By Robert L. Bluemle

Acknowledgment of one's own mortality can lead to any number of decisions. In Larry Becker's case, it led to the abandonment of the magic/mental lecture circuit and the decision to publish this tome-the compilation of the latter part of a lifetime's work-with "nothing held back."

I think you'll find it an unusual book. It speaks with the enthusiasm and argot of its author, retired from the world of advertising. Its sometimes-breathless-hyperbole serves not only to echo the voice of Larry but to communicate his true belief in the entertainment value (he has me copying his penchant for underlining) of the effects he has fashioned.

It is revelatory to watch Larry entertain a lay audience. The laughter and puzzlement intertwine, always leaving the group wanting more. How many psychic entertainers can claim that result? Perhaps a half-dozen. For many of the rest, the field has become a form of mental masturbation, a matrix for games of psychic solitaire in which entertainment of the audience takes a secondary role to the self-satisfaction of the performer.

Not so for Larry. He grew up in show business as the son of a society orchestra leader. He understands the purpose of entertainment and he has the knack of creating effects which both delude and divert. These effects are not pipe- dreams. They are, in each case, audience tested.

This book, which Larry proclaims as his last, provides an interesting insight as to the mechanics of the Becker creative process. He is never finished with an effect. He continues to pick at it, changing one element, then another, until he's satisfied— for the moment. He has often included in this book successive variations on the effects, demonstrating their evolution. In most cases each iteration can stand on its own and in some cases the "final" version is not always the strongest.

"Stunners" is intended to be a compendium of the later Becker years. As a result it contains a variety of types of effects. Most are brand new, their secrets never before having been revealed.

Some have been previously published in somewhat arcane journals, and have been difficult to come by.

These, in all cases, are included because Larry has substantially revised them, as to method, presentation or both, since their original incarnation.

Other effects Larry has previously marketed but the secrets of which have not separately been made available. While some of these effects require special apparatus (a few of which are difficult to reproduce), their exclusion from this book would be a disservice to the reader. Many of us, regrettably, do enjoy sharing a mystical secret, even if we never intend to perform the effect.

The inclusion of all these effects provides insight as to the methods of Larry's creative process. He has, with encouragement from several, included background material as to the evolution of the effects. These insights are interesting, not only historically, but as individual case studies in the methodology of one person in the creation of magic/mental effects. They provide glimpses as to how Larry shifts mental gears and blends ideas.

Also included are worthy contributions from a few of Larry's closest mentalist friends.

There are so many effects, and variations on those effects, that one is tempted to speed-read through the book, absorbing the principles and secrets without trying them. That would probably be a mistake, for these are performance/entertainment pieces, designed for, and tested before audiences.

This is also a reference book, designed both for instant gratification and as a source to be reread periodically.

The final effect, "Russian Roulette," has been the focus of controversy for more than a decade. It has baffled thousands, including some of the craft's most knowledgeable. This effect is not for everyone. It may be for no one other than Larry. It is highly dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that this writer and others privy to a draft of the book could not believe that Larry, an otherwise intelligent and well-adjusted person, would use the technique, risking his life at every performance. Others will decline to perform the effect because of the adverse reaction of many members of the audience.

However, no one who has ever witnessed this Russian Roulette will readily forget it. It is strong, and that is the hallmark of a Larry Becker effect. If you do attempt it, heed Larry's several warnings. Failure to do so could cost you your life.

On that somber note, I leave you to the thoughtful perusal of this truly wonderful book.

Robert L. Bluemle Scottsdale, Arizona September 1992

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