Book of the Month: Fechter: The Magic of Eddie Fechter

This forum is an ongoing, and evolving, discussion. Genii Forum members discuss opinions and trade notes on current and past magic books.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/08/03 12:24 AM

The Cheektowaga Employees Federal Credit Union will have a new building soon. While that may not mean anything to most readers, a few may get a little misty-eyed over the event. The reason is that the new credit union building will stand where the Forks Hotel stood, near Buffalo, New York, for more years than anyone is sure of (it's believed that its foundation dates back to the Civil War). What everyone familiar with the Forks Hotel is sure of is that it's the place where a humble barkeep became one of the most influential figures of 20th century magic.

Much is made about the pied piper qualities of Vernon and Marlo and their immeasurable contributions to close-up magic. But from 1957 to 1979 (the 70s being its heyday), Eddie Fechter attracted to his bar many magicians, several of whom are now highly touted masters or underground legends. And while perhaps overshadowed by the greatness heaped on Vernon and Marlo by the magic community, there is one thing that Fechter can boast that neither of these giants can: During their years of mentoring, only Fechter actually performed, night after night, in the belly of the beast known as "the real world," as did those under his tutelage. It was trial by fire on a nightly basis in one of the toughest venues for a close-up performer. A performer who came out of Forks unscathed came out "salty" and ready for anything. In many cases, as related by some of his closest friends, they weren't just prepared for what magic may throw their way, but for the vagaries of life as well.

***

Sometime during the first half of 1993, I walked into the Costa Mesa location of Hollywood Magic. The period between this and my previous visit could be measured in years as opposed to days (as they could be measured earlier in my life). But, as if the clock of life had stopped during my absence, Jack, who had not aged a day, greeted me from behind the counter as if it had been but a few days that had passed since our last meeting. Before I was halfway into the building, Jack instinctively knew to leave his perch on the side where most of the "tricks" were and head over to the book section--my usual destination when visiting.

Though located behind the counter, Jack had always allowed regulars to go back there and look at the books. I always asked permission before going back, but this time Jack said that that there was no reason for me to go back there: "This is what you're here for." He handed me a slightly larger than average size book (265 pages) with a cover that was striking in its simplicity: Glossy jet-black, framed in gold with simple gold lettering in an unimposing sized font. It read, Fechter: The Magic of Eddie Fechter. "Do you have Magician Nitley?" asked Jack. "No," I answered, noticing that the cover also noted that the book in my hands included the complete text of the book Jack just mentioned. "Well, it doesn't matter, it's all in there and more. This book is you. I won't let you leave without it. You don't like it, I'll buy it back." Jack never before guaranteed anything like that, ever. Of course, he had nothing to worry about because he knew he was right, and I would not be returning the book, ever.

Up to then, my only knowledge of Eddie Fechter was through the few effects included in Mentzer's Card Cavalcade series and, what was to me, a convention of mythic proportion--a convention that I held no hope of ever attending due to my glaring lack of qualifications--that was named after him: "Fechter's Finger Flinging Frolic" or, simply, "FFFF." I lived it vicariously, through friends who attended and via magazine reports, but that would be as close as I would ever get. Though Fechter: The Magic of Eddie Fechter by Jerry Mentzer (Magic Methods, 1993) would not get me any closer to the convention, it gave me an appreciation for the man honored by the event: A man who I would never have the opportunity to meet, but after reading about him in this book, would place high on my list of those I wish I had.

Among its 13 chapters are not only a wondrous collection of tricks, sleights, gags and bits of business, but also the recollections of some of the men who spent part of their lives watching and working with Fechter. Some of these are touching, almost heart wrenching, but all have a common theme: a vast respect and love for the man who changed and/or shaped their lives.

After the author's "Foreword," some "Background Information" and a reprint of Dai Vernon's introduction to Magician Nitely, Chapter 1 opens the book proper with a history of Forks (during the Fechter years) and a biography of Eddie Fechter. Made up of pieces written by Harrison J. Carroll, Ed Eckl, Rob Allen and with further remembrances of Michael Skinner, Bill Okal and Ron Frederick, the reader is taken on a journey that includes early childhood tragedy, middle-aged success and a late-in-life battle with leukemia that claimed his life in 1979 at the age of 63. A stout man with tattooed arms and huge hands, Fechter was, with the exception of a stint in the Army during WWII, a lifelong barkeep, the son of saloonkeepers who had to help run the family business at an early age after the murder of his father. Within this chapter is a photo section that includes a photo of a 16-year old Fechter at his post behind his mother's bar. Learning tricks and gags seemed to be a natural step to working behind a bar. He was performing tricks by his early teens and this natural playfulness stayed with him throughout his life. Several of his gags and bits of business (including those he would do outside the confines of his bar) are included in this chapter.

Chapter 2, "Peek Magic," focuses on effects and techniques using spectator peeks, clearly Fechter's choice for having cards selected. Chapter 3 has more effects and other technique including a versatile multiple shift and Fechter's handling for the invisible pass. (Sadly, for me, this is when I discovered that I simply reinvented the technique many years earlier.) While reading these effects, the reader should come to realize the underlying theme of virtually all of Eddie Fechter's magic: simple and direct, with very clear effects. This, of course, is the hallmark of all good bar magic. Another characteristic of good bar magic is the ability to improvise and "jazz." The use of outs was obviously one of Fechter's strengths and, or so it seems, he enjoyed the challenge of doing them more than "never miss" effects. "The Spectator Stops" is a lesson in this type of work, and proves the strategic importance of, and the distinct advantage enjoyed by the magician when, the spectators do not know what's supposed to happen. Fechter took advantage of this strategy to great effect.

In Chapter 4, "Bill Okal Remembers," more history of the "Gin Mill" (as Fechter called Forks) is offered, this time from Okal's memories. More detail of the Forks' heyday is given, including the first "regulars"--that is, the first regular performers other than Fechter. Up to then, other performers would work the tables, but on a casual basis, more in the terms of "hanging out." But as the popularity of the Forks grew, additional performers became a necessity to take some of the burden off of Fechter. The first regulars were Okal, Karl Norman and Joe LaMonica. These men had the singular honor of having one of the three small dining rooms named for each of them. Of this surprise from Eddie and his wife, Evelyn (d. 1992), Okal said that it was "certainly the most sincere and touching honor I have ever received." In the midst of his remembrances, Okal also gives the reader more insight to Fechter, his approach to teaching, bartending and magic, including his childlike personality. Of this particular trait, Okal goes so far as to call Fechter a "rascal."

Chapter 5 is a collection of six items prepared by William P. Miesel for one of Obie Obrien's companion books to the FFFF convention. Chapters 6 through 10 (respectively: "Magic From the Forks Hotel"; "Request Tricks"; "Peeks"; "Miscellaneous"; "Previous Offerings") make up the content of Magician Nitely also by Mentzer and published in 1974. Chapters 11, 12 and 13 revisit Fechter's magic that appeared in Card Cavalcade (Chapter 11), Card Cavalcade II (Chapter 12) and Card Cavalcade Finale (Chapter 13) all written and published by Jerry Mentzer (respectively, 1972, 1974 and 1979).

Again, all of the magic is direct and simple in effect, though not necessarily simple in regard to method (but certainly direct). However, most of Fechter's magic is well within the technical grasp of the intermediate magician. What is advanced, however, is the sheer boldness of some of his work. The word "brass" comes to mind when reading about some of the things Eddie Fechter would do.

For me, some of the standout items within these chapters--some of which I use regularly--include "Eddie Fechter's Homing Card"; the very nice "Impromptu Torn and Restored Cigarette"; "6 - 4 - 5 Coin Trick"; "Be Honest - What is It?"; "Fechter's Aces"; "Eight Selections" (Fechter's Fusillade routine); a very handy utility item called "Fan Glimpse" and the "Bar Towel Force" of which I can tell you also works well with most restaurant style linen napkins. "How Do You Want Me to Find Your Card" is another lesson in outs and the effectiveness of rapid-fire revelations of the same card, and "No Pile" is a fun little card trick with surprisingly good impact.

In his foreword, Mentzer calls the book the "comprehensive Eddie Fechter." The only thing I can find missing from this incredible book (and without explanation) is the text from Mentzer's own Eddie Fechter's Dice Holdout Methods for Magicians (1974). Other than that, this book may well be just that: the complete Eddie Fechter; and it is certainly complete enough. From his magic, his gags and bits of business (behind his bar as well as gags played on the unsuspecting outside the old hotel) to the history of the glory days through the twilight of the Forks Hotel, Fechter is a journey, a pleasurable journey, through the life and magic of one of the great icons of magic.

Dustin Stinett
User avatar
Dustin Stinett
 
Posts: 5937
Joined: 07/22/01 12:00 PM
Location: Southern California

Postby Carl Mercurio » 09/10/03 06:47 AM

It's just a great book, with a ton of stuff that works in the real world. And I think that may be the key to getting the most out of this book. You have to work in what Jon Racherbaumer calls the "gritty trenches of the real world" (in my case doing bar magic for years in a working class bar in the Bronx) to fully appreciate what Fechter's magic is all about....
Carl Mercurio
 
Posts: 504
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: New York

Postby Guest » 09/10/03 01:40 PM

Thank you very much, Dustin. I've wanted this book for a long time, but all I ever come across on eBay is Magician Nitely, which I've heard is nothing compared to Fechter. I talked to Mr. Mentzer about the book and he told me it will be reprinted later this year. I've wanted to hear a bit more information about the book, but it's pretty tough to find reviews. Thanks again.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/11/03 12:05 PM

D.:

Beautiful intro to the BOM as usual; this will be an interesting book to discuss -- or not -- as I imagine fewer posters have this book than even Carney's Secrets. Two of my best friends in magic, well posted, excellent magicians with good libraries, do not have either of the Fechter books.

--Randy Campbell
Guest
 

Postby Bob Gerdes » 09/11/03 01:18 PM

I just contacted Jerry Mentzer about this book. He said he expects to receive them from the bindery by late next week.

Look for the book on his website early next week:
www.magicmethodsonline.com

Bob
Bob Gerdes
 
Posts: 136
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Glen Cove, NY

Postby Guest » 09/11/03 01:37 PM

Darn, Bob. I got impatient after reading this review, and a copy of Magician Nitely popped up on eBay, so I snatched it, not knowing the reprint of Fechter would be here that soon. :mad:
Guest
 

Postby Carl Mercurio » 09/11/03 02:50 PM

RoatC,

Can I ask what Magician Nightly went for on eBay?
Carl Mercurio
 
Posts: 504
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: New York

Postby Terry » 09/11/03 03:37 PM

Just started rereading this great book. The first chapter reviewing the gags and other bits of business are as hilarious as the first time I read it.

Only shame is if there is no video in existence of Fechter performing. It would be as funny as Mullica's Tomfoolery tape.
Terry
 
Posts: 1245
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Kentucky

Postby Dave Shepherd » 09/11/03 07:28 PM

Does anybody know whether Jerry will be distributing the reprint to dealers? Or will he just be selling it himself?
Dave Shepherd
 
Posts: 423
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: 15 miles w. of Washington, DC

Postby mark » 09/11/03 09:26 PM

Just a preliminary comment or two before digging Fechter back out for more detailed observations. I just read Fechter again, and once again I was so warmed by the whole feel of the place. I grew up in Wisconsin, where just about every street corner had a place where everybody knew Dad's name, if you get my drift. Most of these watering hole/restaurants were manned by a character with the feel of Eddie Fechter. Please don't misunderstand, I know that he was a one of a kind talent, but that gruff barkeep with a heart o' gold is a very real character in my past. These were some of the best times of my life, being with Dad at the watering hole of the day, dark wood, sort of cathedral like until the laughter erupted from one end of the place or another. I so wish I could have made it up to see Eddie work, just the idea of a man like that with such talent, and the ability to pass on his legacy.... You were some fortunate folk that had the pleasure - I envy you.
mark
 
Posts: 165
Joined: 08/28/08 05:59 PM
Location: Washington State, U.S.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/11/03 10:07 PM

Originally posted by Randy Campbell:
...this will be an interesting book to discuss -- or not -- as I imagine fewer posters have this book than even Carney's Secrets. Two of my best friends in magic, well posted, excellent magicians with good libraries, do not have either of the Fechter books.
Well, you might be right about that, Doc, but I am holding out hope! That's because I also want (and invite) conversation on Eddie Fechter, Forks and the FFFF as well. The book is about a life as well as about magic. I know there are "Fechterites" out there! We just need to get them started. I tried emailing Mike Gallo to let him know that the thread had started, but the address I have bounced back. So anyone who can contact him, please let him know.

Otherwise, since I now know that Mr. Mentzer is reprinting the book, hopefully the lurkers and readers of this will come to realize, as a result of reading my "review," that this is a book they should add to their libraries. If I can help generate that kind of interest in this book and in Mr. Fechter, then I will be happy.

Dustin

PS: Thanks for the kind words! Got any openings at the paper?!? :D
User avatar
Dustin Stinett
 
Posts: 5937
Joined: 07/22/01 12:00 PM
Location: Southern California

Postby Guest » 09/12/03 07:11 AM

One of the best items in the book is the "Tiniest Peek I've Ever Seen" shown to me by Wesley James. This technique will totally slay audiences due to the fact that they think you are totally screwed after the peek. Because of that audiences are hooked into the routine because they want to see how you're going to get out of this conundrum. Meanwhile you can glimpse or control then hit them with a powerful revelation of a card. Personally, I immediately fan the cards as I say, "Did you really see one of these cards?" Then use Andrew Whimhurst's (or Wimhurst?) Fan Glimpse to gain information of the selected. Other techniques that work well in that situation are Steve Draun's Fan Glimpse or Larry Jennings' Circle Shift. The toughest part of the technique is gaining confidence in getting the break while the spectator peeks at it. Therefore I am very explicit in my directions as what the spectator needs to do. I used to have some problems with the procedure until I spelled it out very clearly.

"Tiniest Peek" is the starting sequence of my opener with cards. As a side note I also Use Fechter's "I've Got A Surprise For You" later on to close out the routine.

Another favorite routine is "That's It" Fechter's handling of the Dunbury Delusion. The byplay you have with the spectaor is what makes the routine. When you finally get them to tell you honestly what the card then produce it the reaction is fantastic.

Even those trapped in boxes in London for 44 days know how good Fechter's material is. Unfortunately, "Be Honest What Is It?" is often incorrectly referred to as Blaines' "Two Card Monte".

I'm glad to hear the book will be reprinted soon.
It belongs in the library of anyone who performs for real people.

Cheers,
Rich Kameda
Guest
 

Postby DanV » 09/12/03 07:26 AM

Carl,

I sold my copy about 6 months ago on eBay for about $55, which surprised me (I thought it'd go for far more)...but now that I now a reprint is coming out, I'm not so concerned anymore..

Dan Villanti
DanV
 
Posts: 22
Joined: 01/24/08 01:00 PM
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Postby DanV » 09/12/03 07:28 AM

Carl,

Whoops, sorry, I sold "Fetcher", not "Magician Nightly"...

Dan Villanti
DanV
 
Posts: 22
Joined: 01/24/08 01:00 PM
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Postby Craig Matsuoka » 09/12/03 12:22 PM

I think Fechters style of magic has even broader appeal than ever today.

Attention spans are short, points are made quickly, and the tempo of life has accelerated. Things are simply faster than they were a generation or two ago. We want to squeeze every last ounce of value from our dollar. So it only seems natural that modern restaurant work, along with the newly (if dubiously) redefined genre of y-generation tv street magic, would inherit the same spirit.

Although its rather card-heavy, the material we see in the Fechter book is commercial enough for anyone. Its fast paced, short-and-sweet attitude fits right into the schedule. No fancy props. No long presentations. Just quick, hard hitting magic with a mischievous twist.

I've found Fechters stuff to be ideal when you're pressed for time. In fact, it was good enough for Brian Gillis to use in his Tonight Show appearances.

It seems rather unjust that Fechter hasnt received as much attention as other newer titles. Hopefully this thread and the forthcoming reprint will change things for the better.

If you ignored this book the first time around, to borrow an expression, Ive got a surprise for you.
Craig Matsuoka
 
Posts: 195
Joined: 03/13/08 05:13 PM
Location: Kailua, Hawaii

Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/13/03 02:02 AM

Thank you Craig--you are exactly right.

I heard from Jerry Mentzer this evening. He says:

The book will be available for shipment approx Sept 19. It should be posted on our web site about Sept 15 and you can order it there. Or phone or mail us. Web site is

http://www.magicmethodsonline.com/

Price of the book is $45 plus $3 shipping.

Regards,
Jerry Mentzer
Thanks Mr. Mentzer! Go get it, guys: you'll love it!

Dustin
User avatar
Dustin Stinett
 
Posts: 5937
Joined: 07/22/01 12:00 PM
Location: Southern California

Postby Guest » 09/13/03 09:28 AM

Originally posted by Carl Mercurio:
RoatC,

Can I ask what Magician Nightly went for on eBay?
I got mine for $32, but another one sold last night for ... $20!
Guest
 

Postby Craig Matsuoka » 09/13/03 03:36 PM

I'm posting the following message on behalf of Brian Gillis as he's having some problems with his computer. Thanks for your contribution Brian!

---------------------------------

Eddie Fechter totally changed my life and he was absolutely the BEST entertainer that I have ever encountered...bar none. His magic was bold but perfect (thanks to a repertoire of outs that would disguise a mistake into an alternate miracle). His comedic timing was impeccable. The very distinctive characteristic that was inexplicable about Eddie was his uncanny ability to read his audience and accurately predict their behavior & responses (surely a function of being in the saloon business for his entire life). This perspicacity was instrumental in creating MIRACLES that could not really be duplicated. Some of this, however is somehow inherent in the design of his effects and when presented exactly as he would, the performer could achieve another, higher level without even knowing how or why it's happening. I've performed Eddie Fechter effects for years and have periodically had an epiphany as to why it was constructed the way it was and why it was so powerful.
I owe an entire career to this man and his style... As inimitable as he was.

Brian Gillis
Craig Matsuoka
 
Posts: 195
Joined: 03/13/08 05:13 PM
Location: Kailua, Hawaii

Postby Guest » 09/15/03 01:49 PM

Just checked, and its now up on his site (just placed my order :D )
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/15/03 01:52 PM

Likewise. Can't wait to get it!

:cool:
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/16/03 08:03 AM

Just a couple of words:
Fuzzy Duck
Fuzzy Duck
Fuzzy Duck
Fuzzy Duck
....

:)
Hopefully those who've read it will follow what I mean!
Guest
 

Postby Terry » 09/16/03 02:53 PM

Just a couple of words:
Fuzzy Duck
Fuzzy Duck
Fuzzy Duck
Fuzzy Duck
....


Does he.... :D :D
Terry
 
Posts: 1245
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Kentucky

Postby Oliver Corpuz » 09/18/03 12:25 PM

Although I never had the opportunity to meet Eddie Fechter himself, I have been fortunate enough to meet many who knew him, and they all have had wonderful stories to tell. At an Abbott's get-together a few years ago, I was lucky to obtain both volumes of the Fork Full of Appetizers, books that feature tricks shown at the legendary FFFF conventions.

At that same Abbott's Get-Together, I also met Mike Hilburger for the first time (and also see Karl Norman amaze the crowd at the Colon VFW). Mike was very friendly and he took the time to sit down and show me a few handlings of some of Eddie's tricks. Mike was very enthusiastic in teaching the tricks and very excited to share his stories about Eddie and the Forks. After hearing Mike talk about Eddie, I realized how important he was to him. I wished I could have been able to see Eddie work at the Forks.

I asked Mike to sign one of the Fork Full of Appetizers books that had a trick of his in it. Mike inscribed, "Oliver, Get the FECHTER book!" Mike told me to be sure to get the book that says "FECHTER" in big bold letters on top of the front cover, because the full text of Magician Nitely is included. He said that was THE book I needed to get. I promised I would get it. At the time, I didn't realize how hard it would be to obtain the Fechter book. It just wasn't available. No one that had it wanted to sell their copy of it.

The Magician Nitely book was easy to obtain, as it seemed to regularly pop-up on eBay. My theory was that every seller of the Magician Nitely book was selling it because they had replaced it with a copy of the larger Fechter tome. The person that sold me my copy of Magician Nitely had done just that.

After about a year of searching for it, I finally did obtain a copy of the Fechter book. After reading it, I finally understood why it was so difficult to obtain this book and why Mike Hilburger was so adamant about me getting the Fechter book instead of Magician Nitely. Fechter: The Magic of Eddie Fechter is more than just a magic book with tricks in it. It is a wonderful tribute to Eddie Fechter, with lots of stories about him, the gags he did, pictures, and all the magic that went on at the Forks. The Fechter book chronicles it all so that people like me, who never had the opportunity to know him, can learn about Eddie and the legendary magic that went on at the Forks. Although Eddie and the Forks are now gone, the Fechter book remains a lasting legacy for generations of future magicians to learn from and study. It is a book that belongs in every magicians library.

This year, I ran into Mike Hilburger again at the Abbotts Get-Together. I told him after relentlessly searching for it, I finally got a hold of the Fechter book. He smiled. Then, as his eyes got all misty, he told me that the old Forks Hotel was finally torn down and the building is now gone.

So why am I writing this? I just wanted to pass on one of the best book recommendations Ive ever had. GET THE FECHTER BOOK! Get it now while the reprint is available because Im certainly not going to sell you my copy when it goes out of print again.

- Oliver

p.s. Would you like to see my one-eared elephant? Oh nevermind.
Oliver Corpuz
 
Posts: 105
Joined: 05/09/09 08:33 AM

Postby Guest » 09/21/03 07:29 PM

My copy of this book is in horrendous condition. I bought it at a magic convention for 4 bucks. It was cheap because it was waterlogged from flooding in a guys basement. My mother has tried to throw it out a number of times. Also for some reason my hands get really dry every time I read the book. It also smells and gets all my other books dirty. And yet despite these aesthetic flaws its content makes it shine like a beautiful brand new book. Ive read it countless times. Sometimes I read it because I feel like laughing. Sometimes I read it because I feel like thinking. Other times I read the book because I want to find a great card trick or fun technique. To begin with I like the book because I feel that it gave me a grasp on who Eddie Fechter was and what he was about beyond 4F and Be honest what is it. There are too many magicians in the community known for one or two things. Not only do we get Fechters fabulous material but also we also get to learn about his gags and bits but also times that he showed obnoxious bikers who's the boss. I love the anecdote about his duel of sorts with Tom Mullica at a magic convention. As others have said the material in here is direct simple and magical. It seems obvious that Fechter knew how to entertain but he also knew what truly great magic looked like. Bill Okals description of the way that Fechter would play the villain/Hero dynamic was truly fascinating. Thats all for the moment.

Noah Levine
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/23/03 09:38 AM

WONDERFUL read! Received last week, and took my initial pass over the weekend focusing on the sections about Fetcher himself, and memories of his peers. As I jumped into the actual effects, I kept chuckling at how wonderfully he combines the risky moves (bets?) someone like Derren Brown might embrace with a wonderful set of outs.

Anyone out there who knew him/saw him perform when he was in his prime that could share some additional stories?
Guest
 

Postby Bill Duncan » 09/24/03 08:44 AM

Received this via email from Denny of Denny and Lee's Magic shop

Welcome to the DENNY & LEE MAGIC eNEWSLETTER
============================================


BACK IN PRINT!!!!!

FECHTER-by Jerry Mentzer-$50.00
Eddie Fechter was one of the premier bar magicians of all time. His "Forks Hotel"
attracted magicians and laymen from everywhere. In this book you will learn most of
Fechter's top tricks, moves and comedy gags. Many of his acquaintances have
included their thoughts and memories of Eddie. There are 25 previously unpublished
items in this book PLUS the entire text of the original out of print book,"Magician
Nitely," has been reprinted in this volume. Real work!!!
Bill Duncan
 
Posts: 1360
Joined: 03/13/08 11:33 PM

Postby Matthew Field » 09/24/03 12:27 PM

Excellent choice of book, Dustin, and excellent intro, as always. I've stayed out of the discussion because I haven't read "Fechter" since it was first published, and I'm too busy now to go back to it.

But last evening, at the Capital District (Albany, NY) IBM Ring, Bruce Barnett (of Electronic Grymoire fame) gave a lecture titled "Three Magic Routines that Changed My Life." The routines were all by Fechter -- "Be Honest What Is It?", "Fechter's Aces" and "Eight and Twelve" (Cards Across). Bruce's thesis was that these routines were esential to his progression up the "mountain" of magic excellence. He had everyone work with a deck of cards, using these tricks to overcome their fear of Palming, Top Changes, and thinking on your feet (as in Vernon's "The Trick that Cannot be Explained").

Bruce performed and explained each effect, then went into the levels on which the tricks operated, and how the lessons they contained were magic paradigms that could be applied to every performance you do -- how Fechter's "simple" tricks were graduate courses in magic.

I mention this because Eddie Fechter was not a technician, but his ability to entertain and amaze with a deck of cards was unexcelled. I've seen several professional magicians, including Jamy Swiss, entertain paying audiences with "Be Honest, What Is It?" but on reading it, the trick might seem too simple to some.

Beware. The fault lies with the reader.

Jerry Mentzer's book does an admirable job delivering a picture of this extraordinary man. I have a brief video of him performing in his bar, with the patrons laughing their heads off.

I sure wish I had been at that table. The next best thing is to read, study, and re-read "Fechter." As Bruce Barnett reported, at will make you a better magician.

Matt Field
User avatar
Matthew Field
 
Posts: 2485
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hastings, England, UK

Postby Anthony Brahams » 09/30/03 01:21 AM

I can only echo the praises posted here for the book, Fechter, which is a wonderful memory for some and enjoymen for all, including wonderful magic. Don't be afraid of owning Magician Nitely as well because all the instructional photos are of Eddie's hands. The later book does have good drawings based on the photos, I must add.

I was very fortuate because although I was only at one FFFF with Eddie-his last, my first, it was not long after I had performed for Prince Charles on his initiation at The Magic Circle and every time Eddie, standing in the 'kitchen' looking down the hall, would see me he would call out "Hey Anthony, come and tell me about Charlie!" I'd go to him but before I could say anything (I didn't hurry to !) he would say "Have you seen this?" So I saw many, many effects from Eddie, many repeated-I am glad to say. One of the greatest magical experiences for me, or anybody.

Finally, spot the big mistake in both books No prizes, answer shortly. I have not seen the reprint so do not know if it has been amended.
Anthony
Anthony Brahams
 
Posts: 196
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Norwich, U.K.

Postby Guest » 09/30/03 01:50 PM

I own the original Magician Nitely and the reprint of Fechter. I noticed quite a few spelling mistakes in Magician Nitely, along with the last few pages (The Knockout Prediction) being out of order.
Guest
 

Postby Anthony Brahams » 10/02/03 01:22 AM

I was not referring to spelling mistakes or typos. Anyone know or guess the error, repeated many times?
Anthony
Anthony Brahams
 
Posts: 196
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Norwich, U.K.

Postby Brisbin » 10/06/03 05:41 PM

My entry in the "Guess the Errors" contest is the repeated spelling of "Binghamton" NY as "Binghampton." This did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book. While I could not pull off some of Eddie Fechter's gags, I enjoyed reading about The Forks Hotel, and gaining a sense of the place. There are so many fine magicians who originated in Buffalo.

Thanks to Dustin and the rest of you who prompted me to buy this book. As always, Matthew Field, I especially enjoyed your comments above.
"No Dough, No Show" - Stan Kramien
"What the mind harbors, the body manifests." - Tohei Koichi
User avatar
Brisbin
 
Posts: 90
Joined: 04/20/08 01:25 AM
Location: Washington, DC Area

Postby Anthony Brahams » 10/07/03 04:41 AM

The error is not spelling or a typo as I wrote. However, thanks, `Vic, for pointing out that error.

What I refer to is that in the text it states that the right forefinger is used to pull back or riffle the deck for a peek but the illustrations show the "second" finger being used, in both the photos of Eddie in Magician Nitely, and drawings in Fechter. In fact the error is added to in the Peek Force where "right first fingers" are mentioned as this plural is wrong for finger, singular, is written in the section (2) on that page, 69.

Because the photos are of Eddie's hand one is entitled to assume that the second finger is used and this has been confirmed to me my older forkers who knew Eddie well. But they
Anthony
Anthony Brahams
 
Posts: 196
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Norwich, U.K.

Postby Anthony Brahams » 10/07/03 04:44 AM

Don't know what happened to my last sentence which was, "But they are still wonderful books." I don't usually start a sentence with "but" so perhaps that's the reason :)
Anthony
Anthony Brahams
 
Posts: 196
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Norwich, U.K.

Postby PapaG » 03/23/05 02:35 PM

I've just bought a copy of 'The Magic Of Eddie Fechter' ahich, as has been mentioned, does not include 'Eddie Fechter's Dice Holdout Methods for Magicians'.

As someone with no experience with dice magic/dice gambling, can someone give me a brief idea as to what this book contains.

I assume a holdout for dice - as with cards - is some kind of mechanical device and that the book tips various methods for its use. Is this on the right track?
PapaG
 
Posts: 139
Joined: 03/13/08 02:57 PM

Postby PapaG » 03/23/05 04:49 PM

I have my answer (care of Gary Michaels):

'Actually, unlike card or deck holdouts, dice "holdouts" are merely ways of holding back a die or dice when shaking a dice cup andthen reintroducing them back into the supposedly fair dice roll (sort of like the concept of adding a ball to a previously-shown empty cup in the cups and balls. It's an excellent book for reference'
PapaG
 
Posts: 139
Joined: 03/13/08 02:57 PM

Postby Guest » 03/23/05 06:06 PM

Because the photos are of Eddie's hand one is entitled to assume that the second finger is used and this has been confirmed to me my older forkers who knew Eddie well.

Those photo's were the hands of Jerry Mentzer...not Eddie.

Mike
Guest
 

Postby Anthony Brahams » 03/24/05 03:06 AM

Very pleased to know that, Mike, thanks. I was mis-informed and had wondered, because the photos do show buttoned shirt cuffs, and a jacket. Eddie rarely if ever was so dressed when performing, I expect.

There's a very long running radio programme here, "Desert Island Discs" and in addition to the recordings the castaway can choose a book (in addition to the Bible and Shakespeare). I would choose Fechter. There's also a "luxury" to choose--mine would be an unlimited supply of cards!
Anthony
Anthony Brahams
 
Posts: 196
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Norwich, U.K.

Postby TheFireEater » 02/06/09 01:15 PM

Well... I feel a bit awkward about making a post here... I just got done doing essentially 'Rave Reviews' of several other 'Books of the Month'... but, for THIS ONE ?

Am I the only one who didn't exactly like it ?


I had long known of 'The Man' and likewise, I had also read very positive reviews of 'The Book'... however, once I started to read it, what I found was amusing for the most part, sometimes even a bit surprisingly so... bordering upon shocking, even --- because, that line that 'He was Childish' REALLY is too accurate. Simply put, MUCH of the humor and 'gags' that he pulled (and pulled and pulled and pulled --- they became 'Stock Routines, repeated ad infinitum, apparently)... were VERY juvenile in nature. Sometimes TOO CHILDISH, in fact, The term "Politically Incorrect" could be wisely used to describe some of them in kind of a 'generic' manner.

This has a LOT to do with why for the most part I was disappointed with this work. From what I had heard and read about it, I EXPECTED a LOT of Humor... but USABLE 'stuff' at that. What I got was primarilly 'stuff' that I can hardly ever see myself using. And,that is actually being a bit generous, for Eddie had not just a childish sense of humor, and an often ribald one, but THE ATMOSPHERE in which he used it more-or-less 'allowed' it... while I, with my own Childish Bent, and love of a good 'Nasty' or "Sexy" joke ON PRoPER OCCASSIONS, just can't see pulling off most of it.

THe Atmosphere, as I said, had a lot to do with it... a Noisy and Rowdy ADULT Bar isn't 'my cup of tea'... no wonder the first fellow to post here, after the initial review, tells about how USEFUL this material is TO HIM... AND he works in a Noisy Adult Bar in the Bronx ! Yeah, sure, if YOU TOO find yourself performing in such situations, GO FOR IT ! If, however, you perform in 'civil' Restaurants, or CLubs, or Parties, or 'Walk Arounds' at Public Events, or pretty much ANYWHERE ELSE (except for maybe Frat Parties and Bachelor or Stag Affairs... but do THOSE hire Magicians ?), well, I don't think that yuu, too, will find very much of THESE GAGS as 'workers' for YOU, either.

Sure, they 'had their place'... but I DON'T perform in such places, myself.

That said, this then gets reduced down to a LOT of Biographical Material, which from a curiosity standpoint is interesting and illuminating... but, again, from the standpoint of providing USEFUL MATERIAL ? Well, NONE of that biographical 'stuff' will be of any use, I assert, as far as Material For A Show.

Oh, but, YES, then there ARE many tricks and 'moves' or 'methods' too... but, as far as percentage goes, they ARE in the minority of material covered. Some of them ARE very good... some, as the review states, however, do have not just a 'charm' of being simple in effect, while sometimes DIFFICULT in executions. but, additionally, they TOO are perhaps much better suited for the sort of "Working Environment' that Eddie was in, and that I rarely if ever might appear in. So, I say: "Buyer Beware !"

I recommend getting your hands on a copy to read FIRST, and THEN buy it, IF you find sufficient value within it for what YOU do.

For me, it came up very lacking in that respect --- I simply found very little that I might ever use. And,yes, it isn't that a goodly number of VERY SKILLED fellow Magicians were a part of this collection --- they WERE... but, again, what THEY have contributed simply is largely 'stuff' that I just am not likely to use.

If you 'read between the lines' of the review, you can get the message that Eddie LOVED using the Peek --- there is actually MORE than just the one chapter devoted to it... and there IS an entire chapter devoted to it. Myself, I rarely 'need' a Peek, favoring other methods, like a Classic Force, to accomplish the same sort of 'things' that Eddie used Peeks to do. But, then, THAT is all about Personal Preferences...

MAYBE you, too, will decide that you like sophomoric humor, and love to rely upon Peeks, and an occassional Pass, and so on... for me, I just don't typically.

SO, while I have given some thought to ADAPTING some actually quite good EFFECTS in this book to My Own Style Of Performing... in truth, it really is mainly a lot of pages of info that I just won't be using.

SO... again, I say "Buyer Beware" ... this book MAY be 'your cup of tea'... but it just won't be everyone's cup of Java, I guarantee.

Had I personally known him, I too might have ended up a bit enthralled by him... but as far as purchasing a book of USABLE material, for my money there are a LOT of other 'BOTM' HERE that I would HIGHLY recommend, whereas THIS ONE I personally would suggest you just make a pass on it... invisible or otherwise !

Just My Opinion, about THE BOOK, and NOT about The Man.
Matthew the Munificent
User avatar
TheFireEater
 
Posts: 5
Joined: 02/06/09 05:20 AM
Location: CA

Postby Dave Shepherd » 02/06/09 02:31 PM

You'll probably want to avoid those old, hoary Tarbell books as well.

They have a lot of really, REALLY out-of-date jokes in them.
Dave Shepherd
 
Posts: 423
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: 15 miles w. of Washington, DC

Postby Bob Farmer » 02/06/09 03:32 PM

I saw Eddie Fechter perform several times, once with just laymen (no magicians present other than me -- incognito). He was great and every routine he did was very effective.

The book is very good simply because it represents routines that were honed over many years. Was he a comedian? No -- he was just a jolly fellow with a lot of great material.

Now, he did not -- and let me repeat this -- he did not eat fire. He did smoke, but he had a cigarette, usually.

I'm sure that if Matthew the Munificent simply took one of Fechter's routines and added some fire eating, he would have a damn fine piece of work, even without the jokes.
Bob Farmer
 
Posts: 1687
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Short card above selection.

Next

Return to Book of The Month Club