OFFICIAL I.C.O.M PAST LESSON ARCHIVE
This is one of the best lessons I have ever read…BJG
“A Lot Of Pull”
Ronald J. Dayton
I’ve never really taken a lot of time to think about it before, but as a general rule, magicians are people with real pull. And now that I have taken time to think about it…I remember one of the very first pulls I ever owned. It was what is known as a handkerchief pull…rather pear-shaped, container painted flat black. There was a hole big enough to tuck a handkerchief or silk into at the larger end…and a smaller hole at the more narrow end through which a length of the knotted black elastic cord had been threaded. At the opposite end of the cord was a safety pin which could be attached to my clothing. I remember quite vividly how very magical the whole thing looked because it was so unlike most things I had ever seen. It was a silent messenger which spoke to me of the many unusual and amazing devices the world of magic would introduce me to over the years.
But, what is a pull exactly? I would say it is a hidden device, container, holder, or attachment that is connected to either an elastic or standard cord for the express purpose of quickly moving a visibly object to a place of concealment under or within the clothing to create the illusion of its having vanished. When you begin to see how diversified the different styles of pulls are, you will understand the complexity of the definition.
Let’s take, for example, you wish to vanish something as small as a thimble. A standard thimble pull resembled a sort of bell-shaped rubber cap which was attached to a length of black elastic cord with a safety pin at the other end. The pull usually was attached within the sleeve of the performer’s jacket. The rubber cap was held in one hand and the thimble on the first finger of the other hand was pushed into it. When the loosely closed fist of the hand holding the pull was opened, the pull and thimble shot smoothly into the sleeve and out of sight. In a similar way, specially made wire mesh holders, cylindrical in shape, and attached much like the thimble pull were used to vanish lit cigarettes. In this instance, the attachment was often made under the jacket rather than up the sleeve. The fact that the holder had air holes allowed the cigarette to remain lit without going out… and the pull could later be retrieved, and the cigarette reproduced.
The pear-shaped handkerchief pulls I mentioned earlier was also pulled beneath the jacket by an elastic cord. That is, the jacket is usually unbuttoned, allowing the hand and concealed pull to be held near the opening in front of the chest. I did not want to leave you with the impression that the pull somehow went under the lower edge of the jacket.
Certain pulls were hung from the outside back center of the jacket, and the article vanished remained hanging there, out of sight until an opportunity in the programming allowed the performer to step off the stage and have it removed. Depending upon what was being vanished, this was a clever ploy, because it allowed the jacket to be opened and spread wide as proof that the object was not there.
You no doubt noticed that in my definition, I mentioned that the pulls may be a device, holder, or attachment. I stated it that way because some ‘pulls’ employ clips, hooks, suction cups, cat-gut loops, coin purses, magnets, clamps, adhesive discs, and in one interesting example I can recall, even a ladies hair curler!!
Not all pulls are powered by elastic cords. Some rely on direct attachments to cords with counter-weights attached to the opposite ends. When the weight is released and drops, the cord and object are pulled. In yet another style pull, such as used for the vanishing birdcage, and the silk in glass chimney type effects, the cord is attached to the object…it then runs up one sleeve, across the performer’s back beneath his jacket, and down the other sleeve, terminating at a band around the wrist. When the arms are close together, there is slack in the cord. When the arms move apart, or straight out forward…the slack is taken up, and the connection object is pulled rapidly up the sleeve. One exception to the birdcage vanish was done with an elastic pull attached to the cord and object. In this instance, the elastic was attached to a stocking garter type arrangement on the performer’s leg. Rather than going up the sleeve, the cage folded and went into the performer’s trousers! This allowed him to remove his jacket casually, and allow it to be examined. A real fooler for all magicians in the audience who knew how the usual method worked!
One of the most ingenious pulls I have ever seen is a cigarette vanish devised by John Cornelius. I cannot divulge the method to his current market effect on videotape…but I urge you to look into the matter more closely, and purchase the tape for yourself. It is just one of several brilliant original creations he shares.
As I consider this subject more deeply, I find myself wondering; aside from the speed factor… does the gimmick for “Where Do The Ducks Go” apply as well !? Probably not. But it was just a thought.
Pull-like devices and principles have also been used to achieve simulated anti-gravity effects, and magnetism effects as well. Pull-like attachments have also been responsible for the dazzling antics of many a dancing handkerchief. Forms of pulls, powered by a method we have not discussed… a means of winding the thread around a spindle to create a pulling action has also been used for the Spider Card Trick. Special new pulls have been devised by Vernet which allows you to vanish liquids from your bare hands. The method is totally different from a marvelously ingenious pull design called Squash, marketed by Abbott’s Magic Company many years ago, which allowed the performer to vanish a full shot glass of whiskey in the blink of an eye.
Suction cups vanish billiard balls…spring clips vanish fans and even full decks of cards, magnets vanish a variety of coins and other metal objects…given the right combination of pull materials, it seems there is a pull for every occasion. In one clever adaptation…the simple act of releasing the object and allowing it to fall and swing out of sight by the natural force of gravity has been employed. But then, being the clever individual I know you are…perhaps your day will come as well…and you will devise a new and ingenious design all your own. I’ve given you a bit of ammunition…now it is up to you to set your sights.
DR. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Artist Part XVI
GETTING YOUR ACT TOGETHER
John Scarne and Joe Vella were notorious for their constant habit of attending the Sport of Kings events, vernacularly known as “Betting on the Ponies.” John would always have Joe hold the cab fare home, in a separate compartment of his wallet, just in case they might have a bad day at the track. On one infamous occasion, after both betting buddies had lost they’re all, John turned to Joe, saying: “Well, I guess we’d better go home; give me the carfare. Joe’s face dropped as he muttered, “I can’t; I just bet that, too.” “You bet that, too?” said Scarne. “You bet that, too? Wadda ya mean, you bet that, too? When the heck are you going to get your act together?”
When are YOU going to get YOUR act together? Being a magician is not merely learning a legion of unconnected “tricks.”
ORGANIZATION, ORGANIZATION, ORGANIZATION
Because both Stage and Close-up magic are for the most part dependent upon props, large and small, with the exception of Impromptu magic performed with found objects, it is imperative that the performing magician is impeccably well organized. Although a checklist is better prepared last after the props are packaged in performance order, for the purpose of discussion, the checklist will be mentioned first, and should contain numbered effects in the order of occurrence in the act, as follows:
1) Identification of effect
2) Prop description
3) Prop location in bag or trunk
4) Bag or trunk location in storage space (room)
5) Program note, not in terms of the commercial prop name, e.g: Multiplying Billiard Balls, but rather a descriptively, originally coined title, such as: “Behind the Eightball” conveying the premise of the routine. The checklist must become the program.
6) Location of the prop in the staging area, i.e. “on stage.”
Small properties should be contained in pouches or purses and should include all objects necessary to perform the effect, in readiness for unpackaging and body loading or placement upon table or servante. Somewhat larger props short of the largest sized illusions, which are better-termed stage furniture or even settings, should be protectively contained in padded cloth bags and boxes, or wrapped in bath towels, before placement in a trunk. The largest illusions, preferably packing flat (but not always), should be protected in the transport vehicle by wrapping in quilted mover’s blankets.
ON STAGE LOCATION OF PROPS
A” to scale” graph paper floor plan indicating the placement of stage furniture and the props located on each item of furniture is essential. A fragmented example follows:
(color-changing rose) (fan)
And so forth, depending upon the number of stage furnishings and properties.
LOCATION OF CLOSE-UP PROPS
Close-up cases of any type are better used for transport of props to be on-site body loaded, replacing previously body loaded props, when additional effects are called for. Some close-up magicians work from a topit; Dr. OM prefers working from a coat of many pockets. Working directly from the transport case is least desirable. Where do you put a case when strolling tables, for example? The initial act of an evening is, of course, body loaded at home and its empty case left in the trunk of the magician’s car, where he can empty his pockets into the empty case and reload his pockets from the full supplementary “second act” case.
For most engagements, only one body load is ordinarily needed when the audiences are large and the magician may recycle his effects from place to place and persons to persons. When the audience is small or a repeat audience, additional effects are needed for variety–one cannot repeat the same effects over and over again for the same audience. Some professionals prefer to store all replacement props in a larger compartmentalized suitcase. The old magical adage that an amateur must poorly know many effects because he performs before the same audience, but a professional must know how to perform a few effects extremely well because he plays before changing audiences, does not hold everywhere. Restaurant magic, for example, plays before returning “regulars,” therefore, the restaurant performer must vary his act but don’t worry about where the philosophical truth of the matter lies, your audience will surely let you know when you are in need of new material.
A sketch of the interior of the sectioned close-up case, be it a briefcase, doctor’s bag, wooden box with drawers, or other containers, should be available to remind the magician of both the location and the performing order of the props. Therefore, the props should be in performing order, not only on the checklist but also physically in the close-up case, as well.
Magicians need lots of pockets, because the best storage of props-in-use is in the clothing, allowing the magician to move about unencumbered in any venue, but especially when performing from table to table, and to allow more seemingly magical productions and vanishments of objects, both close-up and on stage. Pulling objects out of a box does not seem magical.
FLOOR AND STAGE STORAGE AND TRANSPORT
Generally, traveling light is most desirable, but not always possible when larger illusions are on the program. Dr. OM’s adult floor show is body loaded; his coat is not worn to the venues but is rather carried in a garment bag. His top hat, cane, floor stand, and mid-sized props are contained in a smart black duffle bag. In addition, his floor show requires a small tape player and amplifier for musical background.
PRACTICE AND REHEARSAL
The practice may be out of act sequence with concentration upon effects most in need of practice. Rehearsing should be conducted in the actual sequencing of the act, as it is to be performed.
ROUTINING is of utmost importance both within an effect and among the collective effects constituting the act. The act isn’t everything; it’s the only thing–to paraphrase Yogi Berra.
Whenever possible, carrying over a prop from one effect to the next provides transition and continuity, for instance, a silk used in a coin routine is retained for use in a color-changing rose effect. The concept applies to utility devices, as well. For instance, a pair of scissors used to perform a cut and restored rope routine, if appearing magically from the magician’s hidden pocket, as he misdirects audience attention, occurs not as a “trick,” but as an unemphasized magical happening–that’s just the way magicians do things, if they need a pair of scissors, they simply produce them out of nowhere. After all, that is the way a magician should produce objects he needs or wants, and, after all, is not the sudden production of An object more meaningful than merely picking it up from a tabletop. All it takes is an upstage turn and steal from the pocket or profonde.
” An Arm and Leg “
Ronald J. Dayton
The human body is an amazing machine…a biological creation of tissue and bone, cells and atoms controlled by an all but unexplainable command center, the human brain. We are our own greatest enigma. But the mysteries of creation and the very makeup of our DNA notwithstanding, magicians in their unerring wisdom have even found ways to use our own body parts to mystify and amaze.
Many of you have no doubt seen the simple physical optical illusions played on us by our own minds…that of holding a cardboard tube up to our right eye in the right hand, and holding the left hand against the left side of the tube…flat open palm of the left hand facing toward us. By looking through the tube with the left eye while still keeping the right eye open as well…the mind sees the double image as one…creating the illusion that we are looking through a hole in our left hand.
The second visual illusion I was going to mention is that of the ‘floating sausage’. If you hold your arms out in front of you, bent at the elbow so the forearms are upward…then point the first finger of each hand toward the other and slowly move the arms closer together until the fingertips touch… a ghostly specter of a small fleshy sausage or saucer will appear between the two fingertips.
These are just two simple examples, used to open the door of thought on the many impromptu bits of business and magic we can create using our bodies. Various scientific and physical laws are also employed to create stunning effects.
Many years ago, a slight and demure woman who billed herself as the Georgia Magnet…and Georgia Wondermade a very good living by using laws of leverage and deflection of force to seemingly pit her own strength against that of the most powerful men in her audience. In his marvelous book, ” Body Magic ” by John Fisher…he explains many of her secrets and principles. The ploys and methods she used are little known by younger students of magic today. I will state most emphatically that I think you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not looking into the subject more closely. With props no more complicated than a broom handle or pool stick and a wooden chair, you can easily bewilder and amaze.
You can even surprise your friends with a simple experiment in which you supposedly take control of their mind…and force them to raise their arms against their will. All they must do is to step within the framework of any doorway opening. With their hands at their side, they are to spread their arms out until the back of each hand is pressed against the door jamb at either side. The next step is to exert as much force against the jamb as possible and continue exerting pressure for one minute. At the end of that time, they are to relax the pressure…allow the arms to hang limply at their side…and step away from the doorway. You have previously explained that at the end of this experiment, their arms will rise at their side…and they will have no control of the situation. Lo and behold…the muscles of the arms will indeed relax…and their arms, to their own amazement, will begin to rise. If you doubt me…try this for yourself. It’s wonderful fun!
Mr. Fisher has included in excess of one hundred effects using parts of the body. He includes little known information which is of value to all of us. Heat sensitivity…sensitivity to touch…limitations of movement certain positions restrict us to, why our eyes tend to fool our minds when viewing optical illusions and the way the mind interprets messages it is sent. This hard to find paperback publication has a wealth of information.
A recent television special involving street magician David Blaine had a marvelous example of the type of physical magic I am speaking of…and that was the twisting wrist. It looks impossible, and even a bit repulsive…but it is body magic at its very best. To find examples of even more of this stuff, I suggest you look into Martin Gardner’s book, ” Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic. ” Pull off your thumb, stretch your fingers…twirl your bent arm…it’s all here for the taking.
So many wonderful and diversified principles are employed in this sort of impromptu magic. Properly presented, it is strong, effective, and puzzling to the mind, eye, and senses. Little things as simple as seeming to ‘crack ‘ your nose by holding it between the fingers of the hands which are positioned at each side, and giving it a twist, catch people completely off guard. An ice breaker to be sure…and one which will definitely get their attention. The secret? The thumbnail of one hand enters the mouth just far enough to catch and pull against the lower edge of your front teeth as the twisting action of the hands is executed. The illusion of having broken your nose is very real for the unsuspecting.
Fraudulent ‘ Faith Healers’ also use physical trickery to dupe people out of their money. Shills or secret assistants who work for the phony men of faith come up from out of the audience, just as if they were everyday people with a problem they want this man of God to help them with. Often it is an arm or leg which is shorter than the other. By a laying of the hands, the ailing limb seems to visibly correct itself…growing before their very eyes to match the length of the normal limb! How so you ask. Because if you shift the position of your shoulders or hips to favor one side or the other as you extend both limbs…one will appear shorter than the other. It is a very bold and obvious ploy…but, only obvious to those not taken in by the false man of the cloth…and not at their wits end to find solutions to genuine physical disabilities. This is one of the lowest and most despicable ways to bilk people out of money that I can think of. They prey on victims desperate beyond belief. I am sickened by the knowledge that it is only a trick.
But thankfully…you have higher standards and higher goals. The methods you may choose to look for will bring happiness and entertainment into people’s lives. Isn’t it nice to know that you have been supplied with the apparatus right at birth! <G> And of course…good magician that you are…you carry the props with you everywhere you go.
Investigate the magic of the mind, eye, and body. You will never regret the knowledge that you gain…and you may well be impressed with the capabilities the human body possesses.
All I can say is, “They Just Keep Coming!” Here is yet another world-class LESSON in magic for all our illustrious I.C.O.M members….BJG
“GRANT SAID IT FIRST”
Ronald J. Dayton
The very first big-name person in magic to refer to me as an ‘idea man’, was U.F. Grant. I would write to him every time a new method came to mind. Now that I look back on it, he really was a patient man because I pestered him to death. We were never actually ‘friends’ in the usual sense.. .that is to say, we never met. The random letters were our only contact, and his replies were short and to the point, being as busy as he was, I marvel that he ever took time to answer at all. But he was my mentor.. .and I was the probable bane to his existence.
At any rate, I should get to the point where all of this is leading. During recent days, I have re-discovered some of the Grant material I have been hoarding over the years. One of the manuscripts I found was a 1944 publication by Nelmar productions out of Chicago. The title of the work was “One Hundred Tips and Gags“ by U.F. Grant. I’ve studied over some of the suggestions, and find they are as applicable today as they were fifty-four years ago. Only minor changes would be needed.
Most of the original material was taken directly from Grant’s private notebook. The majority of the ideas belonged to others, but no one seemed to know who originated most of them. He did credit W. R. Williamston of New York City for several of the items.
A Grant suggestion that caught my eye was that of the annoying person who, as a joke on you, asks you to pull a rabbit out of a hat. To squelch the situation, take a hat or cap, and apparently pull a HAIR (HARE) out of it. As a continuation on a theme…follow by using the invisible hair in the old bit of pantomiming the sewing of the fingers on one hand together. Pretend to thread the long hair through an invisible needle. This ‘needle’ is held between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. The fingers of the right hand are spread far apart. With the right hand turned, palm toward you, you pretend to stick the needle into the side of the R.H. little finger and pull it out the opposite side. You then do the same with the R.H. third finger. As you pull on the needle this time, the third and little fingers move together, side by side. This is repeated until all the fingers and thumb of the right hand seem to have been sewn together. Lastly, you pretend to poke the needle through the wrist and pull it out at the side of the wrist at the back of the hand. When you hold the arm up, bent at the elbow and pull on the string or thread, the hand waves up and down in a ‘ bye-bye, see you ‘round’ type gesture. You say “ Bye-bye”, and walk away. They are left bewildered and mildly entertained.
Have you heard the Bobby J. Gallo-Bill Wisch audiotape yet called Ultimate Magic Rap, Vol. 1 “? If you haven’t.. .do yourself a big favor, and order it today. It is loaded with information, sage advice, and several wonderful, fully explained effects you CAN do. One of the effects offered in the tape is by Bill Wisch. It involves a spectator’s wristwatch…and it is tremendous! Well, one of the effects in Grant’s manuscript reminded me of the Wisch effect.. .and I believe they could be blended together for a nice comedy touch in certain routines.
In the original, the M.C. comes out following the magic act and says that the magician wasn’t so great. He says, “ I have his watch.” as he pulls the same from his pocket. Just before he steps off into the wings, the magician turns and says…” That’s nothing…I have his socks I” and pulls a pair of socks from his pocket. The M.C. lifts his pants leg to reveal he is standing barefooted in his shoes.
A twist could be employed using the Wisch watch idea, and two spectator assistants. After they have returned to their seats, the magician calls one of them back because he has his watch. This is a bonafide spectator, who is not in on the gag. The second spectator who is a confederate ) is called up next. HE pulls the sock gag on the magician…then the magician says, “ That’s nothing…I have your belt!” As this is said, the confederate opens his jacket, and his pants fall down revealing loud boxer shorts. Old schtick…but funny.
During what seems to be a serious series of sleights with lit cigarettes, a person dressed to resemble a cleaning lady comes out on stage with a dust-pan and broom, sweeping up those that have been thrown to the floor. An electric vacuum would also be funny.
After a lady has assisted you in a trick, you bring a beautiful long-stemmed rose for her from just off stage. In reality, it has been cut in two just a few inches below the bloom. You are holding the two pieces as one. When she takes hold of the lower end of the stem, you walk away, leaving her holding only the naked stem.
Here is a spin-off of a coin on forehead effect Grant offered, but this one has more of a genuine magical feel to it. You take a nickel and place it on the forehead of a spectator who has tilted his head back to permit this. The idea is to see if he can bring his head forward in such a way that the coin will drop into a tin can or small bucket you are holding. He does as instructed, and the coin falls right in. Bullseye! You then take the coin out of the pail… vanish it, and.. .it magically flies right back to the center of the spectator’s forehead where he finds and removes it himself!
During the reading, you no doubt have figured most of this out already. When you place the coin on your forehead, you press firmly down on the skin and slide the coin upward just a bit. It will adhere to the forehead. You may or may not want to do this to a spectator that you do not know personally. An alternative would be to place a bit of non-toxic magician’s wax on the coin to achieve the same effect. The coin which falls into the can or pail is concealed under the fingers of the hand holding the receptacle. You then execute a shuttle pass or other move to pretend to place the coin in one hand, actually retaining it in the other. He tips his head back once again. You make a tossing action with your empty hand…the one which is supposed to be holding the coin. The coin VANISHES.. .and re-appears in the center of his forehead. Just a bit of nonsense, I know…but the audience will get a kick out of it, believe me.
For a twist on the vanishing birdcage, have a solid cage rigged up so the BIRD is on a pull. As the hands move forward, the bird and not the cage disappears.
Have a person write something on a slip of paper, fold it, and place their foot on it. You then state that you can tell what is on the paper. Concentrate a bit, then announce, “ Your Shoe!”
Some of these bits are pure foolishness. Use them, and have some innocent fun. Magic should be fun, shouldn’t it?! Some of the others have serious merit. They are both magical and entertaining. Use these too…and have fun…but always consider your audience… and never do anything in poor taste or which might offend them.
Co-Directors Note Hey Ron, you are correct in saying that this is entertaining stuff. After all, I use your chicken humor described elsewhere in I.C.O.M and get a tremendous reaction! …BJG
We thought we’d have some fun in the Spotlight this month after the ground-breaking material last month…enjoy!…BJG
Ten Ways To Annoy A Magician
Ronald J. Dayton
1. Pretend to forget the name of the card you chose.
2. During a coin act, drop lots of change on to the floor.
3. In an escape act, after he is handcuffed behind his back…tell him
his fly is open.
4. When he hands you a hanky to inspect, pretend to blow your nose in
5. Keep asking him where his mask is.
6. When he calls you on stage, pretend not to hear him.
7. Before the show, leave lots of empty sugar packets near the cage he
keeps his rabbits in.
8. Hold his feather bouquet behind your head, and begin doing an
Indian Rain Dance.
9. Pretend to use his Foo Can as a spitoon.
10. Bring your own doves to the theater, and let them go during the
This a great follow-up to the “Almost Anything Through Table” Lesson two months ago in the Beginner’s study. Here you will be privy to a very RARE magical concept that is worth the entire year of your I.C.O.M membership! One more way we stay on the cutting edge of magic! Between these two lessons and what Bill Teaches in the Slydini Legacy, it seems I.C.O.M has everything you will ever need to know concerning the subject of “LAPPING”…BJG
” Take Another Lap “
Ronald J. Dayton
One of the most diabolical and effective methods employed by close-up workers is the art of lapping. This means, in its most basic terms, secretly dropping an object you seem to pick up from your performing surface, off the back ledge of the table, and into your lap. I refer to it as an Art, because for it to be effective and deceptive, it must be executed with precision and perfect timing. Lapping is not something you casually do, without working at it. The various moves and ploys created for lapping must be practiced diligently…and once perfected, will provide you with
an arsenal of weapons.
There is a good chance that almost every novice magician entering the I.C.O.M ranks is familiar with the Salt Shaker Thru Table effect. This is where the salt saker is set on top of a coin, then covered with a paper napkin that is formed around the shape of the shaker. The magician says he is going to cause the coin to vanish…but this is just a way to keep the spectator’s attention on the tabletop. As the shaker is lifted to reveal the coin…you seem to have failed because the coin is still there. But the actual ‘magic’ is taking place then, as the hand holding the covered shaker moves back toward the edge of the table. You relax your hold on the napkin, and the shaker drops into your lap. Since it appears the shaker is still there thanks to the form the napkin has held,
the ‘ shaker’ is supposedly replaced over the coin. The climax comes when you smash the napkin flat…then produce the solid shaker from beneath the table. This is a classic example of lapping.
If you think about all the ways there are to pick an object up from a table, you will be given some clues to possible methods for lapping. In many instances, the objects are positioned near the rear edge of the table, to begin with. In one instance, say with a coin, the flat hand, with the thumb behind the fingers might appear to scoop the coin up, fingers covering and pulling the coin back toward the rear edge. In another, you might cover the coin, then appear to pick it up in a loose fist. In this instance, as the hand closes into a fist, the tips of the fingers come into contact with the front edge of the coin and literally push the coin off the back edge. Coins may well be covered by the hand…but in reality, you slightly overshoot your mark…and the coin is actually under the wrist…then worked a bit further back to being under the forearm. The coin is then dragged back and off the table as the hand is pulled back to a position a few inches from the edge. Flicking or brushing actions of the hand may also propel a coin or small object off the working surface and into your lap.
There are also many methods in which an object actually held within the hand may be released and dropped in totally undetectable ways. Once an object is in your lap, it may be easily switched for another object, or, re-introduced into the routine at a later time. The lap itself may well be much more than simply a drop off point. The legs may be used to hold items between them, such as classes of liquid, for production later. Folds made in the trousers may be used as impromptu holders or pockets for coins, cards, and other flat objects. The bend of the knee might also be considered as a holding spot for things such as a wand or a deck of cards. The lifted leg and bent knee could be employed to hold an object up against the underside of the table. You can conceal items under the leg as well…pinning it between the leg and the seat of the chair.
Depending upon your situation, the draping of the table ( table cloth ) might be effective as an aid to your lapping ability. By lifting the cloth up on top of your lap, and spreading your legs a bit to form a natural well…you have provided a landing surface that will help to keep items dropped to remain right there on your lap. The folds of the cloth would also act as a trough or ‘ramp’ down which items such as coins might slide. This would funnel the falling object directly to another coin or coins already there, providing you with a well-timed audible clink to coincide with actions happening above the table surface. The same holds true of an empty glass held between your legs, and a coin resting on the thigh of your leg. Pretending to drop a coin into a visible glass on top of the table, timed with the secret dropping of a coin into the glass beneath the table could prove to be very effective.
Although much of what I have mentioned also leans toward the subject of Servantes… I felt it was fair to sort of meld the thoughts together because they are so closely related. There are a connection and interaction which is hard to deny. For that reason, I would like to explain a device
I created about fourteen years ago which I called The Saddle Servante. It is a secret utility item which is worn on the body and allows the close-up worker to ditch and steal various objects, and still have the freedom to stand up at any point in his routine. Something which is not possible for the performer who is lapping exclusively. The Saddle Servante allows you to combine the powers of lapping and a servante as well. This new design in servantes permits the thinking performer to create a device that is geared to his or her own specific needs.
Q: Where is the Saddle Servante worn:
A: It is worn on the top of the thigh, just a few inches above the knee.
Q: What keeps this servante in place ? How is it held on the leg ?
A: The very nucleus of the Saddle Servante is a girl’s or lady’s headband. Those are the flat, U-shaped strips of plastic worn to hold the hair in place. The spring tension of the band is what keeps it clamped to the leg.
Q: What sort of devices or pockets may be attached to this leg
A: This is where the diversity of the device comes into play. You may attach any sort of holder you wish to use on this band. They may be attached permanently by gluing them in place, or, you may want to glue a strip of velcro to the band, and then position matching velcro tabs to the containers or pockets you want to employ with the band. These might be droppers. magnets, cloth or plastic pouches ( pockets ), open-end tubes, loops of elastic for wands, or thumb tips. The combinations you choose are limited only by your own imagination. To allow you to stand at will, attention will have to be given to the positioning of certain holders, or, some may possibly have to be attached in such a way as to allow them to move or pivot.
The saddle Servante may also be combined with the table cloth ploy, towel, or table napkin in the lap mentioned earlier. In fact, the Saddle will hold the material in place more securely.
Q: What will the cost be ?
A: The cost, in its most basic form, should be rather minimal. It is difficult to give a specific range since I do not know which, or how many elements you want to incorporate with the Saddle Servante. I would venture to say the cost should range somewhere between five and ten dollars. This would include the band, velcro, basic elastics and cloth materials, glue/ sewing materials. If you choose to use special holders or droppers and purchase them rather than making your own, the cost of course will grow. But I sincerely feel that even an expenditure of as much as fifteen dollars would be well worth it.
Q: How should the servante be finished ?
A: The Saddle Servante is never meant to be seen by the audience. But If you desire to give it a more finished look…the band and velcro should be black. This to me is best. It will blend with the usual dress slacks we wear…and the color has been associated with gimmicks and devices for decades. Since this is the case, it follows that the cloth and coverings or painted finishes on the other holders and droppers would also be black. But specialized Saddle Servante’s could also be designed to suit specific needs in dress or costuming.
Q: Who can use the Saddle Servante ?
A: Basically, anyone. It is an extremely good device for female performers.
They always have the option of wearing either a dress or slacks. When used with a dress, we have the same combination as with the table cloth and Saddle Servante. The Saddle Servante may also be worn under the dress…providing the perfect walk-on for the female close-up performer. Anyone with legs above the knee may employ this device.
When you consider all the options opened up by the use of the art of lapping, and infusing it with various other ploys, aids, and servantes…we are now talking about almost limitless means for presenting our close-up magic.
This is the first time in fourteen years that the Saddle Servante concept has been shared with the magic community. That makes this material an I.C.O.M exclusive…and I am proud to offer the premise for your consideration. I am very proud of this device, and the applications it provides. I am, in particular, pleased with the fact that it offers a utility device that may be effectively employed by either gender. The ladies have been left out of the action for far too long.
Manufacturing Rights Reserved By Ronald J. Dayton Copyright 1999 International Conservatory of Magic.
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