Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mystique Magical Dinner Theatre in Boise

Last night (Thursday, January 21, 2010) I went to the grand opening of Mystique in Boise with my wife Kristi & our friends Vic & Lorie! This beautiful facility is located just off Overland Road, across the street from the Edwards Cinemas.

We were impressed immediately by the lovely, classy decor. The meal (five courses) was excellent--Kris and I both had the prime rib, and it was out-of-this-world good.

The staff are actors who not only provide excellent service, but play the parts of "butlers" and "ladies". Our butlers "Graves" and "Broom" were a real hoot, and truly added to the enjoyment of the evening.

My new friend Farrell Dillon put on a great, magical, fun-filled 45-minute show after dinner. Farrell is a gifted magician, with a winning, warm, witty personality. He did a little of everything: some manipulation, some card magic, some mentalism, and magic with ropes and linking rings. Everyone loved him.

After Farrell's show we got to see my other new friend, the amazing Jon Armstrong, do about 20 minutes of world-class card magic at the bar.... A blast! Jon is an incredible card man, and very personable and amusing.

After they shooed everyone else out, the four of us got to hang out with Farrell and Jon for a half hour or so before we headed home. From the moment we entered to the moment we exited, we had a truly delightful time.

If you would like to visit Mystique, contact me first for an "insider" discount.

Highest recommendation! If you love good food and good magic, you'll LOVE Mystique!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Primary Sleights for Close-up Workers

I'm often asked if one has to have an encyclopedic working knowledge of sleight-of-hand to make a living performing close-up magic. My answer is a resounding no. Though mastering various extra sleights certainly doesn't hurt, there have been legendary magicians who made great money and reputations with nothing more than a force, a control, and a change.

Lists of this sort are always subjective, but here are the sleights I would encourage you to learn if you were my student/protégé...


1. A force: The Classic Force is king and well worth the time to master. A riffle force is also very helpful and easier to attain, as is a Hofzinser under-the-spread. Other easy forces that have their place are the Crisscross (Crosscut) force and the Balducci Cut Deeper force. I also like the slip force and the touch force, although a lot of cardmen don't. (But frankly, I don't much worry about what a lot of cardmen do or don't like.) If you only learn two, learn the classic and the riffle.

2. A control: The ability to control a card to a known location is very important to the card magician. If you don't mind putting in a little work, the Sidesteal is a good choice, as is a pass. If you decide to learn a pass, my personal preference is either a Hermann-type pass or a spread pass. Other easier controls include The Hop (which is an underused and underrated move in my opinion), the double undercut, and controls using mechanical means (crimps, long/wide cards, etc). I'll also put in a plug here for my Guinn Utility Backslip (GUB), available as an ebook from my website ( on the "Card Magic" and "Books" pages.

3. A double lift: There are just tons of variations of the double (multiple) lift out there. Find one that you feel comfortable with and that approximates how you naturally turn over a card. Then adapt the way you turn over a single to finish matching up to your double, and you're in business!

4. A palm: Yes, I said a palm. It seems that most magicians are scared to death of palming, but if you do it well, confidently, and on the off-beat, you can create miracles that just aren't possible without it. My Automatic Bottom Palm (taught in a number of my card magic ebooks) is a super simple method that does all the work for you and provides plenty of cover. It's my favorite and most-used version. I also recommend you learn the top palm.

5. False Counts: The kings here are the Elmsley Count and Jordan Count. There are lots of others, but learn these two first, and you'll be able to do an awful lot of the tricks that are out there.

6. A false shuffle: The king here is the Zarrow. But an overhand jog shuffle is much easier and you don't need a table. I also use the Charlier Shuffle and Optical Shuffle a lot in my work, as well as the Ireland Shuffle. There are other, more advanced false shuffles, but those mentioned above will serve you well enough to make a living if you do them well.

7. A top change: Can you get by without this? Well, yes, but many of the all-time greats relied on it heavily. Focus on getting the timing and body language down.

8. A multiple switch: There are times when you need to swap out one packet of several cards for another with the audience being none the wiser. There are lots of multiple switches out there. My favorites are my Spread Turnover Switch (taught in many of my card ebooks), and the Hellis Switch (from Barrie Richardson's Theatre of the Mind, and also taught in most of my books). The Hop also works well here, depending on the circumstances. The Jinx Switch is another popular multiple switch, as is the Vernon add-on.

There are tons and tons of card sleights out there, including false deals and more. If you really want to focus on card magic, many of these are worth learning. But you can get by in pretty fast company (not to mention slower company) with the list of eight sleights above. Mastering the moves on this list will certainly give you enough to make it performing for laymen.



1. Palms: The classic palm, finger palm, and thumb palm are essential. There are other more advanced and cutting edge techniques, but these are the big three.

2. A good vanish: I really like the toss vanish. A retention of vision vanish is also nice to have in your arsenal. Obviously, the vanishes from the above palms are a given.

3. A switch: My favorite and most-used is the Bobo Switch from Modern Coin Magic.

4. A click pass.

5. A load: I use the Vernon Load all the time. The Maskelyne Load is also very good.

Again, there are tons of other coin moves, but the five listed here will give you an arsenal that will allow you to do plenty of really strong coin magic. Most of these moves can also be used with virtually any other small object, like rings and balls. I have a three-ball routine with rubber balls that uses a lot of these moves, as well as some that are unique to balls. Check the "General magic" page of my website if you're interested.


1. A good sponge vanish is a necessity. If you're looking for a commercial sponge routine, may I immodestly suggest my "Peanut, Butter & Jelly", which I've been performing for over 20 years and is my most-requested routine.

2. Some ring & rope and finger ring and string moves will serve you well. Again, I have routines for sale for both on my website.

3. You could do a lot worse than learning a chop cup or cups and balls routine. These feature lots of different magical effects, and are audience favorites. The moves you learn from these types of routine will teach you a lot about misdirection, timing, and audience management, and many are applicable to other effects. My chop cup routine is unpublished, but my table-hopping cups and balls routine is available on my website.

4. Some rope moves: You can get a lot of magic and entertainment out of nothing but a piece of rope or two (or three!). There are great routines out there by Daryl, Aldo Colombini, Tabary, George Sands, and Richard Sanders, among others.

5. The shell game: Audiences LOVE seeing the shell game. For years I have performed "Supershells" by Gary Ouellet, available from The Camirand Academy of Magic. Whit Haydn has a great book on the shells, and a number of other magicians have published their work on this classic.

Of course, you don't HAVE to do a sponge routine, or a shell routine, or a chop cup routine, or rope magic. You also don't have to do ANY coin magic or card magic. As I said, any list of this sort is subjective. But this list contains a lot of the stuff I've used as a professional magician for decades now, and if you were my student, this list is what I would teach you first. After that, the world is your oyster!