Magicians of a “Certain Age” and Dry Hands

Inside Magic Image of Frustrated MagicianAs we type, Los Angeles is going through a humid spell. Some accounts have it as high as 70 percent or as low as 50 percent – but either of those extremes is extreme for the region.

Yes, it will mess with our fancy hair-do but it will also let us deal seconds without the need for moistening agents.

When we were very young, we found it amusing that the older magicians in our local IBM Ring had to lick their fingers before every difficult card move. Some had to lick their fingers before even dealing cards. We thought – basking in our youthful ignorance – “we’ll never be like that. We will always have moist fingers and palms. And even if we do eventually have dry hands, we’ll hire someone to lick our fingers.”

We had some issues back then – but lack of hand moisture was not one of them.

Once we hit mid-life, our ability to deal seconds fell off horribly. We could still do the mechanical part but we couldn’t control the number of cards in play.

We thought there should be some product available to magicians of “a certain age” to allow them to again perform as they did in their youth. Something so they would be “ready” when the “moment was right.”

We used those terms in our Google search but it resulted in products that had little to do with card manipulation or magic in its strictest sense.

We asked our magic friends – in strictest confidence, because of our shame – and hoped they would either have a solution or sympathy for our frustration. But we found no support among our peers. We suspect they were too embarrassed to admit their problem to us.

At an IBM convention, we met up with Mr. Second Deal, Simon Lovell. He wrote the book on the sleight — Second to None. We asked him how we could keep our fingers moist enough to do second deals – either double push-off or strike second deal. He felt our pain. He suggested we keep an iced drink nearby and touch it as needed. We thanked him and went forward to find a different solution.

We spoke with our physician and he expressed surprise. “Why, no one has ever asked me how to make their hands more sweaty.” As we recall the exchange, he sounded like the Wizard of Oz in the final scene when he provides a heart for The Tin Woodsman.

He probably sounded like a normal doctor – it was just our shame tainting the memory.

He had no solutions. He did tell us about a surgery that can be done to decrease palm sweating and we thanked him for this advice in case we should ever need it – which we won’t and that was the problem.

We went to various health food stores asking for products to rub on our skin to bring back the moisture we once had. We bought pounds of products and none of them worked any better than licking our digits. (Ironically, this was the name of our first full-length vinyl album back on the Monarch record label.  We sold more than 157 copies and many to people unrelated to us.  But we digress).

When we were in New Orleans and Florida – the humidity was just right. Both locations were like Los Angeles is today but more so. New Orleans and Florida (yes, we know one is a city and the other is an entire state) have the right kind of constant humidity necessary to keep our sweaty little palms sweaty. The closer we got to the Gulf of Mexico, the better our hands became. That meant we could deal almost perfect seconds as long as we were within 50 miles of the Gulf. Beyond that, we were back to suffering with the problem that affects folks of our “certain age.”

We tried the following with no beneficial results:

  1. Hand Lotions – made our hands smoother and helped a little but quickly wore off. Sadness returned.
  2. Chamberlain Golden Touch Lotion – from a company in Iowa and hard to find. It worked well and lasted longer than saliva but has a pronounced, 1950’s odor. It makes our hands smell like our uncle when he got out of the service and was interviewing for jobs in his 1964 Plymouth.
  3. Preparation H Wipes – actually worked the best but was embarrassing to buy in quantities (had to go to a drug store outside our town) and very embarrassing to have in one’s pocket when one is getting ready to perform a magic trick.  Although its multi-purpose nature made it a good thing to take along even if we did not expect to perform magic.
  4. Sortkwik – used by cashiers everywhere to get their fingers ready to count big stacks of cash. We liked it and used it but found it a little too sticky when used to excess – like most things in life.
  5. Hair Gel – we don’t use hair “product” so it took a lot of experimentation to realize we were barking up the wrong tree – just because something is goopy, doesn’t mean it will be the right kind of sticky. That’s a good life lesson too.
  6. Glycerin / Glycerin & Rose Water – this had great promise. We read something on the internet about it being the best treatment. We tried every possible titrate but none achieved the results we needed. We were sad but our hands smelled so nice it was a joy to hold our face in them whilst we sobbed.

Then we hit upon the solution.

Papercreme is the solution.

Yes, Papercreme. Never heard of it? Nor had we but now we swear by it. Challenge us. Walk up to us when we are in any performing venue and grab our pockets and feel away. You will prove to yourself that we have serious issues still and that we always carry a small container of Papercreme.

The substance works like Sortkwik but for some reason works better. It is the perfect consistency, easy to apply and lasts as long as a 20-minute routine. Cards don’t stick together when they shouldn’t and deal as they would if they were being handled by some know-it-all youngster in a magic club 40 years ago. We buy ours from Amazon and have not seen it in stores – and we always look. It is inexpensive and effective.

But today is a special day in West Hollywood. Due to the humidity we can deal seconds with abandon and feel young again. We don’t need to dip into our Papercreme store today. Today we can deal seconds and immediately touch people on their face without leaving any sort of greasy mark and that is a reason to celebrate.

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