for the information it imparts but also in the monetary sense as it is unlikely that there will ever be any further copies printed once the present stock is exhausted.
The winter season of The Magic Circle opened with 'Pabular Night' on Monday 4th of September. Thanks to all who helped to make it a success — have lost the list which included many who were conscripted on the night so will not mention names except that of Basil Horwitz. He comes — I thought — all the way from South Africa especially for this event every year, but he is really here for the I.B.M. convention which took place this year in Hastings — Sept. 13th to 17th. Basil gave me a couple of tricks for the magazine which I think I can remember, for not only do I lose lists, information somehow gets wiped off the tape in the cassette recorder.
What now follows is some very random recollections of what took place, before and during the above mentioned Convention.
Jay Marshall, who has the honour of being Pabular's first subscriber was one of the first to arrive here greeted me thusly "Did you hear about Bob Read's Chicago lecture?" There was only one reply "Who hasn't?"
Peter Duffie down from Scotland showing an eye-popping version of Alex Elmsley's "Dazzle" — was relieved to hear that he was not telling 'how' until he had a chat with Alex. This attitude is a welcome contrast from those who cannot wait before 'spilling the beans' on someone else's originations even though they have a different method which provides them with an excuse for so doing. Peter also has a version of the 'Collectors' which is direct and has a climax. This will be appearing in Pabular and is the answer to the many who inquired if I had seen it.
Winner of the close-up competition for the Zina Bennet Trophy was Rex Cooper, with Ken Hawes second and Chris Pratt third. Did not see this event but have seen the acts on previous occasions and seem to remember that both the winner and second perform standing — at least most of the time. I have a distinct impression that most close-uppers perform whilst seated, yet more prizes are won by those who do their bit standing. It is a point worth considering by those who aspire to win prizes. Will have more to say on this at a later date — perhaps you have something to say on the subject.
Doug Alker diJ not compete in the close-up this year. Instead he concentrated his efforts on stage magic to great effect by winning three prizes in the British Ring Shield competition, the Conventioneers Trophy for originality, the Tom Harris Cup for comedy, and the Theo. Speaker Cup which is the runner-ups prize to the winner of the Shield, which was won by Brian Sefton with an excellent manipulative act.
The hardest worked performer was without doubt Phil Goldstein presenting his 'Human Deck of Cards' on the pier, performing in the Peter Warlock show, and on the Gala show under his professional name Max Maven. He also lectured and appeared in the Saturday midnight close-up show giving two performances.
Also appearing in this latter event were Frans Biemans with his specialities which are effects achieved by using mechanical and electronic principles — all very puzzling to me. No doubt the explanations would be even more so.
Card tricks and Cups and Balls with the production of a glass of liquid as a climax was the offering of a very fine worker from Sweden to whom I must apologise for not getting his name.
Roger Crabtree shouted a great deal — jumped on and off a chair several times — had mice running around on the table and round the brim of his hat, performing several other tricks before climbing into a box — very funny.
Mike Gancia who arranged this event was also responsible for the close-up competition. He also performed in the Peter Warlock show and his act included an effect which is seldom seen. The performer removes his wristwatch and drops it into his handkerchief which is held by the four corners. The handkerchief is shaken — the watch has vanished and found back on the performer's wrist. A story accompanies this effect about the magician being held up — the robber wrapping his spoils in the handkerchief only to find it empty when opening it later.
This effect does not qualify as a close-up item in its original form but it did trigger off some thoughts which eventually led to an idea which may be just what you are seeking — a finish to your close-up act.
The disappearance of the watch and its return to the wrist could be achieved in the same way as in the original method evolved by the late Oswald Rae. For this two watches are required — one which the audience see you remove from the wrist, and the other a few inches further up the arm which is pulled down to the regular position replacing the one just removed as the sleeve is adjusted. A double handkerchief accounts for the vanish.
As the trick proceeds the performer tells the story of how certain dishonest people evade
'paying custom duties — you can make up your own story. After the vanish of the watch and its re-appearance on the wrist a ringing alarm clock is produced from beneath the handkerchief as the performer remarks "They even do it with clocks".
The clock production is a logical progression from the trick with the watch and the patter has some bearing on the routine which in itself should please friend Goodliffe.
That the production of the clock is a practical proposition there is no doubt. We have seen the production of large and heavy steel ball and a large brass nut produced from beneath a hat by Don Alan whilst seated at a table — why not an alarm clock. The handkerchief could be replaced with a hat.
Assuming that a handkerchief is being used here are a few suggestions for getting the clock from the lap into place for producing it from beneath the handkerchief.
Fasten a strong thread to the rear of the mat and tie the free end onto the handle of the clock. The thread should be sufficiently long so that it does not pull on the mat when it is on the table and the clock is resting on the lap. After showing the watch having returned to the wrist of the left hand rest the forearm on the mat to prevent it moving as the thumb of the right hand which is holding the handkerchief goes under the thread and moves upwards lifting the clock up behind the handkerchief. The handle of the clock is now gripped with the right thumb and fingers and is placed on the open left palm as the handkerchief is draped over it. Pull handkerchief away to reveal the clock.
The left forearm should be resting along the rear edge of the mat to hide this edge which will curl up immediately the thread which is sliding over the right thumb takes the weight of the clock. The right hand should be holding the handkerchief by the middle of one side prior to the steal to provide maximum cover.
A further suggestion is that instead of attaching the end of the thread to the mat it could be fastened to some part of the body. This would give greater freedom of movement and remove the problem of keeping the mat in situ.
Getting away from the thread principle, a piece of wire could be attached to the clock and the free end formed into a loop. The wire should be of the right length to reach a point just below the edge of the table when the clock is resting in the lap. In this case the right thumb goes into the loop and lifts up the clock behind the handkerchief which should be sufficiently large |
to provide proper cover. The ideal wire for this purpose is florists wire which is stiff enough to stand upright and being pliable can be bent out of the way behind the clock when it is produced.
Back to the thread idea for a moment. This could be long enough, when attached to the body, for the clock to rest behind the calyes of the legs leaving the lap clear and available should it be required when performing previous effects. The use of the longer thread would make it impractical to bring the clock up behind the handkerchief using the method previously explained, but such a method could be used to bring it up between the knees into the lap.
All the above ideas are suggestions on how the production may be accomplished, and are intended to encourage readers to experiment with them until a proven practical solution is found as I believe the effect of producing a ringing alarm clock as a climax to a close-up act is one that would be hard to beat. My only fear is that someone has thought of it before.
Some further ideas have just occurred to me, btlt will leave them, for later, and return to the Convention.
Had a long discussion with Tom Owen and Harry Dewhirst re their own Blackpool Magical Society and the problems connected with the close-up magic event at conventions where the number of registrants are in the region of the thousand mark. Suggestions made in this column have been discussed by their committee making arrangement for their annual convention next February. I gathered that there will again be four close-up performers doing eight performances as last year, but some of the pressure will be taken off them by the proposed two hours interval — four shows before and four after.
A few things I remember — a session swapping card moves with Philippe Fiahlo, Rovi showing me an extremely subtle way of marking a card enabling it to be found in a shuffled pack and giving me permission to publish some of his specialities in Pabular — that there were fewer fun and games in the early hours — losine_a pint of milk to Manfred because I failed to count from ten to one backwards as he snapped his fingers. Wally Boyce thought he had the answer when he turned his back. It is of course one, two three, four etc. Try it on someone now if you have nothing better to do.
Just a couple of weeks ago we had a visitor to these shores, two visitors in fact. One, Hiram Strait, and if you think that's a phony name you'd be right. Hiram is one of the managers of The Magic Castle in Hollywood and is making his first visit to the UK. I don't know what he thought of London because practically all he saw of it was Ken Brookes' studio and Davenport's Magic Shop.
One of Hiram's reasons for being here was to chaperone Dai Vernon on a trip to Berlin. Hiram had strict instructions from Irene Larsen not to let Dai out of his sight, as she knows his reputation for the ladies. Dai Vernon booked me for a show while he was here. He said that on his one hundredth birthday he is going to throw a big party for all his friends and he has hired me to MC the show. As time goes by Dai Vernon amazes me more and more. Here's a man in his middle eighties who has travelled all the way from California to Ber]jn to sit up into the wee small hours of the morning talking about magic to people he has never met before. He was also talking about a trip to Japan plus the F.I.S.M. Convention in Brussels next July. Come to think of it his engagement book is probably so full of things he has yet to do, he just has to plan ahead to his one hundredth birthday, and why not? He'll be there and so will I.
A short while back one of David Berglas' sons ran his second annual Collectors' Fair. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a collection of dealers, in this instance 60 of them, who collect junk, and sell to collectors who collect junk, hi fact there is usually a large proportion of stamp, coin and ephemera dealers and I loke to look and browse around among the theatrical memorabilia in the hope that I can 602
pick up a picture or two. At the aforementioned affair I got lucky and picked up several, but one of them in particular intrigued me.
It is a postcard picture of Han Ping Chien, the oriental magician who was apparently responsible for devising the coins through taDle plot. First I don't think I had ever seen a photograph of him before and secondly, he is wearing a couple of medals and it's those medals I'd like to know about. Does anyone know of two medals awarded to Han Ping Chien?
The photograph was taken in Berlin prior to 1939 in a studio by a photographer called J. Standt. Do you know anything about those medals? Does anyone? Does anyone really care?
Just a few short hours before I sat down to write this Uri Geller appeared on television in Holland. Apparently there was a whole bunch of magicians present and Henk Vermeyden challenged Uri Geller on several points of his performances or demonstrations, points like why did he always have the pictures drawn before a TV programme, why was it that he always selected the spoons etc. The upshot of it all was that apparently Uri Geller struck Henk Vermeyden a blow and walked out of the studio. It seems the Dutch newspapers are full of it this morning, so far there have not been any reports over here. Isn't it about time we stopped challenging Geller about his methods and perhaps changed our tactics to questioning his ethics and morals? Every time a magician challenges Uri Geller about his methods he usually finished up exposing something that he shouldn't be exposing.
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE
Here is a stunt which Martin Breese of cassette fame uses when offered a cigarette. He refuses, and says "I only smoke my thumb." This brings a puzzled look to the faces of the onlookers so he demonstrates by putting his thumb in his mouth and puffs away. No smoke is seen so he takes out a box of matches, removes one, and holding the box as shown in sketch strikes the match and bringing it below his nose inhales the smoke given off into his nostrils. Putting his thumb again into his mouth, and making a pretense of lighting it, he takes another puff and blows the retained smoke from his mouth. The amount of smoke is small and usually there is disagreement among those watching, whether or not, any smoke appears at all. When this happens Martin repeats it. The stunt is a very old one which I have not seen performed before — it seems just the job for an icebreaker.
Here is a follow-up which someone may find sufficiently interesting to be worthy of experiment. Continue the above by saying "sometimes I smoke my matchbox" as you take a cigarette holder from your pocket and push it into a hole in the box (which has been kept hidden up to this point) forming a kind of pipe which you then smoke producing volumes of smoke.
The smoke could be produced by bringing together the same chemicals as used for the smoking clay pipes — concentrated ammonia and hydrochloric acid — a few drops of each. The problem is to bring the chemicals together when required to produce the smoke and keeping the acid, which is highly corrosive, from coming into contact with anything likely to be damaged by it, especially the mouth.
From a packet of book matches tear out one, start a split in the torn end and replace it in the packet. When you are ready to light up with someone else, strike this match and split it in half lengthwise handing one half to the other person to light his cigarette and do likewise with the half you retain.
Everyone knows the gag of blowing down the sleeve to extinguish a match held in the opposite hand which snaps the end of the match with the tip of the second finger as it is held by its middle with the thumb and index finger.
Here is a method for achieving the same objective with a paper match. It was shown to me by Karrell Fox and appears entirely withouf his permission. Holding the lighted match between the index finger and thumb, press the thumb nail into the match just below the halfway mark putting a thirty degree bend in it. Twirling the match between the finger and thumb will cause it to go out.
Fred Snooks, who makes apparatus to order for magicians, told of this stunt which caused some fun amongst a party of musicians. On to an oblong tray pour enough water to cover the bottom and place four matches — one at each corner. Get four volunteers to compete in a blowing match to see which could get their match to the centre of the tray first. When they are all set with their mouths close to matches shout "Go" at the same time banging the table heavily with your fist. Result — wet faces. There is a time and place for everything — including this stunt.
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