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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
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.