Slydini Legacy 1/98-3/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

Slydini Legacy 1/98-3/98

January 1998

“The Hindu Delay”
By
Bill Wisch
Slydini used to make mountains into molehills when necessary. By that I mean he would take an obvious negative and turn it into a positive. Hopefully, I’ll mention many, many of these in the coming segments of The Slydini Legacy, but this gem is perfect for this month to start off the new year.

Check out our text, The Amateur Magician’s Handbook, and notice the “Hindu Shuffle”, section 5-C of the Hand Magic With Cards segment. Also check out the I.C.O.M Sleight Library.

The Hindu Shuffle is a fantastic technique and many variations are available. The one I’m mentioning here is using it as a force.

Slydini had several forces (one in particular which has never been in print and which I will put into the library very soon) but the one he used more than any other was the simple Hindu Shuffle force.

He did it like anyone else except for one MAJOR difference. He delayed the viewing of the card.
The bottom card will be the force card. He kept removing small packets off the top, as normal. When the person said STOP, he would put the remaining stock on top of the LH cards in an end-jogged position, about 1 inch or a slight bit more.

Then he would ask the person if they would like to take a few more cards or stop where they were now.
That little delay would add just enough misdirection to mask the fact that the cards were coming off the top and the card that was shown was on the bottom.

I realize that many magicians will say that this is not necessary since the sleight is effective enough in it’s simplicity alone. I agree with that totally.

However, anyone who uses or has used this force can attest to the fact that occasionally someone will notice the discrepancy…not very often, but it happens. Well, with the Slydini delay it NEVER happens!
I use the force myself for one specific effect that must be convincing and, believe me, this is the shuffle that’s perfect in that case.

To recap, normally after taking small groups of cards off the top, and the person says STOP, you normally come right up and show the bottom card and ask that it be remembered. With the Slydini delay, the group of cards are end-jogged about one inch and you ask them if they’re satisfied or want more. If they do, you continue and just repeat the endjog as before. Only after they say it’s OK… at that point you show the bottom card and ask them to remember it. Then continue on with the effect from that point.

Try this and delight in it as quite a number of students I’ve shown this to over the years have. It’s a perfect example of “working smarter…not harder”.


February/March 1998

“SLYDINI’S HANDY-WORK”
by Bill Wisch
 Slydini had many things about him that people found fascinating. Much of his charisma was from the way he did things when he performed. Ordinary actions like casually moving an object from place to place or just looking at the audience, even though appearing innocent, were carried out in a specific, well-organized and pre-planned fashion. How Slydini used his hands to achieve this effect is what I will touch on briefly in this installment of The Legacy.

Slydini had  a very distinct manner about him. He was always unhurried and impeccable…the only time he was quick or pronounced is when it had to do with the specific effect. For example, when he performed the “cards from the mouth” (with the entire deck streaming forth from his mouth) he gave out a loud shriek and literally “freaked out” facially. The stunning surprise of it all was in direct contrast to his normal presentation and made that much more of an impression on the startled audience.

When it came to his hands, Slydini was very fussy and deliberate. He always said his hands were his “instrument” like a violin or trumpet. To him his hands were the whole ballgame. He used to say, “watch my hands” many times during a performance and had a number of interesting techniques he would use to “frame the effect better”, he would say.

Here are a few things about Slydini’s hands that you may find interesting:

1)He always kept his hands absolutely clean and attractive. He also had his nails manicured and used a light coat of clear polish. It wasn’t overdone or feminine, however. His hands looked great!

2)He always said that movement of the hands should be done as much INDEPENDENTLY as possible to keep confusion at a minimum. I have to transcribe my tape to get his exact words but I remember him saying that movement of both hands at the same time always led to a more chaotic appearance to the audience. When you watch him perform his cigarette routines…the misdirection lesson…any manipulation sequences (see the Slydini books or the tapes from the Dick Cavett shows in the 70’s),
you’ll notice that he in fact DOES move each hand independently and it really does look better! I was taught this way and many other students could probably attest to that reaction as well.

3)If I was asked to describe Slydini’s handling of props it would be…”like a mouse walking on cotton”.
By that I mean his picking up, placing, manipulating and general handling was done with gentleness and deliberate attention given to exactness. It was definitely POETIC to see him perform. Like magical poetry with a surgeon’s skill and deftness. This manner was a major part of his charisma, I believe. It fit his whole persona and style. The image he had was one of simplicity and stayed away from outlandish and loud, boisterous movements and presentations.

4)The last observation I want to mention is so simple but so effective. Slydini always CHALLENGED the audience to “look at my hands”. He did this with a casual flair but with a challenge to catch him. This is, in my opinion, what made Slydini so great. He challenged the audience.
Then he proceeded to “fool” the audience badly regardless of how closely they watched. Think about that. I will be going in greater detail when I cover CHALLENGE in my TIP OF THE WAND series on SHOWMANSHIP but I just wanted to include mention of it here because of it’s significance. It’s NOT a personal challenge or one of superiority…it’s just a message to the audience that they can watch all they want and never catch you. Believe me…IT WORKS! I’ve used this aspect for years and must say that it was one of, if not the MOST valuable pieces of instruction I ever learned from Slydini.


Notice: This material “IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN” and is intended for the personal and performance use of International Conservatory Of Magic members only.
This entire page is under copywrite 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 1/98-3/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 1/98-3/98

January 1998

I.C.O.M Online is proud to introduce the following new series of articles by Ron Dayton. The following installment is worth your undivided attention. It is a true lesson in magic.
“Creativity” Part #6
By
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.

BE OBSERVANT

One of the methods I use when developing an effect is to familiarize myself as completely with the object or objects I intend to use in the effect as possible. A cardworker for instance will want to know the following about the brand of card he intends to use. Is the back design conducive to secret marking? Will the pattern allow for secret openings, slits to be concealed by the design itself? Is the card case designed in a useful way? Does the card split easily? Is its degree of flexibility of value? What is the relationship of the card in regard to the size of other cards? Can the border, front or back be used to conceal a secret ingress or flap? Is it a plastic coated or linen card? Does it hold up after repeated creasing or folding? Can the ink be easily erased, removed or otherwise altered? Will the card scale well? Is this a brand the audience is familiar with or will be comfortable with? Is its shape (round, crooked deck, tarot, miniature, bridge, poker or jumbo) useful for a specific effect? Is it a specialized card? Can the fact that it is a Giant Face Deck of value to me?

Perhaps I have taken too much time to make my point, but the implications are clear, and the answers often make your task of inventing an easier one. The questions alone may inspire a thought, or the investigation of the card itself may open new doors.

What is true for cards may, in many ways, be applied to other items. If, for instance, we are considering ropes.. what questions might you ask? How strong is it? Does it cut easily? Do the ends fray? Is it available in colors? Does it cause rope burns? Is it soft and flexible? How much length does it take to form a single overhand knot? Is it easily untied? Does it have an inner core, and if so, can it be removed easily? Can objects pass through the weave? What is the design of the weave itself? What is the rope made of (cotton, nylon, hemp, other)? Can the ends be mended and joined such as with nylon rope? With the core removed, can objects be inserted into the hollow rope? Does the rope soil easily? Can the rope be seen at a distance? Is the rope heavy, light, bulky or compressible? All of these things and more are factors a person should be aware of when considering possibilities with rope. The same may be said for a whole host of objects and materials.

One of my very best coin effects was based on the fact that I observed that the diameter of a U.S. Nickel, when machined properly, was the same as a size eight ladies finger ring. Who’d have thought? All of this too becomes part of the growing knowledge in your firm background in magic.


January 1998

Commando Magic Part #6
By
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Expense

It could be said that having a large touring stage show is every young entertainers fantasy. Many performers have attained this goal. But who are these people? Certainly we can see these men and women just by clicking on the television. Going to Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Many of the top paid Casino performers have financial backing and sources of revenues that allow them to stage these productions. It is true that some have started from nothing and have built their careers to get where they are today. Being a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, I truly believe that it is possible. But it must also be recognized that many of these stars have had backing right from the very start of careers, thus accelerating the process dramatically. So if it is in your heart, do it, but also try to look at things realistically as far as what your more practical approach towards breaking into show business may be.

Portability

While I have know Illusionists that were able to perform up to four isolated gigs in a given day, It also usually killed them physically and they were limited to engagements that they could drive to quickly. It is just a natural disadvantage of large grand illusions that they are not easily transported therefore ones availability, adaptability and accessibility as a touring performer may possibly suffer.

Hazards &
Other Factors

It is no secret to many fellow performers that I have known, know that I have always been just a bit envious of stand-up comedians and singers. Envious in the sense that these individuals can enter the stage and entertain an audience using nothing but a microphone. Of course it takes skill and years of rehearsal to attain any amount of competence, but the underlying fact of that matter is that they “DO IT”!. and that’s what matters.

With this in mind, let’s ask the next logical question. Why is it that magicians have never been able to apply this to their own craft? Why is it that in magic, The magician “MUST” share the stage with clutter and props that hardly ever impress the people watching them performed?(don’t you just love all of these rhetorical questions?). Can the magician be as , or dare I say it, more entertaining using little or no props? What’s the answer? And the envelope please……rrriiiiiip…..And the answer is, Yes!

At this point let’s get down to the bare bones of Commando Magic. A magical performer does not need anything but himself to put over a stellar performance. It is not necessary to scour the magic catalogs constantly buying prop after prop in order to develop a solid commercial act. Each and every performer must reach from within himself to provide his or her audience with unparalleled entertainment. If an entertainer absolutely must have big objects on stage, use people from the audience! Do effects that require assistants from the crowd, after all you must always bear in mind that people are props! By having audience members come to the stage to assist in a routine you make your performance grow in large proportions. Think about it, a magician can levitate a girl and it seems large, But I can do a mental routine, put five chairs on the stage, fill them with people, (who, by the way are working for free) and all of a sudden I am doing magic that is five times larger that the magician who is floating his high paid assistant! After the show, I have nothing to transport except my small case carrying the essentials. And as I have always said to my personal colleagues, if I need to use an animal, there are plenty of them in my audience! ( That’s a joke!) But even with all of these reasons aside, there is yet more points to be made in favor of the modern day performer who practices the art of Command Magic, (we’ll call them Commando’s) Many of these reasons were born in my mind during actual performances not unlike those stated earlier. But also, ideas were created out of sheer necessity, after all necessity is the mother of invention to coin a classic phrase.

There came a point when I was searching for that ultimate act. a situation I am sure 99% of my current readers find themselves at the moment they are reading these words. But I’m not saying that like it’s a negative. For in truth, perfecting a craft such as magic or for that matter, any variety art, can take a lifetime to achieve. I was searching for an act that would be both humorous, considering that I am a Comedy Magician, and also had to be commercial, so that it would be palatable to a paying public. Lastly, it had to give me, the performer, the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I could depend upon it no matter what situation I was thrust into. For there are other considerations one must take into account when one is a full-time professional entertainer. Such as the business end of performing and how a Commando act can benefit you in this area as well. One must also think of the performers energy level when they are working. When I was carrying a large amount of paraphernalia to each show I was so exhausted by the time I hit the stage that I could not perform to my full potential. There were times that I had to transport my show in 100 degree summertime heat. When I started the performance I was sweating. At the other extreme there were times that I had to move everything in sub-zero weather, hoping and praying that I would not trip and fall on the ice breaking an ankle on the way to the engagement. But probably the biggest problem came when I was booked to do a very prestigious show half way across the country and all of my props absolutely had to be there on time! It should also be noted that I had no way to ship the props where I was going ahead of time and everything had to be carried from the airport into a car that was picking me up, to the hotel, back into the car, to the venue, back into the car, back to the hotel, and the following morning to the airport. But it does not stop there, at that airport I had to board a small two prop commuter plane to a different part of the state where my whole show had to be unloaded, put into a rental car, where I drove to a major corporate office to negotiate an upcoming performance, back into the rental car, to the airport, unload the show and fly home. Now tell me, could I have done all of that transporting a ton of props? I believe you can answer that question for yourself.

* Since this was series was written and produced as an actual book. These references appear. I did not want to change anything in the text so that I.C.O.M students may get the full original text the way it was originally written.
 


I.C.O.M Online is extremely proud to present a world exclusive!

Dr. Om’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician

Co-Director’s Note: Those of you who have read the above have already realized that this is a serious educational piece. You would find no more quality were you to take a university course in theatre, for that is what Dr.OM is!, a genuine college professor. Therefore, some terminology may be a bit advanced even for the professional I.C.O.M’er. So Dr.OM has graciously provided a short glossary of terms he frequently uses which can be found in the I.C.O.M Library page next to our standard magician’s glossary.

Dr. OM’s treatise on Showmanship and stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part V January 1998

ACTION: ILLUSION AND AUDIENCE ILLUSION

Just the other day, Dr. OM had two experiences in his garden which seem worth reporting. Early In the morning, he was standing approximately four feet distant from a bird feeder hanging at about shoulder height. A tiny chick-a-dee alighted on the feeder perch, In spite of Dr. OM’s proximity. The bird fed, and, then, flew away.

Dr. OM approached the feeder, placing himself one foot closer. The bird repeated its performance, alighting again on the perch to feed. Having fed, the bird again flew away. Dr. OM, in turn repeatedly approached the feeder, until he was finally standing only one foot away. Again the bird returned. The lesson’ in magic, here, is: DO IT BY DEGREES, WAIT, AND KEEP THE HIDDEN MOTIONLESS. MOTIONLESSNESS IS A LESSER FORM OF INVISIBILITY.

When stealing from a pocket or table, have an apparent reason, motivated by the dramatic action, to place the hand in the pocket or reach the hand toward the table, perhaps to deposit a previously held object into the pocket or upon the table Then, move away from the source of the steal, motionlessly holding or hiding the stolen object and waiting for time to pass before producing the stolen object. Time and distance lend enchantment. Allow time for an interval of dramatic misdirection, making the production appear to be magical.

Later in the day, Dr. OM, standing on his front lawn, noticed the lowest branch of a broad leafed maple tree slowly rise, as if of its own volition. The motion was perfect, because a gentle current of air was raising the branch, slowly, evenly and by degrees, in a smooth continuous motion. Suddenly, the Illusion was shattered when the breeze heightened in intensity and the movement of the branch jerkingly accelerated; obviously moved by the wind, The lesson in magic, here, is: OBJECTS WHICH MOVIE SLOWLY AND EVENLY PRODUCE THE ILLUSION OF SELF POWERED MOTION; OBJECTS WHICH MOVE QUICKLY AND JERKILY APPEAR TO BE OTHER-POWERED). The tempo should not be so rapid as to create confusion, but, rather, should be at a pace the audience eye and mind can follow with comprehension. The motions should be smooth and even. Illusions are ever about and abounding in nature. If noticed and raised to a level of consciousness, much can be learned about illusion, from nature.

Consider the camouflage in nature: the plant which at first glance resembles an animal, even a human being; the animal or insect which imitates the plants in its habitat, thereby achieving invisibility, or at least, unnoticeability. Illusions of nature are archetypes of stage illusion, and their methods are to be applied in the techniques of stage magic. Man, too, like the animals and insects, Imitates. Stage illusion is an imitation of natural illusion: the inanimate become animate; the animate become inanimate; falling up, or flying, in defiance of normal expection (because of repeated experience which impresses that heavier than air objects fall down, thereby constituting the scientific law of gravity) suddenly, a camouflaged animal or insect which has been invisible to the eye appears from nowhere when noticed; a deer, taking just the right step, out of light, into shadow, seems to vanish, altogether; a groundhog becomes a tree stump; a tree stump becomes a groundhog; a squirrel becomes a broken branch base; a broken branch base becomes a squirrel. Metamorphosis, transposition, transportation, augmentation, diminishment are everywhere. Is it any wonder, then, that the ancients discovered magic through nature. Like the vacuum cleaner salesman of legend, Dr. OM manages to get his restaurant magic foot in the door through musical performance; gradually introducing the magic by degrees, until it is accepted and expected. One morning, recently, while driving to a Sunday brunch engagement, at the Copperfield American Grill and Terrace, in the Woodcliff lake Hilton, Dr. OM, driving through the town of Park Ridge, New Jersey, which has installed Christmas card, gaslight street lamps, on its main street, noticed at a distance the form of what he took to be a life sized cast iron jockey hitching post grasping a street lamp pole. Upon drawing closer he realized the form was that of an out of breath jogger dressed in tight fitting white clothes and sporting a white baseball hat. The jogger was leaning motionlessly with outstretched arm against the lamp post for support, still looking forever like a holiday hitching post in season Dr. OM, on his way to work, was quite entertained by a natural illusion. New science is old magic; old magic is new science. That which was taken for magic in one age becomes the science of a later age, and that which was taken for science in an earlier age becomes the magic of a later age; just as astrology becomes astronomy and alchemy becomes chemistry so, too, does once held scientific theory, at times, become future fallacy, ergo superstition, ergo magic. New science becomes new magic, too. When electromagnetism was first discovered, Houdin, the father of modern magic, employed the force, in magical effects which astounded audiences. Magnets are still astounding audiences.

Dormant plants appearing to be dead in winter spring to life in Spring and in Spring, the pollen and the seeds, transported and transposed by the wind, germinate, becoming new plants and flowers which appear where they were not before. A sapling cut to the ground will reemerge from invisible roots.

Just as all of nature imitates nature, the magician imitates the apparent miracles of nature: he causes the invisible to become visible, he causes the visible to become invisible, he restores the broken and the torn, He brings the inanimate (dancing hank) or the dead (cremation illusion) to life, he transposes or transports, he levitates or flys, he causes much to be made of little (Multam ex Parvum), and just as a small seed can become a towering tree over long time, the magician causes a tree to grow or a bush to blossom before the very eyes of the audience. Dr. OM, seeing a long crooked stick lying on the ground, took it to be a snake. The magician throws his staff to the ground and turns it into a snake.

REALISM IN ART IS THE ULTIMATE ILLUSIONISM, BECAUSE REALISM ATTEMPTS TO CREATE THE ILLUSION THAT, THAT WHICH IS HAPPENING ARTISTICALLY IS HAPPENING IN ACTUALITY.

CONTEMPORARY PERCEPTIONS OF REALITY

Modern man possesses several ways of perceiving reality. The first way is through the unassisted senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch in every day life, the unassisted senses are employed to perceive the phenomenological world, that is, the world of physical things. Man accepts natural perception as fact if not truth, in order to move about and function in the physical world, yet, even the layman is aware that other dimensions of reality exist.

The second way is through extensions of the senses such as the telescope through which the macrocosm is examined and the microscope through Which the microcosm is examined. Such instruments exist in varying degrees of power, from, for example, the simple microscope to the electron microscope and the simple telescope through radio wave “telescopy”. Each degree of examination discovers new realities. The table upon which Dr. OM leans appears solid enough through the unassisted senses, because of. Dr. OM’S physical size, in relationship to the table, and so Dr. OM may lean upon the table. Examined through electron microscope, however, the table top would be seen to be vast in space, in which countless atoms are spinning about like so many solar systems do in the macrocosm. If Dr.OM were small enough, he would fall right into the vastness of space of the table top. If the connectivity between the MICROCOSM (the apparently very small) and the MACROCOSM (the apparently very large) Is a continuum, It well might go on Infinitely (without end) and the macrocosm might be a microcosm to some larger level of existence.

The third way is perception by report, in which the layman engages when accepting on faith the explanations reported by experts in the fields of stud–~the disciplines. Experts in one discipline are laymen in other disciplines and mutually depend on report. So much so that communication among the disciplines is becoming more and more difficult, as a consequence of knowledge explosions within fields. The end of universal scholarship is said to have ended with Erasmus. No longer can an Aristotle be the expert in all fields of human inquiry. The average man is dependent upon expert opinion In everything beyond common sense.

Albert Einstein, in a letter to a friend described his own methodology as non-empirical. “lie empirical scientist must deal with the perceivable, that which can be measured. As each item of data is obtained and held in evidence, after testing and/or measurement, a case is constructed establishing a theorem (theory), which is held valid until refuted by contradictory evidence. On the frontiers of science where no measurements are obtainable in the face of the unreachable macrocosm about which he theorized. Einstein had to arrive at his theorems by way of an intuitive leap. A theorem would then be held valid until contradictory evidence were obtainable. The theory is valid as long as it works. As is well known, Enrico Fermi proved, all too well, that Einstein’s theory works.

There is held to be a fourth way to perceive or non perceive reality which is metaphysical, that is above and beyond the physical. Many such fourth ways have been described by those who claim success in their pursuit. Remarkably, great similarity exists among the descriptions of the many ways. The perceived, beyond the physical world, by pursuit of any one of the fourth ways, is held to be spiritual.

Of late, Quantum physicists, themselves, have been mystified, because, in probing the super microcosm, they have arrived at a nothingness where neither matter nor energy are perceivable to exist; they have reached another dimension , perhaps the dimension of spirit. Physics is now discussing multidimensionality in a manner which greatly resembles metaphysics. Geneticists have found a way, through cloning to simulate the creation of life, not to create life from nothing, or even from pure energy, but, rather, from existing matter: the DNA molecule. Art and science can redefine nature, that is, rearrange the order of matter and energy, as found in nature, but neither Art nor Science can create matter or energy from nothingness, nor destroy matter or energy into nothingness. The magician can seem to do that by seeming to create a whole object, even a person, from nothing, out of nowhere, into here, to the astonishment of his audience.

AUDIENCE READINESS FOR ILLUSIONARY EXPERIENCE

The layman, accepting reported science beyond his comprehension is accepting science as magic and is prepared, as general audience, for experiencing illusion. The day of the magician is forever at hand. The audience has been readied for magic. The audience has seen free flight and levitations of humans in the films of interiors of space craft. The audience has learned that earthly perception and experience can be contradicted. The audience is as ready as ever for magical theatre and stage illusion. The audience needs and wants the freedom of illusion, in an otherwise pedestrian and hum-drum world. The freedom of illusion is the freedom of the beauty of the flight of the imagination

The action of magical theatre must, therefore, be executed in the realm of illusion, of the surreal presented as real. Everything witnessed by the audience must be visited, as it were, in a dream, in which the impossible seems really to be happening; not distorting reality, as the audience knows it, but presenting an alternative reality, in which, as in a dream, anything is possible. Illusion provides, not escape-the soap operas do that-but transformation, of commonplaceness of everyday life. The transformation, or transportation, is provided no less in comedic magical theatre than in dramatic magical theatre. Comedy evokes awe by fiat (means of) joy, Drama evokes joy by fiat of awe. The result in classical theatre termed CATHARSIS (a cleansing of the psyche). Without pretending (or actually pretending in character) the modern artist of magical theatre, like the poet, provides his audience with a glimpse of the miraculous.

The magical theatre audience is exquisitely prepared by the natural world to accept Illusion; and what is illusion but the contradiction of that which is commonly agreed upon by convention to be reality: solids cannot penetrate solids; one object cannot be transformed into another, as with the alchemist’s transformation of base metals into gold. Noticeably, these feats are the stock-in-trade of the stage magician. Preparation of the audience’s willingness to accept illusion rests on the fact that to the majority of non-scientist laypersons, science is as mysterious as magic. For Instance, in the classroom, gravity is explained as the consequence of two opposed forces. CENTRIFUGAL FORCE, which pulls objects toward the earth and CENTRIPITAL FORCE which hurls objects away from the earth. Centrifugal force is demonstrated by swinging a bucket of water in a circular motion vertically from the floor, The force which holds the water in the bucket is seen to be centrifugal force. Centripital force is demonstrated by whirling a paddle ball at the end of a string, or rubber line, about the head and roughly parallel to the floor. The force which holds the ball at the end of the string is seen as centripital force. Given this lucid explanation, gravity would seem to be a bucket of water and a ball at the end of a string whirled about the head; and ,yet, laymen willingly accept explanations of laws of nature of which they have no real understanding, and will as readily accept contradictions of those laws , if they witness the contradictions with their own eyes. There seems to be little difference between the classroom explanation of gravity and the myth of Atlas supporting the earth on his shoulder.

The predisposition to share illusion rests not in the willingness to suspend disbelief, but in the continuing belief in myth, magic, and superstition and in collective hysteric experience throughout the age of science. Science is not the enemy of the stage magician, but the child of magic and the maidservant of the magician. Lately, the so called New Age return to chasing angels in the snow is evidential of widespread belief in the supernatural. Consider the popularity of TV’s ,”Touched by an Angel.”

Old myths in new clothing emerge with celebrity worship elevating the celebrity to the status of bigger-than-life heros and heroin. No evidence of collective mass hysteria can be found in phenomenon such as tile bobby-soxers swooning for Frankie to the rock concert head trip. How can these and so many other social phenomena easily come to mind be explained, except as a collective need for illusion, transcendency, and miracle.

With realization of the readiness and the willingness of the audience, not to suspend disbelief, but to believe, the magician should be fortified to step on stage with the courage of his magical convictions; to believe and be believed; to mystify; to elevate; to fulfill mythic expectations; to fuse his audience in an experience had in common; to celebrate the unusual; to create an alternative reality; and to thoroughly entertain his audience in a kind of communion; when they gasp together; when they laugh together; when they believe it might be so together; when they cry together. Magical theatre is a high form of performing art, indeed.

LIVE PERFORMANCE

Magicians who are intimidated by major network magical theatre productions–take heart. THERE IS NO THEATRE LIKE LIVE THEATRE. The colossal King Kong as seen on the giant cinema screen, is seen as a hand puppet through a twenty-seven inch television screen. Imagine how horrendous he would appear to an audience on the live stage. Larger than life heros of the silver screen are reduced to lilliputian size, but a magician performing a parlor show for a child’s birthday party is fully life sized.

The appearances of magicians such as Dante, in early talkie films are rare and incidental to the main action of the film. Even more rare are films in which tile protagonist is a magician. Other than in actual live appearances in hotels, casinos, clubs, and legitimate theatres, audiences witness magical performance almost exclusively on television alone. The productions tend to be magical variety shows, rather than magical theatre pieces. In spite of the high budget productions of magical television events, the huge and, on stage, impressive settings and illusions appear to be no larger than the average square circle. In flight, on television, the magician is not hovering over the heads of the home audience. the vanish of an elephant, exposed or unexposed, appears to be little more than a pocket trick Counterdistinctly, a magician with his setting and properties on stage “plays big,” even to the most distant member of the audience, at the back of the house.

Television productions, reruns aside, tend to be one-shot shows, whereas the same live show performed before changing audiences can have long life spans. Other magicians can record television productions on VCR’s for study and imitation, but a live show is not easily recorded on a camcorder without the performing magician’s permission; a factor which maintains the integrity of originality. Building a live show takes years of study, planning, practice, rehearsal, and learning experience performances. Copyists can lift a magical effect, here and there, a routine, here and there, and lines of patter, here and there, but they cannot replicate the presence and personality of an artist of magical theatre. The many failed attempts at copying the master, Cardini, bear testimony. Of course, fame and fortune derive from television appearances, these days, but the great contemporary stage magicians have not abandoned live performance entirely, for occasional television specials. The growth and satisfaction that come from frequent live performance, as any actor knows, are the real treasures of the artist. of magical theatre, which are within the grasp of every serious artist-magician.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The audience may, in its group reaction, be regarded as a single organism, but the magician should single out individuals in the audience, making eye contact and speaking through the medium of that single person to the whole organism of the audience; he had better, as well, project his voice such that the proverbial deaf little old lady, at the back of the house can hear him, and he had better have something for everyone, from the least to the most sophisticated; from the grandchild to the grandparent The magician should not be too hasty in distinguishing between magic for children and magic for adults. “The child is father to the man.” The child persists, within, throughout adulthood. Much that is wonderful to adults is equally wonderful to children and magic which appeals to children becomes beloved to adults when the children become the show. A magician must either seduce or endear his audience; endearment is better than seduction, and longer lasting. Thurston, before a performance, would peek through the curtain, at the audience, saying over and over again to himself’ “I love my audience…I love my audience…I love my audience.” If a magician truly loves his audience, his audience cannot help but love him. There are no bad audiences; only poor conditions. A magician who truly cares about his magic and his audience will not perform anywhere, at anytime, for anyone. Inquire about the conditions of the venue, or, better, visit the venue, before accepting an engagement, unless the money is all that matters.

Clients sometimes want a stage show in a transient circumstance, in which the audience, passing through, picks up only bits and pieces of a performance designed to be a whole composition; better to suggest walk-a-round magic, instead, whereby the audience can be intentionally approached with bits and pieces, for the Performance of brief, but whole, illusionary experiences. Restaurant magic had better be stand-up; people do not like others messing in their food. The luxury of magically presiding at someone else’s table is rare. Parties of people who are very much into themselves, builds a resistive wall between the group and a performer. Better not to try at all than to end up with egg on your face through no fault of your own.

The old nightclub crowd was an outstanding audience, because it consisted of two, or a few, sitting at separate tables. Restaurants which confine parties to separate rooms may provide the modern equivalent, given that the sight lines are appropriate. Dr.OM has been able to perform his tableside show as a floor show, under such conditions. Aware, in advance, of the appropriateness of a floor show, he literally introduces his floor show, which is correspondently a portion of the first act of his stage show. If a stage show is constructed componentially, it may be broken down into smaller shows for non-stage venues, just as a band or orchestra may be broken down into smaller ensembles, for smaller venues.

On the other hand, a magician performing specifically for a party which expects a special performance in an Isolated chamber, will find both welcome and group attention. Magic is a visual art. The audience must be willing to look at you, and audiences love the intimacy of a performer being right there in the room with them.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

1) The larger illusion of the world of the act is comprised of setting, character, action, and the smaller illusions of the individual magical stage effects and routines.

2) That which is rationally explainable is the province of science; that which perforce must remain forever inexplicable to the human mind is magic. The stage magician serves to remind the audience of the eternal existence of that greater magic.

3) Plot is the path the character performs his actions upon.

4) To acquire knowledge, the magician must be a man of contemplation; to acquire skill, the magician must be a man of action.

REASONS FOR BEING AN ARTIST-MAGICIAN

Self Motivated

1) love of the Art
2) satisfaction from doing something well
3) Thrill of performance
4) Joy of sharing illusions with audiences
5) Aesthetic realization

Other-Motivated

1) pleasure and wonder given to audiences
2) Setting an example for the young, of doing something well
3 Exposure and perpetuation of the Art of Magic
4) Joy of sharing illusions with audiences
5) Sharing aesthetic pleasure

LETTERS TO DR.OM ARE INVITED
THE FEBRUARY 1998 ISSUE WILL BE DEVOTED TO PLOT

*Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Online Library In Dr. Om’s Annex for Dr.Om’s “Devils Dictionary”, a list of theatrical terms worth learning…
Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Library for additions to the Devil’s Dictionary as well as the “TWELVE COMMANDMENTS FOR A SOUNDER VERBAL LIFE” Both by Dr. OM!


February 1998

“Creativity” Part #7
By
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
 

A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

Other than our own ability to maintain a curious nature, to be as observant and aware of all manner of things going on in the world around us, there is yet another aid to creativity we may make use of. I will call this source, Challenge Creativity. I have used it often, and intend to use it even more in the future. It takes part of the pressure off you due to the fact that someone else is giving you the premise for the effect. They tell you, I want to see this, this and this. You then create a method for producing the desired effect. They have, in other words, issued a challenge to you.

I have accepted challenges, and issued a few myself over the years. Here is one I issued to a friend of mine. An empty glass tumbler is seen resting mouth tp on your close-up mat. A spectator drops a coin into the glass. The coin sinks to the bottom, then suddenly, is seen to rise slowly to the surface of the top. It then sinks slowly back into the glass. when the spectator is asked to tip the coin out of the glass, it is found to be impossible. The coin is discovered to be imbedded or sealed within the solid bottom of the tumbler.

I often got challenges from magic letter pals I corresponded with. It was an enjoyable exchange. The internet offers a whole new world of possibilities. You may also choose to approach various individuals you know at ring meetings, conventions or other social activities you may be attending. You may write or call an outside source for challenges. You may venture so far as to take out a small ad in a magic publication for that specific reason. The investment could be repaid many fold.They will be out to stump you. It will take your finest effort to meet the task. You may, of course, never discover a working method for many of the challenges issued, but that’s really unimportant in the overall scheme of things. What IS important is that the whole process stimulates your thinking.

I have yet to meet the magician who has ‘never’ had the desire to create an effect of his very own. It is conceivable that every individual ‘already has an idea for this effect, but they remain locked within their mind. People have themselves convinced that this idea will be scoffed at by their peers, or fear it will not work, or perhaps be purloined before it takes flight. The fact of the matter is that it will go ‘no where’ if it is not shared and developed. Someone may stumble upon the method for themselves, develop and promote it while you debate if you should take a chance or not. If THEY take the initiative and YOU don’t, the effect will be THEIRS, and your best intentions will be lost forever.

Being creative has a lot to do with finding a balance within yourself. Brainstorming for instance, seems to be finding a balance between the hemispheres of the brain itself. Each side, as you may or may not know, controls a certain set of mental functions. The left side controls language, logic, counting and classification. This is the side we condition in school. It is analytical, objective and orderly. It makes decisions, judgements. It is capable of editing and revising material.

The right side of our brain is the spontaneous side. It is intuitive and illogical. The right side is the ‘idea waker’. It will generate creative thought and allow things to be seen in a new light. Symbolism and association can run rampant here, but there is a catch. One side is usually the dominant side. This is also usually the most developed side… the left hemisphere. That is where the snag in creative thinking arises. The left side is in conflict with the right. In correct brainstorming procedure, the right hemisphere is allowed to work first.

It takes effort at first to get one side to relax while the other becomes stimulated. This is why you must shut out all negative thoughts, otherwise the analytical left hemisphere would have material to work with. Free your mind. Go with the flow, and the R.H. side will soon emerge. Like a toddler learning to walk, the use of the right hemisphere is developed in stages. Extend your time and your goals at each session. Push yourself. And just as a weight lifter gradually increases the weight on the bar, so goes the training of the more underdeveloped right hemisphere. By degrees you will be able to ‘turn off’ the left side of the brain while the right side works. After the creative process has been exhausted, the left side of the brain is allowed to engage and analyze the material.


February 1998

Commando Magic Part #7
By
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Are Large Props Really Larger than no Props at all?

At first glance, this question seems to make no sense at all. However, when you stop to think about it, what is a grand illusion? Most illusionists and magicians would agree that a grand illusion is a feat of magic that involves people. A magician twirls around a big box and whammo! A beautiful assistant pops out. Great Magic? It sure is, however it takes allot of work and expense as stated earlier. Most importantly, it cannot be done in “Most” current performing situations. Now picture this, The magician is going to do the classic bank night effect. But in this case instead of strolling around throughout his audience, having spectators pick the various envelopes supposedly containing the large cash prize, he invites all of them upon the stage. Our situation is now this, a stage filled with, let’s say, five people, each holding an envelope. This entire trick now takes on grand illusion status. It uses five people, where the appearing girl only uses two (magician and assistant). The stage is now filled with five people, all involved with the magic in some form or another. As each person rips open their respective envelopes, they react to the outcome thrust upon them of whether they are a bit richer than moments before. Comedy, drama and magic are interwoven all throughout the effect. Finally, the last person makes the choice, the audience holds it’s collective breath, and the final person makes the revelation of whether or not they foiled the magician. The audience has been thoroughly entertained, the spectators are mystified and the magician has worked for at least ten minutes. Dare I say it, has the bank night effect become larger that the massive production box which takes a U-haul to transport, costs thousands of dollars, and only lasts about one minute? That question is truly a matter of personal preference, but is one was to ask me, I would reply that I have been using a bank night type of effect with great success in my stage show for years now! That is just one example of how minimalist magic can be used effectively for large numbers of people. The golden rule is “People are props!” For every person that is on stage, you have equalled using a Zig-zag or the like as far as props are concerned. Are the Rockettes at Radio city Music hall in New York City considered to be a small production? Of course not, but what do they consist entirely of? The answer is people. The Rockettes are a large number of people on stage dancing, that’s it! People can make any parlor trick into a grand illusion. It just takes creativity.

At this point I am sure that there is a number of readers that would suggest that a bank night type of effect lacks the “flash” of the production box. And that it would not hold the attention of the younger members of the audience. True, the younger members of the audience may not be entertained by this “mental” type of effect. However, one can adapt this principle to any type of magical premise. How about doing the classic rabbit from hat effect using four children on stage? Instead of just producing the rabbit, the performer produces a number of strange items for each respective child to hold. This all leads to the smash climax of the animal production! (using the “spring” type animal) The overall picture is that of a number of children filling the stage each holding strange props while the magician towers over them in the center holding a live animal. Most spectators watching would call that a very big trick. I know, I have been doing this exact routine in my family show for years!

So it was those reasons stated above and many like them that have sold me on the ideas and theories of Commando Magic. The art of performing with a minimum of apparatus. Today each of my different acts fit into their own customized bags that are regulation to carry on any airline. These shows can play Radio City Music Hall if need be, or just as well in someone’s living room. This concept has given me peace of mind, it has made me more mobile than one can possibly imagine, and therefore, able to get up at a moments notice and play any venue offered to me (which makes me very valuable in the eyes of talent agents)! This theory has been proven in actual performances in front of audiences of one thousand or more! It works! And works well! However, it must be stated that at this point I am not the only entertainer practising this, others have in the past and are currently using this style. I believe however, that I am the first to go into this subject in such detail. These are the same techniques that date back to the Parisian artists that performed on the streets of Europe for hundreds of years, they have stood the test of time and prove the adage “What’s old is new again!” But if the reader insists on knowing exactly why this theory of “Less is More” works, it can be summed up in this chapters closing quotation take published here for the first time. Why? Because an entertaining presentation is far more powerful than any large prop will ever be. and a commanding personality is what stars are made of.


Dr. OM’S Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part VI February 1998

As Janus, the double faced god for whom the cold month of January is named, looks back to the past and forward to the future, Dr. OM sits in the warmth of his study musing that the previous portions of Dr. OM’s treatise essentially boil down to the assertion that: All theatre is illusionary presentation of reality, as an alternative reality; and magical theatre is illusionary presentation of illusion, as an alternative reality, i.e., as miracles actually happening before the very eyes of the audience. A MIRACLE is an occurrence which contradicts a law of nature, as experienced through common sense.

PLOT

Everything which happens in life, dream, or imagination is potential story. The panoramic maze of history (hi-story) is woven into story by historians who are story tellers who fashion subjective order out of chaotic and often unrelated events. The human mind imposes logic upon nature, because the human mind is inherently logical, in function, but events of history and events in nature, occurring as they do, are not logical, except when viewed short term through the human senses, the human mind, and the human sensibility. The other animals or an hypothesized macrocosmic perception far above and beyond the human senses perceive phenomena quite differently. The Big Bang, at best is a theory. No human ever saw the Big Bang, which is a cause/effect deduction of the logical human mind. Unfortunately for humanity, inherent as logic is to the human mind, humans do not always behave logically. Fortunately for stage magicians, audiences are not sufficiently swift of mind to employ logical analysis of illusion; at least not on the spot. They may figure out, or think they figure out the dirty work later, but that is part of the fun.

In order to simplify a metatheoretical view of history, consider Biography and Autobiography which look back upon a single life lived. The selectivity of the biographer, in the case of biography, or of the self-biographer, in the case of autobiography, imposes a logical pattern upon that life, which is no more logical in actual experience than Dr. OM’s, or the reader’s own lives. We cannot really see the future; we are not given absolute predictability or control over our lives. Forces outside ourselves, in conjunction with our own wills are at work. More often than not, external forces defeat the personal will, except for the stage mentalist and clairvoyant, of course, but bending a spoon is not bending the course of human events. Both magic and science make attempts to predict and control events personal and cosmic. In the present, as events ensue, prediction and control are not possible, except by a lucky guess or wish. Only compositionally in retrospect, looking back from some point in the future, can the pattern of logic be imposed, and that is PLOT.

The biography is a look back upon a life already fully lived, at least on earth; then, because the life has been lived from birth through maturity to death, or a rebirth not observable from this side of the line, a biographical life on earth is complete and potentially tells a story. Edgar Allan Poe, in his POETICS, insisted that a story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The main story line constitutes plot; minor story lines are termed SUB PLOTS. Contrary to a novel, which, because of greater length, allows the fulsome development of many characters and plots, the short story tends to fulsomely develop a single character and a single plot. A magical stage act is akin to the short story and should fulsomely develop a single character(the magician’s) and a single plot.

A magical performer would do well to be a playwright, or else engage the services of a playwright, just as he does the services of set designers, artistic directors, choreographers, and all manner of technical experts. The logic of the magical playwright’s mind imposed upon the sequence of actions and magical effects constructs the main story line of the act, or, better, the magical theatre piece. Aristotle, in his POETICS, advised that the plot be begun IN MEDIAS RES (In the Middle of Things). Action begun IN MEDIAS ‘(ES propels the drama forward through fictional time, as dialogue recalls the fictional past, informing the audience about what events of action have led up to the fictional present (the middle of things), and are propelling the protagonist (the main character: the magician) toward the fictional future, in tragedy, toward his preordained destiny of which the audience, but not the protagonist, has been apprised. In classical Greek tragedy, the CHORUS informs the audience of the destiny; in modern theatre, FORESHADOW informs the audience of outcomes of which the protagonist is unaware. In Arthur Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BUDGE, the two of Greek chorus and foreshadow are embodied in the character of Alfieri, the lawyer, who literally functions as did the Greek chorus, in keeping the audience informed about that which Eddie Carbone, the protagonist, is unaware unto his very death. Dr. OM most highly recommends Miller’s play as a modern school for studying classical Greek drama, The PLOT builds toward a major climax constructed of minor climaxes (BUILDS, so-called in the theatre) along the way, which

result in the major climax. Think of the construction of an artichoke, as a model, or of a series of musical crescendos ( which means BUILDS in Italian) toward the major climax, e.g:


For the sake of clarity, the following bullet points have been added by the editor.
 

  • The top graph indicates MAJOR CLIMAX (Center words are CLIMAX. Outer words are Build-1, Build-2, Build-3, Build-4, Build-5, from left to right).
  • The Second from the top indicates SCENE (Center words are BUILDS. Outer words are Bit-1, Bit-2, Bit-3, Bit-4, from left to right).
  • The final graphs indicate, ONE ACT, TWO ACT, and THREE ACT Plays respectively. (Center words are SCENES. Outer words are Act-1, Act-2, Act-3, from left to right.

*The numbers of builds, climaxes, bits, scenes, and acts are variable from play to play.
In drama, nothing is left to surprise. The climax is FORESHADOWED( predicted or anticipated) by CLUES (another term for FORESHADOW) informing the audience of that which will eventually happen at the climax. The climax should not come as a shock to the audience. The CLUES (FORESHADOWS) are hints at the answer to the DRAMATIC QUESTION. The climax is the whole answer to the DRAMATIC QUESTION. The TENSION builds, as audience expectation of the climax mounts. The setting, characterization, action, plot, and foreshadow have anticipated the climax. The CLIMAX is the culmination of events effected by the series of minor climaxes differently throughout the forward motion of the action; each minor climax supersedes (TOPS) its proceeding minor climax in intensity, until the major climax is achieved with maximum power, as a consequence of the preceding minor climaxes (as should a sequence of magical effects, as well). The TENSION grows, until it explodes in the major climax.

The DENOUEMENT is the final revelation which follows the major climax and makes clear the outcome of the plot. The DENOUEMENT unravels the knot which the plot has tied and explains the very nature of the drama which has taken place.

In a murder mystery, the DRAMATIC QUESTION is WHODUNIT; the foreshadows are the clues discovered by the detective and shared with the audience; the minor builds and climaxes are suspicions raised about both non-culprits and the culprit; the MAJOR CLIMAX is the disclosure of the actual culprit; the DENOUEMENT is the detectives deductive account of the manner in which the crime was committed; the ANTI-CLIMAX is the manifestation of LIFE GOES ON, as the detective and the several other characters go their separate ways and the culprit is carted off to jail.

In MAGICAL THEATRE, each EFFECT builds in intensity and each ROUTINE builds in intensity, as part of a coherent STORY LINE (PLOT), until a MAJOR CLIMAX of both ILLUSION and PLOT are simultaneously achieved. The DRAMATIC QUESTION is both ILLUSION RELATED and PLOT RELATED. The DENOUEMENT is both the revelation of the outcome of the PLOT and the establishment of the actor as magician who has achieved the impossible throughout the MAGICAL THEATRE PIECE. The ANTICLIMAX is at the CURTAIN CALL, the ENCORE, and the MAGICIAN and AUDIENCE going their separate ways, after having shared illusionary experience in common. As these participants in the magical drama go their separate ways, LIFE GOES ON.

When a magician, entering the stage for the first time before a given audience, is able to immediately capture the audience and pull them into the alternative world of his drama, by virtue of the strength of his characterization which creates the illusion that his magician-character has emerged from a real past, exists in a real present, and is moving toward a real future, that magician has practiced the device of IN MEDIAS RES (beginning in the middle of things). Upon his entrance, Carl Ballantine used to quip: “I got here as soon as I could.” Silliness? Yes; Art? YES. Did he draw a laugh and immediately endear his audience; did he establish a past, present, and developing future for his magician-character? Most certainly.

When the suave persona of Channing Pollack first appeared on stage, he immediately captured his audience, as a sheer act of seduction. What lady in the audience did not draw a short breath; what gentleman was not both charmed by and identifying with his handsome figure? The forthcoming illusionary action was set by sheer characterization. Contrastingly, Ballantine employed the device of THE MAGICIAN IN TROUBLE, throughout his performance. His easel, reading: Ballantine the greatest, set the stage for his comical bungling mishaps; just as Pollack’s elegance of appearance set the stage for his delicate and deft manipulations and lovely dove productions. Both Pollack and Ballantine were not casting themselves against type, but rather, in accordance with the types they actually were: the former, dramatic; the latter, comedic; but both theatric. Pollack’s dramatic question was: “What lovely visual miracle will the magician next achieve? Ballantine’s dramatic question was: “Will he get it fight this time, or will he screw it up again?” Granted, here we are observing the shortest of magical stage short stories. The twelve minute or twenty minute magic act must perforce be a short, short story. Theirs were exquisitely composed.

Cardini’s act consisted of what was primarily a characterization: a tipsy gentleman of the evening who enters a hotel lobby and is paged by a Bell Hop portrayed by his wife, Swan. Cardini did not seem to make the magic happen; the magic seemed to happen to him, beyond his own will and much to his surprised alcoholic hallucinations’, but card, ball, and cigarette productions and vanishes, instead of pink elephants. Part the experience of drunken hallucination and part the experience of inexplicable actual magical occurrences, his card, ball, and cigarette manipulations were humorously magical and comically mystifying. Cardini’s characterization of the bewildered gentleman in top hat and tails who had imbibed a bit too much, immediately endeared him to his audiences, but it was the PLOT that held them and carried them along the path of his story line. Surely, there must sifil be a place for a gentleman of the evening who’s formal wear is still the insignia of the magician, in spite of the commentator’s observation, in the recently televised biography of David Copperfield, that David had somehow abolished the magician’s tuxedo by appearing on stage in modern designer dress. Perfectly suited to Copperfield’s persona? Of course. On the other hand Copperfield’s style, fitting his persona so well, does not preclude the lamentably lost Harry Blackstone, Jr’s contemporaneously appearing on stage in formal wear appropriate to his own persona and style.

Current full stage perfonnances of one and two hour duration tend to be a series of vignettes; a collage of short stories, at best, or nothing more than a lengthy variety show consisting exclusively of magicians, rather than mixed entertainment by singers, jugglers, dancers, acrobats, mimes, and magicians. Such shows have the virtue of providing convenient space for comnimercials.
Television spedals3~casino~d touring magic shows offer the same bill of fare, but provided by a solo magician. The world is waiting for one of the outstanding magicians of the day, perhaps David Copperfield or Lance Burton, to produce a cohesive magicai drama comparable to a two or three act legitimate theatre play; a serious engagement in magical drama, whether comedy or tragedy. Dr. OM hopes to be yet earthbound to witness such a magnificient performance successfully achieved and successfully received.

In parting with the February issue, Dr. Om leaves you with the thought and feelings of an invocational poem he wrote as prologue to his verse play: The Virtuoso’s Calliope, Copyright 1966.

I WOULD HAVE DANCED FOR YOU.

But Nature made me heavy at the heels.
And could I,
I would have done fantastic feats
Before your eyes, to please,
But effort would be all sore thumbs,
And I would summon no one in a hexagon.

I would have sung your pleasure,
But though I hear the melody of love within me,
Desire outsteps the possible,
And I strain in vain to reach
The high note of a harmony.

And yet, if you would listen carefully,
If you could take the trouble,
You might hear the whisper of my wishes,
Be pleased by apparitions of the song,
Which sings in me and everyone,
Though silenced by a stage-fright of the soul.

Oscar Muscariello

The March 1998 issue will be devoted to Stage Lighting, Make-up, and Costume.
DEVILS DICTIONARY

FICTIONAL TIME: The time: past, present, and future contained in the work of fiction. Not the time required to read or witness a work of fiction, but rather, the compressed time passage described or effected within the work. Many real years passage are compressed in a work of fiction as fictionai time.

JANUS: The only one of the major Greco-Roman gods (The Pantheon) originated by the Rornans. Janus is the gatekeeper of the year and of all time.

MACROCOSMIC: The cosniically very large, in relationship to the size of man.

METATHEORFTICAL: Theory of theories. Literally: ABOVE (meta) theory.

PLOT: The culmination (RESULT) of setting, characterization, action, storyline, climax, and denouement.

SUB PLOTS: Think of the main plot and many sub plots of a long novel such as Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE.

TENSION: Imagine TENSION as a spring being wound, as the drama proceeds, until the spring is explosively released as climax.


March 1997

Spotlight On The I.C.O.M Library!

Hey!….Wait a minute! Where is “Creativity” By Ron Dayton?, Where Is “Stagecraft” By Dr.Om?, Where is “Commando Magic” By Bobby J.Gallo?, What in the world is going on here?

The answer lies in the new banner you see above! There is good news and more good news associated with what we call the NEW I.C.O.M CYBER-MAGIC TEXTBOOK SYSTEM ™.

What is the the first part of the good news? Let’s take a look.

The Cyber-Magic Textbooks are clickable book icons that will be displayed in The I.C.O.M Online Library. Once these are clicked, members will have instant online access to some of the highest quality, full-length, original, magic textbooks available anywhere. They will always be there as a reference to all of I.C.O.M. An electronic library in the truest sense of the word! Some books will be less expansive than others such as “Ten Things Every Magician Should Know” But others Such as Dr.Om’s Stagecraft will be landmark educational resources without peer!

There are many spinoff benefits as well by I.C.O.M incorporating this new feature such as the fact that there will be no more waiting for further installments of Ron Dayton’s “Creativity” and Bobby J. Gallo’s “Commando Magic”. Both have been released in their entirety as I.C.O.M Cyber-Magic Textbooks and will be appearing in the I.C.O.M library sometime in March. This means you get the rest of both series in one shot! Wow! As for Dr. Om’s series, it will be there compiled in a Cyber-Magic Textbook as well. Only his will be “dynamic” meaning it will be added to as times goes on.

So what does this mean for the Spotlight section? Simple, Now you will get even more material each month! Since our series are complete with the publication of the Cyber-Magic Texbooks. We will be releasing more and different material here in the spotlight!

So stay tuned and watch the library, the books should be up around the second week of March. See you there!


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Beginner’s Study 1/98-3/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

Beginner’s Study 1/98-3/98

January 1998

The Oldest Dog Of Them All!
By
Bobby J. Gallo
12/18/97
The following routine is literally as old as the “magical” hills. The decision and inspiration for including it here is credited to Ron Dayton who wrote this months piece “Old Dog, New Trick” in the ICOM Kid Show Konservatory”. This is my contribution to the quest for the revitalization of ancient magic effects. And I’m sure any seasoned magic pro will agree, there is no older effect than the one I am about to share with you now.

What makes this the subject of this months lesson is also the fact that I am currently featuring this in both my close-up and kid shows! So, if you think this is all “smoke and mirrors” Think again!

The old dog I am referring to is the classic magnetized wand. It has been featured in countless beginners books on magic as well as cereal boxes since what seems to be the beginning of time. In truth, it is the kind of trick that probably “was” done with one prop or another since the modus operandi is so simple.

The basic effect is the demonstration of anti-gravity. Any object from a magician’s wand to a pencil can be made to suspend from the palm of the magician’s hand with no gimmicks what-so-ever. The basic moves of the feat are as follows.

Display the wand remarking to the audience that it is totally ordinary and un-gimmicked. (is a magician’s wand ever really ordinary? Hmmmm….) Now, explain that if you hold the wand in your hand, then grab your wrist, upon opening the hand the wand remains miraculously suspended.

Fig#2 shows the behind the scenes maneuver that makes it all possible. The right hand index finger hold the wand against the palm of the left hand keeping it from falling. This is done secretly at the point when the right hand grasps the left wrist.

Fig #2
(AHHH, SO THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE!)
For all intensive purposes, the trick can end right here as it has been time since time immemorial. However, that will result in one or all of the following scenarios.

  • You have performed what is truthfully a mediocre trick. But hey, the kids like it!
  • 50% of the spectators will know what you are doing, no matter how smooth you do it.
  • “You” will be pretty disappointed that this is the end of this months lesson! “We can’t have that!”

Fortunately, The Routine can be expanded to make it a real mind-blower! This is how. Instead of trying to persuade the audience with the fact that the wand is actually clinging to your hand, make a pseudo magic lesson out of it like I do. (I was told be several leading magicians not to release this routine, but I’m going to anyway. I.C.O.Mer’s are worth it!)

Start by saying that you will teach the audience how to do a magic trick themselves. Go through the above motions right up to the point where the wand is suspended. Now, ask the audience if they know how it is done. If they say no, you may end the trick right here without exposing the method if you prefer. But if they “do” know what you are doing, I feel that in this rare case, it is proper to expose the method for the greater impact of the pending climax.

Proceed to remove your finger from the wand, leaving it genuinely suspended in mid-air! See Fig #3

How is this done you ask? Answer next month………No, just kidding! It is done with a ploy that is not new. Much like the trick itself. It was performed and featured by the great Max Malini in his full evening show. He used to do this during his stage show with a couple of cigars. In Vernon’s book, Malini And His Magic (Supreme, Out of Print) Malini had a moist eperdermis (skin), with which he could press his hands to almost any light object which then would allow them to cling to his hands with no gimmicks what-so-ever!

Upon learning this I realized that most magicians after about fifteen minutes of performing sleight-of-hand find their skin in this condition. Slightly moist and damp due to natural perspiration.
You will also need a very light magic wand. Actually, I have found that the wands available in the I.C.O.M Online Catalog work perfectly! (I know this sounds like a commercial plug but it also happens to be true!) Merely grasp the wand in a tight fist, then slowly open the fingers. The wand will cling to your hand! The spectators will freak at this point. Close your hand, and hand out the wand for examination. Do not repeat the effect!

Bill Wisch pointed out that there is some interesting psychology happening here at this point. The suspension of the wand at the climax point is actually strengthened by the fact that the previous exposure of the old method seems to dispel any notion that the wand is capable of any type of self-suspension at all. Hence, when the climax point is reached, it seems all that more impossible.

Performers who still have trouble performing the effect, fear not. The famous Eddie Joseph, one of India’s legendary magi’s had a solution. He would levitate small objects using a small loop of cellophane tape. This can be stolen from just about anywhere during your performance since the sticky nature of tape allows it to be its own servante!

Other magicians have talked about the use of moist hands to levitate objects such as the late Al Koran and others. Try it! it works, But remember. When displaying the wand in its suspended state, do it for a short period only. Remember, Less is more! Then immediately hand it out for examination. You may have your hands immediately examined as well provided you are not using the tape method (if you are, you may develop a way to ditch the tape before having your hands examined).

Also, if you do not want to use a magic wand, try a no.#2 pencil, a plastic drinking straw, or any other ordinary object that is long, light and slender. To close, look at Fig#3. There is no tape or gimmicks at all causing this wand suspension. In a way, it is as close to real magic as you can get. Think about it………….

Fig #3
HOLY COW! IT REALLY IS FLOATING!….NO FOOLING!
 


February 1998

Peter Explained
By
Bobby J. Gallo
2/1/98
If a person were to ask me what the most challenging aspect of being an I.C.O.M instructor is, it would most likely be the decision of what to showcase in the Beginner’s Study each month. What do I show people that are just starting their relationship with magic? What can be beneficial to beginner as well as seasoned magicians who pop into the forum? What is interesting? What is entertaining? what is practical? What is fun?

I believe that this month I have satisfied all of the above criteria with a lesson that is long overdue in the world of magic. A complete handling for the multiplying bunnies! This single effect has been a staple of the close-up artist’s repertoire for years, and has been called the greatest close-up effect ever devised by more than one top professional. Even I must confess, it is one of, if not “the” favorite effect of my audiences. Rarely, does an effect make someone scream with surprise and delight the way the multiplying bunnies do. So strong is this effect if performed properly, that if I could only have ten close-up effects, the rabbits would be one of them.

The unfortunate thing is, when most magicians get them, beginner and professional alike, they end up the the rear of the magic drawer. Why?, because they never come with adequate instructions. So here now, are the moves and information that have made the multiplying rabbits a hit for me at roving engagements and trade shows form coast to coast!

What Type Of Rabbits To Use?

There are basically three types of rabbits on the market and dozens of objects that can be used in place of the rabbits. Bill Wisch in his own unique routine uses little sponge blocks. I have seen gremlins, dragons, frogs, even mini gargoyles! But for me, the bunnies are the standard.The basic Adams set works fine for most purposes, but the professional may want to consider either the Goshman “Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits”, or “Norm Neilsons 3D Multiplying Rabbits”. I formally used the Neilson Rabbits, but they are expensive, don’t last forever, and there is a slight risk involved when they are in the spectators hand which I will explain later. But they look really good and are by far the most attractive set available. The Goshman set are what I currently use. They hold up well, give you more rabbits than you need for the routine and are reasonably priced. The drawback is that they don’t look too much like rabbits unless you point it out, a fact that needs to be cleared up in your presentation. The set also comes with a controversial item which I would prefer they left out. Nuff said on that point.

All is all, get a set of the Adams “Peter Rabbit Goes to Town” It truly is as good as the rest for most performers, and will cost under $5.00. How can you go wrong?

Set-Up:

For illustration purposes, I am using my set of Neilson Rabbits, you may learn the same moves with any set you may have. See Fig #1.

Start with the entire set of rabbits in your right jacket pocket. Unless your are left handed, then switch pockets accordingly. You may also use your right trouser pocket, but I have found that in many cases, the trouser pocket does not afford you the room that you need to effectively gain the other baby rabbits during a very critical move. The jacket pocket is therefore recommended.

Obtain the two adult rabbits displaying them to the audience while you patter about the fact that the magician never does a show without his rabbits. I have a very involved patter line here that I have developed. It is up to you to be creative and start off by making you audience interested in the routine by using the inherent appearance of the sponge bunnies to an entertaining advantage. An edge that sponge balls do not have! Think about it…

This is your opportunity to have the audience examine the rabbits and discover that there is nothing fishy about them other than the fact that they are holding fake rabbits! At this time you should also be casually showing them that your hands are otherwise, completely empty. This is a very important point that is overlooked with some other rabbits routines. Some instructions tell you to have the baby rabbits finger palmed from the start of the routine. Big mistake! The miracle happens in the minds of the spectators when they have convinced themselves that you never had anything but two rabbits at all times!

Fig #1:
This is a set of top-of-the-line Neilson 3D Rabbits. But any set will suffice.
 


STEP #1

Now you must execute what I call a “ROLL VANISH”. Start with one rabbit held at the right hand finger-tips. As the right hand comes over to the left, and the tip of the rabbit begins to touch the left palm, the rabbit is then rolled into the left palm. Then the rabbit is immediately finger palmed back out into the right hand. See Fig #2:


Fig #2:
Rabbit being rolled into the left palm.
During this action, the left hand simultaneously turns palm down and is formed into a fist. The right hand contains the finger-palmed rabbit. Again to reiterate. The rabbit is rolled into the left palm with the right hand which immediately finger-palms the rabbit back out. The left hand during this action turns palm down and the rabbit remains in right hand finger palm. The whole move takes less than a second. At this point I usually use the right hand that contains the finger palmed rabbit to point to the left hand which supposedly contains the bunny.


STEP #2

Now, pick up the remaining bunny with the right hand that now contains the finger-palmed bunny in preparation for what I call the the “CONDITIONED HOLD”. This is the most critical move in the entire routine.

The problem with most sponge routines has always been the question of how to keep the spectators hand closed until the climax, or in the case of this routine, climaxes. Another classic problem has also been having the spectator close their hand fast enough so that they do not see that you are loading multiple objects into their hand. This innovative move eliminates all these problems and more! It is a powerful technique that can be applied to any routine where a spectator must hold a magical object that must be hidden until the end of the routine.

To perform this very psychological move, you must first ask the spectator to hold the other bunny. However, as you go to place the bunny into their hand, immediately snatch it back out! They will look surprised. Do it again, this time you will notice that they will try to grab the rabbit by closing their hand. What you are doing, is conditioning them to grab the rabbit and hold it tightly once they get it. This may seem like you are teasing them a bit, (and you are!) but it is a sure fire way for them to hold onto the rabbits. You will also notice that they will do it so fast, that you will now be able to load in the finger palmed bunny with the visible bunny and the spectator will ensure that the move is well hidden! Do this several times before the load. Finally letting them get the rabbit along with the finger palmed second bunny. Immediately have them turn their fist over and keep it closed. See Fig: #3:

Fig: #3:
In this shot, the finger-palmed rabbit along with the visible rabbit are loaded into the spectators hand using the “CONDITIONED HOLD”. Notice that he right hand pretends to hold the second bunny that is now loaded in the spectators hand.


STEP #3

Now you are all set for the first mind-blowing miracle! Reach into the pocket containing the baby bunnies under the guise of getting “woofle-dust”, and finger palm “all” of them! You now come out of the pocket with the imaginary dust and sprinkle it over the your right hand that is supposedly containing the second rabbit. With a great amount of showmanship, dramatically open the hand revealing that your rabbit has vanished. Have the spectator open their hand and find that the rabbit has travelled over to them! In many cases, this effect alone is enough and you could theoretically stop right here, but the main event yet to come.


Step #4

This time take both” of the rabbits, one in each hand and remark that this time you would like them to hold both rabbits so hold them even tighter than before. (another psychological ploy designed to entice them to keep their hand closed tightly).

Place “all” rabbits into the spectators hand using the hand that “does not”contain any rabbits to gently facilitate closure of the spectators hand. Then have them place their hand palm down onto the table-top.


Right hand gently facilitates closure of the spectators hand to cover the giant load of rabbits. As you can see, it creates perfect cover and prevents any flashes of the rabbits from being seen.
 


Step #5

Now you are all in position for the grand finale of all close-up magic! Talk to the spectator and ask any questions pertaining to what happens when you put a mama and a papa rabbit into the same hand? or something similar. The point is to “distance” the climax production of the rabbits with the actual loading procedure. This is one of the most important points in magic. It is megaimportant to follow this guideline in any routine so as to expel any notion in the spectators mind that the time when they closed their hand hand anything to do with the fact that there is now a handful of rabbits jumping out all over the table! So let at least thirty seconds elapse from the time the rabbit were loaded to the time the spectator opens their hand. Thirty seconds can be a long time during a close-up routine so be creative with you presentation.

Now after you have entertained your audience with your witty banter, it is time for the big finish. Play this up with all the fervor you can muster. As you ask them the question of what may be happening in their hand, look them in the eye and wait for he answer. Regardless of what their answer is, have them slowly turn their hand palm up and open it as you exclaim, (and it is very important to exclaim this in a loud voice to strengthen the climax) BABIES!

You will be stunned yourself at the reaction! This routine is a perfect closer to a close-up routine. As you will see by experimentation, nothing is really strong enough to follow it.

In closing, please heed this warning. Never repeat this trick! The psychological ploys involved in the various steps only works once. You have been warned!


March 1998

“Knotty Coin”

This month I would like to give our members a nice transposition effect that will familiarize them with act of mixing two effects together to get on solid routine. In this case, as I have stated already, we are going to perform a transposition. Meaning, we are going to make an object (a marked coin) vanish from one place, only to end up in another location.

Effect:
The performer borrows a coin from a spectator, and the coin is marked for future identification. It is always best to use a “Sharpie ™” brand marker or wax crayon for this. The coin is then placed inside an envelope. A handkerchief or bandanna is then shown to the audience. The performer proceeds to twist it up and tie a knot in the center. After the knotted hank is placed in a location within view of the entire audience, the envelope is taken, then torn up to show that the coin has vanished. An audience member then unties the knot in the hank only to find the missing marked coin inside it. Sound good? It is!

Method:

This routine uses an old method for vanishing small objects called the “slit envelope”. It is made by merely cutting a small slit just large enough for the coin to pass through in one end of the bottom fold of a regulation size envelope.

Start by having a duplicate coin finger-palmed (See I.C.O.M Sleight-Of-Hand Gallery Fig: #17). Then borrow a coin of similar size and have it marked for identification or easier yet, just have the date noted. Now you are about to execute a false placement. Show the marked coin in the right hand, (the hand finger-palming the duplicate) and pretend to place it in the left hand, actually releasing the palmed duplicate coin and retaining the marked coin in the hand.

Place the duplicate on the table.(Make sure it is well out of reach of the spectators. You may get a trouble maker who would like to again examine the coin after the switch is made) Now, get your handkerchief and as you obtain it, grasp it by two diagonally opposite corners, concealing the coin behind one corner with the right thumb. Give the hank a revolving motion forming it into a tube. Bring the left hand side over to the right, and at the same time release the coin into the tube so it slides down into the center of the hank.

Tie a knot in the center of the hank, and place it somewhere in full view of the audience. Pick up the coin and slit envelope from the table and drop the duplicate coin into it. Seal it up and turn the envelope so the coin slides down the bottom, out of the slit and into your palm. Go to your pocket for some magic dust, a wand, etc. Taking the opportunity to dispose of the palmed coin there.

To enhance the climax, you may cut out a thick piece of opaque paper and drop it into the envelope prior to the performance. After the coin in pocketed, hold the envelope up to the light so they “think” they see the coin! Then proceed to destroy their envelope and re-produce the marked coin from the knot in the hank.


Notice: This material “IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN” and is intended for the personal and performance use of International Conservatory Of Magic members only.

This entire page is under copywrite 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Advanced Lab 1/98-3/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

Advanced Lab 1/98-3/98

January 1998

Tip Of The Wand
By
Bill Wisch

“With NOT At!”

This month I’d like to mention something about performance styles. Working with other magicians is a joy for me. I don’t get jealous (I used to) anymore because I know that I could never, ever do even a single effect they do like they do. BUT, they can never, ever do an effect that I do like I do. That seems like a nice trade-off. I can live with that.

Anyway, getting back to the topic. I see many effects and routines performed by other magicians at conventions or multiple performer situations and always feel uncomfortable when I see performers working AT an audience or spectator. By that I mean a constant banter of patter…much of it just filler…usually overly dramatic and perceived as “contrived” by the spectator(s). It’s almost like the magician is “patronizing” the spectator. To say “overpowering” would be more of a suitable description. “Do this”…”Give me the clean hand”…”I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do”…these are examples.I have witnessed many other approaches similar to these. Also any and all double-meaning lines don’t play well with a lot of people, despite what you may think (or hope). “Over show-bizzing” may be a good term for what I see many times. Granted, the people love the magician and the magic, but have mentioned to me ON THEIR OWN when I perform that the other magician(s) “came on too strong”. I’m not saying that I have this problem licked and I am aware of at least 38,762 things that I must improve before I’ll be happy with my work, but this over-doing of the dramatic is a reality and can be a “put-off” to some people. Give it some thought.
No one likes to be “put on”, or “talked down-to”. I believe that working WITH the audience as opposed to working AT them is a much better approach and it seems to make the magic more “magical” if you can believe it. That’s my Tip Of The Wand for January. Happy New Year and here’s hoping that 1998 will be the best year of your life!


Advanced Coin Vanishment Sleight

By
Steve Forster

It is a real pleasure to have this contribution by accomplished magician Steve Forster. The title for this little gem was created by us, but all the rest is his, including the dynamite illustrations! Try this new variation for vanishing a coin. You will find it to be a valuable asset in your magical arsenal!…BJG

  • Hold coin at the top, pinched between thumb and index finger, with the other three fingers curled in.
  • Place bottom edge of coin onto open left hand at the juncture of palm and fingers. See Fig #1.
  • Simultaneously curl left fingers towards palm and allow coin to lay flat onto left palm.
  • just before coin touches palm, insert right pinky between coin and palm. See Fig #2 for exposed view. Left fingers should be shielding pinky action. At this point, make sure the side of the middle bone of the left pinky is in contact with the top of the middle bone of the right hand ring-finger.
  • Note that by moving the right ring-finger forward, the coin can be grasped between the ring and pinky fingers. Do so. Then, by curling the two fingers with the coin inwards, the coin can be brought into the right hand. Do this and while doing so, turn the left hand over with the motion of the left hand starting from the shoulder. (this will cause the left elbow to extend slightly leftwards)
  • Simultaneously, bring the left elbow towards your body while turning the closed, supposedly coin containing left hand palm up while moving the left hand towards your face. Move face to left hand. (to look at fist) Move right hand with coin to edge of table or lap to dispose of same.
  • Make an appropriate gesture, or an in-appropriate one if it suites you!, and show the left hand empty.

If you have performed this properly, woman will faint or otherwise become noticeably upset and men will wonder if you can make their wives disappear…


An Interesting Prediction
By
Ronald J. Dayton

What in the world makes this prediction any more interesting than any other? I’m glad you asked!

This particular prediction uses props, which once made, may be used over and over again. Secondly, this prediction, unlike any other of which I am aware, makes use of ‘ tongue twisters ‘. This prediction, although employing fairly straight forward mentalism, creates a ‘fun’ atmosphere for the audience. And lastly, you may use the Magician’s Choice force in the routine, or try a slightly different count force I have offered.

THE PREMISE: Five sheets of paper, one colored, the other four white are lying on your close-up mat in a row. The colored sheet has been folded in to quarters and is furthest to your left. There is a slight space, then the row of four white packets, also folded into quarters follows from left to right.

The colored packet contains a prediction word. Each of the white packets contains a printed tongue twister. Spectator # one selects one of the white packets. This is given to him, still unopened. A second spectator is given the remaining three packets and asked to open each, and read what is printed on them.

You now announce that indeed, all four packets had a tongue twister on it…and you had a premonition of a single word which would trip spectator # one up as he read his chosen packet aloud quickly four times in, a row. They are now asked to open the packet they chose The tongue twister is read aloud rapidly four times in a row and amazingly, the spectator slips up on one word. They are now asked to take and open the colored folded packet. The word they read on the colored sheet of paper is the same as the one they mis- pronounced while saying their tongue twister.

THE WORKING: Everything is set-up as explained above. The first white packet ( the one to your left ) has the following tongue twister printed upon it: THE BIG BLACK BUG BLED BLUE BLOOD. The second packet has this: SALLY SELLS SEA SHELLS DOWN BY THE SEA SHORE. Packet three reads: RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS, and number four contains: HOW MANY CHUCKS COULD A WOOD CHUCK CHUCK IF A WOOD CHUCK COULD CHUCK WOOD.

The word which is concealed within the folded prediction packet is BUG. Your task now is to force the spectator to choose or appear to choose packet number one.

You may, as mentioned earlier, simply use the Magician’s Choice Force. I will now explain an alternative Counting Force which may appeal to you.

You point out that four white packets are used for the selection. They are then to call out a number from one to four, and you will SPELL to the packets to be taken. It is important that you say it in just that way…to the packets to be taken. This could imply that you will take, or remove the packets spelled off…or, it could mean you will take the packet spelled to. It is this double meaning possibility you want to leave in their minds.

If they say ONE, you begin your spelling at the far right and spell off o-n-e. You then push these first three right hand packets off to your front right, leaving only packet # 1 in place.

If they say two, the handling is exactly the same. For the number three, begin your count at the left. T-H-R-E-E spelling will bring you right back to packet # 1. Push it forward to spectator number one and push the remaining three toward spectator # 2. And lastly, for F-0-U-R you simply begin spelling at the right and end up on packet number one at the far left. In each instance the spectator is forced the first left hand packet.

When they try to say this unusual tongue twister four times in a row quickly, trust me, they will trip up on the word BUG. Try it, and you will see that it works. Most importantly…have fun with this effect. If done at a party, the other guests will enjoy seeing the two spectators try to make it through the series of tongue twisters. It immediately changes things to a very relaxed atmosphere. And as mentalism goes, this is a decidedly different approach from the usual serious, almost scientific premises. Enjoy!


February 1998

“AN EGG BAG BY ANY OTHER NAME”
By
Ronald J. Dayton
On page 267 of ” The Amateur Magician’s Handbook, Mr. Hay gives a nice, concise explanation of the basics for constructing and handling an Egg Bag. I have always enjoyed seeing a performer who is smooth with humor, and good at handling an audience do an egg bag routine. It always has positive results. Young and old alike seem to enjoy the antics of the elusive egg.

Many performers over the years have given thought to the egg bag. The market has seen the advent of mesh egg bags, fez shaped bags, Santa hats for use with an ornament rather than an egg. And U.F. Grant took the concept to the ultimate logical end, causing the bag itself to change into a funny looking chicken at the end of the routine.

In each of the above instances though, the bag may have been modified in some way, but it essentially was still used for what amounts to a standard egg bag routine. What I am proposing is that if you are considering an egg bag routine, perhaps you can expand its image so it can incorporate the use of several other props and effects.

An Egg Bag is exactly what it states…a bag which carries or in which an egg or eggs is found. But what if you found coins rather than eggs in it, wouldn’t it then be called a Money Bag?!

I see by the glimmer in your eye, you get my drift. A bag, designed to look like a Brink’s Money Bag complete with dollar sign printed on the front, and a light chain and lock used as a draw string would look very nice. When used with jumbo coins for visibility on stage, the thinking performer could easily slip into a full Miser’s Dream routine via the Coin Bag. The close-up worker could use the bag for a jumbo coin routine, then, with a well timed load, do the finale’ production of a huge mock gold bar.

In a similar way, a coin could be marked by a spectator, then vanished only to be found later in a nested set of boxes which had been produced from under the Money Bag/Coin Bag.

Given some thought, it appears that the basic Egg Bag premise can definitely be expanded. I have an additional thought for you to consider in this regard, but first, let me digress to the Egg Bag itself for a moment. Just a thought. What if, at the seeming end of your routine, you produce the egg from the bag and take your bow. As you do, the hand holding the bag swings down and behind your leg where a small but heavy cast frying pan is suspended. The pan is secretly loaded in an instant into the bag which is immediately brought forward. I think this would make for a very memorable finale’. The pan could even be stolen from the back of an assistant as they stand beside you with an egg carton to place the egg/eggs you have produced safely in. Or, another option would be to switch the bag completely for another at the back of your assistant. The method is there for you to work out. Give it some thought.

What other things are bags or bag shaped that might work into an expanded routine? What about a Marble Pouch? Years ago, every school yard had areas for marble players to ply their skills. Now days, the beautiful spheres we vied for then as children are costly collector’s items. I think it would be pleasing for an audience to re-live their childhood with a routine based on that theme. The ‘marble’ might well be a large shooter, (actually, a billiard ball) which would later multiply at your fingertips. The ball might then transform to sponge, and yet another full routine developed. I think there is a lot of potential there for the person willing to work with it a bit. Color changes, vanishes, productions, transformations, you could well run the full gambit of magic with some effort on your part.

Think of things that come in a bag. The list is huge. Consider how these items might be put to use for you. Cookies, chips, pretzels hardware, small toys, craft items, etc., etc.

Other than having things contained in them when they are purchased, some bag shaped containers are used to cover things. The first thing that came to mind…and the thing which inspired the thoughts you are now reading, are the covers golfers use on the heads of their clubs. Tiger Woods has one which looks like a small tiger hand-puppet. These covers would make a unique and clever lead-in to a combined routine with golf balls and golf clubs.

First of all, the golf ball becomes your substitute for the egg. You can go through many of the original moves using the ball rather than the egg…but at the end, the ball can be used for a whole host of things. It can become the multiplying golf balls, or, the diminishing ball. The club which the bag initially covered can become a dancing cane, or it can be made to vanish when rolled in a sheet of newspaper. Actually, it could do both effects if you make a convincing looking club from a marketed plastic cane with the addition of a latex or foam, or even cardboard club head. The cane club vanishes as per the instructions given, and the dancing cane simply depends upon finding the proper balance point and attaching the secret something. Neither of the routines need be lengthy or elaborate. They are just icing on the cake for your basic bag routine.

If you cover a regulation club with the bag, the club can be used in conjunction with the flag used to mark the hole you are playing ( a silk ) for a series of visual penetrations of the club.

A bag made to look like a flour sack could be used in a visible baking routine. The end product being a muffin made from plaster, plastic or rubber. They even have realistic paper-mache’ bakery available in many variety stores. Keep your eyes peeled for this sort of thing.

Be alert for unique or useful items in magic catalogs too which can be incorporated in the routine you devise. Spring Bills for example would make a wonderful final load for the Money Bag idea offered earlier. Bags are also used to cover parking meters. Perhaps you could produce toy cars ( match box style ) from a Meter Bag?!

Even though we have been discussing Egg Bags, this all goes back to what I said when Mr. Hay touched on the Card Box and Card Frame. Take the concept and change it so it has a more casual look, or logical patter theme behind it. This will often make the old, look new.

Use your own imagination and creativity. That, after all, is what I am trying to get you to do. In the world of magic, to be different from all the rest, you must strive to do your own thinking. How many times have you seen a clever move, novel effect, or heard a catchy phrase and said to yourself…” Boy, I wish I had thought of that!” Well, you could have…but someone beat you to it. Don’t just sit there and do what is handed to you.

Enough of my ranting about. Forgive me. I just want you to get the very most out of magic that you possibly can.

Tobacco comes in pouches. The egg bag could now lead to the production of a pipe, and this in turn could develop into the multiplying pipes, or any number of silk and smoking apparatus created by Sam Berland.

Gold Fish come in a clear plastic bag at carnivals…what possibilities do you find here?

If you have seen the text on creativity, you will already understand that what I am saying is to not limit yourself when it comes to thinking of possibilities. A gold fish theme would involve the use of liquids. Why not incorporate a visible fishing routine… or production from a thumb-tip, with a Foo Can or Lotta Bowl? Perhaps the clear bag would give way to a clear fronted, mesh bag type modification…or a bag which is clear on the bottom but still has a darker wide band around the opening. With a jumbo thumb tip, you wouldn’t need a gimmicked bag at all. What an incredible giveaway gift at the end of a routine…a live gold fish in an ungimmicked plastic bag!

If you are an older individual, and have been involved in magic for a while…take any one of these ideas…or different ones you may devise, and run with them. If you are younger, and need a bit of help…I’m sure you can find a dealer or magic enthusiast who will be happy to help you create a routine of your own.

Remember to keep it simple, direct, and real. Story lines people can relate to, or which generate interest to them, are best. As a final for instance…groceries come in bags too. What could you produce…radishes, turnips, plums?? Perhaps a Bananna Bag, and a full multiplying Bananna routine, pickles or hot dogs?! The latex doubles for each of these items are available on the magic market.

That’s all for now my friend. I don’t want to bore you with any.more. chatter. Many possible themes have been offered. Now it is up to you to decide what you want to do with them. Have fun!


March 1998

“Color Cup Transposition”
By
Ronald J. Dayton
Three plastic cups, each of the same size and shape, are lying on their sides upon your table. The open mouths of the cups are toward the audience. The cups are completely empty. Sitting directly in front of the cups are three sponge balls. One ball in front of each cup. So far, nothing new, right!? Well, what if I told you that each of the cups, and its matching ball, are a different color! Kind of spices things up a bit, doesn’t it? Not only that…but before the magic begins…the spectator himself places the balls under their respective cups. The red ball under the red cup, yellow under yellow, and blue under blue. The cups are not lifted again until the final reveal. And when that does happen, the red ball is under the yellow cup the blue under the red at the opposite side of the table, and the yellow ball is under the blue plastic cup.

All of this happens, seemingly without using a move of any kind, but thanks to my association with Jeffrey L. Campbell, some very subtle trickery is used.

A number of years ago I entered Jeff Campbell’s magic shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I had devised an effect I thought he might like to see. It was a chop cup routine…but one that used a clear plastic cup. With that initial idea, we worked our way toward the material what was eventually released in book form as The Crystal Cups.

The whole premise was based on the fact that in a three shell game, the newer sponge rubber ‘pea’ will work under and out of the shell by simply sliding the shell in one direction or another. The pea may be ejected in to the waiting hand, or, under another shell. The Crystal Cups used this principle in some very clever ways. The book is available through Paul Diamond’s Magic, or other dealers. You might want to take a look.

It dawned on me that the traditional cups and balls might be offered an additional bit of business if cups and balls of different colors were used. By simply having an extra blue sponge ball palmed in your left hand…a very visual triple transposition could be performed.

The red and yellow cups are positioned as outlined in the opening paragraph, rather close together just to your left. A bit to the right the blue cup lies on its side with its matching blue ball directly in front of it.

You ask the spectator to assist. They are to place the red and yellow balls under their respective cups. This done, and with the cups nearly touching one another, the left hand grasps the red cup down near the table, and the right hand takes hold of the yellow cup in like fashion. The edges of the little fingers of each hand are resting on the table. You then simply shift or slide the cups a few inches to your left. In that moment, the palmed blue ball in the left hand is allowed to slide under the red cup…the red ball emerges and goes under the yellow cup, and the yellow ball comes out
from under the yellow cup and is retrieved by the right hand. I know it sounds incredible…but if the sponge balls are pliant enough, that’s exactly what will happen. You now ask that they place the visible blue ball under the blue cup. Then, grasping the cup at both sides between your hands, it too is shifted slightly to the side…but this time, the movement is to the right, separating that cup from the other two by an even greater distance. But the side slide will automatically load the palmed yellow ball under the blue cup, and eject the blue ball into the left hand.

Ditch the palmed blue ball in your pocket as you go to it for a mini wand. Wave the wand over the cups…then allow the spectator to lift each cup for the final reveal.

You are left clean, with only the three different color sponge balls, each having seemed to fly invisibly to a different color cup. The fact that you so briefly shifted the cups will be forgotten. The strong point being that the spectators will remember THEY handled the cups and balls at the start and conclusion of the effect!

Finding the proper cups and balls may not be easy. You might try the various color NERF balls currently on the market. The cups will be much easier. Medium size drinking tumblers come in many colors. Or, in a pinch, you might try a garden supply center and use smaller plastic flower pots.

This effect is visually stunning, and completely unexpected. With the mis-direction of the final color reveal…just think of the loads you may be able to shift into the cups for your finale. If using flower pots, carnations in red, yellow and blue might be a nice touch. The ladies in your audience would love it!

Work with the cup shift and loading and unloading of the balls. Watch your angles. Use eye contact to help divert the spectator’s gaze. Better he is watching your face than your hands!


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