The performer fills a large stemmed wine glass with red wine, then covers the mouth with a square of wet newspaper. Next, in the manner of an elementary science experiment, he inverts the glass and displays how the wine is held captive inside by the piece of newspaper.
A spectator is invited on stage to participate in a more unusual experiment. He is handed the inverted glass and asked to hold it over a clear champagne pail, which sits on the performer's table. The performer explains that he will remove the newspaper while he attempts to support the wine in the glass through sheer force of will.
He enters a state of deep concentration, then slowly peels the newspaper from the mouth of the glass and—the liquid remains suspended in the inverted bowl! After a few moments of strong mental exertion, he indicates a woman in the audience and tells her to call out, "Now!" sometime during the next ten seconds. She does and at that instant the performer visibly relaxes and the wine comes spilling from the glass, still held by the spectator, into the clear pail below!
You will need a hand-blown crystal wine glass. I recommend that you use a large glass, for maximum visibility. Mine measures approximately eight inches tall by three inches in diameter. This is prepared with a hole drilled near the stem as previously mentioned. The hole should be approximately three-thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter, and the surface of the bowl surrounding it must be ground flat for about an inch. This ground area will tend to be more oval than round. You must then make a Plexiglas disk that is custom fitted to the bowl. All this will take careful craftsmanship, but the final result is worth the cost and effort.
Next you must go to a sewing supply or costumer and find four glass rhinestones, either clear or colored, measuring about three-quarters of an inch. Choose these to suit the style of your glass. With one of the various "super" glues, fix three of the rhinestones permanently to the bowl of the glass, equidistant from the hole and each other. The hole will be covered by the fourth rhinestone, completing a regular pattern on the glass.
Before placing the fourth rhinestone over the hole, you must first attach the end of a length of "invisible" thread to it, using a sewing needle to pass the thread through one of the holes in the rhinestone and knotting it. The length of the thread should be between two and three feet. The precise length must be determined by experimentation. The type of thread used will depend on the particular performance conditions and lighting. More on this later.
Apply a thin film of Vaseline to the ground area around the hole in the glass, taking care not to get the jelly into the hole itself. You don't want this hole accidentally blocked when the rhinestone is moved aside. Apply a similar film of Vaseline to the flat underside of the threaded rhinestone. Then set it over the hole. The Vaseline layers should hold the stone securely in place, forming a watertight seal. The other end of the thread is attached with a dab of magician's wax to a piece of newspaper about five inches square.
Besides the prepared glass and disk, you need a clear plastic champagne pail, a carafe of red-tinted water (your "wine"), a nice looking tray on which the various props for the trick can be carried, a small towel, and two five-inch squares of newspaper, one of which, as mentioned, has the thread attached to it.
The champagne pail contains some minor preparation. To its bottom you cement a couple of small squares of clear Plexiglas, which are about a quarter of an inch thick. Pour several inches of water in the bottom of the pail and have the towel handy on the table behind the tray.
The props are set in these positions on the tray:
♦ The glass sits mouth up in the center, with the sliding rhinestone turned to the right.
♦ The square of newspaper with the thread attached lies at the right rear corner. Over this you set the second square of newspaper. The thread should be arranged to travel leftward, unobstructed, toward the glass. I recommend that you coil it carefully on the tray so that it cannot tangle or catch.
♦ The carafe of water sits to the left of the glass.
♦ The champagne pail rests at the left rear corner of the tray. It can also sit on the table just behind the tray. Inside the pail you set the disk gimmick, propping it against the side of the pail at the rear, so that it can be easily picked up. The small squares of Plexiglas cemented to the bottom of the pail stop the disk from sliding flat onto the bottom, and the water in the pail makes the disk and little stops virtually invisible.
Start by picking up the carafe and filling the wine glass approximately three-quarters full. Set the carafe off to the side where it is out of the way. Next take the top square of newspaper and wet it in the champagne pail. As you do this, secretly pick up the disk gimmick, clipping it flat against the underside of the newspaper square. Immediately place the disk and newspaper cleanly over the mouth of the glass, fitting the gimmick into place without hesitation or fumbling.
Place the flat of your right hand over the newspaper and mouth of the glass; and, with your left hand turned thumb down and palm outward, grip the stem near the bowl. Now invert the glass, turning the bowl straight forward, then down, while keeping the sliding rhinestone directed to the right and the thread relaxed. At the same time, carry the glass over the champagne pail. As you hold the glass about a foot above the mouth of the pail, slowly and somewhat gingerly remove your right hand from the mouth of the glass. The newspaper and wine remain suspended, as any school child would expect. This simple feat of science should gather you a modest first round of applause.
Now point to a spectator in the front row and ask him to join you on stage. Request that he stand on your left and have him grasp the inverted glass by its stem near the foot. When he has a firm grip, slowly and cautiously remove your left hand from the glass, leaving him holding it.
Explain that you will now endeavor to exceed the bounds of known science. You will remove the newspaper from the mouth of the glass while you attempt to support the wine inside by sheer power of thought. Caution your helper to hold the glass securely and very still. Then, with your right hand, reach under the glass, nip one corner of the newspaper piece between forefinger and thumb, and very slowly peel it away, leaving the liquid apparently suspended in the glass.
Quickly wad up the piece of newspaper and drop it onto the other newspaper square on the tray. Pause a moment, while the audience takes in the unnatural state of gravity confronting them and awards you a second, much hardier round of applause. Dab your fingers dry on the towel and casually pick up both pieces of newspaper together, crumpling the dry one around the wet wad. Then push them into your left vest or trousers pocket. You are now hooked up to the sliding rhinestone on the glass.
At this point you are still standing directly behind the table, so that the thread runs straight back from the glass to your body. Given this arrangement, even if the thread weren't of the invisible kind, it would be next to impossible to spot from the audience.
You needn't worry about the spectator moving the glass much. Thanks to the precarious appearance of the situation, he will wish to hold the glass very still over the champagne pail, in case of an accident.
Look out into the audience and indicate a woman toward your right. As you point to her, step slightly to the right, positioning yourself to take up all but an inch or two of the slack in the thread. Practice is necessary here to learn the exact position required to tighten the thread without dislodging the rhinestone from its place.
Ask the woman to call out, "Now!" whenever she likes, but without too great an interval, as you don't believe you can continue your mental exertions much longer. You may wish to exercise tighter control over the timing by having her call out whenever she wishes as you count aloud to ten. When she says, "Now!" you physically relax, making a very small body turn to the right. This slides the rhinestone away from the hole and releases the water from the glass.
Important: You wish to move the rhinestone enough to uncover the hole, but not enough to pull it from the glass.
The water falls into the pail and the disk gimmick goes indetectably with it. The water already in the pail cushions the fall of the gimmick, so that it makes no appreciable noise as it hits—and once in the water it becomes invisible as it drifts to the bottom.
Take the wine glass from the spectator and accept your third round of applause which, I assure you, will be loud and long. As you send the spectator back to his seat, you can casually remove the newspaper wad from your pocket and set it on the tray with the glass.
The tray is not absolutely necessary if you are working on stage, though it does make clearing the table much easier, and it catches any drips and splashes. For cabaret and club use, though, I recommend the tray, as its raised edge can aid in obscuring the bottom of the champagne pail, and thus the gimmick when it resides there.
Pulling the rhinestone just enough to uncover the hole may sound like a very delicate procedure. It does take some practice, but the knack is not difficult to acquire. I suggest that you first rehearse with a length of common sewing thread until you learn the necessary movements. Then switch to invisible thread for further practice.
The best type of thread to use, as already mentioned, will be determined by the stage conditions and lighting. I use several types, from the very fine close-up style thread required for floating cork and bill effects to the thicker dancing-cane thread. You may also wish to experiment with invisible elastic thread, which gives you a little more freedom of motion. The techniques of invisible thread use are beyond the scope of this work, but the thread and good instructional texts can be had at any well-equipped magic shop.
I must tell you that, when I finally achieved a practical, working version of this effect, I couldn't wait to demonstrate it for the man who first started me thinking about the trick. When I finally had a chance to show it to Billy, I'm delighted to say I got the very look of astonishment that I had hoped for. I wish you the same fulfilling reaction during your shows.
Me with TV Star Rita Werner Messeshow, Buderus 1990
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