Late-Night Legerdemain

Infomercial magic coach Larry Anderson insists that he's not a magician. He'd much rather discuss his life as an actor, producer, game-show host and "budding director." Nevertheless, the 49-year-old Minnesotan has charmed $9 million from insomniac TV viewers with his 12th infomercial product, "JawDroppers" (prior offerings include "The George Foreman Party Grill" ). For $59.90, the four-video "JawDroppers" package ( helps nonspecialists "break the ice with strangers, or that special someone of the opposite sex" with feats of illusion using everyday objects. In a Sherman Oaks bistro (after Anderson draws a lady from a nearby table with a string-cutting illusion), we get tricky.

You reveal how magic tricks are done. Aren't you messing with the IBM [International Brotherhood of Magicians]?

All art forms should be passed down. Anybody can learn for free in the library. These tricks have been taught for years; you can read them on the back of a cereal box.


What do you love about this art form?

It's so pure. It transcends any cultural barrier. It's always a delight to see our physical laws defied with lightness. To me, magic means: You're gonna fool me, you're foolin' with the physical universe.


And the chicks?

Oh, man, yes indeed. It makes you intriguing. For me, after magic everything changed. I went from a geek to instantly becoming interesting.


You did magic for John and Julian Lennon?

I was magic advisor for Bill Bixby on the Paramount prime-time drama "The Magician." It was Julian's favorite show, so John brought him on the set. [Later] I performed for Paul McCartney at [the former estate of actor] Harold Lloyd. When people asked, "Who's your favorite Beatle?" for me it was, "Who's your favorite Beatle you did magic for?"


You acted on the fourth and final Lucille Ball sitcom, "Life With Lucy"?

As Ted McGibbon, her befuddled son-in-law. Lucy insisted to Aaron Spelling that I play the role. But it was never determined what I did for a living. I never left the house!


What's your weirdest infomercial?

"Create-A-Frame." A decorating kit for picture frames, with colored bits of cloth and paper, ribbons and rags that get pushed through a plastic frame with holes in it. It was just awful.


By the way, what's a "finger flicker?"

That's esoteric magic-ese for a sleight-of-hand artist, one who does close-up magic.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World