Harry Lorayne, Old and New

Harry Lorayne, the grand old card and memory man, continues to amaze at 90+ years of age!

He has a new book out, More Jaw Droppers!, plus a second edition of Jaw Droppers!. In addition, his updated website now features a lovely array of older photographs from his illustrious career plus friends and family. Have a look over at https://www.harryloraynemagic.com/.

And if you don’t know why Harry is, in fact, his very own force, check it out here!


Well Said: Harry Lorayne on “Jazz Magic”

As we all know, Harry Lorayne is his very own force.

Here’s a good observation from his Magic Book:

The heart of jazz is improvisation—”blow it as you feel it.” The same is true of close-up magic. That’s why I didn’t spend much time telling you which effect should follow which. This is called “routining.” All it really is, is common sense.

Well said, at least about informal close-up shows, I’d say.

Here’s an interesting comment by my magic friend Paco Nagata:

“Wise words from a wise magician quoted by another wise magician and blogger!

I would like to participate here a bit sharing some thoughts about it by an extract from page 31 from my amateur book:

Improvisation (known as “Jazz Magic”) is a too personal thing to advise anything about it, but I’ll tell you something very interesting that I discovered along my personal experience: you don’t need to improvise voluntarily; you’ll end up doing it without realizing it! Experience will tell you when you are ready to improvise. You will know it when you discover that you are improvising without even noticing it. I’m telling you that because it happened to me and some amateur friends of mine. The art of improvisation will come to you automatically, and if it hasn’t arrived it’s because you’re not ready for it yet or you just do not need it. Improvising does not mean being a “better” magician, but just a magician who works in a different way. Improvisation is not a step that must be climbed, but simply another resource. Don’t be obsessed about it (nor anything).

Thank you, Paco!

You can get Paco’s fine e-book The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician for free here. Read more about it here.


An Alternative History of Sponge Ball Magic

In our ongoing quest to enlighten you about the deep foundations and past masters of our beloved art, I am sharing an interesting piece of recent research from Dr. S. Q. Weezey, a distinguished lecturer and magic aficionado at the Applied University of Shwumbol, which is located in the magical Ben-Son Bool valley in Namibia, Africa. So here are some exciting excerpts!


According to these findings, the hitherto history of sponge ball magic surely needs some heavy editing now. New documents squeezed out of old photoshops (or vice versa?) suggest we have to switch some credits quickly for others.

For example, it seems very likely now that the legendary Larry Hooray was not actively involved in the sponge ball craze, even though he had single-handedly invented card magic, book-writing, memory systems, and this darn internet thing. Neither was the often-quoted Whal Eatley, who ran a Chinese Takeaway in New York City and in fact inadvertently (and painfully) invented the armchopper illusion while chop-chopping vegetable day in, day out.

To set the historical record straight, Kred Faps was likely the first professional magician in Europe to apply standard manipulation techniques to sponge balls, as this early press shot below should amply prove. (Although the photo was later reshot by his new manager, a reformed (?) gambler, who pressed Faps to have the sponges replaced with dice.)



In America, Vai Dernon started his career cutting sponge cubes into balls for a nickel at county fairs and inner city street corners. Then he created his famous “Harlequin Act” around the idea of wearing a sponge ball as a red nose (an idea picked up later by clowns all over the world) that repeatedly vanishes and reappears. He was also fond of doing coin tricks (see below) and card effects with sponges (remember “Twisting the Sponges”), and he never tired of preaching “Use your sponge” and “Squeezing is not magic.”



Master illusionist Hug Denning took the sponge ball hype one soft step further when he wrote and directed an entire musical, Spongebound, in the Seventies. Later in his life, he tried to explore the inner peace and healing power of sponge balls (see below) and applied them to transcendental meditation and levitation. He also used them to brush his teeth and occasionally ate them for a low-carb breakfast.



Next in line was young urban hotshot Breff McJide who shook the world of magic with his wild and mythical stage act that combined sponge balls with fire, joss sticks, African drums, and a plastic Samurai sword. He also applied the old art of chapeaugraphy to extra large sponge balls, thus impersonating famous people throughout history and retelling the Old Testament with his fingers (see below) while repeatedly hitting a cymbal with his nose on a dimly lit stage. Later he founded his very own Sponge Mystery School which continues to squeeze money out of students from all over the world.



Artist and scholar Jicky Ray wrestled with his conceptual vision for years before bringing his sensational one man show, “Jicky Ray and His 52 Sponge Assistants” to off-Broadway, which brought him great acclaim. Sadly, his ambitiously started research project on sponge ball magic hustlers at Victorian fairs (see below), in the early oeuvre of Nohann Jepomuk Zofhinser and in the world of gambling was given up for a movie career.



Today’s undisputed master of the trade is Tuan Jamaríz of Spain. Particularly his work on memorized sponge ball magic (see below) still leaves experts and fans baffled and fooled all over the world. For 25 years now he has been working on his two-volume opus magnum, The Spongy Way and The Expert at the Kitchen Sink, the latter one focusing on natural sponge ball tricks performed in the privacy of your home, usually with wet hands. But he also knows some pretty good card tricks.



Unlike other studies, the research paper we are quoting from concludes that Gal Oshman was among the few top magicians in his time who refused to join the globally growing sponge ball craze. Instead, he rather conservatively stuck to performing with coins and cards until his retirement (see below). On a sidenote, he made a fortune by producing and selling rubber saltshakers to magicians (for reasons which still hide in some dark cave of magic history, warranting further research and awaiting discovery).



So there! Next time you perform some sponge ball magic, please squeeze out a little thank you as a tribute to those real giants on whose spongy shoulders we stand, shaking!

Photoshop credit: Zig Zagger Junior


The Lorayne Force


The late great Jay Marshall once quipped that all of Harry Lorayne’s works were in fact forcing books for the words I, me, and my.

As a test, I counted these words within the Foreword of Harry’s booklet, My Favorite Card Tricks. Now guess how many I have detected within that single page?

A:      9

B:     18

C:     27

D:     36


Answer: That’s right, there were actually thirty-six self-references (including a “we”) to be found.

Harry certainly is his very own force!


Ever Noticed?

Ever noticed? Most forum posts by Harry Lorayne are sooo similar to infomercials – before the invention of color TV.


Ever noticed? Draped magic tables are sooo 80s – 1880s, that is.


Ever noticed? Thimble magic is absolutely fine – if you are doing a Victorian act.
But beware: Those plastic ones are sooo not O.K.!

A Few Great Opening Lines

Card DevilNon, non, mon ami, we’re not talking “Hello, I’m the house magician” here. We’re talking world literature – great artists with consummate skills, both in commanding their subject-matter and in chiseling their gleaming semantic profile and persona from the gorgeous marble quarry we call language. Ah!

These are some of the best opening lines from magic books which I am aware of:

Jasper Maskelyne was drinking a glass of razor blades when the war began.
(David Fisher, The War Magician)

It is late afternoon on the beach, and this would look like paradise but for the silhouette of a fat woman in baggy shorts.
(Peter Lamont, The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick)

The history of female magic is short of names, achievements, and clothes.
(Irmgard Kleine-Nothdurfft, Box Jumpers and Bra Tricks: A Feminist Study of 20th Century Conjuring)

I loathed myself again.
(Derren Brown, Confessions of a Conjurer)

I’ve been talked into it.
(Harry Lorayne, Quantum Leaps)

On my seventh birthday I ventured into serious billard ball magic, but soon I dropped it.
(The Brilliant Bernardo Braggadocio, Me, Myself & I in Magic, Vol. II)

Here’s a Quiz for the Magic Buffs

Kellar Wonder BookThis one’s not for the sissies out there. Not for the beginners and not for the googelists. It takes balls of sponge and nerves of stiff rope to get through this challenge. Are you a man or a wimp? Magician or mentalist? Playful silk waver or bold razor blade swallower?

Ready? Here we go:

Which magician…

  1. …was responsible for giving Buster Keaton that nickname, “Buster”?
  2. …sort of “discovered” the peaceful fishermen’s bay of Benidorm in Spain and “helped” turn it into a touristy hot spot?
  3. …once quipped that all of Harry Lorayne‘s books were actually forcing books for the words “I”, “me”, and “mine”?

Hint no. 1: We are talking three different magicians here, all of them famous.
Hint no. 2: Harry Kellar was none of them; his picture above (a reprint of an old program) just happened to be around.

Addendum: No, you can’t win anything here, thanks for asking. This is not a freakin’ call-in TV show, you know! Get over it and rejoice if you scored two or three strikes. If you didn’t score at all, you may want to consider reading some more magic books and old magazines instead of endlessly watching youburp tutorials and pirated one-trick DVDs.