Beginner’s Study – Jan-March 2004

Welcome the I.C.O.M Beginner’s Study! Here you will find high-quality material that is within the technical ability of virtually all magician’s. It is important to note that while this place is specifically designed for the magical novice in mind, we strive to include material that is strong enough for even the seasoned professional.

January-March 2004

For further information on the cups and balls please check out the new book talked about in the I.C.O.M Spotlight this quarter!…BJG

Bobby J’s Ultimate Beginner’s Course of Magic


The Classic Cups & Balls

This classic of magic is thousands of years old and is a bit more involved than other tricks in this book, but is included for those who want a challenge doing more “professional” tricks. This routine would make a great way to close your magic show as it is a very powerful presentation if you practice hard to perfect it. So be patient and follow the instructions carefully. This is an ultra-simplified version. This effect can and does get very complicated in the hands of a professional as there are literally dozens of moves and variations. But this is the very basic effect for you to master before you attempt such things.

What the audience sees: Three cups and three balls are shown. Then the balls mysteriously penetrate the solid cups one by one!

What you need: Three plastic cups that you cannot see through and that can be stacked on top of one another.  You also need FOUR small pom poms, balls,  crumbled up pieces of tissue paper or dollar bills.

What to do: As you may have noticed already, you really have four balls but the audience is only aware of three at all times.  Before starting, place one cup, mouth up on the table and drop one of the balls into it. Stack (nest) the other two cups on top of this and this completes your set-up.

Step #1

Start by picking up the three nested cups and remove the top cup with the right hand placing it mouth down on the table, do the same with cup #2. Now do it again with the final cup that contains the secret ball. Turn this cup over briskly onto the table so that the secret ball does not fall out (this cup should be in the center of the other two). You should now have three cups mouth down on the table and under the center cup lies the secret ball. The audience also sees the other three balls as well.

Now show the audience one of the three balls and place it on top of the cup that has the secret ball underneath.  Now take the other two cups and place them on top of the center cup. Say the magic word and lift all of the cups and it will appear that the ball has penetrated the cup!

Step #2

Lift up all the cups and turn them mouth up. Take the top cup and remove it. Notice that the next one has the secret ball in it. Now using the same brisk motion as before, turn this cup mouth down so that you add the ball in the cup to the ball on the table. Place the remaining cup alongside this one on the table. Now place another ball on top of the cup with the two balls underneath.  Stack the three cups again, say the magic word, lift up all the cups and voila! It seems as though the second ball has penetrated one of the solid cup again. Now repeat this process to make the third ball join the rest. At the conclusion get rid of the cups and extra ball and take your bows.

It may sound complicated but if you follow the instructions with the props in hand, you should have no problems in the end.

Over the next few quarters we have decided to go back to our roots and publish lessons from our Beginner’s publication entitled “Bobby J’s Ultimate Beginner’s Course of Magic ™”. This is material for the true amateur just starting to perform magic that I have used to teach literally thousands of students year in and year out. These are basic effects written in a way that everyone can understand and this lay a solid foundation for the more difficult material on the site. After all, this “IS” the Beginner’s Study…BJG

Bobby J’s

Ultimate Beginner’s Course

 of Magic


A lot of beginner magic books contain tricks that are either very hard to do or require objects that aren’t so easy to get. This collection of easy-to-do feats of magic are straight from the actual lessons I use to teach magic before thousands of people just like you! So you can be sure that they will amaze and bewilder your family and friends. Just remember to follow the “magician’s code” and you will be the talk of the town!

Bobby J. Gallo

The Mind Reading Duo!

The Temples of Mind reading

The Magician guesses the number from one to ten that is whispered in the ear of an audience member by placing his hands on  their temples!

Secret: The audience member who’s mind you read is really your secret assistant. (someone you let in on the secret). Beforehand, tell them to tighten their jaws causing their facial muscles to flex. If you place your fingers lightly on their forehead straight  back from their eyes, you can feel the muscles “bump” every time they tighten their jaw. Instruct them to do this the same number as was whispered into their ear. You just count the number of times you feel the “bump”. Then dramatically announce the answer to the rest of the audience.

The Great Crayon Trick

The Magician names the color of a crayon behind her back that she never, ever looked at!

Secret: You take about 4 or 5 crayons and ask the person to hand one to you behind your back then hide the others. Turn back to face them asking them if they are satisfied with the color they gave you. While you are doing this secretly mark a small amount of the crayon on one of your fingernails. Remember, never look at the crayon, all this is done while the crayon is behind your back. Turn around again and return the crayon. Then pretend to read their mind by waving your hand. Take this opportunity to glance at the finger that has the secret mark. You can easily see what color crayon it was!

The Baffling Boomerang

One boomerang grows larger than the other before your very eyes!

You may have seen me perform a version of this in my own show so you know it’s good! If you like, you can even use a photocopier to enlarge them. Then cut them out and show the audience that they are the same size. Then say the magic word and hold one directly above the other and it will seem the one has grown! The secret? There is none. It’s a real optical illusion!

So you want to make Something

Disappear Huh?

This mini-course of magic wouldn’t be complete unless you learned at least “one” method of making an object disappear. There are many ways to accomplish this. Some use difficult sleight-of-hand and others use mechanical means such as trick boxes and props. The following is a great to make almost any small object vanish instantly, though coins and balls work best.

Here’s How—Obtain a handkerchief or bandanna and a small rubber band. The rubber band is secretly placed around the ends of the fingers and are hidden behind the hanky. Make a small pocket in the hanky with your fingers and place the coin, ball or other object inside of it. The rubber band is released around the pocket and traps the object inside. Now shake the hanky. It appears that the object has vanished! Quickly put it away and proceed with your next trick.

Next Installment: The Cups & Balls!

Cut and Restored String Revisited

By Bobby J. Gallo

I’ve been doing magic for over 20 years and I have seen all kinds of props and materials used in the construction of great and sometimes not so great magical presentations. This is why I am frequently amazed that the simplest props can literally knock an audience out. The following presentation is currently being used in my act with great success and honesty, from the audiences perspective, is one of the most amazing bits of magic in the show.

Effect: A ball of cotton butchers twine is displayed to the audience as the magician asks…. ” Do you know the difference between reality and illusion?” As he says this he pulls out a length of the twine and proceeds to cut it with a pair of scissors. “This string is reality..correct?” He asks the audience where they invariably agree with the mage. “Now if I were to cut the string… is that also reality?” The magician matches his action with his words and cuts the string again and again until he has eight pieces in his hands. He then counts them out singly stating. “This is an illusion. I never really cut the string at all.” The audience usually laughs at this point. Then the magician goes on and on about how good an illusionist he is due to the fact that the string really looks like it is cut.

To prove what I am saying is true I will use a person from the audience. He then takes out a small manila envelope from his pocket stating that he needs somewhere to put the “seemingly” cut pieces of string. He tucks them into the envelope and gives it to the spectator to hold and says… “You are holding and envelope with what the audience believes are eight small pieces of string correct? Wave the envelope over your head…. Thank you. Now open it up and take out what is inside.” As the spectator does this he removes one solid piece of string. The envelope is then ripped apart and there are no secret compartments or trap doors.

The audience gasps……

Method: All you need is a ball of cotton butchers twine that can be found in most any supermarket or hardware store. A pair of good scissors, a mania pay envelope which you can buy by box at your local office supply store, and our good old friend the thumb tip (yes you can take it out of your drawer again). The king size (goblin) thumbtips work best for this. If you don’t have one they can be purchased from a magic supply company for a small cost. Get several as any magician will tell you they tend to vanish in your case sometimes.. hehe

Before the show have a duplicate length of string in the envelope beforehand with the thumbtip in the envelope as well. Keep these both in your front jacket pocket. After cutting the initial length of string, remove the envelope and slowly place all the cut pieces into the thumbtip. Steal the thumbtip out of the envelope and drop it into your pocket or table as you go to look for a magic wand or some “woofle dust”. Hand the envelope to the spectator and finish as stated above.

This is one of the few thumb tip tricks where a thumb tip is NEVER suspected!

I use this in my stand-up show and it is one of the few tricks that I do slowly and deliberately to get maximum effect. Try it and you will be as hooked on it as I am.

Bobby J. Gallo

Emily Post once said that the correct way to wear a top hat was to have it level on your head. However others say that it should be worn tilted slightly forward and cocked no more than 10 degrees to one side. An example would be of that in the famous portrait of Lord Ribbesdale by John Singer Sargent.

Throughout the 1800’s tops hats of all dimensions and sizes were all the rage. Some so large that there were no room for them in cloakrooms. Thus the invention of the collapsable top hat was born by Antoine Gibus.

Little known is the fact that the top hat’s popularity was actually waning by the beginning of the 20th century. Movies like “Top Hat” with Fred Astaire in 1935 suggested that the topper was still very popular dress fashion, but such was not nessesarily the case. Except for select socialites, theatre use, and performers such as magicians and dancers, the top hat was mainly relegated to the realm of costume.

Rightly or wrongly, it’s the effect that all of magic has become synonymous with. Pulling a rabbit or other animate or inanimate objects from a hat. It is the universal symbol of the magician and one that some adore and other modern magicians shun. No one knows the exact origins of this effect but many believe it’s origin around the early 1800’s when top hats were in full vogue. As a matter of fact, earliest records indicate that a French magician named Louis Comte who became the first conjurer known to pull a white rabbit from a black top hat.

The hard cold fact is that audiences do and probably always associate the magician with this trick and the smart magician would do well to incorporate some form of it in his or her repertoire. The public expects you to do it and if you comply, they will love you for it. Finally a magician that gives them what they expected. After all, even though it’s a trick that they all associate the magician with, they never see it done!

Many tricks have been developed over the years with the rabbit in the hat theme. Paper tears, coloring frames, close-up paddles, jumbo card tricks, and the list goes on and on. But why perform these knock-offs when you can do the real thing? Now I realize that many including myself really don’t want to use “live” animals due the the sheer impracticality of caring for and transporting livestock. Not to mention the fact that many places like restaurants forbid the use of live animals due to health codes, the risk factor when live animals are brought into the private home and the use them when in close proximity to the audience. And lets not even get into the humane aspect.

All of that aside, there are many alternatives to the live rabbit such as the spring animals that are currently marketed that all but take care of the problem entirely. I am of the belief that an animal live or fake is not really the issue but rather that of the magician pulling “something” out of the hat. Whether it be an animal of a hat coil, flowers, or sponge hot dogs. It’s just the image of pulling something of the hat that fulfills the audiences expectations.

There have been numerous ways to accomplish this. Some use specially constructed hats with false bottoms. Fakes have been sold that can be sewn or merely placed into the hat. Other methods have used hidden bags that contained the load that is secretly introduced into the hat at one point or another in the act. Still more methods include methods where the object is hidden under the performers coat and a “trap” in the bottom of the hat allows the hand to pass through going straight into the coat where the load is stolen right under the audiences collective noses. All are good proven methods and all have strong as well as weak points. The following is the most practical method I have come across for performing the most famous trick in magic….period.

First you need a top hat. I have seen where derbys were also used but the top hat is the “top dog” so to speak. Pun intended. You can make your own, or buy one. These are easily obtainable as they are a very popular halloween and new years item. Yes, they are plastic and unless you are a good distance from your audience they look it as well. However if money isn’t an issue you can still get the real thing. Opera hats as of this writing currently sell for around $275.00 but top quality wool top hats cost less. Around $75.00.

You also need a sheet of black felt. This can be purchased at any cloth or craft store for around $1.00 and this this the secret. Take the felt and with fabric chalk, trace around the bottom of your hat (assuming your hat is on the table mouth up). You will end up with an oval shape on the felt sheet. Now cut out the oval which should be almost exactly the width of the inside of the hat. Trim it up and make it look nice. It’s needs to fit in there rather snugly.

Next place your load into the hat and cover it with the felt. You should now be able to “flash” the inside of the hat to the audience and the hat should appear to be empty. Yes, it’s the worlds simplest false bottom but it also happens to be the most effective one I have ever tried.

Now in working, take the hat and show the audience that it is empty. Next take a black silk and cover the hat. Wave the wand over the hat and look inside…..nothing. Take the silk and this time when covering the hat, poke it inside a bit. Now after you wave the wand over the hat, reach inside and grab the felt fake trough the black silk and remove it and the silk at the same time. Promptly dump them in your table or receptacle and proceed with your production.

Guess what? you’ve now just become the magician of legend…….

For the younger members of I.C.O.M
Depending on the materials used, a home-made top hat can be put together rather well. The following is a no nonsense hat project that would cost very little to make and should appeal the the younger members of I.C.O.M. However, though the following method may not have the strength to hold a rabbit load, but it should handle silks just fine.

You will first need to get a strong paper plate, a glue stick, black construction paper, and scissors.

Color the paper plate black to match the black construction paper. Once this is done and dry, cut out the center of the plate about the same size as the width of your head. Using a ruler may help with this. Remember to leave an outside rim of about 2 inches wide.

Now cut the black construction paper to approximately 8 inches by 8 inches. From this into a tube and tape or glue this into the cut out circle of the paper plate. Be sure that the bottom of the plate and the bottom of the tube are flush.

Decorating the hat with sticker stars of other fancy designs will enhance it’s look and make it more magical!

You now own your own top hat made even more special because you made it!

Let’s start off the new year with some “word of the wise”. As always this is vintage exactly Dayton brilliance that is as good for the seasoned performer as it is for the beginner…BJG

Ron Dayton

When I say that mouth-coils are tasteless; I am not saying they have no flavor; but I am saying that to produce things from a body orifice such as the mouth or nose is rather tacky. Your audience may feel it is repulsive; and most certainly they will not want to handle the item. In these times of various social diseases, people are rather squeamish about contact with any body fluids, especially if they happen to be yours! So, perhaps it would be in your best interest to re-think how you intend to produce mouth coils. Consider too, the production of cards or coins from your mouth as well. A youngster in your audience may place coins into his mouth and create a choking hazard.

They are after all , a compact little bundle which creates a colorful; and disproportionately large production. The smaller coils can be produced from within a thumb tip. You can attach a loop of thread to a larger mouth coil, and manipulate it like a Stillwell Handkerchief Ball. A mouth coil can be attached to the inside if a Goes-Inta-Box for a surprise production. By attaching one corner of a silk to one mouth coil; and the opposite corner to another. The mouth coils may be placed side by side and the silk wrapped around them to create a small bundle One coil is started at the thumb side of your fist. The other is pulled out at the little finger side. Spectators are allowed to pull the coils. At the end of the feed a previously vanished silk appears between the paper strands. Creating a mouth coil version of the Sympathetic Silks. A Card Silk, or a Good Night Silk could also be used effectively to close your act. In otherwords, put on your thinking caps. Mouth coils can provide a lot of magic at a reasonable cost.

Idea: Cut a hole in the back of a box of crayons, just below the flap. The hole is about a half inch square. Tape a mouth coil just under the hole. Top of the coil uppermost. This is box of jumbo Crayola Crayons, the kind with only about eight large crayons in the box. Ask the kids to call out several colors. As they are named you remove them from the box. The finale’ comes when you produce yards and yards of colored streamer from the box via the hole at the back. Rub the paper bundle over a previously shown black and white coloring book. Magically, the pages are now all filled in in vibrant colors; or you could produce one of those large production crayons from within the streamer paper.


EFFECT: a spectator selects a card. He does not show it to you or any one else. You ask him to concentrate on his card, while you attempt to pick up a mentally transmitted impression of it. After a moment , you say you bethere you know the card’s value. But rather than reveal it you ask another spectator to join you on stage. You say, I will now attempt to transmit the name of the card to you, look into my eyes. They do, and soon are able to correctly name the chosen card.

METHOD: The chosen card is actually forced, so you know it from the start. But how does a spectator know by simply looking into your eyes? The value, say the jack of spades (J-S is printed on your eyelids! Turn slightly so only he may see your eyes, then close your eyes to reveal the value to him/her. So simple really, but if done properly, it could be quite amazing. (Use a theatrical make-up pen which is easily washed off your lids.)

Ron Dayton
Dear I.C.O.M students, consider this as an addendum to thoughts concerning the use of rubber cement in magic. An empty kitchen match box with a coating of rubber cement in the inside bottom of the drawer; and some cement applied to the side of a die, opposite the side you wish to force, has been mentioned. But the matchbox drawer and it’s slide have eighteen surfaces. What a shame not to place more of them in play. The drawer inside end panels if treated could hold a die as well. Or if the end panel of the drawer were treated, and the inside top surface of the slide, but not the bottom, treated coins or cork balls could seem to vanish in a variety of ways, depending upon how the box is tipped. If you begin with the slide slipped on with its untreated inner surface uppermost, none of the objects will adhere to it. Rubber cement applied to the heel of your hand, and a bit to one outside end of the drawer, depending upon how the drawer is facing; can be used to cause the box to rise off your palm as does the rising pen or pencil Treated thread can be attached to treated objects too with just a touch causing animated bills, spongeballs and feather’s to move or float as it they had a life all their own.

Consider this for a haunted pack effect with borrowed cards. The card you add to their deck is a treated joker, which is discarded after the routine. If you own the old tumbling rings illusion, an extra free ring can be held to one end with rubber cement. As the top ring appears to pass down through all the others and fall to the bottom of the chain; you openly pluck the free ring off as to appear to catch it. Two ring boxes may be attached bottom to bottom in an instant with this versatile cement, creating a transformation / switching box right under the spectators eyes. With some help, a fine invisible hair net is stretched out flat. Some rubber cement is applied to the white borders of the ends of the card. Then a line rubber cement is placed onto the net directly below the card at each end. When dry the two are pressed togebelief and excess netting trimmed away. You have just created a card on the back of which many objects may be placed, then levitated simply by bowing the card a bit. A second card may be slid under the object as it floats. Objects such as matches, feather’s, light rings or pom pon balls will work very well. The flat area of the netting being more forgiving than parallel lines of elastic thread


Author: Bobby J. Gallo


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