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Sunday, December 09, 2007

High State of Royalty?

It was said by Harry Houdini, that to prove you are a magician, you must be able to adequately perform the cups and balls .
In order to join the famous Magic Circle in London, you must pass an entrance exam...
Prince Charles passed his examination, just like every other member must, by performing what is believed to be the oldest trick in the world, the Cups & Balls!Here are the very cups he used!
I guess I am in Royal company then, eh!?
The cups and the balls is the mystery of magic that got me to want to learn and perform. I first ran across this wonderful effect in my early twenties while working the receiving front dock at Boeing in Renton. A friend named Matt Pendergast introduced me to magic by vanishing a cigarette and doing a few coin tricks known as the Scotch and Soda and the Hopping Half.
To Matt's eternal credit, he would not tell me the "secret" even when I pestered him for several days. Finally, he told me to find a magic shop and investigate for myself. That I did and fell in love with the art.
My first set of cups and balls are this plastic set pictured. They came with the barest of directions. My hands were actually to large for the "advanced" maneuvers used in the effect. Not only that but I was confounded by the lack of directions, I did not know there was a magic community out there available for the asking. I performed what some might call "slum" magic for about a year and half. Finally the "bug" left me for a time...
Some twenty years later my pastor, Rick Steele asked for volunteers to set up booths for Treats without Tricks night at our church. I figured this would be a great opportunity to dust off all my old tricks. I got an old book shelf, painted it black and put glow in the dark stick on stars on it. I performed for all that came by my booth. One gentleman wouldn't leave, he fell in love with the magic and just stayed by me, watching me perform the same 6 or so tricks for the children, he was laughing the whole time, enjoying the expressions on the children's faces. His spirit for magic uplifted my heart and was a catalyst for getting me back into the craft. This week I will be performing two "shows" in Olympia at a Wednesday night AWANA at a church.
Who woulda thunk it!?
My next set of cups and balls were a light aluminum set, I used these for several months to about a year. It wasn't long until I purchased a sweet set of Johnson brass cups & balls, these are the cups that a wonderful magician named Michael Ammar uses. I also purchased the Mercury Wand to use with the set. However, being naive about the damage the metal tips on the wand would do,I used the wand to beat on the cups and dinged them up pretty good, not a set for that type of cups and balls routine. OUCH!
Then my mentor Tom Frank introduced me to a nice set of his Phoenix cups and balls. Again, I used these cups and balls for most of a year, working final loads from my pockets, Tom Paid me a huge compliment, once telling me that he knows no one that produces final loads from the pockets better!
The Cups and Balls I use today!I have several other sets of cups and balls, for instance here is a nice wooden set that I might someday use if I ever perform at a Renaissance fair, these cups would perhaps fit into the "period" of the time, Kind of a theme type setting?
For more on the cups and balls, visit:


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