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The Magic Memories (84)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: More thoughts on FISM competitions; Remembering Shigeo Tagaki.

These are The Magic Memories 84, gone online Sunday, August 7th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

More Thoughts on Competitions

Last week’s The Magic Memories brought in a few comments concerning competitions, thank you, so I assume there is some interest in it, and I’m going to explore the subject a bit more in today’s blog.

Benefits of a Competition

As I reported in last week’s installment, winning the FISM competition did have a decisive impact on my professional career. As a matter of fact, I see at least three benefits of entering a competition, especially one of the importance and magnitude of FISM:

First, it forces you to create a high-caliber ten-minute act. If you’ve never done that I can assure you that this is a major operation, and although it will be different for each performer, common to all is that you are forced to think in new dimensions, become creative to a point you didn’t think was possible, practice and rehearse efficiently, and a lot more (yet another topic!).

Second, a good performer – thanks to the recently introduced idea of preliminaries most FISM acts are at least good – gets exposed in front of  his and her peers, thus gaining attention, recognition and bookings. This is especially useful for young performers, or those coming from lesser known countries, or countries with weak economies that do not allow performers to travel easily (yet another reason why there should be a foundation that sponsors such acts).

Third, it can greatly facilitate breaking into professional show business. I’m not talking about getting booked at magic conventions, as too many convention organizers (fortunately not all!) simply exploit the artists by paying lower fees than they could afford. (This is really another big issue that needs to be addressed at some point!) An award is the welcome hook the media are looking for in order to report about the artist.

I remember when I won my award at FISM 1988, I got interviewed by one of the most prominent columnists (-minu)  for a national newspaper. The next day the CEO of a restaurant and resort chain personally called me up, his name was Ulrich Leuthold, and asked to meet me.

His company, the Berest AG that still exists, managed some of the most important restaurants, hotels and night clubs in Switzerland. He booked me to regularly appear at one of their top bar-restaurants in Basel, at that time called “Classico” (and worth a column of its own!), where I did not only get my first professional experience in high-level close-up magic at a handsome fee, but also met lots of decision makers who then booked me for prestigious and lucrative corporate and private work.

Ueli (Swiss short for “Ulrich”) and I then became quite friendly, and many interesting projects and bookings followed – if you remind me I’ll report on one of them, the “Soirée 200”, a yearly event with only 200 guests who each payed 100 Swiss Francs (that’s ca. $ 250 of today’s purchasing power). I did three such events, booking acts like Tommy Wonder, Tina Lenert, and other national and international talent.

Lots more to say about “benefits”, but let me bring this part of the discussion to an end by mentioning that I’ve seen competitors also live the exact contrary to encouragement and boost to their career: There have been performers who simply misjudged their talent, entered a competition, and experienced the flop of their lives, some of them being booed off the stage, or even had the curtain closed by decision of the jury.

Both are cruel intrusions into the life of a usually sensitive individual, who has more often than not devoted a lot of time and thought to his or her performance, and is now brutally made aware that his or her expectations don’t match the reality. These people have then left magic with much bitterness and chagrin.

My first trophy, Bonn (Germany) 1980

The Position of Competitions in Magic

Competitions can be an integral part of any artist’s career, independent from the discipline: There are competitions in music, film, literature, architecture etc. However, to my knowledge, it is only the “art” of magic where competitions are given such a prominent position.

That’s precisely the problem I see. And before proceeding let me state once again that all you read in my blogs and other writings is of course simply my personal opinion, no more, no less, and I’m not writing this to be controversial nor to offend anyone, I’m just interested to explore the subject and offer my point of view after decades of practicing and studying magic in a scholarly manner.

So, albeit in the magic community the call for magic being recognized as an art form is loud and argumentative, few seem to understand what this means and how it should be implemented. The problem, however,  as Juan Tamariz once said to me in one of our conversations, is not the public, but those practicing magic, many of whom do not believe that magic is an art form. How can we convince the public that magic is art, if many of “us” do neither believe it nor act (in performances and outside) accordingly?

The position competitions get, especially at big conventions such as FISM, displays what in my opinion is a big misunderstanding of what constitutes an art form.

Granted, as we’ve seen, all arts have competitions and formats with a similar function, mostly to encourage and sponsor young talent, but no other art would give a competition the importance for instance FISM is giving it, which even hails the competition as the “Olympics of Magic”. This metaphorical expression is used as an analogy, of course, but it brings magic, sensed to be an art, down to the level of sports – and magic, whatever it might be, is certainly not a sport.

What shocks me, but does not surprise me at all, is that many who attend FISM, or other conventions with a competition, go there primarily to watch the competition. Wow, that’s quite something, I say.

I remember when I attended my first convention at age 17, I went there with the idea that I would learn new things (techniques, tricks, presentations, strategies, insights etc.), and meet new kindred spirits, people as obsessed about magic as myself, make new friends, see new developments in material sciences and creations (inventors, dealers), and so on. Competitions, to me, where the least important.

Later I came to understand and accept that competitions at a high level also have an educational function, as you can see the creativity of others, how they solved problems etc. So they are indeed part of the training and self-improvement, but never ever the most important part of it. And I started to wonder why so many love competitions and make it the main raison d’être of a convention.

Naturally, one of the reasons is that a large part of the convention goers have magic as a hobby. And as such they love to see magic performed, and to be surprised and even better be fooled. And of course we have to admit that in all of us watching those competitions there is a “little judge”: We simply love to “class” the act, and for a moment even imagine we were one of the judges and gave the act so-and-so many points, and then get upset at those judges 🙂 It makes us all feel a bit more important.

I have absolutely nothing against this, it is human, and it fulfills an important function in our life as aficionados of magic.

All I’m saying is that it must not be given that primordial importance as it is currently given, especially not when communicating magic to the public. If we ever want magic to be recognized as an art form and its practitioners as artists, at least some of us, we must stop making competitions the most important feature of a FISM convention. Take painting: There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that painting is an art form, but not everyone who paints is an artist, only a few are. Nobody would be offended if I said so. Same in magic: Magic is an art form, but not everyone practicing magic is an artist.

How to establish Magic as an Art

As a consequence of the above you might ask me: If you want to lower the prominence of competitions, what would you do to promote magic as an art?

For years I have been suggesting measures that could be taken, but few seem to be interested, and even fewer have acted.

In reference to FISM I think that there is the greatest potential to help the public gain a new and different view of magic, but almost nothing is done.

Possibly the only and most important innovation was Max Maven’s wonderful idea of installing three Special Awards outside of the competition. These should not be attributed for a single performance done in ten minutes on a specific day, in front of a specific jury, but be a kind of lifetime achievement award. This was first done at FISM 2006 in Stockholm, where the three awards for “Creativity”, “History and Research”, as well as “Theory and Philosophy” were given.

Special Award “Theory and Philosophy”, FISM 2015

I consider these the three most important awards in magic, not because I received one, no, but because it recognizes that magic is more than just entertaining show business. Because that’s precisely the crux of the matter: As long as the public keeps just seeing magic acts, regardless how good they are, they will put magic into the box “fun-nice-entertaining” – of course it should be that too, but not only!

The Special Awards are a great way of reframing magic in the perception of the public, and communicate that magic has a huge historical tradition, with some fantastic personalities, not just performers, but also inventors, authors, researchers etc. And all those ideas they see are the fruit of exceptionally talented creators. Also, it opens for them the door to the complex and infinite substructures on which the “show” they see resides, make them wonder how it is possibly that the most sophisticated mind in this universe, the human mind, can be deceived by essentially simple concepts and thus become aware of magic’s multi-facetted artistic and philosophical implications.

The trouble is that those who should and could exploit this amazing potential of these awards simply do not understand this. Instead of using this unique possibility, the Special Awards are not even communicated to the public, at least I’ve never seen them mentioned in the press or on TV.

When I got my award, the convention organization in Rimini had failed to even write on the otherwise lovely trophy what the trophy was for, let alone my name, it just reads in very small type “FISM World Championship of Magic”, no year, no name, that’s how much the organization cared – I didn’t even get a certificate. (I should emphasize that this was not Max Maven’s fault, who has put a lot of time and energy into preparing the award ceremony). When I later wrote to the FISM secretary about at least getting a certificate, they said they would take care of it. They didn’t. And when I wrote in a second time – I can be stubborn (!) – they didn’t even answer. And the media were not even informed that these three awards existed. When I then contacted a few newspaper, something I truly hate doing and am terrible at for that reason, their first question was, “How much money went with the award?” I had to answer, “None.” Unfortunately, in the perception of the media and the public an award without money is not considered interesting. Certainly, if the Nobel Prize was not endowed with over one million Dollars, nobody would even know it existed. Again, another subject that should be discussed emotionlessly but intelligently.

Speaking of media and TV: It certainly helps finances and to some degree the image of magic to televise some FISM acts, but it doesn’t do much to change magic in the public’s eyes. A good show, a good act is what they expect magic to be, good entertainment, but it does nothing at all to add to their perception of magic. However, this is what we need: New possibilities for the public to see the world of magic.

New Possibilities in Magic

My suggestions have gone in the direction of opening other platforms of information about magic during a FISM. Let’s face it: The only moment the public gains access to what we are doing in six days is the evening gala, which is repeated for the public – sometimes even this doesn’t happen, since the theatre is sold out with the conventioneers alone, and a second or third show would have to be set up, but the theatre stage is occupied by other convention activities…

My idea would be to create external activities before, during and after FISM: lectures on various subjects (history, psychology, philosophy, biographies) in public libraries and other cultural hot spots, inter-disciplinary workshops and encounters with other artistic disciplines (magic and literature, magic and cinema, magic and painting), expositions in museums and art galleries (paintings with magic symbolism, optical illusions, etc.), movies with magic topics and introductory talks (Méliès is good, but there is more), bookshops with magic books (not only teach-ins but also literature that picks up “magical” themes – there is a lot more than Harry Potter…), activities in small theaters, pubs, bars, performances on the street, and an almost infinite etcetera.

As far as I know none of this has ever been done, not even partially, or if it has been done, in a very small scale. One of the laudable exceptions (there might be others, I hope, and I should be happy to report them here) is the Magialdia Convention in Vitoria, Spain, run by José Ángel Suarez and his team for more than thirty years (!), and which is sponsored by the city itself (!): During ca. three weeks there are dozens of activities of all types that show the rich and faceted world of magic to the public, and as a small part of it there is a three-day magic convention.

I know, some of it will be difficult to implement, if the event location and the organization team keeps changing, and money is needed… definitely another complex matter, and another conversation…

These are a few of my ideas and opinions, and maybe you want to discuss one or several of the points brought up with your magic friends and in your club. (Please understand that I cannot get into a correspondence over this or any other subject. But you can always approach me at a convention, buy me a drink at the bar or invite me to a slow-food meal 🙂

Remembering Shigeo Tagaki

I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting Japan once, but that one time was certainly an intense and memorable one.

To start with, it was my first “culture shock”, because speaking six languages and being able to at least make heads and tails out of another half a dozen languages when I see it written down, well, In Japan it was all Greek to me 🙂

I had assumed that the most important signs in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka would be translated in English and Latin alphabet, and that most people would speak English. None of that was the case, at least not in 1989.

However, this was not an issue, since once you have the status of a guest, the hosts take care of you and you are treated like a VIP. I will never forget how we were strolling through Osaka and it started raining. Immediately our host, who was nobody less than Fukai, from “Fukai and Kimika” fame, asked us to wait under the entry portal of a mall, run in and out in less than two minutes, and came back with an umbrella for each one of us!

I have a dozen such stories, and they all show the wonderful and unique hospitality of the Japanese people. And I won’t even start to tell you about the exclusive meals we were treated to, the Asian cuisine being arguably the richest in the world, and in Japan you get some of the best.

Briefly: I was brought in by Max Maven (who else!), together with Eugene Burger, Tommy Wonder and Aurelio Paviato. After a day or two in buzzing Tokyo, with lots of magic and visit to Ton and Mama Onosaka’s “Magicland”, we were off to Hakone National Park (gorgeous!), were an intimate Close-up Convention was held.

Lecture at Close-up Convention, Hakone 1989

But that was only the overture, as the main reason of the trip organized by Max, Ton and Max’s agent David Belenzon, was to attend one of the largest conventions Japan ever had, in Kitakyushu. I was told that this was meant as a kind of test run for an upcoming FISM convention in Japan (as a matter of fact, in 1994, FISM went out of Europe for the very first time, and was celebrated in Yokohama).

Below you can see a photo of the company I had the honor to be in, briefly stated: If the airplane that took most of them from Tokyo to Kitakyushu had crashed, magic would have lost at least 50% of its top talent. See if you can find them: Lance Burton, Max Maven, Kevin James, Fin Jon, Billy McComb, The Pendragons, Jeff McBride, Princess Tenko, Mac King, Tina Lenert, Goldfinger and Dove, Eugene Burger, Tommy Wonder, Aurelio Paviato, Ton Onosaka, Michael Moschen, Barclay Shaw, The Napoleons, Fukai and Kimika, Franz Harary, and others… quite something, eh 🙂

Artists Kitakyushu 1989

I had met Shigeo Tagaki, Japan’s “Professor”, already in Tokyo the week before (see photo below), but it was on the Bullet Train that we got to “session” for almost the entire trip.

Although I do not speak any Japanese, except “Konnichiwa”, “Arigato”, and “Sayonara”, and Tagaki’s English was, well, rather eccentric (Vernon bless him!), he kept performing for me great classic magic in his very own style, unforgettable! We kept speaking to each other without understanding what the other was saying, but we had the greatest of all times, and I experienced some fantastic magic 🙂

At some point Tagaki gave me two VHS videos of his, which I was not able to watch for about two years, because in Europe at that time I could not get one of those multi-system video recorders playing NTSC format. But once I did, I learned his rope routine on it, and it has since then, to this very day (30 years plus!), remained the opening sequence of my professional act that has taken me to four continents. I am forever thankful to him just for that, let alone for all the rest!

He was not only an exceptional scholar of magic, he also considerably influenced the Japanese magic world around him to this day. See Richard Kaufman’s book on his magic (only a small part of his creative output),

Surprisingly I did not find much video material on Internet about Shigeo Tagaki, but this short private 3-minute sampler clip should give you an idea of his exquisite taste and handling, CLICK HERE. And find some biographical info HERE. Finally, you might enjoy Michael Vincent discussing the book, and performing a beautiful routine from it, CLICK HERE.

Shigeo Tagaki and me in Japan, Tokyo 1989

I wanted to take a break from this blogging because it is so hot here, and look at what came out as a result – so much about taking resolutions!

Have a great week and see you all back here in a week.

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (83)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Legend to FISM 2000 photo; Memories of FISM 1988 in The Hague; Remembering Bob Jardine.

These are The Magic Memories 83, gone online Sunday, July 31st, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

As you’re reading this, FISM 2022 in Quebec is a thing of the past, but it gives me a lovely reason to continue my reminiscences of my own attendances to this most important of all magic conventions that I started in The Magic Memories 82. I received various comments and questions, and would like to deal with a few here.

Legend to FISM 2000 Photo

Several readers asked me to reveal the names of the “stars” on the photo below – I had wrongly assumed that all was clear 🙂

So, here we go.

Standing, from left to right: unknown, Carlos Vaquera, Dominique Duvivier, Lee Asher, Lennart Green, Topas (Thomas Fröschle), unknown, Eugene Burger – only his bald head is visible :-), Bebel, Billy McComb, El Duco (Christer Gustavsson), Daryl Martinez,  Alison Easton (Daryl’s wife, magicienne in her own right,  and pregnant with their first daughter)

Kneeling in front row, from left to right: unknown (from Holland), Richard Ross, Hans Klok, unknown (from Holland), Juan Tamariz, Roberto Giobbi

FISM 2000, Lisbon, Portugal

Memories of FISM – The Hague 1988

After Brussels (1979), Lausanne (1982), Madrid (1985), The Hague in 1988 was my fourth FISM convention, and the most important to date for me, as I had then decided to enter the competition in the category of “Card Magic”.

This links to a question Spain’s Pedro Bryce asked as a reaction to last week’s The Magic Memories:

Could you tell us a bit about your experience competing at FISM 1988 (The Hague) and 1991 (Lausanne)? I’ve long been very curious about these two complete acts! Is there any video footage of them? As an anecdote I’ll tell you that Juan Tamariz kept telling Pepe Carroll «I saw Roberto’s act… it’s very good!” This was of course meant as an incentive for Pepe to work even more on his act! (Note: Pepe Carroll and I competed at FISM 1988 – see below.)

I had briefly commented on Pedro, who is one of the young outstanding magicians in Spain, in The Magic Memories 44 of OCT 31st, 2021, at the end of which I also included a link to a short performance of his on YouTube; it is all you need to appreciate his extraordinary talent.

The FISM 1988 Competition Act

Although this is a looong time ago (almost 35 years!!!), let me try to go back on the timeline and tell you a few hopefully useful and amusing things about this unique experience (it certainly was to me).

Preamble

A few general things first, some amusing, some sad.

The most important – the result: I got 2nd prize in the category of Card Magic, with 0,9 points out of 100 behind my late friend Pepe Carroll from Spain, as a judge later told me.

Of course the whole thing was completely unfair, since Pepe was a genius, and I merely a man of talent 🙂 Certainly, Pepe completely deserved to win, simply for being one of the truly outstanding performers of the second part of the 20th century – I wish he had been able to get more recognition from outside of his own country, where he made an admirable career on national TV.

Unfortunately, later TV dropped him, as TV so often does with some stars, and he fell into a deep depression which finally lead to his premature death, in 2004, at the very young age of 46 (the same age my father died when I was only 14…).

A simple search on Google and YouTube entering “Pepe Carroll” will allow you to appreciate this talent of the century.

On a brighter note I should mention that Lennart Green also participated and got classed 17th or so.

The legend then circulated that this was because the judges thought that Lennart was using confederates and special cards. As amusing as this reads in hindsight, it is not entirely true. Truth is that Lennart had then just started to get into the limelight of the magic world, and these were his very first attempts at performing at all.

As we all now now, Lennart is another of these very rare geniuses (and I really use this term very, very sparingly!), as a creator-inventor, as a technician with truly idiosyncratic techniques, and as an eccentric performer. However, he had developed his talents as a performer only after 1988.

I watched Lennart compete, since he was on another day then I was, and what I saw was extraordinary originality and a most innovative technique, but an almost non-existent communication and an immature presentation. All of us who know Lennart also know that he is one of the most sincere, generous people in the world, with a BIG heart, and if I had to put my life in the hands of anyone in this world, I would choose Lennart, and I really mean that.

But Lennart is also a soft-spoken and introvert person, one who will always step back and let others receive the glory, even though he is the one to deserve it.

This very characteristic, which makes him possibly the most beloved magician in the world, is not very useful in “show business”. Certainly, Lennart learned to live with that, and as we all also know has been able to turn himself inside out when he performs so as to become the exceptional performer he has then become. BUT, at FISM 1988, he had not yet reached that point, and this is the true reason why he did not get a prize. Magic is a performing art, and at that time he was “merely” a highly skilled and innovative demonstrator.

Amusingly, though, and as a matter of additional curiosity, three years later, at FISM 1991 in Lausanne, Lennart and I again competed against each other in the category of “Card Magic”: I got again second place, and Lennart got first! Well deserved, as in the time in-between competitions, he had transformed into a brilliant performer – Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling of magic 🙂 A star was born! Of course it did not matter that he entered the competition with almost exactly the same act as in 1988, something which is against the FISM rules. But when it comes to true genius, who cares about pedantry 🙂

A Magician Prepares

Here a few comments on how to prepare for a competition.

One of my early influences in magic was Piet Forton, of his real name Pieter de Beaufort, who himself had won three times in a row the FISM first prize in Card Magic. At that time we were quite friendly and met regularly to talk magic. The one thing I remember he said to me was that you need to have your competition act ready at least a year before the competition, and then use that year to fine-tune it. Other than that he was not involved in any other aspect of the act.

But this was good advice, and I got most of the act together toward the end of 1987, and then seeked all types of occasions to perform it. Obviously, living in Switzerland where all speak Swiss-German (or French, Italian, or Romansch!), I had to always find audiences who at least had a basic understanding of English, for this was the language to perform in.

I remember that a few months before the convention, once a week, I invited a few friend for a cocktails to my home with snacks after work, and would then perform my act for them, in costume and all that jazz, and of course in English. This helped a lot. I did this about a dozen times.

Also, at that time I was already under the influence of the Spanish School of Magic, absorbing the teachings of Ascanio (a winner at FISM 1970 in Amsterdam) and Tamariz (a winner at FISM 1973 in Paris), and that helped, too.

At one of our sessions in Madrid Ascanio  talked to me about “mental training” and recommended the books by Morehouse and Garfield (see Card College 2, the “Recommended Reading” section on p. 485). I took this to heart, and it is a strategy I’m using to this day, sometimes even more than physical rehearsal (!): Weeks before the competition first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, I would close my eyes and run through the complete act, including imagined audience reactions. This is a procedure I can truly recommend, especially to all those like myself who find it easy to practice, but who have difficulties to rehearse. If you’re interested in this subject, reread the chapter on “The Study of Card Conjuring” in Card College 2, pp. 476.

Another point that became clear to me very early in the process was that nerves were the number one thing to gain control over.

After having been into magic for almost 15 years then (in the meantime it’s almost 50 years!), and after having attended dozens of magic conventions and seen performances and competitions, I was convinced that most who failed did so because of their nerves, commonly known as “stage fright”. I’ve written a length essay on the subject HERE. You can get the German version HERE.

So I spent quite a bit of time to master nerves. At that time I did Yoga and TM, had done Autogenetic Training and things I forget, before that. Well, anything in which you believe can help… but most of all thinking, practicing and rehearsals will do the job…

I remember that I was scheduled to compete as the second to last act on Friday late afternoon.

Of course that was an acid test: The convention started on Monday, and I had to wait until Friday! The afternoon of that Friday I “took off” and went with Barbara to an indoor swimming pool to relax and prepare mentally. Then I got to the hotel, prepared, set-up etc. , then went to the convention center waiting in the tiny and overcrowded dressing room provided to contestants. I went through my mental routine, pushed up for maximum performance.

Imagine my shock when shortly before I should have gone on (ca. 5 pm), the organizer came into the dressing room and announced to the last two participants that unfortunately they were running late, and that our performances had to be moved to the next day!

I cannot describe my emotions at that moment: If that happened nowadays I would simply have a heart attack and die a dishonorable death, but in 1988, at age 29, I somehow survived it.

Worst of all was that Friday night they had a wonderful party, and of course it would have been the way of celebrating the performance. Instead, more nerves, and going to bed fairly early, missing the great action of the after-party, so as to be ready in the morning. At least I could negotiate with the organizers not to go on first , but later in the morning… at least that.

The performance itself went very well, actually better than anytime before: The mental and physical preparation at this moment paid high dividends. I wish there was a recording of this… there might be some pirate video somewhere – if you know it, let me know 🙂

A Magician Transforms

Maybe hard to believe, but this competition marked a turning point in my life, as thanks to this award (certainly completely unimportant if considered in the context of the history of humanity) I decided to leave my excellent, secure and very well-paid job as the head of the translator department of Autodesk, at the time the market leader in CAD software (AutoCAD), and turn full-time professional – talk about a Butterfly Effect! I’ve never regretted this landmark decision, and it gave my life a new direction.

The reason was that Switzerland being such a small country – 7 million inhabitants, less than Los Angeles at that time – and the German language having the term “Vizeweltmeister” (vice-world-champion), which sounds much better than the English “runner up to the first prize”, brought me an above-average coverage in the media.

Later it even brought me an appearance on national TV on Saturday night prime time in Switzerland’s most prestigious entertainment program “Supertreffer” – I’ll tell you more about this in the next The Magic Memories 84, with a video clip of me doing the act (the “other” act that won at FISM Lausanne 1991).

Judging What Cannot be Judged

As some will know I’m also a FISM judge 🙂 I’ve been a judge in several national and international competitions, but only once at FISM 2006 in Stockholm.

After that I was “judged” as “team incompatible”, or whatever term they gave the reason for not asking me back. My first mistake was to send in an essay on magic (“Artistic Magic” from Sharing Secrets) before the convention to the president of the jury, suggesting that it could be used to review the judging criteria (nobody from the panel ever answered this…).

Then  I maintained that judges should be paid their expenses (travel, hotel and convention fee – I had to pay all my own, and even the convention fee for my accompanying wife). This is a big issue in itself, and we’ll leave it at that 🙂

And then I made my biggest “mistake” by not immediately agreeing with the decision of the other judges on the Grand Prix and another prize: Rick Merrill and Gaston – both very talented (that’s not the question) – played the role of mentally retarded individuals taking to magic as a kind of “therapy”. I simply objected that we might not want to signal to the public that people who turn to magic are mentally handicapped. Some might disagree 🙂 It was just an opinion, and I gave in, of course.

Roberto Giobbi – Official Judge Card

The question if competitions in magic make sense at all, and how they can be judged, since an act cannot be measured precisely as long jump or a football game, well, that’s another huge issue that could make the topic of another The Magic Memories.

Suffice it to say that as a contestant you must of course know exactly by what criteria your performance is going to be judged. For this most organizations nowadays will provide the Contest Rules, or you can download them from the convention’s homepage. If you want to amuse yourself, find the ten-page (!!!) Contest Rules of FISM by CLICKING HERE.

In spite of all of this being written down – the “theory” so to speak – the “practice” of judging is, well, another thing.

Regardless of what the criteria are, and the points attributed to each criteria, it is impossible to express the elements that make up a performance in figures. The truth is, that it is a “gut” judgement, i.e., a judge likes or dislikes the performance according to his or her criteria, and then tries to translate it into numbers in order to hand in the final score: Is it a 1st prize, is it a 2nd prize, is it a 3rd prize, or none at all; then you adjust your numbers accordingly. I’m possibly the first person to admit this, and most “established” judges will dement this, of course, but that’s my opinion and belief of how it works.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that the results of the judgement are bogus, not at all, provided the judges are experienced performers, creators, historians – either in combination, or ideally each one. A difficult thing, no question. And those who criticize judging should first think about the larger context (as always in life).

In any case, from many years of watching competitions, I would say that the criterion by which an act is judged more than anything else, is originality. In my opinion this is overrated, as I very much believe in what Paul Arden once said. “Good is better than original.” Obviously, if you are good and original, you’re a winner.

A topic that would deserve a longer discussion…

A Magician Performs

OK, and here is what you’ve been waiting for: This is a low-quality home video recording of an early rehearsal of the act I performed for the FISM 1988 World Championship which took place in The Hague, Holland, in 1988. The clip shows me at Joachim Wolf’s, aka Marnac, at a yearly gathering he called “The Magic Coffee” (it was much more than that!).

I make several mistakes, as you will see, and afterwards made some changes, but essentially that was it. To watch the not-so-perfect rehearsal version of my FISM 1988 act CLICK HERE.

Roberto Giobbi at Marnac’s Magic Coffee 1988

Remembering Bob Jardine

Although today’s blog has become quite lengthy, I want to retain the tradition of remembering friends in magic, today Bob Jardine. I lost touch with him, but know that nowadays he’s living in Las Vegas and doing well.

At the beginning of the 1980s I performed for the first time at the Magic Castle, in the Close-up Room. One of the people who came to see me was Bob Jardine. We became instant friends.

This man was a true pro and knew how to entertain an audience. Unfortunately, there is not much material around, a mere three entries show up in the “Magic Archives”, but you might want to follow up on them.

From left to right: Christian Chelman, Bob Jardine, Roberto & Barbara Giobbi in Hollywood

Not a Full Deck

Besides a set of lecture notes of his (ask him about it on Facebook where you can find him), I found the following trick of his on YouTube. It clearly shows the mark of the professional who not just demonstrates a clever trick, but finds an emotional hook to it.

It looks like a precedent to the “Thinnest Deck…”, a presentational ploy later used by Jim Steinmeyer in a completely different piece to make the use of a packet meaningful. I had identified this problem in Hidden Agenda: For your convenience, and because Hidden Agenda sadly is out of print, and there is nothing I can do about it as Vanishing Inc. is holding the copyright, you can read the article by CLICKING HERE.

Bob Jardine recognized the problem, and starts by saying, “Most people that know me, they think I’m not playing with a full deck. And in fact… I am not.” He takes a card packet out of a normal seized card case, and then performs a packet trick with 4 Kings and 4 Queens.

To watch Bob Jardine perform this piece with an unexpected ending CLICK HERE.

Bob has a few more video clips of him performing in the early years of his career – to get to his YouTube channel CLICK HERE.

From left to right: Bob Jardine, RG, John Carney, Peter Mui, Dean Dill

That’s the end of this week’s The Magic Memories – have a fantastic week, and see you all back next Sunday.

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

PS: Please understand that I only reread my posts once, as my time simply doesn’t allow for more. So, I beg your understanding for any typos and linguistic inelegances. But I hope you still appreciate some of it. And one more thing, if I may: Please tell your friends about The Magic Memories, as it could need a few more readers 🙂 Thank you.

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The Magic Memories (82)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Multilingual shows plus Robert Jägerhorn’s essay on it; On theory, featuring a Phil Goldstein essay; Remembering FISM, stories and photos.

These are The Magic Memories 82, gone online Sunday, July 24th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Multilingual Shows

My good friend Robert Jägerhorn from Helsinki, Finland, wrote in to ask my opinion about multilingual shows. I should precede this by saying that Robert is a successful professional magician who works internationally, and there is a good chance that you might have seen his act he does to music at a magic convention. Like most pros, though, who have a choreographed act, he realizes that most venues in the paying market require a spoken act, for various reasons.

Most private and corporate functions hesitate to pay a professional fee for an act lasting ca. 10 minutes, but will gladly book a performer who can communicate with an audience, more often than not with various degrees of humor, and for at least 30 minutes. All my life, since I’ve turned pro in 1988, I’ve made a comfortable living by offering a 40-minute parlor/stage performance, plus, if appropriate, magic at the guests’ tables before or after the formal show.

So, here are a few thoughts on the topic of performing for international audiences, and I hope that even those who perform in just one language might pick up an idea or two.

Close-up or Parlor/Stage

There is a big difference between using several languages in close-up and stage. Here in Europe private and corporate festivities usually have set tables at which a menu made up of several courses is served. This has the advantage that the guests tend to remain seated at the same table for most of the event, with the exception of going out for a smoke, and maybe dance, the latter almost only happens with private events (weddings, birthday parties etc.).

Since birds of a feather indeed flock together, those who speak the same language usually gather at one table: The French with the French, the Italians with the Italians, the Spanish with the Spanish, and the remaining guests usually come from all corners of the world and speak English among each other!

This, to me, is a gift from the Gods, of course: When I approach a table I immediately find out their nationality and can usually speak their language. That’s a big plus, since they did not expect a perform addressing them in their own language in a foreign country. Not only do the shows at these tables work like clockwork, they give me a lot of advance likeability that I can then use in the stage show: Even thought I might then not speak their language in every instance (see below), they willingly follow along, and I thus overcome the initial opposition that would naturally be there if they hadn’t got to know and like me before.

So, whenever I have a multilingual audience, or a room where some guests are sitting far away from the stage, or both (this happens and is one of the most difficult things), I make it a point to do some magic at the tables, and if there are too many, I’ll identify the “problem tables”, and do some magic just there between the courses and before the show. (Under “normal” conditions I prefer to go to the tables after the show, once they’ve had dessert and while they are having coffee etc.)

I can tell you that this has saved me from dying  on stage on several occasions, and turned a potentially disastrous situation into a triumph, without loud music, smoke, laser or dancing girls… just with the tools of communication, and some good magic, I should add…

photo Felix Meury

Stage

Most of the multilingual shows I do are for international corporations that have some kind of meeting here in Switzerland. In almost all such cases, people from all over the world gather, but at their meetings they use a common language, which fortunately is English. (Hope it won’t be Russian or Chinese in the future, as this would literally put me out of business… I simply don’t speak their language.)

I don’t say this is easy, but it certainly is the easiest of all possible multilingual situations you can get. In this case English will be my fil rouge language, the one that carries the important messages and also the gags, funny bits and lines, but to these I add very short lines that address the guests speaking other languages (that I also speak). Definitely, a small book could be written about this (again!), as the devil is in the details.

From all the techniques and strategies I use, here is just one, and it is so simple, anyone could use it. After I have been announced and I get on stage with the help of a musical flourish (if there is a music band) I greet the audience thusly:

First in the language of the hosting country, in this case Switzerland, in Swiss German or German: “Vielen Dank meine Damen und Herren, und herzlich willkommen zu einem zauberischen Intermezzo am heutigen Abend:” I follow with the language that has the most guests (assume France): “Je souhaite la bienvenue a toutes et tous les invités de language française, bienvenues à un interact de prestidigitation.” This is followed by a similar short sentence in Italian (“Benvenuti gli ospiti di lingua Italian, bevenuti ad un intermezzo di prestigiazione”), and Spanish (“Benvenidos todos nuestros invitados de idioma Castellano, bienvenidos a un intermedio de magia potagia” – “Magia Potagia” having been a popular TV show by Juan Tamariz), all done at a brisk pacing.

And then I always end with the key sentence that closes the info circle and brings me the sympathy I need to successfully communicate for the rest of the show: “And of course I would like to welcome everyone else, whose language I do not happen to speak, but who I’m confident will understand my English – welcome!”

I always get a big hand after this intro delivered with much panache and a smile.

After decades of professional experience in the most diverse situations, I can assure you that such a merely verbal intro often gets deeper into the heads and hearts of the audience than an opening with loud music, smoke, laser and a dozen half-naked ladies…

photo Felix Meury

One more thing: I talk at lest twice to the person who books me, first, when they contact me and usually book me (sometimes they call back, so that would be a third time), second, about one week before the event. I run with them through the event event mentally, and make sure my show is scheduled in the right place (usually after the main course), and that they provide everything I need (see Chapter 1 of Stand-up Card Magic for details).

As part of that I ask for a list of the invited guests. This allows me to identify how many language groups there are, and how many people there are in each group.

Sometimes there will be 60 people, and only 2 speak French, as an example. In this case I don’t even bother, because I know almost for sure that these two people do understand German or English, however, they pretend not to, because they want to be recognized for their cultural diversity, which is understandable. I take care of that in case I can do their table by addressing them in their language, so during the show I have all their support. Or I take care of it in my initial greeting. Occasionally, and if I see that one of them is a good sport, I will repeat some pieces of information or gags especially for them in their language and addressing them directly – this becomes a running gag. Such a ploy may not sound sensational, but I can assure you that if well done it can bring the audience’s experience of the show to the next level.

Ah, so many more things to say…

There are other cases where the audience is really split into groups that do not share a common language, such as at marriages, when e.g., a Swiss-German marries an Italian, and the Italian family was brought in. Although I’m fluent in both  languages, this is a dilemma, as I could experience after the first such event.

May I suggest two solutions.

Solution One: I double my fee so I won’t get booked, and if I do, it will be “pain and suffering money”.

BTW: Doubling the fee has been a successful ploy whenever I wanted to take a vacation or attend a magic meeting such as Escorial – this worked most of the time, and I could successfully eschew the booking without losing my face, on the contrary (but that’s something for another blog).

Solution Two: I select the most visual tricks from my repertoire that will be understood almost without text. If possible I accompany them with some music. Also, perform classics of magic, such as Cut & Restores Rope, Miser’s Dream, Linking Rings, Cups & Balls, Sponge Ball Routine, Card Stab etc.

BTW: This made me understand why classics have become classics, because the effect is straightforward and will usually be repeated several times, and their symbolism is recognizable in all cultures, by all ages, ethnicities, social status etc. Make a note of this, as it is an important thought.

Additionally, I try to convince the organizer that a 20-minutes show (instead of the 40 minutes I usually do) is best, and as a “compensation” for doing a shorter stage show, I offer to perform “little private shows” for his guests at the cocktail reception, or between the courses and before the show. See my thoughts above “Close-up or Parlor/Stage”…

BTW: I never ever use the term “table hopping” or “strolling magic”, I only do “private shows” – you can add a zero to your fee.

I don’t think that I’ve ever read anyone discuss this topic of multilingual shows, and now realize that this would not only justify a book, but also a lecture at an international magic convention – I’ll make a note…

The Jägerhorn Experience

To read Robert Jägerhorn’s short essay that brings in some additional considerations about how to perform multilingually CLICK HERE.

Jägerhorn, Robert (Photo Elmo Huovila, 2022)

More Rumination – On Theory

In The Magic Memories 79 I started a subject area dealing with short theoretical essays I discovered in unlikely and hard to find places. The first was by Fred Kaps from his London lecture notes – if you missed it, you can access all blogs from the past 3 years (The Magic Calendar, The Magic Memories 2021 and The Magic Memories 2022) by CLICKING HERE.

Today’s short essay comes from a very early set of lecture notes by Max Maven, who then used the nom de plume of Phil Goldstein (his real name actually), and gives an insight why this gentleman and artist has become who he is today, namely one of the most important and influential thinkers and practitioners of our art, besides he has been a friend and mentor for decades, and behind his stage persona hides one of the most generous, helpful and, yes, sweetest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in the big world of magic (still a small world in the big, big world).

To read the essay CLICK HERE.

Max Maven at the Giobbi home in 1997

Remembering FISM

As you are reading this the FISM World Magic Convention is about to start in Quebec, Canada. I had been asked to deliver a special lecture on a historical subject, but somehow negotiations got stuck at an early phase. Frankly, I’m glad, considering all the current hassle with travel and cancelled flights, and the increasing incidence in Covid infection, I’m afraid this could easily be a Corona hot spot.

Then again, I greatly regret not being there, as the FISM conventions have always been my favorite ones: Nowhere do you get so close to the best in the world.

My first FISM was in 1979, in Brussels, Belgium, and like any “first” I will never forget it 🙂 There I met Ascanio, Tamariz, Vernon, Jennings, Bilis and many lesser known who have later become big names in our field.

This convention was also the incentive to start my first notebook, and the very first note that went into it was Juan Tamariz’s personal explanation of his fantastic and versatile Tamariz Perpendicular Control (TPC).

About twenty years later, on the occasion of one of my many visits to his summer residence in Andalusia, he gave me a whole lecture on the multiple applications he had found in the meantime, and that lecture lasted over an hour.

Juan is currently writing a book on the TPC and its many uses it can be put to – it can only be hoped that he will soon publish it for the benefit of all of us 🙂

Roberto Giobbi First Notebook (1979)

As you can see, I already got off track, and I haven’t even started!

Yes, those FISM conventions I’ve attended since 1979 (Lausanne 1982, Madrid 1985, The Hague 1988, Lausanne 1991, Dresden 1997, Lisbon 2000, The Hague 2003, Stockholm 2006, 2015 Rimini) would justify a book (yet another one!). I just decided to dedicate a complete edition to more FISM memories, because there are so many, but will postpone this to cooler days. However, here are a few teaser photos & reminiscences.

The photo below with Harry Blackstone Jr. was taken in the super hot Palais de Beaulieu, Lausanne, Switzerland, where the FISM took place in 1991 (no air conditioning in the hottest July ever).

The organization had been taken over by Jean Garance and his team, after the sudden death of Prof. Alberto Sitta, who was supposed to organize the FISM 1991 in Bologna, Italy.

At this convention I won 2nd prize in Card Magic (for the second time after The Hague in 1988), which was a triumph, but I also should experience the biggest failure of my magical life, an event that is traumatizing me to this day (only if I think of it)… the day I get over it, I’ll tell you more about it 🙁

Other than that it was a great convention 🙂 with many superb memories (Vernon, Ascanio, Andrus, Lavand, Copperfield, and, and. and…)

FISM 1991 with Barbara and Harry Blackstone Jr.

The photo below is a story in itself, I’ll spare you for the moment, but it shows me after driving David Copperfield, Gary Ouellet (producer of the first Copperfield TV specials), and Don Wayne (illusion builder to Copperfield at that time), together with Barbara (my wife…), to the hotel we were staying – I was a booked as an artist, so had the privilege of staying with the “Greats” 🙂

With “casual” Copperfield FISM 1991

The next photo is of course a blast: It was taken in the bar of the hotel where the artists were staying for the FISM convention 2000, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal, one of the very best, regardless of what some have later reported in the magazines. I challenge you to recognize the greats and near-greats in it 🙂

I’ll stop here, or else this is never going to end…

And now, as always, I wish you an excellent week, drink a lot, eat lightly, and don’t do any physical work – it’s too hot (at least over here!). Come to think of it: This is generally good advice, isn’t it?

Talk again next week on The Magic Memories 83.

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (81)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Part 4 of “List of tricks & bits from Sharing Secrets“; Video of “TTTCBE”; PDF of “Golden Rules of Magic”; Remembering Rolf Andra with PDF.

These are The Magic Memories 81, gone online Sunday, July 17th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

List of tricks & bits from Sharing Secrets – Part 4 (31 – 40)

This is the fourth and last part of this series listing and briefly discussing the “practical” stuff from Sharing Secrets.

31 – p. 109: “The Trick That Can Be Explained”. It has become a cliché to say that “this trick is worth the price of the book”, but in this case I can’t think of anything more appropriate to say. I assume that this is the most overlooked item in the book (as some others are), and it is all my fault, the reason being that an item that is given only one page cannot be any good, can it? But this, alas, is the concept of the book, and all in all I still firmly believe that it is an excellent idea.

Note 51 explains most of the “extras”. To this I would add that I have fooled the pants off almost everyone with this over the past ten years I’ve been performing it, mostly as part of my lecture on deck switches. I remember doing this for Juan Tamariz in his summer residence in San Fernando years ago, and he had no idea of how it worked, which is very, very rare, believe me – I hesitated to call this “the trick that fooled Juan Tamariz” 🙂

On another occasion I did it for Bernard Bilis, another super-card-expert, in Paris at the dinner table of my dear friend Yves Carbonnier, and it left him with no clue, as he readily admitted, and Yves as well 🙂

Now, a trick that fools magicians is not necessarily a good trick for laymen, but this one is.

For your convenience I’ve uploaded a very early performance of it on my YouTube channel, and you can watch it by CLICKING HERE.

Since this is part of my deck switch lecture, and in case you wonder where the deck switch is, well, it comes right at the end, and is “The Joker Deck Switch” on p. 87 The Art of Switching Decks (the book will soon be out of its third printing, and if you don’t have it I urge you to get it before it remains out of print – you won’t regret it, as the many reviews and comments will tell you). BTW: To ring the deck in after performing “”Card Call” (p. 105 of Stand-up Card Magic), and before getting into this trick, I used “The Simplex Deck Switch” (p. 127 of The Art of Switching Decks).

Possibly the most useful lesson in this performance is how to use a short anecdote as a Prologue to a trick. This gets often forgotten, especially when you have an already good trick and think this is self-sufficient. Well, it is not, in my opinion…

32 – p. 113: “CardSpeak”. I have performed and explained this trick as “Belchou Aces” in Lesson 2 of the video download course Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction, but here it is written down for the first time, with focus on the importance of text.

Besides being arguably the best version of the “Belchou Aces” family of “Spectator Cuts to the Aces”, it should make you take another look at anyone of the tricks you are performing, especially so-called self-working tricks, in case you have that in your repertoire, and ask: “What is the effect? What is my prologue? Do I have a dramatically meaningful reason to do what I’m doing? Does my presentation have an emotional hook?”

33 – p. 115: “The Persian Flaw”. This little amusing anecdote makes a charming “out” when you miss a trick and there is no way around everyone noticing it. Tell this little story, tongue-in-cheek, and everyone will love you and pretend to believe that you did the “mistake” on purpose. To absolutely put in your note titled “Final Outs”, which is a list of outs to use in desperate situations.

34 – p. 117: “Triple Prediction”. If you’ll perform this once, you’ll experience that this is much better than you think… and it will fool most of your magic club members, too 🙂 And if you do, remember Rolf Andra (see below), please.

35 – p. 119: “Waiter’s Theory and Actions of Recall in Practice”. Here are four four very practical ploys you should use if you do any of the mentioned tricks or variants thereof (they are all “classics”, so it’s a good idea to have a t least one version in your repertoire). Above all: Take a trick you are actually doing, and then think about where you could insert an “Action of Recall” – it will make the piece clearer and more memorable. Do this with all the tricks in your active repertoire.

36 – p. 120: “Four Coins Through Table in Glass”. This is one of the best routines of its genre, actually the best I know… Going through it in a practice session will also help instill the many theoretical concepts discussed in the book. Yes, it will require work, but like everything else in life, you won’t get something for nothing, for everything has a price, and even death costs your life.

37 – p. 128, “The 13 Golden Rules of Magic”. Use this as a check-list and it will be of great practical value. For the benefit of those among you who give magic classes, regularly or occasionally, for beginners of your magic club, laymen or children, I herewith authorize you to photocopy and distribute this short essay-list. By CLICKING HERE you get a nice PDF that you can use.

38 – p. 134: “Artistic Magic”. Although this is not really a “practical” trick or technique, it still is very practical if you use it as a check-list to go through maybe your very best trick, and ask yourself how the criteria I discuss are present. If they are not, think about why, and how you could implement them.

I remember Flip wrote to me when I published an early version of this essay in my Genii column saying he had photocopied the easy and distributed it to all of the members of his magic club in Holland. I can’t think of a higher compliment. I truly think that this is one of my best essays I ever wrote. Maybe you want to read it again…

39 & 40 – pp. 142: “The Lists”. All of the lists are of great practical use, in my opinion, else I would not have included them, but possibly most of all the “List of Card Plots” (p. 144): Have you got a version of each? If you do, you may consider yourself a “Complete Card Expert”, maybe 🙂

All That Jazz…

As I’m writing this it is a very hot day, and the sound of “Jazz on the Place”, a yearly one-day Jazz event in the village of Muttenz where I live, reaches me through the open windows, so I want to keep today’s The Magic Memories shorter than usual 🙂 Nonetheless, I do not want to neglect my “Remembering” section…

Remembering Rolf Andra

Rolf Andra was one of the magicians that influenced me most, not so much for the tricks and presentations, in both of which he excelled as a consummate professional, but more for his unconditional and unselfish love for magic, something that is hard to put into words, and that brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it…

Rather than a lengthy text, below are a few photos showing Rolf Andra, and a short essay I wrote about him as part of my Genii column “The Genii Session” (May issue of 2012).

To read my little homage to Rolf Andra CLICK HERE.

And now I wish you all a great summer week, and a sunny winter day for my appreciated readers on the other side of the planet 🙂 reminding myself that we are all “on the other side of the planet” as well as “foreigners”, depending from where we look.

Talk again next Sunday, at exactly 0:07 o’clock!

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (80)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Curiosity – magic for ladies; 96 grammes new French edition of the Light Trilogy; List of tricks & bits from Sharing Secrets – Part 3 (21 – 30); Note on notes with PDF of content of Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction AND video of Introduction.

These are The Magic Memories 80, gone online Sunday, July 10th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Curiosity

In The Magic Memories 73 (22-5-22 – neat palindromic date, eh?) I quoted Nietzsche – rather than Vernon or Marlo, for a change – as having said that we should learn from the cows to ruminate.

I took this to mean that instead of running after each novelty, we should devote a good part of our time to thinking again (rumination) and a bit deeper about what we already have.

My technique in the past years has been that each time I see the advertising of a new publication – book or DVD – and which I decide not to buy, I go to some writing I already own in my library and peruse that again. “To peruse”, either means “to read through with thoroughness or care”, but also “to scan or browse”. Although these two approaches are totally different, they can both yield favorable results.

And I must say that this more often than not largely compensates for the little frustration of not having bought that new book.

So, recently I looked through Norman Hunter’s Simplified Conjuring (see cover above), one of a series of books aimed at the laity in the UK (1923!).

Imagine my surprise, when in the “Contents” (see below) I discovered the two chapters titled “Magic for Men” and “Magic for Ladies”, respectively.

I thought it extraordinary that in a magic book of 1923 the author should consider that ladies do magic, and furthermore offer specific tricks they could do. That’s unusual even by today’s standards. Or how many publications do you know who are addressed to women doing magic? So, quite progressive for the time, I thought.

However, when I went to the chapter, it turned out to be a description of tricks male magicians (how else in 1923) could do specifically for women – not even the hint of a mention of a woman performer.

This, I find, is not only curious, but also reflects what Dai Vernon used to say: “Women don’t like card tricks.” Although he specifically mentioned “cards” as the instrument of dislike to the fair sex, it still is an indication that at that time they considered women possibly did not like magic in general, and required a specific type of magic repertoire!

I’ll leave it at that for you to think about (it would certainly make for a thought-provoking essay).

(PS: In my professional experience of over three decades working internationally, I have found women to be my best but also my worst audience – more than curious…)

96 Grammes

Just received from my French publisher Frantz Réjasse and his C.C. Editions the author copies of my latest book, titled 96 grammes. This is not a “new” book, but a new edition that combines my three Light books, in English called Card College Light, Card College Lighter, and Card College Lightest.

As with all of Frantz’s books this is magnificently produced, and very fairly priced at 75 Euros, considering that the original books cost 45 Euros each.

I’ll keep this short, as being in French will interest only a small group of the readership of this blog, but here is a little riddle all of you can take some pleasure in: What does the book title 96 grammes mean? I’ll give you two hints: First, 96 grammes are the equivalent of 3.38 ounces, second, look at the photograph below… Elementary, Watson, elementary :-).

If you read French, or if you want to improve or even learn French from scratch, you can order the book directly from me, at a promotional price (!) – CLICK HERE.

If you would like me to sign the book to your name, I shall be pleased to do so, but as always you MUST mention this in the comment field of the order form (my books are often given away as a gift, especially the Light books, and I never know who finally receives the book).

BTW: I do not mean to joke when I write that you can learn a language from scratch with a magic book. Obviously, you will need to learn the grammar and some 500 words in that language first, but you can do this in 6 months or less, in any of the Latin, Germanic or Anglo-Saxon languages, English being the easiest to learn (in its basic form), and basic French is also quite easy (you only have to read it, not speak or write it, which is another universe…).

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the easiest and quickest way of learning a foreign language is either to get a girl/boy-friend who only speaks that language, or read a book about your passion, in our case magic. So, you can now learn any of 8 (eight!) languages by reading Card College or the Light-Trilogy, with little effort and lots of pleasure 🙂 Pit Hartling, who started out with my Card College books in German, told me he learned Spanish by buying Card College in Spanish, and then worked through it!

List of tricks & bits from Sharing Secrets – Part 3 (21 – 30)

This is the third part of a column within The Magic Memories that lists the tricks and other practical items in Sharing Secrets, as opposed to the “theories” making the body of the book. This is for all those who looked at the book as a mere “theory book”, and missed that it is full of very practical, professional and commercial performance material – I will even immodestly maintain that Sharing Secrets has more practical, lay-oriented, and performable material than many a book dealing only with tricks! Let’s see:

21 – p. 85: “The Marvelous Book”. This is an excellent example of how a presentational idea leads to a trick. Reading in an old French book (Magus, Le magicien amateur, Paris 1897) I came across the presentation for a “blow book”, that’s the one that changes the design of the pages each time you flick through it, therefore also called “flick book”. The “blow” part in the title came about because in typical presentations the performer would blow on the book, as a kind of magic enchantment, to effect the change in a dramatic sense.

It immediately occurred to me that it would be neat if the spectators could choose any literary genre, in my example a restaurant guide, and then the book in use would become just that (in the USA that could be Zagat, in Europe and now also in other parts of the world this is the Guide Michelin). Thinking about a technical solution the method described on p. 85 came to mind; and since Barbara wraps her gifts in Furoshiki- manner, that part also fell in place. It was obvious (to me) to follow this up with any type of book test…

I truly think that this makes for a beautifully coherent and logical 10-minute Mental Magic routine that works equally well in formal close-up as in parlor or small stage situations.

22 – p. 87: “Let’s Review… the Principle of Recap”. This is a simple, quick and straightforward effect, similar (but not quite the same) to Ted Annemann’s “A Card in Hand”, described in Card College 1, p. 133, but here you have the AAA-version. This is a “go-to-trick” to keep in the repertoire.

23 – p. 89: “Prologues to Ponder”. Not only do you get six (!) ready-to-use prologues for which you now merely need to find a matching trick, no, you get original presentations. If you understand this one concept, it may very well revolutionize your magic and make each and everyone of your tricks more original. Keep a notebook and write down similar ideas you are going to find practically every day, just look around and listen.

As an example look at the last item in the list, “Making the Invisible Visible”: Now go to Lesson 35 – Forces, of Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, and watch the performance of “The Triangle of Mystery”. It was this prologue idea, which I had taken note of years ago, that suddenly resulted in this particular trick. Every prologue is a trigger…

And remember: No trick without a prologue!

24 – p. 91: “Dice and Aces”. This is Richard Vollmer at his best, and this trick is very close to the top of my list of so-called “self-working tricks” (truth is, of course, that you still have to put in some work…).

25 – p. 93: “The Peek Control”. Use the staging and management of the Peek Control as explained here, and pair it to “The Mastergrip” from Card College 3, p. 544 (also in Lesson 25 of Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction). You’ll have an opening card trick for the rest of your life, and a lovely way to delay a stacked deck…

26 – p. 95: “I have a normal deck here…”. You’ll get here four excellent presentational ploys, actually prologues, to get into any type of card routine. Take note.

27 – p. 97: “Seeing is Believing”. A super-lovely Four-Ace-Opener that intelligently and charmingly intrigues any sophisticated audience, much more than any finger-flinging Ace Production: The former appeals to the mind, the latter merely to the eye. Guess what will be more memorable.

28 – p. 103: “Daley’s Great Card Discovery”. It won’t be easy to find a better two-card transposition effect.

29 – p. 105: “Slydini’s One Coin Routine”. I don’t suggest you learn this, as it is one of the most difficult pieces to do really well, maybe like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, which is considered one of the difficult pieces among piano players, but simply watch it on YouTube for inspiration of how poetic visual magic can be; most is not, in my opinion, but this one goes beyond the eye and reaches the mind and the heart.

30 – p. 107: “Practice Deck and Card Katas”. I kept these two items closely guarded for years, and only showed them to the participants of my Masterclasses – here you get them both, and for a ridiculous price.

Here we are again at the end of another ten items that in my opinion are worth taking a second look at. There is still more stuff left, and I won’t rest until this list is completed 🙂

Note on Notes

My friend Michael Frohnmeyer just wrote in – I spelled his name correctly this time 🙂 – asking about “can you help me find that trick where a blank card is shown to two spectators and turns to their selections and which is somewhere in your Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction”.

He meant “The Triangle of Mystery” mentioned above. Clearly, this is a typical problem most will have, not just with this specific work: With 22 hours it comes as no surprise that content is at times hard to find.

If I was Harry Lorayne, I might now write: Take it from the world’s foremost expert on note-taking (me!): As you are watching the video-lessons, make copious notes for each lesson, as explained in the introduction to the course – if you do this electronically (e.g. with Evernote or OneNote, etc.) the search function will take you immediately to anything you look for.

Plus: Use the PDF with the complete content of the course. With any PDF app (I use Readdle’s PDF Expert) make notes into the PDF.

Use highlighting, underlining, and above all comments – you can add unlimited amounts of personal notes, of unlimited length, at any place within the document. The notes can be written directly into the text of the PDF, or added in small “text bubbles”.

Here is again, for your convenience, the PDF with the complete content – store it on your desktop and use it as you are watching the videos. CLICK HERE for the PDF.

And for everyone’s convenience I just decided to upload the Introduction video to Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, to watch CLICK HERE.

It’s never to late to take notes…

That’s all folks, as the Looney Tunes says, at least for this week, and I look forward to another session next week, always on Sundays, always at exactly 0:07 hours!

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (79)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Dissertations with a magic subject; Fred Kaps on theory; More Complete Giobbi; Part 2 of the List of Tricks & Bits From Sharing Secrets; Jesus Etcheverry RIP.

These are The Magic Memories 79, gone online Sunday, July 3rd, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Magic Dissertations

Ignatios Vakalis, who is a Professor of Math/Comp. Sc. , at California Polytechnic State University, wrote in to ask about a statement I made in the trick called “Stickler” in my book Stand-up Card Magic (p. 242).

There I write, right at the beginning: “In 2002, a 220-page dissertation was written about my version of the Card Stab. It received the academic honor of summa cum laude. This is no guarantee the trick is good, but it may be unique in its academic credentials.”

The photo below shows its cover, and to see the table of content of Beccaro, Manuela – Tesi di laurea (2002), CLICK HERE.

This is now twenty years ago, hard to believe 🙂 The way this came about is that I got invited by the Circolo Amici Della Magia (CADM) in Torino, Piedmont, Italy, to perform and lecture at one of their yearly conventions.

This club is an amazing one, as they have over 300 members, and that’s more than the whole Magic Circle of Switzerland! They like me so much, that they made me a Lifetime Member, and since then I visit at least once a year, usually in October or November at truffle time (what a coincidence…), do a chat on Friday evening on any subject, and a full-day Masterclass on the Saturday (I have reported about this and my extended visit to Piedmont in The Magic Memories 49).

Manuela Beccaro, the girl friend of a club member, was going into her last year at the University of Vercelli, where she studied literature and linguistics at their Department of Humanities. Briefly: When she saw me do my Card Stab it occurred to her that she could do her Master paper on the linguistic structures in the art of deception as used by a performing magician. Fortunately, the performance was taped, and from there she went.

The book depicted above also contains a DVD with my show (in Italian), but please don’t ask me where to find it, as I have lost touch with the lady, but I think she’s on Facebook…

Rumination – On Theory

Recently I paid a visit to my friend Werner Nussbaumer. He’s now 94 years old, absolutely clear in his head, and is determined to get to Vernon’s age (98), or more 🙂

In the photo below you can see Werner and me after a lovely lunch, and Werner performing a complex coin routine, a combination of Slydini, Vernon and some of his own vintage – all classics, all great.

 

Werner is a past president of the Magischer Ring Schweiz (MRS), the Swiss magic circle, and knew (almost) every magician of his generation.

Each time we meet, that’s twice a year, he gives me material he no longer wants to keep. In the past he was so kind as to gift me with a large part of his magic library, and on our most recent get-together he gave me three boxes with various kinds of publications, one of which with old Lecture Notes.

Now, Lecture Notes are a literary sub-genre within the ample panorama of the magic literature, and a most interesting one. Although I’m no collector, as I’ve mentioned several times, having been the organizer of almost all the lectures for my magic club here in Basel, I have assembled hundreds such writings, some mere “notes” in the true sense of the term, others actual “books” (the UNESCO defines a book as being any non-periodical publication with more then 50 pages, excluding the covers…). All of them, though, make for a great resource of great minds (well, most…), and always great memories.

Among the Lecture Notes Werner presented me was the original edition Ken Brooke published of Fred Kaps’ lecture he gave in London in 1973. For your reading pleasure I extracted the very first page, which deals with some of the insights gained by this World Champion of Magic. To read the one-page article CLICK HERE.

If you are interested, there is quite a bit of material out there about Fred Kaps, and which is not on the Seeing is Believing DVD set, e.g., the audio interview produced by Martin Breese in 1986, It’s So Simple – Fred Kaps, or the interviews done by Pat Page and Cy Endfield (!) and which can be found in the Pat Page Audio Archive

More Complete Giobbis

What started out as nothing more than a humorous remark is becoming a “running gag”: Ian Kent was the first to send in a photo with his collection of my publications. Meanwhile I have assembled a folder of lovely photos.

Below is the one Roland Heuer from Stuttgart sent in, now a retired professional violinist who, together with his wife Ikuko, herself an accomplished violinist, worked in the orchestra of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, nothing less 🙂

“Musician” and “Magician” not only make a “minimal pair”, a term from linguistics, they also have a very special mutual understanding, as they both express themselves through an instrument.

And in the photo below you can see Michele Isenburg’s “Complete Giobbi”. Michele is an engineer who lives in Milan, Italy, and on his display you can see three spiral-bound publications, all PDFs which he had printed and bound, and that’s what I do, too, with my favorite PDFs, otherwise I hardly read them… The leather wares are all made in Florence and go with the trick published in Card College and in Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction; can you guess which tricks?

List of Tricks & Bits From Sharing Secrets – Part 2 (11-20)

Part 1 of this list brought in a few positive reactions, so, encouraged by it here is Part 2, which catalogues the “practical” (as opposed to “theoretical”) items from Sharing Secrets:

11 – p. 45: “The Goldin Pass”. Notice footnote 22 which leads to my lengthy article on the genesis of the move in Ask Roberto. This is possibly the Card Control I’ve seen Juan Tamariz use most of the time, and that says it all.

12 – p. 49: “Handling in practice”. This really is a “check-list”. To use it print it out, briefly discuss it with a friend, and then ask him to watch you perform a trick with special focus on one or several of the points listed. As an alternative, record yourself performing a trick in front of an audience, or just in front of the camera, and upon reviewing it use the points in the list to check how you are doing. This all is very subjective, of course, but will still sharpen your eye towards this important subject.

13 – p. 51: “Oil and Water… and More Water”. This extension of the “Oil & Water” plot was quite a craze in the Seventies and Eighties, one of the peaks in the packet-trick-wave (similar to  fashion, or Corona, trick-genres come and go in “waves”). I remember that the first time I heard about it was that Fred Kaps would perform it, at that time “the reference”, of course. Aldo Colombini came up with the first version I started doing, then Richard Vollmer showed me his etc. It probably all started with Roy Walton’s “Oil & Queens”, then went the way of (un-)natural selection via Fulves, Marlo, Solomon etc.

The version I publish here is my favorite. In spite of its tight description, it is constructed with clock-work precision and works like a charm. It also makes an excellent exercise for practicing False Counts & Displays, as well as handling of double cards in a group. To do this trick really well is quite a challenge…

14 – p. 53: “Positive Insertion – Delayed Elmsley Count”. This entry contains a concept that warrants opening a new note in your notebook under the heading of “Elmsley Count – Details of Handling”, namely how to deal with the problem of a face-up Elmsley Count that displays the face card twice.

Can you come up with at least three additional technical procedures (strategies) to solve the problem? My note on the subject has 23 entries… if you ask, I might tip a few 🙂 in an upcoming The Magic Memories.

15 – p. 55: “The Intelligent Injog Shuffle and Cut”. This is arguably the best method of retaining the position and order of a top stock for magical purposes: You really shuffle, then you really cut, and you end up having performed a false shuffle. If you think about it, it drives you nuts – a paradox of life,  if there ever was one. Not using this is like throwing away a winning lottery ticket.

16 – p. 61: “Matching the Cards”. Dai Vernon considered this the best trick for laymen. Indeed, he used to open his card act with it when he worked the Close-up Gallery of the famous Magic Castle (he shaped it with his presence from its beginning in 1963 virtually to his death in 1992). The description is terse, but complete. For a detailed discussion go to the “Free Downloads” of the webshop, or simply CLICK HERE. It is a lovely opening trick to lead into any four-of-a-kind routine; in this case you start out with the set-up deck, no need to go through the set-up-procedure.

Consider doing this in a parlor station using stemmed glasses… (see “A Comedy of Errors” in Stand-up Card Magic, p. 144).

17 – p. 63: Both “Cut and Leave” and “Off-handed Ambitious Card” are two ploys to be remembered and used – both are so good!

18 – p. 73: “Managing Mangement”. In itself this entry is an excellent scheme to add one or several extra cards to a deck that has been shuffled by the spectators.

As so often, this contains a super-ordinate technical concept that warrants the creation of a separate note in your notebook “Adding Card(s) Secretly to a Deck”. How many methods can you come up with? I won’t torture you this time by telling you how many entries my note on the subject has 🙂

19 – p. 77: “The Midwife Theory in Practice”. This is one of the most practical, easiest and safest packet switches. No more comment… maybe one: See “Lesson 37 – Packet Switches” in Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, and there “The Bluff Switch” (the first in the series). Know what: I had completely forgotten about this one I came up when I was in my Twenties until I set out to write the scenario for the videos… this is so good, I have to mention it myself (with apologies to Ricky Jay).

20 – p. 81: “To Remove a Deck From a Box”. Basic, Watson, basic…

That’s it for another series of ten, and I’m afraid I will have to bring yet another list in the next The Magic Memories, even if nobody is asking… (I’m enjoying this too much myself).

My Friend Jesus Etcheverry

Yesterday I received the infinitely sad news that my dear friend of many years Jesus Etcheverry has eventually lost his battle with cancer and passed away. Jesus and I were very close and have shared many a memorable moment since our first meeting well over 40 years ago. Right now I’m too emotional about the situation, but will tell you more about this exceptional man with anecdotes, photos and some private video clips in upcoming The Magic Memories. My thoughts are with his family, especially with his wife Carmen. Below you can see Jesus and me, here in Bilbao, his native city, after a dinner in one of our favorite restaurants (subjects discussed: magic, gastronomy, more magic, wines, further magic, life, still more magic).

All the very best – and I look forward to more magic chat in the upcoming The Magic Memories 80,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (78)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Got Corona; Trick selection from Sharing Secrets; List of tricks & bits from Sharing Secrets – Part 1 (1 – 10); Some favorite quotes from my books.

These are The Magic Memories 76, gone online Sunday, June 26th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Eureka – I (Found) And Got It

Like any good mentalist, which I’m not, I knew that at some point I would have to write this: I’ve caught Corona, yeah!

I confirm, though, that this is nothing to be proud of, so don’t seek it.

And it was foreseeable: I got invited to see the show of a magician friend (excellent!), and went into a small theater with ca. 120 people attending the 2-hours-plus show at a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 F), although I’m told that the virus doesn’t care for the temperature, as it feels comfortable in an over-heated Swiss theater as it does in an air-conditioned magic convention in Las Vegas 🙁

These little guys really haven’t got any criteria… and are now on their way to FISM…

But, after five days now, besides having lost my sense of smelling and tasting (of relative importance to me!), I’m again 88,5% myself, so decided to get these The Magic Memories out for your information and entertainment pleasure (as my friend Daryl might have said).

I just want to add that what pisses me off with this situation is not so much the symptoms, which are relatively mild and bearable, thanks to triple vaccination I took, or so says my son Miro who studied Medical Sciences and Technologies at the ETH in Zurich and just got his Masters degree (forgive the father’s pride shining through, but ETH that’s where Einstein taught theoretical physics from 1912-14, and I have two “Einstein” tricks in my books – remember which ?).

So, what is aggravating, is the butterfly effect this caused (see Sharing Secrets, p. 28): I had five appointments this week, fortunately none of vital importance, but still enjoyable meetings with friends, that I had to cancel, and even though in Switzerland all restrictions have been suspended, I still felt I should not go out and see people, plus a few other things you don’t even want to know…

And if you imagine I had been abroad, instead of at home, I would have to stay in a hotel there probably for a week or so, at my now expenses, as it would be irresponsible too board a plane…

And I missed Karl Hein’s lecture at my club: As its Vice President – yes, I’m even a politician! – I have been organizing about six lectures a year since the early Eighties, that’s A LOT of world-class talent that I have been hosting, and taking care of, and who have come to my home, and who’s lectures I’ve then translated into German, mostly from English, but also from Italian, French and Spanish, with lots of amusing and memorable happenings, believe me – that alone would yield another Magical Book of Memories

Trick Selection from Sharing Secrets

My book Sharing Secrets is what some would call a “book on the theory and philosophy of magic” (really?).

However, this is far from meaning that it doesn’t ALSO have practical applications, quite on the contrary it contains countless and very down-to-earth techniques, tricks, bits of business, funny and serious lines, quotes, and presentational ideas.

I was inspired to write the present piece after receiving an email from James Liu. James, whom I met on my Chinese Tour in September 2019 and who attended my lecture, workshop and Masterclass in Shen Zhen, has meanwhile become a dear friend by correspondence. See the talented James Liu in action in the photo below performing “Card Call” from Stand-up Card Magic:

In one of his recent letters, he made an interesting remark on Sharing Secrets:

“When I finished rereading Sharing Secrets I could finally tell why your Card College books are such very great books. Because over 90% of the theory you are writing about in Sharing Secrets is present in almost every part of Card College, sometimes within a trick, sometimes behind a technique, sometimes you discuss it in deeper detail in one of the great essay in Chapter 27 of Card College Volume 2.

So, Sharing Secrets for me is much like a tool book, it offers me a check list to monitor my material and see if I can apply the theories in the book to improve my work.

I love it very much. Just feel a little sorry that due to the format restrictions of putting each theory on one page only, you did not write more about it – you have so much to say!”

Yes, I was aware of this, but thanks to the way James eloquently put it in his lovely letter, I returned to Sharing Secrets and wondered if readers, impressed by the discussion of the theoretical concepts, missed the “practical” stuff.

This happens to me often at lectures, where there is inevitably someone who compliments me on the lecture, saying that the “tricks where obviously not important”, but “all that thinking behind them”.

As flattering as such an utterance is, I couldn’t  disagree more with it. You see, in my opinion, the important thing is not the thinking, but the practical result that comes from it! (However, the result wouldn’t exist, if the thinking had not gone before, at least not in that form.)

Therefore, I’ve set out to compose a commented list of the “practical items” from Sharing Secrets, for you to go back to, if you like. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely disregard the theoretical concepts attached to them, but I invite you to change the focus for a moment. Here we go:

List of Tricks & Bits From Sharing Secrets – Part 1 (1-10)

1 – p. 11: Arguably the most important page in the book is the one depicted in the photo below, which tells the reader how to practice and instill a theory, that’s what it is all about. You my want to reread it…

From Roberto Giobbi’s Sharing Secrets

2 – p. 15: “Click Pass with Four Coins”. The one little change to the usual handling suggested here makes this a lot better, reminding us of Sherlock Holmes, who said to his friend, “Watson, details are by far the most important thing.”

3 – p. 17. “Ectoplasmic Aces”. This is in my opinion the most sophisticated and artistic version of the “Elevator Cards”. In Lesson 25 of Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction you can find “Ectoplasmic Kings”, an updated version explained in all detail. A beautiful trick.

4 – p. 21: “Card to Wallet, Pardon, to Wallet…”. I can see this being performed at a magic convention and knocking the socks off everyone.

5 – p. 23: Look again at “Apparent-Continuity Coin Vanish”, an idea by Dai Vernon. Reminds me of yet another Sherlock Holmes quote: “To a great mind, nothing is little,’ remarked Holmes, sententiously.” (Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet).

6 – p. 25: In “Authentic Props” is imbedded the brief explanation of an excellent quick, visual and “commercial” version of “Card in Cigarette”. But the beauty of it is, that you don’t have to be a cigarette smoker, and still do a hammer trick! Also, it implies the great lesson that you can take a piece you might otherwise reject for it being anachronistic, and with a simple dramatic twist make it topical again. And you get all that in a “paragraph”. Finding such pearls is what we should call “Magical Archaeology”. There must be thousands in the magical literature…

7 – p. 31: “Just Imagine”. Possibly the best trick to learn the Art of Palming. A handsome after-dinner trick to do for your invited guests before enjoying cigars and and a Cognac (Vernon’s favorite  brands were Macanudo and Courvoisier). You can find a performance with subsequent discussion of it in Lesson 32 of Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction

8 – p. 33: “T & R Thread”. This is my text, inspired by Al Koran, for what in my opinion is one of the Top Ten Close-up Tricks of all times. Ah, this brings up the suggestion for another list 🙂 (Remember that you can see my list for “The Top Ten Card Tricks of All Times” BY CLICKING HERE.)

9 – p. 35: “Instructions on Construction by Juan Tamariz”: Make a scan or photocopy of this, and whenever you put together a small or big “act”, or just “routine” a series of effects, take this as a guideline.

10 – p. “Visible and Invisible World”. You can watch this on my YouTube channel for free, and also in Lesson 30 of Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction, there renamed “Fantasy and Reality”, because it has been given yet another presentational frame than the one described in Sharing Secrets.

That’s it for the first part, folks, and I admit that after being myself initially skeptical how this little exercise would turn out, as it always bears the danger of smelling of conceitedness when self-referencing oneself, I now enjoy it quite a bit, and I truly think that for those who choose to follow along it will be greatly beneficial (you tell me).

Part 2 coming in The Magic Memories 79.

Extracted Quotes

In The Magic Memories 73 I pondered the question of additional benefits of a book, and made a few points for several of my own publications and what additional benefits I think they have.

Some of you asked for more, so I thought I might quickly sift through a few of my books and see if I could catch a few worthwhile things I wrote – here are then ten quotes, some mine, some from others, for your edification:

«I wrote the work now in your hands before tackling Card College because of my abiding fascination with structurally simple tricks that, if properly performed, have great impact.» (Card College Light, p. xvii)

“If you take a card trick with three sleights, and replace the first sleight with a subtlety, you get a better card trick. If you replace the second sleight with another refinement, you get a small miracle. But when you replace the third sleight, then you usually get a mathematical atrocity.” (Dr. Jacob Daley in Card College Light, p. xix)

«I do not believe in dogma, certainly not when it comes to art.» (Card College Light, p. xxii)

«Everything should be done as simply as possible, but not more simply.» (Albert Einstein in Card College Light, p. 145)

«If you don’t have a name for it, you did not understand it.» (Ask Roberto)

“Creating and understanding a trick is a science. Performing it is an art.” (Ask Roberto)

“A good teacher needs to think about what he wants to say and how he wants to say it, in a way the student not only correctly understands, but also is able to absorb and transform into a skill. And the teacher must take care that all this happens with the least effort and the greatest pleasure.” (Secret Agenda, p. 380)

«This is a serious subject, but don’t take yourself too seriously.» (Hidden Agenda, p. 195)

«Magic is an interdisciplinary form of art combining elements of fiction, performing arts, psychology and a large set of specific motoric skills.» (Roberto Giobbi)

«In order to advance in magic, we have to be broad and we have to be deep. Broad, in the sense of innovating, looking back in our history and going further in the future, deep, in the sense of looking at a specific topic, and then explore it, looking at it from all sides, discovering its beauty and complexity.» (Roberto Giobbi)

«The creative thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.» (Roberto Giobbi)

«If we look at our sleights from the audience’s perspective, we will create more deceptive techniques and better magic.» (Secret Agenda, p. 92)

“In narrative literature there is the rule Rem tene, verba sequentur – “once you have the thing, the words will follow”. In magic you could say, “Once you have the trick, the presentation will follow.” (adapted from Umberto Eco)

OK, that went better than I thought. Not bad, I hope you will say, for a Corona-positive 🙁 I’ll be back next week, fully recovered (that’s the theory), and plan another “Remembering” section, as there are so many people and events I don’t want to forget…

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (77)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Roy Benson in the movies;  Clint Eastwood interviewed by Michael Parkinson; EndersGame’s review of “The Prophecy”; Remembering Vanni Bossi.

These are The Magic Memories 77, gone online Sunday, June 19th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Roy Benson Performing Magic in The Lady Objects (1938)

Although I’m neither an expert in the matter nor a collector, I enjoy findig and watching old movies that have a magician perform or just act in it. If you find this interesting, too, I will from time to time point out such a movie with the appropriate link to where you can watch it legally, as they have become public domaine, and also make a few comments – how else 🙂

The movie I would like to direct your attention to today is from 1938, The Lady Objects, and features magic legend Roy Benson (see the huge tome Roy Benson – By Starlight, by Levent, and published by The Miracle Factory). In the course of the movie Benson performs three pieces in two scenes. Although performing in a movie certainly doesn’t evoke the same feeling as witnessing the same tricks in the context of a magic performance, Benson’s originality in method and presentation shines through well enough – in any case worth watching!

To enjoy the full movie (ca. 65 minutes), or to selectively view Roy Benson at 00:09:10 (Billiard Ball Production & short Flourish Routine, T & R Newspaper) and 00:31:34 (Chinese Sticks), CLICK HERE.

If you are my generation you might enjoy watching the complete movie, because, first, it is not as today’s productions, which last at least two hours, second, when they speak there is no distracting background noise that is supposed to make the scene more realistic but really prevents people over 50 to hear what they are saying (and that’s the important thing, isn’t it?), third, there are no scenes where someone vomits without which no modern film can do, an fourth and best of all, you can watch it only once and completely understand the plot.

Clint Eastwood Interviewed on Parkinson

Since we’re discussing magicians and movies, this might interest you: Recently I watched Clint Eastwood being interviewed on the Michael Parkinson Show (UK 2003).

Among other noteworthy things Eastwood had this to say: “Special effects are so wonderful nowadays,  they are done so well, that they become the motor factor for doing a movie. The effects drive it, so the story becomes secondary. Whereas in the old days the story was primary, and everything else sort of fit on top. But if there is no story, there is no reason to being out there.”

And a little later he opined: “Technology is so advanced that special effects, action scenes, have become very realistic; these have become the main feature, and the story is pushed into the background. In the older films it was the other way round: The story was the most important thing, and was accentuated with a few special effects.”

And in magic? To be thought about…

For those who have time to watch the interview (ca. 20 minutes) you ca DO SO HERE.

Reminds me of the series Prison Break, of which I watched the first two seasons just recently. I found the first season formidable as far as suspense is concerned, and quite captivating, solid entertainment.

Certainly motivated by the huge success the series had, they created a second season, and then a third, fourth etc.

I stopped watching after the second season.

It made me think of what Dai Vernon says in one of the Chronicles (can’t remember which one) when talking about someone doing the Egg Bag, or the Ambitious Card, or the Linking Rings, or any of those great classics based on the repetition of essentially the same effect: “You have to know when to stop.”

I cannot but agree with this statement, as it is very much like a painter who is overpainting his canvas, because he cannot extend it in size. Nonetheless, it is interesting to remark that virtually all “Classics” repeat the same effect… but you still have to “use your head”.

EndersGame’s Review of “The Prophecy”

If you haven’t yet ordered “The Prophecy” because you had some doubts, you might want to read an independent review that’s neither from Penguin Magic (the publisher) nor myself (the author), but from EndersGame, an Honored Member of “The Magician’s Forum”, one of the top magic fora (plural of forum…).

To read EndersGame’s review of “The Prophecy” CLICK HERE.

Remembering Vanni Bossi

There is no doubt that Vanni Bossi would justify a book, I don’t mean a book of tricks (there is one!), but one of his life… and then several of his tricks, historical essays etc. Here was a Renaissance man if ever there was one.

Vanni lived in Castellanza, Italy, and had his shop, where he sold trophy cups and medals, some of which were of his own design, in Legnano, a village nearby.

Since my own relatives come from Tortona, in Piedmont, on my visits to them,  it was just a fifteen minutes detour to go and see Vanni, which I did at least twice a year on my way back to Switzerland (he lived about 20 minutes from the Swiss border).

I always tried to be at his shop “Il Medaglione” (the big medal) around 10 o’clock in the morning, we would take a first espresso at his favorite bar round the corner – he would drink at least five or six espressi a day…

Then we’d retire to the backroom of the shop where he’d show me the many things he had created since my last visit.

He was very generous and almost always gave me a sample of the gimmick, prop or what it was. At home I have a box with everything he gave me over the years and I keep them as a treasured souvenir of our very special friendship.

Inevitably, at noon we went to a restaurant – always a very good one – and had a great meal. The antipasti buffet with great seafood and then a griliata mista of fish was our standard, with a bottle of wine, another espresso and of course the Grappa, usually on the house, as Vanni was sort of a VIP in his village. And of course the magic talks got better with every minute. After that we would often go to his home, where he proudly showed me his latest literary acquisitions, which were often very rare magic publications, mostly in Italian.

After that, and a bottle or two of water, to bring me back to “normal”, I would head back home, a comfortable three-hour car drive, with now plenty of things to think about. I will never forget these wonderful meetings and times.

So, you see, not only was Vanni a likable and experienced performer, he was an outstanding creator and and even more remarkable collector of old magic books and historian.

In the photo below you can see Vanni and myself sitting in my downstairs small library and trying to link smoke rings!

Like myself Vanni liked fine dining, wines, cigars and liquors (as you can see from the glass, always in very responsible quantities…). One evening we were smoking a cigar, and in-between I went to the kitchen to get some chocolates – hey, it’s Switzerland 🙂 – when I came back I did a double-take, “Vanni, you are smoking a cigarette, but we’re smoking cigars here!” He laconically replied, “Yes, il continue smoking it in just a minute, but in-between I had to take a few deep drags!” (Explanation for those who don’t smoke cigars: You don’t inhale the smoke of a cigar as you would a cigarette.)

I should also mention that Vanni was very generous and shared a lot (but not all!) of his knowledge and creations with the magical fraternity through many lectures (and quite a bit of lecture notes). He once remarked to me, “Roberto, you know, many of my lectures, I gave for the first time for you and your club.”

As a matter of fact, I had been organizing about six lectures a year for my magic club in Basel, the “Zauberring Basel”, since ca. 1980 (that’s a lot of talent I’ve hosted at my home in all these years…). And each time I visited with Vanni I asked him, “Have you got a new lecture?” And if he had, I would invite him to come and see me for a few days, and then give his lecture, which he did most of the time!

However, being quite of a dynamic person, he would inevitably arrive in the late afternoon of the day preceding the lecture, we would spend the evening at my home where Barbara and I would prepare a sophisticated meal for us, and then we’d talk and magish far into the wee hours. The next day we’d sleep in, enjoy a relaxed day (of magic!), and in the evening he’d give his latest lecture that was always enthusiastically received. And he did all this for a very modest fee that barely covered his expenses – a truly generous gentleman. Next morning, though, he would head back home, and never stayed more than two nights 🙂

I could really go on forever writing about Vanni, his findings, the travels, lectures and shows we shared, in Italy and abroad, but have instead taken the liberty of extracting my own foreword to Vanni’s book The Aeretology of Vanni Bossi, originally published by Stephen Minch’s Hermetic Press, now distributed by Penguin Magic, who bought the rights to it.

It will tell you a few more things about a dear friend missed sorely.

To read and/or download the PDF CLICK HERE.

You can buy Vanni’s book from most magic dealers, or directly from the publisher Penguin Magic HERE.

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (76)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: “History of Card Magicians” – PP of my talk at the Museo del Naipe in Vitoria (Spain); Remembering the Masterclass in Las Vegas 2007 with Lennart Green.

These are The Magic Memories 76, gone online Sunday, June 12th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

History of Card Magicians

In last week’s blog The Magic Memories 75 I mentioned my talk I gave to a lay audience on the history of card magicians at the playing card museum in Vitoria as part of the Magialdia Magic Festival on WED, 14th SEP,  2016, length ca. 90 minutes, including final Q & A.

José Manuel Guimaraes, the father of Helder Guimaraes, and himself an accomplished amateur magician (he once won a competition where I sat in the jury, what a lovely memory!), asked if I could share the PP presentation I used on the occasion, and as always your wish is my command, so here it is.

Although the written texts are in Spanish (actually Castilian), and you’ll obviously not get the presentation that went with it, you can still click through the slides and film clips, pretending you were there, and maybe get inspired by one or the other image. If you look at it as an entry in Secret Agenda, it might very well trigger some interesting thoughts of your own, or even inspire someone to do something similar.

(BTW: Just saw that my talented friend Luis Otero from Venezuela is now offering a 3-hour Masterclass on the life and work of Dai Vernon, and it might very well be that he got inspired by my own Lecture-Seminar-Workshop-Masterclass I have been giving on the subject in many places in the New and Old World during the past 20 years. My 3-hour Seminar on Dai Vernon is still available HERE at a promotional price!)

Back to the talk: The full name of the place, which is worth visiting, is Museo Fournier de Naipes de Álava. On their homepage you’ll find a lovely documentary that in a short ten minutes details how Heraclio Fournier founded his playing card company and how the museum came about. Although the text is either in Castilian (standard Spanish language) or Euskara (Basque language), you can still enjoy it (or maybe there is an app that can translated it – I don’t know, but wouldn’t be surprised…). To watch it directly on Vimeo, CLICK HERE.

To download and then watch the PP of my talk “Historia de cartomagos” at the Fournier playing card museum in Vitoria CLICK HERE. (The file is ca. 350 MB, so you can’t stream it, you must download it.)

On the anecdotal side I should add that the talk was quite well received by the audience of about one hundred attendants, but when I did my final trick, “The Card Stab”, which I had been doing for over twenty years, I managed to miss the selection, something that has never happened before nor after.

It has, however, happened before – twice (!) – that I nailed the correct card, but its back was red, while the rest of the cards were blue-backed! In a desperate act of improvisation I said, without missing a beat, “Look, not only is it your card, it is also bleeding from the stab!” The reaction was so good that for a moment I even thought about making this part of the trick… but fortunately didn’t 🙂 The trick, incidentally, is on p. 242 of my book Stand-up Card Magic, under the title of “Stickler”, thus renamed by my then editor and publisher Stephen Minch . I never asked him why… (The book is also available in German, French and Italian.)

Stabbing a card, but with a red back…

Remembering the Las Vegas Seminar with Lennart Green

Recently, my good friend Joe Gallant from Boston sent in a photo taken on the occasion of a Masterclass Lennart Green and I gave in Las Vegas the day before The World Magic Seminar, as it was then called. I realize I’ve posted this photo before in The Magic Memories 16, but without further comments, so let me catch up on this and tell you a few amusing facts.

Unfortunately at present Lennart Green’s health condition doesn’t allow him to travel as much as before, but I certainly have the best of memories of our many meetings. Today I’d like to remember the Masterclass Lennart and I gave in Las Vegas in 2007.

Seminar in Las Vegas with Lennart Green

This event came into existence after I had already given my “Dai Vernon Seminar” on a previous edition of the convention, and the organizers where asked by several participants if such a thing could be repeated.

Wanting to offer something different that I had never done before, I phoned my good friend Lennart Green asking him if he’d be interested to do a three-day Masterclass together with me for a small group of fifteen people in Las Vegas before their big convention. As usual Lennart was immediately very enthusiastic about it and pronounced his favorite mantra, “Of course!”

Now, Lennart, who is among the most generous, brilliant, enthusiastic and easy-going people on this planet, a truly unique human being and artist, is also a hopeless optimist. I, in turn, well, I’m rather a pessimist.

You see, as an optimist, obviously, you will be disappointed about 50% of the time. As a pessimist, however, you’ll be happy 100% of the time, because if things do not turn out as expected, well, you knew before and won’t be disappointed. And if they do turn out well, against all expectations, you will be pleased and not disappointed, so, all in all, a 100% happy person 🙂

Anyway, I sensed that my cautious and organized way of doing things contrasted to Lennart’s exuberance and spontaneity, and could therefore be a potential source for problems…

Consequently, I called Lennart again and suggested he’d visit me in Switzerland a few months before the event, so we could spend a few days to brainstorm, and then arrange our ideas into some kind of “plan”.

 

Green meditating after brainstorm

If you know Lennart, you also know that the concept of a “plan” is not in his active vocabulary, at least not in the sense we “normal” people understand it, simply because Lennart is not “normal”, but a Genius, with a capital “G”.

They say that it takes a man of talent to recognize a genius, so at least I did understand this, especially because in my life I have had the great privilege of getting close to some of the other geniuses in the magic world, such as Juan Tamariz and Gaetan Bloom, to mention just two – there are not many anyway, and I shall be pleased to tell you a few things that occurred to me in the company of such people in the past (Ricky Jay and René Lavand, for instance).

When we finally sat down to work out a “plan” (ha, ha): Lennart and I had managed to write down the title and content of potential sessions that should last from 30 to 90 minutes each, on individual file cards. I then arranged the file cards on the table and let Lennart pick the subjects he’d like to present, and I then picked what was left, so all sessions with a subject where distributed among the two of us.

I then suggested we put them into an order that didn’t even have to be “logical”, sensing that this wouldn’t appeal to Lennart anyway.

Eventually we managed to reach a mutually agreeable sequence, starting on Friday evening, continuing Saturday for the whole day, and finishing Sunday morning, when the actual convention would start.

I obviously made a copy of all file cards, as well as of the order of the sessions, and gave them to Lennart, after having asked him several times if that would completely satisfy his needs and wishes. The answer was the well-known, “Of course!”

BUT, just to get to the punchline of this little story: Imagine my surprise, when at the start of the event in Las Vegas I introduced Lennart with the topic of his first session, he sat down and started to do a show, which was no at all part of the “plan”, at least not at this point!

Lennart had completely forgotten about the file cards, and just did what came to his mind! And that was only the beginning of a very “creative” three days…

Green putting meditation in action

Now you can imagine Giobbi (that’s me!), who is kind of an organized guy (see Card College and other publications…), going nuts (in silence, of course, and as a consummate professional pretending it all had been arranged like this from the very beginning).

And then there was a session “How to be creative” that Lennart should do at some point. He somehow must have thought that this wasn’t as good as we had originally assumed, so kept postponing it, while I kept insisting that he should give this 30-minute talk. On the last day I threatened him with some kind of punishment (jokingly), and he finally gave the talk. And guess what. It was a huge success that entailed a most interesting discussion among Lennart , name and the participants, and was judged one of the best sessions of the vent!

Now I’ll cut this short, and say that the event was a huge success, everyone, and I really mean everyone, was more than happy with the affair, and so were Lennart and I, and that’s the most important thing.

Me, too, I was very happy at the result, and the convention organizers received many compliments, but somehow I never again managed to get Lennart to do a similar affair with me 🙂

The complex personality of Green (Ken Knowlton)

In Conclusion

As always, I remind newcomers to The Magic Memories that you won’t receive any notice of it going online, but that you have to become proactive by going to http//www.robertogiobbi.com and clicking on “News”.

Look forward to “seeing” (?) you next Sunday. Have an excellent week!

All the very best,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (75)

Today’s topics are: Playing cards by Fournier; What’s the use of card clips; More Giobbi Collection photos; Remembering Paolo Morelli (video).

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 75, gone online Sunday, June 5th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

I keep receiving questions from all parts of the world, and as long as I believe that they could be of general interest, I shall be happy to answer them.

Steve Hirsch, in his real life a freelance journalist in Washington, asked: “I use Fournier cards which, as you know, are sturdier and seem better made than standard USPC cards, and even with frequent practice they last longer.  I’m wondering if you use a clip or would advise me to skip it.” These are two questions, and I’ll comment on both, one after the other.

Playing Cards by Fournier

Naipes Heraclio Fournier is since the 1940s the largest card manufacturer in Spain, already established in 1870 in Vitoria, the capital of the Alava district in the Basque country, a small hour’s drive from Bilbao. You can read a bit more about it HERE. As always a little search on Internet will provide more details for those who seek it.

After Heraclio’s death in 1916 his grandson Félix Alfaro took over the company, and as an avid collector of playing cards in 1970 established a playing card museum, today owned by the city of Vitoria (MORE HERE).

I have a particular emotional attachment to this place: Not only have I visited it several times in the past thirty years of my regular visits to the city and its Magialdia convention (see The Magic Memories 41 of 2021), I have performed there (see The Magic Memories 44 of 2021 for a discussion of what I did there), and I also gave a 90 minute talk & show – guess you’d call this “infotainment” – on the history and the repertoire of card magicians.

Although in Spanish, I wish I had recorded the event, as I will probably never give this talk again, and it was an interesting one, by my own standards… I do, though, have a very attractive PP presentation, with lots of images and a few video clips, that you might enjoy, even thought the texts are in Spanish and of course there is no talk (I might publish this for you to download for free in an upcoming The Magic Memories if you are interested – let me know).

In 1986 USPCC bought Fournier, and that’s when the quality started to change. After some back and forth Fournier is today (2022) owned by Belgium’s Carta Mundi.

When I first followed Juan Tamariz’s invitation to see him in Spain in 1980, as told in earlier edition of The Magic Memories, staying at his home for a week (!), a “tradition” I have maintained to this day (except the Pandemic Years), he was virtually the only magician using them, while for instance Ascanio and the other Spansh card experts would swear by the then traditional Standard Bicycle Rider Back deck.

When I asked Juan about it, he gave me a little lecture on it, as he so often does when I ask him a question… Briefly, I adopted them and was responsible for bringing them to the German speaking part of Europe through the Cardworkshop.

I started to make up my own special cards and decks when there were none other than normal cards on the market. Later Fournier started to manufacture various kinds of special cards and decks, and nowadays they offer a fine selection for (almost) all needs. This is the reason why I have been using Fournier cards all my life for my performances in front of lay audiences. My professional repertoire consists of only about a dozen card tricks, and  I only operate at a maximum of 60% of my technical capacities, whereas my real repertoire for magicians is a hundred times bigger and technically more demanding, so nowadays I use my own Card College Playing Cards (premium stock by USPCC).

Steve, in his question, means the Peacock 505 (see photo above), and like every playing card it has its pros and cons.

What certainly speaks in favor of these cards, is the beautiful back design, in my opinion one of the prettiest, but also its printing quality: If you compare a card by USPCC (left) to one by Fournier (right), you can see the far better resolution and the additional colors, resulting in a much finer appearance (see photo below).

The 505 are also plastic coated, which means that the friction factor is lower than cards with linen finish or similar. This makes them ideal for techniques like Push-through Shuffles, Second Deals or spreads like the Ascanio Spread. Also, they are absolutely flat, so that you can load a face down card between two face up cards, and then place the squared triple on the table as two cards without its real state being noticed – this is virtually impossible with cards by USPCC which mostly have a pronounced bend.

On the other hand, it is precisely the “disadvantages” mentioned above that make cards by USPCC the better choice, such as when making fans. Plus, they are “softer” than the 505, which again facilitates palms, passes and certain false deals.

Then, Fournier’s card box with the large flap is much better for magical use, because you can tear off the side tabs, and the flap will still remain stuck in the box. Whoever invented the shorter flap with the slitted side tabs at USPCC should be given the “cactus award” discerned to the worst design idea of the year (in this case of the century…).

You understand now that I could give a lengthy talk about this subject alone, but it cannot be here. It is moments like these were I wish magic was an academic discipline, and I was employed and paid as a professor by an institution to do this type of work. Instead I do this in my “free” time and because I somehow like doing it (by all means avoid doing things you don’t like doing) and as a courtesy to you. As a consequence there is hardly any editing nor proof-reading – in spite of all this I hope you find this compromise acceptable 🙂

Back to the subject and bottom line: If you ask me for a recommendation of what playing cards to use, after decades of professional experience, I can truthfully state that there is no perfect card, at least I have not found it, and I doubt three will ever be one. (This reminds me of what Bertrand Russell once said: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts.”)

Depending from what techniques you specialize in and tricks you perform, some brands work better than others. However, cards being the artist’s instrument, and the instrument the extension of the hand, which in turn is the extension of the mind, the Cardician’s Artistic Trinity, the cards must feel agreeable, comfortable and enjoyable in your hands, you should sense that there is a symbiosis between you and the cards, and that through these cards you can express yourself and what you want to tell your audience by means of your performance. Therefore, give yourself a good budget, buy several brands of cards, and then practice with them over a few years. Given this, you should then be able to decide which type of card suits you best.

And after another ten years you might change opinion. As you can see, this is a reflection of life, as magic reflects in its small world the larger world it is a part of. If all this sounds philosophical to you, it’s because it is. Amen.

Card Clips

A so-called “card press” used to be a common thing in rural or neighborhood restaurants where patrons would gather to play cards, mostly in the afternoon. This is still fairly common in Europe, especially in Switzerland, where people enjoy playing the national game of “Jass”, similar to German “Skat”. The cards are usually provided by the restaurant owner, and to extend durability, after the game they are placed into a “card press”. Below you can see such a card press: A deck is inserted between the separators, so the press can take six or so decks (the photo shows a card from a Swiss deck with 36 cards).

As for almost anything, there is a big collector market for card presses that come in the most beautiful variations, made with precious woods and inlays. My friends in magic Kurt Freitag and Magic Christian, both from Vienna, for instance, have dozens (!) beautiful specimens, and they wouldn’t part with even one for their lives 🙂 Below you can see such a doozy:

This not only goes to show that we have here yet another small world within a big world, as the Japanese like to say, but also that a card press is believed to be useful for card players, and so the cardicians among us should listen. (BTW: The term “cardician” was coined by Edward Marlo and is the title of one of his most important and influential books, The Cardician from 1957.)

Although card presses for a single deck, rather than for several as shown above, are not a new idea, as far as I know the first to adapt it to magic in a “portable” form was Joe Porper (1937 – 2021), possibly following a suggestion by Larry Jennings.

I remember that in the Eighties and early Nineties the “card clips”, as they were then renamed, were no longer available, so I decided to make my own here in Switzerland. Thanks to the know-how of my friend Roger Blättler, a very capable cardician living in my area who had some knowledge of precision engineering, I was able to find a small metal manufacturer who then made me a first batch of 50 units.

Magic friends started to ask me for them, and so, over the years, I had several hundred made, which are now distributed among mostly European cardicians who still use them. Later they started to make good card clips in South America, ans still later in China, so I stopped my production, as I could not compete with their prices (in Switzerland a Cappuccino now costs around $ 7 – I call this “The Cappuccino Index” as opposed to the well-known “big mac index”, because I would eat a big mac only in an emergency).

In the photo below, that shows a few of the dozens of different card clips and card boxes I have accumulated over the years (I’m not a collector, though), on the upper left you can see a chromed card clip from “my” production – the specimen you see was engraved later by my dear friend and mentor Vanni Bossi (more on this extraordinary inventor, performer and historian in a future The Magic Memories) when I gave him four as a gift, he later gave me back two with the engraving of my Ex Libris.

Years later, at a convention in Granada, Spain, one of the two was stolen after a lecture. Maybe the thief now reads these Magic Memories: Well, keep the clip with my blessings, but now you know a bit of the story and hopefully value it even more 🙂

A small selection of card clips I use

So, this brings us back to Steve’s question of whether we should use card clips in magic or not, and as you can infer from the above, I’m greatly in favor of using card clips.

When I travel, especially by air, but also by any other means, I put every single deck (in its card box, of course) in a card clip – this keeps the cards flat and fresh. Clearly, climatic properties like dryness, due to air conditioning (i.e. in almost the entire New Word…) or humidity, in summer and in areas near the sea, are prone to influence the quality of our cards. Placing them in a card clip nullifies most of these influences and keeps the cards in the best possible condition.

I do not, however, subscribe to the showing off of the card clips in front of an audience, as it makes them look like “magician’s cards” (as always there is the odd exception where it can be made to look good – but you need to “use your head”). This is also true for those elegant and expensive card clips, of which I have a few: I only use them because I like beautiful objects, but a minute before going on, I take the deck in its box out of the clip and put it in my pocket, from which I take it out when I go in front of the audience.

All in all, card clips help keeping the magician’s mot versatile instrument in the best state possible for performance. Even in the worst of atmospheric conditions the deck will be in optimal shape, at least for ten minutes or so, before it will “warp”.

And one more things: Cards that “warped” or are otherwise out of shape, can be placed in a card clip and will usually regain their original optimal state (obviously this will only be the case if you have treated them gently to begin with…).

Now, how was that for an answer if you should use a card clip or not 🙂

More Giobbi Collection Photos

In The Magic Memories (72) I published Ian Kent’s collection of my publications and suggested that anyone who would like could send in his or her photo (BTW: In the past forty years or so I have received virtually thousands of letters and mails by male magicians, but only three or four by women – now you may draw your own conclusions 🙂

Anyway, here are three of the nicest photos I received, much appreciated, and if I was esoterically inclined, by the way the books are presented, I could give a reading of each person…

Between Vernon and Ascanio – note signed Card College Playing Cards (Gérard Caubergs)
The Giobbi Spread – note Card College Playing Cards Collector Edition (Stephan Jochum)
Definitely a working library – note printed Secret Twitter (Murray Cooper)

Remembering Giampaolo Morelli

Giampaolo Morelli was an original and extraordinary Italian professional magician whom I had the pleasure of meeting several times during my visits in Italy. You’ll find very little information about him on the Internet, actually almost none, but if you read Italian, there is a short bio in Vinicio Raimondi’s Spettacolo magico (La Porta Magica, Rome 2000).

He was born in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, on February 1st, 1940 and died in Siena, another iconic city in Tuscany, on April 24th 1999 at the relatively young age of 59.

Still in his twenties he became a professional performer working some of the better night clubs and various of Italy’s top cruise line companies. This gave him a lot of free time which he used to concoct lots of original magic, not only for stage, as you will see in the video below, but also in close-up, card magic taking a special place in his heart.

I felt very flattered when in the early nineties he attended a lecture of mine I gave in Milan, where he lived the latter part of his life.

I remember how we went to a Pizzeria that was opened until late at night, and after an interesting conversation during dinner, he started to show me several of his creations. At the end he gave me one of the very few items he had shared with the fraternity. Collector’s Workshop sold this under the title of “Morelli Ring”, and to this day it remains one of the most practical versions of “Ring to Keychain”.

Other than that there is very little material by this over talented artist around, and I’m currently researching written and video material through his close friend and student Alessandro Daloisio. I had the good fortune of getting together with him a few years later, again on the occasion of a lecture of mine in Florence, but regret that I didn’t take notes as I usually did, so I forgot much of what he did for me. But I certainly remember his charismatic personality, and his card handling and arcane knowledge made me think that he might have also been a very good card player…

Luckily the CLAM (Club Arte Magica) in Milan, of which he was a member, has a little information on him, and with Google translator you can learn a bit more about Morelli (CLICK HERE).

Thanks to Giancarlo Zurzolo, who put up a video on YouTube of Morelli’s stage performance, we can get a glimpse of this man’s talent. For those who take exception to his using doves, please remember that this is from the Seventies and Eighties.

Rather, I’d like you to observe the many original touches in technique, handling and combinations, such as the production of bills. And the double production of doves is the best I’ve ever seen, superior to the classic one using the mouth and done by Pollock, Tomsoni and others.

To enjoy Paolo Morelli’s stage act CLICK HERE.

In Conclusion

All the very best for the next week – and I look forward to our next meeting SUN, 12th June at 0:07h (or later…).

Roberto Giobbi

PS: Please remember that the The Magic Memories are not sent to you automatically, to avoid spam, but you must become proactive by going to www.robertogiobbi.com and click the “News” menu item; or find the list of all posts HERE.