Category: Magic Stories

Perhaps Non-Fiction or Fiction

What Were We Thinking

This is the stream of thought that went along with our writing of an article about a magic lecture from John Luka.

John Luka is the Head Muckety-Muck in our Pantheon of Magicians and so we were shocked to receive his invitation to learn the secrets of a certain magician’s act.

We knew it wasn’t a lecture by the magician in question – after all, what professional magician actually lectures on tricks he or she performs for a living.

We assumed, therefore, John Luka had crossed over to the Dark Side. Out of our respect for Mr. Luka, we immediately prepared to stick with him like glue or something equally sticky but preferably non-organic. We have no pride but at least we’re shiftless.

But wait, we read more of Mr. Luka’s email note to us and learned we were wrong. We were completely wrong. Mr. Luka hadn’t moved to the Dark Side. We wish we had read his entire email message before we reacted so quickly to abandon our principles and publish an expose of every magic trick we know.

To all of our brethren and cistern in magic, we apologize for exposing your secrets. We take some solace in thinking that our excited writing made the whole 982 page book unreadable or at least unwieldy. Plus, when we get nervous we revert to our first language.

Nonetheless, the book All of the Magic Secrets Ever is currently available on Amazon.Com. One reviewer noted:

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Free Trick for You: Don Timo’s Oh So Subtle Mystery

Thomas Hardy the III — son of great magician and inept mathematician, Thomas Hardy IV — was, as the British are keen to say, keen on helping the younger, newer, more fragile and feminine magicians find their footing.

Some have said this is simply a dressed up way of saying father was a cad and a shoe-fetishist.  Those who knew him best have publicly denounced this criticism but never under oath.

See, expert testimony of Harry Blackstone, Jr. in Commonwealth v. Hardy from 1968:

Q: “How well do you know Tom Hardy, aka Li’l Tom Hardy America’s Foremost Psychic Entertainer?”

A: (Mr. Blackstone) “I would say pretty well. He worked with my father’s show and later on mine.”

Q: “Is he a cad and a shoe-fetishist?”

A: (Mr. Blackstone) “‘Cad’ is such an ugly and anachronistic word.  I think he liked to help the younger, newer, more fragile and feminine magicians find their footing.”

Q: “Is that just another way of saying ‘He is a cad and a shoe-fetishist?”

A: “I don’t know.  I read it on his publicity poster, right under ‘America’s Foremost Psychic Entertainer.’

(Laughter)

Q: “So while you would quibble with the term ‘Cad,’ you are in agreement with his shoe-fetish?”

A: “I do not have a shoe fetish.”

(Laughter)

Q: “No, I mean, strike that.  Let me start over.  Does Mr. Hardy have a shoe fetish?”

A: “Again, I don’t mean to, as you say, quibble with terms but ‘fetish’ can have different meanings depending on the context.  For instance, it could be a psychological dependency upon an object; or, a magic charm; or, an item used in bizarre pseudo-religious or savage worship; or, of course, just looking to obsess, photograph, draw doodles of, buy expensive telescopes to see, shoes on young women.”

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Letters to the Editor and Corrections

It is the policy of Inside Magic to correct errors or omissions within a reasonable time following the alleged error or omission.

Additionally, Inside Magic welcomes correspondence from all readers on subjects related to articles in this journal or other magic-related subjects.

Please note: if you submitted an article for publication between April 25, 1998 and June 14, 2001, you may be entitled to compensation from a settlement currently under consideration by the Honorable Kimba Woods for the Southern District of New York in the class action Leticia Accensia v. Inside Magic, Ltd (A Company Organized Under the Laws of Belize), SDCiv 2003CA1992AA.

While Judge Woods has not yet certified the alleged class for purposes of trial, there has been a Consolidated Discovery Order entered and settlement discussions in lieu of potential class certification are contemplated.

In the August 12, 2002 edition of Inside Magic, Oakland magician Jerry Hirschorn was profiled for his ability to perform a “Six-Card Repeat effect in a close-up environment.” The article noted Mr. Hirschorn could perform the card trick on a table during his work at a local restaurant and “instantly reset.”

Mr. Hirschorn’s “reset” was not instant but because the effect goes on for hours, he simply continues the routine as he moves from table to table. We regret the error. We also morn the passing of Mr. Hirschorn and his brothers in a recent accident but celebrate the recent birth of triplets by his mother, Mrs. Gail White.

Dear Inside Magic:

When I am buying a thumb tip, can I get it sized to my thumb? Also, how can I find one that looks like my skin color?

Adrian Owen, Lexington, KY

Hi Adrian:

We take it you are new to the world of magic from the substance of your question. Like the existence of gravity or the inevitability of a wrong order when using a McDonald’s drive-through window, the use of a thumb tip is an exercise in faith.

You have no doubt heard from more senior magicians that you could wear a thumb tip painted bright red but if you used it correctly, your audience would never notice it. That is true. Too much emphasis is placed on matching the skin color of the tip for fear of detection.

Harry Blackstone, Sr. once tried an experiment where he performed a complete show with a bright red thumb tip in place. He mentioned to magicians later that no one noticed. While historians tend to discount this story’s significance, it has meaning for us today.

(Jim Steinmeyer surveyed the literature concerning Mr. Blackstone’s claim in his critically acclaimed monograph, What’s That On Your Thumb? No, The Other Thumb! An Examination of Thumb Tip Use throughout the History of Magic, (New York: Scribner’s 1987). He noted the following criticisms:

1) Blackstone did not perform any effect during his show in which the thumb tip could be used;

2) Blackstone did not solicit observations from his audience regarding his use or non-use of the utility device;

3) this show was the same show for which Mr. Blackstone received well-deserved praise for safely escorting the entire audience from the theater to safety after he was informed the backstage area was engulfed in flames;

4) Blackstone was wearing, as was his custom, white kid skin gloves over the thumb tip;

5) this particular show was a benefit for the local school for the blind; and

6) the thumb tip in question matched exactly the nail polish he used on every other finger (and, say some scholars, toenails)).

We have found the use of the thumb tip to be an unnerving experience. We are so sure we will be caught either hiding items in, or slipping items from the device that we no longer use it except during our magic shows.

We note the space allotted by the gimmick is rarely sufficient to shoplift anything of value or to secret any contraband across an international border.

Dai Vernon once commented that just as a magician should not be considered professional until he had performed 25 times on stage, You should not use a thumb tip until your liver failure has advanced sufficiently to make your skin yellow, like the tip.

The Vernon Chronicles, Vol. 2, Bruce Cervon (Los Angeles: Magic Press 1968) pp 114-113.

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Crossroads in Columbia – The Hardys in South Carolina

From the upcoming 16-Part PBS Series, The Hardys in America. Teachers may request the classroom guide to help students better understand the series.

Introduction to The Hardys in South Carolina

South Carolina has a special place in the Hardy Family’s history. It was nice  to be back in the state responsible for many of the more important incidents and eras in America’s First Family of Psychic Entertainment. We were in Columbia, the state’s capitol for the South Carolina Association of Magicians convention and had a great time.

But our experience could not compare to those of our three relatives in the same town. Uncle Tubby, Aunt Melanie, and Aunt Sixtus came to Columbia for different reasons but all left profoundly affected by their stay.

Tubby Hardy – Little Big Man

Tubby was actually the ironic and hurtful nickname for our uncle Todd Hardy given to him by Tom Hardy Sr. to ridicule his unfortunate life-experience. He entered the Hardy business of magic after a career riding and then handicapping horses.

Jockeys, in his era, were expected to “make weight” for each race by being at least ten pounds lighter than the lowest weight allowance on the circuit. In 1959, the Chicago – Louisville – Lexington circuit required the riders to be no more than 93 pounds so that with their tack and fancy silks, riders added no more than 103 pounds to the back of the horses.

Tubby was able to make weight for his first two seasons. He was a gifted rider. He broke his maiden and lost his bug status at the end of his first year. Those are good things. Breaking one’s maiden means he won his first race. Losing his bug meant he was no longer considered an apprentice jock.

Coming off bug status made him less attractive to owners and trainers who were willing to hire the apprentice designated in racing forms with an asterisk (or a “bug”) by their name.

Bug riders were allowed extra weight allowances and could often enter a race with ten to fifteen pounds less than any horse in the field. This weight benefit was often crucial in the non-sprint events.

Once a rider lost his bug, he was forced to compete against the other jocks directly.

Tubby entered the 1959 season at Arlington Race Course outside of Chicago weighing exactly 93 pounds. He was able to pick up some mounts from kindly trainers but had little success with the less-than-promising horses. In 1958, his winnings topped $22,000 and made him the highest-earning bug rider on the circuit. In the first three months of 1959’s season, he struggled to make ends meet with just two rides in the money — and one coming because of a disqualification of the two horses well ahead of him.

He began to gain weight half-way through the season and by the time the circuit moved south to Louisville, he was just less than 140 pounds.

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