Magic is a peculiar thing: It can totally fascinate people or bore them enormously, depending on how it's presented. In no other art form are there so many "artists" hanging around who, without the least self-criticism, have the nerve to serve up something to an audience, then to believe that they have accomplished a truly magnificent act. The commercialization that exists in all fields of business has likewise had its effect on magic—every trick can be had for a price. Surprisingly, many of the purchasers of some cheap plastic puzzle, within minutes of their possession of it, think of themselves as serious competition for Siegfried and Roy. Because it is common for such individuals to use the patter furnished with commercially sold tricks, without the slightest alteration, it is certainly possible that a spectator who sees a trick performed in exactly the same way by several "magicians" could become bored.
When I reached school age, it was an impossible thing to coax a secret from a magic dealer; and I admit that I shamelessly tried every ploy 1 could think of. Hofzinser's Card Conjuring by Ottokar Fischer was one of my first magic books, and I guarded it as if it were a costly treasure. Until about twenty years ago it proved to be an extremely difficult task in Germany to discover usable magical literature; so much so, that to find any source at all, one had to turn to English works. But even in English, works on magic were relatively uncommon compared to today's market. Currently scores of books and magazines are published each year; so many in fact that, even if you have a fanatical interest in the subject, it is no longer possible to buy and read everything. This is the case not only for the English magical literature, but also for the German and other languages as well. A wave of exhibitionism seems to have broken out. Self-typed—and as far as correct writing and grammar are concerned—error filled manuscripts are commonly sold as "books". And what do we find in them? So-called tricks, with methods that don't work because they are too complicated, and with effects impossible for the spectator to understand. Some of the pipe dreams read well enough, even when it is highly doubtful that proper conditions necessary for their performance exist anywhere in the world. And not a few authors on the magic scene count on their colleagues not being well-read, and don't give the smallest thought to providing literary details or references concerning the sources from whom they have copied their tricks.
These days the redundancy of magical publications indicates at least that there is no longer a lack of reading material. On the other hand, there is a problem of selection. How can you separate the wheat from the chaff if you do not have an unending source of money, a huge library and an immense amount of time at your disposal? There are some names in magic that represent a guarantee of quality in their publications. It has been my experience, however, that people who possess outstanding creativity and entertaining writing skills are often mediocre performers. Many professionals, on the other hand, keep their working secrets for themselves and explain them generally to a tight circle of friends. This is only understandable, when you realize that a person making a living from magic cannot be overjoyed to find that hosts of amateurs are imitating what has taken him much hard work and experience to learn—and then most often their mimicry proves incorrect and is badly done. This issue is not primarily a matter of money. A magician who really loves the art must sometimes endure a high level of frustration on witnessing the performances of certain colleagues, who would never perform a trick before an audience if they had loved magic as fervently.
These statements may cause you to wonder why I am writing the introduction to this book. Believe me, I have wondered just as hard why I've been asked to do it—and because I've accepted the task, you are entitled to my justifications. They are many, and I won't withhold them from you. To explain them I'll organize my thoughts by topic. Ted Lesley /is Magic Enthusiast
I know only a few people who are as enamored of their work as Ted. One might assume that even magic could become tiresome to someone who is occupied with it on a permanent basis, but that isn't the case with this friend of mine. He is at heart like a little boy who is addicted to magic. One must have a great love for his work to remain so enthusiastic about it over these many years.
Over twenty-five years ago, I read Ted Lesley's writings in Werry's Magische Welt, in which he could not conceal his strong interest in the mental branch of our art. Even then, many of his ideas were based on knowledge he had gained from English magical literature, which was—as I have said— by no means as easy to obtain as it is today. Over the years,
Ted has grown even more industrious as an author for Magische Welt. His articles are not only among the most interesting, due to the reports and information they contain about the magic scene, but within them also lie magical pearls, which no alert reader who knows the subject will pass by without notice. Above all, I have been fascinated by his subtle ways of thinking about mental magic.
About ten years ago, I got to know Ted personally, thanks to the telephone. Both of us are members of the Psychic Entertainers Association. At that time there were practically no other members of this unusual organization in Germany, other than the old master, Punx, who had already been elected an honorary member. Today I don't recall the occasion of our first conversation, but it concerned the RE. A. As time passed, our phone conversations grew longer and longer, and during them I was constantly amazed that Ted always knew all of the freshest innovations in magic, worldwide! Since then I have learned that Ted knows God and the whole world of magic. He is in contact with the majority of magicians of rank and reputation in every country, and he is friends with most of them. He is also a great benefactor and patron of the German postal service and especially the telephone company, as his monthly bills will attest. Ted Lesley as Performer
I have often had the opportunity in years past to enjoy Ted's performances; and not just for audiences of magicians, but also for public engagements done for substantial fees. The tricks he does on such occasions are by no means unknown to the informed magician—but, oh, how Ted presents them! It is charming to watch him suffer an initial bout of stage fright before every show, even after years of professional performing, just like an amateur going before an audience for the first time. Yet after just a few seconds on stage, he has the whole auditorium in the palm of his hand.
All of his presentations have his personal stamp and, above all, are based on thoroughly thought-out methods combined with congenial patter. Ted values interaction with his audiences, and uses these interchanges to display a quick wit. In reality, though, an enormous amount of work and experience lie behind that seemingly spontaneous humor.
Thinking about Ted's talent as a performer reminds me of a show we did together in a Montreux casino before an international audience of doctors. To be frank, I did not have my best day by any means. The stage had been totally commandeered by the band, so I was forced to do my mental act on the dance floor, where I was almost invisible to the back tables. With such a diverse audience, the only language to use was English, and to make things a bit more challenging we had a public-address system of dubious value. Because only the front half of the audience could properly follow what I was doing, the reaction of the entire group was less than overwhelming. And after all this, Ted Lesley had to follow me. In spite of these extremely difficult performing conditions, in less than five minutes the whole room was going crazy! Such moments reveal the true pro, even though rumor has it that Ted needs a gimmicked deck to do a double lift!
On this subject it is difficult for me to write of the many things I know, because Ted would be unhappy with me if I went into detail. To express it briefly, without the elaboration I would like, Ted has often given extensive help to friends in need. It might be seeing that an old, abandoned magician receives needed care, or that the survivors of a friend who had died are not left alone and helpless. Because such kindness and charity are so unusual these days, he has my complete respect, and my permission to make an error in judgment any time he likes.
When it comes to fine food, Ted long ago declared war on anorexia and he has clearly conquered it. With respect to eating and drinking, he has obviously reached such a high grade of asceticism that he has even given up abstinence.
As a teller of jokes he absolutely drives you crazy! Not only because he can tell jokes for hours (make that all night long) without repeating himself, but he also acts the jokes out in a way that, after an hour, leaves your stomach and chest hurting from laughter. You know the feeling? You do! Good, isn't it!
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