From David Oliver:
In the July issue of Genii, I reviewed a product called Captured by James L. Clark. In that review I clearly stated (based on my research) that the item had indeed been marketed before (Polageist by Michael Kaznetsis), produced in the early 1980s by Sterling Magic, and that Captured was basically the same thing. Following the publication of the July issue, further information came to my attention and more research was done.
A professor of surgery at the University of Rome, Italy, Prof Dott. Giampaolo Zelli (1936-2004), was also an amateur magician with a popular stage and close up act in Europe. He performed under the name Zelpy. He was known for his silk magic, and even placed second in general magic at the 1967 F.I.S.M. with his stage act, Symphonie of Silks. He created two other stage acts, The Magic Statue (1970) and The Pigeon (1976), in which he was the first to dress as a giant dove that produced little magicians. He first presented the latter in the U.S. in 1977 at The Tannens Magic Jubilee. Zelli was a good friend of one of Italys top professional magicians, my friend Tony Binarelli. Once I knew this, I contacted Binarelli and he shed some light on the lineage of the Polaroid effect.
Early in 1965, Zelli had been working on a divination idea using a Polaroid camera. One night that same year, the two were discussing magic and a question came up about divination, and how to make thoughts appear real. Several days passed and Zelli came back to Binarelli with an effect he created for the new Polaroid Camera (one of the first expensive models in Italy), and gave the camera to Binarelli for the first Polaroid divination effect.
To quote Binarelli, Zelli and I worked together on this, but Zelli invented the effect. Zelli was an amateur, I am a professional, but we were the two-halves of the same mind!
Binarelli admits that it was very difficult to prepare the camera and the film in the first method. Today, with Polaroid cameras being fully automatic, the method is much easier. As a matter of fact, the method is actually hidden in plain sight in the instruction book of the camera. Binarelli says, but luckily no persons read the instruction booklet!
The Polaroid Divination was part of Binarellis 1966 F.I.S.M. act that won him second place award in Card Magic. Even though Zelli invented the Polaroid effect in 1965, it was kept in frigo for a year, awaiting Binarellis participation at the 1966 F.I.S.M. competition at Baden Baden, where it was shown to the magic community for the first time. Binarelli was also the first to present it on Italian television, in Canzonissima (the most popular Italian variety television show in 1974). Thereafter, it became part of the repertoires of many magicians like Silvan, Freddy Fah, Alexander, etc.
Captured is a direct copy of Polageist, which Mr. Binarelli states unequivocally was an exact copy of the Zelli/Binarelli Polaroid Divination effect, and marketed almost two decades later without either Zelli or Binarellis permission. I was unable to contact Mr. Kaznetsis, to find out whether his idea could possibly have been a case of independent invention. Binarelli says, It (Polageist) is a classic pirated version. No permission was given by me or Zelli.
So, while the technology has changed, and thereby some of the mechanics of the trick have improved, nevertheless, the idea and the basic secret of the effect was created over 40 years ago by Zelli, the original presentation is Binarellis, and everything else is a copy. Mr. Binarelli still uses the effect in his act today, 42 years after he presented it for the first time at F.I.S.M. In fact, you can go to www.YouTube.com, search Tony Binarelli and see his latest version presented on Italian television.