Volume 2, Number 8
April 1997

Notice: This magazine is for magicians only. If you are gazing upon this material and are not part of the Mystic Brethren, then an elite corps of night club entertainers known as The Guardians (two mustachioed fellows in blue spangly tuxedos and a clown named Ringworm) will plant a small quantity of white powder in the trunk of your car and make an appropriate phone call. The accompanying literature identifying the stash as "woofle dust" for purposes of causing "silks to vanish" will only exacerbate your impending discussions with the DEA. You have been warned.

"Thank God you picked the right card! I'm trapped in this magazine and can't get out. I think it must be written by some crazed college student who does card tricks and can't get dates. "

Congratulations, and welcome to the April-Foolery issue of The Little Egypt Gazette. The photo used in our Welcome Center page is of course a photo of Tom Mullica's Tom-Foolery in Atlanta, now closed but a source of fantastic memories to all who spent time in its spell. This issue brings you an in-depth look at the new Ken Krenzel book from Hermetic Press, including an absolutely terrific item from same, plus a peek at Las Vegas in Dixie, the up and coming complex of casinos in Tunica, Mississippi. But first a look at the current events in the magic world. As with last year's April issue, any or all of the following news items could be pure baloney. It will all be sorted out in "Stirring the Tana Leaves," and we hope you have fun getting there.

THE PENDRAGONS AT FORD'S THEATRE -- Billed as "the first couple of grand illusion," the Pendragons made a strong showing on March 29 on ABC's A Gala For The President At Ford's Theatre. Jonathan opened with his startling origami bird in cage vanish, following which the camera panned for the first of several times to President Clinton, catching him with his mouth agape. (Was he yawning or mystified?) Next came a strong presentation of the Himber linking finger rings, with lines Jonathan has made justly famous and which one hopes no one else out there will lift. The grand illusion finale featured a fast "Things That Go Bump In The Night" that caught everyone off guard. In all a tight 6:50 outing that focussed on Jonathan's considerable charisma and intensity. Ventriloquist Ron Lucas also appeared on this strong variety special.

THE MAGIC IS COMING -- ABC has begun 20-second promotional spots for David Blaine Street Magic, coming in "ABC May." If the special is anything like the promo, it will feature striking MTV-paced visuals unlike anything ever seen before in a televised magic special. I particularly enjoyed a close-up image of the reflection of a playing card in Blaine's eye, a small part of an amazingly kinetic montage of images of playing cards doing astonishing things.

ASCANIO -- By far the saddest news of the month, the year, the era is that Spain's celebrated card wizard Arturo de Ascanio died unexpectedly in his home on Sunday, April 6. I first received word from Jose Antonio Gonzalez, who added that Ascanio had been doing and talking magic with a visiting German magician at the time. He was buried on April 8 in the Almudena Cemetery in Madrid. Ascanio's death is all the more poignant for many of us because we had the pleasure of spending time in his presence less than a month before in Las Vegas, at the Desert Magic Seminar. There he seemed so full of life and charm, and his extraordinary magic cast a spell over all who observed it. As I mentioned last month, Joe Stevens has made available a wonderful new 90-minute video of Ascanio's magic, featuring "Dama Inquieta" ("Restless Lady"), "Ases con Amor" ("Aces with Love"), and "Ases de mi examen" ("Aces of my exam"). I urge you to purchase it if you enjoy beautiful card magic. There is a memorial web site for Ascanio to which you may contribute condolences and read those of others. The site is in Spanish and currently holds the words of many Spanish magicians as well as those of such Americans as Pete Biro and Matthew Field. The longest and the closing tribute is by Juan Tamariz.

Ascanio, receiving an award in Las Vegas, March 1997

MELINDA ON CBS -- Not since the original Mickey Mouse Club, when a generation of boys observed that Annette Funicello had breasts, has a Disney TV show created such a stir over the physical assets of its star. Amid rumors that the long-anticipated Melinda special had been delayed as CBS executives screened it for private stag gatherings that included the likes of Walter Cronkite and George Bush, Disney's Melinda, First Lady of Magic finally aired on CBS on March 25. The enthusiastic reviews ran from shallow praise ("The Baywatch of magic specials" -- TV Guide) to deep analysis ("This smart sorceress's triumph over a giant phallic drill bit is a pointed feminist response to the continuing threat of sexual harassment in the post-O.J. nineties" -- The New Yorker). Although the show featured such Melinda favorites as her beautiful firefly routine and the aforementioned Drill of Death, it was her sexy, funny, and uncharacteristically gory straitjacket escape that garnered the most press. In what may have been a deliberate attempt at satirizing David Copperfield's use of stooges and at topping her ex-husband Lance Burton's recent underwater escape, Melinda began by requesting the assistance of two random members of the audience. Although the two "college men" came from widely separated areas of this Panama City Spring Break audience, one in a Hawaii shirt and USC baseball cap and the other with a Kodak disposable camera hanging around his neck, hip viewers quickly recognized the two as Penn and Teller. Melinda herself, wearing a straitjacket and nothing but a straitjacket, allowed herself to be lowered into a small tank of water whose sides were covered with newspaper to conceal her escape to freedom and buck nudity. The grabber was that the tank was afixed to a second tank full of starving Piranha. If Melinda failed to escape in 60 seconds, a partition between the two tanks would open, presumably to let the fish chew the thing off her. The seconds ticked off as Penn uttered inane banter about her being able to hold her breath for eternity with lungs like that, until with two seconds to spare a thin arm held the jacket aloft above the edge of the tank. Penn, whose height gave him a bird's eye view of the goings on (goings off is more accurate) inside the tank, fainted into a heap on the floor. It was as he fell that things went awry and the alarm went off. The Piranha were on the move! With a wry smile, Teller ripped the paper from the tank to reveal a froth of red, churning water. Climbing a small step ladder, he reached in and extracted a smooth white human skeleton with blond hair. Has our girl given her last for magic? Of course not. A loud referee's whistle erupted from the audience, to reveal Melinda in a wet t-shirt and signature thong bikini bottom, earning her a riotous ovation from the mostly male audience. Is this magic or what? Videos of the special will soon be available at your local Blockbuster with an NC-17 rating.

THE MAGIC CASTLE ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE -- Milt Larsen mentions in his monthly Friends of the Libraries newsletter that a new book on the Magic Castle should be available in time for the summer conventions. The book is based on tours that he conducts of the Castle and is being compiled by member Carol Marie. To be about 300 pages and full of photos, the book will concentrate on the Castle's history as well as its architecture and collectibles. From the beginning the Castle has always been one of the most photogenic structures in magic, and members and guests who have been frustrated by the Castle's no-camera rules should eagerly anticipate this sizable volume. Milt promises that Carol has done her research thoroughly and has left "no gargoyle unturned in her effort to make this a fascinating addition to anyone's library."

ABSOLUT HYSTERIA -- Speaking of coffee table books, there is a delightful new book out containing nearly 500 ads for Absolut vodka, a celebration of the TBWA Chiat/Day ad campaign that began in 1981 and has made the Absolut vodka bottle one of the most recognized product images around the world. The book by Richard W. Lewis is called ABSOLUT BOOK. and it sells for $60 hardback, $30 softcover. Collecting these two-word headline ads has become something of a craze. As the Introduction states: "Readers tear out the ads and hang them on their walls. Librarians have to guard their magazines from being de-Absoluted. College students actually collect and trade ads." My college-age daughter confirms all the above. Once I realized the magnitude of the interest, I figured that the ads must be on the web as well, and indeed they are. There are sites which list every magazine in which each ad appears, and trades can be arranged. My interest in the ads was sparked by the recent re-emergence of the ABSOLUT HOUDINI ad, which exhibits a burst of light from which the familiar bottle has just vanished, leaving only a round water mark on the surface where it stood. It is of note that the name Houdini still equates to magic (in this case a vanish) to this day. That particular ad was a hard sell according to its Ad Director, Tony De Gregorio: "We already had 498 ads with the bottle, but we have only one other ad -- ABSOLUT LARCENY -- without the bottle." There also exists an ABSOLUT MAGIC ad, picturing the Absolut bottle resting in a clear crystal top hat half full of ice cubes.

NO CONTEST -- It's an established nugget of magical lore that Jay Marshall defeated Dai Vernon in two games of chess out of three, back in 1954, for the right to publish "The Vernon Poker Demonstration" in The New Phoenix, which Marshall edited at that time. History repeated itself last month in Las Vegas as Marshall squared off against John Gaughan for even more incredible stakes, the right for Marshall to publish the secret to the Hooker rising cards, the piece to run in the last issue of The New Phoenix, which Marshall still owes his original subscribers, assuming any are still around. The contest ensued at David Copperfield's famed warehouse during Desert Magic Seminar week, with Earl Nelson on hand as Gaughan's second and Jim Krenz as Marshall's. If it seems incredible that Gaughan would risk his previously unimpeachable reputation for confidentiality, it must be taken into consideration that Marshall put up as his stake the entire Bob Lund collection, at the same time complaining that he has trouble remembering a damn thing. The complaining would appear to have been an act. The contest ended in one draw and two victories for Marshall. A crushed Gaughan took little consolation in the fact that few issues would appear, if ever, and that Marshall took a firm stand against any Johnny-come-lately subscriptions. Rumor has it that Marshall is now trying to interest Ricky Jay in a little game of backgammon or gin rummy.

NEW SLYDINI MATERIAL -- A gentleman named Alma Richie, with a wonderful prose style, has lately been informing EG readers of two routines he learned from 20 years of lessons from Slydini, particularly Slydini's floating cane and his linking/unlinking rubber bands. Mr. Richie hopes to release the rubber band routine in the next 30 days, and promises "unending surprises, crescendos, and astonishing impacts that Slydini made to the linking and unlinking of rubber bands. This is my favorite close-up magical effect . . ." Mr. Richie is also considering releasing the cane routine, possibly in the next 60 days. In his own words, "I was taught the dancing cane by Slydini, and at which time he gave me his personal cane. His routine is 2 minutes to perform and so beautiful and magical to watch. The routine begins by balancing it in different ways on my right hand. It then slowly moves away as if guided by the gentle wind. As it is suspended in mid air, it begins to move in a circle and within inches around my forefinger. Then it floats out into space and stops suspended in mid air. Slydini's routine includes this beautiful move. The cane is literally suspended in space. This is what sets the routine apart from all other cane routines. Other beautiful moves follow and the act ends when the cane is thrown into the air and turns into two canes." He adds that "It is a beautiful routine due to the brilliant routine and dialogue developed by Slydini." I thank Mr. Richie for permission to reprint his accounts here and recommend that you become a member of Bruce Barnett's Electronic Grymoire (EG) to be the among the first to learn of these impending releases. They will be offered to EG members at a reduced rate.

IT'S IN THE CARDS -- Perhaps there is an opening for a card shark on the White House staff. In a March 31 Karen Ball piece in The New Yorker called "It's in the Cards," President Clinton is described as an inveterate card player with a fondness for hearts and contract rummy. His larger interest however lies in Klondike Solitaire, at which he spends many hours, even with others present ("It was driving me crazy," aide Bruce Lindsey said when his boss refused to play a red five on a black six, convinced a better opportunity would present itself). He plays during briefings, keeping score (Las Vegas rules, five dollars for every card on top) in his head. Clinton detractors can perhaps take solace in the knowledge that anyone who "keeps decks of Bicycles in the Oval Office" can't be all bad.

AND THE WINNERS ARE -- The Magic Castle recently held its 29th Annual Awards banquet, with magic's most treasured prizes going to Martin Nash for Close-Up Magician of the Year, T.C. Tahoe for Parlour Magician of the Year, David Roth for Lecturer of the Year, Jason Byrne for Stage Magician of the Year, and Ricky Jay for Magician of the Year. Fellowships included a Masters Fellowship to Karrell Fox, a Lifetime Achievement Fellowship to Billy McComb, a Performing Fellowship (Stage) to Tommy Wonder, a Performing Fellowship (Close-Up) to Michael Skinner, a Creative Fellowship to John Kennedy, a Literary Fellowship to Stephen Minch (check out his new book below!), a Special Fellowship to Joe Stevens, and Awards of Merit to Trini Peller and Arnold Brema. Sincere congratulations to all, and what a deserving group!

You say you want to watch top-flight magical entertainment and then stay up all night gambling in a casino, but you don't want to fly to Las Vegas to do so? If you live in the Midwest or the South this may soon be easier than you think. With Brett Daniels scheduled to headline for the next 13 years, the casino complex at Tunica, Mississippi, may just become magic's next stomping ground. For a closer look, check out Tunica: Magic's Next Mecca?. Shown in the photo is the Hollywood Casino at Tunica, featuring props and artifacts from your favorite movies.

The latest gem out of Hermetic Press in Seattle is Ken Krenzel's Ingenuities, a book of 34 innovative tricks, routines, and sleights. Although the book contains the superlative sleight-of-hand material one expects from this magician, this new collection also introduces the reader to a "kinder, gentler" Krenzel, with numerous effects that take place in the spectator's hands and are dead easy to perform. Click on the title for an in-depth review of this new book by the award-winning Stephen Minch.

So you'd like to be able to demonstrate your awesome skill at riffle stacking but don't have the time to practice? In this demonstration, you insert the four aces together into a fanned deck and then, after one "efficient, unhesitating riffle shuffle" you deal a round of poker and you get the aces. Thanks to the brilliant mind of Ken Krenzel, a cool optical illusion does most of the work for you, allowing you to practice on your presentational skills. "Opti-Stack" is one of the strongest effects in Ken Krenzel's Ingenuities, and we are extremely excited to be bringing it to you.

As always, the innocent must be shielded from such personality-altering secrets. This month let's honor the gentleman who taught us, in Stars of Magic, that a lap could be a servante and that cigarettes could be torn and restored. To access "Opti-Stack," click on the title. When prompted for a Userid, enter the word artist. When prompted for a Password, enter the name of the magician who created "Flight of the Paper Balls" aka the "Paper Balls Over the Head." As always, both the Userid and the Password must be entered completely in lower case.

You say it's April and you've already sent in your order for Ken Krenzel's Ingenuities , but somehow that isn't enough, you want more more more? You've landed in the right paragraph, because not only do we have our usual sensational book and lecture notes available, but also Virtual Foolery, the new booklet published by Amy Stevens to introduce the world to the columnists who write for GeMiNi, the Greater Magic Network. Edited by Jon Racherbaumer and T.A. Waters, this nicely produced 32-page monograph contains "The Sound of Music" by Ian Adair, "Billion-Dollar Bill Switch" by Pete Biro, "Everywhere and Nowhere Goes Hollywood" by Steve Bryant, "Sand-Which" by Aldo Colombini, "Pieces of Eight" by Karrell Fox, "Persistence of Thought" by Mark Garetz, "Dai's Wager" by Pat Hennessy, "Two Teasers" by Roger Klause, "The Supra-Selling of the Lemming Man" by Simon Lovell, "At Homb With McComb" by Billy McComb, "Mullica's Four-Ace Ending" by Tom Mullica, "Magic for the Rest of the Week" by Anthony Owen, "Marlo's Favorite Devilish Miracle" by Jon Racherbaumer, "On Line, Who Is, and Who Cares" by Mike Rogers, "Gypsy Cursive" by T.A. Waters, and "Double Restoration Rope" by Ron Wilson. Stevens Magic Emporium sells it for $15, and we have a few copies here for that price, postpaid in North America.

For a look at our own favorite material, consider Little Egypt Card Tricks or The Little Egypt Gazette: The Lecture 96, which contains the best of the personal card tricks from Volume 1 of this periodical. Included are "Let George Do It" (a presentation for Paul Harris's "Night Shades"), "Everywhere and Nowhere Goes Hollywood," "From the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes," "Ranch Hand," "Red and Blue Cannibals," "The Great Al Baker Three-Card Mental Test," "Satan's Monte," and "Celebrities." The notes are $15 and the book is $22, postage free in the U.S. Here's the place to spend the big dough you won on the office basketball pool. Forward remuneration to Steve Bryant, 1639 Sycamore Court, Bloomington, IN 47401. No passwords, no hassles. Add $6 for overseas addresses for the lecture notes, $9 for the book.

For an important admin note, a behind-the-scenes story conference with Columbine and Golem, a visit to Graceland, and a goodbye of sorts, turn to this month's installment of "Stirring the Tana Leaves."

As always, our Favorite Links page contains links to some of the best magic sites on the web. Be sure to update your Penn and Teller URL if you haven't done so recently and check out the rest of our friends in hyperspace.

A JSB Creations product
Copyright© 1997 by Steve Bryant
Send your cards and letters to sbryant@kiva.net.