I.C.O.M PAST LESSON ARCHIVE
I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 4/98-6/98
This page is devoted to general studies and information that may not fit neatly
into other study areas or is knowledge fit for both beginner and advanced
students. It also acts as the I.C.O.M main theory page. Theory is where the true
magic lies, study it well. It is the inner workings of the magical art far beyond
the secrets of any tricks, effects or routines.
I.C.O.M Online is proud to introduce the following new series of articles by Ron
Dayton. The following installment is worth your undivided attention. It is a true
lesson in magic.
Ronald J. Dayton
roads of travel toward an elusive goal.
I have mentioned several sources for creative inspiration. One of my favorites
is the magic catalog. If you can get your hands on older catalogs as well as more
current ones, you may be able to discover not only useful information, but trends
and cycles as well. It seems that effects in magic go in stages. One year, ring and
lace effects may be all the rage, the next, diminishing card cases and the following
year, movable holes are the latest thing. You see the same thing happen in the motion
picture industry. They go from sci-fi to war films, to comedy to prison flicks. The
movie goers tire of certain movies and demand something new. It’s the same in magic.
So, the catalogs may well not only point you toward a new effect, they may well indicate
which type of effect will be coming into vogue.
When paging through your magic
catalog, allow your mind to roam. Go from close-up to stage effects, silks to coins,
paper to rope. An unrestricted mind will soon begin to form mental links. random
unions will be made. An overlapping of thoughts will help you to break away from
more stringent lines of thinking. This will work in a similar way to the lists suggested
earlier. It will assist your mind in rejecting certain patterns of thought. Seemingly
unrelated effects will suddenly begin to merge. It’s a useful method to exercise
TAKE A HIKE
Another nifty way to think in an inventive
manner is not to think about it at all! That’s right. Walk away from it for a while.
When you are relaxed, and not under the direct pressure of ‘having’ to invent something,
ideas seem to pop up at the most unexpected times. I should be embarrassed to say
this, but I’m not really, that many of my best ideas have come to me while I was
at my place of employment. Here again, when ever an idea came to me, it was quickly
jotted down. Too many good ideas have been lost simply because they were not acted
You may also choose to stimulate your thinking by thinking
in a new location, or change of atmosphere. Like a creative writer, you may need
to get away from the norm. Select new surroundings in which to work and concentrate.
Music may be used to set the mood as well as lighting. Make the experience as pleasant
and comfortable as possible.
STICK WITH IT
Experience has proven
time and time again that ideas are exactly that, just IDEAS. All the brainstorming
in the world will not prove conclusively that something WILL work. Many things look
great on paper but won’t get off the ground in the real world. When the time comes,
in many instances, you will need a proto-type.
A number of years ago I developed
an idea for a new version of cigarette through half dollar. I contacted a manufacturer
of magic coins, and after some study, it was determined that the project would be
far too costly. Special compound dies would be required, special tooling. The costs
were too high to justify the variation. Three years later, an alternate design became
evident to me. But once again, no ‘proof’ of its credibility was available. The design
was much easier and cost effective to produce. To make a long story short, The
Dayton Ultimate Cigarette Thru Half was eventually born. It is the only mechanical
coin ever made which could be shown both sides, before, DURING and after the penetration.
An idea, with perserverance, went from the mind, to paper to reality.
you stick with a project, and it comes to fruition, there is no better feeling of
satisfaction. The feeling is awesome.
is one last phase I would like to touch on in regards to your own personal preparation
for creativity, and that is the subject of reading material. I suggest the following:
Tarbell Course in Magic, Vol. 1-7……………………………………… Tannens
Phoenix & New Phoenix…………………………………………………..
Thayer Quality Magic; Vol. 1-4…………………………………………………Magic
The Jinx.. ………………………………………………………………………………Tannens
Rices Encyclopedia of Silk Magic, Vol 1-3………………………………….
The Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks1 Vol 1-3…………………………………
JackHughesWorld of MagicVol. 1………………………………………………Hughes
of Dove Magic, Vol 1-4…………………………………………Supreme
A Choice of Miracles
A Continuation of Miracles……………………………………………………Magical
The Crowning Miracles
The New Modern Coin Magic…………………………………………………..Magic
Magic of Pavel………………………………………………………………….Supreme
Thumb Tip Miracles…………………………………………………… Rare
The Illustrated History of Magic………………………………………………….Crowell
and Levitations……………………………………………………… Hades
Showmanship For Magicians…………………………………………………
The Trick Brain
Magic By Misdirection
by Karl Fulves……………………………………………………Karl Fulves/Dover
Success and Magic…………………………………………………………………..Secret
It is important
to make ourselves as aware as possible to new advances in technology, science and
electronics, as well as new product releases. Reading publications such as Popular
Science and Popular Mechanics may serve you well. Look at items carefully while browsing
through your local variety store. Toy stores are also fabulous places to wander.
Keep your eyes peeled when those catalogs come in the mail from such places as Spencers
Gifts or the Electronic Goldmine. They often contain novel items which the wide awake
magician can put to use. Look beyond the original use and try to visualize another
form and function. It will often be worth your while if you do.
In the concluding
words to one of my books I said: ” Think of an effect my friend. It CAN be
done!” Well, needless to say, that raised more than a few eyebrows. Some
reviewers felt it was far too broad a statement to make. But think about it. Go back
to the concept that THE IMPOSSIBLE IS THAT WHICH IS YET UNTRIED. If you defeat yourself
before you begin, naturally you will fail. Make a dedicated attempt at creativity.
If the first attempt dosen’t work out, try again! Hang on to all your notes concerning
ideas and methods. Perhaps in a year, or five.. .or more, the correct solution will
come to light. Above all, maintain your dreams. They too may become reality.
the person who is NOT directly involved in the performance or production of magic
can assist in its growth and well being. If you choose only to be a magic enthusiast,
or a collector, you will be doing your part. You act as a catalyst. Your support
and zeal motivate others. Like any part of the whole, your importance is immeasurable.
” Think of an effect my friend. It CAN be done!”
Co-Directors Note: The International Conservatory Of Magic is grateful
to Ronald J. Dayton for this fantastic work that has run since the beginning of our
Internet endeavor. For those wishing to read “Creativity” in its entirety,
it will be enshrined in the ICOM Online Library as a Cyber-Textbook ™ It should
be read, re-read, and read again. This IS magical education at its best, and that
is why we are all here…….
I.C.O.M Online is extremely proud
to present a world exclusive!
Dr. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician
Part VII April 1998
Not only is “SEEING IS BELIEVING” so, but,
so too, is BELIEVING IS BELIEVEMENT. If the magician believes that magic is actually
happening before his own eyes, so too, will the audience experience belief.
AND FORESHADOW inform the audience about that which has already happened and that
which is yet to come, in a drama. STYLE is the outcome of skills acquired through
study and imitation, but personalized through the originality of the performer. STYLE
is the personal stamp of the artist. The distinctive style of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet
sets him apart from all other trumpet players. His style would be recognized in a
TONE is a function of psychological distance between the performer
and the audience. The closer to the audience, the more casual; the more distant from
the audience, the more formal will the performer appear.. Distance is not a reference
to feet or yards, but might better be explained, as exemplified by comparing the
casual tone achieved by Carl Ballentine, the comedic magician, and Joseph Dunninger,
the dignified and aloof mentalist. A seated speech delivery, placing the speaker
on the same level with the audience, tends to seem casual; a standing speech delivery
which places the speaker on a level above the audience, tends to seem formal.
is the psychological ambiance of a performance, and is both intellectually and emotionally
underpinned. A performance may be serious or frivilous in mood; or light hearted
or melancholic in mood: the ALLEGRO or PENSEROSO of the stage, if you will. BUILDS:
The peaks and valleys of art require both CRESCENDO and DECRESCENDO. A work of art
cannot be sustained at a constant climactic pitch. Stillness is as important as motion;
silence as important as sound; deccelleration as important as accelleration; and
PIANO as important as FORTE. Art is the consequence of nuance not noise; subtlety
not grossness. Decrescendo makes crescendo possible
ENHANCEMENTS OF PHYSICAL
COSTUME AND MAKE-UP
For television appearances in the nonformal
performance mode (Guest Shots), magicians should wear a light blue broadcloth shirt
which does not reflect light up into the face as severely as does a white shirt.
The best color choice in a tie is red which draws the audience attention, casts a
soft blush on the face, and provides a color point of reference for the lighting
technician. A dark suit should be worn, as flattering to the physique. Black absorbs
light, making the body appear slimmer; white reflects light, making the body appear
larger and heavier. The television camera is said to add about fifteen pounds to
the physique. Of course, an overly thin performer might want to reverse the color
formula, in order to add pounds. Dr. OM does not have this problem. Straight pancake
makeup in a tone matching the natural skin tone of the performer, or a more deireable
tone (e.g: tan, if the performer is excessively pale), should be applied, in order
to avoid the Nixon-Kennedy syndrome.
For formal televised performance, the
same principles apply and care should be taken with choice of costume components
and application of pancake make-up, rouge, lip rouge, eye shadow, and eye liner.
When applying make-up, the whole face, neck, and ears should be made up, in order
to avoid the masklike look of a tan face and white throat and ears. Costume choices
are personal to the PERSONA, as has been previously discussed, but should consider
the affects of lighting.
RUDIMENTS OF LIGHTING
the President’s State of the Union address on television, Dr. OM remained tuned in
to witness the Republican response by Senator Trent Lot. Surfing from channel to
channel, among those covering the response, Dr. OM noticed that, on channel 02 Senator
Lot’s face bore a yellowish tint; on 04, a flesh pink tint; on 05 a violet tint;
on 08 a yellowish tint; on 12, a violet- white tint; and on 24, a blueish- white
tint: same subject; different lighting. A performer cannot overestimate the importance
of lighting. Senator Lot looked best on channel 04, under flesh pink lighting which
lent him a healthy and robust appearance.
THE PRINCIPLE PURPOSE OF LIGHTING
is to make persons and objects visible on stage, however each directional throw produces
adverse affects of washing out the facial features or casting undesireable shadows
when used exclusively. Proper balance of multidirectional lighting eliminates adverse
affects, provides visibility, and enhances mood. Lighting is of five kinds, dependent
upon location: 1) FRONT LIGHTING; 2) BACK LIGHTING; 3) OVERHEAD LIGHTING; 4) SIDE
LIGHTING; and 5) BOTTOM LIGHTING upward cast from footlights.
washes out the facial features, if employed unilaterally, and, always, even when
employed in conjunction with other directional lighting, requires the use of stage
FRONT LIGHTING is horizontally rigged on pipes attached to the ceiling
of the HOUSE (audience seating space) over the heads of the audience and beyond the
APRON (front edge) of the stage. FRONT-SIDE LIGHTING is vertically rigged on pipes
anchored to the walls at both sides of the stage apron.
FOOTLIGHTS: Dr. OM
regrets that modern stages have tended to eliminate footlights which cast an upward
and frontal illumination on the performer and provide a rather story book framing
of the apron.
BACK LIGHTING is used to illuminate or decorate the back wall
and upstage areas, or to light a SCRIM cloth (cheese-cloth-like white backdrop),
or CYCLORAMA (bedsheet-like backdrop) from behind to enhance the setting with the
special effect of a background of blue sky or other color impression. In the old
days of stage and vauldville scenically painted backdrops provided background and
were illuminated by front and side lighting. There are still appropriate uses for
the backdrop of old.
SIDE LIGHTING illuminates the right and left sides of
three dimensional objects and actors on stage, making their three dimensionality
apparent to the audience. Side lighting is usually rigged vertically on pipe poles
weighted to the floor on cast iron bases or on heavy dollys.
is horizontally rigged to pipes hung in the FLYS over the stage proper, and are aimed
downward at varying light balancing angles to produce a diffused light through which
the actors walk. Because the light comes from above, shadows are cast downward by
the facial brow and nose. OVERHEAD and FRONT lighting should be balanced such that
neither does the front lighting wash out the facial features, nor does the overhead
lighting cast too much shadow on the face. The setting of lights is indeed an art
in itself, even for the sole objective of providing visibility, without the aesthetic
purposes of providing mood or special effects. Balancing the lights may be thought
of as analogous to painting in oil or water colors.
THE FOLLOW SPOT focuses
attention upon the performer by providing an intimate isolation. When no other theatrical
lighting is available, a follow spot is invaluable.When even a follow spot, which
rotates on an axis upward and downward and to right and left allowing the illumination
to follow the movement of the actor, is not available, a stationary spotlight or
baby spot, set at the proper distance from the performer, may somewhat serve the
purpose, if properly intensified and dimmed by means of a rheostat.
CONTROL BOARDS OR CONSOLES in varying degrees of sophistication and complexity are
provided with rheostats which allow the intensifying or dimming of individual lamps,
as well as all of the lamps or batteries of lamps at the same time and to bring up
and down the house lights and the stage lights.
RIGGINGS vary in sophistication
from theatrical site to theatrical site. In some venues, riggings can be lowered
for LANTERN (LAMP) mounting. Usually, the lanterns are set, under the direction of
the theatrical and/or art director, by the lighting technician or a stage hand atop
a platform at the top of a ladder on a dolly which is termed a CHERRYPICKER, in order
to fine tune the lantern angle settings and fine positions on the pipe riggings.
In unsophisticated theatrical sites a cherrypicker is used to mount lamps on stationary
overhead pipes, and free standing vertical pipes on heavy bases are used for front
and side lighting. In the most sophisticated venues everything is electronically
automated and computerised. Expect anything from OUR GANG to SPIELBERG and you will
be somewhat prepared. In non-theatrical venues, only found natural or artificial
house lighting exists, unless you carry along your own equipment and curtains. Lighting
has the potential to establish mood, therefore, illumination facillitates the audiences
ability to FEEL as well as SEE. As with all other components of theatre, lighting
is inextricably, by presence or absence, a part of setting, characterization, action,
FLOOD LIGHTS are used for general diffuse lighting. Care must be
taken that flood lights do not SPILL (spread) to areas where no lighting is wanted.
LIGHTS throw a concentrated almost hard edged beam of light upon a desired objective.
GELS contained in GEL FRAMES are slipped into slots on lamp fronts to tint and mix
the colors of the light. The most usual colors are: red, yellow, blue, green, purple,
violet, and flesh pink.
REFERENCES FOR COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE
Richard. STAGE MAKEUP. Appleton-Century, Crofts. New York, 1967.
Oren and Harvey K. Smith. SCENE DESIGN AND STAGE LIGHTING. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,
Inc. New York, 1968.
Dr. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part
ELLIPSOIDAL (LEKOLITE): A four shuttered reflector spotlight for hard edged rectangular
or oblique beam shaping
FRESNEL (THE FRESNELITE): A fifteen degree spot focus
and forty-five degree flood focus, dual purpose lamp; used primarily as a spotlight
in conjunction with the KLIEG floodlight
KLIEG (KLIEGLITE): A general purpose
flood light casting a soft edged diffuse spread of light
Used to back project upon an entire blank backdrop, thereby providing scenic pictures
in light, in a kind of magic lantern manner.
RULE OF THUMB: The least degree
of general floodlight settings allowing the audience to see the action on the stage
is best. Spolight mood establishment is enhanced when not too much general lighting
is employed and the audience is not disturbed by excessive glare reflected by actors
and objects on stage.
“At the end of every illusion is reality.”
(“Eternally Yours,” Starring David Niven)
Directors Bill Wisch and
Bobby J. Gallo have graciosly asked Dr. Om to write an article answering the question:
“Why I love Magic.” Their question opens a floodgate that could wash
up an endless series of articles, because any honest answer must deal with matters
so psychologically complex that no brief response can adequately serve the purpose.
OM LOVES MAGIC BECAUSE he cannot stand the real world, at least, not exclusively;
not without the relief of beloved illusions, alternatives to reality, provided by
art. Rather than addressing the question in terms of the magical arts alone, Art
in general, yet, especially the magical arts, will serve as the source of Dr. OM’s
response. where helpful, extrapolations will be made from the other arts to the art
Life without a dream would be quite grim; evidence:
the daily news of all too real happenings in the all too real world. Life without
a dream would be quite humdrum; evidence: the leaden-eyed drudgery most workers experience
in earning their daily bread. Truly, only work experienced as play is worth doing.
Think of the way work was experienced by great contributors such as Michaelangelo,
Einstein, and Mozart, to mention a significant few. To them, their work and play
Henry David Thoreau wrote: “Most men live out their
lives in a quiet desperation.” The same quiet desperation provided the drive
which sent Sir Galahad and Don quixote on their quests. The former, in search of
The Holy Grail, the latter in search of his imaginedly beautiful Dulcinea (she unfortuneately
proved to be anything but beautiful when he found her in reality, except in his own
Dante combined the two great quests: the quest after God (his
Holy Grall) and the quest after an idealized woman (his Dulcinea). Beatrice is, of
course, Dante’s muse, who tells him: “You may write poetry, only through loving
me; and you may love me, only through writing poetry. Every artist is so driven by
Robert Graves, the great mythologist and poet, claimed that the
muse, whom he called the White Goddess, appears somewhere in every poem. Perhaps
so. Samuel Taylor Coleridge had her appear in the following lines from his poem:
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:”
Her lips were red, her looks
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.
is the muse of two faces, however, as the poet Oscar Williams describes her in his
BY FIAT OF ADORATION
This is what we really want Who drink the
kingdom of the heart
She is flowering in a doorway
Eyes cheeks haze of
Stepping out of time into here
This is what we really have who see
the one we adore becoming
The two that she is in the light
Ah God bounces
all the waters
From hand to jubilant hand
He cannot contain Himself
comes over into being
With benediction of painted cloud
The being to look at
is to become
By fiat of adoration do we reach
The very muscle of miracle
ease with which beauty is beauty
Sheer poetry; sheer magic; and as mystical
as The Egyptian Book of the Dead or The Book of Job, is this great poem written by
Dr. OM’s vanished dear friend and mentor, Oscar Williams.
Dr. Om has his muse
appear in two distinctiy antithetical forms:
the double sided coin of womanhood;
picking up, perhaps, where Homer left off with the witch, Circe, and the lovely young
girl, Odysseus had to leave behind, Calypso.
smile surrounds me, dimensional with spangles, tantalizing as cymbols.
Circe’s white throat; into sun world’s of flashes, light from blonde lashes,
halls of glasses, each one reflecting Circe1s face;
is falling out of dream,
screalning, hands out, from above, into cold,. rushing waters of no love.
Yes, Penelope is waiting and there are still adventures enough in
profits and losses in emotions; and a son still lying in the ploughshares
Once again, no doubt, a Cyclops or two will rear his ugly head
fading palisades and Circe will turn us all into swine again.
Rosy may finger the Dawn or Phoebus forget to rise, altogether.
battles, too, the ringing swords and shields of distant wars
and black coughs
A king must follow his kingdom his honor
his duty and yet
you call to me from the shoreline Calypso, lovely girl could I leave you on your
island could I leave you there alone?
Thus, the muse drives the artist. To
be in love with illusion, is to be in love with our kind of magic, whereby we are
transported to another realm where everything is true and beautiful and good, and
everything is possible. Besides, old magician’s never die, they just disappear.
back to the matter of Thoureau’s “quiet despration,” all humans feel that
eternal discontent, that yearning in the breast. In youth, we feel that the yearning
can be satisfied by romance, only to discover a bit sadly that it is not so. In middle
life, the quest to satisfy the ache seeks after power; to be able to say: I have
(so many) working under me. As age advances, the false security of money is sought
after, to quell that unidentifiable desire. Money, too, proves not to be the answer.
We have known these truths since time immemorial: Tantalus, Midas, Hamlet, and Macbeth.
mystic tells us that the yearning is that of the spirit imprisoned in the body wanting
to be free to return to the world soul; to become one with God. So say, too, the
Bible, The Eqyptian Book of the Dead, The Bhagavadgita, The Koran, and all the great
benevolent religious works. As William Butler Yeats put it in this excerpt from his
poem “Sailing to Byzantium:”
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
artifice of eternity.
or as the Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, more wishfully
expressed in his poem “The Rubaiyat’:
Ah, Beloved, but could you and
I with God conspire
to take the plan of things entire to shatter it to bits
then remould it closer to the heart’s desire.
Does not Omar express that which
every magician desires and attempts to do?
Omar was court poet, astronomer,
astrologer, mathematician, and magician. By this time, the reader realizes that poets
are magicians, as are all artists. Art is illusion. The magician is an artist.
is no accident that all the great religious works are expressed in poetry and magic.
Only art, especially the magical arts, and all the arts are magical, can provide
us with relief from the driving yearning of the heart. Art enables us to exist at
the highest pitch of being in love, which both elates and tranquilizes our physical
existences; elevating us, momentarily, at least, out of existence into a state of
BEING, a mystic Nirvana, if you will.
To become immersed in a musical composition,
to enter into a painting, to embrace a sculpture with the eyes, to be enmeshed in
the plot of a play, to experience the whirling, akin to flying, of dance, and certainly
to witness a miracle of illusion, is to transcend for a moment, the unpleasant and
the ordinary; to replace ugliness with beauty; to displace the pedestrian with the
The three great themes of all the other arts, the art of magic, and
religion, each imply an antithetical (opposite) wish, as did Omar. The first great
theme is: THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH; its antithesis is:
THE HOPE FOR IMMORTALITY.
The second great theme is: THE INEVITABILITY OF CHANGE; its antitheses are: THE WISH
FOR IMMUTABILITY (unchangingness) and THE WISH FOR DESIRABLE CHANGE. As Wallace Stevens
asserted, in his poem, THE MAN WITH THE BLUE GUITAR: “Things as they are, Are
changed upon the blue guitar.” The third great theme is: THE INEVITABILITY OF
LONELINESS; its antithisis is: THE HOPE FOR LOVE. When you can find the time, take
pen and paper in hand and jot down all of the great magical illusions you know of,
those, especially, which have made history, and observe that they each address at
least one of the great themes of art.
The performing arts are temporal, they
exist only in time, and once a performance is over, even if recorded, by whatever
means, it is gone forever. Perhaps, the greatest love is the love of the performing
artist who sends his art up in a puff of smoke, as did Rodolfo, in Puccini’s opera
LA BOEME; Rodolfo, who burned his poems one by one, to keep his friends warm in their
cold artist’s garret. No recording can replicate the art of a live performance and
its interaction with an audience.
In the magical art, per se, to observe that
inventive genius should be passionately devoted solely to produce a mysteriously
entertaining illusion, is fascinating, in and of itself; however the illusion is
accomplished, whether by manipulative skill, gaff, or gimmick.
of the art of magic is the illusion provided for the audience, not the technique
whereby it is achieved. The same passion and devotion as is infused in a poem, a
musical composition, or the visual pleasures of dance are essential to producing
a work of true magical art. The great innovative dancer and choreographer, Martha
Graham once said: “GREAT DANCERS ARE NOT GREAT BECAUSE OF THEIR TECHNIQUE; THEY
ARE GREAT BECAUSE OF THEIR PASSION.” Of course, the freedom of passion presumes
technique, but technique, alone, is not enough; is not art.
Artists of all
sorts are driven by a compulsion to compose that which will please the senses and
the sensibillties; their own and their audiences’. They do so in worshipful imltation
of the Creator, the Artist of the Cosmos. The art experience and the mystical experience
are one and the same. What is more, the mystical is manifestly expressible only through
art. The magician is the artist of theatrical illusion; his work of art IS illusion.
art, and no less the art of magic, provides a temporary respite, relief, rest from
pressing reality. The romance of Nature is not Nature. Nature, including man and
the acts of man, is quite ferocious. Ferocity is illusionistically removed from the
lovely Romantic landscape painting, but in Nature, no matter how beautiful the real
landscape may be, if the viewer looks closely enough, predatory ferocity is present.
and especially the illusions of magic, elevates us, changes that which each of us
knows to be all too real, and enables us the better to come to terms with the real,
because we have, for a time, no matter how briefly, transcended the real world; we
have for a moment flown with the angels; we have experienced a glimpse of the spirit
of man. Dr. Om is honored and humbled to be your fellow magician.
is the art of subtantiating shadows” (Edmund Burke)
PASSIONE (Italian musical term) With passion. Remember the old directorial plea:
“Once more, with feeling.”
“MAGIC FOR THE SAKE OF MAGIC”
One of my best friends in all the world of magic, and for that matter, all the
world ( Bill Wisch ), asked if I would consider doing a piece on ‘ Why I Love Magic
The Way I Do.’ According to Bill, he feels I express the most joy over being involved
with magic as any other person he has ever met. This is flattering, although, possibly
a jaded take on the way he perceives my involvement.
From a very early age,
I was attracted to the mystery of magic. The unknown/unexplained is a strong, initial
catalyst. The printed word and marvelous illustrations of an era now past were like
visual magnets, drawing a youngster toward this strange Mecca.
In 1954, I
was nine years old. This was the Christmas which brought my very first, and only,
Mysto Magic Set. What a treasure. I wish I still had it today. The coins and shells..
the tubes, rings and cards FELT magical in my hands. It was an empowering gift for
a boy of nine. One which ( in his mind ), gave access to mysteries only he could
master.. .knowledge only he could fully comprehend.
Of course, as time passed..
.both I and my magic grew and matured. My understanding of magic and the real value
it held came to light. I found it was something which could shared. It was a multi
faceted art which embraced a myriad of concepts and skills. It was a common ground
enjoyed by many, which could forge new paths, and create lasting friendships where
none had been before. I think this is the aspect of magic which is most important
to me…and the one from which I most directly derive pleasure. It makes me feel
complete to be part of something so old… so eternally young, and so lasting.
isn’t the artists or performances which bring me the deepest joy. They are a valued
keepsake in my memory, to be sure…but memories tend to fade. It can’t be the effects
or methods, although I do get enormous satisfaction in creating them.. .and watching
the genius of others. But ‘tricks’ are fickle things, and magicians are like impatient
nomads, ready to move on at a moments notice.
Friendships are the most magical
and enjoyable thing to me. They make being a part of this world of magic, worth while.
They are the foundation for much of my knowledge, the inspiration to strive to be
creative, and the fountain-head from which all of the other benefits of magic spring.
is not the easiest venue in which to find true friends. But…name a venue which
is. If you can count the number of genuine friendships you garner in a lifetime on
the fingers of your hands, you have done very, very well. Genuine friendships truly
are magical and mysterious.. .not casual in the least. They are the singular thing
I value most in magic and in life. They are the reason I find joy in what I do.
magic for the sake of magic can be a thankless task. Magic for the sake of friendship
on the other hand, elevates the art to a higher level. The rewards may not be monetary,
but they are precious beyond measure. The glow of joy it brings pales gold by comparison,
riches not all are fortunate enough to find.
I must say that after I wrote this, I truly felt a revealing sensation. It
is though for the first time I am really letting people get a glimpse into my inner
most thoughts concerning magic. Not even writing “Commando Magic” gave
the same sense of “butterflies in the stomach” that this short piece gives
“A World Without Hero’s”
Bobby J. Gallo
Well ladies and gents, its my turn. After some prodding by other I.C.O.M staff
members, “you know who you are!” I have been asked why I love magic….. If you have
not yet read Ron Dayton’s “Magic for the Sake of Magic” or Dr. Om’s
reasons in his series “Stagecraft for the Performing Magician” Please
do so before reading the following.
My reasons are a bit different than both
Ron’s and Oscar’s. Not better,…..different. The reasons why I love magic are very
esoteric. Allow me to say right off the bat that I am a natural ham. If I were not
a magician, I would be performing in some other capacity. But I can confidently say
that nothing else would be like magic. Magic embodies qualities that I could not
find in either music or acting. What can these be, you ask? Allow me to answer this
with an observation.
In my view, the world today with the exception of a few
is virtually devoid of heros in classical sense. The select few exceptions I can
site in my mind besides Biblical heroes of the past would be people like Mother Theresa,
Jonas Salk, and America’s first Astronauts. Heros for completely different reasons
to be sure, but heros nonetheless.
I do not consider sports figures heros
any more than I consider a movie or television star a hero. In most cases, both are
extremely talented, but no, not heroes.
There is also a whole different dimension
of heroes. One that exists only in the realm of fantasy. I am talking of course about
the fantastic “superheros” and fantasy characters of legend. Now, before you go and
say that I have flipped my lid in thinking about these works of fiction, let me say
that I know I am not alone. There are more adults reading comic books now than in
any other point of history from the golden age of comics to the present, gritty,
cutting-edge comics of today. Movies containing these now classic characters are
some of the highest grossing and anticipated movies in Hollywood. Top stars play
these characters and everyone from every walk of life go to see them. So why do I
make these points in an article devoted to magic? OK, I’ll tell you, but allow me
“one more” release of my inner workings…
I have always wondered what the
world would be like if these “superheros” really existed. How would people react
to them? How many people really fantasize about how much better the world would be
if there really were a Superman or “MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN”. Well then, why
stop there? What would it feel like to ACTUALLY BE A MANDRAKE? Want to find out???
…Become a Magician. Not a trickster,
but a real magician. And by that I am talking not about the person who knows a zillion
tricks, but a person who has the MENTALITY of a magician. By doing this, and only
in the art of magic do I feel this is possible in the performing arts, can we so
closely bring a mythic figure to life.
I have always thought that deep down
all magicians really want to be MERLIN. I think that deep down all of us would love
to REALLY be able to perform magic….Real magic. You may disagree, but nonetheless
I think I am correct in my assumptions. Well, unless people in certain “Wiccan”
religions are able to perform real “MAGICK” (no, that is not spelled wrong)
to my knowledge, it cannot be done. There is only “ONE” who
can do the impossible. And as an old magician saying goes, “I do tricks…HE
does miracles”. But we CAN do the next best thing. We can bring fantasy
to life. We CAN create magic, if only in the minds of men.
If you heard my
rantings in the best selling audio tape “Ultimate
Magic Rap Vol.#1”, you would have heard my comments that I think there
is nothing more wonderful than having the “Image” of being a magician. When we do
what we do correctly, we take on a larger than life persona. Yes, we become
that superhero of legend. I feel the reason for this is because “we”
are not the only ones that secretly fantasize about being empowered with mystical
knowledge, but also the general public. They WANT and in some cases, NEED to believe
in us as the purveyors of wonder we are.
This is what makes recent exposures
of magic on national television so devastating to the art and to the psyche of the
lay public. These networks are literally ruining “both” our images, and the fantasy
of those who wish to believe, even if they know that the belief is only fantasy.
why do I love magic? It is a chance to fufill dreams and maybe, just maybe, make
the world a better place by reaching beyond the limitations we have as human beings.
Tapping into whatever we can access of our immortal spirit.
Bobby J. Gallo
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