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JNeal
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In another thread "Levent on the Linking Rings" the conversation drifted to potential subjects for future DVD's. JamesinLA postulated that a history of the manipulation act was a suitable subject. He then posted the names of several people that constituted a timeline of innovations in that field. I replied with a couple of additional names and the reason they were significant.

While this is as James suggested, perhaps better for a podcast or a subject for a book rather than a Dvd, it might be better discussed in this area of the Café'. Accordingly, I have taken the liberty of recreating that part of the discussion here. James was kind enough to include my name in his list ...which is how I got involved. Grateful as I am, I do not necessarily believe I belong in that group, but appreciate the compliment.

Here is what James wrote:

I think Levent talked about T. Nelson Down's vaudville act being in his book. Or at least parts of the act.

It wouldn't have to be all vaudville. I don't know about the evolution of this branch of the art like you guys do, but certain milestone performers/innovators could be the pillars that show the progress. At the risk of showing my ignorance...

Theoretical Time Line List:

Who would be Pre Vaudeville?
Thurston's card act
T. Nelson Downs
Cardini
Mr. Electric
Channing Pollack
???
J Neal
Levent
Lance Burton
etc...
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JNeal
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This was my response (again, transferred from the Linking Ring discussion)


"It's nice to be included (very flattering !) with some of the aforementioned names and this could be a wonderful 'other' topic you might want to start a thread on. "Manipulation Timeline" the idea being a listing of people who made significant innovations or inroads to that craft.
Frankly, I'm not sure I belong!
Nevertheless, I have added some CAPITALIZED names to the above time line of James in LA and a few notes as to why they were significant (to me).

By the way, using the term 'manipulator' herein by me, is just a shorthand term. I never considered myself a manipulator as most people understand it. However it does sufficiently describe those people who perform for large audiences by creating mysteries with smaller objects.


Who would be Pre Vaudeville?
Thurston's card act
T. Nelson Downs
Cardini
TONY MARKS: Created the universal 'pod' table concept allowing an act to work solo, under virtually surrounded conditions
Mr. Electric
Channing Pollack
AUBREY: while maintaining the classic form and method of manipulation sequences , he eliminated body loads and created the 'casual look' onstage
FRED KAPS: Strong technique, and his engaging Personality, combined with situational misdirection (tho' not as situational as Cardini)
NORM NIELSEN: Other that Marvyn Roy, the definitive 'theme' act and featuring elegant manipulation
JEFF SHERIDAN: Brilliant skill and a progenitor of the New York Group: McBride, Lupo, De Paula (Levent would know more about this)
GOLDFINGER: bought musical integration to it's highest level to date, while having the energy equal to Marvyn Roy.
J Neal: (at the risk of seeming immodest, all I did was combine: Aubrey's style, Goldfinger's approach to music with some forgotten tricks.)
Levent
Lance Burton
etc..."
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Bill Hegbli
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Not being an historian, but are any of these names "pre" (I understand that to be before.) Vaudeville? Maybe T. Nelson Downs. I do not understand where this is heading, although intrigued by the posts.
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JNeal
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It's not headed anywhere specifically.

In any case, I've revised my list.
Thurston's card act
T. Nelson Downs
Cardini
TONY MARKS: Created the universal 'pod' table concept allowing an act to work solo, under virtually surrounded conditions
TENKAi : incredible skill, particularly with Cards and cigarettes, a very strong 'double ' act with his wife Okinu...who by the way, ALSO did the manipulations
Channing Pollack
AUBREY: while maintaining the classic form and method of manipulation sequences , he eliminated body loads and created the 'casual look' onstage
FRED KAPS: Strong technique, and his engaging Personality, combined with situational misdirection (tho' not as situational as Cardini)
NORM NIELSEN: Other that Marvyn Roy, the definitive 'theme' act and featuring elegant manipulation
JEFF SHERIDAN: Brilliant skill and a progenitor of the New York Group: McBride, Lupo, De Paula (Levent would know more about this)
SHIMADA , like TENKAI, he worked in a western style for manipulations, but with cards, cigarettes, thimbles, and DOVES
GOLDFINGER: bought musical integration to it's highest level to date, while having the energy equal to Marvyn Roy.
Lance Burton
LEVENT

I removed Marvyn Roy, who wasn't really a manipulator...just a very strong (REALLY STRONG!) Theme act.
I've removed myself for the same reason...not a manipulator.

I hope this gives some perspective to JamesinLA , who was curious about the lineage.

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JNeal
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JNeal
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By the way...James,
I believe the reason there were no manipulation ACTS prior to Vaudeville.. was .because the need didn't exist! Not that performers didn't have the necessary skills, rather the idea of framing a show into a 7 -10 minute 'spot' was because that was the time that Vaudeville wanted of it's performers. Prior to that, a performer might have featured a manipulation sequence in a longer format show.

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JNeal
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JamesinLA
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JNeal,
Great stuff!
The goal is to get people to contribute names they think may fit and also to flesh out what specific contributions / innovations to the evolution of the art they made.

Re: the pre-Vaudeville, I would think it could beokay if the manipulation was a part of a bigger show. That manipulation part could stand on its own if there was innvoation there. Do you think so?

Did Houdini's card act have innovations? He used to sail cards really far. Who was the first one to do that I wonder?

Jim
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JamesinLA
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So for the fleshing out, what would people think should be said about Cardini. What innovations and what evolution did Cardini bring to manipulative magic?

Jim
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JNeal
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There is no shortage of ideas that Cardini brought together. If you have read the Cardini book by Fisher (and Levent) you know that there were several ideas from another performer (whose name escapes me) that Cardini incorporated into his act including much of the character concept.
Nevertheless Cardini used his character to motivate the misdirection..which is why it is still so powerful today.

So we have character driven motivation and situational motivation in Cardini's act at a level that has never been seen before. ( Situational misdirection such as the monocle drop) or any 'planned' mistakes) Cardini was also a pioneer in taking a vaudeville act which has conveniently suitable angles and adapting it ...almost without change to a 3/4 surrounded or nightclub floor environment.

For a manipulator ...this is momentous! Other vaudeville headliners such as Jack Gwynne did this as well, but Jack worked with boxes and props that had angle problems and he used his several assistants to block certain views. (BTW- Gwynne still was able to do the Fishbowl stack under these impossible conditions thru' the use of BRILLIANT misdirection. Read Charvet's book on Gwynne for details)

Another manipulator: Tony Marks did similar type material to Cardini, but without the Character and 'through-line' . And his solution to nightclub floors was do create a box like table that held everything that wasn't a body load...including two rabbits! His solution was extremely practical and became the template for many other acts....but Cardini's solution was unparalleled.

Those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head!
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JamesinLA
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Great great information and insights, JNeal. I'm going to see what I can find out about Tony Marks.
I've been trying to find that book on Gwynne but it's out of print. Will keep looking.

I wonder how could Cardini do his card work 3/4 surrounded?!

Jim
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Bill Hegbli
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Jim, "Tony Marks Aristocrat of Deception" book is available from the author Bev Bergeron or I bought my copy from Denny Magic. It is a poorly written book, but has good information for a manipulator and discribes his act in detail.

Harry Murphy on the Café says he met Tony Marks several times while Tony was touring.
-----------------------------------------

Probably a person who deserves mentioning is Arthur Buckley. He was of the Cardini era. He mentions in his book, of gathering some of his material from a magician calle Allan Shaw. Another magician is mentioned called John Brown Cook. "Principles and Deception" is a wonderful book, printed in 1948.
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JNeal
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Well, I don't consider the book poorly written (at least by magic text standards) but rather pieced together from Tony's own notes and filled in with friends assistance. In that regard, not at all a bad effort. It is certainly a detailed enough work to allow one if one wished to...to recreate the act.

both the Marks book and the Gwynne can be found with diligent effort. and they are worth it!

Harry Murphy's commentary would be appreciated, especially in light of the fact that Marks did NOT care to associate all that much with fellow magi.

Buckley should be praised for his efforts to commit some of this stuff to paper, a thankless task, but as a performer (skilled as he was!) he wasn't in the league of the majority of the list. The "YOu asked for it" footage bears that out. Mind you, I'm not denigrating his technique...which is superlative...but his showmanship just isn't of the first rank: Frakson, Cardini, Tenkai,Marks, Nielsen, et al; But the book is really a gem!

Allan Shaw was another matter. His style, albeit laid back (long before that term was popular) was innovative. he ended his act with a coin roll over the knuckles for a period of time! His patter for the miser's dream was just phrases..seemingly disjointed, and yet almost like ...jazz poetry. His manipulation of a single card was effective and he was a working pro who had lasting impact on so many including one of my heroes: Charlie Miller.

As for how Cardini could work 3/4 surrounded?...well, it's difficult to describe, but the operant principles include shifts of focus during crucial moves (not unlike Tommy wonder's cup and balls...on larger scale), controlled lighting, and in some cases, minor adjustments to routines.
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Anatole
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Acknowledging from the outset that there have been few acts that have been exclusively stage manipulation, one would think that manipulative magic goes much farther back than vaudeville. Matthias (Matthew) Buchinger's dates are 1674-1740 and he was famous for routines like the cups and balls. I think both Carl (1816-1887) and Alexander Herrmann (1844-1896) might be considered as magicians who were adept at manipulation and predate Thurston slightly. I think DeKolta predates vaudeville and is generally recognized as the originator of the multiplying billiard balls.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
JamesinLA
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Does anyone have a concise, workable definition of what constitutes "manipulation magic?"

Jim
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JNeal
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As mentioned above, I like my rather succinct definition:

Manipulator: a person who performs for large audiences by creating 'hands on' mysteries with smaller objects.

Some might want to broaden it to include those who (often using the objects associated with magicians) entertain by demonstrating juggling skills.

Personally, I'll stick with the former.

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JNeal
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Bill Hegbli
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Tim Star told he won a FISM award for Dove Manipulation. So I guess it is broad definition.
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...and how did the dove feel about that!?
LOL!
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Anatole
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Re JamesInLA's question: "Does anyone have a concise, workable definition of what constitutes "manipulation magic?'" The following is excerpted from a book in progress but that I just never got around to finishing:
-----excerpt from _Heavy Magic_-----
Chapter One--Defining Manipulative Stage Magic
"Manipulative stage magic" is that branch of the art of magic that deals with the presentation of magic effects accomplished primarily by sleight of hand and which can be enjoyed and appreciated by large audiences in a theatrical setting. I qualify the definition with the adverb "primarily" because many (if not most) outstanding manipulative acts incorporate at least a few mechanically dependent effects, from the appearing or vanishing cane at one end of the range to the vanishing bird cage at the other. This is not to say that there cannot be more elaborate illusions incorporated into a manipulative stage act. However, since most manipulative stage acts are presented "in one" (i.e., in front of the curtain), the working area pretty much precludes the vast majority of illusions.
-----end excerpt-----
There have been very few manipulative stage acts that are 100% manipulation. As I point out later in Chapter One, Cardini included two non-manipulation effects--the harlequin cigarette holder and the serpent silk--in his act (although I guess you could call the serpent silk manipulation). Channing Pollock's act was an outstanding manipulation act, ending with an apparatus effect--the vanishing bird cage.

Henry Hay coined the term "hand magic" to refer to manipulation, but even he noted that there are gray areas. In Part III of _The Amateur Magician's Handbook_, Chapter 15 "Silks," he notes (page 243): "Most silk tricks take skill, and some of the moves taught in this chapter are downright hand magic."

This is not to say that there are no acts that are exclusively manipulation. Aubrey on one of the HBO magic specials (from the 80's?) did an act with cards and billiard balls that was pure manipulation. I think many (if not most) of the FISM Grand Prix award winners were primarily manipulative stage acts.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
JamesinLA
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What could be said to be Channing Pollack's contribution / additions to the evolution? Thanks.

Jim
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JNeal
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If you acknowledge that others (especially Cantu) produced doves before Channing, it was still Channing's unique methods that made "dove productions' popular and even more deceptive. Cantu produced his doves while wearing a serape...which was limiting in both it's mystery and breadth of appeal.

I am certain there are several others whose expertise and knowledge of the details of Channing's work could address the question better, but from my limited perspective I would say that there was nothing with regard to manipulation that he did, that hadn't already been done before him...and nothing that he did that anyone ever did better than he did!
So he became that 'benchmark standard', the one by which all others are judged. He became a totem..an ideal both as a magical figure and a commercial one.

For an entire generation of audiences he became the recognized image of a magician. Impossibly good looking, suave, and mysterious in manner.
And since he retired from performing at the peak of his fame and abilities...for several generations of magicians, he became a legend.
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JNeal
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JamesinLA
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As an analogy: Mozart didn't break any new ground in the classical tradition of music, but he brought that tradition to it's highest perfection. (Unlike Beethoven, who created the "romantic" style of music.)

Also, it sounds like Channing Pollock created a more deceptive method of dove productions.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
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