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  • Bill Wisch

M&M Good! by Bill Wisch

Original Publication Date: December 1999

Author's Note: With three lectures remaining on my "Slydini Admiration" Summer 2023 Lecture tour, I thought it would be fun to include this entry in "Slydini - The Legacy". I used this anecdote in many of my lectures on the tour to describe why I so greatly admired Slydini's genius and creativity. I also use this story in my lecture to emphasize how Slydini came up with many of his effects and insights into his own magic. This entry gives some insight into how creative he was.

I've mentioned a number of times that one of the joys of taking private lessons with a person like Slydini, for me at least, was to be able to see how he thought when he developed a new routine or effect. I was blessed to witness the process quite a few times...maybe because I initiated it a bit.

I used to bring in odds and ends that were not associated with Slydini and come away with either a gem of a routine he used to do in Boston when he was building his reputation, or an effect he had forgotten about completely or came up with right on the spot. This effect is one of the latter.

I used to get to Slydini's studio at around 2PM, much to his chagrin. Because he was a "night person", he preferred evening or night sessions with students and was never too thrilled that I came in the afternoon. But because I couldn't make it at night he, luckily for me, he made the effort to be "bright-eyed and bushy tailed" in the afternoons. I usually would pick up something to munch on, like a candy bar or pretzel, after I left my morning sessions with Max Londono, when I studied with him. One of those days I bought a package of M & M's and dropped them into my briefcase to eat on my drive home.

At the lesson I brought out a common bill tube and asked Slydini if he ever had used one or had a routine he would recommend. He looked at me with a "I never worked much with that tube thing before" look. Don't ask me how it happened (it's probably on one of the tapes) but somehow he got a hold of my bag of M & M's. He didn't want to eat them...he wanted to try something with them and the tube. What a trip!

Now this is a statement meant with extreme admiration and respect for Slydini. Are you ready for this? It appeared to me (at least during the sessions I spent with him) that Slydini was like everybody else when it came to developing an idea into an effect. He didn't have any secret formulas or anything like that. He always studied the props and thought...and thought...and played with the props....and thought....and thought, etc. Then he would try whatever he had figured would work and more often than not, it would end up as a pure miracle!

He had an extremely magical mind and the incredible knack and ability to infuse his many years of creative, magical thinking into a tool to help create or re-create whatever he was working on at the moment. Not only did my observation of him help me a great deal with my own creative sequencing in later years but it gave me flat-out hope that a dumbbell like me could actually come up with something worthwhile and make it work on occasion. It gave me a lot of confidence seeing a master like him create his miracles the same way most any other magicians would...hard work and "trial & error".

It took about an hour from start to finish, for Slydini to create an effect using the bill tube and the bag of M & M's. And it's a delightful, little mental effect with a very clever modus-operandi.

You introduce the bill tube and unlock the little padlock, putting it on the table. Next you remove the top and dump out five or six (depending on how many will fit into your tube) different colored M & M's. You instruct the spectator that you will turn your head and while you're not looking, he or she should drop the M & M's into the tube in a random order, color-wise.

Now you turn your head back and announce that you will NOT LOOK AT THE TUBE! While you look up and around you stick the tip of your finger into the opening of the tube and look pensive as you mutter to yourself as you would while trying to discover something. Now you say with authority, "you can put the top on!", to the spectator. The top is put on. You pick up the lock and lock the top of the tube. Now you place the tube down onto the table for all to see.

Ask the audience..."do you think I could know the color of the M & M on the bottom of the stack in the tube?" They say it would be impossible for you to know that since your head was turned and you never saw anything. It really blows them away when you announce a color, have them open the lock...carefully remove the M & M's and they see that you knew the color of the M & M at the bottom of the tube!

What's nice about this is the fact that, not only can you repeat the effect a number of times but the repetition makes it more effective!

Have you guessed how it works? What a novel idea with a bill tube!

When you have them put the M & M's into the tube you really don't look. When you put your fingertip into the tube you don't look either. In fact you never look at the tube when the top is off. You look at it when the slide is open at the bottom! How does the slide get open, considering the tube is shown from the very beginning?

Well, when you put your fingertip into the tube to pretend to pick up some "color-vibes", you give the top M & M a slight push. That causes the slide to open slightly at the bottom. Now after you have them put the top back on, you pick up the lock and as you put the lock on you get a peek at the base of the tube hidden in your hand and you see the color of the M & M at the bottom! Is that killer or what!?!

This is pure Slydini. An effect that is totally to be repeated...utilizing a magic prop in a way its never been used to allow for acting and fun...and , last but not least!...a total joy to perform!

I never divulged this secret to anyone. I had the pleasure of performing it a lot...especially back in the 70's and 80's when I toured. All I can say is that it is "M & M Good"!


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