Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
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Pete Biro
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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Pete Biro » December 14th, 2009, 3:43 pm

GUYS most of you miss the point. This is a baffling trick. You should have been lucky, like I was, to sit at the table with Tony doing this trick. It is a baffler. There is a lot of wonderful sleight-of-hand and great timing going on here.

To say this trick is bad is something I don't buy.

THANKS FOR POSTING THE VIDEO LINK
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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Joe Mckay » December 14th, 2009, 3:52 pm

I'm feeling pretty weird here. Is there nobody who agrees that the video I gave shows a BAD performance? I mean seriously - that performance was phoned in from 'snoresville'. I felt embarrassed watching it... I think we are doing Slydini's memory a disservice if we pretend that the clip shows him anywhere near his best.

Joe

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby skmayhew » December 14th, 2009, 4:06 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:I'm feeling pretty weird here. Is there nobody who agrees that the video I gave shows a BAD performance? I mean seriously - that performance was phoned in from 'snoresville'. I felt embarrassed watching it... I think we are doing Slydini's memory a disservice if we pretend that the clip shows him anywhere near his best.

Joe


I don't think you quite understand what you are watching. For instance - do you really think Slydini keeps forgetting the name of the trick he is performing?

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Joe Mckay » December 14th, 2009, 4:14 pm

No - that was my attempt at humour. Obviously - he is not actually forgetting the name of the trick. It is part of his presentation. However - I thought I would joke that he really was since I found the rest of the performance to be so slow and dull that I thought he may have had trouble concentrating or something... Apologies for my attempt at a smart comment!

Maybe David Acer could devote a MAGICANA on how to be funny on magic forums? He always hits home runs around here... :)

Joe

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby skmayhew » December 14th, 2009, 4:22 pm

Oh, humour. Good one.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Justin Wheatley » December 14th, 2009, 4:53 pm

You know, after watching this video again, it really seems that everyone is entertained and impressed. The spectator at the table is a little dull, but I think this is probably just his countenance (and his haircut). The audience reaction is fairly enthused. One problem seems to be Slydini's accent being hard to follow at the times. But this isn't that great of an obstacle. My favorite part is hearing Cavett's low murmurs of delight.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Gordolini » December 14th, 2009, 5:00 pm

I agree with Pete. Perhaps the audience member was not what you would typically find on an L&L video for example, but I sensed more of a baffled and stunned speechless reaction each time the effect was repeated.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Mark.Lewis » December 14th, 2009, 5:01 pm

I agree with Joe. Slydini WAS boring at that particular performance. But I have seen him do the Helipcopter Card when he was younger. It was superb.

As for getting crappier when you get old I am afraid I have seen it time and time again even with Jay Marshall and Billy Mc'Comb.
They drop details when they get older. My e-book "Wit and Wisdom of Mark Lewis explains this thoroughly and I may perahps post an extract to so you can see what I am talking about.

Oddly enough I thought that Vernon became more charismatic as he got older but started to struggle with the technical part of things. This is why my personal philosophy that a sleight is only a means to an end is so advantageous. If I were to develop arthritis or lose my dexterity for some reason I wuld not blink an eyelid about it. I would simply use easier methods.

On the David Berglas Newswire interview he makes quite clear that he is well aware of the problem. He makes clear that as you get older the show is not the same any more because your timing goes a bit off, your hearing isn't as good and you are not quite so quick on the uptake.. He explains that is why he retired early rather that suffer the same fate as others that he had seen that went on too long.

I am thinking of one notable British performer who has gone on far too long. He was unbeatable when he was younger and I would even say he was the finest cabaret performer I have ever seen even for the most difficult audiences. However those days are long past. The man is in his seventies now and he is a pale shadow of his former self. To watch him now is embarrassing
and he should give up before he demeans himself further. That is what Berglas very cleverly did and that is what older performers should do that when they are no longer as good as they used to be.

There is one solution to the aging problem and it is one that I am always paying attention to myself.. That is never to stop learning and gathering new details to replace the ones that have disappeared. And to use subtleties that will replace the sleights that the performer can no longer execute. Or if that doesn't work then replace the tricks.

I think that Slydini still had perfect technique on the Cavett show. The trouble is that his charisma had gone and I have no idea how you can replace that.

Of course most magicians have no charisma anyway so that isn't a problem for them.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Justin Wheatley » December 14th, 2009, 5:10 pm

Well put, Mark.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Mark.Lewis » December 14th, 2009, 6:09 pm

Here is an extract from my e-book which covers this matter in a little more depth. Billy Mc'Comb and Jay Marshall were both alive when I wrote this.
..............................................

I am afraid Billy McComb has gotten less funny as the years have gone by. Still funny, but not as screamingly funny as he was when he was younger. Of course this is understandable since he is now in his eighties.

When I first saw him 45 years ago, he was the funniest performer I had ever seen. Then 35 years ago, when I was working the nightclubs, he was just very funny. 25 years ago he was merely funny. And he has remained so ever since. He is still funny but you should have seen him in his younger days. It was quite something.

It is very easy to get less effective as the years go by. I call it the dropped details theory that I came up with. You go over great, but one night you drop a detail. Everybody still loves you, so a month later, you drop another detail. You still go over terrific and you dont notice the dropped detail and you carry on without it. Then a couple of months later, you drop another detail and you still go over well and you still dont notice you have dropped a detail.

However details mount up and after a few years you have dropped so many details that you wonder why you are not going over as well as you used to. You will probably blame it on changing audiences and changing times. But you will not put the blame where it really belongs. On the dropped details.

Same thing with Jay Marshall. He was a fantastic performer when I first saw him years and years ago. Probably about 45 years ago. Then I saw him gradually deteriorate over the years. Dropping details right, left and centre. Getting worse and worse as the years went by.

Quite frankly I always thought that Lefty was overrated. I thought that John Salisses presentation of Francis the Duck was far superior. And Salisse didnt even have to use ventriloquism as Marshall did. Jay Marshall got standing ovations in his later years at magicians conventions only. If he worked anywhere else I suspect that the results would have been quite different.

This is probably because Jay Marshall and McComb were unfortunate enough to be good in the first place. If you are good you are far more likely to deteriorate in the fullness of time because you get lazy and drop details. However if you are mediocre in the beginning you might have the shrewdness to know you are bad and try to improve.

I am not particularly referring to age when I talk about dropped details, although, of course, if you are old then I expect quite a lot of details have dropped. The key to resolving this is to realize that the details are dropping and that you have to either replace them or get new details.

Not going over well on a consistent basis has a salutary and motivational effect on you. Going over great leads to complacency.

If I said this on magic forums there would be great screaming up and down because I have had the audacity to say that a couple of icons in magic are, in my view, not as good as they used to be. Yet I did not say they were no good. I just said that they were no longer as good as they used to be. At one time they were superb. Now they are just good.

I will however be happy to admit that a noted restaurant magician told me that Jay Marshall once performed a stand up act in his restaurant in his later years and went over great with the laymen so perhaps I am wrong. I doubt it though. I AM Mark Lewis after all.

Same thing with Cardini. I saw a film clip of him and marvelled and marvelled. I have never seen anything like it since and I dont suppose I ever shall. I dont think that any of the young hotshot whippersnappers with silent acts come even close. And they never will.

Yet I was told by magicians that had seen Cardini in his earlier years that the movie clips did not do him justice. That he was far, far better in his younger years. He must have dropped details for these older magicians to say that. Lucky he had a lot of details to drop.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 14th, 2009, 6:52 pm

Part of the problem is that Tony wore false teeth and sometimes, when he was older, it sounded like he had marbles in his mouth. Any one of us could suffer the same fate, so floss your teeth!
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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Justin Wheatley » December 14th, 2009, 7:01 pm

Yes, Papa Kaufman.
I didn't know that. That's very unfortunate.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby J-Mac » December 15th, 2009, 1:07 am

Reading Dick Cavett's blog post about meeting Slydini, Doug Henning introduced him backstage one night. Turns out Tony had not been performing magic for many years then, and instead was running a newstand and tobacco shop in NYC. This is a quote from Dick Cavett's blog after Tony had appeared on Cavett's show:

Tony was a bit bowled over by the reaction on the street the day after the first show aired. At his tobacco/newspaper shop, where he said hed been anonymous for decades, he was now lionized. Dick, you make so I cant-a go anywhere, he mock-complained. And then he did complain: But, Dick, Im-a look-a so old. As a young man, hed been a handsome dog.


Cavett convinced him to appear on his show - twice - but only after much coaxing. According to this quote from Dick Cavett's Blog, Tony had been burned by a TV production years earlier in Europe where poor camera placement and editing soured him on television for a long time.

I knew that he refused to do television. A bad experience in Europe, with cameras in wrong places and lousy editing, had soured him on that and, a perfectionist, he wouldnt risk again having his work tainted.


From what I understand, he never appeared again on TV after that - until Cavett's two shows.

I would think that Tony had never forgotten what he knew, but not performing formally for such a long time surely took somewhat of a toll on his performance skills. How many here could leave magic, run a newstand and tobacco shop for ~20 years, and then appear on TV before a national audience and perform as well as Tony did on Dick Cavett's show?

Jim

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Richard Hatch » December 15th, 2009, 1:32 am

J-Mac wrote:Reading Dick Cavett's blog post about meeting Slydini, Doug Henning introduced him backstage one night. Turns out Tony had not been performing magic for many years then, and instead was running a newstand and tobacco shop in NYC. This is a quote from Dick Cavett's blog after Tony had appeared on Cavett's show:

Tony was a bit bowled over by the reaction on the street the day after the first show aired. At his tobacco/newspaper shop, where he said hed been anonymous for decades, he was now lionized. Dick, you make so I cant-a go anywhere, he mock-complained. And then he did complain: But, Dick, Im-a look-a so old. As a young man, hed been a handsome dog.




I read that differently: I believe Slydini was purchasing newspapers and tobacco at a local place where he had been an anonymous customer until his Cavett appearances. Perhaps I am wrong, but I never heard that he worked/owned a newspaper/tobacco shop. Perhaps one of those closer to him can enlighten us on this?

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Max Maven » December 15th, 2009, 4:23 am

Tony Slydini never ran a newsstand, and never stopped performing magic.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Matthew Field » December 15th, 2009, 5:29 am

Thanks, Max. That was my understanding.

There was an appearance by Slydini on the New York Saturday morning TV show Wonderama, on which the host, magician Bob McAllister, asked the rugrats to join him in welcoming "Mr. Slydini."

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Mark.Lewis » December 15th, 2009, 6:51 am

I was quite astonished to read that Slydini owned a newspaper shop. I also assumed that he was just a customer. I thought he made his living teaching magic. I am glad to hear from Mr Maven that this tobacco story was not the case but I must also admit to now wondering about it. Perhaps someone else could confirm it.

I am now wondering whether his bad European experiences with television were the ones I saw on British TV. Mind you I saw no problems with them whatsoever. I saw Slydini multiple times on British television on the Max Jaffa show and on Harry Stanley's programme ( I think it was Harry's production anyway)where Vernon and Cy Endfiield were also appearing. It was a 30 minute programme. It may possibly be called "Focus on Hocus" but I am not sure. And if Harry had anything to do with it there would have been no bad camera angles or placement.

Lapping is indeed prone to being caught on television but I didn't see a thing on those British programmes.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Jon Allen » December 15th, 2009, 4:13 pm

Maybe someone can flesh this story out. I have heard that Slydini was one of several magicians invited to entertain the Queen at some event. When asked who was her favourite, she said she did like the man who kept putting things in his lap.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Michel Asselin » December 15th, 2009, 10:46 pm

I have seen Romaine do Slydini's material several times over the years and can attest to the impact of the helicopter card - and the other material. The timing fooled you again and again once he got the ball rolling, regardless whether you knew the method of not. Romaine made the timing 'work'. . However, I also walked in late often while Romaine was performing i.e. in the middle of the performance. Without the early few minutes of conditionning, it would not work and I could 'feel' the moves.

(The other thing I'd like to mention is that Romaine is a dead ringer for the main character in "UP", the recent animated vehicule. But I digress.)

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby El Harvey Oswald » July 14th, 2011, 2:59 pm

That the OP believed he genuinely forgot the name of the effect fatally diminishes his credibility. Perhaps he needs to watch a few YouTube "tutorials" on irony and wit.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Pete Biro » July 14th, 2011, 3:24 pm

I visited Slydini many, many times on my trips to NY and spent time with him in his apartment, went out to dinner with him, and there was never any indication he worked at a newsstand, or smoke shop. He made his living teaching his magic.
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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Oli Foster » July 14th, 2011, 4:15 pm

I've only seen the old footage of Slydini but I like him generally and, as an 'ordinary' person hopefully unbiased by association/experience, I think most of his stuff looks really magical. The Annotated Magic of Slydini is a beautiful book to look through with the photographs of each of his gestures but, I think because he was one of a kind and his magic is an extension of his entire body language, nobody else could really make those tricks work in the same way - so whereas we might watch something with a view to how we could make it work ourselves, I find watching him more like leafing through an old reference book in a special collections library - special without being useful...

Having said that, and although I don't think it's a terrible trick, I don't think the Helicopter Card is his best. The plot is simple enough and, in itself, deceptive enough but I don't feel it benefits from repetition. It's not dissimilar to, say, ambitious card, which also requires repetition to surpass the feeling of having missed something first time around. The difference however is that those kinds of effect are structured to gradually become more impressive and more impossible, to eliminate all of the actual methods and deliver a twist and surprise just as they're about to submit - and that's good magic and good drama - just repeating something in the same way... isn't...

If you're going to challenge somebody watching, I don't think there's a problem with that but it needs to progress and become more engaging or they just won't care. Poor old guy, lovely coin routine though!...

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby D. Angelo » September 23rd, 2011, 3:53 pm

I literally just stumbled across this post and was compelled to respond. I ask you consider the following magical problem. You have someone freely select a card; then you place that card in a fan of cards less than 36 inches away from his eyes. You tell the spectator that his card is now resting on top of a pile of cards that have been in his view from the beginning. He finds his freely selected card there.

This is done not once, but three times in a row. After the first variation, the spectator knows what is going to happen (as does the audience) and yet he cannot how see the trick is accomplished. This routine involves the same head /hand movement used in the Paper Ball Over the Head, two different fan steals, lapping and retrieval, , and a timing sequence that is obliviously lost you.

Your assertion that the spectator looks like he is waiting for a check to be cashed is particularly upsetting to me. The spectator is struggling to understand what is happening before his eyes.

I studied with Slydini for eight years. My teacher certainly does not need me to defend him but I found your remarks incredibly un-kind and to my mind they reflect your lack of understanding of misdirective technique.

D. Angelo Ferri

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 23rd, 2011, 4:01 pm

I think that it's hard for anyone who did not see Slydini live to understand the power of his magic when he performed it.
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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby D. Angelo » September 23rd, 2011, 4:41 pm

Yes Richard, that is certainly, true, but reading through some of these posts is particularly disheartening to me. Slydinis system of misdirection is an integrated system of movement, psychology, timing, grace, and above all belief.

To think that all he discovered and shared with so many; is lost to a new generation of Close UP Magicians, makes me sad and angry.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Brad Henderson » September 23rd, 2011, 6:09 pm

On a semi related note, two slydini references in the media. On modern family one of the characters did a bad balls over the head type vanish for a toddler who saw right through the ruse. Also Dennis miller made an analogy that it was (and I quote only as accurately as I recall) "like he's doing Tony slydini's old act where he throws the crumpled tissue paper over my head."

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 23rd, 2011, 6:26 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:...I just saw a trick by Tony Slydini. It is called 'The Helicopter Card' and definitely gets my vote for the worst trick ever....Oh, the fun of watching magic...



I hear you about the performance not working for you. Give the effect a chance. It's real close to the moment in an ambitious card routine where you let them hold the pack, get them to insert the card and then after tapping the pack they turn over the top card. In this case you put half the pack on the table first and they look at the top cards first, then you put the card into your half of the pack.

Don't let what you saw as a lackluster performance prevent you from exploring what might be a great effect for your audiences.
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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Pop Haydn » September 30th, 2011, 12:52 am

I worked the "Buskers Bar" convention in Greensboro, NC with Tony in the late 1980's. This was Jim Cellini's bar, and he had Karl Norman, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Bob Sheets, Rocco and myself on the bill.

At the show for laymen, the bar was filled mostly with loud drinking college kids, and his regular bar patrons. Tony stood up on a chair, looking very old and feeble, and precarious. He performed the un-knotting silks routine, and held the entire room spellbound. Everyone was mesmerized.

I had never seen him work for laymen before, but I was very impressed.

Frank Garcia whispered to me, "He knows they are worried about him falling. That is why he stood on the chair."

He was truly great.

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby J-Mac » September 30th, 2011, 10:58 pm

D. Angelo wrote:Yes Richard, that is certainly, true, but reading through some of these posts is particularly disheartening to me. Slydinis system of misdirection is an integrated system of movement, psychology, timing, grace, and above all belief.

To think that all he discovered and shared with so many; is lost to a new generation of Close UP Magicians, makes me sad and angry.


I've read your book on Tony Slydini's misdirection techniques more than a few times - great book! Thanks!

Jim

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Joe Mckay » October 1st, 2011, 3:17 am

I like Slydini - and sometimes I can be an idiot. So - we all have alot of things here which we can agree on. But - I do think it is worth peope rewatching the inital performance I linked to.

In my opinion the spectator looks bored and slightly confused. There is no way to know for sure exactly how he was feeling. But - do others really feel like he looks as if he is being entertained and astonished?

I dunno' maybe I am wrong? Perhaps I have being corruped by watching the 'over the top' reactions on David Blaine specials and L+L DVDs...

Anyway - just to be clear. I have alot of respect for Slydini - and I would love to have seen him live. It is just that there was something about the performance - Click Here... - which really irritated me.

Joe

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Re: Slydini - Worst trick ever?

Postby Bill Brunelle » October 9th, 2012, 1:57 am

Cellini and I first studied with Slydini when I was 15 in 1963, and Cellini was 21. We travelled together from Hartford down to NYC, did magic with Tony til 3, 4, or 5 in the morning, slept on his couch and floor til noon or one, and then repeated the cycle all over again. After a couple of years I drifted away until I renewed contact in 1975 and continued to study for many years until he died in 1991 and I had the privilege of doing the eulogy at his funeral.

I was in regular contact with him when he did all of his Dick Cavett appearances, and I can assure you that the audience was blown away by his performance of the helicopter card as well as everything he did on the show. When the shows first aired, and in the decades since, I have exposed many laymen to those shows, and they all loved them.

In the '90s I gave a talk and performance for a class of high school students who did not know in advance that I knew Slydini. I conducted an experiment and, after showing them clips of both Slydini on the Dick Cavett Show and David Copperfield on one of his specials and asked them which performance they enjoyed more. To my surprise, the consensus was that Slydini was much more interesting and impressive to them.

But, for me, the real clincher about Slydini's skills with lay people had come in the early '80's several years after his Cavett appearances. I was MC'ing at the Playboy Club in New York in 1980 and brought Tony one night to see my act and asked him if he'd like to do something. He said OK. However, when we arrived at the club I discovered that the room had been taken over by a huge, drunken bachelor party, and every act was struggling to go over. I suggested to Tony maybe he wouldn't want to go on in front of such a bawdy, rough crowd, but he said he'd go on and "do a little bit." He walked on stage and completely took over the room with his rope routine and Paper Balls Over the Head. Just slayed them.

The same thing happened a couple years later when I put him at the Original Improvisation comedy club. You could have heard a pin drop. The audience that usually heckled acts whenever they could was completely charmed and blown away. Because Tony was so mind blowing to magicians, it was assumed that he was a magician's magician only. This is just not true. He understood theater and comedy and used them at every turn. I particularly remember watching an old HBO Red Skelton special with him and listening to him analyze exactly why it was so funny and engaging. It was a brilliant analysis.

There is no doubt in my mind that the volunteer for the Helicopter Card in the Cavett show was completely transfixed and charmed as well. As have dozens of lay people I've shown it to over the years. Hope this post adds something to the discussion, albeit quite belatedly.

All the best,

Bill Brunelle


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