Anyone interested in the art, philosophy and technique of magic needs to study Tony Slydini's work. He had a profound and lasting impact on close-up magic and on the scores of students who learned from his skill, originality, naturalness, timing, and superb misdirection. You're right, Pete, he was a mster. A man of wonderful grace and charm, he could mystify even the most knowledgeable of audiences. Dick Cavett once asked Dai Vernon who could still fool him. Nobody, the Professor replied almost regretfully...then added with a smile “Of course, Tony can.” Sadly, he is no longer with us (Tony Slydini died in 1991). But his work remains.
I, for one, believe the Fulves' books to be superb…both in their magic and their approach to teaching. I differ with Pete about the format. The two volume layout (one volume text, the other almost a thousand photographs) works well for me. Although I must confess I did find using the two books simultaneously a bit awkward at first, once I found a way to position them so that I could easily move between them, they became wonderful teaching tools. In fact, I would argue that the detail in both words and pictures remain among the finest and most extensive set of instructions and explanations magic has to offer.
As for the content, this is GREAT material. The Best of Slydini...And More begins with a brief biography of Slydini and then builds a remarkably precise and detailed account of Slydini's approach to close-up magic. The fifteen chapters include his basic precepts, concepts, and moves; some wonderful applications of his approach (ranging from cigarette magic to Slydini's coin classics); and some of his signature routines, such as The Helicopter Card, Paper Balls Over the Head, and The Purse Frame. The second set of Fulves' books -- The Magical World of Slydini – follows the same format. This time there are some 90,000 words of text and 1,321 photographs illustrating the effects! Moreover, the material is completely different. Included are such classic Slydini routines as his silk knots, his sympathetic silks, his linking rings act, Slydini's torn and restored newspaper trick, and the complete version of his cut and restored/equal-unequal ropes presentation, as well as such moves as the Slydini Invisible Pass and Table Shift.
Both sets of books are quite remarkable. They detail and illustrate virtually every move and nuance in Slydini's repertoire. In so doing, they explore not only the routines themselves, but the subtle handling, timing, posture, and misdirection that made Slydini so unique and so important in the development of close-up magic. No, the goal is not to imitate Tony Slydini's magic. Trust me, no one else will ever be able to fully replicate the grace, charm, and technique of this modern master. Nor should anyone even try to do so. Slydini was...well, he was Slydini .
As wonderful as these books are, it simply isn't possible to capture some aspects of Slydini's magic in print -- his remarkable grace, charm, and style for instance. Sadly, few of his performances seem to have been recorded. As has been noted here before, Slydini appeared on two 1977 broadcasts of the Dick Cavett Show produced by WNET/13. While not commercially available, copies of these two half-hour shows can -- on occasion -- be found. The first show contains performances of his cigarette fantasy, torn and restored cigarette, coins through table,silk knots, cut and restored rope, the equal/unequal ropes, and the torn and restored newspaper; the second broadcast includes the sympathetic silks, Encore Coins, Gemini Coins, the Helicopter Card, paper balls to box, torn and restored cigarette, and the Flight of the Paper Balls. He also appeared on an HBO (?) special hosted by Cavett called Hocus Pocus, It's Magic. Other guests included Mark Wilson, Seigfried and Roy, Tomsoni, and Harry Blackstone Jr. I do believe this show remains available on laserdisc. Hope this