Foreword

It was the first week of July, J 967, and I was sitting at my kitchen table relaxing after work. The phone rang. I answered, and heard a familiar, enthusiastic voice.

"Larry, are you coming over to the Castle tonight?"

"Well, I hadn't really thought about it, Professor."

"You have to come here. There's a card man here who is really something."

"No kidding. What's his name?"

"His name's Skinner, but I'm telling you, Larry, you're going to love this. You really have to come on over."

"Sure thing, Professor. I'll be there soon."

So I showered, jumped in my car, and within five minutes was walking into the Magic Castle. I went over to the Professor and asked, "Where is this guy?"

He pointed. "See the fellow at the end of the bar?"

"Sure."

I walked to the end of the bar and said, "Hi, my name's Larry. Are you Michael Skinner?"

He said he was.

I pulled out a pack of cards. "The Professor says you're good. Watch this."

After finishing a new trick of mine, I asked what he could do, and he showed me. And he was wonderful. Of course, I might not have told him so right away—in those days I tended to be a little aggressive. Michael was as likable as he was accomplished, though, and all competitiveness soon vanished. I helped him rent an apartment next door to the Professor, and before long he became my best friend, as well as an essential part of the Castle scene.

What has always impressed me most about Michael is the extent of his repertoire. He can do more tricks well than anyone else I've ever seen. Inside that handsome head is a veritable storehouse of excellent magic, whether effects of his own creation or effects selected and routined from outside sources. Michael has done all of magic a great service by providing—with the volume now before you—an extended tour around some of his most sought-after miracles and methods. But numerous as these may seem, rest assured that the items chosen represent a small fraction of those available. From the first trick he showed me those many years ago, to the one I'll see him do 011 our next meeting, I will never cease to be amazed at the ongoing genius of my friend Michael Skinner.

In my opinion Michael Skinner is one of the finest exponents of pure sleight of hand I have ever known.

Larry Jennings and Michael Skinner

INTRODUCTION

I was thrilled when my dear friend, Michael Skinner, called a short time ago to say that he was writing his very first bookon our mysterious art. Actually, a booklet of Michael's containing ten choice card effects entitled " Ten for Ten" was to appear ten years ago, but that's another story. Before 1 go further, I'd like to say that it's an honor to say a few words in this work, for Michael Skinner is unquestionably the finest sleight-of-hand performer in the world today.

My first opportunity to meet him was at the P.C.A.M. Convention held in Hawaii during the Summer of 1972. Watching his performance bewildered all-rand he performed with an artistry and deftness I had never seen before. We met shortly thereafter and became fast friends. On the last day of the Convention, a good friend and I invited both Michael and Or. Sawa of Japan on a tour of the island of Oahu. As we drove along, they remarked very favorably on the beautiful sights which we pointed out. However, the amusing fact of the matter was that they verv rarely looked up as they were deeply engaged in magic all the while. Even when we stopped to see the Revue at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Hula Girls got little, if any, attention. Now, you talk about the love of the art of magic.

A few months after the Convention 1 received a letter from Michael saying that he would be performing on a cruise ship that was to make ports-of-call on a few of the islands. The letter also stated that, if I was interested, perhaps we could get together to discuss our favorite subject, sleight-of-hand. This is all he had to say, and off I went oil a plane at the end of each day to meet him at another island. These are wonderful memories of my early magic life, and Michael has been instrumental in instilling the finer points of our delicate art to me for many years.

Michael Skinner is a quiet, unassuming gentleman who lives a somewhat private life. As a guest at his home on many occasions while in Las Vegas ,1 've come to realize that here is an artist who lives and breathes magic twenty-four hours a day. It is his life, and the magical influence is everywhere, including his kitchen. There is only magic in the cabinets and drawers where people would normally keep their silverware and utensils. 1 wouldn't be one bit surprised if he kept his cases of cards in that unused oven of his. Being a practical man, he once said to me that a kitchen is quite unnecessary for him as he always dines out. The only item that is used, somewhat, is a coffee maker. And 1 do suspect that the refrigerator is being used to keep his stock of flash paper and, perhaps, a Weller Egg.

When you witness a performance by Michael Skinner, you'll soon realize that he cares about each and even' detail regarding the effect that is being presented. Woven throughout his routines are interesting stories that arc essential to great magic. These are quite believable and truly capture the imagination of the audience. His style is slow and deliberate, he executes his sleights (lawlessly, handles props elegantly, takes no chances, dresses immaculately, he's blessed with a deep resonant voice and is at all times is a gentleman. These valuable assets combined with invisible sleight-of-hand is magic of the highest order. His talents and persona remind me so much of the late, great Nate Leipzig. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Skinner is the consummate artist of intimate magic.

Allen Okawa Honolulu, Hawaii lulv, 1992

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