Tommy Middleton: Bottoms Up by David Harkey

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii December, 1997)

I confess that I am mystified by this manuscript. I simply cannot decide if the author is utterly uninformed about magic, or merely greedy, or both, but try as I might, I cannot dream up a flattering explanation for why he insists on producing this type of outrage. Since it is not my policy to review everything I receive, I would not even trouble to review this if it weren't that the author is heavily advertising this item. Please: If you want to learn something about Heba Haba Al's notorious Card Under Class routine, try tracking down the following:

  • Workers Volume Three by Michael Close, which includes his multi-phase routine, interwoven with his stunning work on the Card on Forehead
  • The Commercial Magic of J.C. Wagner by Mike Maxwell
  • Bob Sheets' lecture and lecture notes, A Tribute to Heba Haba Al
  • The Collected Works of Derek Dingle, by Richard Kaufman

There are a handful of other magi who also perform interesting versions of the Card Under Object (my own six-phase routine has been my signature closer for the past dozen years). But please note that there's not much to stealing a card and sticking it under an object, in your mouth, on your forehead, or anyplace else you desire to stash it—once. Repeating the feat is what made Heba Haba Al Andrucci a genius, and what makes the trick interesting for both performers and audiences alike. Note too that if one wishes to perform the trick only once, it can be made interesting when truly original and clever misdirection and handling is incorporated, as in the Derek Dingle one-shot version, wherein perfect misdirection can enable a skilled worker to place the card a mere three inches or thereabouts from the spread, then walk away and yet still not have the spectator notice while they search for their card. This is a far cry from the all but useless drivel in these scant pages, consisting of little more than a fairly obvious variation (ending with an angle palm of the card) of Alan Ackerman's Ackerman Varies Kelly move from The Esoterist (by the way, in Las Vegas Kardma Mr. Ackerman provided an excellent variant of this same control that efficiently delivers the selection into bottom palm while leaving an outjogged card in play) followed by instruction to load the card under a glass. As usual, the pamphlet is beautifully designed and produced. But the content barely warrants submission to a magic journal for publication—probably only to then be rejected.

4 - 1/4" X 11" saddle stitched; 11 pages; 8 illustrations; 1997; Publisher: Oasis