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I am a big fan of the book "programs of famous magicians." It's very helpful to see who was doing what when. Years ago when I was reading it for the first time I saw how many people were making a big thing out of the thumb tie and began working on it.

The two methods that kept popping up were the "Willard" tie, and Irv Weiners. Part of the Willard tie may be found in the John Novak "Art of Escape" series, book #7. However, he leaves out an important move! More on that in a moment.

First get about six feet of 1/4-inch hemp rope. The center is prepared by rubbing bee's wax (or soap if unable to locate wax) to the middle three feet of the rope. This prevents injury and burns. USE hemp, from an audience standpoint, it looks painful as heck! Now you get two LARGE men on stage (this is important, and the real secret). Each is given an end of the rope (ala the Blackstone/Keller tie routine), and they pull and what have you. The performer stands in the middle and hooks his thumbs over the rope. The thumbs point down, towards the stage floor. The thumbs are parallel to each other. Now a single loop is made (if you pulled your thumbs out you would have a knot in the rope), and pulled tightly. Here comes the sneaky stuff.

You raise your hands to eye level (yours) and turn your palms out AS FAR AS YOU CAN. You are showing the palms of your hands to the audience. You patter that the rope is completely around your thumbs.

Now, put pressure on the rope with your arms (which will give you some slack for the next move). Clamp the rope with your thumb and first finger of each hand. Holding tightly you bring your arms down, and close your hands together like closing a book.


Now here is the move NONE of the books have brought up.

Remember the old school boy's trick of the floating knife? Where the knife stays to your hands even though your thumbs are up and the fingers are showing. This works because you secretly have one finger inside the interlaced fingers. Well you do that now, putting the inside finger into the loop! You “interlace” your fingers as you clasp your hands together, inserting the middle finger into the open loop! Now they can pull and twist and go crazy, there is no way you can lose that loop!!!

After they have tied about four knots (that's important), you have them rotate the rope to go between your thumbs. As they do this you slip your finger out, and pinch the loop to the right (or left) between thumb and index finger again. Now as the rope comes between your hands the slack is to one side. Again about four knots are used (again important), and the excess rope is cut off. You really have to do this to see how fantastic a thumb tie it is.

However, we are nowhere near done. What makes the thumb tie work is the penetration effect. Things must happen so fast that the audience feels there is no way you could slip your thumbs in and out that fast. Have your thumbs pulled on and your hands examined often. The secret is to slip your thumb out ON THE OFF BEAT, LONG BEFORE YOU "DO" ANYTHING. This is the reason for the knots. They hide the fact that your thumb is already out! Don't be in a hurry to get your thumb back in either. Practice will show you how to position your body so the audience can't see your "upstage" thumb.

Now for the penetrations. I have an idea about this. I would have eight 12" single rings, and a 12" set of linking rings. I would open with the tie, and then switch those separate rings for the other set! I would use the Tarbell idea of exposing the key, then…oops, getting off the subject. Before the rings (which would be last), I would use a large length of plumbers pipe! Having the men hold the pipe at different angles and linking and unlinking my arms. The finish to get the men off would be for them to take the rings and give them to people in the front row.

Now you play catch with the rings as you link each one on your arm. When all are there hold your arms up for an applause cue. Now comes real sneaky. If you are on stage, with an assistant, reach “off stage” for the scissors "to cut the rope". Unlink your hands and he actually takes the separate rings off your arm and puts the linking rings on as you get the scissors between your hands.

Have two LADIES come up to cut you loose, and go into the linking rings!! Lacking an assistant I'm sure a special table could be arranged to make it so you could do it yourself! It's so good; I think I'll put it in my show!!!
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