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Bill Palmer
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Eternal Order
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Some guys just don't think before they speak.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."
Paul Draper
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Las Vegas, Nevada
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When I was about 12, I bought a small packet magic trick from Showplace Magic and Novelty in Salt Lake City at the Crossroads Mall. The effect was Michael Skinners 3 Card Monte. It was a beautiful piece of magic for a budding magician. Very few moves and lots of moments of magic with natural looking objects. And all that it required were 3 cards that I carried everywhere I went in a little black slip case. On the cover of the package was a debonaire looking magician, and on the back it read "You can see Michael Skinner in person every night at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. Just ask for him at Lillie Langtry's Restaurant.".

When I was 16 years old, my uncle Richard Block took me to Vegas for the very first time with his friend Roger White to see the COMDEX computer convention. It was owned and operated by my future boss and owner of the Venitian - Hotel & Casino Sheldon Adelson . Late on the evening of the second night of the convention, I brought out the package for my magic trick and asked my uncle if we could go to see Michael Skinner. Of course. At Lillie Langtry's they said that he was not in that night. I was very disappointed. My uncle then told the maitre 'd to call Mr. Skinner and tell him that we would give him $100 if he would come out and perform.

After we enjoyed dinner and a few rounds of tea, Michael Skinner arrived. Now an elderly man, hunched over. But in a lovely suit and impeccable hair. When he reached the table, it was like his body inflated and he became 20 years younger with a full smile on his face. For the three of us at the table, he performed amazing feats of magic, storytelling, and sleight-of-hand magic. Each piece more amazing than the last. Finally closing with an effect that I would learn later to be Sam the Bellhop which utilized the entire deck and filled the entire table.

After our applause, I asked my uncle if he thought we could ask him to perform the three card monte. "My neph here has your 3 Card Monte and he wondered if you would be willing to perform it for us." Michael Skinner reached into his pocket and produced a brand new set, just like mine had been 4 years prior. In the same plastic slip case that they were sold with. He then said "You have one of these? Then you already know how it's done. But I'll show it to you exactly as it is described and the same way I performed it on TV." He then executed it perfectly, and handed me his set of 3 cards in the case and with a smile said "And now you have a back up set.". My uncle gave him the $100, +a tip, and thanked him. Michael Skinner then got up to leave, and as he walked away, he slowly shriveled and turned back into an old man. It was as if the magic brought him to life for our time together. He passed away just two years later

He had performed 2x on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. 2x won Close Up Magician of the Year from the Academy of Magical Arts at the Magic Castle. And he famously once performed 28 different shows at the Magic Castle without ever repeating an effect.

As the story goes, Steve Wynn (Owner of the Wynn Resorts) saw him perform and personally brought him to Vegas to work at the Golden Nugget where he took care of all of his needs. Saying that he was a living piece of art.

A few days ago I acquired 3 dusty VHS tapes from 1998 where, near the end of his life, Michael Skinner decided to share some of the secrets from his magic. I can tell that he is quite medicated, and his hand has a tremor. But it is such real magic to see him work and re live those memories from my youth. What a joy the next 6-8 hours of magical instruction will be.

And today, every time I or any magician performs in the Close up room of the Magic Castle, his picture hangs above our heads proudly positioned with some of the greats who have passed before us.
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