For my first trick,  I must ask for nothing less than complete silence.

I hold in my hand two perfectly ordinary every day jumbo-size magic wands.

From these wands hang different lengths of yarn, knotted at the ends into small, fuzzy tassels.
There's no need for skeptical audience members to "examine" the wands. Hold them up high so everyone can see.
The wands are displayed side by side.

Now, observe:

When the short tassel is pulled down, the long tassel appears to grow shorter.
This effect can be repeated by selecting the opposite tassel.

I extend the newly-shortened tassel, and the formerly-short tassel (the presently-long tassel) is visibly reduced in size!

The crowd surges forward, spellbound!
Young and old alike stare goggle-eyed in disbelief at the extraordinary illusion unfolding just above their heads.
I can sense the collective mind of my audience working twice as hard - overtime - to solve this puzzle. To “make sense” of the impossible!

But being a magician means being a leader, and quite often I feel obligated to suspend the fascination for as long as possible.
No, ladies and gentlemen - this is not a hallucination!

One goes up while the other goes down!

One goes down while the other goes up!

But HOW???
How can this be???

How can two independent objects appear to interact - nay, communicate with one another in such a seamless, synchronized ballet?
Then, with tremendous fanfare:

I separate the wands at arm's length, proving once and for all they are in no way connected!
This shuts everybody right the fuck up!

The wands continue to function as promised.

There are no magnets or smaller, invisible threads working behind the scenes.
The audience rewards my efforts with delicious applause!

God damn right, you little pieces of shit!

You'd better be grateful. I'm up here busting my ass to enrich your lives.

You're welcome!


These magical wands have placed me directly at the center of the entire universe!
I feel the continuums of space and time warping, bending like flowers to the bright warm sun of my irresistible presence.

Anything I've ever deserved is now mine for the taking!

The taking!

Would YOU like to learn how to accomplish this incredible effect all by your lonesome?



Obtain a freshly sharpened pencil or chopstick.

Stab it hard and fast, clean through one end of a Pringles can.

Kids: have an adult hold the can.

Thread through each hole a length of cheerful yarn, along which you've strung a small counterweight.

A washer, your car keys, whatever. Anything with weight, and a hole wide enough for string.

I'm using my pager, which hasn't gone off in eight months. I think it needs a new battery.

A Instring aperture
B Outstring aperture
C Balance drift chamber
D Source length
E Tassle length
F Opaque adhesive
G Counterweight
H White endcap adornment
I Translucent adhesive
J Pringles lid

Wrap white paper around each end. Use black electrical tape to seal two cans together in a continuous tube.



Stay focused!

After many hours in the magic lab architecting one wand, you probably won't be in the mood to produce a second one. But therein lies the whole point, I guess.


Give yourself enough room to test the equipment.

Set the wand's tassel to the down position, fully extended.

When you raise the wand to a sharp incline, gravity slides the weight back down the tube.

The string gets sucked in, and the tassle is magically pulled upward!

By an invisible ghostly hand??

Who knows!

Can you see where this is going? See how I've painted it all black and wand-like?

Let's do it again!

Start with the tassel in the down position.
A gentle lift, and up it goes!

It's a direct ripoff of the old Chinese Sticks illusion, but mine's better: it's bigger and made in America.

Maybe on July 4th, I'll make a set with big huge flags on the ends. Flaming flags!
Tilting and reeling in one tassel while manually extending the other, back and forth, over and over, is guaranteed to provide even the most cantankerous audience at least three full hours of breathtaking entertainment.

Q: What to do when enthusiasm begins to fade?

A: Share the spotlight! Invite two volunteers from the crowd to assist.

This breaks down the “third wall” often located between artist and audience.

It's important for these junior apprentices to feel welcome.

Most kids have never been on stage before, and they might be a whisper nervous! Each deserves a moment of appreciation.

Everyone give it up for these fine audience participants!

Ask one child to extend his or her hand to grab a tassel.

No, silly! The clean hand!
When child A extends tassel A on wand A, go ahead and raise tassel B.

Incredible! See? It has absolutely nothing to do with you!
It really is magic, and anyone can play.

You're merely a conduit for the unknown.

People want to believe!
Now, shift your attention to child B.

Invite him or her to repeat the process, extending tassel B while you lift wand A.
Finally, hold the wands in front of you, and extend both tassels!

It's time for the big finish!

Pretend to “pluck” an imaginary hair off one child's head.
Wrap the imaginary hair around each tassel, and tilt the wands upward.

Each will shorten to its original position, and you can take a well-deserved bow.

Next Time: Unshackling your legs from behind your back and escaping from a locked, underwater tank.