In my solo show, “A Hanky and a Top Hat!” I’ve told the story about my interactions with the legendary magician Al Flosso (1895 – 1976). But today I’m thinking about his son, Jackie. Back in the 1990s, after Jackie had taken over his father’s magic shop, I would often go up to visit.
Now Jackie almost never did any magic in my presence and he jealously guarded his secrets (which I later learned were considerable). But in those days, I assumed that his skill was mainly in selling and not in performing magic.
But one day I must have caught him in a good mood. We were alone in the shop and he started showing me a few routines with cards which blew me away. I was quite surprised at the high level of his technique and thinking. I only wish now that I could remember the details of what he did!
But I do remember one thing. I had been working on an advanced card routine by the legendary magician, Johann Hofzinser (1806 – 1875). I lamented to Jackie my inability to perform a very difficult move three times during the routine. Frustrated with my seeming stupidity, he grabbed the deck from my hands.
In his thick Brooklyn accent he admonished me saying, “That’s not how you do it – this is how you do it!” He then proceeded to demonstrate how the three moves could be done simultaneously! I was floored. With pride he told me that move was not in any magic book. I expressed my appreciation and asked if he could repeat it so I could see exactly what he was doing.
But my question suddenly snapped Jackie out of his magnanimous mood. He immediately seemed to catch himself. He gave my cards back muttering that he never should have shown that to me. I promised that I would never show it to anyone else if he would help me with it. But it was no use. And that was the one and only time he ever showed me “the real work.”
Well, that one move was also even more difficult but at least I would only have to do it once during the routine instead of three times. I played with it occasionally over the years but could never really come close to mastering it.
However, desiring to work on that card routine again, I researched every magic book I had for the move but couldn’t find it. I then conferred with a world-renowned card expert to see if he had ever heard of it. When I described the technique to him, it gave him pause. He confessed he had never heard of it and that to his knowledge it has never been published.
So a few days ago, I studiously started practicing it in very slow motion; as if frame by frame in a video. I did this for a couple of hours each day. And today, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I got it down well enough to know that I someday I will master it.
In my solo show, I thank Jackie’s father for the help and inspiration he gave to me as a young boy. Perhaps in my next show I’ll tell this story and give Jackie my thanks as well. Of course, I will then have to perform the trick; assuming I have it mastered by then!