The trick? Don’t even think of asking the magician

Meriden Record-Journal, March 27, 2006

By Jeffery Kurz, Record-Journal staff

MERIDEN — Eleven-year-old Shane Bansrupan pulled off a pretty neat trick the other day.

Shane, a sixth-grader at St. Stanislaus School, asked a visitor to pick a card, any card. A card was selected, then returned to the deck, while Shane had his back turned.
After a moment of shuffling, Shane produced the correct card. Voila! The nine of diamonds.

Impressed, the visitor, who should have known better, inquired as to the secret behind the ruse, which is called magic fingerprints.

Shane’s response was more or less in chorus with his classmates:

“Magicians never tell!”

For the past few weeks, Shane has been a magician in training at the Meriden Boys & Girls Club, on Lincoln Street. His classmates include Andrew Donlon, 8,
a third grader at Thomas Hooker School, and Deijuniel Rivera, 8, and Melvin Banks, 9, both second graders at Israel Putnam School.

There are also three girls in the class, but they were nowhere to be found during a recent afternoon session. If that was because of some disappearing trick,
no one was owning up to it.

The class is taught by Jeff Horton, a 41-year-old Branford resident who’s been practicing magic for 25 years.

Horton moved on to a sleight-of-hand trick involving paper balls and three Styrofoam cups. The cups are arranged in line, with a ball placed on top of the
middle cup. The other cups are set on top of the one in the middle and then, after tapping or finger snapping or whatever flourish seems appropriate,
all three cups are lifted to unveil the ball, which appears to have magically moved through the middle cup.

Since journalists are not bound by the same code of silence as magicians, it can be revealed that another ball is under the middle cup the whole time.
Preventing the audience from detecting that requires a certain amount of practice. But after a few minutes all four boys were able to pull it off in convincing fashion.

Horton’s five-week class will culminate with a magic show the first week in April as part of Boys & Girls Club Week,
a nation-wide celebration of 100 years of Boys & Girls clubs.

The Meriden club will also launch a spring schedule of art classes, including “Edible Art,” “Something Fishy,” “Critters in Clay” and “Animation.”

All but animation are new offerings for the club, and reflect a commitment by the club’s new executive director, Don Maleto, to expand programs
beyond the traditionally athletic.

“This is part of the push,” said Maleto, who took over late last year from long-time executive director Gary “Tex” Burt.

“Lots of kids have a lot of different interests and sometimes it’s easy to identify the kid who’s a good basketball player,” said Maleto.
“But we want to get the kid who’s interested in the arts as well. And hopefully we get that basketball player to open his or her eyes as well.”

The magician program is thanks to a grant from the family of Frank Aldridge, who died last October at age 55. Aldridge grew up in Meriden, and
graduated from Maloney High School, but most of his life was in Las Vegas, where he performed as a comedian and worked in casinos,
said his sister, Nancy Ridley.

“But magic was in his heart,” she said.

The family selected Horton to run the program and, said Ridley, “we hope it will be welcomed for years to come.”

Horton grew up in Glastonbury and remembers being attracted to magic at an early age. He performs at birthday parties and company picnics,
and also manages a restaurant in New Haven. “I’ve always enjoyed the restaurant business,” he said, and magic has always been “a nice escape on the side.”

Horton’s method with his students is patient and encouraging. “A lot of magic is extremely easy,” he advised his class. “It’s just how you present it.”

Some tricks go over better than others. One, in which a pencil is made to appear magically floating in the hand, failed to impress.

“That’s not magic,” observed Deijuniel.

“Well,” replied Horton. “It looks pretty magical.”

On his Web site, at www.jeffhorton.com, Horton includes a link to a very cool online magic trick that had at least several in the
Record-Journal newsroom scratching their heads.

There was no letting an opportunity to ask Horton how it works to slip by.

“Can you keep a secret?” he asked.

“So can I.”

jkurz@record-journal.com

(203) 317-2213

Email Jeff Horton or call 203-710-9446 for availability and rates.

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