Sleights Moves Subterfuges

by EDDIE JOSEPH

In this Volume Eddie commences a New Series and having seen the articles in advance, we know you are going to like his ideas. Here is the first. —MAX.

The magician who conceived the idea of the 'THUMB TIP', could not have foreseen at the time the full worrh of this piece of utility apparatus which he had bequeathed to posterity.

Even at this advanced age, 1 cannot think of any other magical implement which is employed as frequenrly or applied more variedly for the creation of multifarious effects.

When the originator of the THUMB TIP first pressed his brain product into service, his immediate concern; I daresay, was merely to fulfil one or perhaps at the most two specific requirements With the passage of time different magicians down the line have contributed to the original idea with the result that the THUMB TIP has now become a standard equipment for the active mystifier.

However, in the earlier days, performers could afford to be less meticulous in the handling of the THUMB TIP than we of the present era. The obvious reason being that whilst in those days its secret existence was confined within a small circle, today it no longer remains the monopoly of only a few.

Since the THUMB TIP today is not only mass produced but also widely distributed, it has long ceased to continue as the legitimate property of the magicians alone.

In keeping with a well founded but little known psychological axiom viz. "ONE CANNOT FIND WHAT ONE IS NOT LOOKING FOR", the magicians of the past were well secured because of it. Since the onlookers in the early days were completely ignorant of any

such accessory that 'could be worn on the thumb', they could never detect it because they would NOT be looking for ir. It is, therefore, understandable why the magicians of that generation could go about their business with less caution.

Ir is, unfortunately, still a prevailing misconception amongst certain elements in the profession that performing conditions do not alter with the rimes. Some have even expressed the view that the reason why the THUMB TIP is painted flesh (?) colour is because it will delude the observer in.to accepring it for the bare flesh. Encouraged with this thought, it has become a common practice in the profession ¡to display the tip while in position on the thumb wthout caution and in total disregard of consequences.

In this enlightened period of irhe century, one can no longer afford to be careless in its use This does not mean that we cannor take as much liberty with it in these modern itimes. On the contrary we can do more so with it today chan was ever thought of before.

However, when the THUMB TIP is worn, one has to exercise about the same degree of caution as when some object is palmed in the haid. The purpose of that paint we cal! F^ESH colour is not put on to render it invisible but rather to act as a 'safety valve' just in case by some error of judgment the TIP is exposed from an unfavourable angle!

There are others who, although successful in concealing its presence from visual detection, yet by a series of subsequent con-

victive actions offer the suggestion that what is being done is not quite in consistence with the intention.

To cite a single example by way of illustration, let us consider the most commonly executed trick with the aid of the thumb rip. I am, of course, alluding to the penetrating effect with a lighted cigarette 'STUB'.

This presentation as I have witnessed on many, many occasions always foflows a uniform pattern. The performer, Mr. 'X' for instance, drapes a pocket handkerchief over his partly closed left hand. He then proceeds to form a well in the centre of the cambric. He achieves this by sticking his THUMB into the handkerchief. He is in the meantime puffing away hard and fasfr at a lighted cigarette with the object of reducing its size. The lit STUB is finaliy pushed into the well. He repeats his previous performance of sticking the thumb into the handkerchief well again and then suddenly whips rthe handkerchief away and all seems well.

I wonder if the Mr. 'X' ever stopped to think whether his actions were in harmony with what one would do under normal conditions. Hand a handkerchief out to any person and ask him to poke a well in its centre. He will invariably push one of his fingers into it and NOT his thumb. WHY? simp'y because it is the most natural procedure

Mr. 'X' has to dig his THUMB in, although nine times out of ten he knows that what he is doing is not natural but he does not care. All he is concerned with is to get that thumb (tip into the well. He believes that the end justifies the means In magic, FORTUNATELY, it is NOT the end that justifies the means, but on (the contrary the MEANS which should justify the end. This in fact determines the difference between a good and an indifferent trick. If the spectator cannot fathom the means he naturally enthuses all the more over the result.

The object of ,this writing is to explain in detail my own treatment of the thumb tip. I am sure some of my readers, at least, will derive certain amount of profit therefrom.

I shall first explain my method of introducing the THUMB TIP' into the centre of the handkerchief. The series of action photographs specially ¡taken by Max Andrews to accompany this article will further clarify my directions.

To begin with, the TIP is placed in position over the right thumb. Hold the two upper corners of a hankerchief by the ex,treme tips of thumb and first finger of each hand. Photograph 'A' depicts the manner in which the handkerchief is displayed. The tip, as I said, is on the right thumb and behind the handkerchief. Consequently it cannot be de-tec red even by those in the know.

From position shown in photo 'A' the handkerchief is next spread out on the right palm. However, under cover of the handkerchief, the fingers pull .the TIP from off the thumb and then it is held in a pinched position between the tips of the third and second fingers. The precise manner of gripping the tip is shown in photo 'B'. Of course ,the handkerchief is still on the right hand at this stage. While the handkerchief lies draped over the right hand, the forefinger of the left points at it.

Now the right hand turns the handkerchief over on to the left. The hankerchief now lies on the lef,t hand while you point at it with the right forefinger. Of course, the rhumb tip INSTEAD of being on the THUMB itself is now gripped between the tips of the second and third fingers. From here the handkerchief is again turned over on to the right hand. Finally, slowly close fingers of the left hand into a VERY loose fis,,t. Turn the handkerchief over on the fist itself and at the same time THE FINGERS OF THE LEFT HAND MERELY PULL AWAY THE THUMB T'P FROM BETWEEN THE FINGERS OF THE

RIGHT. In other words there is no 'well' forming actions to go through. All you appear to be doing is to show the handkerchief on both sides and then drape it over the left fist. Try these simple moves in front of ,the mirror and at no stage will you be able to get a sight of the thumb tip because it is being manoeuvred under cover all the time.

Photograph 'C' shows the thumb tip embedded in the centre of the handkerchief. So much for the introduction of the THUMB TIP in,to the handkerchief. I shall now explain the method for the retrieval. I may as well tell you here that while I begin by having the tip on my right thumb I always end up with it on my left. This may seem inconsequential to the casual reader but there is a very good reason behind it. It wilf become evident to You if you would care to reflect upon it a bit.

However, let us suppose that you are doing the lit cigarette penetration effect. Right here I am going (to give you a tip which I know you will value. It is no longer necessary to use onfy a stub of a cigarette but the full length in the manner which I am about to disclose. The reason of the stub is, as you know, to permit the thumb to re-enter the tip at the moment of the 'steal'. However, you will find that if you will squeeze most of the tobacco out of the cigarette leaving about a quarter of the end which you light INTACT and then stiffen the end which you place between your lips with a sltrip of white paper, you will be able to crush the entire length into the tip and there will be enough room left to take /the thumb besides.

After the lit cigarette is pushed into the thumb tip . . . turn slightly to the left and poke your FIRST finger in. Follow this with the SECOND finger tip and then grip the thumb tip between the tips of the second and third

fingers and pull it out. In continuation of the same move poke the first finger in again. This is shown in photograph 'D £r E'.

You are supposedly forcing the cigarette through ¡the cambric. Now get hold of the front edge of the handkerchief as shown in photograph 'F' and slowly pull it away from over the left fist. However, as soon as the second and third fingers (which grip the thumb tip) go under (the handkerchief, the left fingers pull it away and it is now WORN on the thumb of that hand. By the time the handkerchief is completely pulled away the thumb /tip will be safely out of the way and in position over the left thumb. Once again the handkerchief is displayed as at the beginning held up to view by the two upper corners.

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