mahdi gilbert

Sleight of Hand Without Hands

Toronto-born Mahdi Gilbert is, as far as I know, unique in the world of magic. He was born without hands and feet but created his own system to perform the kind of magic which would, under ordinary circumstances, be called "sleight-of-hand". 

He recently appeared at the EG Conference and you can watch is performance followed by an interview with another celebrated magician, Eric Mead. As far as I know, Eric is the first interviewer who's dared to ask about the specifics of his physical condition. (Heck, I've known Mahdi for about eight years and I've never asked.)

The trick you can see performed is a modern classic known as "Oil and Water" 

Mahdi's work is, in part, inspired by another differently abled magician from Argentina, René Lavand. Lavand lost his right arm in an accident at an early age.

He also worked primarily with cards. Most of his performances revolved around storytelling and even the occasional poetry reading. He described his own work as "Lentidigitation" which was the opposite of "Prestidigitation", roughly translated as "Fast Finger Action". 

If you watch it below, you'll repeatedly hear him say "No Se Pueder Hacer Más Lento" which translates to "It can't be done any slower."

Win a Date with Mahdi Gilbert

Or so the contest says. 

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Toronto magician Mahdi Gilbert just to chat. We were at the Madison Avenue Pub, outdoors on a beautiful day, a place which has a richer magic history than many people will ever know.

Flattering still clearly chosen by Mahdi

You may have come across video of Mahdi online as he has been the feature of several articles and was also featured on Penn & Teller Fool Us on the CW Network two years ago. What makes Mahdi special — and possibly unique — is that he performs sleight of hand, despite not having any hands. (And if you could have seen a guy with no hands set up the tripod and camera to record this discussion, you would have been mightily impressed as well!)

Of course the most exciting part is Mahdi is offering to take one lucky viewer to see my show — Magic & Martini — in Toronto. He's calling it a date, but I'm not sure what your obligations would be. You'll have to watch the video to find out how to win. 

Mahdi Gilbert - Fool Us

There are a few Canadians appearing on this season of Penn & Teller Fool Us. Mahdi Gilbert is perhaps the most remarkable among them because he performs magic despite being born without hands. As a result, all of the magic he performs is done with techniques he devised himself. Actually, all of the everything he does is based on techniques he devised himself, from things as simple as taking playing cards out of their box. Being from Toronto, I've known Mahdi for several years and have watched as his magic has evolved over that time. It's been a remarkable journey to observe and this brief national television appearance is, hopefully, just another step on the path.

So take a look and see if he manages to fool the great Penn & Teller: