Fechter: The Magic of Eddie Fechter by Jerry Mentzer
Format: Hard Cover
Author: Jerry Mentzer
Illustrator: Richard Bartram, Jr.
Publisher: Magic Methods
Pages: 265 pp.
Fechter was written by Jerry Mentzer and published in 1993 by Magic Methods. It contains 265 pages and is packed with the excellent card and coin magic of legendary bar magician, Eddie Fechter. This great tome contains the complete text of Magician Nitely, Mentzer’s 1974 book on Eddie’s magic. The photographs from Magician Nitely have been replaced with line drawings, and errors have been corrected for this large volume. This book also contains Fechter tricks published in other books and magazines. Unfortunately, it does not contain Eddie Fechter’s Dice Holdout Methods for Magicians, a small book written by Jerry Mentzer in 1974.
Eddie Fechter was one of the premiere bar magicians in the United States from the early-1950s, when Eddie bought the Forks Hotel in Cheektowaga, New York, to the mid-1970s, when Eddie had to give up performing because of his suffering from leukemia. Eddie and his team of performers, including Ray Mertz, Harrison Carroll, Bill Okal, and Karl Norman, entertained customers daily at “The Forks.”
The book begins with a short foreword written by Jerry Mentzer in 1992. Following the foreword is a three page section entitled “Background Information.” It gives just that, background information about Eddie Fechter and the Forks Hotel. This was reprinted from Magician Nitely, as was the Introduction – by Dai Vernon – which follows. When reading the Professor’s thoughts on Eddie Fechter and his magic, it’s obvious that this man was legendary and highly regarded.
Following the Professor’s writing is a biography of Eddie Fechter by Harrison J. Carroll. Fourteen black and white photographs of the Forks Hotel, Eddie Fechter, his friends, and much more are found on the next seven pages.
Ed Eckl and Rob Allen cover the next section of the book with their recollections of Eddie and events at the Forks Hotel. They relate stories of gags performed by Eddie, and how Eddie would capture his crowd’s attention. Reading and studying the things Eddie did - and figuring out why he did those things - will greatly help any performer to entertain an audience.
Reading the preceding text was a real thrill. I actually feel, now, as if I, myself, had known Eddie. The memories of Ed Eckl and Rob Allen capture the essence of what the Forks Hotel must have been like.
The magic effects start next with a chapter on the spectator peek. The Imperfection Peek utilizes a card with a flaw to control a selection, as does the Peek Control with a Corner Short Card. Both are wonderful methods of controlling a card with the spectator peek. There are several other peek controls and forces in this chapter, along with two excellent effects utilizing these sleights.
The next chapter contains miscellaneous Eddie Fechter magic, including several excellent card effects, a superb coins across, a card revelation, Eddie’s handling of the pass, an outstanding card control, Eddie’s multiple shift, and a tabled card switch. All of the effects and sleights are worthy of your time. Also included in this chapter is That’s It!, a routine which appeared on Michael Ammar’s Easy to Master Card Miracles series. It is, essentially, Fechter’s variation of Charlie Miller’s Dunbury Delusion, and an absolutely astonishing variation it is. In effect, a card is selected and lost in the pack. The magician then shows the spectator several cards, one of which is his selection, but the magician discards them as if he didn't known he had passed the spectator's choice. The performer then displays an indifferent card and tells the spectator that it is his selection. The spectator, of course, denies the fact. The conjurer is persistent, though, and when the card is shown again, it has changed to the spectator’s selection. The effect is magical, and with Eddie’s wonderful presentation, you are guaranteed a terrific reaction.
Bill Okal contributed 34 pages of memories to the book, which make up the fourth chapter. The recollections range from memories of Eddie himself, to memories of tricks Eddie performed, to memories of the Forks Hotel and the other performers there.
Chapter five contains several effects by Fechter that were written up by William P. Miesel for inclusion in the third Fork Full of Appetizers book, a collection of magic by the attendees of the F.F.F.F. convention.
Next is the entire text of Magician Nitely. It begins with a chapter of miscellaneous magic that Eddie often performed at the Forks Hotel. These effects include a wonderful card revelation, an excellent torn and restored cigarette, an effect with a goblin tube, two ace routines, and a beautiful card flourish. Be Honest, What is It? is also in this chapter. This effect is, of course, the trick upon which Two Card Monte, as performed by David Blaine on television, is based. The original is excellent and has an added kicker, which I will not reveal here; you’ll have to purchase this excellent book to find out the surprise ending.
The next chapter gives explanations of many tricks that visitors to the Forks Hotel often asked Eddie to perform. These effects include a wonderful coins across, a fabulous cards across routine, Karl Norman’s presentation of Card on the Ceiling, and Eddie’s Brainwave, Fechter's presentation of this gimmicked deck.
Following the section on requested tricks is another section comprised of Eddie’s earlier work on the spectator peek and its applications. This chapter also contains Eddie’s tried and tested multiple selection routine.
Next are seven miscellaneous items, including an excellent card trick in which the performer riffles through the pack and tosses a face up card into the deck right next to a previously selected card. Also featured are a small-stock false shuffle, Eddie’s ingenious variant of the tabled slip cut, an extremely clever card control, Fechter’s Bluff Pass, the Bar Towel Force, and a card revelation in which a card is sprung from the deck to the opposite hand. Paul Harris’ Instant Replay flourish is based off of this card revelation. After this fancy flourish is a short offering of gags Fechter used at the Forks. Reading the gags and one-liners is very amusing, and trying them out is even more comical.
The Top Card Reversal that is explained next is extremely useful. Following the reversal technique are two prediction effects, the second of which is particularly magical and mystifying.
The remainder of the volume is comprised of items published in Mentzer’s Card Cavalcade series. These items include a faro shuffle stack, a fan shuffle control, a first-rate method for performing a DL from a tabled pack, a card force, two card reversing techniques, two card transfer techniques, and a marvelous card control.
Included in Mentzer’s Card Cavalcade II was another wonderful routine that involves the spectator choosing how the magician will find his card. Also explained here are an Estimation Peek and a method of positioning a card so it can be spelled to.
The last two effects are reprinted here from Card Cavalcade Finale. Both are exceptional tricks. The second, Packet to Packet, is a wonderful card transposition that is fast-paced, wasting no time for the spectator to become bored.
Fechter: The Magic of Eddie Fechter was expertly written by Jerry Mentzer. It contains many wonderful illustrations by Richard Bartram, Jr., that fill in every detail that could be missed from the text alone.
The book was originally published in 1993, and went out of print shortly thereafter. It was reprinted earlier this year and can now be had quite easily. Before the book was reprinted, I hunted all over for the first edition, but I could not find it. I ended up purchasing Magician Nitely to get as much Fechter material as possible. Finally, Jerry Mentzer and Magic Methods reprinted this excellent volume and my search was over. I purchased it from Jerry the day it became available, and it was one of the greatest magic purchases I’ve made. Go pick up your copy; it’s well worth the $45 most places are asking!
Last edited by RoatC on Sat Nov 29, 2003 11:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.