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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » The Famous Flash Paper Mishap (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Antony Gerard
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Kalamazoo, Michigan
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Hi Richard

I thought the two stories were to close to be of different events. Incidentally, Murry was a friend of mine and he used to set up his items in my booths at magic conventions. He also visited me often at my magic shop “The Timid Rabbit” in Kalamazoo and on the day of his accident I called his shop because I wanted to place an order. When I phoned I was told that he had not yet arrived at the shop and they were becoming concerned because we was supposed to have been there hours before. From what I heard, it was one or two days later when they discovered that he was in the accident.

Take care and take cards
Antony Gerard
Bill Palmer
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Eternal Order
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Quote:
On 2005-04-26 13:03, Payne wrote:
I don't know, sounds kind of apocryphal to me. Wouldn't the fumes coming off the sulphuric, nitric acid mixture be rather toxic in the confines of a hotel bathroom?
Plus how does an out of town magician get his hands on the necessary ingredients?

Wasn't there a similar story of Paul Winchell ruining a hotels plumbing with plaster of Paris when he attempted to make a copy of Jerry Mahoney in his hotel room bathtub?

My favorite flash paper mishap story is the one where the guy is trying to make flash bills using his companies photocopier. I guess he got about halfway through before the residual heat ignited the paper.

During those days, you could get the acids at the local drug store or hardware store. Things were much more easily available then. But I can't imagine that anyone would do that. On second thought, I can. I read this forum.

Galli-Galli was booted out of the Rice Hotel in 1957 when he stopped up the plumbing by flushing baby chicks down the toilet.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Mike Ching
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Honolulu, Hawaii
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Two stories.

#1 (Just Strange)

Bought a pack of Paper from a friend/dealer even though I had reservations about it (strange yellow color). On getting it home I noticed that the papers could not be seperated. Thinking maybe it needed to air out I left the "paper" (which by now resembled a thick yellow credit card) on an outside sink under a pebble weight while continuing show set up. Passing it every so often, it just kept looking stranger and stranger. Finally after a couple of hours I checked to find it now had compressed in a bubbling blob of smoking yellow stuff that looked like chewing gum. Hazmat arrived (Just kidding about that part). Didn't say this was funny, just strange...

#2 (Stranger Still: A Classic Magic Urban Legend)

Heard this from many people, supposed to have happened to someone from around here, but I bet similar stuff happened Everywhere.

Magician in a rush enters a set-up area in the clients laundry room and discovers his flash paper is still stored wet. In a stroke of brilliance he tosses the paper into the clothes dryer and sets it for 5 minutes. (FOOM). Host in next room comes back to see what that weird noise was and walks in on the magician apparently playing with his wifes' flaming underwear.

Oh yeah, sure, like this hasn't happened to you...
RJE
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Here's a couple of flash paper stories:

The first story was related to me many years ago and involved the late Herb Morrissey, founder of Morrissey Magic.

Apparantly, back in the late 50's or early 60's after Herb would do a night club show, he would sell sheets of flash paper to members of the audience. After one particular show, a patron bought 6 sheets, folded them and put them into the breast pocket of his shirt. He paid Herb and as the buyer was putting his wallet back into his pocket, the cigarette in his mouth touched off the flash paper. Herb, without missing a beat asked, "Would you like to buy 6 more?"

The second story is about my trying to spruce up my vanishing cigarette routine for table hopping in restaurants. This goes back to the early 80's when smoking in restaurants was the norm. I had been doing a TT vanish of cigarettes and wanted to add a little something, so I thought, "Why not put a piece of flash paper in the bottom of the TT?"

First time trying it, I was standing at the end of a long table that sat about 10 people. I dropped the lit cigarette into the TT and there was a nice little pop and flash. I thought, "Cool. Just what I wanted!" As I was putting the TT back on though, something was missing, the cigarette! A person seated at the far end of the table chimed, "If you're looking for the cigarette, it's down here." My little "improvement" had actually turned the TT into a mini cigarette mortar and fired the cigarette butt out about 6 feet. Needless to say, I gave up the idea of doing it again. Smile

Rob
Mike Ching
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Honolulu, Hawaii
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Reminds me of another one...

In 2000 wuz Prez of our Hawaii SAM when we took the Legendary JIMMY YOSHIDA & wife Aggie to the PERRY & PRICE SATURDAY RADIO SHOW high atop the Sheraton Waikiki with a gorgeous view of the beach & Diamond Head. (Jimmy had just been inducted into the SAM Hall of Fame, and this was the states' most popular radio team).

Jimmy demonstrated his famous "Volcano" cigarette vanish for the radio duo, dropping a lit cig into a thumbtip full of flash paper rolled in a bill, (similar to what you described above). Wiley "TENGU" did not reveal to magicians present that he had stuffed an ENTIRE sheet of flash paper into the tip, he wanted to Surprise us.. which he did..

What no one had taken into consideration was that the roving wireless mike positioned near Jimmy (To describe "Magic on Radio") was held by small, energetic island-girl Production assistant, "SWEETIE" PACARRO. When the flash went off, (a 4' column of flame), so did Sweetie.

Through the Magic of Radio, the ensuing shriek deafened dogs across the state. The hapless engineer (on headset), calmly went to change his underwear and the show quickly got back to normal.

This maybe doesn't quite compare to the famous Yoshida "Midnight Underwear Cake Ambush" incident, which will wait for another day, (perhaps a different thread).
Jared
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Geez, after reading this post I'm getting a little paranoid about the amount of flash cotton and pads in my house. Can anyone recommend the best way to store these hazardous items?

-Jared
Mike Ching
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Honolulu, Hawaii
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Good point. We absolutely should be careful.

Flash paper is made with toxic sulfuric acid and can be casually ignited any number of ways. It looks like innocent tissue paper. Lay people can easily pick it up and throw it into an ashtray, or accidentally deploy it in other ways.

It can be set off by concentrated sun reflections, a superheated lightbulb, birthday candles, car lighters and any kind of sparks. I know people who believe their houses or businesses have burned or sustained damage because of it.

Flash paper is usually shipped wet. Most pros who store quantities keep it wet in safe containers deep in refridgeration (not neccessarily a FOOD refridgerator) and clearly marked.

(There is in fact a trend away from allowing fire use of any type. Entrants in Magic competitions in Vegas find they have to apply and pay for expensive permits to use flash paper, or even to use a lighter or match-pull. While most of the country isn't that extreme it may only take a novice blunder to change that in your area.)

I've seen some very stupid mistakes by people who should know better; tossing lit puffs of FP over the audience for the spectacle of having them vanish "over the crowd", but some batches of flash paper for whatever reason are "slow-burning" and not everyone checks their stock before using it.

We've seen a lit flash-puff still going when it landed in an audience members lap. Though it apparently went fast enough not to cause real harm, that can be small consolation to a hysterical parent, not to mention kill any chance of salvaging your show & reputation. This incident occurred at a magic Convention and cast a pall over the rest of the evening, (Many fabrics and human hair a la Michael Jackson are also quite flammable).

Sorry this is off-topic but needs to be said.

DO NOT use Flash paper without adequate precautions & backup, (many fire-workers even have their costumes treated with flame retardant) and when performing solo use only small amounts you can control, letting it get no where near the audience.
Jared
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Rhode Island, USA
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Mike,
Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. I keep my flash paper stored in an aluminum container with a lid away from any sources of heat, and hope that it is adequate.

-Jared
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