Meir Yedid
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Magician has his very real 'Rocky' story
By DAVID KEITH, Sun Staff

 

Meir Yedid
FINGER FANTASIES
Magician Meir Yedid shows just part of his Finger Fantasies routine during his visit in Jonesboro Friday to give a lecture to the Northeast Arkansas Magic Club. And yes, he really does have all the fingers on his left hand.

Meir Yedid believes all performers need something unique so their audiences won’t forget them. The magician had a special act he could call his own, but a car accident caused a change of hand for his sleight of hand.

"I think every entertainer needs something to be remembered by. Everybody needs a gimmick."

For Yedid, an Israel native who immigrated with his family to New York when he was 10, the trademark is "Finger Fantasies," an act using only his hands and no props which is highlighted by him making each of his fingers disappear.

"I wanted to do magic without any props at all. I wanted to always be prepared," he said. "It’s the best kind.

"Once I had the idea, I kept evolving it into what I have now." After the seed was planted, "I just took it a few steps further."

Not that it was a piece of cake coming up with the Finger Fantasies routine — the five-minute act Took two years of work.

Yedid was in Jonesboro Friday to present a lecture to the Northeast Arkansas Magic Club, which is celebrating its l0th anniversary this year.

He first became interested in prestidigitation while growing up in Israel and watching a television show on magic that taught a new trick every week. "It’s like a bug that bites you." Yedid now specializes in "close-up magic."

That which is designed for small groups and which he said is "the finer, more technical part of magic" involving cards, coins and the hands.

He parlayed Finger Fantasies and his magical right hand into the Society of American Magicians Close-up Magic Championship in 1981, one of the highest awards obtainable in the field. Yedid also published the first of his seven books on magic that year and was climbing to the top of his profession.

That climb was abruptly halted in 1986 in the automobile accident which severed one-third of his right hand.

Even when he first arrived at the hospital, Yedid said, and a microsurgeon was examining his mangled right hand and arm, he was trying to perform Finger Fantasies with his left hand and "I was trying to explain to him and show him" the importance of being able to perform again.

After nine operations and extensive therapy, Yedid was able to work toward performing once more, but not with his right hand. He lost one finger in the accident, but, very emphatically, never considered giving up magic. "It really didn’t effect me. So you can only do 900 tricks instead of 1,000. That’s still 850 more than you’ll ever need to do in your lifetime." Yedid did say, "I don’t do as much coin magic because it’s so hard to handle the coins."

And Finger Fantasies — magically, shall we say — shifted from his right hand to his left.

Another challenge has now been added to each of Yedid’s performances — "Hiding the fact that I’m missing a finger. If a magician can make an elephant disappear. I should be able to hide the fact that I’m missing a finger," he said while showing his ever-present smile.

Not seeming bitter at all about his accident, Yedid said it lit a fire in him. "Since my accident, I’ve been working more. I was getting lazy." It is now to the point "I always have work." But that doesn’t mean he’s finished.

Yedid can vary his close-up routine depending on what is requested by those hiring him and it usually lasts from 20 minutes to one hour. For his next step, "I’d like to do a good standup act, a full evening’ act" which would last from one and a half hours to two hours. This would be a performance with more and larger props before a bigger audience. "I’m always thinking about it, making plans in my head."

Until he attains that goal, Yedid can revel in some of his other accomplishments.

Like a mirror image of himself, he returned to the Society of American Magicians Close-up Magic Championship in 1988 and took the top prize again, this time performing Finger Fantasies with his left hand and becoming the only magician to win the prestigious honor twice. He also received an originality award that year, which, he said, "goes back to memorable magic" and doing something unique to be remembered by.

"In ‘88 when I won it, I was left-handed. It meant more to me" after having to come back from his injuries and re-learn his craft.

He added with a laugh, "I felt like it was a ‘Rocky’ story."

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