Kid Show Konservatory 10/97-12/97


Kid Show Konservatory 10/97-12/97

October 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next month, keep em happy!

Bobby J. Gallo

November 1997

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

The dynamite benefits in using these balls is threefold.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete the vanish.

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

December 1997

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

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

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

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

Bobby J. Gallo

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

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


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

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

October 1997

I.C.O.M Online is proud to introduce the following new series of articles by Ron Dayton. The following installment is worth your undivided attention. It is a true lesson in magic.
“Creativity” Part #3
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
You’ll recall that earlier, we touched on the fact that negative thoughts are harmful. They are counter-productive. They place limits and restrictions on the thought and creativity process. It would be most beneficial than for us to take an approach which eliminated or forbids negative thinking. One such method is a process called.


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

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

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

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

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

You now have your homework!… “Good Luck”

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

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

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

Chapter Two

What is Commando Magic?

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

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

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

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

That is the prevailing question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Month, Part #5

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

December 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Month: Part #6

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

Presentation/Demonstration 10/97-12/97




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

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

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

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

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

A picture is worth a thousand words!

There’s no business without show business!

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

See you next month.

October 1997

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beginner’s Study 10/97-12/97


Beginner’s Study 10/97-12/97

October 1997

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

Materials Needed:

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Played correctly, this can be a feature effect!

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

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

Materials Needed:

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

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


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

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

The process is then repeated with the remaining piles.

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

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

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

November 1997

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

Coin Transposition

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


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

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

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

Double Penny

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


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

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

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

Jumping Dice Spots

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addendum for advanced students:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advanced Lab 10/97-12/97


Advanced Lab 10/97-12/97

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – October 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solid Gold Transposition

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

Bobby J. Gallo

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

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

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

Take Care!

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

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

Part #2

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Co-Director’s Note: Those of you who have read the above have already realized that this is a serious educational piece. You would find no more quality were you to take a university course in theatre, for that is what Dr.OM is!, a genuine college professor. Therefore, some terminology may be a bit advanced even for the professional ICOM’er. So Dr.OM has graciously provided a short glossary of terms he frequently uses which can be found in the I.C.O.M Library page next to our standard magician’s glossary.
*Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Online Library for Dr.Om’s “Devils Dictionary”, a list of theatrical terms worth learning…
** Will also be found in the I.C.O.M Library as a permanent reference.

November 1997

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – November 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part #3


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1997


Ronald J. Dayton

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Part #4
ACTION, continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – November 1997

Using The Elbow As A Servante.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kid Show Konservatory 7/97-9/97


Kid Show Konservatory 7/97-9/97



Without doubt, despite what many magicians may tell you, the largest market for magic, far and away, is the birthday party circuit. Hence the need for this forum. In I.C.O.M, students will learn many fine points of presentation and aspects of magic. However, some of these theories go right out the window when it comes to entertaining children. Truly, this genre’ is in a class unto itself. It has its own demands as well as its own rewards. It is one of the only classes of magic that needs a forum all to itself.

Over the course of time, routines will be included here from the repertories of working professionals. Also will be the ins and outs of working kid shows, how to prepare for them, booking them, performing them, etc. etc. etc.

So without further adieu, We bring you the first lesson in, The Kid Show Konservatory!

The Stiff Handkerchief Re-Done
By Bobby J. Gallo
Those who are reading my monthly series in the I.C.O.M Spotlight section entitled “Commando Magic” know that I am a big proponent of magic that packs small and plays big. This is especially true of children’s magic. Many times I have been booked to perform as many as SIX shows on a given Saturday. In such a situation, most entertainers including myself neither have the time nor the inclination to use magic props that need to be set up “out-of-sight” as well as cumbersome sized equipment that needs several trips from the performers car to carry into the venue. All magic must fit in my shoulder bag and have little or no set-up time. To learn more about this style of working, please read the I.C.O.M Spotlight section.

While searching for routines to plug into my children’s show, that fit my “Commando Magic” criteria, I stumbled upon the old classic, The Hypnotized Hank” I was a bit apprehensive at first performing what appeared to be an obvious trick. In almost all the of books on magic where it is described, (and believe me, there are many!) It is treated as a “throw-a-way bit” But after dozens of performances. I must say that as far as the kids are concerned. This effect is a winner!

The classic handling of the effect requires the magician to take a silk, then holding the diagonal corners, roll it up so that the entire silk forms a tube. Holding the rolled up silk near the center, taking care that it does not “un-ravel” the hank stands ridged, apparently defying the laws of gravity. Then, by taking an invisible hair off of your head you tie it to the end of the silk and cause the silk to bend to and fro as if being pulled by the invisible hair. In reality, thumb movements are responsible for the illusion. By moving the thumb up, the silk falls away from you, by pulling the thumb downwards, the silk comes toward you. A good trick.

There are a number of very important fine points to this trick that none of the books I have read tell you when they describe the Stiff Handkerchief (or whatever name they have given it.) Sometimes I wonder if so many important little side-notes to tricks are left out of book intentionally, But why would someone want to do that?

  1. Silk handkerchiefs do not work! They are far to flimsy and will not stand up unless the silk is wound-up so tight that the effect loses its believability.
  2. Regulation men’s handkerchiefs that can be bought in the men’s department of your local clothier work best. The larger the better for visibility.
  3. The standard “invisible hair” feint may actually hinder the effect! I have found that some people believe that you actually do have a hair on it! Therefore in their minds, what is the big deal?
  4. The special secret that makes this work 100% of the time for me is an I.C.O.M exclusive. (Mainly because I believe this is an original idea!) An that is SPRAY STARCH!

Before leaving home, iron the handkerchief using generous amount of spray starch that is available in any supermarket. The result will be a super-stiff handkerchief that almost works the effect itself.

Begin by displaying the handkerchief and showing that their is nothing out of the ordinary about it, and there isn’t! Next, twirl it up into a tube and hold it by the center taking care not to let it unravel. Release the top and the hank is standing straight up! Now, depending on your presentation, you can make the hank do tricks or play it serious. You can even attempt to squash the hank down into your hand only to have the hank spring back up again. If you clip the tip in the crotch of your thumb. and bring your hand upwards, the hank appears to rise and straighten by its own accord!

You can have a lot of fun with this and the children will love it! As a matter of fact, recently upon completing a show, a mother approached me with the intention of booking me for her child part a few months down the road. Guess what trick she mentioned as the children’s favorite? Yes, you guessed it, the Stiff Handkerchief. It is beneficial to also remember these features about this trick.

  1. There is no set-up.
  2. It can be done surrounded and under any circumstances. (Very windy days can be a problem however!)
  3. It can be made to be VERY entertaining.
  4. It is instantly repeatable making it ideal for roving engagements!
  5. Takes up no space in your bag and has no weight, after all, the whole effect is one un-gimmicked hank! ( I really wouldn’t consider the starch being a gimmick)

Hope you have fun with it!

September 1997

Streamlined Rising Egg
Bobby J. Gallo
In this lesson we are going to learn a routine that will bring the house down if performed properly. It is a variation of the classic rising ball trick found in many ancient magical texts.

Effect: The magician displays a handkerchief to the audience and shows that there are no holes in it. When the audience is satisfied that the magician is truthful. The magician lays the hank over his fist, then takes his wand and pushes it right thru the center of the hank! The handkerchief is displayed once again and is shown with no holes.

Having done that, the performer explains that what he has done is created a “magical hole” that anything can pass through. Since it is magic, the audience cannot see or feel it, but indeed it is there. To prove this the magician then displays an egg and a drinking tumbler.

The egg is dropped into the tumbler and the magical hank is brought over to cover the glass. A small well is pushed down into the glass and the magician covers the covered mouth of the glass with his right hand to keep the egg from escaping. The audience is now instructed to shout out a magic word. When they do the magician exclaims, the egg will rise up through the glass penetrating the hank only to rest on top of same. All in full view of the audience. A penetration and levitation!

With great fervor the audience shouts the magic word and when the magician removes his hand…..nothing happens! Looking very worried the magician has the audience shout out the word again, and again…..nothing. Finally the magician explains to the audience that the trick does not always work and that the audience must forgive him. At that moment, unknown to the magician the egg peeks up to the rim of the glass, rising and penetrating the hank! The audience screams, but when the magician looks, there is no egg, it has gone down again! Two or three times more this comedy continues when finally the magician looks and sees the egg with great surprise, removes it and once again shows the handkerchief with no holes and the glass empty thus proving only one egg was used.

Sounds good doesn’t it?….It is! This is truly one of those tricks that packs small, but will get more response than a grand illusion. Thus making the value of this routine extremely high.

Materials needed:

  • A wooden egg, golf ball, or billiard ball. (The egg is the funniest visual object of those listed so is the one most recommended.)
  • A bandanna or large man’s handkerchief.
  • A magic wand.
  • A bottomless glass: These are available by most magic dealers. It is a little used prop consisting of a glass with…no bottom! Anything dropped into the top falls into your waiting palm. Usually used to make small objects vanish. I recommend that you find a plastic one so that it doesn’t break. One can even be made, and as I have shown my summer camp students, a heavy paper cup may be made into a bottomless glass when the bottom is removed. Of course, the see through advantage of the glass and plastic bottomless Glasses (BG) are apparent. The audience is convinced that the egg is in the glass if indeed they CAN see it.

Working: In the classic method of this trick, the performer requires two identical objects that will be made to rise. One is in the hank held in the center of same with a rubber band. The ball/egg proper is dropped into the glass the other hank containing the duplicate in placed over the mouth of the glass. By pulling on the sides of the hank the ball/egg is brought up to the top of the glass pulling itself free from the rubber band.

I never cared for this method due to the fact that you could not show the hank as ordinary due to the fact that it contained the duplicate egg or ball. Plus the fact that you have to get rid of the palmed ball/egg in addition to a rubber band that is now in your hand as well. My method eliminates all of these drawbacks and at the same time, allows the performer to get another magical effect into the routine at the same time. The classic wand through hank. This is why I call this version, “Streamlined”.

At the start of the routine, have the glass and egg in your case. Display you hank and show that all is well. Then perform the classic wand through hank described in the presentation. For those not familiar with the move, it goes something like this.

Normally if you were to make a well in a hank over your closed fist, your fingers would be closed into your palm. This would make an ordinary well in the handkerchief with which nothing could pass through. In our case we are going to put the hank over our fist but once the fist is covered, open the fingers so that your making a “U” rather than a tunnel with your fingers. Now, when you make the well, one side of the hank falls in towards your palm making a clear passage through the hank. When the wand in inserted from the top, it is pushed down along the side of the hank rather than through it. But the illusion is perfect. It looks like the wand penetrates the hank.

Now comes the best part of the routine. Show the egg and glass. Place the (BG) on the palm of the right hand. openly drop the egg in the glass for all to see. Now drape the hank over the glass and proceed to push a well into the the top of the hank. Here comes the critical move. The right hand now palms the egg, comes out from beneath the glass as the left hand takes hold of the glass by the sides. The right hand palming the egg immediately points to the top of the glass as the magician is pattering to the audience. Now, using the reasoning that you do not want the egg to pop out prematurely, place the palm of the right hand over the mouth of the glass. Yes, what you have done is openly load the egg into the glass on the other side of the hank!!!! It sounds bold, but it works every time.

Now, go through the motions as explained in the presentation. After an ample amount of by play, pull down on the silk with the left hand holding the glass slowly. The egg will rise to the rim of the glass. Let the kids see this and react. Then, just before you look yourself, loosen your grip on the glass and the egg will drop. This will get volume out of young people you never thought was possible. Tell them you did not notice anything unusual and relate to them that as far as your concerned, the egg is till in the covered glass. Repeat this process two more time. The yells will get louder and louder.

Finally, notice the egg, look surprised and remove it. Show the hank to be undamaged and the glass to be empty and take your well deserved bows.

There is a lot of psychology in this routine. The glass is the last thing suspected if all the attention is given to the by play. The only caveat in this routine is that you have to watch your angles during the critical move when you are palming the egg. Henry Hay in the Amateur Magician’s Handbook states that nothing is harder hide in all manipulative magic than a billiard ball. An egg may be even more difficult do to its oblong shape. But if your pacing is steady and swift. It shouldn’t be problem.

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 copyright 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be reproduced 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 7/97-9/97


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!

Next Month: More history...

Another I.C.O.M Online Exclusive Series!
“Commando Magic” Part #1
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!

Next Month: Chapter One

The Coin Under the Cup
(A funny semi-magical interlude)
In magic there are times when it is appropriate to perform a routine that contains no magic at all, but is pure entertainment. This apparent feat falls into the category of the “betcha trick”. It is a trick in the truest form of the word. Because in the end, even though you accomplish what you state you are going to do, there is no magic, per-say. However, this “betcha” is a great trick that will add humor to any magic show!

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?)

Then run for the door! (just kidding)

September 1997

“Creativity” Part #2
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
Another factor which is essential to creativity is a well rounded background. An extensive knowledge of magic itself. The best part is…this is something you can develop. This is part of the work and sacrifice mentioned earlier. Time and effort will be needed, but thankfully, there are many marvelous sources at your disposal. Public libraries, bookstores, magic shops, magic catalogs, magic dealers, video and audio tapes, and most notably, The International Conservatory of Magic. Truly the list goes on and on. Magazines such as “The New Tops”, “The Magic Manuscript”, “Magic”, “Magicgram” and “Genii” are all wonderful. Members of the S.A.M. and I.B.M. also enjoy tips and information found within the pages of their respective publications. Various “Magic Camps and Jubilees” are also organized annually both on the east and west coast. Last but not least, one of the most important sources of information of all …your fellow magicians. Young and old alike. Listen to what they have to say. You might be surprised at what you’re able to learn. The older magician may have much broader experience than you have. Perhaps he has seen some of the legends of the past in actual performance. They may be well read, or highly skilled in certain facets of the art. All of which is to your benefit. Absorb the information and lessons they have learned over the years. Take the best, and leave the rest.

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.

To be Continued next month in part #3!…….

Magical History Part #2
The new Millennia (A.D) continued the standard traditions of the street performer. Some became literal legends while others languished as common street entertainers for whatever pittance their respective audiences graced them with. However, there were a few notable magicians around this time whose stories became a little tall with time.

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!

Commando Magic Part #2
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Chapter #1

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!”

The journey continues next month with part #3…
* 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.

“Random Thoughts On The Card Box
(A complete essay)
Ronald J. Dayton
It is my understanding that individuals signing up for a certain amount of time in this college of magical knowledge will be sent a complimentary copy of Henry Hay’s book ” The Amateur Magician’s Handbook.” That’s wonderful. And that’s the reason I have been using his text as a source of ideas and effects. Those of you who have the book can cross-reference anything I say, and for those of you without the book…it is readily available via various dealers as well as the I.C.O.M Online catalog.

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.

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 copyright 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be reproduced 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 7/97-9/97


Beginner’s Study 7/97-9/97

Lesson #1
Thought of the month

What is magic?

By Bobby J. Gallo
Lets start our first lesson by talking about what magic is. Magic is the art of mystification. It tries to mystify, right? But why do people want to be mystified? Is is because they want a sense of wonder in their life?….Maybe….or is it because they would like to be entertained?….absolutely! Magic is a form of entertainment as well as an artform. Just as dance is, and just as music is.

So when we perform magic, it is paramount that we do it so that it entertains, not just mystifies. How do we achieve that? There are a number of ways, but the first would be what we call, “The Presentation” Throughout the course, we will talk as much about presentation as we will about secrets because the two go hand-in-hand when it comes to making a polished performance.

Presentation is the art of presenting our magic in an entertaining manner so that people will want to watch pieces How do we do this? There are many ways and each must find his/her own special niche. Some use interesting stories (this is a very easy way), some use comedy situations, others use dance and music. There really is no right or wrong method, however certain parameters should always be observed in order to maintain the integrity of our art. What can these be? For instance, material that is in bad taste is frowned upon by most working pros. Even in a comedy club venue, I myself have proven through countless performances that big laughs are possible by working clean. Also, never sacrifice the mystery element for the sake of entertainment. In other words, do not expose the secret of a trick just to get a laugh. Trust me, it will get the laugh, but you will be destroying a valuable piece of magic in the process and will degrade magic as a whole before that entire audience.

The bottom line is simple, the key factor that should always steer you is the golden rule of presentation, “Be Yourself” Do not try to copy others and you can’t lose. But in all your presentations, use good judgment.

The Ten Pile Trick
Materials needed:

  1. One deck of regular playing cards
  2. One piece of paper
  3. One pen, pencil, or thin marker

Effect: The magician places three piles of cards onto the table. No matter what pile is freely selected by the spectator, the magician proves that he predicted the outcome in advance!

This trick is all presentation, but will fool almost everyone. It is what we call a prediction effect. That is to say, it convinces the spectators that it is indeed possible for a magician to predict the future. To start, write on the paper these words exactly as you read them. “You will select the the TEN pile”(see example). Next remove all the tens from the deck and place them in a pile on the table face down. Next remove any ten cards and place them face down alongside of the four tens on the table. Lastly, remove from the deck any amount of cards that amount to ten when added. For instance, a five, a two, and a three. You are all set to perform your first miracle!

The simple secret is that no matter which pile is chosen, the magician will always be correct.

Presentation outline: Take out the paper stating that before the show you wrote down a prediction of what pile the spectator will select. (or you may do this on the spot). Display the three piles stating that even though it is impossible to know in advance what pile the spectator will pick, you have nonetheless proven it can be done. Place the paper where everyone can see it and proceed to have the spectator select any pile.

If they select the pile with the four tens state, “Look you have selected the pile with all the tens in it. If we look at the other two piles, we can see that there are no tens present at all. Please open my prediction and read it.” They will find that it reads “You will select the TEN pile” you have done it! You predicted in advance which pile the spectator selected!

If they select the pile that contains ten cards, DO NOT show the faces of any of the cards! Merely count the other two piles first stating, “This pile contains only four cards (actually the four tens), This pile contains only three cards,(the cards that add up to ten), But this pile has ten cards total.”(slowly and dramatically count all of the cards down onto the table. Then proceed to allow the spectator to read the prediction).

Lastly, if they happen to pick the pile that adds up to ten, here is what you do. Show the faces of the pile that has ten cards in it stating that if you totaled the cards up you get a large number, (proceed to do this). “But you happened to select this pile and they add up to ten. Please read my prediction.” In this last case scenario, do not show the faces of the pile that contains all four tens. That could possibly be an obvious tip off as to how the trick works.

Final notes: As you have seen, this trick does not require any sleight-of-hand or practice as far as the workings are concerned. This leaves you free to develop an entertaining presentation. Ideas may include acting the part of a psychic when writing the prediction or telling a dramatic story about odds and probabilities, etc. The ideas are endless, so go for it, and make the ten card trick something your audience will remember for a long time! Also, do not repeat this trick, the audience will surely discover the secret if you do…

Many magician’s dismiss mathematical principles in magic due to what they term as their obvious modus operandi. That does not have to be the case. With proper presentation, these oddities can be reputation makers. Blackstone Sr. used to perform a trick similar to the one below, and he was a legend.

Mathematical Card Revelation
Ask someone to think of any card. Mentally double its face value. (Jack 11, Queen 12, and King 13) Add 3 and multiply by 5. Finally, ask that the value of the suit of the card be added. (Clubs 1, Diamonds 2, Hearts 3, Spades 4) and the result told to you. You may now name the card by merely subtracting 15 from this total. The right hand digit shows the suit. The next one (or two) the value of the card.

What type of cards to use? Even though the above routine can be done with virtually any household deck of cards. It is generally advisable to purchase a new deck of better grade playing cards. All playing cards come in two sizes. Bridge size and poker size. In England, cards are of a different size altogether so if you are taking the course from the UK, use what is available. Though some may prefer bridge size due to the fact that they are slightly smaller and thus better suited to smaller hands, most professional magicians use poker size. Therefore, it may be best to get used to the larger size from the start, but that is a personal decision.

Lesson #1
Lessons in Sleight-of-Hand
The purest form of magic is sleight-of-hand. Even with the myriad of apparatus available and all of the “so called” self-working effects on the market, the foundation of all magic is solid sleight-of hand.

But why learn sleight-of-hand when there exists all of the other methods?

There are a number of reasons. When you perform, it will be interesting to note the audience reaction when a performer exhibits pure sleight-of-hand skill as opposed to something mechanical. They are not only bewildered by the magic produced by these manipulations, but are equally impressed by the obvious skill involved.

Another reason that sleights are so appealing is due to the fact that they usually deal with simple ungimmicked objects. Things like cards, coins, thimbles, balls, silk scarves, rings, and cigarettes. (even though this last object isn’t very popular these days).

A good sleight-of-hand magician never has to worry about being caught using a gimmick, because generally there aren’t any! Even if there is one, it is usually very minor when compared to something like a production box or a similar piece of apparatus.

When learning sleights, the moves may seem difficult at first. Do not be discouraged. With perseverance, they will become “second nature” in time. Not to mention the fact that the freedom and fun are worth the effort.

The Vanishment of a Coin
The basic sleight of hand mystery that can be done anywhere, anytime! There are dozens of ways to do this, but we will start out with the most basic.

The sleight necessary for this effect is called “the thumb palm”. There are almost as many ways of palming* a coin as there are of making the coin vanish. The thumb palm requires that you place the coin in the palm of your hand near the crotch of your thumb. Then by the simple act of clipping the coin with the thumb of the same hand, you conceal the coin there.

Now, obtain a coin the size of a half or silver dollar depending on what feels more comfortable to you. A quarter will also work. Start by calling attention to the coin and hand it out for examination if you prefer. Then take the coin and place it in the position near the crotch of your thumb as described above. You are now going to pretend to place the coin into your left hand. But what actually happens, is that as you turn the hand containing the coin over, you clip the coin into thumb palm. Done smoothly, it will look at though you merely transferred the coin from one hand to the other.

Remember to always keep the hand containing the coin in a natural position. The hand should look the same with the coin palmed as it would should you be concealing nothing at all. This takes time, so do not be discouraged as first. Your patience will be well rewarded. You are now set to reproduce the coin from the spectators ear, the air, from behind the leg, or merely go to your pocket for a prop and leave the coin there for a complete vanish.

*Definition: Palming:

  1. The act the concealing a small object in the hand unaware to the audience. (See “Palming” in The ICOM Online Glossary. Also, See pages 126-127. Amateur Magician’s Handbook)

Presentation Problem #1: You have just finished performing the Ten Card Trick or The Vanishment of a Coin to a thunderous standing ovation and your audience begs you to do it again, what do you do?

Answer: next month!

Them Bones!
This is a fantastic impromptu style magic trick that can be performed under virtually any conditions.

Materials needed:

  1. Three ordinary dice
  2. A piece of paper and writing utensil for spectator to add figures on. (optional)

Effect: Show the three dice to the audience stating that that these are dice you would not want to play a game with. why?… they’re psychic! Watch…

Turn your back to the spectator and instruct them to roll all the dice , then add up the numbers showing on the tops of all three dice.

Then tell them to pick one die up and to add the number on the bottom of the die to the previous total.

Then tell them to roll the single die that they are holding onto the table again. This time, to add the number showing on top of the die to the total.

Turn around, take all the dice from the table, holding them up to your head and then, very dramatically and with a lot of flair, reveal the number they are thinking of!

Method: Before you pick up the dice, add the numbers showing on the tops of all three dice. Then proceed to add seven to your total for the final answer. That’s all there is to it!


  1. After turning around, spectator rolls all three dice and adds the numbers shown on their top faces.
  2. Spectator then picks up one die and adds the number showing on its bottom face.
  3. Have spectator roll this same die again and add the number showing on the top face for a grand total.
  4. Turn around, look at the dice on the table, add seven to the total showing on the top three faces and announce that number for the climax…

Final Notes: This trick has one inherent problem. You have to trust the spectator. We live in an age where many people like to see the magician in a predicament. So it is important to try to pick a person to help you with this that will be honest and will concentrate on your instructions. The best way to do this is to simply state beforehand that, if they do not cooperate entirely with you throughout the effect it is not your fault and as a result they will miss a fascinating piece of psychic magic.

September 1997

Thought of the month

What is “Real” Magic?

By Bobby J. Gallo
In my last lesson I talked about what magic is in terms of a performing art. This month I would like to talk about magic in the eyes of the spectator. When we perform, what is our ultimate goal? Is it show the audience how much money we have spent on large props and paraphernalia? Hardly… Is it to show how much raw skill we possess? Perhaps… Or is it something deeper, say, to suspend their disbelief for a moment so that they begin to doubt their senses and in that instant, actually believe in magic? Wouldn’t that be something!…

In my new monthly series entitled “Commando Magic” found the the “ICOM Spotlight”, I talk at length about the folly of performing with large props unless you are an illusionist with adequate financial backing and a proper venue in which to perform these “mechanical marvels”. However, since that publication is being released in installments over many months, I felt it necessary to give a brief overview of points I feel are important enough to relate to our students in this, the second lesson in the beginners study.

If one studies the history of magic over the millennia, the student cannot help but be struck with the notion that magic as a performing art was never meant to be performed with much of the boxes and stage toys that adorn many a modern magician’s act. The classic image of a magician with his mythical “bag of tricks” is not as much of a fantasy as one might imagine. In truth, magicians from the shaman of old, to the street performers of europe, to the fakirs of India, to the roving carpet bag magicians of the 1700’s, all used to perform acts “if you will” out of containers not much different than that of the stereotypical “bag of tricks”.

Large grand illusions seem to have sprung up late in the 1800’s and onwards until the vaudeville era with the large shows of Hermann, Kellar, Thurston and many of the other old time greats. These spectacular shows seemed to die out with the decline of vaudeville only to be replaced by supper clubs where the cabaret act evolved. These acts, although born of conditions where the entertainer often found himself surrounded by tables as well as the band, bore striking resemblances to the styles of the past itinerant magicians of history.

It is interesting how many of the old time magicians viewed magic. If the aspiring magician dreams of one day being a world class illusionist, he/she may well take heed of an example set forth by one of the all time greats in magic, The Great Nicola. When faced with replacing his entire illusion show after losing it in a ship sinking accident in 1939, decided instead, to continue his performing career as a children’s entertainer performing a standard kids show! He would have loved the ICOM Online Kid Show Konservatory!

The great irony as I see it, is that in my opinion as well as the opinions of many “working” performers is that it isn’t even necessary to use such large devices. In the eye’s of the audience, the fewer the props, the greater the impact of the magic. After all, if you were a “real” magician, would you need all those props? In your I.C.O.M textbook, the Amateur Magician’s Handbook, Henry Hay talks about this subject with great expertise. I recommend you read and absorb it.

So what is “Real Magic”? Simply put, it is magic that is reduced to its lowest common denominator. No complicated steps, no large props, and a straight forward plot. The image is that of a magic man waving his wand and making magic happen plain and simple, that is the image to strive for. That is what your audience wants to see and believe.

The following trick is one that I term a “Commando Magic” trick. Why?, because, despite its simplicity, it contains all of the elements of good fool-proof magic. This is a trick that I do probably, twenty or thirty times in the course of a trade-show or roving engagement when I am working professionally. Though I feel it is a professional routine, I am offering it here in the beginners forum to acquaint the student with yet another sleight and at the same time, demonstrating how a single sleight can be made into a superb entertaining routine. Best of all., to a layman, it appears to be real magic. Try it and you’ll see.

Bobby J. Gallo’s Worlds Quickest Card Trick!

There have been a lot of tricks that have claimed to be the “world’s fastest”. If this isn’t “the” fastest, it is certainty one of the top ten! This is the first card trick that I do in my close-up and roving shows and sometimes the only one. Finger-flingers and techno-purists will be disappointed with this trick because it does not call for the triple-backhanded Albanian multiple side shift steal or similar “meant for magician only sleights”. But the routine is entertaining, it’s all presentation. Frankly, to my experience, this blows spectators away more than many of the more advanced card magic that I do. One additional point to be made is that is quick. Hence the name! In this television age, it helps to have magic that is fast, furious, and to the point. The vast majority of layman’s attention spans aren’t what they used to be.

This trick is a routine based on only one sleight called the “Slip-force”. (See “forcing a card” in the ICOM Online Glossary. Also, See pages 40-43. Amateur Magician’s Handbook)

Effect: the magician announces that he is going to perform the “world’s quickest card trick” and than faster than the spectator can look at the card, that magician names it!

Start with having a borrowed deck shuffled then cut. Remarking, I’m going to start out by doing the world’s quickest card trick! Not the world’s second., or the world’s third, but what everyone? That’s right, the world’s quickest card trick! Please take this deck and shuffle it. Make sure that they’re all mixed. did you do that? let me see, Wow, you really messed these up good! oh well, I’m going to riffle up the edges of the cards up with my thumb. like this. (illustrate) All you have to do is say stop at any point and that will be your selected card, fair enough? great, ready…..go. (magician riffles and spectator say’s stop) great! Take the card where you told me to stop, look at the “Nine of Clubs” and put it back. (Or whatever the card happens to be.) Wait!…..was that the card?… It was?… I told you it was the world’s quickest trick!, it’s already over!

Workings: After the spectator has shuffled the cards, you look through them. Merely, note the top card. Then hold the deck in the left hand in the “Mechanics Grip riffle down the side of the deck with the left thumb and when the spectator say’s stop, grasp the riffled up bulk of the deck with the right hand. Maintain pressure on the top card with the left second, third, and fourth fingers. Then as you lift away the top portion of the deck, the top card slides onto the remainder of the deck held in the left hand. The audience is led to believe that they are selecting the card that lies at the point where they told you to stop. A perfect illusion! The rest of the trick is all presentation!

Make sure you rehearse this move well to avoid exposure. It must be done quickly and smoothly.

Look for the Slip-Force to be depicted in the “I.C.O.M Sleight Of Hand Gallery” soon!


A self-working card masterpiece that fools magicians
(Not to be confused with the “Ten Pile Trick” explained in last month’s lesson.)
This routine is what I consider, “buried treasure”. About fifteen years ago I obtained a brown paper bag at a magic auction. In it were a few bits and pieces of tricks as well as a worn out type written piece of paper with a single card trick on it. There was no author, no date, as a matter of fact, no information whatsoever on who developed or published this effect. Just the trick itself. Normally I thought that it was just a piece of garbage like the rest of the trash contained in the old lunch bag. But after I read it, I realized that this was pretty good! I then performed the routine to some fellow magician friends and they were knocked out! So much so, that one of them actually threatened me with physical violence if I did not explain the method to him! (I wonder if he was joking?)

The trick from that manuscript was outdated and in need of serious work in terms of subtleties and routining. I have added what I feel are the critical elements that elevate this basic mathematical trick into a truly magical routine.

If anyone out in “magicland” knows the originator of the basic principle, please let us know so that we may give proper credit where credit is due. I have included this trick here in the “Beginners Study” because though it is a dynamite effect, it is so easy to do, it is inappropriate for the Advanced Lab”. So I.C.O.Mer’s here for the first time is the gem with which I have fooled countless layman and magicians alike. I call it TEN.

Effect: A deck of ordinary playing cards are handed to a spectator. After a few minor instructions by the magician, the spectator is asked to think of a card. Under seemingly impossible circumstances the magician names the card!

Workings: Hand the a deck of 52 cards to a spectator. (You must not use the jokers for this effect. Also, the deck must contain all 52 cards!) Have the deck examined and shuffled as many times as desired by the spectator. Multiple shuffling only serves to increase the impossibility of the effect.

Now make this statement. “To prove to all of us present that the cards are indeed ordinary and well shuffled, would you please count onto the table, face-up, and in a nice neat pile, 26 cards, exactly half of the deck”.

As the spectator is doing this, secretly count along to your self the number of cards being dealt onto the table. As they are doing this note and memorize the 7th card. This is the card you will reveal later during the climax of the routine. After a few more cards are dealt, casually state that you’ll even look away while they are doing this. This is a very strong piece of psychological misdirection. I have found that nine times out of ten, the spectators will swear you never saw any cards and that you looked away before they even began counting! In the old manuscript the instructions were for the magician to write a prediction at this point, I have found that it is stronger to verbally reveal the card at the end. Remember, your sharper audience members will realize that if you write a prediction at this point, then just before the prediction was written, you must have somehow gained the knowledge of the card. This situation never arises if they are left in the dark as to what you ultimately intend to do during the course of the entire routine.

Now after the spectator is finished counting, ask them if they are satisfied that everything is fair and above board. When they say yes, tell them to place the pile face down and to the side. Do not draw undo attention to this pile.

Now ask the spectator to look through the deck and remove any three cards and place them on the table face-up for all to see. After this is done, tell them that in order for you to get the “psychic vibrations in balance“, that all the cards equal TEN. How do we do this? Simple… If the card is a ten or picture card, it is already equal to TEN therefore you do nothing with that card, just leave it on the table next to the other two. (This makes sense, for in certain card games, all picture cards equal ten, so this is rarely questioned) If the other cards are lower than ten, the spectator must deal a number of cards into a pile beneath the selected card in an amount needed to make the selection equal ten. For example. If the card dealt is an ace, nine cards are dealt beneath it. If the card is a five, five additional cards are dealt beneath it. An so on. When this is done, the remainder of the cards are placed onto the 26 cards already on the table so all the remaining of the cards are in a neat face-down pile. Be sure not to disturb the order of these cards!

Now reiterate that the spectator shuffled the cards and had a free choice as to what cards to place on the table. After they agree, ask them to total up the cards they selected. For example, and ace, a five, and a two. The total will be eight. Ask the spectator to count down eight cards and to look at the eighth card. This is the card you have memorized at the start of the routine!

Then reveal it in any manner you wish.

Note: Once while performing this trick, a spectator actually gave me a great line to use in the event anyone questions why you need to deal cards beneath the selections. He said “That’s the smoke screen!” He was implying that in his eye’s, this step was done for misdirection purposes. In actuality, that is what makes the trick work. Try this routine, you’ll like it. In my estimation, it is the best trick of its type ever created.

A brief note concerning the “Lessons in Sleight-of-Hand”
Last month we began a series on sleights and the proper way to execute them. However, with the advent the the “Amateur Magician’s Handbook being made an official I.C.O.M Online textbook, we feel that this is no longer necessary due to the fact that most basic sleights are already covered in the text. Also, with the development of the I.C.O.M Online Sleight-of-Hand Gallery located in the library, an additional reason to cease the series became apparent. We will instead be offering additional routines and material to fill the gap created by this decision. We feel it will benefit the student of I.C.O.M Online to a great degree.

Alpha & Omega Dominoes

Not too long ago Bill Wisch and I met at a coffee shop to discuss all things I.C.O.M related. After a about and hour, a cup of coffee and a muffin, I pulled out a box of dominoes and proceeded to show Bill a mental routine. At the conclusion, he had but one thing to say, THAT’S MAGIC! Coming from Bill Wisch that is high praise indeed. Here is the routine that inspires such a comment from a world-class magician such as he.

Effect: A set of regulation dominoes is shown and mixed thoroughly. A spectator is asked to arrange the dominoes in one continuous line, matching the numbers end to end with the next domino. for example, the three would connect with a three on another domino and so on. As this is being done the magician writes a prediction, folds it and puts it aside. After the spectator is finished you ask them to name the numbers on both ends of the chain. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end so to speak. When they do, you open your prediction and they match!

This trick may be repeated with a different outcome every time!

Workings: Before the spectator begins to arrange the dominoes, take one and remove it secretly. Be sure it has two different numbers, not one where the numbers are repeated. The two numbers on the to are your prediction. The rest is automatic. When repeating the trick, secretly replace the domino and remove another to make your new prediction. If extra dominoes are left after the spectator completes their task, just use the numbers on the existing chain and discard the extras, the prediction should still prove to be true.

Answer to Presentation Problem #1: Just follow rule #3 of the Magician’s Code and you can’t go wrong! Yes I know it sounds simplistic, but many times true wisdom often is…

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 copyright 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be reproduced 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 7/97-9/97


Advanced Lab 7/97-9/97

Lesson #1


Bill Wisch 7/1/97
“Beauty of style, of grace, of harmony and of good rhythm is based on absolute simplicity.” This profound statement made by the Greek Philosopher, Theophrastus, more than 2000 years ago is still and always will be absolutely true.

I would like to give a few opinions about the subject, this month, the first of I.C.O.M Online. Simplicity is the opposite of complexity. If you think about actions and words as being the tools we use in the art of magic, then keeping them simple would be the best policy. Believe me…it is.

To discuss why is not to experience why. If you have ever wanted to learn a classic of magic, more than likely it has very few steps and a rather simple and easy-to-follow patter line. When you experience the reaction to a classic you realize why the effect is indeed a classic. It maintains attention, interest, excitement and fantasy throughout.

Complexity, on the other hand, usually leads to boredom,lack of interest and inattention on the part of the spectator. Why? Because usually the performer him or herself is so involved in details that the artistry of the acting and the spontaneity of the performance get as far along the yellow brick road as the toll booth.

Think about how you like to see magic done. To the point with the magic just occurring, I would suppose. I know that the more a magic effect, routine or show appeals to me the more direct and involving it is. This is all common sense so far but it amazes me how few performers really create the artistry and excitement of the magic.

There must be some sort of list of rules about lifting a magic performance out of the mundane or boring state? Yes, there is, and simplicity comes at the top.

I taught literally thousands of salespeople about showmanship and selling during the 1980’s. There was no list of rules about creating showmanship at the time so I had to research and create a list myself. This material has proven to be stunning in application and believe me when I say that anyone can use the five elements I found predominant with fantastic results. I plan to teach everything about the subject in the lessons ahead, possibly as a series, so I’m excited about the opportunity to share these secrets with you at I.C.O.M Online, but for now I only mention the fact that keeping a sales presentation simple is one of the most valuable techniques used by the top producers in any selling venue.

Any magic that you now do, just analyze sometime. See if you can’t break things down and get rid of all unnecessary actions and words. You’ll be surprised at the results in interest. Also, it isn’t a bad idea to check out a few books on selling and on acting if you’re really serious about developing your magic into powerful and dramatic performances.

So many magicians, clowns, entertainers, use magic as a “throw-a-way”. It’s no wonder that the general public has little respect for the art. In Europe and other parts of the world magic is reverently performed and artfully prepared. Magicians are looked up to as stars as opposed to little more than a hobbyist with a few secret props or clever strategies.

Please don’t misread my feelings. In magic anything goes to get the effect, but if effects are kept to a simple conclusion and if spectators don’t have to sit through minute after minute of cluttered mayhem, the artistry almost has to show itself.

I once was given the opportunity to write a few words about my teacher, Slydini. His main performance strategy was simplicity of action and word. This was taken to a high art by the great master and even though I’ll never attain that level*, I certainly was amazed and captivated by it.

Theophrastus and Slydini had much in common…they were both right. Keep everything you do and say simple and, believe me, you’ll have a lot more fun…and so will your audience.

*Co-directors comment: Magicians and audiences the world over would argue this point!

Advanced Lesson #2

Stick it in your ear!

By Bill Wisch
This is a “nifty” vanish and reappearance of a small coin of object.

It is most ideally performed with no sleeves or with them rolled up. I’ll describe it with a dime.

Step 1:

The left hand holds a dime at the fingertips.(index finger, second finger and thumb). The right hand comes over to take it and pretends to do just that. However, the dime stays behind and the right hand comes away pretending to be holding the dime.

NOTE: The best way to practice any pretend move or sleight in magic is to actually do the real action several times first. Pay special note to how your fingers, hands, arms, etc. carry out the particular action. Now duplicate the actions exactly when you pretend. This practice technique works and is a valuable lesson because the art if magic comes from the craft of your actions and words.

Step 2:

Bend the left arm at the elbow as if you are going to look at the elbow itself. Notice that the hand comes up to the vicinity of the left ear and the right fingertips(supposedly holding the dime) come to the left elbow/forearm. Now if you can coordinate both actions at the same time so that right (empty) fingertips contact the left arm at the exact same moment, you will have the timing sequence.

NOTE: At the end of both, coordinated movements, try to have the dime (in the left hand) in the opening of the ear. Practice this a few times until it becomes normal to you.

Step #3

The right hand pretends to rub the coin into the left forearm. At the same time the left hand moves away from the ear and is open. All the attention is on the left elbow and right hand rubbing motion.

NOTE: Take your time. Give the spectators a chance to see what you are doing. One of the most violated rules in this art is the tendency to rush through actions. Rushing your magic is one habit you do not want to acquire. Try watching a two hour movie in fast forward on you VCR…get the point?

Step #4

The hands are separated and the coin is gone. The spectators never catch the coin in the ear. You’ll find that having the coin in the ear is a strange sensation at first but the coin stays safely lodged. provided that no quick motion or leaning over is done.

NOTE: Again…take you time at this point and show that the hands are completely empty.

Step #5

Now comes the retrieval of the dime. The left arm bend again as before and the right fingertips go to the same instant that the right fingertips go to the same spot above the left elbow on the forearm. At the exact same instant that the right fingertips get to the forearm the left fingertips take the coin from the ear. All the attention is on the forearm.

Step #6

Without delay, the right arm bends and the left fingertips (with the hidden coin) go to the right elbow and produce the coin as if pulling it right out of the skin of the right forearm.


I have used quarters, nickels, and pennies and also two or even three coins one after the other. The misdirection* is so strong with this effect that the reaction to it will astound you.

I have chosen this effect to open this section of I.C.O.M Online not only to give one of the finest tricks that I use constantly (ask thousands of witnesses…you may be one of them) but to show that expensive props and complicated routines are not necessary to create the magic. It’s not what you do but how you do it. I plan to give many outstanding items to our students in the coming years but this gem will always be the classic effect of “Simplicity” in any mind. I hope you work on and enjoy it.

Co-directors comment: Readers that have reviewed this month’s beginners study would have seen how to make a coin vanish using a tried and true basic sleight of hand method. This routine in the advanced lab is a perfect example of how the same effect can be brought up several higher levels magically and made even more bewildering and exciting using creativity, subtlety and thought.

*Definition: Misdirection:

  1. An action of interest capturing the audience attention.

The Classic Corner

Thoughts on the classic “X-Ray Deck”

Bobby J. Gallo

As stated earlier, there are no tricks like the classic tricks. However, is it possible for a trick to be a classic when it is rarely performed?. I think it is. One such routine that stands out in my mind is the classic “X-Ray Deck”. This gimmicked deck has been around for almost a hundred years. Vernon in various instances even talked about this deck back in his early days. It has been purchased by thousands of magicians over the decades only to be relegated to the dark recesses of the bottoms of most magicians magic drawers.

The purpose of this lesson is to relate the impact of this particular deck. If performed properly, this is the only card trick you need to do in a close-up act. Which, by the way, is fortunate, because the “X-Ray Deck” can only be used for one basic effect. The revelation of a freely selected playing card.

Do “I” use this effect?, truthfully I will say that I only use it on occasion. My repertoire consists mainly of sleight-of-hand. Many working magicians will tell you, sleights are arguably the best route to go. but even when working pure*, gimmicks have their place. I myself after roving* for around three hours, start to lose a bit of coordination due to the natural fatigue that is often associated with doing 500 double lifts, 200 palms, and 700 forces!. So when those times come, the “X-Ray Deck” more than fills the bill.

The “X-Ray Deck” comes with very basic instructions, hence the need for this lesson. Rather than making your own, we encourage you to buy a deck that is ready to go. It really isn’t worth the trouble of making it yourself. That is to assume that you do not already have one. (I’m sure half of the magicians reading this are searching for theirs as I speak!). To our knowledge, a tried and tested handling has never before been taught, so here for the first time is a professional handling of, “The X-Ray Deck!”

The “X-Ray Deck” is divided into two sections. 26 regular cards, and 26 cards that are gimmicked by having an oval shaped hole punched into the upper left hand corners of the cards. This clever secret allows the performer to glimpse* a selected card that is inserted into the gimmicked half of the deck only to revealed in some way at a later time. Fig #1 shows the construction of the cards.

Start by having the deck assembled with all the gimmicks on top of the deck and all the regular cards beneath them with the JOKER being the the first card on top of the bottom stack. This card can then be transferred to the bottom of the gimmicked stack when the halves are separated. See Fig.#2

Start by showing the deck to be all mixed and different to the audience by fanning the cards out, keeping the deck positioned to that the holes are held towards the body. As you fan through the deck locate the joker and cut the deck at this point keeping the joker with the gimmicked half which you retain while giving the spectators the un-gimmicked half. If the spectator requests that he/she takes the other half state that “it isn’t possible due to the fact that this half contains a very magical friend that will aid me in the feat of magic!”

Have the spectator look over their cards selecting any that they choose. (A point that makes this routine “very” strong!) then, while your head is turned, they are to place their card face down into your half. Make sure you maintain a tight grip on your cards so that the cards maintain a squared appearance throughout this process. This also aids in keeping the cards in “your” hands not the spectators!

Now comes a bit of showmanship. With your head still turned, openly square the cards stating that by doing so, you have completely removed the possibility of finding the card and it is now totally lost in your half. (this is what is called “Magician’s logic*”)

Now, turn your half of the deck toward you so that the faces of the cards face the body and the gimmicked corners are in the upper left hand corner of the deck. Then proceed to remove the joker, displaying it to the audience and creating a line*, something like, this is my friend, the joker, he likes to have fun, but tonight he’ll be serious and tell me what card you are thinking of. Hold the joker up to your ear and listen, but at this point, do not be tempted to look at the deck and glimpse the card. You will have enough time for that, just keep acting at this point. Pretend that you are not getting any vibrations or that the joker isn’t telling you anything. Replace the card on the face of the pack once again. casually show it around stating that at this point in time you cannot reveal the card due to the fact that the joker won’t cooperate. Ask the spectator to ask the joker, maybe he/she will have better luck! (this always gets a laugh!)

After seeing that spectators are not having any luck comes the critical move. Turn the joker towards yourself and scold the card for embarrassing you in this routine(don’t scare the kids now!). While you are doing this, use your left thumb to slide the joker slightly to the right leaving the upper left hand corners of the cards exposed for just a second. The selected card will be staring you right in the face through the cut-out holes!

At this point, get the message, and reveal the card in any entertaining manner you wish. Go through the cards, remove the selected card and you are already to do the routine at the next table!

Note: We strongly suggest that you visit your local magic shop and purchase one of these decks from them, however, we will be stocking these in the I.C.O.M Online catalog for those who do not have a shop locally.


  • Working pure: Performing magic utilizing sleight-of-hand as the main form of modus-operandi.
  • Roving: A style of performance where the entertainer strolls around to small groups of spectators exhibiting close-up magic rather than a set stand-up program.
  • Glimpse: A technique used by magicians as well as card sharps to gain the identity of a particular playing card chosen by a spectator or dealt during a card game.
  • Magician’s Logic: Reasonings that the magician uses to persuade an audience that a given routine is fair and above board. This technique aids in misdirection and keeps the spectators from questioning certain handlings in the effect.
  • Line: A scripted piece of speech used by an entertainer to give justification to a trick or routine.

September 1997

X-Ray Vision “Round Two”
Bobby J. Gallo
One of my favorite effects in magic is x-ray vision. In his book, “The Trick Brain”, X-ray Vision or seeing through matter would be part of Fitzkees 19 basic effects of magic. He would have classified it as effect number thirteen “Physical Anomaly”.

The effect is very strong. It is one of the few experiments a conjurer can undertake that actually gives him/her the appearance of supernatural powers. Perhaps this is because we have witnessed superheroes use this “super power” if you will, in comic books and on television. Nevertheless, it has great appeal with audiences and never ceases to amaze me that so few entertainers actually use this type of act in their show. Then again, maybe we should all be thankful of that fact.

In last months lesson, I gave a routine to be used with the classic x-ray deck. Though it is a fine routine, I wanted to touch upon how a similar effect may be applied to stage presentations with the same or even increased effect.

Effect: The magician after being legitimately blindfolded is able to name a single, or number of ordinary playing cards freely selected and placed in a spectators pocket.

Needed: A bandanna handkerchief and a pack of cards.

Working: The main secret of the effect is the way you are blindfolded. When the bandanna is folded and tied around your head, it appears as if there is a very thick layer of material obscuring your vision. However, before the the actual application of the bandanna, you have folded it in a very special way to facilitate vision.

Start by laying the bandanna on your table and accordion pleat each end towards the center without ever reaching it. What you are left with is a thin layer of cloth in the center of the bandanna that can be seen through. Fortunately, you have second avenue with which you can see as well.

After the application of the bandanna around your head, covering your eye’s, look down. You will notice that you have a line of vision unobscured down the sides of your nose. Do not let the spectator tie the handkerchief on. Only the performer should do it. Remember, they are not aware of what you are about to attempt, so there is no reason whatsoever for them to suspect that you are trying to see “through” the bandanna.

Now, after you are blindfolded, take the cards out of your pocket and hand them to the spectator. Have them remove any card that they choose and hand it to you. Take this opportunity to glimpse the card down the side of your nose. Use the transparency feature only to make sure that the volunteer from the audience isn’t trying to foul up your performance in any way. This is the first application to my knowledge of a magical secret being used to keep an audience in check!

Have the spectator place the card in his/her pocket. Use you magical powers to look into their pocket and pick out the card. Repeat the moves again for additional cards. The trick is mainly presentation, so make the most of it.

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

Part #1

Dr. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician
As in the case of artists in all of the performing arts, inclusive but not limited to theatre, dance, and music, the magical enthusiast who would move from the role of hobbyist to the role of performer is no exception. Magical entertainment is an art which requires both magicianship and showmanship. This first series of articles by Dr. OM considers the magical theatre arts components of setting, characterization, acting, costuming, make-up, action, stage blocking, stage business with and without magical props, plot and storyline, climax, denouement, lighting, sound, special effects, encore, coaching, and direction. Dr. OM’s intention is to objectively submit varying points of view on each component, and while expressing his own preferences leave the final judgments and choices to the reader, in terms of the reader’s own personal preference of presentation style.

Professional magicians should appear on a bare stage with few of no stage furnishings and perform magic as would a real magician. This modern contention is at odds with the great magical performers of the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century who performed on elaborately set stages and employed colorful and conventionally magical looking stage furnishings and properties. Dr.OM contends that herein lies the essential stylistic choice of the modern magical entertainer subject of course, to the liberating or restricting demands of the venues in which the magician performs and costs of production.

Clearly, complex stage trappings are difficult to transfer into small platform, floor show, or parlor staging areas. The number of performances per day, logistics of the venues, and transportability are additional considerations of the allowable elaborativenessess of setting. Cruise ship magicians frequently must prepare themselves for staging area entrances in narrow ship’s passage ways. Itinerant magicians performing in private homes, social clubs, corporate hotel banquet halls, restaurants, comedy clubs, school auditoriums, and night clubs each have particular restrictions placed upon them. this present series of articles predicates ideal proscenium stage conditions. As a matter of course each performer must trim down that which is possible under ideal stage conditions to suit the restrictive demands of each actual venue.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a bare stage or bare staging area. If left unaltered by settings, the stage or room in which the magician performs will retain its original visual character, into which environment the magician enters as a visitor reinforced only by his costume and properties. Pulling the audience into his magical world is effected psychologically by the artist magician. Where and when possible, limited stage lighting, if only a follow spot, will provide focus upon that magical world. Otherwise, the magician must depend entirely upon his personality, charisma, stage presence, magnetism, wit, and skill while surrounded by found objects, furnishings, and natural light foreign to the magical world he must create and into which his invited audience must willingly enter in a suspension of disbelief.

On the other hand, stage settings visually and concretely establish the environment of the magician’s magical world. Stage settings set the tone and the mood of a magical theatrical production into which, as the father of modern magic, Houdin, pointed out, the magician enters as an actor playing the part of a magician. Stage setting includes not only scenery or back drop but also stylized stage furnishings and properties which are consistent with the character which the actor/magician is portraying. The portrayed character appears as the protagonist of the magical theatre piece. The protagonist may be a hero, as in the case of David Copperfield, or an anti-hero, as in the case of Johnny Thompson. The hero magician is an actor performing the part of a real magician possessed of real magical powers. The magical anti-hero must be a comedic magician who frequently fails in his attempts to invoke magic.

Dr.OM, himself, chooses to be a comedic magician, an anti-hero, a magician in trouble, a bungler, and a fumbler upon whom the magic happens to his own surprise, rather than the wizard performer of actual magical feats. Of course, as Shakespeare exemplified, if you can first make them laugh and then make them cry–that’s good too! Confessedly, Dr.OM is beyond middle age, rather portly, balding, and neither young nor handsome enough to assume a persona of the kinds assumed by David Copperfield or Lance Burton. Later in the article dealing with characterization more will be discussed about the choice of character appropriate to the physical appearance of the actor magician. In the context of this present discussion of stage setting, characterization inevitably must be mentioned, because the setting does much to establish the character of the actor-magician for the audience. Be it said that the choice of character must be left to the reader on his own terms and in accordance with his own self image.

Having chosen his anti-heroic character, Dr.OM constructs and decorates all components of his stage settings including: scenery, furniture, and props; unless, items such as silks, balls, and linking rings are readily available, given careful and thoughtful selection, in the commercial market place. Generally however, appearing before an audience in a store-bought setting, which has that slick and sterile look of sameness with other magician’s store bought settings, is as lamentable as smiling at an audience with store bought teeth; not that that can’t be done by the right actor portraying the right character. In art anything is possible. However, nothing can beat a lovingly wrought setting which bears the personal stamp of the magician himself as actor-character. Therefore, the serious magical performer must be a jack-of-all-theatrical trades and must acquire education and skills in set design and construction, as well as all of the other components of magical theatre production. The demands are great, but you can ,meet them, and must, because setting provides the place for the magic to happen.

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.
Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Online Library for Dr.Om’s “Devils Dictionary”, a list of theatrical terms worth learning…

“T.I.P. of the Wand” – September 1997
By Bill Wisch
“Misdirection…it’s all an act!”
This is the second article I’ve done for I.C.O.M concerning theory. The first subject was, I believe, a most valuable one, since simplicity is vital to the interest level during magical performance.This month I’d like to cover another subject of great importance…misdirection. I consider it the life’s blood of sleight-of-hand-performance.

In 1995 I had the pleasure and honor to lecture in New York City for Assembly #1 for some of the finest and most knowledgeable magicians anywhere. When they asked me to appear they wanted me to cover something that would be new and pertain to the ideas and methods of the great Tony Slydini. I must say I wrestled with what I’d do for quite some time. Then, almost out of nowhere, I remembered what everyone had always said about Slydini…the fact that he was the “master of misdirection”. I knew it, but actually did not know for certain what it was that he did differently from other magicians that actually made him the master of misdirection.

At the lecture I asked the magicians what they felt was the meaning of misdirection. After they got done with the strange looks they actually realized I was serious. One person said it was getting a spectator to look in a different place from where the secret action was taking place. Another said misdirection was an action that took attention to where you, as the performer, wanted it to be. There are, I’m sure, many versions of the same thought…that misdirection takes something someplace. But taking attention away from or to someplace or whatever you do with it is actually a result rather than a cause. In other words…WHAT IS IT THAT TAKES THE ATTENTION AWAY? Most magicians accept the cause rather than the effect…I was one of them.

Slydini was a fantastic actor. His acting ability was so developed that his mannerisms, words and actions always fit his personality perfectly. I believe that the real definition of misdirection is simply ACTING. Think about it. When you move an object from one place to another the audience will follow the action with their eyes. If you move that object in a manner that is suspicious then the audience will become suspicious. If you move that object in a natural manner then the audience will not pay it any mind or think anything was abnormal. Now, if something must be accomplished that you don’t want discovered, then in order to carry out the task, secretly you must act normally with another action; by the other hand; the eyes; the turn of the head; body shifting…ANY normal action that people will notice instead of the secret action. That’s where the acting comes in.

Slydini acted so naturally that any secret action went totally unnoticed…even after having seen the effect many times or even being shown the secret! When you see the term misdirection printed in the instructions for a magic effect or routine try substituting the word ACTING. In fact, the best advice I can give about misdirection is the same I mentioned to the S.A.M.assembly during that lecture…take notice of how you normally do things. It sounds ridiculous but pay strict attention to how you perform natural actions…moving an object…picking up an object…placing an object down…ANY natural action you perform when you do you magic. It’s absolutely amazing how easy it is to divert attention when you think of it as doing a natural action as opposed to having to just DO something to get attention. I remember Slydini freaking out when he saw a well known magician lap a ball during a cup and ball routine by just bringing his hand back to the edge of the table while he moved the other hand. It was on a TV show we were watching and Slydini yelled out, “he didn’t even move his body forward when he moved the object with the other hand!”. The magician had simply moved the hand to the edge of the table and dropped the ball into his lap, and even though he moved another object while he did that,everyone in the viewing audience, magicians and lay people alike, saw and noticed the lapping move.

I could probably beat this premise to death…maybe I already have, but I certainly expect to continue discussing this topic from time to time as other thoughts and ideas come to me. I just wanted to get the basic thought to you so you could think about it at your leisure. One thing for certain…there was a reason Slydini was the master of misdirection…it was all an act. He was a masterful actor and the misdirection just came naturally. It will for you too if you give it some serious thought.

Beginning this month you notice that I have entitled this page “T.I.P. of the Wand.”The T.I.P. is an acronym for “Theory In Practice”. I’d like to make this a monthly discussion of a piece of magical theory being put into actual practice…

The Riding Angel Penetration
“A World-Class Feature Close-Up Mystery in the Miracle Class!

Ronald J. Dayton
I will be the first to admit that the name given to this effect is a bit bizarre. But once you understand the working method behind it all, things may seem a bit more logical.

This is the way the effect appears to your audience. First of all, an ungimmicked wine glass is standing to your left on the close-up mat. This is a stemmed goblet, approximately four inches in height. The interior of the glass itself is about two and one quarter inches deep. The opening of the mouth is nearly two inches wide. The base is slightly larger in width.*

In your right hand you are holding a cased deck of Bicycle Rider Back playing cards. The deck is held at one end between the first finger and thumb of the hand.

You ask for a loan of a quarter. The coin is received in your left hand and openly tabled. You casually show the card case in your right hand front and back then the case is carefully placed over the mouth of the wine glass. Both hands are used to position it. The case effectively makes entry into the glass impossible.

The borrowed coin is now picked up in the right hand. The right hand moves over to and above the cased deck. With a quick tap, the fingers of the right hand bring their coin down on the top of the case. In that instant, the quarter is seen to visibly penetrate the ungimmicked case and fall into the bottom of the wine glass. The right hand lifts and is seen to be empty.

The card case is lifted from the mouth of the glass and is set down on your table. The glass is taken by the left hand, and the coin is poured into the waiting right hand. You then transfer the coin to your left hand after setting the glass aside. The coin, glass and card case may be freely examined if so desired.

METHOD: First of all, it is important to note that the color of the ink on the back design of any given deck of cards is usually not as dark as the matching design printed on the back of the card case itself. It will be necessary for you to make a color photo copy of the card case you intend to use. Open the case and carefully remove the cello cover. Now carefully disassemble the case…opening out both top and bottom flaps so the case may be flattened. In this flattened state, make a color copy of the back design on the case. Reassemble the case. Put the deck back in and slip on the cello covering.

Looking at the card design you have copied you will see two circular areas which have the image of a cupid or angel riding a bicycle within. These circle are very nearly the exact same size as a U.S. quarter. Place a square of carpet tape on the back of the color copy sheet so it is in the same area as the two angel circles. Now, with a good pair of scissors, carefully cut each of the rider back circles out. Make the cut just above or outside of the thin blue line within the circle. Once this is done, peel the backing off from one of the circles and adhere the rider back circle to the tail side of the quarter. You special gimmick is complete. Keep the backing paper on the second circle and retain this as a spare gimmick.

Just before you’re ready to perform this effect, position the circle gimmick over the lower circle on the card case. This is the one opposite the top flap. The first finger of the right hand rests on the chest of the angle, the thumb grips the deck at the opposite side or front of the deck.

With the visible wine glass in place upon your table, the loan of a quarter is made. You follow through as explained earlier. Casually flashing the card case front and back will not reveal its secret. Now, using both hands, carefully set the coin and case on the mouth of the glass. The tip of the right hand first finger can assist in pushing the coin edge flush with the outer surface of the glass. You now pretend to pick the quarter up off the table with your right hand. In reality, it is lapped. The hand now moves over the top of the case, and with a downward tap it is pressed against the case. This tap dislodges the hidden coin which will fall, nine times out of ten, heads side up in the bottom of the glass with your left hand, covering the interior of the glass briefly until you know the result of the coin fall.

The empty right hand is shown casually, then it lifts the case off from the mouth of the glass and sets the cards aside. While this is being done, the left hand goes to the lap and retrieves the borrowed coin. The left hand then lifts the glass and pours the gimmicked coin into the waiting right hand. Using a shuttle pass once the glass has been tabled, you seemingly place it into the left hand. The gimmicked coin is lapped, and the borrowed coin is tossed from the left hand on to the table. Everything may now be examined.

An alternate handling..the borrowed coin is actually picked up by the right hand and openly placed on top of the card case. Now, when you make the tapping motion, the fingertips of the right hand come down on the deck dislodging the gimmicked coin. The right hand fingers momentarily cover the borrowed coin. The thumb of the right hand now pulls the coin back, down and around the edge of the case, and flat against the underside or back of the case. This is a bold but pretty move if you take the time to perfect it.

The case is now picked up by the right hand in a simultaneous action and placed on to the left hand. This deposits the borrowed quarter right where you want it, on the palm of the left hand.

The left hand then tables the card case and immediately reaches to pick up the glass by its stem. The visible coin is poured into the right hand. Left hand tables the glass, then the right hand shuttle passes the gimmicked coin, seeming to place it into the left. In reality, the gimmicked coin is retained in the right and lapped as the borrowed coin in the left is then displayed. Again, you are clean, and all props may be examined if you so desire.

If the gimmicked coin should have happened to have fallen gimmick side up during this handling, simply execute the cover move with the left hand. Lift the case and borrowed coin from the glass with the right hand. Table the case and lap the coin. Do a full turn over the glass with the left hand to unsure the gimmick comes up tail side up on the right hand. Set the glass aside. Secretly get the borrowed coin with the left hand as the gimmick is displayed in the right. Pretend to transfer the coin in the right hand to the left. Lap the gimmick and toss the genuine coin out for examination or simply return it to its owner.

If you would like, Bill Wisch has suggested holding the gimmick secretly in place with a rubber band which is around the deck from the start. This is a great idea. It allows you to carry the set deck in your pocket. Remove the wine glass from your case…and the deck from your right hand pocket. Openly remove the band, retaining the gimmick behind as explained earlier.

Make the gimmick coins in both red and blue. This offers you variety…and often, you are able to borrow the deck itself, and the host will be amazed at what you can do with it.

Try this effect many times for yourself, and then for a handful of friends you trust. Work out the angles and handling ploys. Find out for yourself if you’d rather use the left hand covering ploy of the glass in every instance or not. In all fairness, it would probably be best to do so rather than tip the working method.

The rounded bottom of the glass I have described seems to control the coin rather well. That is not to say that you shouldn’t try a variety of glasses to find which will and will not work. Never take one suggestion as THE rule of thumb. You must find your own individual way to success.

*Of course you may experiment with different types of glasses and cups. Young magicians may find it difficult to obtain a wine glass therefore any plastic drinking cup will suffice.

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 copyright 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be reproduced 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.

ICOM Sleight Of Hand Gallery

The I.C.O.M Online

Sleight-Of-Hand Gallery

Due To The Large Amount Of Images, Please Allow A Few Minutes For Download Time…

Throughout I.C.O.M courses, you will be given references to sleights needed to work with various routines. This page is here to explain any moves that may need clarification by providing simple explanations and stop-action photos. If there are any sleights that you would like us to list and describe, please let us know, we will include them as soon as possible for the benefit of all I.C.O.M Online members.

Classic Sleights

By the hands of Bobby J. Gallo

Billiard Ball Sleights

Fig#1: Billiard ball in classic palm position. (Magician’s view)

Fig#2: Billiard ball in finger palm position. (Magician’s view)

Fig#3: Billiard ball in touch palm position. (Magician’s view)

The French Drop
The standard vanish of all small hand-held objects.

Fig#4: Ball or object is held at the tips of right hand, left hand comes over the top to shield the ball from view.

Fig#5: As left hand covers the ball, it is allowed to drop into the waiting right hand palm where is is then classic or finger palmed. Left hand pretends to come away with ball only to make it appear to vanish in thin air.

The following series of examples illustrate a complete billiard ball roll flourish from start to finish. Fig#6 through #10

End sequence.

Classic billiard ball multiplication moves.

Fig#11: Billiard ball is held between the forefinger and tin the with the second finger beneath the ball. With an upward shift, the ball is…

Fig#12: …brought up between the first and second fingers. The shell still being held between the thumb and forefinger. (audience view) The audience now see’s two balls. If the move is reversed, two balls can be made to transform into one.

Fig#13: The ball and shell held in the fingers. (Magician’s view)

Fig#14: Ball previously held between the first and second fingers in shifted up between the third and fourth fingers by bringing the third finger below the ball as in the previous move and shifting upwards.

Fig#15: Another ball is secretly introduced in to the shell and the first move repeated after first bringing the ball between the second and third fingers between the third and fourth fingers. This example shows the final result. All billiard balls fully produced (audience view)

Coin Sleights

The Palming of coins

Fig#16: “The classic palm” (Magician’s view)

Fig#17: Coin held in finger palm position. (Magician’s view)

Fig:#18: Thumb Palm Position (Magician’s view)

Fig#19: Finger squeeze palm using a silver dollar sized coin (Magician’s view)

Coin production move

Coin starts in thumb palm position.

Fig:#20: Fingers are brought inwards. First and second fingers clip the coin from thumb palm position. (Magician’s view)

Fig#21: Straighten out the fingers bringing the clipped coin between the first and second outstretched fingertips

The backpalming (vanishment) of a coin.

Fig #22: Coin is first held in finger squeeze palm position. Coin remains clipped between the first and fourth fingers, while the second and third fingers are curled inwards, pivoting the coin along its axis.

Fig #23: Audience view of final result. Coin is hidden in back of hand clipped between the first and fourth fingers.

Card Sleights


Fig#24: Classic overhand shuffle

Fig#25: Riffle Shuffle

Fig#26: Bridge

Fig#27: Poker Shuffle


Fig#28: Standard two-handed fan-Position of hands prior to making the two-handed fan

Fig#29: Right hand applies pressure with fingertips or thumb to upper left hand corner of cards.

Fig#30: Cards are spread clockwise to form the two-handed fan.

Fig#31: Reverse Fan-By reversing the fan in a counter-clockwise direction when formation occurs, the entire deck appears blank.

Fig#32: One-handed fan-Hold the deck as illustrated.

Fig#33: By shifting the humb upwards at the same time the hand other four digits are shifting downwards, the fan is formed.

Fig#34: Twin one-handed fans-By duplicating the process with half of the deck in each hand, a decorative flourish results. Move shown here with a magician’s fanning deck.

Fig#35: Flourish complete.

Card Palming

Fig#36: Top card of deck stolen off the top of the deck in the process of being palmed.

Fig#37: A card in palm position. Remember, keep the hand in a natural position.

Fig#38: By using similar moves described in Fig#22, a card can be backpalmed to show the same hand seemingly empty.

One handed cuts
Charlier Pass

Fig#39: Cards are held at the tips of fingers as half of the stock is allowed to fall into the palm.

Fig#40: Forefinger is brought under the bottom stock and shifts them up as the entire hands spreads out. The result is that the bottom half clears the top and the cut is completed.

Fig#41: Edge Cut-Cards are gripped in the talon hold as shown.

Fig#42: Thumb clips off the top half of the card stock and shifts it back while the second, third, and fourth fingers squeeze inwards causing the bottom half of the deck to spring upwards making same to clear the top half of the deck. Cut is then completed.

Ribbon Spread Flourish

Fig#43: Cards placed on working surface as shown.

Fig#44: Cards are then spread from left to right in a smooth ribbon-like row with forefinger helping to keep control of spacing the cards out equally.

Fig#45: Turnover-By turning over the left hand end card, the entire ribbon spread can be made to turnover.(Hence the name!)

Other Popular Card Sleights and Flourishes

Fig#46: Springing the deck– hold the cards in right hand has shown, bending the cards inwards.

Fig#47: Cards are released on-at-a-time, into the left hand in rapid succession. Student must gain a feel for this.

Double Lift

Fig#48: Hold card as in illustration. Lift up the top two cards as one keeping them squared.
(Magician’s View)

Top Change

Fig#49: Hold cards as illustrated. As indifferent card comes down onto the deck, the intended card is out jogged and clipped between the second and third fingers and brought away. Simultaneously, the indifferent card is deposited on top of the deck. All this is done in one fluid motion.

Card Slip

Fig#50: Selected card is on the top of the deck. With the deck held end for end in the left hand, the right hand comes underneath and grasps the top card slipping it to the bottom. This move can also be reversed to bring the bottom card to the top.

Fan Control

Fig#51: Card is selected and returned to the card fan. Pressure is maintained with the forefingers and thumb to keep the card from fully re-entering the fan.

Fig#52: Fan is closed and injogged. The selected card will be jutting out approx: 1/8 in. Thumb presses down on the card and pushes it home. A break in the deck results allowing the performer to control the card as desired.

The Glide

Fig#53: Cards are held as shown. Second, third, and fourth fingers cause the bottom card to slide back thus allowing the next card to be removed. This may be repeated any number of times.

Hindu Shuffle

Fig#54: Selected card, card to be forced etc., is on the bottom of the deck. Top half of stock is removed. Hand containing the bottom half then begins to strip off small piles of cards in rapid succession giving the appearance of shuffling the cards. The bottom card(s) are never disturbed.

Thimble Sleights

Fig#55: Thumb palming a thimble.

Fig#56: Thimble production moves #1.

Fig#57: Thimble production completed #2.

Fig#58-59: Jumping thimble move

Fig#60: Thimble vanish move-Thimble is held as is Fig#56. Thimble is then brought behind the left hand where it is then thumb palmed as in Fig#54. Left hand is then brought way pretending to hold thimble. Vanish is then enacted.

Fig#61: Thimble is on right thumb to start. It is then brought into the left fist and is grasped at the same time with the right hand forefingers and is stolen back in the right hand.

Advanced Sleights

By the hands of Bill Wisch

Fig#62: The One-Handed Card Palm.
Cards are held as per illustration. Pinky shifts upper right hand corner of card slightly out and down. This causes the top card to spring up into the palm of hand.

The following series of shots explain the Bill Wisch coin clip vanish.


Fig# 64

Fig# 65: Notice the coin now being clipped under the fist…(Only half of coin is visible)

Fig# 66: Coin is grasped in finger-clip position with the middle and third fingers during the action of poking the forefinger into the left fist.

Fig# 67: Middle and third fingers are shifted back into palm along with the clipped coin.

Fig# 68: This next series show the correct way to effect a coin vanish using the classic palm. A Slydini technique would be to use the forefinger to correctly position the coin into the palm prior to vanish as shown.

Fig # 69: Coin appears to drop into left hand while it is retained in right hand classic palm. (Even though not visible in this photo, coin is in palm position)

Fig# 70: As hand appears to grab coin, fingers rub against skin creating a grasping sound to facilitate the illusion that an object is being taken.

Fig# 71: Position right before magician effects the vanish proper. Note that the left hand pretends to hold the coin that is actually classic palmed in the right hand.

Fig# 72: The first-step of the the famous “Farrow Shuffle”

Fig# 73: Preparing for the weave.

Fig# 74: Executing the weave. Notice the position of the forefinger to keep the two halves flush.

Fig# 75: A perfect “Farrow”

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 copyright 1997,1998,1999,2000,2001,2001,2002,2003 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be reproduced 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 and international treaties.