OFFICIAL I.C.O.M PAST LESSON ARCHIVE
I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 7/97-9/97
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 #1
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
It is my intent to offer suggestions and working methods which will direct the reader toward greater creativity. I make no promises for success. You will have to work a little to achieve that on your own. What I will promise to do is to share every means to that end I am aware of. You will be given lists, tips/suggestions, ideas and examples…but no shortcuts. If you are serious about this subject, be prepared to burn the midnight oil.
Creativity is something each and every individual is capable of cultivating. It can be developed to whatever degree you feel most comfortable with. Creativity includes being inventive, but not exclusively so. It is also reflected in the music, patter, costuming, set designs, stage presence and timing for example. These are all aspects of your creativity…all part of the “total” performance to which creativity may be applied. It may be the magical “illusive essence” which makes an act outstanding rather than mediocre.
Every one of us, I believe, would like to contribute something to this world of magic. Something that will leave a mark long after we are gone. It is important to realize, lest we become overwhelmed by the task of becoming creative, that the contribution need not be earth shattering. It may well be something as simple as a particular stance, a gesture or a look. It may be a phrase that captures the imagination of your audience. Like grains of sand comprising a coastal beach, the size of the grain does not diminish its importance to the whole.
One of the keys to creativity seems to be discovering yourself! Knowing who you are, and what you want to achieve in this craft. It isn’t easy. A person must take an honest appraisal of himself and his limitations. You must understand just how much you are willing to sacrifice to attain your desired goal. Creativity, at whatever level, will take real work. Once you come to grips with yourself, you’ll be ready to begin…and to be the very best YOU that you can be!
Next month: Part #2 of our ongoing “Creativity” series!
Magical History Part #1
Though many are interested in magic as a hobby or profession, they know little of how rich the history of this fine art is. No other form of entertainment can be traced so far back in history. Times change, but the element of mystery that makes magic so unique is the same now as it has been for thousands of years. How old is magic? Let’s take a look.
Ancient Egyptian Image
The above image is one of the oldest recorded performances of magic. Archeologists speculate that this represents an early version of the cups and balls feat.(a routine incidentally that you will be learning here at I.C.O.M Online in the not too distant future!) This illustration was painted on the wall of the burial chamber of Beni Hassan around the year 2500 B.C..
In various ancient texts, a number of prominent magicians of the past are mentioned. The most famous of which is probably “Dedi”, wizard to “King Cheops”. This is the same ruler who built the great pyramid at Gizeh. Dedi was famous at re-animating deceased animals such as geese and oxen.( I think I like the cups and balls better!)
Many of the ancient performers tales are recorded in the “Westcar Papyrus” dated around 1700 B.C.. Most magician stories are peculiarly silent throughout the next millennia until about 135 B.C. when “Eunios The Syrian” actually stopped a slave rebellion with a feat of magic (future trivia question?).
The accounts, both large and small, continue in history with a person who was apparently a noble named “Seneca The Younger”, from Spain (circa 3 B.C.), who wrote about a performance of the cups & balls that he had witnessed. (Note that the cups and balls trick is considered a classic, this is why. The classics are tricks that stand the test of time). It is interesting to note that Seneca stated in a letter that he was only interested in the magic when he did not know the secret. When he found out how something was done, he lost interest. Some things never change!
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations
First I would like to make a confession that I was not planning to release this material to I.C.O.M Online for at least another six months. But after reading the mind-blowing prose of Bill Wisch (Slydini Legacy) and Ron Dayton (Creativity Series) I realized that it was only fitting that I too begin a quality series for the benefit of all I.C.O.M Online. So it is with great excitement that I start the “Commando Magic” series. First, a little background is in order to familiarize the student with the history of “Commando Magic”.
Four Years ago, I began a task that I felt was needed in the literature of magic. A practical treatise on performing in the real world. As I began writing the book “Commando Magic” I realized that it would be more practical to release it on audio tape, which I subsequently did. It ended up selling to a select “underground” contingent of magicians who like myself, thought that the performing conditions of today, are not what they used to be…
After the production the “Commando Magic” audio tape, I re-thought my position and wrote a reference guide to the tape. A publication which would be more comprehensive and up-to-date with recent experiences that I had while performing on the road.
The book version of “Commando Magic” became another underground best seller, being read more in the STAND-UP COMEDY community than in the magic circles!!! Comics recognized the similarities between our two art forms and embraced much of the theory behind the writings for their performances. “Commando Magic” never made quite the same splash in the magic world which is fortunate for ICOM Online members. Because now, I am releasing, “COMMANDO MAGIC THE BOOK” IN ITS ENTIRETY, in this ongoing monthly series.
As you will see, save for a small number of examples, there will be little magic in the way of “tricks” discussed in this series. There are literally thousands of other books which deal with that. The purpose of this particular series is of a much higher aspiration. It will take any current variety entertainer, and train them to use their craft in its most lean and efficient way, thus increasing their value as a performing artist!
Place a coin on the table and then proceed to place a cup over the coin, stating that you will remove the coin without ever touching the cup. Then go under the table and knock on the underside of the tabletop (done strictly for showmanship purposes). Announce that “It is done!”. Invite a skeptical audience member to lift the cup to see if the coin has indeed been taken. As soon as the spectator removes the cup, grab the coin and remark that you did take the coin without ever lifting up the cup Yourself! (get it?)
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
The same applies to younger magicians. Do not be so foolish as to pass them by simply because they are young. Youth is fresh and vital. They dare to try the unknown, to take that step beyond, unaware of the supposed limitations which have been drummed into older minds. Youth has not yet been programmed to disbelief. Too often, we hinder ourselves and our accomplishments by listening to inner thoughts, or those of others, as to what IS or IS NOT possible. I’ve heard it said that, the impossible is that which is yet untried! And I firmly believe that is true.
A person might think…how can I possibly learn all about magic, so I can build a strong foundation of knowledge. There is so much to know…and the subject is so vast.
Do not be put off by the scope of magic. There is no possible way you could learn everything, although there are people out there who claim they know it. They are only fooling themselves. The reality of the situation is…the field is extremely vast, and, constantly changing. At very best, much like a medical student, you will do your best to remain ‘current’. Simply do your best to learn as much as you possibly can. You will retain much more information than you realize.
Once you have begun this foundation of magical knowledge and background, we can begin taking the next logical step. You will want to take the information you have learned and put it to practical use.
In the legend of “Apollonius of Tyana”, who existed in the first century A.D., illusions were reported that indicate he must have been a truly remarkable performer. So much so, he actually had temples built in his honor! (I know of a few magicians today who think they should be accorded such honors!…just kidding) Not to be outdone by Apollonius, a conjurer named “Iamblichus” used to walk ten cubits off the ground nearly a thousand years before certain modern day illusionists performed similar feats! And that’s not all, he used to do a color changing clothes routine at the same time! Of course, this is what is written according to legend. But with magicians, you never know!
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations
The first question a lot of people may have in their mind is the classic quote of the industry. Why another book* on magic? After performing for over a decade, I finally feel the need to put pen to paper and expound my controversial thoughts about performing in the “Real World”. Notice I said performing and not just doing magic tricks. This book* is about performance and all of its allied characteristics. Sure, there will be routines that I have developed within these pristine pages, but more important, there is a philosophy. One that has grown into a conviction through trial and error. One that has been developed while working in the trenches of real world entertainment.
This book* is written from the perspective of a magician. For that is the type of entertainer I have been my entire show business career. So, much of the material covered will deal specifically with magic and its allied arts. However, because of my extensive experience in the world of stand-up comedy and nightclubs, it is not just the magician who can benefit from these pages, but any working entertainer from comedians to ventriloquists, to vocalists. As a matter of fact, any “live” performer, for the fundamental principles all remain the same no matter what you do. If there are living, breathing people in your audience, this book* will apply.
To the beginner, I hope this book* will prove a launching pad for their success. To the professional looking for further insight into this complex world of show business, I trust my thoughts and materials will spark your own understanding as to why I call this book* Commando Magic. Of course, there will be those who will read this and dismiss many of my writings as outlandish or simply not practical. But if you ponder this book* and then apply it, you will see that it is worth many times the price you have paid.
Consider this a pilgrimage to the guru on the mountain. Consider this magical boot camp. Better yet, consider this book sage advice and information from one who has been there and still is…Of course, I like everyone else in this world am constantly changing and growing. I think of new and different approaches to entertainment everyday. This book* is a compilation of the knowledge I have amassed up to this point in time. However, I am sure that a decade from now, I will have refined many of the statements I am about to make. So the reader is invited to take what he/she wishes. Then work the material out to make the best use of it according to his/her own performing persona and style.
If you disagree with what is here, no problem, you will see in the chapters that follow that disagreement is part of the world that we live in and certainly present in the field of entertainment. But I think that I’ve bantered enough here. I do not want to give anything away prematurely, so as many an adventurous story has started…
“Let the journey begin!”
* 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.
(A complete essay)
Ronald J. Dayton
I’ve recently given a lot of thought to the possibilities of the egg bag in a magic act. This time, I wanted to go back and look at the card box.
Mr. Hay showed a bit of dismay over the quality of the wooden card boxes of his era. He considered it a cheap substitute for sleight of hand. But, he did appreciate the quality and workmanship shown in the thin metal card box. Why his change of heart?
One reason was the quality factor. Mr. Hay considered himself to be a consummate professional performer…therefore, you must always put your best foot forward in the public eye. Your props, your dress and your manner must be appealing. The metal box obviously reflected his desire to be tasteful. But the box did something possibly even more important in his eye’s. It took the crudely made wooden box to another level…and it allowed it to be used as a functional, everyday object of the time, a cigarette box. In other words, it didn’t appear to be a piece of apparatus.
In the present day world, cigarettes are out of vogue…so the use of a cigarette case for the most part might well be politically incorrect. It would also look entirely out of place in most instances. This fact alone would cast a shadow of suspicion over it. It would have lost its innocence.
Looking at the illustration in Fig. 190 of page 262 in the Hay text, what sort of present day containers might be modified to become a card box, or to work on the card box flap principle for a variety of effect?
The first thing I thought of was a box of candy. Perhaps a person could magically print the golden ticket in a Willy Wonka theme routine.
Maybe the box is one constructed to hold baseball or other collector cards. This would allow you to perform a whole host of card tricks without actually using the playing cards.
Perhaps the box is a small metal hinged lid style box which held the ink pad for a hand stamp. You could print your business cards, theatre passes or even money in a logical manner.
What if the box once held a diary. A page would be forced on a spectator, and when they check the diary, it is missing. The page is later discovered in the box, and written on it is a prediction of a word, color, card, etc. “Dear diary” I have a feeling that on (the date) the word (forced word) will be selected by a member of the audience.”
Perhaps the box is that in which children’s puzzles come. Jig-saw-puzzles. Or one they kept such treasures as pong pieces in. Maybe it is a box from the game Clue ™…and the person who committed the crime is discovered in a magical way. Just think of the possibilities.
The box might have held fishing tackle. A freely (?) selected picture of a fish chosen from a large variety of fish might magically appear in the box. For children, perhaps a cards forced to them from the card game Go Fish.
Use your imagination, Maybe an effect based on a musical theme could be developed using the hinged box from a CD. Or why not use a jewelery box in a card trick…forcing diamonds on each of the spectators involved.
If the box you use were designed like a first aid kit, you might be able to do color changing bandages using the brightly printed bandages of the day. By putting a nurses cap on a young girl from the audience, and a stethoscope on a second girl or boy, you could build a nice little skit out of it. Old chestnut ploys such as color changing finger rings (one on the end of you R.H. first finger, another color on the R.H. second finger) could be done with bandages. By using bandage dots, a variation of the very mystifying magic ashes on palm effect could be rendered. All it will take is a bit of thought.
Collector sets of coins often come in small, flat boxes. You might be able to devise a coin flight routine…or produce a whole set of coins and use them for the date divination found in Mr. Hay’s book, “The Amateur Magician’s Handbook.”
Other boxes you might consider would hold make-up and cosmetics, gloves, ties, stationary, cigars, etc.
Consider if your box will need a tray or simply a flap. In some instances, only a half flap would be necessary. This would cause the change of one item placed in the box while leaving another in tact. Think about a locking or magnetic flap. Black art flaps and clear lucite flaps.
If the box happens to be a pencil or crayon/chalk box, see what additional magic you can do with the things removed from the box prior to their actual use in conjunction with the box.
you might also consider the possibility that the object placed into the box is patterned on one side to actually BECOME the flap in an otherwise ungimmicked box. In this way, the flap could change into the object, and then be openly removed from the box…or added to the box to become the flap. In one instance, the box can be examined after the effect, in the other, before the effect.
Depending upon the shape and size of the box you use, the secret flap or compartment could be in the bottom, on one of the sides, or even in the hinged or removable cover of the box. Some card boxes might even use more than one flap. One locking/magnetic, the other free or removable.
With today’s material, self adhesive magnetic strips, self sticking felt, plastic hinges and tapes, mylar sheets etc., it is possible to make a wide variety of common looking yet fully deceptive ‘card boxes’ for yourself. Make them look ordinary and they will be accepted as just that.
I don’t know if all I have had to say made sense to you. I hope it has. The crux of the matter is, ‘principles’ are one of the most important elements in creating magic. You can take a principle and run with it, transforming your effect into a chameleon of magic, giving a different look at every turn.
By all means, be a creative chameleon! Let the color and look of your magic change, dictated by location and circumstance, mood and whim. Allow your magic to have a degree of freedom and flexibility. Read your audience and determine the colors they’d most like to see. The reed that bends, never breaks.
Note: In the I.C.O.M Online Catalog, we offer a Professional Card Magic Set. Contained within is a decent quality plastic card box for those wishing to apply some of Ron’s teachings from this months lesson.