Fully Booked | Daryl
By Harapan Ong - Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler and For Your Entertainment Pleasure
Today, we have a two-for-one special, because we will be looking at two books by one of my favourite magicians - Daryl Martinez, or Daryl Easton. These two books, Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler and For Your Entertainment Pleasure, are Vanishing Inc reprints of the original books by Stephen Minch in the 1980s. The originals are of course incredibly rare and hard to find nowadays, so it is nice to see that they have been reprinted, with some extra bonus tricks in each book that weren’t in the original ones.
The reason why I have decided to group them together is because firstly, these two books were published within two years of each other. Hence, I think it is good to review them both in order to get a better, more holistic picture of what Daryl’s magic was like and what his contributions were to the world of magic.
These two books contain various close-up routines from Daryl’s repertoire, which mostly involves cards and coins, with the exception of one routine that uses sponge rabbits. I am of course referring to Daryl’s famous sponge routine Papa Rabbit Hits The Big Time, which has been marketed individually. You can find the description of this great, commercial routine in For Your Entertainment Pleasure. It is a fun, humorous and well structured sponge rabbit routine that ends with an explosion of tiny sponge rabbits in the spectator’s hands.
Speaking of commercial routines, I think the following reasons are what I find most commendable about the magic in these two books.
You can tell that throughout all the tricks, Daryl has really focused on ensuring maximum effect / impact with minimal effort. Most (if not all) of the effects here are not really too difficult, requiring only some basic or classic sleights to accomplish them. It feels like every sleight that Daryl uses has no waste - it all has a well-defined purpose to accomplish a particular effect. That is something I really appreciate.
I’m really quite amazed by how much detail has gone into describing not just the sleights required, but also the presentations and more importantly, the rationale behind why certain sleights of subtleties are used. For example, in the description of Daryl’s Passage of Silver variation, titled The Mysterious Cross of India (in Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler), it explains a particular joke that Daryl uses in the routine, followed by going in detail about how that joke actually acts as psychological misdirection for the sleights required. The book then goes into further detail, explaining why the joke was structured in that way in order to not make the spectator the butt of the joke by using a second line to remove the “sting” of the first line. In the process, the performer can reap a second laugh while making sure everyone in the audience feels comfortable. I feel that these sort of tips and explanations are invaluable to all of us magicians - arguably more important than any trick described in these books.
For those interested in the history of development of ideas in magic, these books are great because they feature quite a few things that are now considered to be modern classics. For example, these books describe the Hot Shot Cut, now considered a classic flourish where a selected card is produced by shooting it out of the deck and spinning into the other hand.
The Hot Shot Cut is a flashy anomaly in these books - most of the other items in here rely on stealthy sleights and good misdirection to accomplish them. Some of the highlights for me were:
Psychological Ace Assembly: This is actually a bonus item in For Your Entertainment Pleasure that wasn’t in the original booklet. It is a simple reframing of the classic Ace Assembly plot, in which the indifferent cards are dealt out first into four piles, before four Jokers are taken out of your pocket, displayed and dealt into each pile. It makes the assembly that much more fooling, in my opinion, because the Jokers are not in contact with the indifferent cards until the very end, so it cancels out the idea of any switches being in play.
Twisted Ace Redivivus: One of my favourite items from Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler. It is the classic Twisting the Aces plot, but with a very shocking ending in which the last Ace vanishes cleanly from the packet, and appears face up in the deck that has remained on the table.
So, if you are someone who is looking to learn from one of magic’s greatest teachers, from a book written by one of magic’s best writers, you really should check out these two books containing the wonderful magic of Daryl. These tricks were genre defining in its time, and I am sure you will find something that you can use immediately in your own performing repertoire.
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