Michael Skinner's Intimate Magic: Written by Jeff Busby and published by Jeff Busby Magic Inc. Available from many dealers. U.S. price '7.50 dollars.
Mike Skinner created a sensation when he came over to this country some years ¿go. Unfortunately, I missed seeing him then. A reading of this book served to remind me of the treat that I had missed and the beautiful, subtle magic, explained, went some way to compensate for that loss.
Jeff Busby admits, in his advertising, that nine of the eleven items have appeared in Michael Skinner's lecture notes. As these lecture notes have not been widely circulated in the U.K. this is of little consequence. In any case, the whole lot have been rewritten in a much fuller and more detailed manner.
Also, in his advertising matter, Jeff Busby states that "Each (effect) is practical and effective. Any of these effects could make a reputation for you. This is professional magic from a professional magician." For once, in a dealer's advertisement, this is a plain statement of the truth. Every one of the effects in this book is a top class, professional item. My own personal favourites were "The Wonderful Coin Trick Revisited", "The Bewildering Ball Vase" and "Repeat Poker Power".
"The Wonderful Coin Trick" is a tongue in cheek, pretentious title for an excellent comedy item. The performer is about to cause a coin to completely disappear. The audience, however, are not impressed. They can see a piece of elastic, attached to the coin and running up the performer's sleeve. The coin does vanish, leaving the elastic behind. It is dangling from the sleeve with nothing on the end. The performer removes
it from his sloovo and the coin is seen to be fastened to the other end. The performer removes it and it promptly disappears, only to reappear on the end of the elastic. Great stuff and, in the right hands, a riot.
"The Bewildering Ball Vase" is a beautiful sequence, using a ball vase from a child's conjuring set. Everybody is completely fooled, especially those who know the working of the vase. "Repeat Poker Power" is a subtle blockbuster. in which you still deal winning hands, even after a spectator has mixed the cards.
What really appealed to me about these tricks and all of the others in the book, is the way that they have been honed to razor sharp, professional perfection. The mechanics have been divested of all superfluous complexity, the plots are easy for the audience to follow and comprehend. The descriptions are well written and beautifully clear. My only criticism of the book is that at seven dollars and fifty cents it is really far too cheap. It should be many times the price.
Altogether, one of the best books that I have read for a long time.
Mentalism for Magicians by Larry Becker. Edited and published by Jeff Busby and available from many leading dealers. U.S. price 10 dollars plus postage.
I have a theory that, as a very small child, I must have been badly frightened by a mentalist. Certainly such a theory would account for my aversion, one could almost say paranoia, for the breed. It would seem that I am not entirely alone in this. Just watch the rush for the door, as the curtain rises on the card table and row of chairs, before the slate scratcher even makes his entrance. Having said all this, I must admit, albeit grudgingly, that there are a handful of performers — people like Phil Goldstein and the late A1 Koran, who could hold my interest. They are, however, few and far 4 between and, I suspect, it has more to do with their inherent abilities as entertainers than the actual power of the "miracles" that they perform.
Another prejudice that I have and which I have voiced before, is the belief that, in mentalism, methods are totally irrelevent. Given a "Boon" writer and an impression pad, there is really no mind reading effect which cannot be accomplished. So what is the point of writing or reading books on the subject?
Having forced these prejudices to one side, I made myself open this book and begin to read.
Strange to relate, I found, against my better judgement, that it was quite interesting. Interesting enough for me to read a bit more. As I read on, I became more and more interested until, in the end, I had read the whole thing from cover to cover and found it utterly absorbing.
The magic in this book is modern, light and, as much as possible, visual. Most, if not all, of the effects would fit quite comfortably into an act of general magic. Several of the items will readily lend themselves to humour, thus avoiding the heavy handed "dramatic" presentations, which seem to consist of a purple faced maniac yelling into the microphone, while the audience wonder which he will get first, the "message" or a coronary!
The book is well written and laid out, there are over sixty pages of text and some twenty-nine items, all clearly and effectively described.
Polished Polish Prestidigitation by John Thompson: edited and published by Jeff Busby. Price 7.50 dollars in U.S. Available from many dealers.
In his advertising sheet, Jeff Busby says, "John Thompson is well known to the magical fraternity and the lay public as The Great Tomsoni, the Warsaw Wizard. John is also considered to be one of the foremost close-up workers in the world, and certainly one of the top cardmen." Having seen The Great Tomsoni with his gum chewing assistant, hilariously personified by Pamela Hayes, I expected that this book would reflect something of their humour, The title (bearing in mind that in the U.S.A. Polish jokes are the equivalent to Irish jokes in the U.K.) would seem to suggest this. Any such idea is quickly dispelled though, on reading the contents.
That the magic in this book is solid, practical and has been thoroughly tested in commercial situations, I have no doubt. Most of the items do require special cards or gimmicks, some of which will not be readily obtainable by British readers. Those who do take the necessary time and trouble to obtain these and actually work the effects will be well repaid for their efforts. The others will happily toss the book aside and go blithely along their way, ignorant of what they are missing.
Most of the descriptions in the book will need to be read with the necessary items in hand, following the instructions, step by step. This is not a book that you will find easy to just sit down and read from cover to cover. So if you are not prepared to go to this trouble, do not waste your money. If you are willing to make the effort, you will find much of interest.
Recommended but with the reservations expressed in the preceeding paragraph.
Spell-Binder Vol.2 No.15 July 1982. Published by Stephen Tucker, 22 Bodmin Grove, Carr Mill, St Helens, Merseyside WA11 9ST. Annual Subs U.K. £10. Europe £12. U.S.A. 44 dollars (Air Mail) or 30 dollars (Surface).
The opening item of this attractively laid out magazine, is called "Excalibur" and is a colour change knife routine by Stephen Tucker. There is a brilliantly subtle vanish of a knife, which should delight all true enthusiasts.
Peter Duffie's "Arc de Triumph" is a subtle "Triumph" type effect, "Ying +' by Shiv Duggal will take some practise and nerve. "Strange" by David Hamley is a subtle use of a standard glimpse technique. David Britland contributes "A Fourth for Dinner". This is a very novel "Cannival Card" effect, in which the card is eaten in stages. Well thought out and put together is this one. "Off Colour Catchers" by Reinhard Muller is a clever discovery of the four aces coupled with a colour change pack. It is one of those flashy attention getters, which make a good opener in a formal close-up demonstration. "Ethereal Steal" by Ian Land is a sort of combined "Open Travellers" and "Four Ace Assembly". There are no difficult moves but absolute smoothness and strong misdirection are essential. Also needing very smooth handling is Jerry Sadowitz's "Born Free"..This is a form of "Ambitious Card(s)", using the Half Pass as the basic modus operandi.
Two quick little items are "On the Other", which is an idea for use with certain brands of playing cards and Wayne Dobson's "T 4 U' an off-beat way of loading a ball under a tea cup.
All in all, a very good issue, containing some first class magic.
Richard's Almanac — Edited and published by Richard Kaufman, 409 East 82n Street, New York City, New York 10028. U.S.A. Annual Subscription Rate 24 dollars U.S.A. 30 dollars Europe and 34 dollars elsewhere.
This is a completely new magazine by the author of some of the best text books to appear in recent years. Richard Kaufman was also one of the founders of "Apocalypse" magazine.
The issue in question is Volume 1 No.l,
September 1982. I
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.