Editors Notes

Those of us who have had the unadulterated pleasure of witnessing Slydini's performances and have the basic knowledge necessary for true appreciation, know that each of his effects is an epitome of what magical presentations should be.

Slydini is a superb performer not only because he has an inspired imagination and the infinite patience to practice until he can perform automatically —one could say by reflex— but because he is a first class psychologist, a student of human nature. The knowledge he has acquired of how and why people think, feel and react, he has applied to his presentations; combining that knowledge with split-second timing, he has developed a unique technique which has justly earned him the title of "Mr. Misdirection."

Because the basics are so all-important to a performance of his effects, because some of our readers may not have the material at hand, and because it bears repeating, we give you a résumé of Dr. Jacob Daley's directions for Slydini's "The Art of Using the Lap as a Servante" (published in 1954) :

1. For natural performance, you should be comfortable and perfectly relaxed. The table and chair which you are to use must suit you. The average performer is usually at ease at a normal dinner or card table and an average four-legged chair. It is only important that both table and chair are not of such construction that either the one or the other will interfere with placing your feet comfortably under the table or with moving them back. Your sitting position must permit you complete freedom of motion backwards and forwards as well as to left and right. Your body should be eight to ten inches away from edge of table.

2. In the action of sitting down, pull a fold of cloth from one leg to overlap the other leg thus forming a small pocket or gutter in your lap from where a lapped object may be easily repossessed. If the table is covered with a long enough cloth, this may do. Or, stretch a handkerchief across your lap.

3. You must remember to synchronize the forward and backward movements of your body with the upward and downward movements of your hands. This is of maximum importance.

4. Second in importance is the complete relaxation of hands and body at the end of each series of moves.

5. The strongest misdirection is provided by looking directly at your audience —singular or plural— and not at your hands.

6. When your hands are beneath the table performing some secret maneuver, it is of primary importance that your arms and shoulders be immobile. Move the fingers only or, at most, turn your hand at the wrist alone.

Foto 1 illustrates the starting or "rest" position. Sit erectly but not stiffly.

Foto 2: Your body leans forward. At the same time your hand goes up to display the object with which you are performing.

Foto 3: Back almost to "rest" position of foto 1. Note that the only change is that right hand is a little more open and slightly over edge of table.

In the sequence covered by these three fotos, Slydini has displayed an object and dropped it into his lap but his audience believes he still holds it in his hand.

Foto 4: Your right hand comes up again and your body moves forward as you say to spectators: "Watch!" pretending to show

the object supposedly in your hand. Note that, during this sequence (Fotos 2 through 4), the eyes are always directed at spectator and that position in this foto is identical with foto 2.

Foto 5: Immediately upon saying "Watch!" —and simultaneously— turn your left hand up, fingers curled, and put right fingers into it feigning to place therein the object you have previously displayed.

For illustrative purposes, let's say you are performing a coin effect. Summing up fotos 1 through 5:

You start out with a coin, you pick it up and display it; drop the

hand with the coin momentarily back to original position as you make some preliminary remark and allow coin to drop into your lap; instantly, bring up your right hand saying "Watch!" and put it into your cupped left hand.

Foto 6: Turn left hand over, rub its back with open right fingers —or make a "magical pass," or sprinkle "woofle dust" on it. Open left hand . . . the coin has vanished! (Foto 7). Your entire attitude should say: "There! It's gone . . . I've finished."

Foto 8: To complete the illusion, lean back. As you do so, your hands slide back over table top. Your left hand remains on top of

table but your right falls to your lap momentarily and onto the lapped coin which it palms. Instantly bring both hands up (Foto 9) and simultaneously make some pertinent remark.

Foto 10: Drop both hands to table as you say (for instance) "Where is it?"

Foto 11: Turn your head to right, then left, keeping hands motionless as you apparently look for the coin.

Foto 12: Your head turns left and down pursuing its search;

your right hand comes up and under left side of jacket, produces the vanished coin, and tosses it onto table.

Once more, lean back in rest position. Repeat: The movement of your hands and body must be perfectly synchronized. The hands move vertically as the body moves horizontally.

Quoting Slydini on some small —but vital— points:

a. Going through the motions in the performance of an effect

and having appropriate patter is not enough. The motions and the patter must be precisely coordinated and timed to the exact psychological second.

b. Both timing and misdirection are indispensable to a magical performance. You may be able to produce or vanish an object using only one or the'other. But, to create an illusion you must combine them perfectly. The effects which appear in this book have been described and illustrated in full detail so that a serious student can achieve this coordination if he sets his mind to it.

c. It has been well said that "a magician is an actor playing the part of a magician." A good actor lives his role, believes the part he is playing. If you don't believe a coin has vanished, if your general attitude merely says: "See, I fooled you!" your audience won't believe you either and you'll wind up by antagonizing your spectator (s). You have a great advantage as a performer: the average spectator wants to believe you. It's up to you not to disappoint him.

d. "Gestures," "mannerisms," "flourishes"—a rose by any other name. . . . Used as misdirection or simply to prove your hands are clean, they are very useful and even ornamental. But don't exaggerate. Jean Hugard used to say that public handwashing did not constitute entertainment. Waving your hands like windmills merely makes for mistrust but keeping them still for too long a period will make your effect static and uninspiring.

e. When you practice, turn on your radio or TV set—preferably to some program which doesn't interest you or in a language which you do not understand. At first the noise will be distracting but you will gradually get used to it and will then not be thrown out of stride when there is background chatter anywhere you may perform.

/. Practice in front of a mirror but tilt the mirror slightly back at the top by bringing it out at the bottom. The mirror will then reflect back to you the true angle from which your audience will be watching. You will thus know in advance where a move requires additional cover and be prepared to act accordingly.

The Magic of Slydini dealt principally with the art of misdirection and the use of the lap as a servante, usually termed "lapping." That book was completely sold out and those fortunate enough to have a copy and who have made use of it to learn and apply the art of misdirection should be well on the way to proficiency in close-up magic.

The present volume deals with another phase of close-up magic which, when used in conjunction with lapping, compliments the use of the lap as a servante. This is known as "retrieving."

When one disposes of or vanishes an object by dropping it into the lap at the proper moment of misdirection, it is equally important to retrieve the object as efficiently and as naturally as possible, or the final effect may become rather suspicious and revealing.

When the average close-up magician finds it necessary to retrieve an object from his lap, he very often telegraphs the movement by an unnatural position of body, shoulders, hands—even the position of the fingers. As a result, the audience's suspicions are aroused and there is a feeling that "he did something"! This often results in a loss of interest —and therefore, impact— in the entire effect.

Slydini, with his usual careful analysis of misdirection and close-up magic, has perfected the art of retrieving with a series of natural movements that allay suspicion.

This well-kept secret is thoroughly explained in this book for the first time. Proficiency in the art of retrieving in conjunction with the use of the lap as a servante, plus the art of misdirection —always emphasized by Slydini— should make it possible for the close-up magician to use almost any object at hand, at any time, and become a master at close-up magic.

For many years —and yet in retrospect they seem all too few— I had the great joy of close association with one of Magicdom's great teachers: Jean Hugard. I should like to add a few of his general suggestions to those of Slydini:

1. Read through the entire effect you intend to master before you so much as attempt the first move. You will then know the direction in which you are going.

2. Have at hand all the necessary objects required just as you would if you were going to perform in public. Don't substitute. The "feel" of each object is important to the acquisition of familiarity and, therefore, assurance.

3. Go through the entire effect. Don't split it up into segments or you will unconsciously do so in performance. If —after you can go through the entire sequence without referring to the directions— you still have trouble with a particular sleight, practice that sleight until you can do it smoothly beginning always at the previous move and continuing on to the next. You will thus achieve continuity.

In his Secrets of 20th Century Magic, Mr. Hugard said:

The principle of misdirection plays such an important role in Magic that one might almost say that Magic is misdirection and misdirection is Magic. This principle is divided into two parts: mental misdirection and physical misdirection.

Mental misdirection may be defined as the art of misdirecting the minds of the audience from the real cause of the effects that are produced. Physical misdirection denotes the method of diverting the attention of the spectators away from the point at which a certain sleight or move is made.

Slydini has made an exhaustively intensive study of misdirection and Dr. Nathanson has worked mightily to put some of it into common language. But it is impossible for a mere human to translate it all into words even with the aid of as many photographs as are included in this book. Slydini has given unstintingly of his time and has patiently and repeatedly gone over every move while I have striven to the best of my ability to capture the essence of his magic for those who love it as I do and would put it into living motion. But cold type remains inadequate to the task. I once compared the attempt to that of trying to describe Beethoven's "Pastoral" with words. Now that I've finished editing, I am more emphatic: Trying to put Slydini's magic into words is like trying to illustrate Niagara Falls by bringing home some of its water in a vial.

Dr. Nathanson and I are satisfied that we have done our best. The late A1 Stevenson (who helped by taking preliminary rough notes) would also have been satisfied. All three of us, however, remain dissatisfied with the final result. I can only repeat some of Cliff Green's introductory words: "If you ever find yourself in mid-Manhattan, pay a visit to Slydini ..." /'II wager anything he will not only mystify you but entertain you as you've never been entertained before.

To conclude, I should like to quote another well-known magician, Peter Warlock of England:

Though there is, and always will be, only one Slydini, his fabulous feats, herein described . . . can become your own favorite effects. By performing them well, not only will you gain credit for yourself, but at the same time, such performance will allow you to pay homage to a true master of magical art.

Regardless of its literary shortcomings, it has been a pleasure to have helped in putting this book together. I sincerely hope that Slydini's many friends throughout the world will enjoy its contents as much as I have enjoyed working on them.

—Blanca Lopez

P.S.: Slydini is planning to do a series of film strips (which will fit most standard-size hand viewers) of the effects contained in this book. If the demand so warrants it, he will then make corresponding film strips for the effects contained in The Magic of Slydini.


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This move, created and perfected by Slydini, is undoubtedly one of his greatest. During all his years of lecturing on and teaching magic, he has never exposed it. Slydini kept this one move for himself.

As a general rule, he does not use the move routinely nor has he taught it to anyone. Once in a very great while, he will use it as a gesture of defiance for the "know-it-alls." However, the move is a utilitarian one and may be used almost anytime during most close-up routines.

The "Imp-Pass" possesses such subtle and unusual misdirection that it enabled Slydini to baffle practically all the top-notchers in magic all over the world. Even though they were alert to his every move, they still couldn't see anything out-of-the-way, because they had no idea of what Slydini was doing.

The potential of the "Imp-Pass" opens a completely new vista in both present and future magic. This additional tool will enable you to create an endless number of magical originalities. It will also permit you to improvise variations, to your heart's content, with all previously recorded close-up magic and when using such objects as cups and balls, sponge balls, cards, coins, cigarettes, eggs, lemons . . .

Begin by showing both hands empty as in foto 1. Simultaneously, drop left hand into lap, right, to edge of table, and turn slightly towards left as in foto 2. As your left hand drops into lap, your left fingers grasp the object you have previously lapped. This should be done without further motion. You must calculate and practice to do this in the single act of allowing your left hand to fall into your lap.

In order to bring your left hand as close to underside and edge of table as possible without moving it, cross your ankles and rest your feet on tiptoes. (This is Slydini's position. You may find it more comfortable not to cross your ankles. The important thing is to raise your knees as close to table as you can.)

Keeping your left hand motionless in your lap with object in its fingers, lean slightly forward over table and motioning with your right hand, ask: "Do you know where it is?" (Foto 3.)

As you lean back, turn your left hand up at the wrist, so object comes to edge of table where your right hand grasps it as that hand falls back to rest in original position. (Foto 4; 4A is exposed rear view.)

Note in the exposed view that thumb and forefinger of right hand extend downward from edge of table. The fingers should be in this position when your right hand comes to rest. You must not come to rest and then extend fingers. As you drop your hand, extend the fingers and grasp the object—all in one single, continuous motion. Immediately, extend your left arm and hand towards left, leaning slightly in that direction (Foto 5) ; look at your empty left hand, surprised, as if you expected to find it holding something. Now, say something like: "Oh no, it's here!" and produce the object from wherever it is convenient to the effect you are demonstrating.

Slydini "Touches"

In performing, it is extremely important that all moves be perfectly timed and coordinated.

When Slydini performs the Imp-Pass, it takes exactly 12 seconds

27 • imp-pass from the moment he shows his hands empty to the moment he produces the lapped object.

1: From the moment your right hand comes to rest at edge of table (Foto 2), keep your eyes on the spectator.

2: Don't try additional patter to that given because words take time, and delay —to the Imp-Pass— is fatal.

3: It is of prime importance that your left hand remain completely stationary from the moment it falls into your lap and onto the lapped object (Foto 2) until you start to lean back after having motioned with right hand (Foto 3), because it is the motion of leaning back which covers the slight move of turning your left wrist.

It is always good to keep in mind that only when the body moves is the right time to make secret moves. When the body is at rest, any motion will be noticed.

4: When you are going to perform the Imp-Pass and have vanished the object to be later produced, show your empty hands and drop them to "rest" position. As you drop your hands, shrug and say "That's all!"

5: "Rest" position is really that position into which your hands will drop comfortably and naturally if you just allow them to fall. You must neither "bang" them down nor slow them up. They must come to rest, naturally, as if exhausted. When this is done properly, your body will also move without your will as a natural result of the fall of the hands.


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