The Annotated Magic of Slydini

A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.

Postby Jerrine » 04/28/08 03:29 PM

I've always appreciated Slydini and am just getting around to getting some of his books. Lewis Ganson's The Magic of Slydini is available at the Lybrary but I understand that The Annotated Magic of Slydini has additions and corrections made by Slydini.
Has anyone compared these two books? How much did Lewis get wrong? Is it essential to obtain the Annotated to learn the material correctly?
Any information concerning these books is greatly appreciated.
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Postby Jerrine » 05/05/08 11:17 AM

Hello? Anybody there? Anyone heard of this Slydini guy?
It was a while back but relevant to todays performances I'd bet.
It's been a week since my first inquiry. Hard to believe everyone is in the same boat as I, that is not knowing if there is a measurable difference in these two texts. I've leaned that "New & Improved" is not always new, or improved. I'll wait another week before moving this into a section that people pay attention to. I'll probably draw sections out of a hat to decide which one.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/05/08 11:23 AM

Probably more sensible to meet up with one of his students to actually learn the material in person. RK here at Genii did pretty well teaching a few items at the back of CoinMagic - though to be fair it really does help to have direct exposure to the man himself or one his students.

I believe there are also a couple of recent videos by Jim Celini and also a set called "as i recall tony slydini" teaching his works.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/05/08 04:47 PM

A few of Slydini's routines are accessible to others to perform without looking absurd, such as the "Knotted Silks" or the "One Coin Routine."

As far as his routine for "Coins Through the Table," there are simply much better ways to perform this trick now, using better handlings of Han Ping Chien (or other methods) or gimmicked coins. And if you're going to use half dollars or silver dollars, you might as well used gimmicked coins since no one in your audience will have ever seen a half dollar or silver dollar.

A great deal of Slydini's magic looks absurd when done by others, most famously, "The Paper Balls in Box." The bizarre and melodramatic arm movements border on ridiculous when Slydini performed them, and are simply ridiculous when anyone else attempts it. While this type of presentation of close-up magic might have been acceptable at one time, it's not today. People would (and should) laugh at you.

And Slydini may have done many lovely cigarette routines, but these can no longer be performed even though the cigarettes are unlit.

All of this adds up to a problematic legacy for Slydini.
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Postby Randy Sager » 05/05/08 11:30 PM

I wouldn't say that the cigarette routines can no longer be performed. True there are more places that it would not be looked on very well if they were performed now. But I don't believe that they can't be performed at all. In the correct setting and at the correct time they can still be performed. Example in a home at a gathering where there are smokers. It certainy would not be looked down on nor would a performer be banned from doing magic with cigs in this case. Just have to know the correct time and place to do such effects.

I agree that Slydini effects such as Paper Balls in Box would look absurd performed by anyone at least the way Slydini did it. If you want to do that type of effect try the Benson Bowl routine. True not really the samething but it would look much better.

I also think that if one really thinks about it he or she could perform a good number of the Slydini effects in ways that would suit them and not look absurd at all. As for Paper balls in box let that dog lie and pass away quietly. There are other Slydini effects that should not be tried for the same reasons but there's still alot of good material to study.

I'm not meaning to attack your comments and I hope I am not sounding as if that was the intent. Just giving My 1 cent worth of opinion.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/05/08 11:39 PM

I welcome all opinions on this issue.

I suggest you take out a cigarette and watch the reactions of the spectators: they will shrink from you and react with disgust. Not the reaction you want.
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Postby Randy Sager » 05/05/08 11:50 PM

I agree except as in My example above but I could be very wrong even then.

Anyway enough of that. If a magician wants to learn laping for times when he or she maybe at a table and do effects that require such a thing the Slydini books are something that should be studied.
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Postby Jerrine » 05/06/08 01:00 AM

I see that this thread has fallen prey to an all to familiar fate I have seen on numerous Magic sites.

That is I asked a few specific questions about "The Annotated Magic of Slydini" and in response have learned that Jonathan believes that learning from one of his students, say Cellini, is the way to go, addressing not my questions.

That Richard thinks that few of Slydini's bits are useful to the average Joe. That the paper balls in the box, that I worked out on my own and have been doing for close to 30 years now, looks absurd and people will laugh at me. That cigarettes that are smoked by %90 of the people I perform for can't be used for my performance, addressing not my questions.

That Randy disagrees about the smokes but agrees with the paper balls and that I should pursue a Benson Bowl bit instead. That lapping could be learned from the text and would be useful should I find myself at a table, addressing not my questions.

All of this information, be it good bad or indifferent, does not address my questions about these two books. It doesn't hurt anyone to toss in your $.02, or me to read it, but anything that doesn't address these questions is not helpful.

Does anyone have to help me? No.
Perhaps no one knows the differences between these two books, if the additions are really helpful. If Ganson got it right and the correction/additions are a marketing ploy to sell "New & Improved" or Ganson really blew it and there really was a need for Slydini to make these corrections/additions.

Perhaps I wasn't really really crystal clear about the questions and some were confused. Perhaps someone who has read both books and can offer help concerning the corrections/additions in this matter will respond.

On the bright side it's cool people really do read and respond to this section.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/06/08 01:51 AM

Jerrine, the annotations are quite extensive and not merely a marketing ploy. Dr. Gene Matsuura went through the original Ganson book with Slydini some years after it was originally published and took careful notes on Slydini's changes to the material. Some things Ganson likely got wrong originally, but others evolved over time in Slydini's performance. It is my understanding that Dr. Matsuura's notes reflected his own interests, so the cigarette material is largely unchanged, as Dr. Matsuura, a non-smoker, did not spend as much time discussing that material with Slydini. On the other hand, his notes on the knotted silks expands Ganson's description by a large margin. The annotations are published in blue ink to distinguish the original Ganson text from the corrections and annotations. If you can afford the newer edition, it is definitely a big improvement in every respect on the earlier editions (even the paper and binding are superior to the Stanley and Supreme editions). It is also my understanding that the annotated Ganson book is closer to the spirit of Slydini's teaching than the Karl Fulves' volumes on Slydini's magic, though that may simply reflect the bias of his students who I have discussed this with.
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Postby Jerrine » 05/06/08 10:54 AM

Thank you Richard Hatch for your personal analysis of these two books. You have more than confirmed the opinion of another, who sells the Annotated, whose word I did not discount but was somewhat suspicious of due to my nature in business practices. No surprise a fellow Texan (real or transplanted such as myself) would give such a straight answer. Thanks for the heads up on the later editions.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/06/08 11:13 AM

90% of the people you perform for smoke? That's the lung cancer/heart attack/stroke express. Get out of that room!
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Postby Jerrine » 05/06/08 11:38 AM

The key is they are not smoking in the room and because the cig is part of a performance it is allowed. In addition there is not always a room, unless you count outside as some God's living room. A+B=C is not always true. Come on, you should know that!
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/06/08 11:53 AM

I still think it's tough to learn music from pictures or dance from a book ... but best wishes from NY where years ago I had the good fortune to spend some time around a few Slydini students.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 05/06/08 12:01 PM

"She looked like she'd learned to dance from a series of still pictures."
--Elvis Costello, from "Satellite"

Some of Slydini's poses look unnatural when you can't see how he got into them and gets out of them.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/06/08 01:32 PM

Sorry, but they look unnatural no matter how he got into or got out of them. He could just about get away with it, but no one else can.
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Postby Jerrine » 05/06/08 04:02 PM

The goal is not to impersonate Slydini. The goal is to glean as much as possible and meld it with "me", so that it is natural and magical for "me". I can't think of one bit I perform that is straight off the page. I frequently change slieghts, arraingments, props, etc. to get what I need.

I have a bit of video of Slydini performing so I have a little more than words on a page. Would I like to study with a student of his? Most definately! Is that likely to happen? Not really.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/06/08 08:42 PM

Look, I don't want anyone to think that I don't like Slydini or his work. He was a good friend of mine and a brilliant magician. When you sat at the table with him and he did the "One Coin Routine," or restored that handful of tobacco into a cigarette, it was as close to true magic as any experience I've ever had. He was like a superhero at the close-up table.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 05/07/08 12:41 PM

There are a couple of CONTEXTS worth noting regarding Slydini. First, Tony's body language and physical choreography were finely attuned to his personality and the ways he moved in everyday life. He simply (and not so simply) amplified and precisely regulated these aspects when he performed. Second, he introduced the bold notion of using the lap as a place to dump and retrieve objects. Remember, too, that he introduced "Paper Balls to the Hat" in 1948 (IBM Convention in New Orleans)60 years ago...and the exaggerated, stylized turns and hand-waving were largely a coy, teasing way to fool the magicians of the day. Tony was slyly "playing" them.

Marlo once told me to study the solid principles at work in Slydini's routines and then apply them in my own way. Those that learned Slydini's routines by IMITATING him ended up being "inferior imitators."

A brief note on cigarettes, which, alas, are still ubiquitous: Methinks that people object to the odor and noxious smoke, rather than the cigarette itself. Granted, the symbol of a cigarette may cause non-smokers to recoil, but it is still possible to perform many of Slydini's tricks with UNLIT cigarettes...or, as David Regal once did, perform the broken-and-restored cigarette with Q-tips.

The key thing is to understand all of the emergent principles in Slydini's work, embrace the simplicity of his plots, and then ADAPT.

Make sense?

(I hesitate to use the phrase "make sense" after reading Jim Steinmeyer's wonderful, new book on CHARLES FORT. In the seductive introduction he talks about the reassuring phrase "That makes sense." He then adds, "Nothing actually 'makes' sense, and, more often than not, sense is assigned in retrospect." Touche!)

So, go back, brothers and sisters, and study--REALLY study-- Slydini. Then figure out what "sense" you are able to assign to his work.

Onward...
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Postby Jerrine » 05/08/08 01:03 PM

I do believe Jon Racherbaumer gets it. Glad I do too.
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Postby 000 » 05/22/08 03:41 PM

Any comments on Slydinis torn and restored newspaper vis a vis other versions? Ive used it for 30 yrs.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/22/08 04:53 PM

Ron Wilson told me that he used to use, and it was very good, but ultimately he didn't like it because it uses only a single sheet.
He then learned Elmsley's tear, and improved it.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 05/22/08 06:47 PM

The single sheet in the Slydini Tear can create problems. If you perform this version in front of a strong light source, the audience will see a multitude of sins.

I believe Slydini's tear is derived from Al Baker's version of this effect. I learned Gene Anderson's, and never looked back...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/22/08 07:31 PM

Leonard, if you saw Ron Wilson perform his version of the Elmsley tear, you would never ever do another. It's incredibly magical looking.

That moment in the Gene Anderson tear where you fold those flaps forward is antithetical to good magic.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 05/22/08 07:41 PM

Admittedly, that is a weak spot in the Anderson method. I make those flaps look raggedy on the edges on the chance they're spotted. You can cover quite a bit with your fingers held together: the "spirit-hand" look.

All is forgiven when the restored pages flash open. Spectators look like deer caught in the headlights when they see the paper immediately restored...Anderson's "double-lift" idea to hide the mess is pure genius.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/22/08 08:22 PM

Terry Seabrooke used to discuss the Slydini versus Anderson approaches in his lecture. My recollection is that Terry preferred the Slydini because of its visual simplicity: A single sheet of newspaper, cleanly shown on both sides, clearly torn, restored, and then cleanly shown on both sides. The Anderson, he argued, is more complex, with multiple pages that could (and do) hide things.
I've done both and prefer the Anderson for the following reason: if you ask a layman to describe what they saw after each, here is what I believe you'll get:
Slydini: The magician took a single sheet of newspaper, tore it up, and restored it.
Anderson: The magician took an entire newspaper (not true, but that is the image presented), tore it up, and restored it.
I'd rather have the audience think I did the latter.
Henning used (and popularized) the Anderson and apparently made the making of it one of his pre-show rituals. I believe when the New York Times reviewed his first Broadway appearance (in The Magic Show) they singled the trick out, and described it as Henning tearing up that day's edition of the NY Times and restoring it.
And that Flash restoration (which I believe is an Al Koran idea) is hard to beat for audience impact!
I took one lesson from Slydini and one of the things I asked him was how he covered the awkward moment just after the page has been torn and just before it is restored. "Personality!" was his response. Worked great for him!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/22/08 08:52 PM

They're all poor compared to the one in Ron Wilson's book. There is nothing magical about the Anderson restoration: it looks like you're opening an umbrella.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/22/08 09:18 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:There is nothing magical about the Anderson restoration: it looks like you're opening an umbrella.

Well, thousands of lay audiences worldwide seem to think otherwise. The Anderson restoration invariably causes a lay audience to gasp and then applaud, done properly. I can't recall the last time opening an umbrella onstage got that reaction (unless it was in Fukai and Kimika's act).
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/22/08 10:10 PM

Yesterday I watched a DVD from Andrew Mayne with an incredible, new TR tabloid that takes absolutely no set up. You just tear it up and it gets restored and you can have the paper signed and at finish hand it out to the spectator.

It is an ingenious application of something of Jim Stienmeyer's... the simplicity of it should appeal to many. You could be a visitor in someone's home, see a tabloid (or other publication about that size) and DO IT!!!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/22/08 10:54 PM

Hatch, have you ever seen Ron Wilson's Torn and Restored Newspaper? Because laymen react with surprise to the newspaper tumbling open in the Anderson newspaper tear doesn't mean it's good magic.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/22/08 11:34 PM

I've seen both and performed both (Anderson and Wilson), and I think Ron's is miles ahead of Gene's. Harder to learn but worth the trouble.

Curious to see what Mayne has done with the Steinmeyer routine.
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Postby Matthew Field » 05/24/08 05:14 AM

Patrick Page's "Ten-Second Paper Tear" is first rate. Ten seconds is how long it takes to prepare it!

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Postby 000 » 05/27/08 02:03 PM

What is the tiltle of Ron Wilsons book and where could one get it?

Thanks
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/27/08 02:10 PM

The title is "The Uncanny Scot" and, sorry to say, it's out of print. You can try John Greget in Phoenix, Arizona--he sells used magic books.
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Postby 000 » 05/28/08 11:35 AM

Thanks...ill try him
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/28/08 02:41 PM

If Andy doesn't have one (he likely does), we do have a nice copy in our unpriced inventory and I can put it on eBay next week for 99 cents and see what happens.
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Postby 000 » 05/29/08 04:13 AM

Hi Richard Hatch...can I buy it of you please?...can send me a private mail? Thanks
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 06/03/08 11:19 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:I welcome all opinions on this issue.

I suggest you take out a cigarette and watch the reactions of the spectators: they will shrink from you and react with disgust. Not the reaction you want.



you could open a cigarette effect by saying......

" do you remember the old days when people actually used to smoke these things!.Crazy!. But not as crazy as this...."
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 06/03/08 11:31 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Sorry, but they look unnatural no matter how he got into or got out of them. He could just about get away with it, but no one else can.
For what it's worth, i agree 100%.
the thing is, his sucess was taking his own natural movements and rhythms, and expanding on them.
most people doing slydinis routines, take Slydinis staged movements, and expand on them. the movements being totaly alien to them.
what they should do, is break the trick down to its basic components, and apply their own natural movements and rhytums to that effect.
in adition,applying some of the subtlties Slydini used..
In paper balls over the head for example.
Ive noticed many stand right up close to the volunteer, and do all the slydini wrist movements.
in my eyes, the most important thing in Slydinis routine, is standing forward of the volunteer, forcing them to lean forward.( youtube has this in a video) this foreshortens their Peripheral vision, so you can ditch the ball, with less movement.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/03/08 01:32 PM

How about a bronzed pack of cigarettes and some cigars?
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Postby Q. Kumber » 07/10/09 05:36 PM

Steve Bryant wrote:I've seen both and performed both (Anderson and Wilson), and I think Ron's is miles ahead of Gene's. Harder to learn but worth the trouble.

Curious to see what Mayne has done with the Steinmeyer routine.


It's a constant source of irritation to me when I hear laymen at public shows discussing the different merits of the various T&R Newspaper routines. :)
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