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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » When cigarettes were cool (18 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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paulapaul
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Thank you, Michael!
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Brad Jeffers
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George Ledo
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What made cigarette acts work in the old days was that most people smoked, it was considered sophisticated, and it was a natural in a night-club setting. Yes the burning part and the smoke were good, but there was more to it than that. It was an object that fit in with the times, the setting, the atmosphere, and the performer's character. And then it was turned into something magical.

I don't know what would be a modern equivalent of an item that has all those "qualities," except maybe cell phones or iPods.
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Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2013-12-26 12:36, George Ledo wrote:
What made cigarette acts work in the old days was that most people smoked, it was considered sophisticated, and it was a natural in a night-club setting. Yes the burning part and the smoke were good, but there was more to it than that. It was an object that fit in with the times, the setting, the atmosphere, and the performer's character. And then it was turned into something magical.

I don't know what would be a modern equivalent of an item that has all those "qualities," except maybe cell phones or iPods.


Sounds like you understood the title I gave this thread. Smile
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tophatter
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Will You please Stop teasing Me I love cigarette magic !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Michael Baker
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There are still a lot of people who smoke. They would be a great audience for cigarette magic. The public venues for such a show are probably the more limiting factor. When I smoked, it was both possible and legal in many bars, and in some areas of many restaurants. I enjoyed some good business doing cigarette magic. I'm old enough to remember when the non-smoking sections of restaurants were the smaller percentage of the establishment, and I also remember when there was no such thing as a non-smoking section. Times have certainly changed.

These days, a lot of bars will have areas outside where people smoke. In decent weather, these areas can actually get quite crowded. It all depends on the people who hang out at those bars. In spite of anyone's belief system for health concerns, there are still a LOT of people who smoke. Those spots would be great for a close-up worker who does cigarette magic.
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JNeal
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Does anyone else remember the mid 60's cigarette campaign for Chesterfield 101's which were: "a silly millimeter longer". The ad showed the disadvantages of a longer cigarette such as getting caught in elevator doors etc;

One of the notable TV ads showed a magician whose whose act suffered because the cigarettes were too long. Performing the sleights and playing the on camera magician was Coe Norton!
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DallasFrank
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The best cigarette manipulation act of all time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhZ_DYGK6xY

Ps The cigarette through the quarter isn't the same without a cigarette and is the perfect transition from cigarettes to coins or vice versa

Frank
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On Jul 1, 2014, JNeal wrote:
Does anyone else remember the mid 60's cigarette campaign for Chesterfield 101's which were: "a silly millimeter longer". The ad showed the disadvantages of a longer cigarette such as getting caught in elevator doors etc;

One of the notable TV ads showed a magician whose whose act suffered because the cigarettes were too long. Performing the sleights and playing the on camera magician was Coe Norton!


I do recall those ads. Benson & Hedges really ran with the "too long" cigarette campaign, although I don't know who's ads came first.

@DallasFrank - I agree on cigarette through quarter. I would occasionally do it for kids, using the crayons on their table, but it never got the same reaction (even from their parents), and I was never happy doing it. (Maybe I telegraphed that disappointment?) In spite of the waning popularity and safety concerns regarding fire and smoke, there is still something very magical about smoke and its connection with magic. If you have the chance to see a video of Kalanag do his cigar/billiard ball act, it is wonderful!
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Stperformer
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Of course Cig manip can be done with unlit cigs. Not quite the same but it can work. My favorite example Smile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkcGapH9IqE
Michael Baker
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That was well done. Is that you?

It seems to be an expanded routine of this from Rolland Henning, which I've always thought was a brilliant plot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEfu0l0kdYs

Although basically a production routine, John Calvert did his same routine for more than half a century.

He was doing it with unlit cigs later... http://s233.photobucket.com/user/lelanei......mp4.html

...but used to do them lit. The earliest film I have seen of this is from "Devil's Cargo" 1948. The cigarette routine begins at 10:15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xHZN5dEacE
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Shagbeard
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Surely much can be possible with e-cigarettes.
Magic speaks to the child in all of us. No matter how sophisticated we become, there's still a part of us who wants to believe in an alternative reality, where we can defy the laws of nature.
John Tudor
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Hi,
Sorry for being late to this thread! I hate smoking but love cigarette magic too.
To Jneal and Michael and everybody, here's a clip of Coe Norton doing part of his cigarette act (and diminishing cards), the magician who did the Benson & Hedges commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utyxm8AYCzU

The clip is from a show called True Story, from 1959. In the Benson & Hedges commercials, he was called "The World's Greatest Cigarette Manipulator," which annoyed Cardini so much that it ended their friendship. The Paley Center in NY has a copy of it. Coe also did cigarette commercials for Viceroy, Old Gold, and Lucky Strike, and a handful of TV shows, all performed live. (There's a book on Coe I'm writing...)

You really have to dig into some of the old books to appreciate the almost lost art of cigarette magic. My favorite is Keith Clarke's Encyclopedia of Cigarette Magic - the most sophisticated study I know of.

John Tudor
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Anatole
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Ganson's _Routined Manipulations, Part I_ has a great section on cigarette manipulation with info like:
The Production of Lighted Cigarettes: introduction
Requirements and Preparation: cigarette droppers, cigarettes, hollow pipe & cigar, lighted match from shoe
Manipulations: thumb-palm, to switch a cigarette, aquitment with a lighted cigarette, another production, a vanish & recovery, triple production, through the knees, and multiple production taught
The Routine: in 8 stages
Retrieved from The Magic Reference Pages
http://magicref.tripod.com/books/gansonl......n1-2.htm

I seem to remember that there was some rivalry between Cardini and Frakson as to who was the better cigarette manipulator. You can see Frakson's cigarette work here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5W8kFFra1Q

But what I think set Cardini apart from all other cigarette, card, and ball manipulators was the premise of being intoxicated. In the Frakson video linked to above, Frakson is obviously _making_ the cigarettes appear, whereas in Cardini's act the premise was that the cigarettes appeared by themselves. (And yet, there were sequences in Cardini's act in which it was obvious that it was he who was making the magic happen, as in the billiard ball sequence when he does some ball flourishes. Maybe it just got to the point that Cardini said to himself in the act: "Well, as long as these things keep appearing, I might as well make the best of it." Thus in the card manipulations he segues from bewilderment when the cards appear to taking control by doing the diminishing cards, double fans, etc. (Although Cardini did not do a double fan in the "Festival of Magic" appearance, I seem to recall that he included a double fan sequence in the full act.)

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Dick Oslund
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FWIW...

I mentioned above (somewhere!) that one of my earliest props was the "25cent cigarette production gimmick". I was 14! I had seen it used in a war time movie, by one of the characters. The cigarette was unlit! It didn't take long for me to realize that it was not a practical trick for me! --I had to open with it, due to needing to "put on" the gaff, and, the angles were bad, in most of the gigs I could get. Except for a very brief "attempt" in Senior High School as a pipe smoker, I'm a non smoker.

My late friend, Bruce Russell Jensen, bought the EARL MORGAN lit cigarette droppers, and used them, until the current anti smoking "situation". Morgan's droppers were ultra simple!
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Leo H
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Absolutely correct Sonny. Cardini created a character, and that set him apart from all the others. Levent once mentioned here that Cardini would do fans onstage if he was required to fill in a little more time. It would explain the photos of him onstage with fans in his hands.
Anatole
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Leo, it was interesting to read in the John Fisher biography _Cardini: The Suave Deceiver_ that Cardini also performed some magic catalog standards that we don't usually associate with him. Back in 2010 I wrote the following on The Magic Café:
-----quote-----
If you check page 488 of _Cardini: The Suave Deceiver_, John Fisher writes: "Depending on the demands of the cruise lines, individual spots might need to be expanded to thirty minutes duration... Tricks that he [Cardini] had once dismissed now became sound commercial fillers. One such was the Professor's Nightmare... Others included the Chinese Sticks, the sucker silk and egg... the card sword..." On page 491 we read about Cardini including rice bowls... I would imagine that Cardini talked when performing many of those effects. Ironic, too. I remember Vernon telling a story about Cardini's act before it became the classic, sophisticated silent act. Vernon said Cardini would do the Chinese Linking Rings and patter, "I did this trick for the King of Siam. He said, 'Mr. Cardini, you are a very clever fellow.' I told him, 'Yes, I am.'" Of course, the development of a longer act with patter may have been a necessity when moving from the night club to the cruise ship.

Interesting, though, that Fisher uses the expression "commercial fillers." It suggests that the commercial tricks were added to "fill out" time that was left over from the classic act.
-----unquote-----

On a cruise ship an entertainer is often hired to do two acts: one on the trip out and one on the trip back.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Leo H
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Hi Sonny--I believe Cardini and Swan performed the cruise ships in Oriental garb as Mr and Mrs. Wishy Washy. There's that photo of Cardini performing the Rice Bowls and looking like an early 20th century Chinese conjurer.
Bill Thompson
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Quote:
On Jan 29, 2015, Dick Oslund wrote:
FWIW...

I mentioned above (somewhere!) that one of my earliest props was the "25cent cigarette production gimmick". I was 14! I had seen it used in a war time movie, by one of the characters. The cigarette was unlit! It didn't take long for me to realize that it was not a practical trick for me! --I had to open with it, due to needing to "put on" the gaff, and, the angles were bad, in most of the gigs I could get. Except for a very brief "attempt" in Senior High School as a pipe smoker, I'm a non smoker.

My late friend, Bruce Russell Jensen, bought the EARL MORGAN lit cigarette droppers, and used them, until the current anti smoking "situation". Morgan's droppers were ultra simple!


When I was in school (late 70s early 80s) I remember very vividly a magician who came and did a lot stage manipulation in show and most of that was cigarette magic with /lit/ cigarettes! My how times have changed! Dick, would or did you ever do cigarette magic when you performed in schools back in the day?
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Dick Oslund
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My ONE attempt at cigarette magic was the one that I mentioned above! After I did it a few times, I realized that it was not practical for the conditions I was encountering when I was booked for the Rotary Club luncheon, etc.

I thought there might be some comment on the Earl Morgan lit cig. droppers, as Morgan was a fairly well known act in the '40s (and maybe '30s). Most of the droppers were impractical or ?. Morgan used the simplest method, and it worked!!!

The only magician that I KNOW who did cigarettes was the late Clem Magrum, although, I never saw him do it. Clem did thimbles, coins,cards, balls, ETC. He did beautiful work, although, it was in the '30s "style". If he had stuck with the manipulation bits, which he loved, he would have made it easier on himself. I tell in the book about his obsession with doing a "Thurston" show in a school assembly program. I know he did cigarettes as I saw the props in a small tin box in his prop case, once. And, when I bought all his stuff, there was a Harlequin holder and some other cigarette gimmicks.

I saw, in the '40s, most of the men who did school assemblies, except for Duke and Myrnella Montague, and Bobo. Oh! I also missed Marv Merrilat, Coke Cecil, Fetaque Sanders, Ernie Kobelle, and, John Daniels. Most of those last mentioned never worked the middle west.

Magrum did cigarettes in the '40s. He began to even get "heat" from principals because of the Passe Bottles ("wine bottles")in the '50s. He had a special set spun as milk bottles, and used them for another ten years, until milk bottles "evolved" into cardboard! I suggested that he paint them orange, and call them orange juice bottles, and he got another ten years out of them. I have the world's only passe bottles that are "orange juice"!

I doubt that, today, I would use the Disecto (Abbott's arm guillotine) on account of the terrorist brutality. My routine is FUNNY, as it's a "vegamatic" pitch, but, I'm retired and not likely to do any more high schools anyway. I have an almost new Disecto (I've worn out several, over the years). The routine "kills" in the highs.

Where did you go to high school? I might know who worked that area.
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