It was J. Warren Keane, the clever vaudeville performer, who invented the effect of vanishing a lit cigarette barehanded, and the method of the Cigarette Pull. As early as 1909, Keane had developed it into the opener of his elegant act: The curtains opened on the darkened stage, revealing his wife playing at a grand piano. As Keane entered wearing top hat and tails, puffing a lit cigarette, the spotlight followed him to center stage. Dramatically placing the burning cigarette into his hand, it vanished in a puff of smoke. Keane was secretive about his methods — some remain unrevealed to the present. He was held in such high esteem that in 1936 he was unanimously elected to the elite 12-member "Inner Circle," a group including such luminaries as Max Malini, Nate Leipzig, Al Baker, Cardini, Dai Vernon, Paul Fox, and Charlie Miller.
Keane's opener baffled everyone. But, by 1910, his method had leaked to H.S. Lynn, an employee of the Mysto Magic Company. Lynn went to John Petrie, later of the famous Petrie-Lewis company, but then head of the manufacturing arm of the Mysto operation, and explained how to make it. In a few days Clyde Powers was demonstrating Keane's cherished method behind the counter of the Mysto store in New York City, and had placed ads for the effect in The Sphinx magazine! Inevitably, the Mysto pirates were pirated themselves by other dealers in America and Europe — a few months after, dealers around the world started advertising "cigarette vanishers." Keane stopped using it as an opener, integrating his effect into a later segment of his act, for at least another quarter century.
Though Keane's method is sold in every magic and joke store today, the vanish of a lit cigarette is still one of the strongest effects ever. For table-to-table work, it produces a response way out of proportion to the simple method used. The problem with the straight vanish is this: the spectator usually complains when he doesn't get his cigarette back, even if it was only a two-inch butt! While the solution I conceived does not give the spectator back his cigarette, he is compensated, and quite magically. I contributed this, one of my most successful table-hopping routines, to the March 1986 issue of Linking Ring magazine. Though the effect is visually startling, it is little-known, so I thought I'd give it to magicians in a more permanent form with additional details.
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.