to perform and explain difficult moves. I was enthusiastic about Jeff's earlier three-volume set on Card Manipulation, and I am enthusiastic about this new release.

Each of the three videos covers manipulative techniques for coins, balls, and thimbles. Volumes One and Two are over 90 minutes in length, and each of the three subjects receives an equal amount of time. Volume Three is about 75 minutes in length, and the thimble section is shorter, only about 12 minutes. Each section of Volume One begins with an examination of the various types of props available. Then follow explanations of a wide variety of flourishes, productions, vanishes, grips, acquitments, changes, and routines. A highlight of Volume One is a simple Miser's Dream routine that could be incorporated into your act with a minimum of practice.

As you progress to Volumes 2 and 3 the material becomes more challenging and will require greater dedication to master. Two highlights were Geoff Latta's "Onstage Shuttle Pass," on Volume 2, and the Jumbo Coin Manipulations on Volume 3.

Scattered throughout the three volumes are short "verbal essays" in which Jeff discusses such subjects as Rehearsing on Video, Streamlining & Simplicity, Confidence & Practice, Troubleshooting, Goal Setting & Competitions, and Magical Intention. In this last essay Jeff touches on the subject of "meaning," but he offers no concrete solutions.

Some of you may wish that the material on these tapes had been organized differently. If you are only interested in coin magic, you're going to have to purchase all three tapes to get all the coin information. Had the tapes been arranged with all the coin information on one tape, all the thimble information on another, and all the ball information on a third, you would only need to purchase the tape dedicated to the subject you're interested in. I can certainly understand the publisher's reasoning for releasing the tapes organized according to difficulty rather than subject matter. No publisher would want to have a warehouse full of thimble tapes.

One more quick note: These tapes (and The Art of Card Manipulation volumes and Daryl's Encyclopedia of Card Sleights) are prime candidates for release as DVDs. The DVD format is making rapid inroads in the consumer market (even Blockbuster Video has finally introduced a DVD section), and the ability to access instantly the material on these videos would be a great convenience. But magic DVDs will only appear if the market demands it. So, if you'd like to see this material on DVD, I would suggest you contact L&L Publishing and let them know.

We are now in a day and age when poor technique is unacceptable. If you are serious about learning to manipulate coins, balls, or thimbles, Jeff McBride's World Class Manipulation is a fabulous resource. Recommended.

Pros: A huge variety of sleights, stratagems, and routines, organized from easier to more difficult, well-taught by one of the best in the world.

Cons: Material could have been organized by subject, so you would not have to purchase three tapes.

Pavel's Cabaret By Pavel

Good stand-up material is hard to find. Such material tends to be "prop" oriented, and even if you find a suitable prop and a decent routine, you're still faced with the challenge of making the performance something other than "an adventure of the props and the hands" (to use an expression from Eugene Burger). In the three volumes of Pavel's Cabaret (originally released by Videonics) you'll find a collection of practical parlor magic utilizing ropes, silks, and miscellaneous objects.

Volume One contains a wide variety of silk magic. You'll find an excellent method for vanishing a silk, a method for visually transforming a ball into a silk, a very simple method for performing the 20th Century Silks effect, and two methods for "Blendo." Of special interest is "Silks from Silk," an effect you've probably seen. The magician holds a silk by one corner and shakes it. Another silk appears tied to the corner of the first silk. The first silk is removed and the second silk is shaken. A third silk appears tied to the second. This is repeated several times. This is a beautiful effect, but the advertising blurb concerning it is not accurate. It states, "If Pavel could get a royalty from every professional magician who is using this method, he would make a fortune." Unfortunately, the method is not Pavel's. Pavel states on the video that the method is not his, and he does not know who originated it. (I don't know either, so if you know, drop me a line and I'll educate us all.)

Volume Two contains rope magic. The highlight of the tape is the first routine, "Krazy Knot." The routine begins with the magician knotting a rope around his neck. The rope is pulled through the neck, and the knot remains in the rope. More knots are added, until there is a huge wad of knots at the center of the rope. The challenge is for the magician to remove the knots as quickly as possible. This he does. The magician shakes the rope and the wad of knots falls to the floor, leaving a very short piece of rope held between his hands. This is a unique, visual, and absolutely astonishing effect. Also on this video is Pavel's original "Fantastic Knot," which was adapted by Daryl and became "The Jumping Knot of Pakistan." There is also a very funny sight gag where three knots travel from a real rope to an invisible rope.

Volume Three is titled Potpourri, and the name says it all. There are tricks with rings and ribbons, rings and silks, and ropes. There is a very clever card divination titled "Clip a Card," and a version of "Blendo" called "Blendo Full of Holes" that would be perfect for the children's entertainer. Another fooler is the "Seven Sided Cube," which has a swindle near the end that completely went by me.

Pavel's demonstrations and explanations are good, but he does not go into great detail about how to make the necessary props. For instance, he does not completely explain how to construct the rope used in "Krazy Knot." He explains how the rope is gaffed, but the exact method of construction is up to you. You're going to have to spend some time experimenting, or find someone who already knows how to gaff the ropes. In fact, the biggest challenge of these tapes will be obtaining the necessary props. Also be aware that Pavel's presentations are very basic. Most of the time he performs these routines silently, with a musical accompaniment. If you do a talking act, you'll have to come up with some type of meaningful presentation.

For the stand-up performer, Pavel's Cabaret Volumes 1-3 are a gold mine of interesting and baffling ideas. Be warned, however, that it will take some work (both in finding props and in developing presentations) before these routines will find a place in your act. Recommended.

Pros: Interesting, baffling, and easy-to-do stand-up material using a variety of props.

Cons: The challenge is finding (or constructing the props) and devising meaningful presentations.

(By the way, Louis Falanga just sent his January 2000, L&L Publishing Catalog of Magic. It is the nicest catalog I've ever seen. Full color, glossy stock, 104 pages, and perfect bound. Regular L&L customers have probably already received a copy, but if you haven't, the catalog sells for $10. Contact L&L for more information.)

Schulien's - The Last Night From Al James

On January 27, 1999 an icon of close-up magic disappeared forever. On that evening, Schulien's Restaurant closed its doors. The restaurant, which was established in 1886, was the oldest in Chicago, and for the past 84 years it had featured close-up magic. Matt Schulien had been the chief guru, and his convivial approach to close-up magic helped establish the "Chicago Style." When Matt died the restaurant was run by his son Charlie, who also did magic, and when Charlie died the restaurant passed on to Charlie's son. A lot of magicians worked Schulien's; it was not only a neighborhood-gathering place, it was also a hangout for visiting magicians.

Schulien's - The Last Night captures the final hours of the restaurant. There are reminiscences by patrons, reflections by magicians (Jay Marshall, Steve Draun, and J.B. Brash), and performances by Al James, Bill Pack, Jim Krzak, and Lee Levin. (For James, Schulien's had been a regular gig for over 20 years.) There are final toasts and sad farewells as everyone says goodbye to a legendary venue.

Schulien's - The Last Night has the look and the cohesion of a wedding reception video. This is a home video touched up with a little editing. Those of you who have visited Schulien's may find it nostalgic to see it again. I found the magic performances to be completely underwhelming. There is no attempt to present a history of the restaurant, or to profile its owners. This is a pity, for I fear that those who never visited Schulien's will simply wonder what all the fuss was about. Historians may want a copy of this video for their records, but be aware that you are purchasing a very rough product.

Pros: Once last chance to roam around a legendary magic venue.

Cons: Amateur video at best, and no attempt to provide a history of the restaurant or its owners.


By Michael P. Lair

Another prop greatly favored by stage manipulators is the candle, although I find the use of them to be slightly anachronistic. (I wouldn't mention this fact to any stage manipulators, though, lest they remove their top hats, cloaks, and white gloves, and beat you to death with their canes.) This popularity is due in part to the fine vanishing and appearing candles manufactured by Fantasio. On the new video, Candles, Michael P. Lair offers a full course in candle techniques. If you own Fantasio candles, and you want to get the most out of them, this tape is invaluable. (Incidentally, Michael has Fantasio's full permission to explain this material.)

Michael begins with a full discussion of candle basics: how to fill the wick holder, what type of lighter fluid to use, how to keep the wick moist, how to properly extend the candle, how to fix the candle should it become unwound, and methods for keeping the candles secure until they are produced. If the video only contained this basic information, it would probably be worth the price.

Michael then demonstrates and explains a wide variety of applications and flourishy effects, including "Firefall," in which the candle vanishes in a shower of sparks, "Candle Rewind," in which a lit candle changes into a 30 inch ribbon, "Candle to Sword," and a routine which combines candles and billiard balls. The description of one effect, "Spitfire," is slightly misleading. It reads, "Spitfire - A candle appears lit at any time during your show." This gives the impression that you show your hands empty and suddenly the candle appears lit. This is not the case. In order to produce the lit candle you must already have a fire source (a match, or another lit candle) in your hand. "Spitfire" looks good, but it is not as miraculous as the description would lead you to believe.

If you're already using Fantasio candles in your act, or you're planning on incorporating them, Candles should be in your video collection. It is an excellent resource. Recommended.

Pros: Excellent basic information on the care and handling of Fantasio candles, combined with some interesting and flashy routines.

Cons: Do you really want to be doing the same thing every other stage manipulator is doing?


By Stephen Minch

The term "magic hobbyist" sometimes carries a derogatory connotation, and this should not be the case. Like the model railroader or the stamp collector, the magic hobbyist simply enjoys his pastime without the pressures of trying to make a living from it. The problem occurs when the hobbyist forces his hobby on spectators without sufficient preparation. (Of course, an ill-prepared professional also does the same damage.)

The world of magic has been blessed with some extremely talented and creative hobbyists: Ed Marlo, Harry Riser, Alex Elmsley, Martin Gardner, Howard Lyons, and Dai Vernon immediately come to mind. One name that may not be as familiar (especially to younger readers of this magazine) is Milt Kort. Mr. Kort has had a lifelong interest in magic, especially close-up magic, though he made his living as a pharmacist. But he was a skillful performer and a diabolical creator, and his drugstore in Detroit became a haven for people like Dr. Jacob Daley, Charlie Miller, Ed Marlo, Dai Vernon, Richard Cardini, Paul Rosini, and Harry Blackstone. He contributed greatly to Bobo's New Modern Coin Magic, had material published in many magic journals, and released a few small booklets, including Kort is Now in Session, and Off-color Card Tricks. Kort assembles the best of his material, published and unpublished, and will be a delight for anyone interested in sleight-of-hand magic with small objects.

The book is arranged into three large sections - Kort Kards, Kort's Coins, and Kort's Assorted - and in each section the material ranges from fairly easy to quite challenging. In addition, there are a wide variety of plots and techniques.

Kort Kards begins with three fine routines ("Diminishing Monte," "Heir to the Throne," and "Quintemodo") incorporating the presentational ploy of decreasing the number of cards in play with each phase (apparently making it easier for the spectators to follow what is going on). In addition to being useful performance pieces, these three routines are excellent examples of ingenious routining. There are several routines with a color-change theme (including a version of the 21 Card Trick that I have varied slightly and am using as a magician fooler), a Card to Shoes effect, and a psychic phone test using a standard gaffed deck in a way that would devastate magician or layman.

Mr. Kort is known as an expert coin manipulator, and Kort's Coins contains some of his finest work. Included are the full details of "Kort's Copper and Silver Transposition" (originally published in New Modern Coin Magic, this version uses only two ungaffed coins), "Cuckoo's Coin" (an easy variation of Slydini's "Flyaway Coin Routine"), the famous "Okorto Box Routine," and "The Rumsey Vanish" (a previously unpublished vanish of a small object using a handkerchief). This last item has many applications, and is used in several other routines in Kort.

Kort's Assorted contains routines using varied props, including a very welcome section on dice magic. Dice routines are rare in the literature, and there are some fine ones here. (Be aware, however, that most are not particularly easy.) For me, the two highlights of this chapter are "Kortospheres," (a variation of Dr. Daley's "Chromo-spheres), and "The Egg and milt" (an Egg Bag routine performed with an egg and a handkerchief). The former routine follows the lines of Silent Mora's Three Ball Trick, but it uses three different colored balls. The latter routine has a wonderful kicker: after the egg vanishes for the last time it is reproduced piece by piece - first the shell, then the yolk, then the egg white. (And believe it or not, you don't get messy in the process.)

Interspersed among the tricks are short reminiscences by Mr. Kort, and these are delightful. Through the years Mr. Kort has taken great delight in fooling other magicians, and several of these stories recount how he bamboozled some of the best minds in magic. If you'd like to establish a legendary reputation the method is this: analyze your victim, chose your moment carefully, and then never ever tip.

And speaking of not tipping, Mr. Kort is apparently still hanging on to some of his secrets. Throughout the book references are made to Mr. Kort's incredible card locations (including some of the Think-of-a-Card variety) and his work on gambling techniques. Unfortunately, none of that material is included in Kort.

I'm delighted that this book is finally out and that Mr. Kort's name will again be a familiar one. I enjoyed Kort very much, and if you like well-constructed close-up magic, I think you'll enjoy it, too. Recommended.

Pros: Top-notch material, useful techniques, and great stories.

Cons: None, really, except that the legendary card locations and gambling techniques remain a secret.

Natural Selections, Volume 2 By David Acer

David Acer is a professional magician and comedian. His first book, Natural Selections, was full of practical material for the real-world performer. The sequel, Natural Selections Volume 2, is an admirable continuation, full of interesting effects that can be performed in restaurants, hospitality suites, or strolling venues.

David offers card magic, coin magic, magic with business cards, and magic with miscellaneous objects. The opening chapter, Walkaround Miracles, will be of particular interest, since it offers five offbeat routines, only one of which uses cards (and with some thought you could turn this into a non-card routine). The routines require only average technical ability, and David provides sample performance scripts - a useful aid for those of you who have trouble constructing entertaining patter. In addition, scattered throughout the book are stories of life in the magic trenches. Several of these are laugh-out-loud funny.

This is a fine book. If you're a pro (or a hobbyist) looking to add some new material to your repertoire, I'll think you'll find much of value in Natural Selections, Volume 2.

Pros: Practical close-up material for the real-world performer.

Cons: At least one too many pictures of Acer and Simon Lovell in their boxer shorts.

Mind Warp By Richard Mark

Richard Mark is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, and a columnist for the PEA's newsletter. In Mind Warp he offers over forty practical routines that will be of interest to the mentalist and the magician who wants to add a mental effect to his act.

Seven of the book's eight chapters are dedicated to performers and creators who have influenced Dr. Mark. These include Maurice Fogel, Phil Goldstein, Al Koran, Robert Nelson, Stanley Jaks, and Jimmy Grippo. The effects described are standard ones (Pseudo Psychometry, Bank Night, Confabulation, Book Tests, the Koran Medallion, Key-R-Rect, Premonition, Key Bending), but Dr. Mark has developed interesting methods and evocative presentations. As with most mentalism routines, the effects place greater demands on showmanship than digital dexterity.

While I was not "blown-away" by the contents of Mind Warp, it is certainly a book of practical and useful mental material. Those who are looking to add a mental effect to their program will find much to choose from in Mind Warp.

Pros: Practical routines combining efficient methods with interesting presentations.

Cons: Useful but not earth-shattering.

The Royal Road to Card Magic By Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue

There's not much I can say about this classic magic text. The Royal Road to Card Magic was one of the very first card books I owned, and I have a great fondness for it. Dover Publications has reprinted this book as part of their ever-growing magic catalog. The source of this reprint is the 1951 World Publishing Company edition. The typeface used is a little less "friendly" than the copy in my library (the Faber and Faber 1949 edition), but all the material is here. Roberto Giobbi's Card College series contains more contemporary techniques and a stronger pedagogical approach, but The Royal Road to Card Magic is still a valuable beginner's text. And at $9.95 this is a steal.

Pros: One of the classic texts on card magic for the beginner, at a bargain basement price.

Cons: Those wanting a more thorough and contemporary examination of card techniques should opt for the Card College series.

Observations & Effects By Charles Reynolds

I'm sure most MAGIC readers know who Charles Reynolds is. For almost thirty years Mr. Reynolds has made his fulltime living as a magic director and consultant for theater, television, and motion pictures, including a long-time association with Doug Henning. Observations & Effects is a set of lecture notes prepared for a lecture Mr. Reynolds presented in Germany. The notes are in two parts: Observations - containing six essays on various aspects of the performance of magic; and Effects - eight close-up and mental routines.

I very much enjoyed and appreciated the essays in Observation & Effects. The topics covered are: A Definition of Magic, Creating the Magical World, The Theater of the Mind, The Moment of Magic, Surprise and Fulfillment, and Effects, Methods, and Presentations. These are subjects that are important to me, and ones that I have written about. Mr. Reynolds, however, presents the material so articulately that it makes me envious. Rarely is theoretical material discussed so clearly and concisely.

Observations & Effects would be worth the price just for the essays, but the tricks are also top-notch. I would especially draw your attention to "Prediction Card in Wallet" (a restructuring of the classic effect that changes the climax from a moment of surprise to a moment of fulfillment), and "Force of Thought" (a method for determining a thought-of playing card).

What more can I say? These notes are great, and they're worth every penny.

Pros: Articulate, thoughtful, and easy-to-understand essays combined with practical tricks.

Cons: Too short. I want more.

The Gardner - Smith Correspondence From H&R Magic Books

By now I'm sure you've read Richard Hatch's article "Searching for Erdnase" in the December issue of MAGIC. While no definitive conclusions were drawn, the investigation into the identity of the author of Expert at the Card Table is a fascinating story. If you'd like more information you should pick up a copy of The Gardner - Smith Correspondence. This booklet contains the complete text of the letters to and from Martin Gardner and Marshall D. Smith. Also included are some other illustrations by Smith, a Preface by Martin Gardner, and the text of Mr. Gardner's notes concerning his meeting with Smith. Only 276 copies are available, so if you're interested, act now. The booklet is

$20, but you can get a signed copy for $25. (Also, if you mention this review, postage is free.)

Pros: Fascinating to read the actual correspondence.

Cons: Italicized font used for Smith correspondence is hard to read. Of most interest to historians and collectors.

Magazine Department

I have two new magazines to tell you about this month. The first, Channel One, is a quarterly whose first issue appeared in September 1999. This issue features tricks from Allan Ackerman, Dean Dill, Joshua Jay, David Acer, Tom Frame, Mike Powers, Gaston Quieto, and Jay Sankey. The focus seems to be card magic, although Editor Anthony Miller writes, "We are not just looking for close-up.. .but parlor, mentalism, psychic entertainment.. .whatever strikes a note with our readers. Also we are looking for fresh perspectives on the actual art of performing." The Tom Frame trick "The 15 Second Memorized Deck" is a highlight of this issue. Tom did this trick for me in Sacramento, and he smoked me with it. If Channel One can maintain this quality of material, close-up magicians will welcome it with open arms.

Behind the Smoke and Mirrors bills itself as "a magazine devoted to magical thinking." The emphasis is on essays rather than tricks. The contents of Volume 2, Number 2 ranged from the excellent ("Celebrating Our Illusions" by Bob Neale) to the moronic ("Magic Magic Everywhere, and Mystery Absolutely Nowhere" by an author who does not give his real name.) This latter essay is so full of misspellings and grammatical errors that it is almost unreadable. Unfortunately, it casts the entire magazine in an unfavorable light, for it appears that Editor David London has simply printed the essay "as is." (Or even worse, he read through the essay and didn't catch the mistakes.) Whatever the reason, there is enough good, intelligent reading material out there that I can't see you spending $20 on a mixed bag like this.

The Relentless Ring & String Routine By Bob Miller

Effects using finger rings and shoelaces remain popular with close-up magicians. In "The Relentless Ring & String Routine," Bob Miller has assembled several strong sequences into a nine-phase routine suitable for the restaurant or strolling magician.

Don't let the "nine-phase" part throw you; the routine moves along quite briskly (I timed it at just under 3 minutes), and the nine phases are grouped into three large "hunks." In the first hunk the magician causes a knot to vanish from the lace. Then the knot reappears, and finally a ring appears in the knot. (This phase is called "The Fisher Ring" and was first published in MAGIC, December 1997.) In the second hunk the ring is pulled off the lace twice and then jumps back onto the lace. (This last phase was created by Raj

Madhok, and really looks great.) Finally, the ring is pulled off the lace again, jumps back onto the lace, and then vanishes, appearing on the magician's left hand.

Bob offers a very nice package with "The Relentless Ring & String Routine." You get a 14-page book with full instructions, illustrations, and credits. Included with the book is a shoelace. Plus, you receive a videotape that contains two different performances of the routine, plus a full step-by-step explanation. This combination certainly makes the learning process as easy as possible. Bob also offers a bonus routine, "The Invisible Coin Routine," which I found to be rather uninteresting.

I am not a big fan of Ring & String routines, but Bob has compiled effective moves, and he receives a good reaction from the audience on the video. With the exception of Phase Two ("Snapping a Knot on a Lace") none of the phases are particularly difficult. Should you not want to do Bob's entire routine you could certainly construct your own routine from the components provided. If this type of routine appeals to you, "The Relentless Ring & String Routine" is certainly worth the money.

Pros: An effective combination of moves, taught with both print and video.

Cons: Routine may be too long for some.

Power-Lev By Markovik

Generally speaking, if an ad for a magic trick reads as if it's too good to be true, you're probably going to be disappointed when you get it. Markovik's "Power-Lev" certainly sounds impressive from the ad copy: No threads, no jacket required, no lighting limitations, no anchoring needed, and "[it is] designed to levitate borrowed beer bottles, pop cans, and similar objects." Well, let's clear up the ad copy a little. A levitation effect implies that the object floats up from the ground into the air, where it hovers in space. It then floats back to the ground (or, as in the classic Asrah illusion, the floating girl disappears). A suspension effect implies that the object is held above the ground by supports. These supports are removed and the object hovers in space. There is no motion up or down through the air. The supports are then replaced. (Walter Blaney's Ladder Suspension is an excellent example.) "Power-Lev" is not a levitation, it is a suspension. You hold a bottle in front of your body. You remove your hands and the bottle floats. You grab the bottle and offer it for examination.

A jacket is not required, but you will need to wear dark clothing. The floating object is about 4 inches in front of your body. I think that there are serious angle restrictions. "Power-Lev" is designed to be performed for a single spectator who is directly in front of you (let's refer to this position as 12 o'clock). If your hands are above the floating object (as is shown in the ads for the trick) and a spectator moves to the 11 o'clock or 1 o'clock position, they are going to spot the gaff. You could shade the gaff by keeping your arms closer to the bottom of the floating object, but that is a rather "cozy" position.

So, as a one-on-one trick performed in a dimly lit bar, I could see that "Power-Lev" might be an effective quick trick. (The instructions state that the bottle should not levitate [sic] for more than 5 seconds.) However, there is still the problem of cleaning up. You are wearing the gaff and there is no way to get rid of it. If the spectators make a grab for your belly, you're going to get nailed.

For your $70 you receive the necessary gaff and a 24-page instruction book. At least 10 pages of the book are useless "woo-woo." An mpeg of the trick can be found at Markovik's web site (listed in the Details section), but the server was so slow that I was never able to download it.

So, what's the bottom line? The trick looks good in the mirror, but $70 is a lot of money for 5 seconds of magic that can only be performed in extremely restrictive conditions. If you're looking for a miracle, I think you're going to have to look elsewhere.

Pros: The very real possibility that a woman may say to you, "Are you going to float a bottle, or are you just happy to see me?"

Cons: Restrictions on clothing, number of spectators, and performance conditions. NFW!

By Gary Freed

This little trick has also generated a lot of hype, but fortunately, it mostly lives up to it. The magician removes a packet of four cards from a plastic wallet. A joker shows at the face of the packet. The magician explains that this packet contains four face-up jokers, and they will do a little trick. A magical gesture is made and the packet is counted from hand to hand. One joker has turned face down. This is repeated; another joker turns face down. Finally, all four jokers turn face down. Then, the big surprise: the face-down cards are turned over, showing that the jokers have turned into the four aces. The aces could be tossed onto the table, if desired, but they cannot be examined.

"NFW!" is a definite magician killer, and will certainly fool laymen. It is not difficult to do requiring only Elmsley counts. You should be aware of two things, however. You cannot show that the packet actually contains four face-up jokers. (Gary offers a handling that let's you simulate this, but I think it is very unconvincing.) Second, you will have to manage your audience carefully, so they don't make a grab for the cards. Because the change to aces is so startling, the first thing spectators are going to do is suspect that the cards are gaffed. So, you're going to have to figure out a way to get the cards out of play without appearing to be furtive.

"NFW!" is a clever trick. I'm sure you'll have fun with it.

Pros: Easy to do and a killer change at the end.

Cons: No way to convincingly show four jokers at the beginning; some suspicion may fall on the cards at the end.


Jeff McBride's World Class Manipulation by Jeff McBride. Three volumes, 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. Fax: 530-525-7008. Email: [email protected]

Pavel's Cabaret Volumes 1-3 by Pavel. Three videos, $29.95 each, $84.95 for all three, postpaid in US and Canada. From L&L Publishing, P.O. Box 100, Tahoma, CA 96142. Fax: 530-525-7008. Email: [email protected]

Schulien's - The Last Night. $29.95 plus $3 p&h. From Al James, P.O. Box 597491, Chicago, IL 60659

Candles by Michael P. Lair. $27 postpaid. From Michael P. Lair, 3300 Endfield Avenue NW, Canton, OH 44708. Email: [email protected].

Kort by Stephen Minch. 10 x 7 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 376 pages. $43 postpaid. (Overseas airmail $18). From Hermetic Press, 1500 SW Trenton Street, Seattle, WA 98106-2468. Fax: 206-768-1688. Email: [email protected].

Natural Selections, Volume 2 by David Acer. 6.5 x 10.75 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 201 pages. $35. Available from most magic dealers.

Mind Warp by Richard Mark. 6 x 9 hardcover with glossy dustjacket. 158 pages. $35. From Richard Mark, 3 Grove Isle, #702, Miami, FL 33133. Email: [email protected]

The Royal Road to Card Magic by Hugard and Braue. 5.5 x 8.5, softcover. 292 pages. $9.95. From Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-40843-4. Available at most bookstores.

Observations & Effects by Charles Reynolds. 8.5 x 11, plastic comb bound. 45 pages. $20 plus $2 p&h. From Magico, P.O. Box 156, New York, NY 10002

The Gardner - Smith Correspondence. 5.5 x 8.5, softcover, stapled. 29 pages. $20. From H&R Magic Books, 3839 Liles Lane, Humble, TX 77396. Email: [email protected].

Channel One. Edited by Anthony Miller. Published quarterly. Yearly subscription $40 ($55 international). From Channel One/RFA Productions, P.O. Box 477, Powell, OH 43065. Email: [email protected].

Behind the Smoke and Mirrors. Edited by David London. Published quarterly. Yearly subscription $20. From David London, 8909 Wandering Trail Drive, Potomac, MD 20854-2379. Email: [email protected].

The Relentless Ring & String Routine by Bob Miller. $30 plus $5 p&h. From Bob Miller Magic, 31 9th Street NE, Rochester, MN 55906

Power-Lev by Markovik. $69.95 plus $5.50 p&h (overseas add $10.50 for p&h). From Empire Trading, 1505-1155 Bough Beeches Blvd., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L4W 4N2. Web site: http://webhome.idirect.com/~mystery.

NFW! by Gary Freed. $15 plus $3 p&h. From Elmwood Magic, 507 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222. Order phone number: 800-764-2372. Web site: www.elmwoodmagic.com.

The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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