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”
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

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
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.


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
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


*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
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.


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
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.


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.


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.

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!

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.

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!
Bobby J. Gallo
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
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

February 1998

Peter Explained
Bobby J. Gallo
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?


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.


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.


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.


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.

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!


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
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

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
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

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”
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!

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.


Kid Show Konservatory 10/97-12/97


Kid Show Konservatory 10/97-12/97

October 1997

Why Are Kids Different From Any Other Audience?
Bobby J. Gallo
This is an article that has been roaming around my head for quite a while. As most of you know, I perform for a living in a whole host of differing venues. Everywhere from standard birthday parties to the trade show floor. Every audience is different, but the kid show situation seems to stand out from the rest.

In an adult comedy club, banquet, or trade show situation, it seems the primary focus of the miracle worker is to mystify his audience. Entertainment is always of paramount importance, but adults want to watch you for the intrigue that naturally accompanies magic. They wish to catch you or figure out the advanced puzzles you present. We may lecture them all we like about how they should accept magic as an entertaining artform, relax and just enjoy it, but nevertheless, many adults just want to see through what you are doing. Some actually get angry if they don’t!, but that’s another article all together…

In college performances, students wish to be entertained and laugh, but that is where the similarities to kid show performing ends. For the most part, their idea of a humorous situation is to see either the performer or one the their classmates in an awkward situation. However, the primary interest in laughter and entertainment in these shows versus the mystery solving attitudes of an older adult audience mirrors the fact that college students are indeed only a scant ten years from the time they were enjoying the birthday party magician themselves.

I travel with three main shows. My close-up/trade show program, my college/comedy club act, and my kid show. Each in their own compact case. The presentational aspects for all three differ. However, the kid show material requires an entirely different approach as do the two former mentioned programs. Why? Lets first look at what entertains children as opposed to what adults enjoy..

The average age recommended for entertaining children is “four” and up. Below that age, “everything” in the world around them appears to be magic. For example, mom or dad starting the car, the television. etc. To a small child, there is no difference in watching magic show or witnessing the strange antics of a wind-up toy.

As children progress into the next stage of their development, their primary interest is to laugh. Comedy is the key ingredient in the entertainment of children during the early magic kid show stage. That is not to say they do not appreciate magic for what it is. For in fact, they do! But such presentations in my experience must be geared comedically to maintain the interest of ages four, five and six. It is important to remember that many say the average attention span of a child is only twenty minutes. Which means that when hired to do a standard “forty-five” program, the magician has his/her work cut out for themselves. The family entertainer must present something new, visual or exciting every few moments to keep the interest glued to the show. Any distraction, even the slightest, is detrimental to a successful performance.

Distracting things to watch out for when performing for children are.

  • Adults talking during the performance….
    This is the ruination of a vast number of shows. Children are very receptive to extemporary sounds. Even with a sound system, background noise is a tough distraction to overcome.
  • Music playing in the vicinity even at low levels.
    For the same reasons stated above.
  • Any toys, playthings, or overly visual objects in the same area as the performer. Just ask any magician doing a show next to the swing-set in a customers backyard!

Children have different motivations for the reactions they give during a magic show. That for the most part works to the advantage to the performer. It must be remembered that above all, children are HONEST. The reaction they give you is genuine. Adults may clap to be polite when they see a routine they really do not care for. On the other end of the spectrum, many adults will not give you ample credit for material that really DID knock entertainment socks off. Some adults take being mystified personally and would rather walk away or sit there quietly rather than admit that you really “put one over on them”. Of course they do not realize our motivation is to give them a wonderful entertainment experience. They rather feel that we are trying to prove some sort of superiority to our audience which is not the case with most magicians. (However, there are some……!)

I digress. Children crave excitement. This means that most of the magic that is geared solely to mystify and boggle the minds of the audience will simply not work for the younger crowds. Card tricks are out with the rare exception of exhibition card fanning and creative uses of flash cards etc. It must be remembered that the child must be aware that there are 52 cards in a deck and the rare probability that the magician will locate the cards that were selected. I’m sure you get my point.

Mental magic falls equally as flat for kids. How do they know mind reading is impossible? After all there “is” a Santa Clause right? The same can be said for any routine with more than one step for them to follow. Remember, they won’t! They want the trick and they want it now!

So what DOES work for kids. In my experience, ALL magic must have one, some, or all of the following elements:

  • Visual: Silks, ropes, rings, brightly colored balls, etc.
  • Funny: Mild sucker tricks usually with the entertainer taking the brunt of the joke.
  • Animated: Some the the best magic for kids contain movement, The stiff hank, rigid rope, rising egg, spring animals, etc. are good examples of this principle.
  • Simple premise: The ball travels from your hand to the spectators, the hank stands up, the hanks blend into one multi-colored silk, you get the idea.
  • Portable: This is an element that many will not agree with. I feel props should for the most part, be hand held unless you are working on a stage. Kids can become over enthusiastic and tend to rush the stage. In these cases, any props on your table are fair game!

The last technique that I would like to mention and thus conclude this months lesson is one of the most important factors for the entertainer. That technique is acting (something virtually unknown in the world of magic!). Comedic acting enhances the magic and makes everything you do more entertaining. Children like the old-style slapstick of the past. What’s old is new again as far as kids are concerned. Try it and you’ll see. Go to your local video store an rent some old classic, clean comedy shows. This is the type of comedy that never, ever goes out of style.

Till next month, keep em happy!

Bobby J. Gallo

November 1997

Bouncing Ball Matrix
Bobby J. Gallo
This is one of my favorite pet effects. It is designed for close-up use and is particularly appropriate for kids due to the fact that it uses the ever popular hi-bounce balls that can be obtained at your local supermarket vending machine for about a quarter each.

The dynamite benefits in using these balls is threefold.

  • They are instantly recognizable to the audience.
  • The tacky feel actually assists the act of palming which is crucial to this routine.
  • They make no noise when dumped in the pocket for the climax of the series of effects.


1. Four hi-bounce balls 1 1/4 in. each.
2. A close-up pad if working conditions permit.

Effect: Three balls are placed by the magician onto the table in a triangular pattern. The magician covers two of the balls, one with each hand. After the hands are lifted it is seen that one ball has mysteriously traveled through space to join the other!

This is repeated with the third ball causing all the balls to invisibly fly together in one corner of the mat!

The magician then takes two balls in his left hand and openly places the third ball in his pocket. A sudden snap of the fingers and the left hand is opened revealing three balls! The ball in the pocket has travelled through space once again!

The magician then takes two of the balls and puts them into his hand to attempt the feat again. This time however, all the balls vanish into thin air!

Working: This routine is actually a series of separate effects. First, a variation of chink-a-chink. Second, Two-in-the-hand One-in-the-pocket. Third, A false placement vanish.

Begin by having all four balls in the right hand coat or trouser pocket. Reach in and classic palm one ball (See The ICOM Sleight-of-hand gallery Fig #1). At the same time, grasp the other three balls and bring them out placing them on the mat as in Fig #1.

Fig #1
Patter to the audience according to your individual presentation while covering ball #1 with the empty left hand and ball#2 with the loaded right hand. Properly done, the audience will never suspect the existence of the fourth ball.

Roll the balls under your palms a bit, say what ever incantation comes to mind, then simultaneously, palm ball #1 in the left hand and release ball #2 in the right hand. Lift the hands slightly up and fully away from the mat and it will seem that ball #1 has traveled invisibly over to ball #2. Fig #2.

Fig #2
Now, without too much hesitation, cover ball #3 with the right hand. Cross over the right arm with the left hand loaded with ball#1 to cover the two balls in the ball #2 corner. Repeat the process of palming and releasing to apparently cause ball #3 to join balls #1 & #2. Fig #3.

Fig #3
The first phase of the routine is now complete leaving you with a ball classic palmed in the right hand. You are now all set-up to perform a classic, Two-in-the-hand One-in-the-Pocket effect.

Start by picking up one ball with the finger-tips of the right hand still containing the classic palmed ball. Toss the ball into the left hand. Next, pick up the second ball the same way, only this time, toss the ball at the finger-tips along with the classic palmed ball. It should appear that you only put two balls into the left hand. Place the remaining ball into your pocket. Snap your fingers, or what ever you wish and slowly open the left hand dropping each ball one at a time onto the table counting “One, Two, Three” balls!

You are now clean. The extra ball is safely in you pocket and you may end the routine here. Or you may extend it using a false-placement vanish. It goes like this.

Take two balls into the right hand. Display them showing them is the palm-up right hand. Then, apparently place them into the left hand, actually allowing them to fall into finger palm position of the right hand. (ICOM Sleight-of-hand gallery Fig #2)

Pick up the remaining ball with the finger-tips of the right hand and place ALL THE BALLS in your right pocket. Unlike coins, the rubber balls make no noise!!!!

Complete the vanish.

Notes: This is a superb professional routine. All three sequences take just over a minute to perform and is extremely magical looking and will certainly impress the toughest audiences even if they “think” they know how it is done. Of course, never tell them if they are right or wrong! Let them wonder!!!

December 1997

Holiday Theme Tricks???
Bobby J. Gallo
It would seem that this is the ideal month to talk about a subject which every children’s entertainer finds themselves when confronted to perform in a holiday venue. I am referring to the decision on whether or not to use tricks and routines specifically developed with the holidays in mind.

I, like most magicians started early in my career purchasing items like a chimney style Jap Box, A stocking style egg bag, A three card monty trick using Santa and his elves, etc. I had the ideal holiday act. Or so it seemed. but as time went on, I realized a few inherent problems with themeing my magic this way for one season out of the year. The problem that can arise I feel are indicative of the way many family entertainers are perceived when they are trying to specialize for any given series of performances. What do I mean when I say all of this? for instance, the following list of drawbacks I have found to be relatively consistent when performing holiday theme tricks.

  1. When performing a specialty act that has been developed specifically for a show or series of shows, the act is rarely perfected. Let’s face it. Magicians are rarely, if ever, paid enough per performance to merit the kind of rehearsal a single show act would require.
  2. The investment in theme props are seldom worth the return gained in the amount of jobs booked. Props today are expensive, and theme props are no exception. A holiday act can cost hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars to develop. Only to perform a maximum average of about twenty shows during a holiday season. Couple the prop investment with travel costs, publicity, and all the other expenses that go along with having a performing career and it is apparent that theme shows may leave the working performer in the red.
  3. Any specific holiday theme show is not appropriate for everyone. Think about it, you cannot perform these shows in schools or most public places due to the fact that the population of this particular county is growing ever increasingly diverse. And perish the thought of trying to include all faiths into one show, you would wind up with an ecumenical mess.

So what is the answer? How do we overcome these obstacles and please or all so important audiences. The answer is surprisingly simple. Do your act! That’s right, the one that has been honed and perfected through years of trial and error. (Of course, if you are just beginning in magic, it is just important to merely observe the point I am making.) After all, what are you? A magician right? Then if this is the case, do a magic show! It does not have to be of any particular theme, just so long as your magic is entertaining. As of this writing, I am leaving soon to do a four day trade show. Am I gearing my magic to a sponsors product?….Nope! Never have, never will, and I work a lot of trade shows. I just do my act. A magic act.

Bobby J. Gallo

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.

Slydini Legacy 10/97-12/97


Slydini Legacy 10/97-12/97

October 1997

“The Stunning, Subtle Poker Deal”
Bill Wisch
This is one of those effects that was never put into print, to the best of my knowledge. Slydini showed me this almost as an off-handed thing one lesson, and fooled me mega! I’ve shown it at lectures over the years and never failed to get a literal gasp when I performed it. It’s both stunning in effect and subtle in execution, but most important, it’s fun to do!


You tell your audience that you want to show how to deal a game of 5 card stud, poker. A person is sitting or standing opposite you at a table. You shuffle the deck thoroughly and can even have the spectator shuffle. Then you slowly and deliberately deal out five cards to thespectator and to yourself. Now you ask the spectator to make the best pokerhand he or she can with the cards dealt. You ponder your hand a bit and after the spectator lays out the best hand possible you say, “I win!..” and lay out about ten or twelve cards onto the table instead of the five you’re supposed to have. Obviously you can make up a better hand, and the spectator has no idea how you got that many cards because of the slow and deliberate manner in which you dealt to begin with.


This is vintage Slydini. Please do not overlook it until you’ve tried it and mastered it enough to get a chance to see the effect it has on people.

1) You make a big deal about shuffling the cards and cutting, etc.. Even have them shuffle. This sets them up in a way Slydini used in a number of other effects we’ll eventually be studying. I call it his “boredom technique”. This is when you do an action so painstakingly and sometimes repetitiously that the audience becomes slightly bored and kind of has that “wish you would hurry up and not go over the same thing five million times”

2) You continue the “boredom technique” with the way you deal. You deal the spectator a card and say “one”. Then you deal yourself a card and say “one”. Now you deal another card on top of the card already dealt to the spectator and say “two”, and you say “right?” and slowly separate the two cards a bit. By now the spectator is saying to himself, “what is this guy doing stressing the obvious so much?”

3) Continue on the same way with your second card and his third card…your third card and etc.. In other words your taking a bit of time (not TOO long, though) after each card is dealt. You’re separating them and constantly asking , “right”, after saying the number of the cards each time. It gets old and that’s precisely what you want.*

4) Now comes the move. After you deal the last (fifth) card onto your cards and separate them and show the five cards and say ” five…right?”, you tell the spectator to make up the best poker hand he can from his cards, and as you say this you square up the deck with the right hand on top and left hand on bottom (as usual) and with the right hand you casually but firmly slap the deck down onto the table to the left of your five cards.

5) You are looking at the spectator as you’re doing this. Then immediately after you slap the deck down, your right hand (on top) gently lifts a bunch of cards off the top of the deck and adds them to the five cards immediately to the right as you pick them up. In other words, you added a bunch of cards onto your five when all attention is on the spectator’s cards. Just in that off-beat, split second you will have more than ample opportunity and time to carry the cards over and the entire action is covered by the simple act of slapping the deck down and picking up your
cards…that’s it!

6) Now after you are holding the ten or twelve cards you now have in your hands, you kind of keep them hidden like poker players do, cupping your hands around them so nobody can get a look. You pretend to be looking overyour “five” cards and be trying to make up the best hand. Do this until the spectator finally lays down his cards. Now, with a tongue-in-cheek remark of your choice, getting the point across that you think you’ve won, you slowly fan out your cards and lay them down on the table face up, looking up at the spectator.

Wait until you see the expression on his or her face when they see the amount of cards you have! They will be completely in the dark as to how you were able to get the extra cards.

Tell them what Slydini told me…“I used my sleeves!”

*Note: Slydini uses this “boredom technique” to great advantage in his coins through the table routine, several times. It is very disarming and the audience only remembers later on that you did everything so unbelievably open and free from suspicion that there was no time you could have done anything sneaky. The actual deception comes at a totally unexpected time when the balance of the deck is placed aside. You only have the extra cards (just take what lifts off naturally…don’t make a move out of it) for a split second anyway because they get added to the top of your five cards as quickly and as naturally as humanly possible.

I told you this was vintage Slydini. See you next month!

November 1997

“Up In Smoke”
Bill Wisch
Note: The following routine deals with matches and fire. It is for magicians 18 years of age or older ONLY!

This month I’d like to give you a quick but extremely effective little “bit of business” that Slydini used to use with great success.

Slydini did many great cigarette effects and routines. Many times he would carefully remove a match from a matchbook, strike it, light up his cigarette and then in a rather nonchalant manner, make the match disappear into thin air by just blowing a small bit of smoke on it. It took me by such surprise the first time I saw it, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. He purposely did not tell the secret to me (he did that quite often) so I could mull it over for a week or two…then he would share the method and laugh his little maniacal laugh for a while as he watched me try to recreate it in my head (those were the good old days).

Many of Slydini’s effects were carried out in the simplest of fashions and came off as utter miracles due to the fantastic misdirective qualities he used (see September’s Tip of The Wand article on misdirection). This was no exception. The method is brazen to say the least but OH SO UNREAL!

Whenever you have to light a match for an effect, strike it, light your item and then shake the match as you would to extinguish the flame before you place it into an ashtray. During that little shake of the match (not overdone) you look at the audience and just let the match go during a downstroke. It will land on the floor out of sight.

You keep shaking the hand once or twice more as if you were still holding the match and then blow smoke on the hand or just blow on it if there’s no smoke and slowly and dramatically open the fingers showing the match gone. Now go on with the effect and don’t make a big deal out of it.

The audience will freak if the moves were done right. You must try this and see the reaction.

Some side comments: practice just shaking the flame from a match normally so you can see how much and at what force you must use to extinguish the flame. Then just duplicate it when you do the vanish.

I can’t begin to tell you how well Slydini did this thing. It was so natural that even after seeing the effect several times during a series of effects using lit matches, I still was totally blown away each and every time. This was pure magic and done as it was, just a little “bit of business”, it was just the right spice to add to the dish.

One more thing. Try not to do this on a carpet in someone’s home. Even though the match goes out before it is dropped, the heat remaining in the head will char the carpet slightly.

Of course, Slydini never let little things like that bother him*. Next month, along with another effect, I’ll tell you about the time he did a number on someone’s expensive dining room chair! Take care.

*Co-Directors Comment: Little things? Only Slydini could get away with a stunt like that. I would not recommend working this stunt in “any” home as Bill stated earlier. Some older carpets may actually burn! But this lesson does serve to illustrate the psychology that Syldini used in his magic and thus is valuable in that way. If the student is intrigued by this premise they may wish to think of ways of adapting the technique to things that do not involve fire. This could be a great vanish for small objects like toothpicks, etc. Give it some thought and remember, keep it safe! BJG…

December 1997

Bill Wisch
Slydini used to get extreme pleasure from mild practical jokes. I don’t mean the silly stuff like hand buzzers or snapping chewing gum packs. No, he would reserve his fun stuff usually for his fellow magicians. I’m certain other students can attest to this. I know he always had some sneaky “gag” ready to pull off when least expected.

Some of his gags are not fit to print…not because they were not clever or extremely funny, but because several were slightly off-color. For this reason I won’t include them in this forum. However several come to mind and I will include one every once in a while.

For this month’s Legacy I’d like to discuss one funny bit and certainly one that could be fun to do for you, not only for fellow magicians but for regular spectators as well.

This involves a deck of cards and as usual involves a bit of off-the-cuff acting, which method I will leave up to you and your style. Slydini would cut the cards and tilt the top portion toward the spectator to view the bottom card, then, almost as an action that wasn’t meant to be noticed, he’d slightly tip the same top portion toward himself to get a glimpse just before he put the cards back onto the lower half. Now he would make this pseudo-mindreading type buildup and then announce the name of the card triumphantly. All this was very bewildering to the spectator because they kind of knew he looked at the card as he put the cards back down. You think “what’s the big deal?”.

Now he’d do it again the exact same way. Lift up part of the deck…show the bottom card of the portion and then glimpse it as he lowered the cards to reassemble. You’d say to yourself, “what the heck is he doing?”. He did it even a third and sometimes a fourth time!

Now he would ask if you think you could try to guess a card in the same fashion. He’d mention this almost as if he was challenging you to do something very difficult when all the time you KNOW you can duplicate it because the whole thing is so obvious to you.

You accept the challenge and he hands you the deck. You proceed to lift up the top section of cards and tip them towards the spectator showing the bottom card. Now you lower the cards and your mind “shorts out”! What you see when you glimpse the card is a card BACK instead of a face. The expression is the thing and Slydini would laugh his head off watching the look on your face. It’s quite funny and really has to be tried to see the potential, especially for those magician wanna-bees we all encounter from time to time. You know, the person who just has to grab the cards and try the same thing you just did even though he knows he can’t do it.

The sneaky set-up is to simply have the bottom card face up…that’s it!

When you’re doing your actions the bottom card has no bearing on anything, right? But when you hand the deck to the sucker-to-be, just turn the whole deck over before you hand it over, being careful not to spread the cards at all. They’re not looking for anything at this point anyway since all they want to do is get their hands on the cards to mimic what the magician just did. It’s a riot when he or she sees the back of the card while they’re trying this thing.

I’ve used this once in a while for the wise guy type and it’s precious!!! Give it a try…you’ll fall in love with it.

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 10/97-12/97


I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 10/97-12/97

This page is devoted to general studies and information that may not fit neatly into other study areas or is knowledge fit for both beginner and advanced students.

October 1997

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 #3
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
You’ll recall that earlier, we touched on the fact that negative thoughts are harmful. They are counter-productive. They place limits and restrictions on the thought and creativity process. It would be most beneficial than for us to take an approach which eliminated or forbids negative thinking. One such method is a process called.


Choose on day out of the week and set aside a certain amount of time for yourself. If you are not in the mood when the say arrives, simply reschedule the activity for another time. Do not put if off indefinitely.

Find a room or area where you will not be disturbed. Have paper, pencils…possibly even a tape recorder of cam-corder available to record data, then begin. List all titles, concepts and effects that come to mind. List them all. Do not interrupt the flow of thought with negative dismissal. Consider all ideas to be valid. List as many as you can. Really push yourself! Use one thought to fuel another. Then, when no more ideas or spin-offs come, stop and take a break. Walk away. Have a soda or a cup of coffee, whatever it takes to relax just a bit, then return concentrating all you efforts and knowledge into finding workable methods for the effects you have listed. Again, accept no negative thoughts,. Every solution, no matter how bizarre, should be noted. You’ll be amazed at the incredible amount of material you mind has unearthed. Finally, when you are done, the sorting and sifting process begins. This is best left for another time or day. If you have put a sincere effort into your brainstorming session, you should be pretty well spent. Cleanse your mind for several day, then go back to the material and approach it fresh. Attack it as though it were someone else’s thoughts. Study it. Revise it. Pick it apart! And as always, keep the best and leave the rest.

After several such solo brainstorming sessions it is good to bring at least one other party into the picture. Choose a friend in magic whose opinion you trust and whose magical background is solid. He will be an impartial, objective aid. Things easily overlooked by you will often be obvious to them. Two or more heads are always better than one. You will likely be very pleased with the abundance of ideas and methods you arrive at.

It is interesting, too, to arrange a day during which two or more individuals schedule solo brainstorming at the same time. Later, all parties involved get together to work on their findings. It’s fun to compare similarities in thought, to discover the sharp contrasts as well. It is a form of creative comradery which stimulates the thought processes as well as anything I know.

So! We have looked at what I call solo brainstorming and delayed review of concepts. What is left? Brainstorming in its purest and most enjoyable form! Follow all the guidelines. Select a time, place and format, then get together with several friends. Remember, no criticism of ideas is permitted, Push you mind and will to the fullest extent. Get as many ideas for effects as possible, Use your ideas and those of others to create new variations. List all desired effects, and possible titles for those effects. Yes, titles alone can be a very positive springboard. If there is any doubt in your mind, it may be heartening to know that Jerry Andrus often begins with a name for an effect, then creates the effect and method from that starting point. This is his first step. Phase two consists of brainstorming to list every conceivable method for accomplishing the effect. Finally, he reviews the selections and chooses the handling/combination of methods which will create the desired illusion. Brainstorming works because it is a ‘no holds barred’ situation. At the start, nothing is deemed to be wrong. This gives your mind free reign.

You now have your homework!… “Good Luck”

Next month: Part #4 of our ongoing “Creativity” series!

Magical History Note
Due to the fact that Dr. Om in his spectacular treatise on “Stage Craft” will be delving into aspects of magical history in the I.C.O.M Advanced Lab, we are discontinuing this series on magical history, with the exception of the “Little Known” History of The Magic Wand, to be found in the I.C.O.M Library scheduled for November 1997.

Another I.C.O.M Online Exclusive Series!
“Commando Magic” Part #3
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Chapter Two

What is Commando Magic?

Before we begin our discussion into the title proper, let us imagine, just for a moment……

The house lights dim. Tension mounts within the vast auditorium that seems to be overflowing with countless anxious faces. A figure dressed similar to a hotel bellman is seen walking up and down the theatre lobby selling programs describing the star of the show that everyone has travelled miles to witness in-person. Suddenly, a hush falls over the audience. The orchestra begins to play, the stage lights burn a myriad of multi-color as an elegantly dressed man strides to the center of the stage from the wings to thunderous applause! What follows is a night not to be soon forgotten. Birds are pulled from the air, women are put into large boxes and are cut-in-half. An automobile is vanished right in front of the audiences bewildered eyes! For a finale, the graceful wizard levitates his beautiful assistant and receives his standing ovation as he bows behind the smoking footlights.

Does this scenario sound cliche? Does it sound romantic? Most importantly, does it sound Familiar? I believe that most people on the street would answer in the affirmative to the first two questions. They would however respond with a resounding NO to the third. But why? Isn’t this what most people envision a magicians performance to be? Maybe so, for the above scene is not fictitious. The magicians name was Howard Thurston, and the performance described actually happened………. in the early part of the 20th century!

Now I know that there are many readers that may be thinking. There are entertainers of all sorts that perform in auditoriums custom designed for live performances in todays world. Just look at Stage magicians in their lavish Las Vegas casinos. Look at vitually every television special and notice that gorgeous room that they do their live pieces in. It must seat somewhere around Five Thousand! After all, is not this the ideal situation for any entertainer to be in?

That is the prevailing question.

Is this the ideal situation for any modern day working performer to be in? The answer for most of us would have to be yes. It most certainly is. However, the harsh reality is, that if you are not a world famous touring illusionist, or a comedian that has just been booked on a network television special, these performing situations will be far and too few between. Then what are most performing situations like? Where do magicians, comedians and even musicians find themselves when they are booked to entertain an average audience? I’m glad you asked that question. And in the following paragraphs I will do my best to answer it.

While brainstorming for possible titles to this book*, I thought of numerous names. Names ranging from the brash to the obscure. Names that I will not list here because I may well use them in future volumes! Endless days were spent in search of that meaningful introduction that will be the embodiment of what is contained herein. Then out of the blue the title hit me. “Commando Magic!” It seemed so fitting, so appropriate. It really is a name that embodies every aspect of the magic that through the years, I have been required to perform for one reason or another. This is a term I have used during many occasions when I was called upon to perform in situations that can only be described as “Less than ideal”. What could these venues possibly be you ask? Well, for instance, performing on a dirt hiking path in the middle the woods! Doing a show in the middle of a football field during a windstorm. Exhibiting superb sleight of hand in the corner of a crowded cafeteria during lunch time with my back against a window and no sound system! (It’s hard to compete with macaroni and cheese with fish sticks!). How about entertaining in the middle of 100 cub-scouts on the dance floor of the local American Legion hall because the room on the stage was taken up by the bingo machine! Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, I may not be meeting you personally, but I know you are probably a professional entertaining on what I have termed “the magical front lines.” If this does not sound familiar, you either (a): Most likely have an exclusive contract a hotel in Las Vegas, or (b): you are an amateur performing only in the places where you want to be. (ie. a show your local club may put on once every two years).

Now, I do not want to get anyone bent out of shape so early on in this book*. There is absolutely nothing wrong with amateurs performing with other amateurs in their local talent nights. However, that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about full-time professional entertainers performing in professional venues. Contrary to popular belief, these places may not always be a glamorous or glitzty as many may believe. Which is why when called upon to entertain in todays modern world, we must take on the persona of a commando. A commando that has been given the task of doing entertainment in a location that can be hostile at times. Hostile in the sense that the weather is working against you, hostile in sense that rude audience members are inclined to break into discussion groups during your routines. It may be that you have no backstage, no dressing room, no pre-show privacy whatsoever! There may be no stage lighting, or even worse, full florescent lighting, bad sound, bad visibility due to the fact that there is no stage. No room in which to put a side table, or if you are a musician, your instruments and amplification equipment,. and the list truly goes on and on. It is these situations that call upon us to be commando

After reading the above there may still be a great number of people that still do not know what a commando is. Thus, they may not know my full meaning when I coin the term, “Commando Magic”. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a commando as (a) a small fighting force specially trained to make quick, destructive raids against enemy held areas. (b) A member of such a force. In other words a commando is the person who can go into any situation, regardless of the obstacles, and get the job done with quality results. After all, is that not what we are all striving for as performers? To be well received by our customers when we are working in a paid performance? So “Commando Magic” simply pertains to the performer who is prepared. Prepared to walk into any venue with the confidence befitting a true professional entertainer. A performer who is ready for any situation and developed a reputation for being that way. Such a performer would be in demand wherever his given talents may wish to take him. Our audiences may not be likened to enemy held areas, (although some may!) nevertheless the general idea is the same. If we are to be successful in the “Real World” of entertainment, we must view ourselves as commando performers.

At this point allow me to give my readers an account that happened to me during a booking for a charity stage show. I was booked to perform for around 200 people in an outdoor setting at a gathering after which I was to do some walk around magic. When I arrived it was raining. Naturally, I assumed that a tarp would have been set up for my performance, or maybe that the show was being held under a Pavilion of some sort. When I arrived at the performance sight I looked around only to find that there was not one good place to perform or be seen by the audience. When I introduced myself to the person responsible for booking the event I inquired as to where I was supposed to work the show. To my horror, I was directed to a large boulder protruding from the ground on which there was a person preaching. This rock was not a large flat object like a mini stage, This rock came to a point and I had to balance myself on what seemed to be the summit of this large mountainous object. In this situation I had no place to put a table of any sort. No place to put props, no electrical facilities of any kind for my portable sound system. It was raining, so any equipment that I could not physically hold in may hands would have been ruined. My angles were virtually non-existent and my case out of necessity had to be placed five feet away from me.

What can one do in this situation? In retrospect , there were a number of different options that I could have embarked upon. The first is that I could have said no to the venue and refused to perform under these degrading conditions. However, that would have resulted in (a) Losing the fee for that date. (b) Losing the time spent getting to that date that could have been booked for something else. (c) Irritating to (and possibly losing) the client forever. Last but certainly not least for the professional working performer, (d) Ticking off the theatrical agents that booked you for the event. Because ultimately they are the ones that will suffer from your losing the customer, and you will suffer because agents, in most cases, do not book acts that give their customers any inconvenience . after all “The customer is always right” Aren’t they?

In this case I chose to make the best of the situation and do the show. Of course I could not do my whole show, but rather, only the material that could be performed in the most impossible of situations. For surely, this show or anything similar is a baptism of fire for any would be commando performer. The show was a success and the customers were very happy. And I felt that I had just accomplished a tremendous mental victory, overcoming tremendous odds in my never ending quest to entertain my audiences. The type of material that I used out of neccesity will be discussed in the later chapters dealing with situations such as these. The point is, That many times as a professional, you cannot walk away from a venue because it is inconvenient. You must do your best to do your job.

Many performers will argue that they are “artistes,”(said with a smug french accent) and as such deserve the best treatment and circumstances. Others will claim that they will only take work that is conducive to their type of act. Still more will just not work in an inconvenient venue because massive ego problems. Are any of these points acceptable? I will leave the reader to answer that question for his or herself. I will however make one point for myself. I believe the most important criteria for accepting or rejecting a show is “Making a Living!”

I once was very close friends with an illusionists whom I worked with on several occasions. He and I would have friendly chats about performing before audiences of today. He would say that as magicians we were competing with the spectacular special effects of motion pictures for the audiences attention. He would allude to the fact that magic had to be grandiose and of a flashy nature in order to be appreciated by the general public. If this were true, wouldn’t that mean that any form of entertainment would be competing with the cinema as well? If not, what forms of entertainment are excluded? Does any artist have a chance to be an entertainer with star potential without a huge production budget?

With these questions in mind, we are going to start to really get down to the bare bones, what it truly means to be a commando performer. Starting by exploding some pretty well held belief’s about what it takes to make an act work in the world of entertainment. Again, I would like to reiterate that the criteria stated in the forthcoming chapters is not designed to demean persons engaging in a particular style of presenting their craft, but rather to present an argument as to why certain approaches work better than others in the “real world”.

November 1997

“Creativity” Part #4
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
Another force which may compell us to be creative is GENUINE NEED. This is more difficult in many respects, but at least you have a general idea in which direction you are heading. The ‘need’ may be further specialized by falling into a particular theme or performing character. An extremely fine book to study for developing ” need motivated creativity “ is “The Trick Brain” by Dariel Fitzkee. It contains lists, and a systimatic method for actually leading the mind to create desired effects. Everything is spelled out in a clear and exact manner. I strongly urge you to investigate this book more closely.

The third, and possibly most illusive method for being creative or inventive might well be called ‘ dumb luck.’ It is that wonderfully strange way in which we accidentally stumble on, or invent something new. Truthfully, it is often ‘luck’, but, seldom ‘dumb’. This type of creativity makes use of all of the knowledge we have mentioned before. Somewhere in the recesses of our minds, we are aware of every piece of information we have ever been exposed to. The knowledge we have gained while building the strong background or foundation in magic is the spark or insight which allows us to connect ideas and make them interact. This will allow you to be looking through a magazine, or walking down the aisle of a toy or hardware store for example.. see a certain item, and immediately see an application in magic for it. It is the knowledge you have gained which will allow you to be casually playing or manipulating a card, coin, rope or what have you in your hands, and stumble upon a move or handling which is original to you. DUMB LUCK is like being in the right place, at the right time, in your mind. Opportunities will present themselves… and knowledge will give you the tools to take advantage of them.

Next month: Part #5 of our ongoing “Creativity” series!

Commando Magic Part #4
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Chapter Three
The Learning Process
(Or more than you care to know about Bobby J. Gallo…!)

Allow me to begin by saying that the aim here is not to write down my memoirs, I truly believe that I am not old enough for anybody to get anything out of my life story thus far. I however must admit that it would make great material for a trashy novel! (just kidding) No, this is not to tell stories about the life and times of a young magician, but rather to give the reader an insight as to why I am so adamant about conveying conclusions I have come to in this literary work.

I started doing magic at a very young age. After viewing a guest star of the hit television series “Laugh In” doing a comedy magic sketch with Ruth Buzzy, I was hitched! I wanted to become a magician in the worst way. My formative magic years were spent searching through magic catalogs for that one trick that was going to make me a star. I recall my first magic trick being the Chinese Ring Illusion, purchased along with a nine inch wooden magic wand through a magazine called Boys Life. Dreaming endless hours that a talent scout was going to see me doing my finger chopper and book me as the newest member of the Mickey Mouse Club! However in the years to follow I learned that waiting around for that big break was just not going to happen. If I was going to be the performer of my dreams, I was going to have to do it myself. Fortunately, I believe that I learned that fact at a relatively young age.

My first major performance was in fifth grade. My teacher found out that Idid magic and was booked for the headline spot in the school talent show. I rehearsed that act for at least a month. I then told my mother about it theday before the show that I was doing magic onstage. She could not believe that I did not tell her sooner. But many screwed up tricks shown to my family and their friends made be very leery about doing magic in front of anyone that I knew personally (a fear that I still retain in some small part to this day!) But this time it was in front of my whole school. I pulled it off,doing what must of appeared to be microscopic magic onstage! I recall doing not only the finger chopper, but an old Tenyo penetration frame, milktumbler, and if memory serves me correctly, a collapsible magic wand. All of this for about “three hundred people!” but it worked and I had myself one proud mom. The most humorous part of that show would have to be my finale. I sawed a girl from my class in half. (not commando magic) It was quite a sight when a four foot tall girl entered a black cardboard box and suddenly became seven feet tall! The shop teacher who lent me the saw was sweating bullets as I had him come to the stage to verify the authenticity of the blade. I must admit, that was showmanship way beyond my years at that time!

To this day, I treasure the memory of that show even more than current performances where I received standing ovations by a packed theatre full of college students. It was early shows like this as well as others that taught me do things on my own.

Other events in my dawning magical existence helped to train me in the ways of what I now call “Commando Magic”. Every year my neighborhood would have a carnival in someone’s backyard. I would take this opportunity to produce my little magic show for about ten cents a person. (What a bargain!) Funds which went to further the cause of magic shops nationwide! Particularly two companies called “The Top Hat Magic Company” based outof Evanston, Illinois. and House of a Thousand Mysteries out of Ft.Lauderdale, Florida I do not know whether either of these two companies are still in existence, but they helped a budding young trickster become a full-time professional.

Through the years I stopped doing magic to enter the glamorous world of rock music. I crooned and played bass guitar for the rock band Arsenal for about four to five years. Since at that time I was in high school, myself and the rest of the band were all too young to play any of the area nightclubs, we produced our own shows at areas theatres. We had great successes in the endeavors and our methods for doing shows were copied by every band in the area. Little did I know that the same thing would happen to me years later in the comedy club business, which is discussed in great detail in our tape entitled “Producing Comedy Clubs“.(Shameless plug!) After the demise of the band, I gravitated back to magic. I figured that I could possibly make a little extra money doing magic for birthday parties and local civic organizations. That’s when the long learning process reactivated that has culminated into what much of my thinking is today.

After my Pheonix-like rebirth into the world of magic, somewhere, somehow,I had the notion that the more magic props, books, and paraphernalia that I bought, the better magician I would be. Forget about honing my stage persona, forget about even learning the magic that I had already spent a small fortune purchasing. I just became an accumulator. Unfortunately, there are a great many magicians in this day and age that are accumulators. They think that if they buy “just one more trick”, they will be a star. It never works, for the real secret of performing is getting an act, just five to ten effects, and doing that particular act better than anyone else.

Next Month, Part #5

* 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 ICOM students may get the full original text the way it was originally written.

December 1997

Commando Magic Part #5
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Who is the Commando Performer?
The Fine Art Of Commando Magic

To have big props or not to have big props, that is the question? This is probably my favorite subject about performing in the art of magic. How the reader handles this single issue alone will determine his success in becoming a commando performer. This subject of props does not just apply to the field of magic, but also of Music, and Stand-up Comedy as well. How much paraphernalia must we have in order to become successful entertainers? Does it matter, or is this just something that should be left to the discretion of the individual? Personally, I think it does matter. But before I tell you why, I would first like to talk about some performers of yesteryear, and how they handled things.

In the first Chapter, you read what is to many modern day performers, a melancholic account of Howard Thurston’s performance around the turn of the century. Mr. Thurston was a master of creating large scale theatrical productions that would take many railroad cars to transport. However, Thurston was not the only one of that era to have this mentality that bigger is better. One of the Great Hermann brothers had several Railroad cars containing their touring shows. Including of course on private car that served as his personal travelling hotel room! As a matter of fact, one vaudevillian magician was so obsessed with the “Bigger is better Mentality” that he would purposely number The crates containing his props starting with the number one hundred. This was done in case anybody working in the theatre itself saw the crates. They would then see the numbers on them and say”Wow” this guy has over a hundred crates, His show must be big, and therefore GOOD! But does this necessarily mean that this man was a great performer? And even if he was, is it this fact that made him a success?

With Mentality in mind. Let us coin a term to be used in conjunction with this way of thinking. We’ll call it, “The Box & Prop Mentality”. The word “Prop” refers to large apparatus.(bigger than a breadbox). The word “Box” I believe is self-explanatory. For many performers, this is not said in a derogatory way. Certainty, Illusionists that perform on a grand scale “MUST” adhere to this line of thinking. After all, this is what they are all about. Putting on massive shows with dancers and fire and flashing lights. There is no doubt that there is a massive market out in the entertainment industry that demands shows such as these. Therefore, the demand must be met with qualified Illusionists that have rehearsed for years in order to accommodate the venues geared towards these types of shows. But what are the drawbacks inherent in this style of magic should a person choose to pursue this very difficult path? Let us examine them in detail. What is bigger, the performer or the Box?

When I mention bigger, I am not only talking about physical size, but also of the mental picture that the audience is drawing from the performance. In other words, what does the audience come away thinking? Do they say, Wow! what a great trick! or do they say, What a great magician! Is the Illusion so grand, that the audience does not even remember the person performing it, or is the performer so dynamic that the audience, in their mind, views the Illusion as being second to the awesome person presenting it? these are the pertinent questions surrounding the performance of Grand illusions. If one is to perform them. He or she must be far more dynamic, in overall audience appeal, than the magical effect itself. That is no small order! For in order to do this, everything from dance to speech training may be necessary to put oneself above their apparatus. However, the same really is true of all entertainment, The performer himself must always be the central focal point of the audience. But this especially holds true for the Grand Illusion and allied forms of entertainment.

“Creativity” Part #5
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.


Simply inventing for the sake of invention is not enough. Clever is nice, but useful is better. If you are determined to be creative from the standpoint of developing new effects.. do your best to give the magic community something they can work with. Something with which to entertain. Put forth your best effort to create something of genuine value to you, your compeers, and the people they perform for. They call it, desire!

Part of this desire motivated creativity must surely lurk within our subconscious thoughts. That could be why, from time~to time, a new idea is conveyed to us in the form of a dream. And, just as it is possible to learn things while we sleep via suggestion or audio tapes, perhaps it is possible to condition ourselves to be inventively creative while we sleep as well. This will not happen easily at first, nor is it a sure fire approach.. but it is fun to experiment with, and can be fairly productive too!

To condition or program your mind for subconscious creativity, you must simply saturate your mind with general thoughts and specific solutions to a chosen problem. It is, in a way, a form of pre-sleep brainstorming. When you retire for the evening ( for me, it helps if I stay up late and go to bed in an over-tired condition. The restless state seems to promote dreams.) your conscious mind will rest, and the subconscious remains active. Sometimes you will be able to very vividly see the working solution to your chosen effect. At other times, random thoughts, methods and effects will be visualized.

If you are lucky enough to awake shortly after the dream, record all information immediately. Try to be as exact as possible. Keep a pen and paper/ tape recorder on the night stand within easy reach.

Please do not confuse what I am saying with ‘pipe dreams’. Dream related invention is simply a way of tapping into your sub-conscious creativity. This may be a source you are presently totally oblivious to. But the bottom line is, it works! All through your day you are adding stimuli to the subconscious mind. It could easily be that all of our senses play a part in this process Visual and audio stimuli to be sure affect the subconscious, but couldn’t taste, smell or touch also act as some sort of mental catalyst?

Something which may be of interest to some of you might be the April 1987 issue of Omni magazine. The cover title reads; HOW TO CONTPOL YOUR DREAMS. The center section of the magazine is called The Omni Experience and has four full pages dedicated to the dream experience, how to enhance it, and how to control where it leads. The information brought to light within the pages of Omni was only a small part of a decade long study conducted by psychologists Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach through a series of four exercises, the prospective Lucid Dreamer. ( One who is aware he is dreaming and controls and recalls what he is dreaming actually learns how to attain a Lucid Dream)

In yet another exercise outlined within the pages of Omni, you learn how to condition yourself to attain a state of Dream Flying. Why learn to fly? For several reasons. First of all, it is considered to be one of the basic forms of travel while in a dream state. Secondly, it creates a feeling of freedom. Thirdly, once mastered, the rather frightening travel form will dispell your inner most fears. You will become a free spirit so~to-speak and be capable of anything you care to imagine.

This may all seem a bit far fetched, bizarre or unreal. Please do not dismiss it completely The goal you wish to reach is attained only by keeping an open mind to all possibilities.

Next Month: Part #6

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.

Presentation/Demonstration Forum 10/97-12/97




Welcome to this new page at I.C.O.M!
For quite some time, I.C.O.M has known that many people will want to use a magic effect to break the ice, make a point, make something memorable or just add some fun and variety to a sales presentation, lecture/demonstration, etc.. We realize that, more than likely, you might enjoy the entire Inner Sanctum, even though your interest in actually becoming a magician has not been at the top of your priority list lately.

At the very least, you will more than justify your membership in I.C.O.M by checking out this Presentation/Demonstration Forum page each month because being in sales myself for many years (retail, commercial, industrial, in-home), I have a pretty good idea of what you would like to get the edge on the competition and most importantly, be REMEMBERED!

This month I am just giving you a taste of what is to come, but believe me when I say, your membership will be paid back many times over if you just check in and study this Forum each and every month.

The Presentation/Demonstration Forum is for salespeople, teachers, demonstrators, trainers, public speakers, bartenders, etc…..anyone who would like to use “ICE BREAKERS AND POINT MAKERS for all occasions!

The effects, tips, and ideas in the Forum will be simple, direct and powerful…NO FLUFF! I can attest to many of the items since I used them myself, and many more items have come from numerous contacts made during mylecture/demonstration career.

A picture is worth a thousand words!

There’s no business without show business!

These are “truisms” to anyone that has ever tried to get someone happily involved in their product or service. I’m going to close this brief introduction this month with one of the truest “truisms” I know…..“You don’t have to be a magician to love I.C.O.M”!

See you next month.

October 1997

“Business Card Turnover”
Routine By
Bill Wisch
This is a must if you’re a salesman or anyone who gives out lots of business cards. Why just give your card to someone? Make it an experience! One of the things Bobby and I try to convey in our salesforce training seminars is that getting someone to remember you (without making a jerk out of yourself) is more than half the battle in this highly competitive environment.

There are a number of ways to give out your business card in a memorable way (check out our audio tape “ULTIMATE MAGIC RAP ™”, which includes a great method entitled “Give Them The Business”. I will be giving you more fun ways in the future editions of this forum, but this is one that both Bobby and I have used for many years. It’s simple, easy to do and QUICK!


A blank card is taken from your pocket, wallet or card case. With a little “magic”, the card becomes printed on one side with your business information. Then the card is made to be printed on “both” sides! Finally,one side is wiped clean and the card is handed out as your business card.


Remove the card from your pocket, wallet or case making sure that the blank side shows. Handle it naturally and place it flat onto your lefthand, which is open and face up. Place it so the card is on the fingers rather than the palm.

1) This next “move” is what accomplishes the effect and is used several times in the trick, so let me describe what happens and you can practice this over and over until you get it smooth. If you were going to actually turn the card over at this point to show the other side, your thumb would come on top of the card, the hand would turnover and the fingers would move back allowing the reverse side to be seen, right? Well, here is a devastating move created by FRANCIS CARLYLE back in
the 1930’s that you will have to try to believe.

2) The left thumb tip pushes UNDER the card and the fingertips at the outeredge go OVER the top of the card. Now if you turn the hand over and at the same time continue to push the thumb until it comes directly under the fingertips on the other side, you in appearance have turned the card over but have only showed the same side twice! It takes a little practice and “feel” to get smooth but if you try it slowly at first and then build up it up to be done in a natural fashion, you’ll have one heck of an illusion.

3) The best way to practice any sleight (move) is to do the natural move (in this case actually turn the card over a number of times) to see how fast or slow you naturally do it and how the fingers and thumb work, etc., then try to duplicate the natural handling using the false handling. Be careful that you don’t “flash” any of the printed side during the turnover.

4) If you want, reverse the moves at the same pace to get the card back into the original position. It isn’t as difficult as you might think and the illusion of casually showing both sides is perfect. Otherwise, just take the card with the right hand…turn the left hand palm up again and place it back onto the left fingers to repeat the move a couple of times.

5) After showing the card blank on both sides a couple of times (don’t overdo it), take the card with the right hand and rub it against your arm,or sleeve, or whatever and turn the card over showing that now one side is printed.

6) Now rub the blank side against the same place and repeat the turnover move to show both sides being printed…simple enough? Show it printed on both sides a couple of times and then rub it on something and show that now it’s back to being printed on one side only. Now you hand it out…miracle completed.

Naturally, you can embellish this effect with whatever patter you like, especially after you become comfortable with it. I usually don’t make it into the Gettysburg Address, I just say something like, “my printer gave me these blank cards…he said I might enjoy them because they are magical (I’ve already removed the card and started my turnover sequence while talking). Watch! If I just rub the card on the sleeve the side becomes printed (show it). Now if I rub the blank side it becomes printed on both sides (use the turnover move, showing the same side each time). Now, if I rub the card on the sleeve again the side goes blank…don’t ask me! My printer was right…these are magical cards and they may be just as magical for you as well…if you give me a call.”

Make it a habit to use this little effect as much as possible. It will give you practice and, again, be REMEMBERED, which is “real” magic, right? It’s a great way to “turnover” your business card…it has meant business for me!

November 1997

Ronald J. Dayton
“Promotional magic at its finest”
EFFECT: Performer openly shuffles the deck several times end-to-end, then cuts and completes the cut. Holding the cards at one end in his left hand, he states that he will riffle through the cards until the spectator tells him to stop. This is done, and the card stopped at is removed and tabled face up.

You ask the spectator, ” Is this your card?” He will confirm that it is. You then continue…” Well, you may be surprised to know, it’s my card too!” And with that announcement, you turn the card over to reveal your business card permanently glued to the back of his selected card. The card assembly is then given as a momento of your performance.

METHOD: You will need a deck of cards, a glue stick, and two of your own business cards. Apply glue to the backs of the business cards, then stick one card each on to the backs of two indifferent playing cards. When dry, these cards are placed in second and third position from the front of the deck.

When you shuffle the cards, the halves are held by their ends between the thumbs at the inside ends and fingers at the opposing ends. The first three cards of the left hand or bottom half are allowed to fall first. This retains the position of the two gimmicked cards. When you cut and complete the cut, the two special cards are placed at the approximate center of the deck.

Since the business cards add thickness to the cards, they have been transformed into a type of key-card, or locator card, PP. 106 of the •’ Cyclopedia of Magic. “ As you riffle thru the cards from front to back with the thumb of the right hand, you’ll find that the deck will automatically break or open after the first gimmick card, revealing the face of the second gimmick assembly. The front half of the deck is tabled face up without flashing the back of the top card. The front card of the right hand half of the deck is tabled face up. It is then that you ask your curious question…” Is this your card? ”

By purchasing a deck of matching Pinochle cards, you have a ready source for extra or replacement cards from which to make new business card assemblies.

Also, if for some reason you do not hand out the card assembly ( perhaps they already have your business card ), you may replace their chosen card IN FRONT of the other gimmick in the deck and you’re ready for an instant repeat with a different person, which allows them to ‘choose’ a different card from the first individual.

December 1997

Bill Wisch
Tricks with money are always in demand for “Ice Breakers & Point Makers for All Occasions”. This effect is age old but perfect for that thought or idea you wish to have “magically remembered”. All you have to do is adapt it to the task at hand.

A dollar bill is made to turn over, without actually doing so.

The face of the bill is facing the spectator. Fold top half AWAY from you (downward) and crease. Now fold right half AWAY from you to the left and crease. Do the same thing again. Now you have a small bundle. Open the bill up carefully TOWARD yourself and then lift up horizontal flap. The bill is now upside down, without actually turning it to the right or left!

Patter example:
“There is a need for lower costs in today’s world (show front of bill). In the real world we know that lower costs mean lower performance (show back of bill by flipping it over).  But the boss doesn’t want to look at the other side. He wants lower costs with higher performance (turn bill over a few times) at the same time.

When you try to do this you end up turning your department upside down.  Yet, there IS a way to get from lower costs to higher performance WITHOUT turning your department upside down! (Do procedure carefully and cleanly.)  What it takes is a new way of doing things and that is what I’m here to discuss with you today.”

Naturally this is a sales presentation and it works quite well. I know because I used this exact method and patter many times in the field while in sales. It captures attention and is simple, quick and different. After you do it a few times it becomes second nature and you have greater facility in performance.  Bartenders could easily adapt this as well as any other person who must make that normal face-to-face meeting memorable.

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.

Beginner’s Study 10/97-12/97


Beginner’s Study 10/97-12/97

October 1997

The Traveling Ghost Hank
Bobby J. Gallo
In honor of the Halloween season, I’m presenting two effects for beginners with a Halloween theme. The first is an effect that can be used with great success anytime of the year. Kid show performers will be especially pleased with this routine since it is a natural follow-up to the “*Stiff Hank Re-done” routine found last month in the Kids Show Konservatory.

Materials Needed:

  • Two white pocket handkerchiefs
  • Performer must be wearing pants with front pockets that can be pulled out to show that they are empty.


Explain to the audience that your handkerchief not only stands up and bends by itself, (*Stiff Hank Re-done) but it can travel invisibly through he air as most ghosts can!

The performer pulls out both of his pockets and shows them to be empty. He then places the hank in his right pants pocket after pushing them both back in. Then after a quick snap of the fingers, the pocket is pulled out again only to show that the hank has vanished!

Watching the invisible ghost travel through the air, the magician looks into his left pocket and pulls out the hank!

The process is repeated only to have the ghost hank fly back to his right pocket. For a finale, the hank is pushed back into his pocket and made to completely vanish! No trace is to be found…..


You will notice upon examination of your pockets, that in the inside upper corner of each pocket is a small space in which you can place a tightly folded handkerchief. When the pockets are pulled out, the hank will remain hidden and appear to have vanished. This is an old dodge, used to make a hank disappear but is seldom used today. A more complete description of the move can be found in Rice’s Encyclopedia of Silk Magic Vol #1.

Before the presentation, a hank has been previously placed in the upper corner of the performer’s left hand pocket. Now proceed as described in the presentation above.

After performing any previous hank effect. Tell your story, roll the hank up and place it in the right hand pocket being sure to place it is the upper corner. Pull out the pocket proper and it will have vanished. The rest of the routine is self-explanatory.

Practice this in front of the mirror and you will see how effective it really is. Also, rehearse the move of putting the hank into your upper pocket to ensure the (sleight?) operation is smooth and just appears as if you are placing it in there.

Played correctly, this can be a feature effect!

The Witches of Pasteboard
Bobby J. Gallo
This is a card trick loosely based on a routine by Jean Hugard called “Poker Player’s Picnic” found in “Royal Road to Card Magic“. This is a simplified handling of the effect that is perfect for beginners. For our advanced students, you may wish to consult “Royal Road to Card Magic” in order to incorporate more advanced handlings.

In the classic version of the effect, the trick is performed using the four aces. We are substituting them for the four queens that will represent witches. Also dispensed is the “overhand shuffle” as a means by which to control the cards.

Materials Needed:

  • A deck of cards with all four queens on top of the deck.

Effect: after the cards have been dealt a number of times, all the queens end up on top of the piles!


With all the queens on top of the deck, explain to the spectator that the Witches of Pasteboard are going to make an appearance! Ask him to divide the deck into four piles and to place them on the table in a row starting from left to right. The queens are now on top of the right hand pile.

Have the spectator pickup the first (left hand) pile, deal off three cards and place them aside. Now he deals a card from the same pile onto each of the remaining piles on the table.

The process is then repeated with the remaining piles.

At the conclusion the the dealing, turn over the top card of each piles and the witches (queens) have appeared!

Notes: This may sound like a simple card trick, and it is! But do not let that fool you. I have amazed many people with it and I’m sure you will too! We call this the “Too close to the trees syndrome” Sometimes, even simple methods such as this fool people as much as more advanced card magic due to the fact that many times spectators are looking for sleights and gimmicks so much that they overlook what is happening right in front of them.

I am leaving the presentation up to the student. What I’ve done is given you the premise and method. Be creative and make the most of it!

November 1997

This month I thought it best to expound upon the following effects that fall into the close-up category. After the standard explanations, I will add “notes” at the end of the routines for added insight.

Coin Transposition

The magician wraps a quarter in a handkerchief and gives it to a spectator to hold. He then wraps up a half dollar in a second handkerchief, which he hands to a second spectator. The spectators unfold the handkerchiefs and the coins are found to have changed places.


The secret is in the fact that you use of two half dollars. You conceal one of these in you right hand, gripping it in thumb palm position before starting the trick. The other quarter and the half are placed on a table in full view.

Pick up the quarter in your right hand, place it in the center of a handkerchief, and pretend to wrap it up. Before folding over part of the handkerchief however, drop the concealed half dollar into it and remove the quarter, tucking it into the palm previously occupied by the half dollar*. Give the handkerchief to the spectator. Now pick up the half and pretend to wrap it up in a second handkerchief, but substitute the concealed quarter for it in the same way that the previous change was effected. When the handkerchiefs are unfolded, the coins will have changed places.

Notes: *”The Coin Production Move” Fig:20-21; found in the I.C.O.M sleight of hand gallery is an excellent way to switch the coins. Hold the visible coin at the fingertips, and upon placing it in the hank, drop the thumb palmed coin instead. Now, bring the fingers in to tuck the visible coin into thumb palm position. Proceed as stated above.

Double Penny

An old forgotten method of multiplying coins. Also, a really good quick trick.


The magician holds a penny between his right thumb and their and shows it to the audience. He takes it in his left hand, exhibits it, and returns it to his right hand. He then places it on the palm of his left hand and rubs it with his right fingertips. It is suddenly seen to double itself, there being two pennies in the left hand.

The moves in the trick are as follows. Have two pennies in your right trouser pocket before starting. Remove them both with your right hand, retaining one in finger clip position while your hand is still in the pocket. Bring the other penny out, held between the tip of your thumb and first finger. Take it in your left hand immediately, and pass it back and forth from one hand to the other a few times, displaying it to the audience. Put the visible penny on the center of your left palm. Then rub it with your right fingertips and as you do, let the hidden penny drop into your left palm. Remove the right hand, and close the left. Then open the left hand to show the two pennies.

Notes: The finger clip sleight is only one method for obtaining the desired effect. Practice with different palming techniques to determine the best method for YOU. This trick may sound a bit over-simplified, but do not let that fool you. It works.

Jumping Dice Spots

Honestly, this may be one of the best tricks you will ever learn if you practice, rehearse, then practice it again. (The I.C.O.M Inner Sanctum, Magician’s Code #2) Followed by giving it a good try before several spectators. It astounds people! How much so? Suffice to say that I have used professionally for a number of years for high paying corporate clients. It is here in the I.C.O.M beginners study to help the student acquaint him/herself with this basic sleight called the “paddle move”.

The earliest record I could find of the effect is in “Sachs Sleight of Hand, pages 74-76”. Since then, it has appeared in literally countless texts including “The Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic by Martin Gardner page 139”. It is recommended that the student consult these texts if possible for further information. Though it is so effective, over the years I have noticed one very surprising thing…..No one performs this routine using dice the way it was originally designed and intended,……….. except me! Most use paddles, gimmicked pocket knives, etc. All are well and good. As a matter of fact, even I have used these peculiar props and still do on occasion. However, the old dice method is vastly superior in all ways. “Why you may ask?”

  • Dice are truly common objects. More have handled dice due to the popularity of board games than have handled pen knives, not to mention paddles! WHAT IS A PADDLE TO A LAYMAN ANYWAY? At best (or worst) it is a not-so-pleasant object from ones childhood! Think about it………..
  • They are examinable. Color changing pen knives are not. Unless you make a switch. But that requires another move that is unnecessary when you can use the dice. Also, after the switch, do you really want to be handing out knives for examination, no matter how small? I think not…….
  • The fact that they are NOT gimmicks is the fact that makes them almost angle proof. You just can’t beat using the dice.

Method: Hold two regulation dice between the thumb and forefinger with the three and one facing the audience. First see that on the underside of each are the corresponding 3 & 1. A roll of the thumb and the spots apparently jump, using a variation of the classic paddle move. “The Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic by Martin Gardner page 280” (Variation: Just use one die and have the spots change when showing the front and back spots to the audience) An important tip is to make sure your whole are moves when showing both sides of the dice. When executing the paddle move, the arm itself turns up and down along with the dice. This move must be done quickly but smoothly, and must not be OVERDONE or the move will look suspicious.

“Sachs Sleight of Hand” contains some excellent variations of the effect that turn this simple but amazing stunt into a full-blown close-up routine. Included in that text is a way to overcome the occasional over zealous spectator who insists they saw you twist your fingers when in reality, they did not! Sachs recommends, after showing both sides of the dice using the paddle move, to have the spectator hold your fingers so they cannot move. Then merely turn the dice over while being held and the change will have been effected! Since the move was performed before you were held the trick ‘persay’ is already done…The book also has some additional effects that must be studied to be appreciated.

An interesting variation is to purchase and use the novelty ‘playing card dice’ found in magic and joke shops. These dice work very well with the move and provide an interesting twist by adding a unique prop as well as a whole new vista of presentation possibilities. This is another effect that I would classify as “Commando Magic”*. The reason is that is is self-contained, effective, can be done anywhere, and even though it involves a genuine sleight, it is virtually angle proof. Tricks like this are rare, and when we come across them in the I.C.O.M lessons, I will always point out it’s possible Commando Magic characteristics.

Addendum for advanced students:

In my trade show experience, I have found the following routine to be of great value.

Start by having two ordinary dice in your right hand pants pocket and have one poker die in your left hand pants pocket.

Start by bringing out, then holding the two dice in the standard position as explained above. Do not worry about what numbers are showing and where the opposite numbers sit. Perform the routine as stated. However, as you are performing the moves, the left hand reaches into the left hand pants pocket and classic palms the poker die (finger palm may also be used). Then after the routine is seemingly complete, drop one die onto the table and repeat the moves using only one die. After mock surprise that the magic is still working, perform a false placement while pretending the transference of the real die in the right hand to the left. The die is retained in the right and the poker die in the left is handed to the spectator to examine. I have found that nine times out of ten, the spectator does not look at the transformed die right away giving the magician ample time to dispose of the real die. The look on the spectators face will be one of shock and delight!

*Read Bobby J. Gallo’s series “Commando Magic” in the I.C.O.M Spotlight.


“Just a few tricks and stunts you can work on to add to your list of magical knowledge
Warm Coin Trick
While blindfolded or looking away, have the spectator choose any of five to ten pennies, nickels or dimes on a table, hold it tightly in their fist and concentrate on the date. Then have them toss all of the coins into a hat or similar receptacle. You then remove the chosen one!

During the handling process, the chosen coin absorbs heat form the spectators hand. You merely locate the warm coin and remove it form the hat!

Easiest Of All Coin Vanishes
A coin placed in a handkerchief vanishes instantly. A rubber band is secretly placed around the ends of the fingers and is covered by the hanky. The coin is placed in the hanky proper. The rubber band is released to form a pocket around the coin. Shake the hanky to show the coin has vanished. Be sure not to shake the hanky too much or the coin may dislodge.

Notes: This is a surprisingly effective little vanish for just about any small object. It is especially fine when done to music due to the fact that the audience cannot ask to examine the hank. I have found that there is a trick to the handling that may prove useful. Wrap the rubber band around the middle three fingers of the right hand. The hand can then show the hank around with little fear of the band being detected. When the hank is draped over the right hand, the right thumb comes up and is inserted into the band along with all three middle fingers. The fingers are then spread apart making the pocket in the hank. After the insertion of the object to be vanished, the hank should be whipped away from the right hand with a graced flourish to indicate the vanish and immediately disposed of in a receptacle.

Addendum (December 1997): After the publication of this effect, the method was exposed on national television. I do not know whether or not this will have any effect upon its impact in front of an audience, only a trial will show that. But is does illustrate a point. This effect was strong enough to be featured on that TV show, thus proving my earlier point that it “is” effective.

Vanishing Crayon Move
Hold crayon (object) in right hand. Slide right hand along the object toward the left hand. Object appears to vanish into closed fist, but is really retained in right hand by the thumb. Always keep the back of the right hand in a natural position with the back towards your audience.

Notes: A little known fact that is describes in the ICOM Online lessons is that most all classic cigarette moves can be adapted for family audiences by using crayons instead! They are almost the same size and width.

Break a pretzel rod with a dollar bill
Spectator holds the pretzel rod between hold hands. (make sure they don’t eat it!) Hold the dollar in a clenched fist. On the quick downward swoop, extend the forefinger shattering the pretzel rod. Apparently, the dollar does it. Be sure to clean up the mess after the show!

Notes: This stunt may look familiar to some seasoned magicians. For years it was written up to be done with a pencil instead of a pretzel rod. However, I have known too many magicians that not only could not break a modern day pencil this way, but have injured their fingers in the process! Just goes to show how a classic premise that does not work can be made into a fine trick by altering the materials.

Cane Suspension
A cane stands straight up on the floor, sways, etc. with no apparent means of support. It rests on a fine black thread that runs between the knees as the performer is seated. This can be pinned into place just prior to the performance. Walk carefully to a seat in the center stage so that you do not break the thread. Cane may be handed for immediate examination. After the routine, break the thread and continue with your show.

One of the inexpensive “bamboo” canes that are given out as prizes at carnivals work great, as do wooden dancing canes available at most dance studio shops.

Notes: This may be a much more convincing demonstration than a “dancing cane” due to the fact that less motion takes place. The actual suspension should only be for a few moments. Remember, Less is more!

Impromptu Mental Mystery
Here is a fine stunt contributed to me by a friend. Before the presentation write on a piece of paper, :Why 7?” That is your prediction. Then proceed to instruct the spectator to make the following calculations.

  • What is 1+1 ? (Two)
  • What is 2+2 ? (Four)
  • What is 4+4 ? (Eight)
  • What is 16+16 ? (Thirty Two)
  • Now count backwards from 12 to 5.
  • Ask person to choose one of the numbers from 5 to 12. They should pick 7 !

December 1997

An Experiment in Personal Magnetism
To perform this effect you must be wearing a ring. Also required is a paper clip. (in the past this effect was done with a toothpick, however, the paper clip is flat and has a larger surface area that seems to work better for the effects. It would be beneficial to paint the clip with flesh colored paint to mask the silvery tone.

Place the paper clip under the scratching surface of an ordinary book of matches. Before the routine, these are placed anywhere convenient for the performer.

Pick up the book of matches with paper clip side down. Now place the matchbook across the fingers. As you do, let the toothpick slide under your ring. (If you use the toothpick method, be sure to “Blunt” the ends of the toothpick so you do not end up with a giant splinter!) Turn hand over and matches apparently cling to the fingers. Remove the matches leaving the paper clip under the ring. As long as you keep your hand in motion, with the back of the hand towards the audience. The clip will be well hidden.

With the clip in place, you are ready to levitate almost any light, thin object.

A grand finale could be the old time multi-card suspension. Start with one card under gimmick. Then build around it until there is a stack of card clung to the hand.

Notes: This effect is recommended for situations where the audience is seated a slight distance from you. It is not recommended for close-up performance.

The Moving Ring
The magician holds out his left hand and shows a ring on the his finger. A spectator is given the ring to examine. The performer replaces the ring on his hand and asks a spectator to hold his left fingertips. He then puts a handkerchief over his left hand and, lifting it off an instant later, the ring is found to be laying on the back of his left hand. This happens instantly, despite the fact that the spectator has held the performer’s fingertips the entire time, making it impossible for the wizard to remove the ring from his finger.

In this trick you use a half ring that is exactly like the upper half of the real ring. Get two identical inexpensive rings and have a jeweler cut one in half., You are now all set.

When you start the trick, have the half ring in your left-hand coat pocket, the real ring is on your left third finger. Take off the real ring and have it examined. While the audience is looking at it, put your left hand in your coat pocket and get the half ring on the underside of your left third finger. The sides of the gimmick must be bent slightly so it will remain firmly in position.

Take back the real ring in your right hand and pretend to slide it onto your left third finger. During this, have your right side toward the audience, and keep the palm of your left hand turned toward them. Instead of putting the ring on your finger, you hold it in right finger palm position and then turn your left hand back uppermost to show the half ring. The audience will be convinced that the real ring is on your finger.

Ask the on stage spectator to hold your left fingertips and then throw your handkerchief over your left hand and the spectator’s hand. Put your right hand beneath the handkerchief and put the real ring on the back of your left hand. Then grip the half ring and hold it in finger palm, withdraw your right hand. Then immediately take away the handkerchief with the same hand and draw it away from the left hand, revealing the real ring. Put the handkerchief in your pocket along with the gimmick.

Notes: If you are wondering about the unique nature of this effect and how well it can play in front of an audience consider this. It recently came to my attention that the Great Herrmann used a similar effect to this and considered it one of his “pet” tricks. Yes, it will take a little time and effort procuring the ring gimmick, but then you will have a routine that no one else is doing. In magic, that is priceless!

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 10/97-12/97


Advanced Lab 10/97-12/97

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – October 1997

“Repetition…The Mother of Learning.”
By Bill Wisch

I first heard that line…“repetition is the mother of learning”, from Tom Hopkins, the famous sales trainer. It hit me like a ton of bricks! Why try to rediscover the wheel every time you need something new or different? Take the effects you already do and polish them, re-work them…play with them. By doing the same effects over and over, you not only make them part of you but you also allow for a more creative freedom in what you say and how you perform it.

I work at the Caesar’s Resorts in the Pocono’s in Pa. every Friday and Sunday for four hours, each day. I’ve been there since the spring and have literally performed every effect in my pockets hundreds of times. Believe me when I say you’re never done. You never have a total lock on every effect in every situation. I know that most will blow them away 99% of the time, but I enjoy always trying different ideas and presentations to get even more close to perfection.

Don’t get me wrong…it’s fun and crucial to always be trying new material and different effects. What I’m saying is not to ever stop repeating and repeating your present effects. A great friend, outstanding magician and past mentor, Francis Walsh (brother of Audley Walsh, the world famous magician and gambling authority) once told me another bit of advice that I never forgot…”after the proper amount of practice, if a trick doesn’t work the first time in your performance, make whatever changes you can and try it again. If it doesn’t work again throw it away. Try something else”.

Selecting tricks and effects in magic is like selecting clothing…everyone needs a different size. You wouldn’t be happy with a size 46 jacket if you need a size 40, right? The same thing holds through with the magic you do. It’s as much a part of your personality as the clothing you wear and the attitude you project.

The point of all this is that the effects that work for you are worth the repetition, since you already know they work for you. One final thought, not to be taken literally but to be pondered at least…never change your tricks…just change your audience!

Solid Gold Transposition

Co-Director’s Note: The following is a “Virtual Lesson” that was sent by Bill Wisch to a very talented I.C.O.M student interested in transposition effects. After trying it myself, it was so good! I have transcribed it here for all I.C.O.M with Bill’s permission.

Bobby J. Gallo

Please work the routine with a deck of cards in-hand as you follow these step-by-step instructions.

  • Four aces…alternate colors…square them up and turn them over.
  • Double lift and show them..replace and lay down the top card onto the person’s hand.
  • Carefully! Do this…Count three in this fashion…Count top card of the three as one, count second and third as 2 & 3 BUT, only push the top card from left to right hand singly and then place the second and third card ON TOP of the Single card as you count two and three.
  • Double Lift again showing matching colors to the spectators ace.
  • Put top card on top of the spectators card. Explain that you will cause the cards to change places when you snap your fingers. Do this in a manner as if you’re going to cause the two cards on the spectators hand to change.
  • Snap Your fingers and ask if he/she felt the switch. If they say no, you say dramatically…”I DID!” and turn your two cards over. If they say yes, you say…”GOOD”…ME TOO!” and turn over your cards.

I use it in many heavy situations and KNOW it knocks out even the most callous spectator. You’ll be seeing a lot of color changes and more transpositions coming in I.C.O.M in the near future.

Take Care!

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

Part #2

As the endnote concluding the article on Setting implies, arbitrarily separating the components of theatrical production, like the academic separating of the united and living systems of the human body, for purpose of anatomical study, is not to be done in reality, without killing the patient or the performance. Setting is character, is acting, is costume, is make-up, is action, is blocking, is business, is properties (props), is plot and story line, is climax, is denouement, is lighting, is sound, is special effects, is encore, is coaching, and is directing. All components of the theatre are interrelated and integrated, in order to produce living theatre.

Dr. OM’s DEVIL’S DICTIONARY* is a continuing feature of this series of articles which purpose is to provide the reader with a vocabulary, a glossary of terms of Magical Theatre.

A RUNNING ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY* *will be provided, as relevant to the subject matter of each article, and later will be collected in alphabetical order, as a reference tool for members of ICOM. The first items in the Bibliography related to Part I, setting are:

Gassner, John. PRODUCING THE PLAY. WITH THE NEW SCENE TECHNICIANS HANDBOOK by Philip Barber. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. New York, 1953.
(An excellent general introduction by Sterling Professor of Playwriting, Yale University)

(Outstanding. A must on every serious magician;s bookshelf.)

Parker, W. Oren and Harvey K. Smith. SCENE DESIGN AND STAGE LIGHTING. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc. New York, 1968.
(Herein lie the nitty-gritty practical details of scene design and construction and stage lighting. Truly hands-on information.)


The magician who does not provide a setting for his performance will have to settle for the accidental setting which is already there. A prepared setting, on the other hand, manifests the place for the character to enter; the world of the magical drama; the environment for wondrous things to happen.

Having provided the audience with powerful hints about the magician-character prior to his entrance, by means of the visual setting which, as well, establishes the TONE and MOOD of the performance, the magician-actor makes his first entrance into his imaginary world of magic.

The magician’s character may be himself, as in real life; and idealized version of himself, bigger or smaller than in real life; or an altogether assumed PERSONA. An assumed persona may in time become the magician’s own true self, or, at least, an ALTER EGO.

The COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE was the improvised ITALIAN COMEDY performed AD LIB, but on the firm underpinnings of stock characters, stock plots, and stock lines. The Commedia dell’ Atre players of the middle ages chose, or were assigned, a single part which they played exclusively throughout their entire theatrical career and real lives. Pulcinella (Punch) was always Pulcinella; Harlequin was always Harlequin; Columbina; and II Capitano was always II Capitano; and so it went among the many other stock characters of the Commedia.

Becoming the characters the players portrayed was not restricted to on stage appearances, alone; the actors actually became the characters they portrayed in real life. They dressed the dress, walked the walk, and talked the talk of their characters, every moment of their lives. They literally came to be their characters.

The Commedia actors were, of course, comedians whose origins might be traceable back to Aristophanes, the writer of comedic satyrical plays, in ancient Greece and to his counterparts Plautus and Terrence, in ancient Rome. The Commedia throughout the middle ages, was constituted of bands of roaming players. During the renaissance, they traveled, from Italy, across France and England, where first Shakespeare and later, during the neoclassical period, Moliere were influenced by them. The English Comedy of Manners of the eighteen century and comedic writers of the nineteenth century such as Oscar Wilde picked up Where Shakespeare and the French Moliere left off.

In modern times, the slapstick characters of the Commedia dell’Arte descend as the great commedians of the modern age: Chaplain, Laurel and Hardy, Toto (in Italy), Cantinflas (in Mexico), Fernandel (in France), Marcel Marcau (in France), W.C. Fields, Harpo Marx, Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, and Art Carney; and the great comedic magician’s: CARDINI, CARL BALLENTINE, JOHNNY THOMPSON, and JUAN TAMARIZ (in Spain) were distilled through the British Music Hall and Vaudville, perhaps themselves unaware of their origins.

What makes them great is the uniqueness of the characters they portray. All artists, even Mozart, began by imitating their heros, but they synthesize what they borrow with that which is unique within themselves.

A performing artist must seek within himself for his stage character. The SELF consists as well, of family influences: a father, a brother, an uncle, or a friend. The psychological ingredients which go together, constitute a COMPOSITE CHARACTER; the principle component of which, is the background and experience deriving from the personal life of the magician-actor, coupled with his physical appearance, and his vicarious experience resultant of his reading, theatre going, and studying. Konstantin Stanislavski repeated over and over again, in both his writings and his teachings, that an ARTIST OF THE THEATRE, his term for ACTOR, must be “a man of education.” Magicians should think of themselves as specialized artists of the theatre.

In the legitimate theatre, actors spurn type casting, but recognize the futility of casting against type. A short, middle aged, chubby actor is not likely to make a believable suave romantic lead. Although there are exceptions to every case, the character assumed should be appropriate to the physical reality of the actor-magician. Not that Mel Books could not play a part appropriate to a robert Redford; but no without deliberately changing the originality intended tone, mood, and genre of the production: tragedy would become comedy, and there is nothing wrong with that, if that is what is intended. Unintended shifts of the genre from tragedy to comedy, however, result in nothing more than theatrical disasters. In magical theatre, Juan Tamariz cannot do a Channing Pollack without intending comedy.

Konstantin Stanislavsky was the leading modern proponent of an actor’s seeking within himself to find the emotion he wishes to register through his character, by recalling an actual past life experience with that emotion. If an actor wishes to portray love for an actress on stage, he must dig into his past to evoke the feeling of love he felt for a woman in real life. If a magician-actor does not believe that the magic he is performing is really happening, the magic will not happen for the audience. Only that which is believed by the magician, will be believed by the magical theatre audience. The audience cannot be fooled, but must be made to believe, because the magician believes.

The inner self of the performer prevents his becoming a mere clone of his artistic influences, his heros, and audiences do expect and demand originality. The necessary imitation of the novice in art, is not acceptable in the professional. Originality is not the only attribute a professional magician must possess, but without originality all other attributes such as skill of magicianship and skill of acting do not add up to become artistic magical theatre.

The prevailing point of view among the majority of modern magicians is that the magical performer should appear as an ordinary guy, as himself, perhaps, e.g., Mark Wilson. If such is true, then he must certainly be extraordinary in his ordinariness. The opposing minority point of view is that the magician should appear as an extraordinary man possessed of extraordinary powers, e.g., David Copperfield; yet another minority point of view in that the magician should appear as a less that ordinary man, an anti-hero, e.g., a slightly tipsy character, or a fumbling and bumbling character, who is accidentally able to perform magic, or upon whom the magic happens beyond his control, e.g., Cardini.

There is no controversy here, given the realization that there are different strokes for different folks and whatever works, works. Character and style are, after all, functions of individual suitability and personal choice.

Whatever the character choice might be, ordinary guy, or wizard it had better grasp audience attention from the first moment on stage. A lesson might be applied here from the master himself, the Bard, Shakespeare, who grasps audience attention with his three witches chanting a spell on Macbeth, over their witches’ brew. Even though the audience has never before seen the character, he had better be recognized, accepted, and welcomed for what he is: familiar yet novel, ingratiating, magnetic, amusing, interesting, charismatic, awesome, sympathetic, mysterious, or frightening; it matters not, so long as the audience does not have to figure out, but immediately KNOWS the character.

On the other side of acting from comedic acting, are actors who perform in tragedies, modern problem plays, and melodramas, as tragic characters, Actors so engaged come out of the same traditions as do commedians, but from the darker side of tragedy dating back to ancient Greece.

Notice that the term SERIOUS has not been used to differentiate between comedy and tragedy, because both are serious, in fact, a great comedy will as seriously treat the stuff of life as will a great tragedy. Great comedy will equally wrench the heart. Think of Chaplain’s kitten. Dr. OM does not subscribe to the term PROBLEM PLAY, because he sees the modern problem play as a modern tragedy, even though it does not conform with the description of tragedy in ARISTOTLE’S POETICS. Dr, Om believes that Aristotle would alter his description, if he were making his observations at the onset of the twenty-first century, instead of about four-hundred B.C.

Distinctions often made between the Stanislavskian method actors emerging from actor’s studio and the Technical actors who, as some would have it, merely don a part like a completely covering animal costume. How absurd. Both a technical actor of the stature of Marlon Brando, find the characters they portray and the emotions they emit within themselves. Eventually, method, whether called method or not, evolves into technique, after long practice of the acting art, and the characters and emotions can be made manifest, at the push of an inner button.

In magical theatre, the distinctiveness between comedy and tragedy are better termed: COMEDIC MAGICAL THEATRE and DRAMATIC MAGICAL THEATRE, and will, therefore, henceforth be employed, as coined by DR.OM for this present series of articles on stagecraft and showmanship. Of course, the DRAMATIC MAGICIAN will not be absent of humor and will introduce COMIC RELIEF, just as did Shakespeare in his tragedies. Some of the historical masters of Dramatic MAgical Theatre are: Robert Houdin, the father of modern magic, The Herrmanns, Keller, Thurston, Ching Ling Foo, Ching Ling Soo, Lafayette, Houdini, Blackstone, and Dante.

Even as the identity of the character must be established in the first few seconds on stage, so too must the magic begin immediately or the magician will lose his audience, because they are expecting to see magic. The magic performed should be an integral part of the ACTION, which is the subject of Part III, to follow.


Chekhov, Michael, With a preface by Yul Brynner TO THE ACTOR on the Technique of Acting. Harper and Row, Publishers. New York. 1953 (An Important study for the performing artist)

Christopher, Milbourne. THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF MAGIC. Thomas E. Crowell Company. New York. 1973 (Whenever Dr.OM approaches a new subject of study, the first thing he does is read the history of the field, in order to provide himself with the necessary background for understanding. There is no better history of stage magic than Christopher’s. Highly recommended reading.)

McGaw, Charles. ACTING IS BELIEVING. Holt, Rineharty, and Winston, New York, 1955. (Let the title speak for itself)

Nelms, Henning, MAGIC AND SHOWMANSHIP A handbook for Conjurers. Dover Publications, Inc. New York. 1969. (Right on the mark for magical theatre production. Nelms is both an artist of the theatre and a magician.)

Stanislavsky, Konstantin. AN ACTOR PREPARES. Theatre Arts, Inc. 1936. ( The Bible for performing artists)

Stanislavsky, Konstantin. STANISLAVSKY ON THE ART OF THE STAGE. Hill and Wang. New York. 1961. (More from the master)

Be sure to check out new additions to Dr.OM’s Devils Dictionary for October.

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 ICOM’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.
*Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Online Library for Dr.Om’s “Devils Dictionary”, a list of theatrical terms worth learning…
** Will also be found in the I.C.O.M Library as a permanent reference.

November 1997

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – November 1997

“The M.A.G.I.C. Word of Showmanship”
by Bill Wisch
This month I would like to begin a series about a most important topic…showmanship.

I will lay the ground-work this month and give you a workable definition. Then in the following months I will expound on the different elements and their practice.

In the late 70’s I did a performance that really opened my eyes…not the magic…but the REVIEW.

The review was in the Linking Ring, I believe, and it stated that my technique was fine, but I lacked showmanship. After I picked up my ego and dusted it off, I began wondering what this “showmanship” was all about and how I could add some to my performances. I looked and looked but there was nothing on the subject. I read “Showmanship for Magicians” by Henning Nelms, and was surprised that the book dealt mainly with ROUTINES rather than showmanship. Next I checked out my Linking Ring and M-U-M collections (going back reasonably far) and noticed that any article or information written about showmanship was quite off the mark as far as developing it or, for that matter, even telling what it was.

I had to serve jury duty at the time and while waiting around for cases I had two weeks to just read one book after another. I decided to read about the great showmen I had heard about and see if there were any traits that were prevalent in them all that gave them the ability to be master showmen.

Of course, Houdini was my first choice. Then George M. Cohan. Next came P.T. Barnum. Now when I say I read books I mean I was a total fanatic about the subject. I really wanted to research each of these gentlemen and analyze their careers.

After reading the biography(ies) and any other information I could find (including going to the Barnum Museum in Connecticut, I came to the conclusion that I must first define showmanship, because nobody had, at least I couldn’t find anybody that could. I asked dozens and dozens of salespeople and everyone would give me a RESULT (i.e.. pazazz; excitement; entertainment, etc.), but not a true definition. I checked the dictionaries and there wasn’t a definition. When I looked up the word, it said…”see show” and that was it. Well, I put in a bit of time thinking of what I felt was the definition, according to the greats I had just investigated and, fortunately, a workable definition came along.

Once you can define it the whole term takes on a different light. Here is my definition (which, by the way, is now used in the Webster’s New World Dictionary: “Showmanship is that quality of performance or display that CREATES and SUSTAINS dramatic interest”! That’s it! I knew it was it because I then could go back and reinvestigate the showmen I had studied and find links from showmanship prowess to dramatic interest.

I’m going to close this month’s installment for now, but I promise that in the next few months you will learn how to create and sustain dramatic interest so easily and so efficiently, that you won’t recognize your work, regardless of what type of show or performance you give. I am genuinely excited about giving you these “secrets” because I KNOW they work! I spent six years doing presentation/demonstrations in the early 80’s for some of the top corporations in America. Believe me when I say the material I presented was , I’m proud to say, cutting-edge and of great value to literally thousands of sales pros in the USA…I have =the testimonial letters to prove it!

So get ready to start the show…manship. See you next month.

The Ring and Wand
Bobby J. Gallo
One of the all time classic effects of close-up magic. This is the one premise that many magicians have built reputations on. The following is a version that is within the technical abilities of most readers. As always, when it comes to routines of this advanced nature, we are here to answer any questions.


The magician borrows a ring as he displays his magic wand. He wraps the ring in a handkerchief and then asks a spectator to hold the two ends of the wand after it has been examined.

He asks another spectator to feel the ring inside the handkerchief to confirm that it is there and to announce to the other audience members present that all is fair.

Next the magician places the handkerchief over and partially around the wand and pulls it swiftly toward him. As the hank comes away, the ring is seen to have penetrated onto the wand!

The effect is done with the use of an extra ring, which you have in your pocket at the beginning. It is a simple matter to obtain an imitation gold band wedding ring that will closely match one that someone is wearing in the audience. In reality, I do not like borrowing rings from the audience and would personally take one off my own finger, have it examined, and perform the trick with that. It is just as effective and you do not run the risk of damaging someone’s ring. After all, gold is a very soft metal.

When ready to perform the trick, get this ring into your right hand and grip it in finger palm position. ICOM Sleight of hand gallery Fig, #17. Take the borrowed ring in your right hand, holding it between the tips of the fingers. Spread the handkerchief over your left palm. Then act as though you are going to put the borrowed ring in the center of the handkerchief but, instead, drop the concealed ring onto the handkerchief and close your left fingers and thumb around it concealing the ring inside. At the same time, classic calm borrowed ring into your right hand.

Take the handkerchief in your right hand and straighten its folds, then give it to a spectator to hold (if the ring is borrowed, do not give it to the person who lent you the ring! They may peek inside the hank and you are sunk!). Pick up the wand in your left hand and transfer it to your right hand, sliding it through the center of the ring held in your partially closed right hand. Keep hold of the wand with your right hand, which is closed around the center portion of the same.

Pick up the handkerchief in your left hand and at the same time ask a spectator to hold the two ends of the wand Ask another spectator to feel the ring inside of the handkerchief and tell the audience that it is indeed there.

Then let the handkerchief lay on the wand beside your right hand. Push it over to cover the ring on the wand, simultaneously taking your right hand from the wand. Then draw your left hand, still holding the handkerchief, quickly away from the wand. This will cause the borrowed ring to spin around the wand, and will reveal it to the audience. This is the focal point of the routine, play it up dramatically! Ask the spectator to remove the ring from the wand and use the inherent misdirection to“pocket” the duplicate ring.

These are bold moves practice them well. With the proper pacing, you will never get caught with the duplicate ring.

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

Part #3


Once a character has entered the enviroment provided by the setting, ACTION can take place. The magician will most certainly be the PROTAGONIST (principle character) of his magical theatre production, and his professional assistant, or assistants chosen from the audience, may be seen as as the ANTAGONISTS (minor or secondary characters) as may the audience, itself, when interacting with the magician. Action in magical theatre is both ACTIVE (the magician performing alone) and INTERACTIVE (the magician engageing with trained assistants or with the audience as a whole). Assistants drawn from the audience, become psychologically representitive of the larger audience, as a single personification of the audience.

NON-INTERACTIVE magical performance, if there is such, is DISPLAY MAGIC, i.e., the magical artist exhibits his feats of skill and wonder, for the audience to witness without engagement, but not without INVOLEMENT. The audience becomes involved much as it would witnessing a performance of legitimate theatre, dance, or music. If the magician does not feel the electicity (VIBES) from the audience, his performance is not working, even as display magic.

The term ANTAGONIST does not necessarily mean adversarial, although it might. A love story, in book or on stage might invlove a protagonsist, e.g: HE, with an antagonsit, e.g: SHE, in the most amiable and loving way, and the resulting CONFLICT would not mean confliction in the common parlance, but the DRAMATIC TENSION developing from the circumstances surrounding the lovers. So too, the magical artist, his assistants, and audience become involved in the interplay of the conflict of his drama, resulting in a theatrical experience without animosity (unless expresssly intended for comical or dramatic purposes). Of course, theory in the ideal is no guarantee against the occasional heckler, nor the adversarial relationship between magician and audience in CHALLANGE MAGIC. Dr. OM does not subscribe to challange magic, it is not his SHTICK, but, again, different strokes for different folks. Nontheless, to Dr.OM, Magic is ENTERTAINMENT.

Professional assistants should be engaged in the area of action and conflict, not merely wander on and off stage delivering and removing furniture and props. Assistant who do so, are functioning as stage hands, not actors, In legitimate theatre performed without MASKING or CURTAINS, the stage hands are either dressed in black and perform thier tasks vivibly before the audience, as part of the action of the play. Classic examples of expert actor-assistant dramatic interaction with the magician are to be found in Cardini’s Swan Walker, his wife, dressed as a bell hop; Johnny Thompson’s (The Great Tomsoni’s) Pam, his wife; and David Copperfield’s legion of supporting actresses and dancers, not his wives.

Truly fortunate is the successful master magician who can afford the professional services of scene designers and crews, sophisticated lighting and special effects, stage managers and make-up artists, costumes and elaborate settings and stage machinery, coaches and directors, producers, and agents. The journeyman magician, on the other hand, must go it on his own, and is, most of the time, his own PR man, driver, and roady, as well.

There are, of course, magicians of all sorts and purposes; each with his own special brand of magic. Working up an original act and sticking to it is the answer. No one can do it all. Competing with all other magicians and trying to learn thousands of tricks is to create a Frankenstein monster in the mind, with which no one could compete. The magician artist should be entirely himself and be highly selective in assembling his own personal magical repertoire. He should work up a character and an act which is unique unto himself. The focus of Dr. OM’s articles Is primarily upon stage magic. However? applcation to close-up and walk-around magic has been noted. let it be observed, as well, that there are ancillary applications of showmanship and magicianship. As a teacher In the classroom, Dr. OM has employed magical effects to illuminate subject matter in courses taught in ancient world literature and poetry; and sometimes, only to effect a change of pace and stimulate student attention.

Successful businessmen and salesmen have used magical entertainment of clients with good results, as have bartenders, entertainers in general, and all manner of professionals. Dr. OMrs dentist entertains and readys children patients with magic. The

General principles of stage magic can be applied to any pragmatic useof magical entertainment adding another dimension of personality and talent recognition to the layman professional, as perceived by his clients; another level of respect and regard; an ice breaker.

The ICOM course in magic is a superb pathway to accomplishment, both for the professional and aspirant magician, and the general practitioner.

STAGE PRESENCE is acquired by both nature and nuture; a performer is either born with stage presence, like a John Barrymore, and/or learns it through careful attention to his PHYSICAL LIFE (bodylanguage) Being born with the magnificant stage voice of a Joseph Dunninger & is a great gift, but careful attention to VERBAL LIFE and training of the voice is another area of education for the magician-artist. The study of ventriloquism is an aspect of a magician’s verbal life which carries over into stage voice projection and the development of good speech. Remember that even the greatest had their strengths and greater strengths (certainly not weaknesses). John Barrymore’s exquisite voice and profile surpassed his ability in stage movement; Helen Hayes’ movement surpassed her vocal attributes. Dr. OM, many years ago had the honor to write a newspaper review of Helen Hayes, In her perforanance in Luigi Pkandello’s COSI E SI VI CREDE (It’s so, if you think so). In that performance, Miss Hayes excecuted an impossible cross from upstage left to down stage right. Witnessing her cross was worth the evening in itself. The way she broke the cross, paused, turned, gesticulated and then went on again was, as they say, a piece of art. That Helen Hayes had been a dancer in her earlier days is no coincidence. An this happened at the Helen Hayes Theatre named for her. By the way, a performer of magical theatre should read many plays in a pursuit of a deep understanding of stage composition. Pirandeflo’s plays might be a good place to start. His plays deal with the conflict between illusion and reality. In his youth, Dr. OM learned much about magical theatre from having directed several Pirandello plays: CECE, I’M DREAMING, BUT AM I? and THE MAN WITH A FLOWER IN HIS MOUTH. Kopit’s DAD, POOR DAD, MAMA HUNG YOU IN THE CLOSET, AND I’M FEELING SO SAD is another great school for studying theatre akin to magical theatre, as is Strindberg’s DREAM PLAY. Magical theatre is, after all, a species of the school of SURREALISM.

Fortunately, continuing education courses, college courses, academy studies, and private studies are usually easily accessible, at least in urban areas. For studies in magicianship, there is, most happily ICOM. Where there is a will there is a way. T. Nelson Downs became an expert coin manipulator during his spare time on the job, as a telegrapher, as did Thomas A. Edison, as a telegrapher, lay the groundworks for many of his future inventions during his spare moments, as a telegrapher. Thinkng out and imaging the verbal and physical life of a performance is an excellent way to prepare for physical practice and rehearsal. Dr. OM speant many hours at the table with his acting casts before putting a play on the boards for rehearsal. The verbal life of a part
MOTIVATES the physical life andshould always be studied first.

Be sure to check out the ICOM Library for additions to the Devil’s Dictionary as well as the “TWELVE COMMANDEMENTS FOR A SOUNDER VERBAL LIFE” Both by Dr. OM!
NOTE: ACTION will be continued in the next issue, and will include Bibilographical entries and: 21 STEPS TOWARD STRONGER PHYSICAL LIFE. In the ICOM Library, Dr. OM section!

December 1997


Ronald J. Dayton

This simple little effect is something I played around with in 1992. It is based on the old magic spot card effect in which, depending upon how the card was turned, and which spots were covered at any given time by the fingers of the hand, the spots would visibly grow in number. In this version, a gummed foil star is seen in one corner of a blank card. The star magically travels along the bottom edge to the center of the card.. .then to the opposite corner. In the end, the star vanishes completely, and is found attached to the back of a playing card previously selected by the spectator.

Place a blank (white both sides) playing card, or white cardboard cut to the size of a playing card in front of you on your working surface. Attach a foil star (color of your choice, but all three stars must match in color) at both the upper and lower left corners. Space them in about one quarter inch from each left edge. Now turn the card over end for end away from you and attach the third star at the center edge nearest you. That’s all there is to it.

Following the simple illustrations, figures 1 through 13, you can work through the moves with card in hand. To begin with, it is held as shown in Fig. 1. Single star faces you, left first finger covers the top corner star at the front. Only the lower left front corner star is visible. with a smooth turn-over action of the card and hand, figures 2 and 3, the card is seemingly pushed through the hand by the left thumb, Fig. 4, and as the card emerges, the star is seen to have moved to the front center edge. The card is now transfered to the other hand, the right hand taking it at point X and displaying it as in fig. 5.

The right hand now pivots back toward you, and the thumb again pushes the card through to the little finger side, figures 5,6,7 and 8. This time, as the card ernerges,the star has traveled to the opposite corner. The left hand first finger and thumb momentarily grasp the partially extending card at Y as the right hand moves across the top front 1/3 until the fingers of the right hand are covering the star at that top front right hand corner and the card can be held as in Fig. 9 by the right hand (This is your view.)

The final turn over is shown in figures 10, 11 and 12. As the card begins to emerge, the lower or front end is blank. It appears as if the star has vanished! The left hand thumb and first finger once again grasp the card at corner 2 ( thumb on tip, finger below) as the right hand moves across the top edge until the first finger covers the center star at that point. The card may now be displayed as in Fig. 13, double stars facing you, first finger covering the single top center star at the front. The card appears to be blank.

Put the card away, then have spectator turn over their earlier selection. On the back they will find the missing star! This, of course is a fourth star which you placed on the card you would force on them during the routine. It’s fast, clean, and has an unexpected climax. Enjoy working with it, and make it all you can!


Dr. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician. Part IV December 1997

Part #4
ACTION, continued

When performing a part in the high school. play, Margie automatically smoothes her hair back with her hand, not as the character she is portraying, but as herself, the audience knows Margie, not her character, is commiting the gesture, which, therefore, intrudes upon tile action of the play. When Bette Davis smoothes back her hair in a film, the gesture is seen by the audience to be made by her character, because at that precise moment the gesture means something in the context of the performance, reveals that which is on the mind of the character, and is unobtrusively part of the flow of the action of the play.

When a magician commits a gesture on stage, it should be MOTIVATED by the action of the magical play he is performing and by the character he is effecting. Just as the provided setting or unprovided bare stage is visible to the audience, so too is every physical motion. of the actor-magician. Every movement should, therefore, be intended, planned, practiced, and rehearsed, as a meaningfully contributing element of his performance, including motion meant to be misdirective.

The actor-magician must stay in character; BE the character, throughout the entire performance, even when interacting with the audience. Consistently BEING the character prevents the magician actor’s street existence from intruding upon his stage existence. The two modes of existence are not the same. The audience knows that they are not the same and can tell them apart. Even when the magician actor’s street existence is the archetype for his stage existence, the two are not synonymous; the street existence must be transmuted into the street-stage existence, or inevitably intrude upon the dramatic experience. The magician-actor himself eventually BECOMES his PERSONA.

Action must develop into PLOT or STORY LINE. Nothing is more unsatisfying in a performance, than a magician executing a series of unrelated “TRICKS” which do not constitute a story line posessing a beginning, a middle, and an end. A magical performance without story line becomes a series of athletic feats, rather than meaningful magical effects which forward the plot of a magical play. Magical performance is not to be seen as a sport, but as a play or playlet, if it is a shorter, let us say, twelve minute ACT. Magical effects should not be seen as a mere exhibition of skill, but as an integral part of the action, As sport oriented as the American is, most fans would soon tire with the mere exhibition of skill. without the drama of the game. Few fans would care to see a basketball star dribble a ball about the court all evening long, without meaningful, motivated action; without the dramatic plot of the game; without having posed the DRAMATIC QUESTION: Which team will win; which team will lose?

The routining of magical effects must be planned, such as each effect contributes to the story of the action arid plot to compose a cohesive play. Story line is not exclusive to stage magic, alone. Close-up magic is drama in miniature, for which the same tenets hold, as in stage magic. The difference is a matter of size. A close-up pad, a table top, a small portion of floor space, or, in stand-up and walk-around-magic, a limited area of room space, serve as the stage, and the magician is still on stage. Anything less than a dramatic presentation results in the execution of mere “TRICKS” or PUZZLES which usually annoy, rather than entertain..

The audience does not want to be made to feel foolish, or to be made to feel that quiz questions are being presented. Whether they consciously know it or not, they want to be drawn into the petit drama of close-up magic, and experience the performance, as if it were, in fact, a full stage production with a plot providing suspense. The question left in their minds should be a DRAMATIC QUESTION, not: how did he do it? Granted, part of the audience experience is in trying to figure out how the magic is effected, but only after the performance. During the performance the audience should be so caught up in the illusionary drama that they share, rather than compete with the magician. In order to share an illusion, the magician must be caught up in it himself. Technically, the experience is made possible through dramaturgy seamlessly fused with magicianship, such that the magical effects do not stick out of the play, but are entirely parts of the play. There is no better misdirection than audience attention. being drawn. away from the mechanics of magicianship by the drama of magical theatre–that’s art. Being so caught up by the drama, the audience has neither time nor scope of attention to figure out on-the-spot how the magician is doing what he does, instead, the audience is drawn into the wonderful. world of shared illusion, rather than witnessing an exhibition of avowed trickery..

Let it be known that everything discussed in Dr. OM’s series of articles should be regarded as objectives toward which to strive, not necessarily to be fully realized. Dr. OM, himself, makes no pretensions about having achieved all objectives, in his own act, nor has he ever witnessed an absolutely perfect magical production, even by the greatest of magicians. Close-to-perfect can be most satisfying, however. Magical Theatre is perhaps more a goal than a scored goal, but in striving to refine, the product gets better and better, in. an approach TOWARD perfection, through planned practice, rehearsal, and performance. Performance is a testing and experimental. learning experience for any performing artist: the moment of truth. A magical theatre piece should be an incremental composition. with as little left to chance as possible, Remember that only perfectability, not perfection is given to man. Dr. OM speaks as a student of drama, not as one who pretends to know the absolute truth. Of one thing he is quite sure: Magical. Theatre is a specialized genre (type, or kind) of the Art of Theatre, in general; and, that which applies to all drama, applies to the drama of magic.

The art of routining individual. magical effects and sequencing them so that they flow into one another, as part of the action and plot, are treated by ICOM’s master magicians. Herein, Dr. OM intends to deal only with the staging context of magical presentation; to deal more with the theatrical aspects, than with the aspects of magicianship. Magical Theatre is a high art when performed at best; an an which holds its place among all the other arts; a most serious endeavor.

The student is urged to early formulate the attitude of the artist, at the very beginning of studies of the art of magical performance. Dr. OM has often been left breathless by the performances of artist magicians of the calibre of BILL WISCH and BOBBY J.GALLO. This is what magicians must ultimately strive for: to leave the audience breathless.

Any rule of art may be broken, if broken awaredly, intentionally, artistically, and beautifully. In order to consciously, productively, and positively break the rules, the rules must be known. The
unaware and accidental breaking of a rule can result in good effect, but rarely. Accident most often is disasterous. When an unhappy accident occurs, it should be discarded; when a happy accident occurs, it should be incorporated in subsequent performances, as an item of growth. There is an old adage among magicians: Study the basics; the basics will never let you down.

*NOTE: Writing thoughts down on paper is a marvelous way to organize and clarify thinking. For the purpose of encouraging members of ICOM to do so, Dr, OM. invites those interested to write to him to express their views on stagecraft and showmanship. Letters will be considered for inclusion, in part or in whole, at the end of each of Dr. OM,s articles, in a new feature section entitled LETTERS TO DR. OM. When appropriate, Dr. OM will respond, comment, or answer questions in an italicised subnote. Dr. Om can hardly wait to hear from you.


Co-Directors Note: This is fantastic! I sincerely hope all who read these golden pages take advantage of this one-of-a-kind opportunity Dr. OM has presented. BJG

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – November 1997

Using The Elbow As A Servante.

I realize that I began a series about showmanship in November and I decided to delay continuance until January to begin the new year and have everything in a new volume of I.C.O.M archives. So next month we’ll delve into some neat stuff and set sail on our “showmanship”.

In 1975, when I began lecturing, one of the most unique offerings (I was told) was the material I introduced on using your elbow as a servante. I’d like to expound on that a bit and also introduce the concept to you.

ELBOW: from the English word “ell” which was a variable measure to the early weavers. It was the distance from the fingertips to the crook, or “bow” of the arm.

Well, since we, magicians, are weavers of illusion we should make use of this unexplored attribute.
There have been an effect here or there using the elbow, mostly for concealment, but as a servante, it seems to have never been effected. Why not? When you sit down you “create” your lap, don’t you? But when you stand you don’t have a lap. Why not “create” a mini-lap (or laps)? Your elbows are perfect to be put into service for just such a task.

I used the technique(s) I will teach to you for a while before introducing them. They work! And they work deceptively well! I’ll keep it simple and basic this time around and expound on it in future months from time to time. There is so much to be written about this that I actually planned a hardcover book entitled “JOINT VENTURES” back in the late 70’s, but finances and others projects didn’t allow the proper job to be done (I had over 550 photos of effects and routines using the techniques!).

Scenario: You walk up to a table and look relaxed, arms folded. You ask if the spectators would like to see something really “neat”. Both hands are empty and you casually reach up into the air and lick out “something” invisible. You give it to a spectator to hold and examine. Naturally they play along. After “examination” you take the object back and make it visible. Believe me, your hands are always empty…you can have sleeves rolled up…you never go to the pockets and still come up with a coin or knife, ball, deck of cards or anything else of similar size.


1) The object to be loaded is in RH finger palm position. The object (ball, knife, coin, etc.) is taken from the pocket just before the effect is to begin.

2) Cross the arms naturally. If the object was finger palmed in the RH that would put it onto the base of the left bicep just above the bend or crease. Naturally, the right fingers conceal the object while the arms are folded.

3) You can approach a table or small group in this relaxed position without any suspicion whatsoever.

The RH leaves the object on the left arm as the arms unfold. It is gripped firmly between the left bicep and forearm. The right arm can now be removed and used to “pluck” an invisible something from the air while the left hand is in open position, with left arm slightly bent retaining pressure on the object and keeping it from view at the same time. Be sure to keep your angles in mind if the object is a little oversized.

The object has been loaded secretly into the elbow. Naturalness is the key throughout the technique. Try the moves your self and eventually, after a bit of practice, you’ll be able to cross your arms and load the item exactly like you would casually fold your arms. It’s like any other magical technique or sleight…make it part of you.

1) After handing out the invisible something to be examined, fold the arms again. This time the RH, instead of being flat on the left bicep, is held in a loose fist between the arm and body. The opening between the thumb and index finger is directly below the object in the elbow.

2) Relax the left arm a bit and the object will drop right into the right fist.

3) As soon as the object has fallen safely into the right fist the hand (with the object) makes a magical gesture as if grabbing something in the air.

4) The RH drops the “something” into the LH. You actually  DO put the object into the LH without the audience realizing it.

5) The LH closes over the object without allowing a flash. Now the RH makes a waving gesture at the supposed empty left fist and the hand opens to disclose the object.

NOTES: The elbow-servant technique should prove quite useful in magical performances, both stage  and close-up. The applications are completely unlimited.

If you use the techniques with your own natural style and manner, the spectators will be completely mystified. Also, the moves can be used to help provide cover at times for the lapping performer at a table…think about it
There are quite a number of stand-up rest positions. This folding of the arms is only one method of using stand-up rest positions. More to follow. Happy New Year!

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.