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Having worked our way through all this mechanical detail, it is time to see how it all contributes to a perfect illusion. You introduce the trick by saying:

"I hope you all have your hands on your money." I particularly like this opening line, for it echoes the statement one so often hears from amateur M.C.s when they introduce a magician, and the thoughts that go through the minds of spectators when they watch one of us perform. We, as magicians, find this linking of our entertainment craft to thievery false and offensive. The perception nonetheless does commonly exist, though many perceive it more as a joke than as a reality. By making it the first line in my act, I show that I am aware of what many in my audience are thinking; that I'm not oblivious to such a widespread conception. I then proceed to defuse the idea:

"Actually, there is no need for you to do that because, no, I am not a pickpocket or a thief. I am a magician! However, I was once the victim of a robber, who stole my ring..." As you say this, hold up your left hand, its back toward the audience, at chest height, and wretchedly. One can get the impression that something is wrong with mechanical magic, since it often appears that it can't be done with precision or artistry. This, however, is the responsibility of the performer, not of the mechanism employed.

2) Much mechanical magic looks suspicious: a box made to do a trick. It is obviously a piece of mechanical magic that works itself, and the audience thinks, "If I could buy that box I could do that trick as well."

3) Many magicians don't trust mechanical magic. "It works fine at home, but when you go to do a show, it breaks down. You can't depend on it."

Most times the problem that gives rise to this third criticism is that the apparatus has been badly or cheaply constructed. I have seen some apparatus so poorly made, it is a miracle that it works even once.

To build mechanical magic properly is usually expensive. If you use cheap materials or a cheaper but inferior design, the apparatus cannot be expected to work dependably or well. Take a car as an example. Even an inexpensive car relies on parts that must operate in a specific way hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of times. These parts do this because they have been properly designed and built, and are made of the right materials. Magic apparatus, to be good, must be built the same way. If you build your magic like a Rolls Royce, or even a common Ford, there is no reason it should break down.

Developing and building good dependable mechanisms can be cosdy; and if you must rely on someone else to design and make these for you, it can be even more so. It takes skill, knowledge and time. Consequently, I have educated myself in mechanical principles, I've taken some classes in machine building, I've bought the necessary tools, taken the time to develop the skills required to fabricate the apparatus and gimmicks I need; and I build them myself in my own workshop, just as my predecessor, Fred Kaps, did. I would recommend that magicians serious in the use of mechanical principles do the same.

Good mechanical design generally uses as few moving parts as possible, because if something is to go wrong it most often happens with those parts. Also you must employ the best materials for your purposes.

Once you have done this, it is also necessary to test the apparatus; not fifty or a hundred times, but several hundred, and with extra strain on the unit to assure that it will stand up to performance conditions. This testing is very important, because it will reveal flaws in the design, and sometimes you will have to build it again to get it right. It can be a lot of work, but it is all part of the process of building good apparatus. If you do these things, and if you regularly give your apparatus the proper maintenance, you can place as much trust in it as you would in your well-rehearsed manipulative abilities.

It is important though to understand that when you use mechanism as a principle, it should not be an open use. This brings us back to the second criticism mentioned above. Obviously strange boxes and apparatus boast to the audience of their mechanical contrivance. The mechanism should be hidden, secret, just as good psychology and sleight-of-hand are hidden and secret.

Without this setup of counterpressures, made possible by the finger grip, the left fingers would have to clench the watchband to stop it from being drawn tight against the fourth finger, as shown in Figure 21. Letting this happen would look quite suspicious, as would the visible cramping of the fingers necessary to avoid it. The finger grip allows you to hold the left hand in a relaxed fashion while the force exerted to counteract the pull of the reel is completely hidden. Nevertheless, with minimal finger motion the watch can be sent flying up the sleeve.

As the finger grip is placed between the left fingers, the money feke, which is at first concealed behind the right fingers, becomes hidden behind the left fingers, thanks to tension on the line, which makes the feke swivel automatically upward into the left hand.

22 With the ring removed and the watch hanging

//i'v^V apparendy from the left fourth finger, you next bring out the Himber-style wallet:

vL.".. .and my wallet." With your right hand, bring the wallet from your left breast pocket and, using the / \ thumb notch on the near side to aid you, let the

/ t^l | J \ notched side drop open as you move the right hand and wallet up to chest level to display the stack of bills inside (Figure 22). The notch isn't strictly necessary, but I use it because it makes the initial one-handed opening of the wallet easier, and it ensures that you don't flip open the wrong side during the heat of performance, when there is so much else to think about. Don't worry about the notch being in view. It is visible to the audience for only a fraction of a second. Once the wallet is open, the notch is naturally covered by the fleshy base of the right thumb.

"And finally he took all my money..." Pinch the stack of creased bills between your left forefinger and thumb while you hold the ring on that finger steady with your second finger. Remove the bills from the wallet and, with the right hand only, flip it closed and insert it in the top of your cummerbund, somewhat right of center, letting most of the wallet remain in view. The notched side should now be turned toward you and is out of sight.

.. but he left me the empty wallet. I was allowed to keep that. That was nice of him. Yeh, I liked him. He was a very nice man." As you deliver these lines with suitable irony, your hands are busy. They swiftly fold the stack of bills in quarters along the prepared creases. Then, behind the screen of the fingers, the folded stack is slipped to the right and into right-hand finger palm. Then, with the tips of the right fingers and thumb, smoothly grip the top end of the money feke and draw it up into view between the left forefinger and thumb. This pulls it away from Piece F while it extends the line leading to the reel. The little loop of line around the feke is invisible from a short distance.

As your right hand pulls the feke up, bend your right fingers inward, doubling over the palmed bill-packet as tighdy as you can. This makes the packet even smaller and conceals it even more securely in the curled fingers (Figure 23).

You now put your right hand into your right-side jacket pocket, ditch the palmed stack of bills and bring out the pay envelope, gripping it by its open flap.

"Anyhow, he had all these things, and he put them in a pay envelope." Momentarily transfer the envelope by its flap to the left hand, pinching it between thumb and forefinger, so that you can regrip the envelope by its sides, right fingers on the right, thumb on the left. The seamed side of the envelope should be turned toward the audience, and the mouth of the envelope bowed open (Figure 24).

Now, as you bring the hands together in front of your stomach, turn them palms down, fingertips pointing toward the floor. This turns the exposed end of the money feke right-ward, so that it can be inserted into the mouth of the envelope (Figure 25). Pretend to place the feke into the envelope, but instead release the left thumbs pressure on the feke. Thanks to the tension from the reel, the feke springs back behind the left fingers. Thus you can palm the feke from the envelope with no visible finger motion! This, then, is our vanish by palming.

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