One of the best things about magic is that amateurs have such a large impact on the art. My hometown of Santa Rosa, California, was also the home of one of the great card magic innovators, Jack McMillen. But better known magicians such as Ken Krenzel and Ed Marlo were also amateurs. Another such icon of the art was Benjamin Joseph Lubrant, who performed and published under the name Lu Brent.
Last year, Michael over at iTricks provided the only biography that I’ve ever seen of this unique magician, Bringing Lu Brent Into The Spotlight. He was born in 1903 in New Jersey. It seems that outside of his semi-professional performance schedule and writing for “every major magic magazine of his day,” he preferred to keep a low profile. Still, he was well known in the Philadelphia area where he was a frequent performer. He lived there the rest of his life, dying in 1993 at the age of 89.
In 1934, Chas C Eastman compiled 15 of Lu Brent’s effects in Exclusive Card Mysteries. They aren’t all originally Lu Brent’s effects. In fact, Lu Brent was more known as a technician — coming up with different ways of accomplishing established tricks. And in this book, he’s very fond of using short cards and stacked decks. It isn’t strictly necessary, however. For those with strong technical skills, most everything can be done with a normal deck.
In my experience, magic has a tendency to get stuck in ruts — following fads. And the magicians who really stand out are the ones who are willing to go outside what people are doing now and revitalize older effects. Michael Vincent has done a great job of this, although combining it with flawless technique is what makes it transcendent.
The first trick in Exclusive Card Mysteries is a favorite of mine, “Thought Spelling.” The reason is that I love effects where the audience member doesn’t need to physically pick a card. In this trick, the magician shows a half dozen cards alternately to three different spectators and asks that each person mentally choose a card and remember it. Then the deck is given to each spectator to spell out their thought of card, turning over the card at the final “s,” which of course is the thought of card. It’s especially effective when done for fellow magicians, I find. And it requires no slight of hand, but the addition of a little goes a long way in heightening the effect.
There are other interesting effects. The “Reversed Card Location” is about the best use of a locator card that I’ve seen. And “The Suit and Value Coincidence” is very much like a popular Bill Simon effect from years later. It just goes to show that ideas cycle. But the point of reading old magic books is not to find new routines. In general, the effects in Exclusive Card Mysteries would seem old if presented as written. But the book is filled with different ways of looking at the art of magic.
Recently, I created a copy of Exclusive Card Mysteries in PDF form. I scanned it from an original 1934 edition of the book. And even though it is in the public domain, it is still available commercially. But you would have to pay for such updated versions. I’m sure that anyone interested in card magic will take away at least a couple of ideas from it. As for me, I actually perform “Thought Spelling” — and I really don’t like spelling tricks in general. So take a look. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
The PDF will be available in the next issue of Magic Roadshow, where this article will be reprinted. I’ll provide a direct link to it so you can get the file when it is available.
It’s up! Click over to The Magic Roadshow #163. What a cool little zine it is! Go now. Check it out!