Original Publication Date: June 9, 1999
There was no end to the wonders Slydini would show a person lucky enough to visit his studio on 45th street in New York.
I can only imagine how many hundreds, probably thousands, of magicians and non-magicians were entranced by the master deceiver during the years he had his studio.
I know on a personal note that I brought my mother with me one time and he ended up performing everything and everything for her alone for 3 AND ONE HALF HOURS! She mentioned it again not long ago...how wonderful and memorable that experience was.
One of the routines he did that evening, as I'm sure he did many times, was his version of a one cup and sponge ball routine. He had shown me the routine and as far as I know he only did it at the studio because he used these special, I think they were plaster, cups he had been given as a gift from someone. They were like the little brass cups that have a little knob on the top but these (there where three total) were about 4 inches in diameter at the opening and were beautifully painted with pastel green, blue and red, and then highly finished with a shiny, strong lacquer...they were very unique and pretty. When someone would sit opposite him at his table, your eyes were immediately drawn to the
cups which were neatly lined up on a small shelf directly behind him.
His routine went something like this. He'd ask you which cup you would like to use and then bring it over to the table and let you look at it. He would mention a few little "slydini-isms" (you heard it here first, folks) that would either mention the cups were magical or something along those lines and then he'd position the cup dead center on the table.
He'd ask you to gently lift the cup and unbelievably, a 2 inch sponge ball would be under it. You'd put the cup down and Slydini would show his hands empty...then he invited you to examine the sponge.
Next he'd place the cup on his palm up, left hand and ask you if you think you could make the ball go under the cup. Of course you'd say no and then he'd say, "you're right!" in his usual elfish fashion. "But I can...", and he'd take the sponge from you... crumple it up with his right hand...hold it above the cup and vanish it. "Lift the cup", he'd say, and sure enough, the ball was under the cup again. Unbelievable! It's one of those 'you had to be there' things.
Then he'd say he was going to show you how it was done. He'd put the cup in the middle of the table again and take the sponge...openly and fairly...then vanish it totally, in an inconceivable manner. He would lift the cup and there's the sponge.
One more time he would vanish the ball and it would go under the cup. This would and could go on quite a few times due to his devilish vanishes and moves. Unreal!!!
How? Well, you can look up the standard vanishes, retrievals and moves, like the "imp pass" in "THE BEST OF SLYDINI & MORE" p34 - 44. To write up how he did the above routine would take me a book in itself. Karl Fulves did a masterful job and all of the moves, sleights and subtleties on those pages will give you the methods he used. Just learn them and apply them to a sponge ball. Once Slydini's moves become comfortable you can almost make up routines like this on the spot. The only thing is the load...the fact that he used an extra ball and did the standard, one hand load under (see other magicians' cups and balls routines) while displaying the other ball in the left hand is really deceptive due to the easy concealment of sponge and it's compressibility. The ball looked so big!
You would also find helpful handlings and extras in the Sponge Ball Routine, found in "THE MAGICAL WORLD OF SLYDINI"
If you can find cups like his or even adapt the moves to a regular cup of any type, you will see how a simple effect such as this can be powerful...and different from anything else your audience will see done by any other magician.