Slydini Legacy 4/98-6/98


Slydini Legacy 4/98-6/98

Tony Slydini and Bill Wisch shared a unique bond. It was an association that went beyond the normal student teacher relationship. Bill was the only student of Slydini that Tony actually entrusted much of his most valued secrets and philosophies. Much of this material has been withheld from the magical community to this day! To the students of I.C.O.M Online, a special feature and opportunity is presented. The inside secrets of Slydini. This is our way of preserving the brilliance of Tony for all time. Bill will be releasing bits and pieces monthly for all of I.C.O.M. Such material needs to be absorbed a bit at a time. It is priceless knowledge.

The Slydini Legacy
by Bill Wisch

I am honored to present this page as part of I.C.O.M Online each month.

This will be a short session, but I promise to give you some remarkable and valuable effects, routines, insights, tips, idea’s and approaches in the coming months that will absolutely please you with success.

I was fortunate to be able to study with the master for quite some time and when I say it was intense, I mean it was INTENSE!

It is exciting to share this information with you. Both beginners and seasoned pros will find “The Slydini Legacy” of great value. I will share items that were known only to me and will also go through the entire effect/routine formats of the Slydini books STEP BY STEP. This will give further insight, I believe, and add many ideas, tips and thoughts that were given to me while studying in person.

I am able to refer to literally hundreds of notes and many hours of audio tapes that Slydini was so gracious to to allow me to acquire. At first, he didn’t want any record of the sessions on tape and only allowed taping of patter for various effects and routines. I cheated a bit and used to keep the recorder running so I could remember more later on. He found out about that and at first wasn’t very happy, but he knew I was about as enthusiastic a student as he could have and mentioned to me that it would be alright to tape future lessons in their entirety. Needless to say, I was very happy and appreciative about that. To my knowledge that was the first and beginning of Slydini allowing any students to tape sessions on audio tape. Video tapes were never allowed. I asked him about it and he felt it would cheapen the quality and lesson the value to his personal students. Slydini had a very close relationship to his students he felt were sincere and eager to really learn his magic. He gave up huge sums of money from video tapes just because of his respect and concern for his students. Typical Slydini.

I will be covering many things in this monthly segment of I.C.O.M Online. Many times I have been approached to disclose this material in books or on tape but never felt it proper to do so. With the many disclosures of material by some past students, as well as the supposed “fictitious” disclosures by some Slydini “wanna-be’s” (not to mention names), I felt the time would be right for this undertaking, and also feel that if Slydini knew, he would probably give me his blessing.

So, this begins what I hope will be a major source of information and enjoyment for you as students of the International Conservatory of Magic. I ask you to refrain from letting this material out. Slydini used to tell me, as I’m sure his other students, to keep the information secret because others aren’t of the same interest level and also the value is diminished to you when the secrets are given away (NOTE SECRECY RULES GIVEN UPON ENTERING THE INNER SANCTUM OF THE CONSERVATORY). This is just common sense anyway, so enough about that.

Naturally any questions about The Slydini Legacy will be handled the same as other member services…e-mail…chats…etc. So don’t be afraid to ask. Slydini was astonished at the number of questions I always asked him. He used to call me the “Question Man” ( a title I accepted with pride), so the least I can do is be willing to answer any question I can.

I will attempt to make this monthly page as comprehensive as I can so don’t look for quick tricks and collections of vague and incomplete items. As I said, this opportunity is a long time coming so I plan to take my time and go over everything the proper way.

My thanks to my co-director, Bobby J. Gallo, for his enthusiasm and support and I own him and you, as serious students of the ART of magic, the best I can do with regards to this undertaking. It is an honor and privilege to begin my version of “The Slydini Legacy”.

April 1998

Bobby J. Gallo

What in the world is Bobby J. Gallo doing writing a piece for the Slydini Legacy? Well Folks, while it is true that I have never had the opportunity to study, or for that matter, even “meet” Slydini, I have always been fascinated by his work. Slydini had a bold, yet subtle approach that has rarely if ever been duplicated by other magicians. Even those who profess to have been students of Slydini, all seem to be cookie-cutter cutouts of each other and in reality all seem to be more vernon-esque than Slydini emulators. To my experience, only Bill Wisch has ever come close to Slydini’s level.

Looking back at Slydini’s routines, the one that has always piqued my interest was the “Helicopter Card” To see this is truly an entertaining experience. Personally, I have only seen Slydini perform this routine vicariously through Bill Wisch at lectures he and I did in the past year. Watching Bill and the “Helicopter Card” as well as Bill’s explanation of it is always a high point of the evening.

Upon thinking and then experimenting with the “Helicopter Card” myself, I did what I naturally do WITH ALL of my magic. I adapted the premise to my style of performing and developed something which is very practical for the working pro while trying to maintain the integrity of a routine that was originated by the greatest close-up magician of all time…Tony Slydini.

The original complete routine of the “Helicopter Card” is very long to explain and contains numerous moves. Bill may wish (no pun intended) to dissect the original routine in the future, but for this lesson I am going to Give you MY VERSION of the classic “Helicopter Card”. Though it can never compete with the original, It DOES work for most situations and has the added feature of being slightly more angle-proof than the original. For those wishing to see the complete routine, I refer them to “THE BEST OF SLYDINI AND MORE” BY KARL FULVES Pgs, 75-78. If copies are not available, they can be obtained through the I.C.O.M Online Catalog. They are a bit expensive, but are the best investment you could ever make in your magical career outside of your I.C.O.M membership.

The magician has a card selected from a half of the deck of cards that is held in a fan “I.C.O.M Sleight-of-Hand Gallery Fig#. 28, 29, & 30. and has the spectator show it to the audience. It is returned to the fan and again shown to the audience to prove that it is still there. It is then pushed all the way into the fan and the deck is cut several times.

Performer then asks the audience where the card is. They naturally say that it is in the half of the deck that the magician is holding. The magician then asks if they are sure that it is not on the table and then has the spectator check cards that the magician randomly selects on the table. When the spectators are finally at their wits end. The magician makes a whirling motion with his finger similar to a helicopter and points to a spot on the table. When the card at that spot is checked, it is the selected card. A transposition like no other!

I first performed this routine for my magic class students in my summer camp series. It not only blew them away, but is was extremely entertaining. The reason for this is because as I was performing it, I told them about Slydini and then proceeded to act like an old Italian Magician as I went through the routine! This is easy for me because that is exactly what I will be some day, “God willing!”

After the card is selected and returned to the half deck-fan that you are holding, Push the card all the way in maintaining a break using a Fan Control. “I.C.O.M Sleight-of Hand Gallery Fig#. 50-51.”

Perform a Double Under-Cut, which is done by cutting half of the bottom portion of the deck to the top, followed by the remainder of the bottom portion. This brings the selected card to the top of the deck.

Now, as you are pattering to the spectators, Palm off the top selected card and casually lap it. I.C.O.M Sleight-of-Hand Gallery Fig#. 35-36.

Leave the card on your lap as you go through the motions of having the spectator check nearly all the cards on the table for the selection. Just when you think they have had enough, go to the lap and re-palm the card. Bring the hand up keeping the palmed card hidden and make a whirling motion with your fingers. Bring the hand down slapping the card onto the table. Lift your hand and have the spectator reveal the card.

The part of this routine that need the most rehearsal is acting like an old Italian Magician!

Slydini Legacy – May 1998

Bill Wisch

Slydini was never big on “show-off” moves or “finger-flinging” in general.
He designed everything he did to be economical in motion and simplistic in execution. Due to his razor sharp deftness while carrying out necessary moves in an effect or routine, I believe he would have been one of the world’s premier manipulators if he had chosen to go that way.  He did what he had to do to get the job done…if it meant an extremely difficult sleight then that’s what he created, mastered and used. But his simple, subtle gems of execution are what most magicians fell in love with when he performed them and then disclosed them at a lecture.
This subtle card mixing action is one of his simplest and yet most convincing. Also, anyone, at any level can do this, so you beginners can add this to your arsenal ASAP. And I can attest to the fact that it also works very well for the experienced performer in situations that are suitable…it is totally believable.
Consider this:
You spread out a deck of cards on a table top and proceed to mix them around like a tossed salad (not quite “tossing” the cards but mixing them vigorously and completely). The spectator can even help you mix them! When you’re done (and you can go as long as you want) you pick up the cards and assemble them together squaring them up. A known or force card will be at the top or bottom of the deck…or at any position you choose!
Believe me…I saw him do this quite a few times and the impression on the spectators is that there is no way any cards did not get totally mixed. It’s about as fair and dramatic (remember you’re an actor playing the part of a magician) a way to convince an audience that a bunch of cards are totally shuffled. Preceding any card discovery or force it is unsurpassed.
Let’s say you know the top card of the deck (could just as well be bottom) for a force or just to keep track of as needed.
As you sprawl the cards onto the table, face down, keep you eye on the card. Now whenever you mix you first place the tip
of the right little finger on top of the card. That’s it! As long as you keep contact of the card, whether it’s on top or somewhere in the middle of the mess of cards being mixed, you will not lose track of it. Try it! It’s an awesome way to keep track of a card under literally impossible conditions. There’s no way the audience can see you’re trying to control a card because the card goes in and out of view…besides they’re not even looking for such a thing at this point.
Naturally, when you’re done mixing you just sight the card once again. Now when you assemble the deck you just make sure this card goes where you want it to go…on top, bottom…so many from the top, or whatever.
I am sure some of you will experiment with this and try to embellish it using more than one card or both hands for two cards or something else but I have tried it and it doesn’t seem to be nonchalant unless you just focus on one card only. Slydini used it just the way I described.
This strategy can be used for any number of effects. It fills time…convinces the audience and, most of all, is easy so you can concentrate on the mixing instead of the card. It’s typical Slydini (he was one sly dude!).
 A beauty coming next month!  

Slydini Legacy-June 1998

“Ridiculous Red/Black”
Written by Bill Wisch

I call this “ridiculous” because it literally mystifies EVERYONE that sees it. That’s ridiculous!  It doesn’t matter how advanced…how knowledgeable…how ANYTHING!  It is probably the ONE effect I can bank on to literally FRY a crowd of magicians (or laypeople) every single time…I know because out of the last ten years of lectures (about 100) I’ve performed this (after the lecture because I never exposed it) and EVERYONE “freaks out”!  And…it’s ridiculously easy to do!
It’s time to give it to you Slydini “Legacarians”. Some will try it…some will use it…some will kill with it…some will never try it. Each of you reading this fits into one of those categories. Just don’t explain it or give it away. The “Slydini Curse” will heap unmerciful wrath upon you and your digits for the remainder of your years if you breathe a word of how this is done to anyone ( I can because you’re paying I.C.O.M. Online to teach you only the finest of the fine, and that’s what we do!).

Well, here is the best…it doesn’t get any better

You openly separate the red and black cards. You turn the cards face down and table shuffle the red cards into the black cards.
You square up the deck, turn it face up and spread it out. The red cards are together and the blacks are together. None of the cards have been mixed!!!  And…you can repeat it any number of times!
None before the effect begins. I usually just go through a deck and openly cull the reds and blacks, separating them into two face up stacks. Then I assemble the deck and do a table spread, face up, to show the fact that all the reds are separate from the blacks. There’s no rush and you’re not doing anything sneaky so take your time.
I’ll mention some patter ideas later but right now just follow the handling.
Assemble the deck and turn it over, face down, on the table. The reds or blacks are on top…it doesn’t matter which. But all the reds are together and all the blacks are together.
The hands carefully square up the deck and the right hand appears to cut the top half of the deck to the right and table it.

What actually happens is that the right hand cuts the “center half” to the right. Let me explain…if you consider the top quarter of the deck added to the bottom quarter of the deck as a half deck,  then the “center half” would be all the cards below the top quarter and above the bottom quarter…in other words, cards #14 down to and including card #39 of the deck.
The left thumb holds back the top and bottom quarters while the center half goes to the right…that’s it! (Note: if a few cards of either color stay with the other half there’s absolutely no harm done. It will get straightened out automatically when you shuffle the halves together).
Now when you shuffle the two halves together you’re actually shuffling the reds into the reds and the blacks into the blacks. YOU ACTUALLY DO SHUFFLE THE CARDS but you just keep them in the same color sequence!
There are several subtleties added to complete the illusion. First of all, when you shuffle the two halves together you must “eyeball” the colors as they’re being shuffled. This is easy if you peer into the shuffle as if to make sure they’re being shuffled evenly (this was Slydini’s strategy). Just make sure that you stop letting cards go from the thumb when the color changes of that half, to allow for the rest of the similar color cards to drop from the other half until the color changes also.
Now carefully and slowly square up the cards into a deck. Turn the cards over and ribbon spread. The cards are separated red and black instead of being hopelessly mixed!
There have been a number of red/black shuffles using the same center-half method down through the years, but none I’ve seen compare with Slydini’s handling using his slow, methodical presentation. If the cards are shuffled in the hands it doesn’t seem to be as powerful and there is a certain amount of “extra motion” to get the center half over to the opposite hand.
There are three major things that make this the true miracle it is.
1) All the dirty work takes place during the initial cut at which time no attention is usually placed on the deck. If someone is “burning” your hands at the time you’re ready to strip-cut the center half, just look up and ask them a question, like, “Do you play cards?” or, “Have you been watching me closely?”. Just at the instant the spectator looks at your eyes you strip out the cards and it’s done. The rest is showbiz. 

2) The spectators are looking intently for any kind of move or action while you’re shuffling or squaring the halves together…nothing happens.

3) When the cards are ribbon-spread face up at the end, no one notices that the cards REALLY ARE SHUFFLED despite being separated color-wise and they assume if the colors are separate the cards must be in the same order. No one has EVER called me on this. Is that cool!
A nice strategy Slydini used while doing this was to pretend he was going to do a “push-through, strip-out” move which most educated magicians or gamblers know can be done. Just at the moment he would normally cover the deck and do the “strip-out” move, he just simply and openly pushed the cards together without any cover at all with a defiant and sheepish look on his face! Talk about leaving them with their mouths hanging open!

Then you turn over the deck and show the colors separate?! You have to see the reaction to believe it.
I have had a number of TOP magicians tell me after I’ve done this that they never saw a better false shuffle in their lives. Needless to say I never argued with them (or showed them how it was done no matter how much they begged…and, believe me,  they DID beg). Is that fun!
I usually patter about having one thing I do that fools all the dealers in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. You don’t have to say very nuch, in fact, a little goes a long way in this effect. Ater they witness what you’ve done several times, they tend to agree that you are unbelievable when it comes to handling a deck of cards.
Another way I use this shuffle is before Out Of This World, by Paul Curry. Think about it. I separate the colors. Openly shuffle the two halves together and then begin the effect. They SEE the cards shuffled! Naturally, I don’t expose the fact that the colors stay separate, and I certainly can’t perform the regular red/black miracle with the same audience, but it’s mega powerful doing it as a shuffle for OOTW.
What a scam! Where else can you get such credit for something you can’t do. That’s one of the major benefits of performing magic. The audience tends to credit you with all sorts of skill you really couldn’t ever do. Fun, fun, fun!
Another killer in July!


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, manufacturing & 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 4/98-6/98


I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 4/98-6/98

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. It also acts as the I.C.O.M main theory page. Theory is where the true magic lies, study it well. It is the inner workings of the magical art far beyond the secrets of any tricks, effects or routines.

April 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.

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



I have mentioned several sources for creative inspiration. One of my favorites is the magic catalog. If you can get your hands on older catalogs as well as more current ones, you may be able to discover not only useful information, but trends and cycles as well. It seems that effects in magic go in stages. One year, ring and lace effects may be all the rage, the next, diminishing card cases and the following year, movable holes are the latest thing. You see the same thing happen in the motion picture industry. They go from sci-fi to war films, to comedy to prison flicks. The movie goers tire of certain movies and demand something new. It’s the same in magic. So, the catalogs may well not only point you toward a new effect, they may well indicate which type of effect will be coming into vogue.

When paging through your magic catalog, allow your mind to roam. Go from close-up to stage effects, silks to coins, paper to rope. An unrestricted mind will soon begin to form mental links. random unions will be made. An overlapping of thoughts will help you to break away from more stringent lines of thinking. This will work in a similar way to the lists suggested earlier. It will assist your mind in rejecting certain patterns of thought. Seemingly unrelated effects will suddenly begin to merge. It’s a useful method to exercise your mind.


Another nifty way to think in an inventive manner is not to think about it at all! That’s right. Walk away from it for a while. When you are relaxed, and not under the direct pressure of ‘having’ to invent something, ideas seem to pop up at the most unexpected times. I should be embarrassed to say this, but I’m not really, that many of my best ideas have come to me while I was at my place of employment. Here again, when ever an idea came to me, it was quickly jotted down. Too many good ideas have been lost simply because they were not acted upon promptly.

You may also choose to stimulate your thinking by thinking in a new location, or change of atmosphere. Like a creative writer, you may need to get away from the norm. Select new surroundings in which to work and concentrate. Music may be used to set the mood as well as lighting. Make the experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible.


Experience has proven time and time again that ideas are exactly that, just IDEAS. All the brainstorming in the world will not prove conclusively that something WILL work. Many things look great on paper but won’t get off the ground in the real world. When the time comes, in many instances, you will need a proto-type.

A number of years ago I developed an idea for a new version of cigarette through half dollar. I contacted a manufacturer of magic coins, and after some study, it was determined that the project would be far too costly. Special compound dies would be required, special tooling. The costs were too high to justify the variation. Three years later, an alternate design became evident to me. But once again, no ‘proof’ of its credibility was available. The design was much easier and cost effective to produce. To make a long story short, The Dayton Ultimate Cigarette Thru Half was eventually born. It is the only mechanical coin ever made which could be shown both sides, before, DURING and after the penetration. An idea, with perserverance, went from the mind, to paper to reality.

When you stick with a project, and it comes to fruition, there is no better feeling of satisfaction. The feeling is awesome.


There is one last phase I would like to touch on in regards to your own personal preparation for creativity, and that is the subject of reading material. I suggest the following:

The Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 1-7……………………………………… Tannens

The Phoenix & New Phoenix………………………………………………….. Tannens

Thayer Quality Magic; Vol. 1-4…………………………………………………Magic Limited

The Jinx.. ………………………………………………………………………………Tannens

Harbincadabra………………………………………………………………………. Goodliffe

Rices Encyclopedia of Silk Magic, Vol 1-3…………………………………. Rice

The Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks1 Vol 1-3………………………………… Abbotts

JackHughesWorld of MagicVol. 1………………………………………………Hughes

Encyclopedia of Dove Magic, Vol 1-4…………………………………………Supreme

The Lewis Trilogy
A Choice of Miracles
A Continuation of Miracles……………………………………………………Magical Publications
The Crowning Miracles

The New Modern Coin Magic…………………………………………………..Magic Inc.


The Magic of Pavel………………………………………………………………….Supreme

Darwin’s Thumb Tip Miracles…………………………………………………… Rare Publishing

The Illustrated History of Magic………………………………………………….Crowell

Suspensions and Levitations……………………………………………………… Hades

The Fitzkee Trilogy
Showmanship For Magicians………………………………………………… Magic Limited
The Trick Brain
Magic By Misdirection

All publications by Karl Fulves……………………………………………………Karl Fulves/Dover Press

Success and Magic…………………………………………………………………..Secret Service/Michael Ammar


It is important to make ourselves as aware as possible to new advances in technology, science and electronics, as well as new product releases. Reading publications such as Popular Science and Popular Mechanics may serve you well. Look at items carefully while browsing through your local variety store. Toy stores are also fabulous places to wander. Keep your eyes peeled when those catalogs come in the mail from such places as Spencers Gifts or the Electronic Goldmine. They often contain novel items which the wide awake magician can put to use. Look beyond the original use and try to visualize another form and function. It will often be worth your while if you do.

In the concluding words to one of my books I said: ” Think of an effect my friend. It CAN be done!” Well, needless to say, that raised more than a few eyebrows. Some reviewers felt it was far too broad a statement to make. But think about it. Go back to the concept that THE IMPOSSIBLE IS THAT WHICH IS YET UNTRIED. If you defeat yourself before you begin, naturally you will fail. Make a dedicated attempt at creativity. If the first attempt dosen’t work out, try again! Hang on to all your notes concerning ideas and methods. Perhaps in a year, or five.. .or more, the correct solution will come to light. Above all, maintain your dreams. They too may become reality.

Even the person who is NOT directly involved in the performance or production of magic can assist in its growth and well being. If you choose only to be a magic enthusiast, or a collector, you will be doing your part. You act as a catalyst. Your support and zeal motivate others. Like any part of the whole, your importance is immeasurable.

” Think of an effect my friend. It CAN be done!”

Co-Directors Note: The International Conservatory Of Magic is grateful to Ronald J. Dayton for this fantastic work that has run since the beginning of our Internet endeavor. For those wishing to read “Creativity” in its entirety, it will be enshrined in the ICOM Online Library as a Cyber-Textbook ™ It should be read, re-read, and read again. This IS magical education at its best, and that is why we are all here…….

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 VII April 1998


Not only is “SEEING IS BELIEVING” so, but, so too, is BELIEVING IS BELIEVEMENT. If the magician believes that magic is actually happening before his own eyes, so too, will the audience experience belief.

FLASHBACK AND FORESHADOW inform the audience about that which has already happened and that which is yet to come, in a drama. STYLE is the outcome of skills acquired through study and imitation, but personalized through the originality of the performer. STYLE is the personal stamp of the artist. The distinctive style of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet sets him apart from all other trumpet players. His style would be recognized in a crowd.

TONE is a function of psychological distance between the performer and the audience. The closer to the audience, the more casual; the more distant from the audience, the more formal will the performer appear.. Distance is not a reference to feet or yards, but might better be explained, as exemplified by comparing the casual tone achieved by Carl Ballentine, the comedic magician, and Joseph Dunninger, the dignified and aloof mentalist. A seated speech delivery, placing the speaker on the same level with the audience, tends to seem casual; a standing speech delivery which places the speaker on a level above the audience, tends to seem formal.

MOOD is the psychological ambiance of a performance, and is both intellectually and emotionally underpinned. A performance may be serious or frivilous in mood; or light hearted or melancholic in mood: the ALLEGRO or PENSEROSO of the stage, if you will. BUILDS: The peaks and valleys of art require both CRESCENDO and DECRESCENDO. A work of art cannot be sustained at a constant climactic pitch. Stillness is as important as motion; silence as important as sound; deccelleration as important as accelleration; and PIANO as important as FORTE. Art is the consequence of nuance not noise; subtlety not grossness. Decrescendo makes crescendo possible



For television appearances in the nonformal performance mode (Guest Shots), magicians should wear a light blue broadcloth shirt which does not reflect light up into the face as severely as does a white shirt. The best color choice in a tie is red which draws the audience attention, casts a soft blush on the face, and provides a color point of reference for the lighting technician. A dark suit should be worn, as flattering to the physique. Black absorbs light, making the body appear slimmer; white reflects light, making the body appear larger and heavier. The television camera is said to add about fifteen pounds to the physique. Of course, an overly thin performer might want to reverse the color formula, in order to add pounds. Dr. OM does not have this problem. Straight pancake makeup in a tone matching the natural skin tone of the performer, or a more deireable tone (e.g: tan, if the performer is excessively pale), should be applied, in order to avoid the Nixon-Kennedy syndrome.

For formal televised performance, the same principles apply and care should be taken with choice of costume components and application of pancake make-up, rouge, lip rouge, eye shadow, and eye liner. When applying make-up, the whole face, neck, and ears should be made up, in order to avoid the masklike look of a tan face and white throat and ears. Costume choices are personal to the PERSONA, as has been previously discussed, but should consider the affects of lighting.


After viewing the President’s State of the Union address on television, Dr. OM remained tuned in to witness the Republican response by Senator Trent Lot. Surfing from channel to channel, among those covering the response, Dr. OM noticed that, on channel 02 Senator Lot’s face bore a yellowish tint; on 04, a flesh pink tint; on 05 a violet tint; on 08 a yellowish tint; on 12, a violet- white tint; and on 24, a blueish- white tint: same subject; different lighting. A performer cannot overestimate the importance of lighting. Senator Lot looked best on channel 04, under flesh pink lighting which lent him a healthy and robust appearance.

THE PRINCIPLE PURPOSE OF LIGHTING is to make persons and objects visible on stage, however each directional throw produces adverse affects of washing out the facial features or casting undesireable shadows when used exclusively. Proper balance of multidirectional lighting eliminates adverse affects, provides visibility, and enhances mood. Lighting is of five kinds, dependent upon location: 1) FRONT LIGHTING; 2) BACK LIGHTING; 3) OVERHEAD LIGHTING; 4) SIDE LIGHTING; and 5) BOTTOM LIGHTING upward cast from footlights.

FRONT LIGHTING washes out the facial features, if employed unilaterally, and, always, even when employed in conjunction with other directional lighting, requires the use of stage make-up.

FRONT LIGHTING is horizontally rigged on pipes attached to the ceiling of the HOUSE (audience seating space) over the heads of the audience and beyond the APRON (front edge) of the stage. FRONT-SIDE LIGHTING is vertically rigged on pipes anchored to the walls at both sides of the stage apron.

FOOTLIGHTS: Dr. OM regrets that modern stages have tended to eliminate footlights which cast an upward and frontal illumination on the performer and provide a rather story book framing of the apron.

BACK LIGHTING is used to illuminate or decorate the back wall and upstage areas, or to light a SCRIM cloth (cheese-cloth-like white backdrop), or CYCLORAMA (bedsheet-like backdrop) from behind to enhance the setting with the special effect of a background of blue sky or other color impression. In the old days of stage and vauldville scenically painted backdrops provided background and were illuminated by front and side lighting. There are still appropriate uses for the backdrop of old.

SIDE LIGHTING illuminates the right and left sides of three dimensional objects and actors on stage, making their three dimensionality apparent to the audience. Side lighting is usually rigged vertically on pipe poles weighted to the floor on cast iron bases or on heavy dollys.

OVERHEAD LIGHTING is horizontally rigged to pipes hung in the FLYS over the stage proper, and are aimed downward at varying light balancing angles to produce a diffused light through which the actors walk. Because the light comes from above, shadows are cast downward by the facial brow and nose. OVERHEAD and FRONT lighting should be balanced such that neither does the front lighting wash out the facial features, nor does the overhead lighting cast too much shadow on the face. The setting of lights is indeed an art in itself, even for the sole objective of providing visibility, without the aesthetic purposes of providing mood or special effects. Balancing the lights may be thought of as analogous to painting in oil or water colors.

THE FOLLOW SPOT focuses attention upon the performer by providing an intimate isolation. When no other theatrical lighting is available, a follow spot is invaluable.When even a follow spot, which rotates on an axis upward and downward and to right and left allowing the illumination to follow the movement of the actor, is not available, a stationary spotlight or baby spot, set at the proper distance from the performer, may somewhat serve the purpose, if properly intensified and dimmed by means of a rheostat.

DIMMING CONTROL BOARDS OR CONSOLES in varying degrees of sophistication and complexity are provided with rheostats which allow the intensifying or dimming of individual lamps, as well as all of the lamps or batteries of lamps at the same time and to bring up and down the house lights and the stage lights.

RIGGINGS vary in sophistication from theatrical site to theatrical site. In some venues, riggings can be lowered for LANTERN (LAMP) mounting. Usually, the lanterns are set, under the direction of the theatrical and/or art director, by the lighting technician or a stage hand atop a platform at the top of a ladder on a dolly which is termed a CHERRYPICKER, in order to fine tune the lantern angle settings and fine positions on the pipe riggings. In unsophisticated theatrical sites a cherrypicker is used to mount lamps on stationary overhead pipes, and free standing vertical pipes on heavy bases are used for front and side lighting. In the most sophisticated venues everything is electronically automated and computerised. Expect anything from OUR GANG to SPIELBERG and you will be somewhat prepared. In non-theatrical venues, only found natural or artificial house lighting exists, unless you carry along your own equipment and curtains. Lighting has the potential to establish mood, therefore, illumination facillitates the audiences ability to FEEL as well as SEE. As with all other components of theatre, lighting is inextricably, by presence or absence, a part of setting, characterization, action, and plot.

FLOOD LIGHTS are used for general diffuse lighting. Care must be taken that flood lights do not SPILL (spread) to areas where no lighting is wanted.

SPOT LIGHTS throw a concentrated almost hard edged beam of light upon a desired objective.

COLORED GELS contained in GEL FRAMES are slipped into slots on lamp fronts to tint and mix the colors of the light. The most usual colors are: red, yellow, blue, green, purple, violet, and flesh pink.


Corson, Richard. STAGE MAKEUP. Appleton-Century, Crofts. New York, 1967.

Parker, W. Oren and Harvey K. Smith. SCENE DESIGN AND STAGE LIGHTING. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc. New York, 1968.

May 1998

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

ELLIPSOIDAL (LEKOLITE): A four shuttered reflector spotlight for hard edged rectangular or oblique beam shaping

FRESNEL (THE FRESNELITE): A fifteen degree spot focus and forty-five degree flood focus, dual purpose lamp; used primarily as a spotlight in conjunction with the KLIEG floodlight

KLIEG (KLIEGLITE): A general purpose flood light casting a soft edged diffuse spread of light

LINNEBACH PROJECTOR: Used to back project upon an entire blank backdrop, thereby providing scenic pictures in light, in a kind of magic lantern manner.

RULE OF THUMB: The least degree of general floodlight settings allowing the audience to see the action on the stage is best. Spolight mood establishment is enhanced when not too much general lighting is employed and the audience is not disturbed by excessive glare reflected by actors and objects on stage.

“At the end of every illusion is reality.” (“Eternally Yours,” Starring David Niven)

Directors Bill Wisch and Bobby J. Gallo have graciosly asked Dr. Om to write an article answering the question: “Why I love Magic.” Their question opens a floodgate that could wash up an endless series of articles, because any honest answer must deal with matters so psychologically complex that no brief response can adequately serve the purpose.

DR. OM LOVES MAGIC BECAUSE he cannot stand the real world, at least, not exclusively; not without the relief of beloved illusions, alternatives to reality, provided by art. Rather than addressing the question in terms of the magical arts alone, Art in general, yet, especially the magical arts, will serve as the source of Dr. OM’s response. where helpful, extrapolations will be made from the other arts to the art of magic.


Life without a dream would be quite grim; evidence: the daily news of all too real happenings in the all too real world. Life without a dream would be quite humdrum; evidence: the leaden-eyed drudgery most workers experience in earning their daily bread. Truly, only work experienced as play is worth doing. Think of the way work was experienced by great contributors such as Michaelangelo, Einstein, and Mozart, to mention a significant few. To them, their work and play were synonymous.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: “Most men live out their lives in a quiet desperation.” The same quiet desperation provided the drive which sent Sir Galahad and Don quixote on their quests. The former, in search of The Holy Grail, the latter in search of his imaginedly beautiful Dulcinea (she unfortuneately proved to be anything but beautiful when he found her in reality, except in his own eyes, alone).

Dante combined the two great quests: the quest after God (his Holy Grall) and the quest after an idealized woman (his Dulcinea). Beatrice is, of course, Dante’s muse, who tells him: “You may write poetry, only through loving me; and you may love me, only through writing poetry. Every artist is so driven by his muse.

Robert Graves, the great mythologist and poet, claimed that the muse, whom he called the White Goddess, appears somewhere in every poem. Perhaps so. Samuel Taylor Coleridge had her appear in the following lines from his poem: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:”

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

She is the muse of two faces, however, as the poet Oscar Williams describes her in his poem:


This is what we really want Who drink the kingdom of the heart

She is flowering in a doorway
Eyes cheeks haze of hair
Stepping out of time into here

This is what we really have who see the one we adore becoming
The two that she is in the light

Ah God bounces all the waters
From hand to jubilant hand
He cannot contain Himself

But comes over into being
With benediction of painted cloud
The being to look at is to become

By fiat of adoration do we reach
The very muscle of miracle
The ease with which beauty is beauty

Sheer poetry; sheer magic; and as mystical as The Egyptian Book of the Dead or The Book of Job, is this great poem written by Dr. OM’s vanished dear friend and mentor, Oscar Williams.

Dr. Om has his muse appear in two distinctiy antithetical forms:
the double sided coin of womanhood; picking up, perhaps, where Homer left off with the witch, Circe, and the lovely young girl, Odysseus had to leave behind, Calypso.


Circe’s smile surrounds me, dimensional with spangles, tantalizing as cymbols.

Kissing Circe’s white throat; into sun world’s of flashes, light from blonde lashes,

into halls of glasses, each one reflecting Circe1s face;

is falling out of dream, screalning, hands out, from above, into cold,. rushing waters of no love.


Yes, Penelope is waiting and there are still adventures enough in store:
profits and losses in emotions; and a son still lying in the ploughshares path.

Once again, no doubt, a Cyclops or two will rear his ugly head
over fading palisades and Circe will turn us all into swine again.

Tomorrow morning Rosy may finger the Dawn or Phoebus forget to rise, altogether.

There are battles, too, the ringing swords and shields of distant wars
and black coughs of death

A king must follow his kingdom his honor
his duty and yet

Should you call to me from the shoreline Calypso, lovely girl could I leave you on your island could I leave you there alone?

Thus, the muse drives the artist. To be in love with illusion, is to be in love with our kind of magic, whereby we are transported to another realm where everything is true and beautiful and good, and everything is possible. Besides, old magician’s never die, they just disappear.

Getting back to the matter of Thoureau’s “quiet despration,” all humans feel that eternal discontent, that yearning in the breast. In youth, we feel that the yearning can be satisfied by romance, only to discover a bit sadly that it is not so. In middle life, the quest to satisfy the ache seeks after power; to be able to say: I have (so many) working under me. As age advances, the false security of money is sought after, to quell that unidentifiable desire. Money, too, proves not to be the answer. We have known these truths since time immemorial: Tantalus, Midas, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

The mystic tells us that the yearning is that of the spirit imprisoned in the body wanting to be free to return to the world soul; to become one with God. So say, too, the Bible, The Eqyptian Book of the Dead, The Bhagavadgita, The Koran, and all the great benevolent religious works. As William Butler Yeats put it in this excerpt from his poem “Sailing to Byzantium:”

Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

or as the Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, more wishfully expressed in his poem “The Rubaiyat’:

Ah, Beloved, but could you and I with God conspire
to take the plan of things entire to shatter it to bits
and then remould it closer to the heart’s desire.

Does not Omar express that which every magician desires and attempts to do?

Omar was court poet, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, and magician. By this time, the reader realizes that poets are magicians, as are all artists. Art is illusion. The magician is an artist.

It is no accident that all the great religious works are expressed in poetry and magic. Only art, especially the magical arts, and all the arts are magical, can provide us with relief from the driving yearning of the heart. Art enables us to exist at the highest pitch of being in love, which both elates and tranquilizes our physical existences; elevating us, momentarily, at least, out of existence into a state of BEING, a mystic Nirvana, if you will.

To become immersed in a musical composition, to enter into a painting, to embrace a sculpture with the eyes, to be enmeshed in the plot of a play, to experience the whirling, akin to flying, of dance, and certainly to witness a miracle of illusion, is to transcend for a moment, the unpleasant and the ordinary; to replace ugliness with beauty; to displace the pedestrian with the sublime.

The three great themes of all the other arts, the art of magic, and religion, each imply an antithetical (opposite) wish, as did Omar. The first great theme is: THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH; its antithesis is:

THE HOPE FOR IMMORTALITY. The second great theme is: THE INEVITABILITY OF CHANGE; its antitheses are: THE WISH FOR IMMUTABILITY (unchangingness) and THE WISH FOR DESIRABLE CHANGE. As Wallace Stevens asserted, in his poem, THE MAN WITH THE BLUE GUITAR: “Things as they are, Are changed upon the blue guitar.” The third great theme is: THE INEVITABILITY OF LONELINESS; its antithisis is: THE HOPE FOR LOVE. When you can find the time, take pen and paper in hand and jot down all of the great magical illusions you know of, those, especially, which have made history, and observe that they each address at least one of the great themes of art.

The performing arts are temporal, they exist only in time, and once a performance is over, even if recorded, by whatever means, it is gone forever. Perhaps, the greatest love is the love of the performing artist who sends his art up in a puff of smoke, as did Rodolfo, in Puccini’s opera LA BOEME; Rodolfo, who burned his poems one by one, to keep his friends warm in their cold artist’s garret. No recording can replicate the art of a live performance and its interaction with an audience.

In the magical art, per se, to observe that inventive genius should be passionately devoted solely to produce a mysteriously entertaining illusion, is fascinating, in and of itself; however the illusion is accomplished, whether by manipulative skill, gaff, or gimmick.

The poetry of the art of magic is the illusion provided for the audience, not the technique whereby it is achieved. The same passion and devotion as is infused in a poem, a musical composition, or the visual pleasures of dance are essential to producing a work of true magical art. The great innovative dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham once said: “GREAT DANCERS ARE NOT GREAT BECAUSE OF THEIR TECHNIQUE; THEY ARE GREAT BECAUSE OF THEIR PASSION.” Of course, the freedom of passion presumes technique, but technique, alone, is not enough; is not art.

Artists of all sorts are driven by a compulsion to compose that which will please the senses and the sensibillties; their own and their audiences’. They do so in worshipful imltation of the Creator, the Artist of the Cosmos. The art experience and the mystical experience are one and the same. What is more, the mystical is manifestly expressible only through art. The magician is the artist of theatrical illusion; his work of art IS illusion.

All art, and no less the art of magic, provides a temporary respite, relief, rest from pressing reality. The romance of Nature is not Nature. Nature, including man and the acts of man, is quite ferocious. Ferocity is illusionistically removed from the lovely Romantic landscape painting, but in Nature, no matter how beautiful the real landscape may be, if the viewer looks closely enough, predatory ferocity is present.

Art, and especially the illusions of magic, elevates us, changes that which each of us knows to be all too real, and enables us the better to come to terms with the real, because we have, for a time, no matter how briefly, transcended the real world; we have for a moment flown with the angels; we have experienced a glimpse of the spirit of man. Dr. Om is honored and humbled to be your fellow magician.

“Poetry is the art of subtantiating shadows” (Edmund Burke)


CON PASSIONE (Italian musical term) With passion. Remember the old directorial plea: “Once more, with feeling.”

Ronald J. Dayton

One of my best friends in all the world of magic, and for that matter, all the world ( Bill Wisch ), asked if I would consider doing a piece on ‘ Why I Love Magic The Way I Do.’ According to Bill, he feels I express the most joy over being involved with magic as any other person he has ever met. This is flattering, although, possibly a jaded take on the way he perceives my involvement.

From a very early age, I was attracted to the mystery of magic. The unknown/unexplained is a strong, initial catalyst. The printed word and marvelous illustrations of an era now past were like visual magnets, drawing a youngster toward this strange Mecca.

In 1954, I was nine years old. This was the Christmas which brought my very first, and only, Mysto Magic Set. What a treasure. I wish I still had it today. The coins and shells.. the tubes, rings and cards FELT magical in my hands. It was an empowering gift for a boy of nine. One which ( in his mind ), gave access to mysteries only he could master.. .knowledge only he could fully comprehend.

Of course, as time passed.. .both I and my magic grew and matured. My understanding of magic and the real value it held came to light. I found it was something which could shared. It was a multi faceted art which embraced a myriad of concepts and skills. It was a common ground enjoyed by many, which could forge new paths, and create lasting friendships where none had been before. I think this is the aspect of magic which is most important to me…and the one from which I most directly derive pleasure. It makes me feel complete to be part of something so old… so eternally young, and so lasting.

It isn’t the artists or performances which bring me the deepest joy. They are a valued keepsake in my memory, to be sure…but memories tend to fade. It can’t be the effects or methods, although I do get enormous satisfaction in creating them.. .and watching the genius of others. But ‘tricks’ are fickle things, and magicians are like impatient nomads, ready to move on at a moments notice.

Friendships are the most magical and enjoyable thing to me. They make being a part of this world of magic, worth while. They are the foundation for much of my knowledge, the inspiration to strive to be creative, and the fountain-head from which all of the other benefits of magic spring.

This is not the easiest venue in which to find true friends. But…name a venue which is. If you can count the number of genuine friendships you garner in a lifetime on the fingers of your hands, you have done very, very well. Genuine friendships truly are magical and mysterious.. .not casual in the least. They are the singular thing I value most in magic and in life. They are the reason I find joy in what I do.

Doing magic for the sake of magic can be a thankless task. Magic for the sake of friendship on the other hand, elevates the art to a higher level. The rewards may not be monetary, but they are precious beyond measure. The glow of joy it brings pales gold by comparison, riches not all are fortunate enough to find.

June 1998

I must say that after I wrote this, I truly felt a revealing sensation. It is though for the first time I am really letting people get a glimpse into my inner most thoughts concerning magic. Not even writing “Commando Magic” gave the same sense of “butterflies in the stomach” that this short piece gives me……BJG

“A World Without Hero’s”
Bobby J. Gallo

Well ladies and gents, its my turn. After some prodding by other I.C.O.M staff members, “you know who you are!” I have been asked why I love magic….. If you have not yet read Ron Dayton’s “Magic for the Sake of Magic” or Dr. Om’s reasons in his series “Stagecraft for the Performing Magician” Please do so before reading the following.

My reasons are a bit different than both Ron’s and Oscar’s. Not better,…..different. The reasons why I love magic are very esoteric. Allow me to say right off the bat that I am a natural ham. If I were not a magician, I would be performing in some other capacity. But I can confidently say that nothing else would be like magic. Magic embodies qualities that I could not find in either music or acting. What can these be, you ask? Allow me to answer this with an observation.

In my view, the world today with the exception of a few is virtually devoid of heros in classical sense. The select few exceptions I can site in my mind besides Biblical heroes of the past would be people like Mother Theresa, Jonas Salk, and America’s first Astronauts. Heros for completely different reasons to be sure, but heros nonetheless.

I do not consider sports figures heros any more than I consider a movie or television star a hero. In most cases, both are extremely talented, but no, not heroes.

There is also a whole different dimension of heroes. One that exists only in the realm of fantasy. I am talking of course about the fantastic “superheros” and fantasy characters of legend. Now, before you go and say that I have flipped my lid in thinking about these works of fiction, let me say that I know I am not alone. There are more adults reading comic books now than in any other point of history from the golden age of comics to the present, gritty, cutting-edge comics of today. Movies containing these now classic characters are some of the highest grossing and anticipated movies in Hollywood. Top stars play these characters and everyone from every walk of life go to see them. So why do I make these points in an article devoted to magic? OK, I’ll tell you, but allow me “one more” release of my inner workings…

I have always wondered what the world would be like if these “superheros” really existed. How would people react to them? How many people really fantasize about how much better the world would be if there really were a Superman or “MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN”. Well then, why stop there? What would it feel like to ACTUALLY BE A MANDRAKE? Want to find out??? It’s possible…

Become a Magician.
Not a trickster, but a real magician. And by that I am talking not about the person who knows a zillion tricks, but a person who has the MENTALITY of a magician. By doing this, and only in the art of magic do I feel this is possible in the performing arts, can we so closely bring a mythic figure to life.

I have always thought that deep down all magicians really want to be MERLIN. I think that deep down all of us would love to REALLY be able to perform magic….Real magic. You may disagree, but nonetheless I think I am correct in my assumptions. Well, unless people in certain “Wiccan” religions are able to perform real “MAGICK” (no, that is not spelled wrong) to my knowledge, it cannot be done. There is only “ONE” who can do the impossible. And as an old magician saying goes, “I do tricks…HE does miracles”. But we CAN do the next best thing. We can bring fantasy to life. We CAN create magic, if only in the minds of men.

If you heard my rantings in the best selling audio tape “Ultimate Magic Rap Vol.#1”, you would have heard my comments that I think there is nothing more wonderful than having the “Image” of being a magician. When we do what we do correctly, we take on a larger than life persona. Yes, we become that superhero of legend. I feel the reason for this is because “we” are not the only ones that secretly fantasize about being empowered with mystical knowledge, but also the general public. They WANT and in some cases, NEED to believe in us as the purveyors of wonder we are.

This is what makes recent exposures of magic on national television so devastating to the art and to the psyche of the lay public. These networks are literally ruining “both” our images, and the fantasy of those who wish to believe, even if they know that the belief is only fantasy.

So why do I love magic? It is a chance to fufill dreams and maybe, just maybe, make the world a better place by reaching beyond the limitations we have as human beings. Tapping into whatever we can access of our immortal spirit.

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, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Advanced Lab 4/98-6/98


Advanced Lab 4/98-6/98

April 1998

I.C.O.M Is thrilled to present a NEW principle in card magic. This is a reputation maker for any who wish to develop it. The real wonder of this trick in not just in the title, but in the fact that in all the years of magical history, no one has ever thought of this before. Mega Kudos’s to Ron for providing this first-class educational effect exclusively to I.C.O.M members. Just goes to show you the brilliant mental workings of the man we call Ron. We are all lucky and grateful to have him on our team….BJG

(The Card Trick With a Twist…Half Twist That Is!)
Ronald J. Dayton

One of the first self-working card tricks I can remember learning involved a row of several face up cards on a table. While your back was turned, someone was to turn one of the cards around, end-for-end. When you again faced them, you were able to name the card they turned.

The method was very, very simple. Certain cards within the deck are one-way cards. That is, the way in which they are printed will have the majority of pips at one end of the card, or pointing in one direction. Take a five of clubs for example. Three of the clubs on the card are pointing toward one end, two toward the other. If you were to have say, seven one way cards lying in a row upon your table, and someone secretly turned one of them a half turn end for end, you would be able to tell at a glance which card had been moved.

Years later, I now found myself wondering if this principle might not be done with a full deck. Don’t ask me why. It’s just one of those questions I find myself asking myself!

The first thing I had to do was to take a careful look and see how many cards in a deck were actually one way cards. I was surprised to find that if I included the jokers, there were twenty-four cards. But how does a person go about interspersing the cards in a deck of fifty-four cards (jokers included remember) when one portion consists of twenty-four cards and the remainder equals thirty? This was a problem which turned my initial question into a real challenge.

First of all, let’s take a look at the one-way cards in a deck. They are: AH, AS, AC, 3H, 35, 3C, 5H, 55, SC, 6H, 6S, 6C, 7H, 7s, 7C, 7D, 8H, 8S, 8C, 9H, 9s, 9C, joker, joker.

Study these cards and become very familiar with what makes them a one way card, and in which direction they must all face so they will all read as one way cards at a glance, and any reversal of any card can be instantly detected. Then, with all the one way cards stacked in a packet, all facing in the proper direction, you may begin assembling your deck.

I will put the one way cards you will be reading in ( ) in the lay out chart I am about to offer. An explanation of WHY only certain ones are being used will follow later. The order is as follows:

(AH), 2C, 6H, (6C), 3H, 4C, (AS), 5D, QC, (7S), lOD, 4D, (5C), 2S, KD, (6S), 3D, 4S, (7D), 9D, QD, (7C), JS, JH, (8C), QH, 1OH, (3C), KS, 2H, (3S), KC, KH, (9S), 6D, AD, (AC), lOS, 4H, ( joker ), 2D, JC, (5S) 8D, 10C, (8S), QS, JD, (9C), 5H, 7H, ( joker ), 8H, 9H

As you can see, in order to make the alternating order of the deck follow the sequence of one way card followed by two ordinary cards, I chose to eliminate all hearts EXCEPT the AH, as a one way card. You must train yourself to look at all of the hearts except the AH, and see them as an ordinary card, and not a one way!!

The title, The One Way Wonder Deck, is of course said in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Today, just as in decades past, many effects were built up for better sales by using grandiose titles. Naturally, you would want to purchase the secret to a miracle rather than an everyday, run-of-the-mill effect. But even though the set-up for this particular deck may not be a wonder*…it IS an effective exercise in learning how to think your way through the creation of an effect.

We have taken an older principle and tried to expand upon it. We’ve looked at the variables, and the things which needed to be modified to make it work. Now we will look at what the actual handling will be.

With the deck set-up in the order given in the previous chart, AH being the top card of the deck, the 9H at the front of the deck… you are ready to put the deck through its paces.

Since the deck runs in an endless chain, you may feel free to cut and complete the cut as often as you like. It will not disturb the order of the cards.

Cut the deck several times, completing the cut each time. Explain to the spectator that while you turn your back, he is to cut the deck at any point he chooses, then look at the card on the front of the packet he lifts away. He is then to turn the packet he holds clock-wise, a half turn end-for end, then replace it on top of the lower half. The full deck is squared up so no clue is given to where his chosen card is.**

Now, when you turn again to face the audience, you are able to pick up the deck, run through it from hand-to-hand, and eventually, name their chosen card.

You already know the answer. As you are looking through the cards, you are looking for the first one way card in reverse order (facing the wrong way) within the deck. When you come to it, you know one of three things. IT may be the cut to card the spectator glimpsed, or one of the two cards immediately before it. In other words, you have three cards to consider…only one of which is the chosen card. Play the revelation of the card in a humorous manner. Pull one of the three from the deck, and ask if it is there card. If they say no…slip it back into the pack at a different point in mock disgust. Do it again with a second choice. If you fail, it will only get funnier to your audience. Eventually, you will be down to one and only one card of the three. You will succeed…and they will applaud your determination.

With the proper handling, this can be turned into a funny and commercial effect. But the real thrust of my offering this to you was to emphasize the thought process involved in attempting to devise a new effect. Take a look at it for yourself. Perhaps there is something more which I may have missed. Explore the possibilities and see what it will do.

* I beg to differ. This can be a killer principle in the right hands….Ron may a bit too modest here! BJG

**An alternate handling would be for the magician to have the deck in his possession the entire time. When the card is selected, the magician secretly reverses the deck and then has the card returned. This is similar to the handling of a card when selected from, and returned to a stripper deck. BJG

May 1998

We are very pleased to introduce an advanced handling of Ron’s deck that was graciously contributed by Paul Hallas. An I.C.O.M member from the United Kingdom. This is worth serious study.

Thoughts On The “One Way Wonder Deck”
Paul Hallas

Looked at Ron’s One Way Deck idea. Here’s an idea for that. Cut the middle card of the three possibilities to the bottom of the deck. Show it as their card, if they say “No” feign surprise, “No, what card did you look at?” Turn the deck down, if the card they name is the one below the card shown, do a glide and apparently remove it to the table commenting “One down only 51 to go!” Dribble the cards from hand to hand, ask the name of the card again then click your fingers over the tabled card and have them turn it over.

If the card they name is now the top card of the deck, say, “Not only have I found your card I’ve magically changed it to the (name the bottom card just shown). Do a color change to “change” it back and prove you weren’t kidding. Or take the bottom card and drop it face up on top and do Al Smith’s P.C. Change.

Another idea for a selection procedure, with the deck tabled, have the spectator cut the deck and complete the cut. Pick up the deck and hold it in dealing position, instruct the spectator, “This time I want you to cut off a portion of cards and remember the face card like this” cut some cards and look at the face card yourself for a few seconds to illustrate then replace them. As the spectator cuts off some cards you table those in your hand in the following manner; the thumb goes underneath the left edge of the remaining cards and starts to lever them upwards, the fingertips grip them against the thumbtip and the hand revolves palm down placing the cards on the table. This is like the Carslyle paddle move usually done with business cards to show both sides the same but here you’re not drawing attention to that just tabling the cards. Don’t even look at your hand as you do it, just ask the spectator if he has his card in mind. This simple movement, over in a second has reversed the orientation of these cards.

Instruct the spectator to replace his cards and straighten up the deck. Have him give the deck another straight cut and complete it for good measure. The cards start and finish on the table, your handling of them seems unimportant, seemingly just to demonstrate what they were to do so is
easily forgettable.

Pass these thoughts onto your members if you wish or bin them*, whatever. Hope you had a good Easter,
Best wishes,

*Many thanks Paul! By the way…we could never “bin” brilliant ideas like yours!…BJG

I.C.O.M is pleased to introduce a series of excellent moves by Remon van Scheijen of Holland. Remon produced all of the following photos himself. This took a lot of work and we would like to extend our congratulations on such a wonderful job!!!…BJG

The Swing Cut To Bottom Palm
Remon van Scheijen.

This is my second contribution to card magic on the Internet. Unlike my first contribution (a triple false cut). This one comes with a trick. This Cut to palm is designed for one special trick I’ve put in my repertoire. Because I’m a lousy side stealer, I was looking for a easy palm. While I have no difficulty performing it, to write the explanation was a hard task, but read on. If you have any questions on this trick or palm, just e-mail me with your question(s). I hope to answer satisfactory. The making of the pictures was the hardest task because everything goes in one smooth move. Well Let’s go on to the explanation.

Goal: While pattering chit-chat you perform a simple swing-cut. In the act of cutting the deck you palm the bottom card into the right hand and establish a left pinky break to keep the top card under control.


If you look at picture 1 through 4 you’ll see some stages in which a swing cut is made.

Picture 1: The deck is cut in half with the index finger of the right hand and swiveled to the left (a standard swing cut).

Picture 2: The bottom half of the deck goes on top of the left hand packet.

Picture 3: The cut is completed and the deck is squared.

Picture 4: Conclusion: The deck is back in the right hand in Biddle position and a card is palmed in the same hand. And you’ve established a thumb break at the position of the top card.

Now see how it looks at the underside. In picture 5 you see the beginning of the swing cut it self. The right hand swivels the top half to the left. The left hand is not in the picture for clarification purposes. The right hand receives the packet as in picture 1.

In picture 6 the left hand receives the right hand bottom packet. This is the moment that you almost palm the entire card. The middle finger of the left hand pushes the bottom card back to the right hand. The pinky of the right hand is used as a pivot point. This is to control the card automatically to the standard palm position. At the same moment the left hand pinky enters between the two packets to prepare for a coming pinky break. This is the hardest part of the trick so practice, practice, practice, and when you’ve got the feeling just practice one more time. Remember the bottom card should be sliding in position. It’s not the force that you use but the smoothness that does the trick.

Now in picture 7 you can see why I prefer this palm above a side steal. in the side steal I do 1 in 10 times there is a click when the card comes loose from the center. If you know Daryll’s video tape of the side steal he explains that sometimes you can hear the magician side stealing across the room. Well this move prevents me for clicking it because when the right hand packet enters the left hand the two packets are still separated, this way the card slides more easily to the right hand palm position. It’s very difficult to explain for me because I’m dutch, and don’t know the right words to choose here. Anyway, most important is that the card is palmed just a moment AFTER you finish the cut so before placing the packets together. The thumb of the left hand and the index finger of the right hand holds the top packet (formally the bottom packet) steady. This way you prevent the cards from shattering through the room. The thumb of the right hand is also holding the the top packet.

Now finish the cut by squaring the packets together. The pinky break to control the top card is established easily because the pinky was already where it should be. Because the right thumb was holding the the top packet only you can transfer the pinky break directly to a thumb break. Cool ah. This leaves the left hand free. And the finish should like figure 8. My patter through this sequence is :” What would you like to see? you’re card fly through the air invisible or would you like to see it fly visible”. Well anyway the trick and explanation are coming up so the sentence will make sense in a moment.

Figure 9 The recap. Look at the freeze action. 1. Right pinky is used as pivot point 2. Left pinky enters between the packet before they are closed. 3. Left middle finger is sliding the bottom card. In the Picture, I hold the deck at an angle. Something you must NOT, I repeat, NOT do. But it’s a nice try. Hope you can follow the explanation. “If not then don’t do the trick”.

2Card flight.
Remon van Scheijen

Two cards are selected by two spectators. When the crowd is asked if they would like to see a card fly visible or invisible the magicians compromises and shows both ways. First invisible and finally visible. Both ways are very impressive and if you do it with the right attitude they’ll be talking about you for a long time. I’m interested in a English patter line so make one up and email me. Well bla bla bla here is the explanation.

How to:

First let two spectators pick two cards and let them sign if you want with a magic marker. Control both cards to the bottom of the deck in you’re favorite way. I use the overhand shuffle (I.C.O.M Sleight-Of-Hand Gallery) Fig.#24 or Hindu shuffle control Fig. #53. I like to control cards as simple as possible. So don’t use fancy stuff because that will be coming up next.

When the cards are on the bottom of the deck you ask the crowd if they’ll like to see a card fly visible through the air or invisible. At the same time you perform the Swing cut to palm. The patter line is the misdirection. So you control while spectator 2 is still signing his card. Take the magic marker back. Control the second card to the bottom in a easy quick way. For the second control I use a tilt to bottom but I don’t put it on the bottom but let it slip above the first selection, an easy task if you now tilt to bottom. Ask them, involve them, look at them and wait for response. If you do it right there will be too much misdirection which will be pleasant. You should notice that if you need the misdirection for this sleight you should not perform the trick but practice till you can read the newspaper, and perform the cut palm smooth at the same time.

No matter what the spectator’s response you say ” OK OK I’ll compromise” (sometimes this is funny because everybody for example said they wanted it to see a visible flight). Continue “I’ll show you both. First Invisible then visible”.

You’ve got the packet in the left hand with a pinky break above the top card. And the first selection palmed in right hand.

Now here is the use for the pinky break. You’re going to perform a stretch cut which is going to put the selected card that is not palmed in you’re hand back to the bottom. As soon as you perform the stretch cut the palmed card is bend away from the palm just as in the invisible color change. The right hand index finger snaps the card in to view while the left hand is completing the stretch cut. The back of the selection will show if done proper. Ask the spectator to tell the card he or she choose and show you found it.

The second selection is back again on the bottom of the deck. To let it fly visible I use the HOT-SHOT Cut from Daryll’s Encyclopedia of card magic video series. I’m not going to make the effort to explain it because I think you should make the effort to buy the tape (Look for the HOT-SHOT Cut). It’s one of the best investments in magic I’ve made so far. Daryll does a very good explanation of this sleight. At the end of the page you can see a freeze action of this sleight. It looks like the card comes from the middle of the deck and it fly’s through the air. The right hand catches the card. WOW!. Don’t think it’s hard to do. Once you’ve got the feeling it’s easy. Well enough praising the lord. When you perform it well the spectators will gasp for 30 minutes and they’ll think you take of like Copperfield. Hope you enjoy the trick.

Stretch cut from pinky break.

The stretch cut from a pinky break is not difficult at all if you can perform the stretch cut. The only difference is that you cant use you’re pinky and thumb at the same time. Picture 1 shows the first part, the left hand holds the deck with a pinky break between the selection and the top card. The right hand has the first selection palmed.

In reality the right hand hangs loose along you’re side. In picture 1 you see both hands close together for explanation purpose only. The stretch cut you’re about to make is the misdirection for the card palmed in the right hand.

Picture 2 shows that first the left thumb is going to begin the stretch cut. The break established by the pinky is been taken over by the thumb. Only short after this you can leave the pinky to begin the stretch cut as in picture 2.

Fig 3,4 and 5 shows the performance of the stretch cut. After this give the left hand a throwing action with a shake. At the same time the right hand reaches in the air where the card should be if it really flew through the air and produce the card as told before. Everything goes in a quick action. It’s like you’re picking a card from thin air.

Anyway this little change on the stretch cut will be quickly learned if you can already perform the needed cut. If you concentrate on producing the selection and you don’t have to worry about the stretch cut then it looks really cool. Please if you got suggestions or a way to perform anything at all in a more simple way I would like to receive you’re comment. Hope to read something from you in my email.*

*You may reach Remon by using the Virtual Lesson Link below or through the VM link page on the Inner Sanctum Main Page. Also, look for more of Remon in the June edition of the I.C.O.M Advanced Lab!

June 1998

Those lucky enough to be I.C.O.M members at this time will be thrilled with the following effect. Rarely does a strong trick like this come out when the subject matter is so hot in the public eye. We thank Ron Dayton for sharing this fine performance piece with us. Due to the popularity of the movie, this effect may be the feature of your close-up show! Make the most of it!….BJG

“The Unsinkable Card Trick”
Ronald J. Dayton

People seem to enjoy magic with a look, feel, or theme they can relate to.  Many times, you may draw upon popular stories or events of the time  to inspire just such an effect.  Recently, the movie, Titanic has been one of the largest grossing movies of all time.  It’s difficult to find a person who hasn’t seen it…and since it is in the minds and on the lips of so many, I felt it might be a good premise for an effect.

As you no doubt already know, there is a strong  romantic theme built into the movie, designed to act as a sub-plot, and means to endear the viewer to the main characters.  It is an important element in the card effect I am about to offer as well.

EFFECT:  a  deck of cards is lying face down upon your close-up mat.  A single card, the Queen of Hearts  is propped  face up, at an angle,  against the end of the pack nearest the audience.  The card is picked up and turned over, revealing a brilliant blue, heart shaped gem stone affixed to the center back of the card.

After pattering for a while about the lovely lady adorned by the icy -blue jewel, the card is placed face down on the deck.  A lady from the audience is asked to assist by pressing down upon the jeweled heart with her finger.  In that instant, the magic happens!

When the card is removed from the deck and turned over, it is seen to be an entirely different card.  The Queen has obviously been lost when the ship went down.

Picking the deck up, it is held face down at one end between the thumb and fingers of the left hand.  The left thumb is on top, fingers below.  Using the right hand thumb, the free end of the deck is given a quick riffle.  Mysteriously, a card partially emerges from the deck. without removing or revealing it, the deck is turned end for end, and the opposite end is riffled in the same manner.  Yet another card emerges.

Not one to be perplexed, you explain that it is known the mighty ship went down in Two pieces…and were found in different areas of the ocean floor.  So it is with the missing card.  One by one, the card s?  are removed, and revealed to be torn portions of a single card.  These pieces are placed face down upon your mat.  When the matching pieces are turned over, they are found to be the vanished  lady.

METHOD:  The top card of the deck has a bit of magician’s wax or post-a-note glue on its back.  A duplicate queen has been torn in half earlier and placed face down  at opposite ends within the deck.

The vanish of the queen is automatic once it is placed on top of the adhesive top card. When you riffle the end of the deck…the half section will also automatically try to shoot from within it.  In essence,  other than for the romantic patter line you must devise for this, you have a highly visual, self-working effect.  This gives you freedom to concentrate on presentation.

The gem-like heart shaped plastic stones are available at any large craft store.  Simply use a bit of  glue to mount it to the back of the Q-H.  Enjoy!

Other thoughts and variations,

As a variation on the manner in which the queen of hearts is vanished, you might want to consider this.  The propped up queen is actually two cards displayed as one.  The queen is directly in front of the gem stone indifferent card.  The card on the top of the deck is still prepared as in the original version.

The difference in this instance is, after you place the doubles on top of the deck, and the lady from the audience presses down upon the jewel…she may then remove the top card herself  to make the discovery that the lady is gone!!   Much better, wouldn’t you agree.!?

The queen and the third card are now the attached doubles. With the female assistant holding the ungimmicked single , indifferent gem card….you are free to casually lift and reveal a few extra random cards from the top of the deck.  This is a convincing show that indeed, the queen has vanished.

I must say that I REALLY like this routine. Even though it will take a small amount of preparation, I can see this being a real reputation maker. So without further adieu, I.C.O.M is proud to present…Remon….Round Two!…..BJG

Remon van Scheijen

Effect: The magician is at a party and a birthday man/woman is asked to participate in a trick the magician made especially for him/her.

He takes out a deck of cards. 7 envelopes which are sealed with each a telephone number inside. A matchbox which contains some matches.

He asks the spectator to take a random card from the deck and put it in his right back pocket without looking at it. The magician proceeds asking the spectator to take a random number of matches from the box. The number of matches choose is used to count to the envelope of his/her choice. The magician asks him to keep the envelope and proceeds by showing what is in the envelopes he didn’t choose. When the spectator opens his envelope it shows a telephone number which he should dial. On the other side a answering machine is telling that he has the king of clubs in his pocket. When the spectator is looking in his pocket it shows to be the right card.

– A deck of 52 Different cards (normal deck)
– 7 Envelopes or folded papers which bears the following messages:

#1: Every telephone number. (In Holland 06-8008 is a telephone number you can dial to get information about somebody’s telephone number you are searching, this is why I wrote 06-8008 on the card. You should fill in the number of you’re local information number).

#2: Disturbed number. On the paper are all kind of numbers criss-crossed written over the paper.

#3: #900 number. Write a 1-900-Astrology or (???) number on the page.

#4: Time. Write the telephone number on the paper that will say the time when you dial it. In Holland it is 06-8002.

#5: Alarm. write 911. in Holland it is 112.

#6: Secret number. Do not write a number in this case only write down the text. This will be a good gag in you’re patter line.

#7: ?(question mark). Here you write down you’re own home number.

It’s obvious that the spectator will end up with card number 7. This is the force envelope

An answering machine connected on you’re own telephone number which contains a message to the man/woman. Something like :”Hello Michael and for the card in you’re right back pocket it is the King of Clubs just like you are”. If it is a girl you could say something with a Queen of hearts. In any case you should make you’re own message. Poems, Songs etc etc everything can be on the message.

The Matchbox which should contain exactly 11 matches.


This is a trick I made up for an adult birthday party of a good friend of mine. When I performed the trick everybody went nuts and talked about it for hours. The biggest surprise for me was to hear everybody saw the trick like a mental one something I had not foretold myself. In any case I have performed the trick several times now and due to its simplicity it has a great impact on the audience.


Take out the deck of cards, matchbox, and the envelopes. Tell the spectator that you will perform a trick you invented especially for him. Ask the rest of the audience to create a circle around the spectator and listen carefully (try to be emotional so everybody will be quit and all can appreciate the effect most).

You must have your force card on top of the deck (King of clubs). Force the king of clubs to the spectator in you’re favorite way. But don’t use a quick force like the riffle force or something alike. I like to use the Cut-Deeper force for this particular trick. Tell him not to look at the card but put it in his back pocket immediately.

Now the matches are used to determine a number. To force the number card I used a trick from the book Scarne on Card tricks. The trick is called It’s a Natural. Place the envelopes as a group on the table the envelope which contains your phone number should be lying third from the top. After the spectator removed a number of matches you count them to yourself. That’s all there is to it. the rest of the trick is worked by using either the number remaining in the box or the number that the spectator took out the box, and by counting the envelopes face up or face down.

Counting the envelopes will always be done by putting a counted card to the bottom of the heap again. Here are examples which are covering the force.

A) If the spectator removes 0 Matches then use the matches in the box 11 will be the key number. Count the envelopes (force envelope third from top) and take the card after the counted 11 cards this will be the telephone card.

B)If the spectator takes all matches out say ok we use that number which will be 11 to determine the envelope. Do the same thing as in example A.

C) 1 match is taken out the box. Use the remaining 10 matches turn over the envelope heap and count down to the tenth card which will be the force envelope.

D) 10 matches are removed. Use the removed matches and proceed as in example C.

E) Nine or two matches. Count down two envelopes and take the third.

F) eight or three matches. Count down to the third card take the third.

G) Seven or four matches. Use the number four. Turn over the envelopes and count to four and take the fifth card.

H) Six or five. Use the number five. Turn over the envelopes and count to the fifth cards.

In any case the spectator winds up with the force envelope. Now open the envelopes he didn’t choose and show what he missed and make a gag about all the telephone numbers that you should dial if you had chosen that envelope. Than let him open his envelope and say the question mark means that you should dial the number to find out what it means.

There is no noise and everybody will be concentrating and straining there ears to hear what there is on the other side of the phone. Perform the trick to see what kind of reaction you will get.

Easy Mentalism.

If you have any comment or suggestions to this trick email me.

Remon van Scheijen.

The Daily Hot Shot.


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, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Beginner’s Study 4/98-6/98


Beginner’s Study 4/98-6/98

April 1998

Multiplying Bills Perfected
Bobby J. Gallo

If this effect looks vaguely familiar, it is because a very sparse version of it currently appears in the I.C.O.M Cyber-Magic Textbook(tm) I.C.O.M Magic for beginners. So why am I making it the subject of an actual I.C.O.M lesson? Well, let me tell you a very short story….

Every so often Bill Wisch and myself meet at a small coffee shop to discuss all things I.C.O.M. Many of you already know this since I have said it before. Well, recently, We were discussing tricks with dollar bills since that is soon to be a subject of a video tape we at I.C.O.M are producing in the not to distant future. During our conversation I asked Bill if he ever saw the dollar trick that I developed to teach my magic class students. Bill said no…..So I proceeded to take a dollar bill from my wallet, crumble it up into a small ball, and rip the ball in half. Bill looked at me like I was crazy. He’s right, I am, but that’s another story…….I then took each half of the ripped dollar and rubbed them on my forearms while chanting and ancient tibetan mantra. Now the whole place was looking at me like I’m nuts…But that’s okay, I’m used to it. After all of my academy award winning acting was through, I proceeded to un-ravel the two halves of the dollar I previously ripped apart and to Bill’s amazement (and believe me, to amaze Bill is a reward all in itself) the two pieces were now two complete, whole dollar bills, wrinkled, yes, but none the worse for wear.

It was Bill’s enthusiasm for this effect that inspired me to give it further thought. Sure, It has always amazed my students before I taught it to them, but for some reason, I never thought it was strong enough for adults. I was wrong! To further prove this point, I recently introduced the effect at a trade show where it was knocking people out! All from a trick that is within reach of “any” beginner.

It even proved stronger than effects that require more advanced sleight-of-hand. Perhaps it is because of the simplicity of the premise or the straight forward workings I am about to explain. Whatever the reason, try this and it will become one of your favorite impromptu effects. And all it uses are two ordinary dollar bills and a lot of nerve. Go figure…………

As stated above, this uses two ordinary dollar bills. One is crumbled into a ball in your pocket, and another is placed into your pocket un-crumbled along side. An alternate way to do it would be to have the crumbled ball finger-palmed and then ask for the loan of a dollar. Either way is fine. If you are using the first method. Go to the pocket and finger-palm the crumbled dollar as you remove the ordinary one. Display the dollar bill remarking that it is similar to any a person may have.

Note at this point that the when holding the bill, your thumb and fore-finger are holding the bill while the other three fingers are curled in concealing the crumbled bill. Notice now that if you were normally holding a dollar at your fingertips “without” a duplicate finger-palmed, your hand would look the exact same way! Think about it, this is what “sells” the effect. From the audiences point of view, everything looks normal and above board. The natural in-curling of the three fingers now gives you an excellent opportunity to finger-palm an object un-noticed and un-suspected. For in all truth, they still do not know what you are about to do. Keep it that way, DO NOT TELL THEM THAT YOU INTEND TO RIP THE DOLLAR IN HALF AND MULTIPLY IT! Surprise is everything in this effect.

Now there is another subtlety that is mega important in the next step. Without the left hand coming anywhere near the right hand that is displaying the dollar at the finger-tips with the duplicate finger-palmed, do a one-handed crumble.(a sleight pertinent only to this trick) Meaning, crumble the dollar up so that is ends up right next to the dollar that is now in finger-palm. You will now notice something remarkable. If you take the two dollars out of your hand and hold them together between the thumb and fore-finger, they look just like a single crumbled dollar. THIS IS A VERY CONVINCING STRONG POINT OF THE EFFECT! An illusion in the truest sense of the word. The hands can now be shown otherwise empty, Another strong point!

Now that everyone thinks that you have merely taken a dollar, crumbled it up and are now just holding it at your finger-tips you proceed to do something that will make most people cringe. Hold each end of the ball. In reality, you are holding one dollar in one hand, and another dollar in another hand, keeping both bills together so it appears as if you are merely holding a single dollar with both hands.

Now you are going to make it appear that you are ripping a single dollar in half. To do this, instead of merely separating the dollars apart, (that would not be very convincing due to the fact that there is no noise) You separate the bills at the same time rubbing them against each other. In other words, the right hand holding one dollar is moved forward, while the left hand holding the other dollar is moved backwards. The friction of the two dollars rubbing against each other creates a ripping sound. It must appear as if you are actually ripping the dollar in two. With this ripping sound, it is an effective illusion.

After the groans of what it appears you have just done, you want to let a small amount of time lapse before the restoration. “Always distance the climax from the sleight” So make the most of it and do a little acting. I myself take each piece, rub them on my forearms, chant, etc. (And you thought I was just saying that in the story to be funny…I was serious?!) After you are done. SLOWLY unravel each dollar and look for the stunned expressions on the spectators faces.

Wow, this is so good, I am having second thoughts about teaching it to my students….<G>

May 1998

Note: This material is not only recommended to beginners, but highly valuable to advanced magicians as well…BJG

Ronald J. Dayton

On page 239 of ” The Amateur Magician’s Handbook ” Mr. Hay begins a brief discussion on silks, and on page 241 touches on the washing and care of same. Very few details are given. There are specifics which should be followed, and these may be found in detail in Vol. 1 of Harold R. Rice’sEncyclopedia Of Silk Magic.” Mr. Rice was an expert in the field…and the best advice in my estimation ever given on the care of silks is in this text.

Mr. Hay mentions on page 242 that magician John Mulholland folded and ironed his white silks like ordinary linen handkerchiefs, and removed them from his breast pocket in that condition. Well and good during performances perhaps, although I am doubtful it is ever good to fold and iron any silk. It is definitely not recommended to fold and store any silk for a period of time. The fold or crease made in the silk will weaken and break after a while. That is, in a good quality silk. It is best to know the blend of fibers your ‘silk’ is comprised of… different weight or momme silks are best for certain effects.

For my own silks I have used a variation of an idea offered in the Rice text. The washed and ironed silks are laid flat, then rolled on to a cardboard tube such as taken from an empty wax paper roll. This keeps the silks nice and smooth without creating any folds or creases. The rolled silks are then slipped in to a mailing tube, and the end closed with the tube cap. Everything is kept safe and secure until needed. Mark the outside of the tube to indicate special silks. Card silks, blendo, rainbow etc.

The three volume set of the ” Encyclopedia Of Silk Magic “ is an absolute MUST purchase for any student of magic who is serious about the pursuit of excellence, and a strong knowledge and background in silk magic. It is, quite literally, an art form all its own in the world of magic.

Henry Hay also talks about a device called a Thumb Tip on page 258 in the section Small Gimmicks and Fakes.

The distinction between a gimmick and a fake ( or, feke in earlier old English text ) is important. I think he did a good job of explaining it…and find it interesting that both the thumb tip and the mirror glass should be hard to classify.

Thumb tips are possibly the most universal device, and one of the most powerful pieces of equipment at the modern magician’s disposal. This little something, which is both seen and unseen at various stages of a given routine, is indispensable to the beginning novice magician, and the well seasoned professional as well. The only possible difference I can see between the two is the degree of understanding in regard to the full potential of the thumb tip.

This is not a toy, nor is it a throw-away novelty you show around to prove how ‘clever’ you are. It is a secret device, simplistic though it may be, which will enable you to create veritable miracles right before the very eyes of your audience.

The Thumb Tip is exactly what it claims to be. It is a false section made to resemble a human thumb, and is worn like a cap on the end of the performer’s thumb. The one described by Mr. Hay was an early style, being made from aluminum and painted a light tannish brown on the outside. Most tips are made for caucasian skin matches. People of color must strive to modify their own for a better concealment. Some lady performers have even glued false fingernails on theirs ( small size tips ) to give it a more natural appearance.

You may now purchase tips still made in the original way of aluminum, or ones of rubber, and still others of very high grade semi flexible plastic. These are known as Vernet Tips, and are the best presently available. Thumb tips can also be purchased in a variety of sizes. This is important for the fit given each performer. It is also important when considering the size or amount of the object or substance to be put in to the tip.

Thumb tips were popular in their metal form for the vanish of a lit cigarette years ago. This could also be done with the rubber or plastic tips by placing a small piece of wet sponge in the end of the tip.

Holes can be made in the plastic tips for various ribbon or string effects. Magnets can be glued into the tip for still other possibilities. Tips can be modified to become nail-writers for special mental effects. Thumb tips can be used in conjunction with various rattle-bar style effects, or in salt vanishes / long salt pour routines.

Gary Darwin has written an incredible book called ” Darwin’s Thumb Tip Miracles ” I believe, and Melbourne Christopher developed many fine routines in his book ” Thumb Tip Magic.” Inquire about these authors with your favorite magic dealer to expand your use and knowledge of the thumb tip. It’s an investment you will never regret.

Once you begin to understand the applications thumb tips have, new worlds of creativity will open themselves to you. You will see them as means to vanishes, productions, restorations, color changes, transformations, transpositions, mentalism, livestock, levitations and suspensions etc. You may even begin to visualize the possibility of things not actually being thumb tips, but which can be used as one. Thimbles, film cartridges, caps from large felt tip marking pens, rubber office supply tips for sorting papers, lip stick cases caps etc. You do not, of course, show these in their entirety as for the final full front display with a thumb tip…but when concealed, for all intent and purposes, you might as well be using a tip. They can be equally effective. And best of all, they may be readily available to you as an impromptu gimmick if you are on your toes and recognize them for what they can become. Some clever performers in the past have even modified the object they intend to vanish, into a makeshift thumb tip. In otherwords, the object was self vanishing, stolen away on the end of your thumb. Clever beyond belief.

Finger tips and sixth fingers are in another class of magic. The Rice’s ” Encyclopedia Of Silk Magic “ discuss uses for these at some length, but for the most part, they are relegated to magic

history. The nice thing about history is, it seems to repeat itself! Modern performers should take it upon themselves to learn about the methods and effects of the past…then up date these basic ideas so they may become the unexpected miracles of today!

I should mention too yet another book on thumb tips, and that was written fairly recently by the creative genius, Steve Dusheck. He has many new and wonderful approaches to the thumb tip. It is available from your favorite dealer, or via. Jim Klein at the American Magic Company.

The very best video I have ever seen concerning the thumb tip was produced by L & L Publishing. Clever and skillful manipulations are explained by their creator, Bernard Bilis. We’re talking state of the art handlings! Extremely innovative. Exceptionally deceptive!

Comedy Thumb-Tip Routine Idea!

Here is one last thing I would like to have you consider in this Odds ‘n Ends dialogue. On page 243 of ” The Amateur Magician’s Handbook “, the piece of apparatus, the Drumhead Tube is discussed. But lets forget the drumhead paper cap and rings, and the torpedo load gimmick as well. What if you have just a simple tube, large enough to reach down into, and you want to do a comedy production??

One idea I had, and which may have already been mentioned briefly in previous text, was to be wearing a large ( obviously large ) gauze bandage wrap around one thumb or finger. Showing the tube empty by peering at the audience through it, you proceed to reach down into it and begin immediately producing yards and yards of cloth streamer. Quickly, the audience will realize that you are actually pulling the bandage from the hand that holds the lower end of the tube.

Another possible idea would be to reach in to the tube, and pull out a large, colorful tie. Again, it registers with the audience that you have actually pulled your own clip-on tie off and up through the tube.

As a concluding production to this outlandish routine, the final item is a pair of suspenders. These have not actually been worn by you at the time, but rather, are up the sleeve of the arm holding the tube. As a kicker, it is unexpected, and should get a good laugh.

The best performers are serious about their magic, but you do not necessarily have to present it in a serious vein.

June 1998

Torn Corner Techniques
“Or the card to wallet for those who don’t like to sweat”
Bobby J. Gallo

Many top professionals consider the “signed card to wallet” to be one of the strongest possible effects in magic. Indeed, it is strong. There are however, certain drawbacks in developing a solid method of getting the signed selection into the wallet under all circumstances. To do this effect, one must master the technique of palming a card, then time the insertion of same into a wallet without fumbling. Couple that with the fact that the effect has extremely bad angle problems, and you end up with a routine that is dynamite in effect but is not 100% reliable.

Upon playing with the idea, I have found that in the minds of the spectator, there is a concept that proves every bit as strong, and has the added feature of being very practical. Yes…I’m talking about the Torn Corner Concept.

The basic premise goes something like this. The magician has a card freely selected, then torn to pieces by the spectator. These pieces are then vanished leaving only one piece behind. (an alternate scenario has the spectator taking one piece of the card prior to the vanishment) The card is then found fully restored in some sort of container except for the fact that a corner is missing. The grand climax comes when the corner held by the spectator fits exactly.

One may say that this method even has an advantage over signed card routines due to the fact that there is an additional magic effect at play here. That being a restoration in addition to the transposition.

There are many ways to accomplish this effect. This lesson is to stimulate your thinking so that you may develop a way of performing this bewildering effect using anycombination of methods I am going to share with you.

Step: 1
Pick a card…Any card !

Since this method of discovery involves the destruction and restoration of the chosen card. Two duplicate cards to match the selection are needed. One card for selection, the second card for discovery, and the third to maintain a 52 card deck so the performer may use the deck for subsequent routines (especially valuable in trade show and roving work).

The veteran magician will have already guessed that the chosen card must be “forced”. That is to say that the magician has controlled one the of the duplicates so that the spectator has no choice but to take it rather than an indifferent card.

There are a number of ways to do this. The easiest and in many cases the safest way is with a mechanical “Force” deck. Many force decks exist, but the most popular among prop-oriented magicians are the “one-way” deck, in which 50% of the deck consist of the same card. Another is the famed “Svengali” deck, or long and short deck. In this case, every other card is a duplicate which may be forced via a very clever principle involved. Both decks are available through the I.C.O.M Online catalog.

There are a number of ideal ways to force a card via sleight-of-hand. This is the way I do it and feel that I myself become a bit more confident knowing that if a rude audience members decided to grab the deck out of my hands,(which they sometimes do) they will find nothing but an ordinary deck of playing cards. To find some excellent sleight-of-hand methods of forcing a card, please consult the Amateur Magicians Handbook as well as the I.C.O.M Sleight of hand gallery.

Step #2
Tell it where to go !

Next you must find a suitable receptacle for the insertion of the torn corner card. The variations of this are truly limited only by your imagination. Two items past magicians have used are oranges and lemons. This is done by burrowing a tube-like hole in one end, then folding the card tightly and inserting it into the fruit. By holding the set-up citrus with the hole side facing your palm it appears to be ordinary.

One can also use the magicians force “equivoque” to force the set-up fruit from among a basket full of un-gimmicked ones.

This choice is quite messy not to mention a big hassle due to the fact that the set-up has to be done close to show-time or either the fruit will rot or the card will become so soggy, that the effect will ultimately suffer. On the flip side, it is arguably the most effective presentation for the torn corner since it is theoretically impossible for a card to have grown inside a fruit. At least, that is what the spectator thinks. And this type of effect has made the reputation of more than one top pro so it is a proven premise.

Other containers are possible. Sealed cans have been, and are being marketed with the duplicate already sealed inside. This is an expensive but effective way to go. However, maybe not effective as the “produce” methods.

A very practical and classy method would be to have the card appear inside a sealed zippered wallet. Since the card is inside from the start. You can relax and forget about the risky palming of the card as in the signed card routines and concentrate on your presentation. This is also the best way to go for trade shows and other venues where you need to re-set your show quickly and load another card. I have used this method myself during corporate work where I loaded and set-up the routine about twenty times during the course of the day with subsequent performances. It works like a charm. It is also important to note that I also included a sealed envelope inside the wallet. Again, because I did not have to load the card in DURING the routine, no rubber cement seals werenecessary as in the signed versions of the card to wallet.

Step #4
They were there a minute ago?

After you have chosen a “force” method as well as a destination for the restored chosen card, you must now decide on the most important aspect of all. How to magically dispose of the torn pieces? Now, remember, a single torn piece has to be left over to prove to the audience that the restored card is also the original that was selected. That all important corner piece can be obtained in one of two ways. The performer has to decide which.

1) The corner can either be palmed or introduced secretly into the duplicate pieces and merely plucked out by the performer and given to the spectator.

2) A riskier version would be to secretly introduce the torn corner on top of the pieces that the performer is holding and then tell the spectator to take a piece and “hope” that they take the top piece without giving you a hard time.

3) Have the corner piece “left over” after all the other pieces have vanished. (this is the method I use)

Now that you have decided upon a method wherein the corner piece is left over, you now must find a way to vanish all the other pieces. This can be accomplished in any one of a hundred ways. I will outline a few of the more popular, practical, and classic ways.

1.The hanky ploy: This is where all the pieces are placed in a well made in a handkerchief with the fingers. A rubber band is snapped around the well. (unknown to the audience) The hank is whisked away and the pieces have vanished. (only method #1 or #2 for obtaining the corner can be used with this method)

2.The use of a thumb-tip with or without a hanky. Here is an idea that I have played with but never actually put into practice. It is called the “Thumb-Tip Switching Device” (for lack of a better name) What you do is insert a piece of stiff material into the thumb-tip so that is runs right down the center. It must be attached to the inner walls of the tip and must stick out of the tip end about a “quarter inch” or so. (metric equivalent?) Now, the torn piece that matches the restored card in already in “one side” of the tip. The torn pieces go into the other side. The tip being in your closed fist at the time. The “wall” is shifted from one side of the tip to the other much like the switching envelope mentioned later in this lesson. As an afterthought as described above, take a piece out of the tip. (actually the one there from the start) and had it to the spectator. Vanish the rest of the pieces using standard thumb-tip moves.

3.The use of a “flap-type” card Box (All methods for obtaining the corner may be used)

4.The use of a Himber wallet or other switching device.

5.A double walled switching envelope made by inserting a makeshift wall into a small manila pay envelope, using a cut piece from an additional envelope. The prepared envelope can now either be shown empty after switching the wall from one side of the envelope to another. Squeezing the sides keeps the envelope sides taught and the pieces trapped inside. Or the envelope may be burned which completely destroys the envelope and evidence.. (adult magicians “only” to use this second method)

Now you are all set to actually perform this amazing effect. Here is a step by step synopsis of a routine using the technique.

  • Magician sets up routine by tearing the corner of a card and placing the larger portion into a lemon.
  • He then takes the small torn corner and places it into one side of a standard card box.
  • He walks out onstage (I know this was not necessary to say but I like dramatics)
  • Card is selected (forced)
  • Card is torn into pieces.
  • Card pieces are placed into card box.
  • Magician says an incantation, waves hands, dancers come out and distract the audience, for what reason…..I don’t know!
  • Card box is opened and all the pieces are seen to have vanished save for “one”(Hee…Heee)
  • Lemon is introduced as a prize for spectator. Magician cuts lemon open and finds a card. Magician points out that it is selected card, completely restored except for the fact that a corner is missing.
  • Magician show that the corner left over from the vanished pieces matches exactly. Magician bows to thunderous applause. Agents storm the dressing room looking to book magician on several late night talk shows.

I hope you enjoy your new found fame.


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, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Kid Show Konservatory 1/98-3/98


Kid Show Konservatory 1/98-3/98

January 1998

Old Dogs….New Tricks

Up front I must begin by saying that I truly had trouble deciding where to place the following material. In truth, it is not only appropriate for children’s entertainment, but virtually “ANY” magical venue! What you will find will at first seem a bit simplistic due to where you have likely seen the rudimentary forms of the following tricks before, but do not be misled by that fact, they are solid gold.

The title and theme,…Old Dog….New Trick, are a Ron Dayton Creation. I added the plural aspimagine in this rendition (Old Dogs…New Tricks). After receiving his manuscript in the mail, reading and admiring the material, I realized that I myself had a routine that fit perfectly into the framework of what Ron is talking about utilizing the particular classics he describes.

That being the case, I am adding “MY” Old Dog as an addendum to his routines which appears this month in the Beginner’s Study.. I feel that if you try “ALL” yourself, you have several new routines that will become standards in your own programs.

Old Dog…New Trick
Ronald J. Dayton

When I was very young, one of the very first coin tricks I learned from a book was to vanish a penny from the palm of my hand. The trick depended upon a dab of soft bar soap applied to the nail of your middle finger. When the hand closed into a tight fist around the penny, the fingers bent so the prepared nail came into contact with the penny. When you opened your hand quickly, palm up, with fingers outstretched…the coin seemed to vanish into thin air. I had a lot of fun with that trick. I used everything from chewing gum to pinches of soft tar when pressed for the proper material. What ever it took to make it work. Sometimes, things got a little messy!

I was just a young pup back then, but now I am what you might consider to be an old dog…and they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I would like to offer an exception to that rule by explaining a different way to achieve a similar effect to the one mentioned above.

Today, a young conjuror need not depend upon out moded things such as soft bar soap to perform his miracles. These days there are a whole host of poster puttys and adhesives which will literally do the trick.

One of the most difficult aspects of the nail vanish of a small coin such as I explained was the recovery of the coin. It had to be manipulated so it could be ‘peeled’ off from the finger by the thumb of the hand, and drawn back into the fist.

what I am proposing is that you apply some rubber cement to the nail of your right hand thumb. Apply a coat of same to the dime or penny you wish to use for the effect. Coat both sides of the coin and allow to dry.

With the coin placed onto the palm of the right hand, display it, then move it onto the surface of the second and third fingers, near the first bend. As the hand begins to close, the tips of the fingers pivot so they are basically facing toward your body. The right thumb enters just as the formation of the fist is being completed. The nail of the thumb has come into contact with the prepared surface of the coin. As the hand lifts and the fist moves palm side toward your audience, the hand opens out fully with finger and thumb spread wide. The coin seems to have vanished completely.

To cause the coin to reappear, simply lower the hand parallel to the floor….closing it into a loose fist and allowing the thumb to enter same before it has closed all the way. Pull the coin from the thumb with the fingers, retaining it in the fist as the thumb withdraws from same. Turn hand over and open to reveal the return of the vanished coin.

The thumb, being a larger digit, offers more concealment than an individual finger. work with these moves and see what they will do for you. Try other adhesives if you wish to find which is best.
An Additional Thought or two on rubber cement and coins:

With a coat of rubber cement applied to each side of a small coin, you are set to experiment with a variety of magical possibilities.

Consider if you will, having an area of rubber cement applied to the shell of an un-cooked egg. The egg could be casually examined. The coin is then vanished by the sleight of your choice. The coin is secretly retained in one hand or later retrieved after having been lapped. The egg is then placed into the hand on top of the coin. The egg may be transferred freely from hand to than at fingertips, the coin being attached to same. When the egg is then broken into a goblet…the vanished coin will seem to somehow have reappeared inside the egg.

Another old production of a coin was to break open a baked roll. In the original method, the coin was simply held under the roll. The roll was then torn open first from the bottom between both hands. The coin was secretly pushed up into the roll, then the roll was bent or broken from the top…splitting it open and revealing the coin. If the bottom of the dinner roll had a coat of rubber cement, it would hold the coin and still be able to be handled freely. The final reveal of the coin supposedly inside the roll would be done just as in the original method.*

A prepared coin could also be vanished via this method by using a coated card in a matrix routine. Give it some additional thought. I’m sure you will discover methods of your very own.

*Be sure no one eats the roll afterwards!…BJG

Ronald J. Dayton

One of the most fun things a magician can do is to perform an effect for other magicians…one they know the method for, and then turn the tables on them by ending with a complete surprise. This is that sort of an effect.

Almost every beginner is familiar with the old impromptu illusion of appearing to pull your thumb in half and then restoring it. Even though it’s simplistic, it really is effective when shown to someone for the very first time. Basically, the illusion is created as shown in figures 1 through 3. In one smooth move, as the hands are brought together, palm to palm as in Fig. 3, the P.R. thumb bends inward, Fig. 1, and the left thumb bends as in Fig. 2 with the index finger covering the bend at the front. When the left hand is drawn or slid toward the right band fingertips, it appears as if the right thumb has been pulled in half.

To modify the handling into something which will catch even seasoned performers off guard, you will need three things. You will need a good grade thumb tip such as a Vernet Tip available from your local magic dealer…a scissors and a tiny rubber band such as used to add tension to the bows of eye glasses. These are available from magic dealers ( for use with folding coins ) or from optical stores.

First of all, take the thumb tip and cut it down in size so when it is worn, it fits to just below the first bend or joint of the thumb. Make sure the color is a good match for your skin. If not, you may have to purchase some flesh color paints from a craft or hobby store to create a good match.

Just prior to your performance, slip the tiny rubber band on to the thumb to the first bend joint. The tension of the band will cut off the circulation just a bit, and dis-color the end of the thumb slightly. At a glance, it appears as if you are wearing a thumb tip. That’s just what you want.

Put the modified thumb tip on the right thumb along with the band, and you are all set.

Be casual with both hands. Handle the tip just as in the instructions so as not to flash its presence prematurely. Now execute the original version of pulling off the thumb, figures 1 – 3. When the left hand has moved to the fingertips of the right, reveal the workings by showing the bend of the left hand thumb. Remember, this is shown only to other magicians and not to lay people.*

Now, as the left hand returns to the right, the right thumb straightens out flat along the N.H. first finger. The left hand now grips the right thumb, but between the left thumb and first finger. In other words, the left thumb is at the front knuckle if the right band thumb, replacing where the left index finger had originally covered in the first handling.

I will attempt to show this set up in Figure 4.

In essence, the left thumb and first finger are now holding on to the thumb tip. when the left hand moves or slides toward the right hand fingertips, the right thumb pulls free of the tip and bends inward on the right palm just as in the original handling. The illusion created is much like the first, only this time, it is the tip that appears to be the genuine end of the right thumb.

Since you are using your left thumb to hold the other digit, those watching are aware that you are not doing the effect as you did at first. They are momentarily confused.

Allow the effect to register, then slide the thumb tip back to the right thumb which straightens as it approaches to allow it to be slipped back on.

You now lower your hands and take a bow. During this time, you secretly pull the thumb tip off the right thumb with your R.H. fingers. Using the left hand to point toward the right, when the hands come together, the tip is stolen away by the left hand thumb. Video tapes by Bernard Bills will demonstrate excellent methods for doing this. Your dealer, or I.C.O.M instructors can also offer suggestions.**

This now leaves the right hand basically clean with the exception of the tiny rubber band still worn on the thumb. As the right hand is shown, the left ditches the thumb tip. Lap it, or simply casually put it in your pocket.

All attention is now on the right hand. It appears as if a thumb tip can still be seen worn on the right thumb. This is where you really catch them good. Very slowly and deliberately, you pull the tiny band off the right thumb.

From beginning to end, those watching think they have your number. As a finale…you are left clean, and they are left bewildered.

* When performing for children and the general public, omit the rubber band & thumb -tip ploy and merely perform the trick the way Ron originally describes it in the first two paragraphs. It is a really effective stunt for kids…..BJG

**Use your virtual lessons!….BJG

February 1998

The Birth Of Something New & End Of Something Old
(The New Art Of Crayon Manipulation)
Bobby J. Gallo

Since the inception of I.C.O.M we have been striving to be unique in the world of magic. To those who have been with us since its inception we hope that you have found many inspirational thoughts, tricks and routines throughout the many I.C.O.M forums. I also hope that “The Kid Show Konservatory” has been no exception. Looking back on its short history, I have given what I have felt to be the most important knowledge I know in an order that would be beneficial to our members.

That being said, I am extremely excited to bring you this months forum. This may be the best installment yet for those who are actively seeking a career in the kid show market. What I am about to share with you will open up a HUGE new vista for ANYONE performing for a family style audience. But before I delve into the concept itself. allow me to give you a little background on WHY this is so important.

Around the turn of the century, it is important to note what the primary materials were that the traveling magician used. Granted, there were the occasional mammoth stage shows with all the accompanied boxes and such. However, most magicians were performing what was known then as “parlor magic”. This consisted mainly of, cards, coins, balls and thimbles. The question of whether or not I can back-up this claim is made manifest if one reads one of the all time classics tomes on magic entitled, “Magic Without Apparatus” By Camille Gaultier. This 500 page giant was considered, and still should be, the definitive source on sleight-of-hand. And what did a book of this size and scope cover? Exactly, just what I mentioned above, cards, coins, balls, and thimbles. Because back then, that was all a magician needed. However, when time went on, two more objects became standard to take their place among the magicians most valued props of choice. Silks and CIGARETTES!

Cigarettes? You means those nasty little things that everyone in the country says are among the most ruthless things ever invented? Yep, as a matter of fact, some of the most famous magicians of all time performed cigarette acts as their feature routines. People like Frakson, Keith Clark, and Cardini himself! Keith Clark in particular actually wrote a huge 300 page encyclopedic work called quite appropriately, ” The Encyclopedia of Cigarette Tricks” By Keith Clark.

Am I advocating the resurgence of cigarette tricks? No, quite the contrary, you will get hung out to dry if you ever even attempt to show a cigarette trick in public these days, ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF KIDS! Case and point, without mentioning names, I was working the sound board for a popular illusion couple (you would recognize their particular names) nearly two years ago. The show was for area kids (around 300) and was held in a vast gymnasium. During their act, there was fire, the sword basket, (where the assistant was apparently stuck with swords) and other danger tricks. However, during the opening sequence to music the magician lit up a cigarette as part of the routine. The town mayor who was at the show FLIPPED OUT! The show was stopped and an announcement made to the kids that the cigarette was only “make-believe” etc. etc. Can you imagine that! Suffice to say that during the next show, the magician was required to remove the cigarette portion from his act. This will give you and indication of what the current public mentality is concerning cigarettes. People do not like them. Couple that with the fact that in most public places that you will be performing, it is “against the law” to lite one up anyway! The general rule is, don’t do them…..period.

Once again let’s reiterate


So why am I relating all of this to the reader? Simple, I want the student first to realize that there is a literal “mountain” of material at this point just floating about in the magic world pertaining to cigarettes that can not be used because of the subject matter inherent. There are so many tricks, routines, gimmicks, books, methods, and knowledge pertaining to the “so-called cancer sticks” that if there were only something to take their place, the innovative magician would have TONS and TONS of new material at his or her finger tips. Well, that being the case, let’s think. What object is:

  • About the same size and width as a cigarette? (no, candy cigarettes is a wrong answer!)
  • Is instantly recognizable and universally accepted by even the smallest audience members.
  • Has been around as long as anyone reading this can remember?
  • Can be the basis for endless routines?

The answer is…….CRAYONS! That’s right! The little wax sticks that children grow up coloring things with. The lowly crayon can be used to replace the cigarette move for move in virtually every routine that was ever conceived using the now publicly ostracized tobacco filled tubes. Can you see the possibilities?

Why we are so excited about this new concept

We at I.C.O.M are about to embark on an enormous project over time. We are going to adapt all existing sleight-of-hand with cigarettes to sleight-of-hand with crayons! This will be an I.C.O.M exclusive and will provide the student with the basis for literally hundreds of trick and routines. Both stage and close-up (Did he say stage?….yep, that’s what I said!) This is material you will use, and that will make your reputation. It is time to take the thousands of cigarette methods out of obscurity and revamp them for the modern day. The fact that the object is a crayon is why this concept appears here in the Kid Show Konservatory. So starting next month, the various classic cigarette sleights done with crayons will begin to appear in the I.C.O.M Sleight-Of-Hand Gallery bit by bit over time. We will also be including routines here in this forum as the need arises.

If you are a beginner, this is for you!, If you are a pro, this is definitely for you! If you work for kids, this is a must! if you are into sleight-of-hand, this will be a dream come true. All with an object that your audience will LOVE seeing you perform with! The crayon will have instant acceptance, not even a billiard ball can claim that! Think about it, crayons are even more recognizable to children than playing cards! That puts things into perspective.

So what are we waiting for? Lets learn dynamite kid show magic using ordinary everyday ciga….er….crayons!

It all starts in the near future!

March 1998

How Complicated?
Bobby J, Gallo

Those who know my work, know that I am a big proponent of simplicity in magic. I have never subscribed to the notion that magicians need to be “traveling magic shops” in order to entertain children. If the show sits in one place and does not have to be transported, that is another case. But overall for the travelling birthday party magician, “Less Is More”. That has not been the first time I have said that and I suspect that is future lessons, it will not have been the last. So why do I bring it up now? To illustrate that the next effect we will learn, though simple, has fantastic entertainment value.

I have seen tons of props that make even small objects vanish. Some very mechanical that in no way could ever be examined by the audience. I offer in this lesson a way to vanish small objects using completely ungimmicked everyday objects. After all, that is what looks like magic right? When we can take articles that are easily recognizable and in some cases even borrowed, and create magic.

There are not a lot of props to what I am about to describe, and the effect is but a simple vanish of a coin. But it can be worked into another routine where you need to accomplish this or you may build a sweet little routine out of the basic effect itself.

The magician places a coin in the center of a hank or bandanna that is spread out on a table. He then takes a small glass in his left hand and, picking up the coin and the hank, places the coin over the glass, with the folds of the hank hanging down and concealing it from the view of the audience. He drops the coin into the glass and the entire audience hears it strike the bottom of the glass as it does so. When the hank is removed from the glass however, the coin seems to have vanished.

Actually, the coin is NEVER dropped into the glass at all. The glass under the hank is tilted slightly to the side and the coin is dropped AGAINST THE SIDE of the glass. The sound this makes is exactly the same as if the coin were actually dropped into the glass proper. After striking the side of the glass, the coin drops down into the left hand, and is then palmed. The attention of the audience is diverted from the left hand by lifting the covered glass with your right hand and putting it on your table, until you are ready for the final revelation that the coin has vanished. In the meantime, you may go to your pocket to obtain your magic wand and dispose of the coin at the same time.

This is a mixture of sleight-of-hand, misdirection, and subtlety. It take a little practice to get the knack of catching the coin after it has been dropped. You may drop it on the floor a few times during rehearsal but it will become second nature in no time and you will have a vanish that has a list of fine features.

  • Ordinary props
  • No set-up
  • You are clean at the end
  • Can be adapted to other small objects.

So how complicated do things have to be? As you can see…….Not very!


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 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

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