"Recollections" by Bill Wisch
Updated: Feb 8
Author's Note: On this day, 32 years ago, my friend and mentor Quintino Marucci (Slydini) passed away. His funeral and burial are as vivid in my memory today as it was then. I am honored to be the only person who Slydini gave permission to lecture on his original routines and techniques.
Every day I do my best to keep his traditions, incredible insight and honest love for the art of magic alive.
I have chosen today's entry for "Slydini - The Legacy" because it gives a bit of true understanding about who Tony was as not only a magician, but as a person. Tony loved magic and Tony loved people.
Long live Tony Slydini's magic and long live Quintino Marucci in the hearts of those who were as blessed as I was to call him friend.
Quintino Marucci: September 1, 1900 -January 15, 1991
Originally Published: July 2000
In this entry of "Slydini - The Legacy" I'm going to present a different kind of Slydini Legacy. No tricks and theory at all.
I thought I'd share a few recollections about an evening in 1976 that Slydini had come over to my place before starting on the photographs for the first set of books the next day. I think you'll enjoy a few things I remember about that time.
After picking up Slydini at his home/studio on 45th Street in New York, I drove him to my place and expected an evening of magical talk and stories as well as a few effects performed and explained as only he could do. Instead, I was surprised to have a magical evening of a different sort. Slydini actually made a "formal" announcement as we started dinner. "Could we please not talk about magic at all?", he said. "We can talk about anything else but I would like it if we could not talk about magic at all."
Naturally I agreed and was totally taken off guard, but my biggest question was what we would talk about. Here's this guy who I know only in a magical framework. What gives? I literally remember thinking it would be a lousy time and probably a dull evening. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Slydini was very much up on the current events of the day. I always assumed he was only consumed by magic and moves and construction of routines. But he was also a master of a number of other things. He made and tailored all of the ornate costumes he wore. These were gorgeous and a big part of his stage persona. He also hand-made all of the nylon scarves that he used and sold for his legendary Silk Routines. This was no easy task. He preferred using an old model, foot-treadle sewing machine and the hems he made were extremely narrow and almost impossible to make. I tried (and others also) to have a seamstress make or repair some Slydini Scarves and they would laugh at me. Believe me it was not only craftsmanship of the highest degree but a labor of love for him to go through the trouble and exactness necessary before he would sell or give away the scarves.
I remember coming over to his studio many times and he would have his reading glasses down at the tip of his nose when he answered the door. He would be just finishing up a batch of scarves. Great memories!
Also, he was a master at painting simulated marble adornment on wood. His whole studio was covered in what looked like, marble of the finest quality. The studio had a tremendous Neapolitan atmosphere because of it. He showed me how he did some of the artwork once and I was blown away by the time and exactness he required to get even a small patch done.
I knew he was multi-faceted and talented but when he started discussing politics and current events of the day it really was a surprise! I was fascinated and enthralled by his views and detailed knowledge on such a wide variety of non-magic issues.
Our discussion went on for a couple of hours and then he finally got the magic bug back again and did a killer card trick for me. I had absolutely no idea how it was done and he kept me on the fence for a long enough time that I actually thought this one was going down without an explanation. It was a fantastic mental card effect with my deck of cards that completely fooled me. I was really wondering how it was done! And the more he did it the more perplexing it became (he must have done it twenty times!). Then the silence I mentioned began. Fortunately at long last, he had mercy and exposed his method and handling and I was most grateful to say the least!
After that he talked about trips to Europe and other times when he got totally away from magic altogether. Imagine that? Slydini actually went and toured Europe one time for an entire three month period, he said, when he did no magic and came in contact with no magicians! He said, "I needed a vacation".