I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 1/99-3/99


January 1999

We are truly honored and delighted to have yet another well-known magical personality in our midst. Neal Prete is one of Connecticut’s leading magic clowns. He performs for children as well as adults. Every Wednesday he table hops at a nearby college.

He also invents popular magic effects and sells about one mile of super rope every month!

Besides performing, he teaches magic, clowning and juggling. A magic veteran of 37 years and of clowning for 22 years.

Neal Prete

As magicians, our objective in performing magic is to fool the audience. And not in a negative way. Not to be hurtful. They should be entertained and bewildered.

“How did they do that?”

If you are a great chef… you should cook a great meal. If you are a comedian.. you should be funny. If you say you are a magician, your magic should be strong.

Here is an analogy I came up with to make my magic stronger. Picture a ladder or stairs in the mind of the audience. Our goal to climb higher and higher up that ladder. The higher you go the more impressive the magic is on the crowd. As you keep climbing the magic will leave a powerful impression on the spectators.

There are many ways to get from the bottom to the top. Take the example of vanish of a coin.

If you were to pretend to place the coin from your right hand into your left hand and you open your left hand the coin is gone. But your right hand is held tense and awkward. The audience will look at your left hand and then to your right hand. They will initially be fooled. They were fooled at a lower level of that ladder.

Let’s go up a step. The coin is faked into the left hand and the right hand is natural. The audience is fooled.

Here is a high rung by Bill Wisch. Any time he pretends to place a coin in his left hand the right will always pull up his left shirt sleeve. It is automatic for him. He always snaps his fingers of the right hand. At some level, the audience wi1l translate that the coin can’t be in the hand because he was doing “something” with the hand.

Slydini would pretend to pick up a coin off the table with his right hand. In a smooth motion, he would drop the coin into his lap. Then he would pretend to place the coin into his left hand. He made a magical gesture and both hands are empty. Very high on the ladder.

I understand this as a simplified explanation. I believe all our magic can have a strong impact on moving up the ladder. The moves should be natural, timing is perfect, props an audience can relate to, original patter is some to the vehicles to get to our goal. Please feel free to add to this list.

A few examples of magic high on the ladder would be David Copperfield’s FLYING. If you were going to fly by magic, that is how it would look. Not like Peter Pan. The hoops and glass boxes were added to make the magic stronger and more believable.

We already mentioned Slydini. Even if you knew what he was doing you were still fooled badly.

Juan Tamariz is another. He has his own analogy with a path to follow that will have an impact on your audience. It is called the False Solution method.

I recently saw a street performer in Florida. Nice guy. But he performed the Professor’s Nightmare with very thick ropes. The moves were smooth. Good job. Except I heard someone in the audience mention the ropes were gimmicked. The magician only fooled her at a low level. Of course, she was wrong. But in her mind, she was not fooled.

In the book, STRONG MAGIC by Darwin Ortiz, he mentions just by rolling up your sleeves while performing would increase your impact on the audience. It’s up your sleeve.

I hope this will. help in your thinking of magic. More importantly your performance. Any questions or comment please let me know.

You can write to Neal though The International Conservatory Of Magic

Dr. OM’s Treatise on showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part XII


As promised elsewhere in I.C.O.M. In This installment of Dr. OM’s Treatise, a simplified system for punctuation is presented at the end of meandering thoughts inspired by questions put to Dr. OM by Directors Bobby J. Gallo and Bill Wisch over a most pleasant luncheon meeting toward the end of September past. Bobby J. and Bill, you ask for a functional definition of CHARISMA. Dr. OM restricts his definition to THEATRICAL CHARISMA which is synonymous with PERSONAL MAGNETISM and STAGE PRESENCE.

CHARISMA is that elusive quality in an actor-magician which attracts, fascinates, and holds the attention of the audience, and appears to be innate rather than learned. In film and television which deal in close-ups, the attraction is effected principally by facial expression; on the broader live stage, CHARISMA is effected by the physical stage presence of the entire body, and body language, including facial expression. That is not to say that long shots of the actor do not occur in film and television. The image of M Pacino sauntering down a slope of the Sicilian countryside in Godfather I illustriously crosses Dr. OM’s mind, at this moment. The two media have captured body language charisma memorably in other actors such as Jimmy Dean, Marlon Brando, Carey Grant, and, certainly, in Sofia Loren–enough said. On the legitimate stage, make-up, lighting, and costume can transform an otherwise nondescript actor into an heroic figure. Even where charisma is not innate, the assumption of a persona, a character, can transfigure an actor who is commonplace on the real street. Of course, the actor must believe that he truly is the character portrayed, in order for the transfiguration to take place.

Charisma works upon the audience in the manner of mass hypnosis. Although a minority of the audience may be unaffected by the actor’s personality, the majority must be captivated by the personal appearance, voice, and mannerisms of the actor who is regarded as charismatic. Charisma on the stage is not necessarily charisma in film. Grand style actors such as John Barrymore did not fare well in the film. A film actor of the style of Jimmy Dean would probably not fare well on stage, unless an adaptation to the broader delivery demands of the stage were made. Much is to be attributed, too, to the prevailing audience psychology at any given point in time. Could the phenomenon of a Frank Sinatra occur today, that is, could he, Frankie, just as he was then amid the Bobby Soxers, without change, exert the same charisma upon a turn of the century audience. Perhaps, presenting the right image at the right time is influential upon charisma potential.

Charisma is differently manifested among different actors and different magicians, Think of the differences in charisma evinced by the undeniably charismatic actors who follow: Jimmy Stewart, Lawrence Olivier, Clark Gable Anthony Quinn, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, and Spencer Tracy, to list a few historic male actors. Let us not forget the ladies: Greer Garson, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Kathryn Hepburn, and Marlene Dietrich. And What about the very special differences among great magicians such as Keller, Thurston, Blackstone, Dante, Cardini, Dunninger, Scarne, Vernon, and Slydini. Something beyond sexiness made stars in those days. The greats were felt to be members of the audience’s very own families. Yes, it was the body and body language that did it, but something transcendent, too; something of the spirit, of a great soul.

Granted that there are baser forms of audience appeal which result in artistic decadence, but true charisma provides the audience with more than what it wants it provides the audience with what it needs, at any point in historic time. Charisma is the stuff of hero or anti-hero, as the time and the need may demand.

Dr. Om fervently believes that everyone possesses the potential for charisma: CHARISMA CAPAX (charismatic capacity). Charisma resides in the SELF, where the Hindus call ATMA and the west calls SOUL. The actor who can tap that self possesses charisma if he can learn to share it in communion with his audience, under the condition of mutual and interactive love. Manifestly, that actor materializes in his persona or character which is beloved to the audience in a family way and he is beloved because he is familiar. He reminds the audience of a father, a brother, an uncle transfigured, in fact, a unity of the soul stuff where everything is connected to everything else; where the audience becomes a unified family unto itself. Every human being can find this power if he can find it within himself. You can.

February 1999

The Glorious Ball and Vase
Ronald J. Dayton

In the very early years of magic…after, we were lifted from the ranks of alchemists and charlatans, and before the advent of many of the brilliant sleights we now take so casually for granted…many magic effects were of a mechanical nature. Props were painstakingly made by genuine craftsmen. Clock-work and gearing ratios, counterweights, hydraulics, and all the best of the sciences of the day melded together to create incredible illusions for wizards of that time. Finely turned products in wood were also available to those who could afford them. One which has survived in varying degrees is the Ball and Vase. It is a commonplace, standard piece of equipment in almost every modern beginner’s box of magic. Sadly, the allure and majesty of its predecessor have been lost…plastic injection having replaced lathe-turned hardwoods. But as in so many instances…the possibilities of the original concept are still present…and well-crafted vases in wood and brass are still available for a price.

Youngsters of the current generation are, for the most part, only aware of the basics of the Ball and Vase. In times past, inventors did strive to expand upon it…in some instances making genuine improvements. I firmly believe that modern conjurors are still capable of doing the same, given a bit of encouragement, and some general suggestions as points at which to begin their work. Some of the ideas I am about to present for your consideration may also apply to the Egg Vase which uses the same deceptive construction as the original Ball Vase.

Decades ago, creative minds created vases with hollow stems in which a silk could be concealed. Using only the shell section of the vase, sans the solid ball, a person could create the impression of pulling the ball from within the vase from below…transforming it magically into silk as this was done…then lifting the cover to prove the ball had indeed vanished. Various plungers and locking devices were also employed in early vases. Each variation served a specific purpose and expanded the range of the vase itself.

Perhaps the advent of plastic injection is a blessing in disguise for modern students of magic. Modern vases come in a variety of sizes and colors. They are inexpensive and readily available. They are also easy to work with when it comes to experimenting and making prototypes of new styles and concepts. One need not fear ‘botching’ a job, or making a mistake because the initial cost is minimal…and replacements can be had in short order. Plastic is also easy to cut and drill. Modern adhesives and glues also ease the task of making modifications.

You may be asking at this point just where I am going with all of this…and what ‘changes’ am I talking about !? The component parts of the apparatus number only four. The lower base, stem, and cup… the ball, the shell, and the top cover. What can we possibly do to modify anything?

What if…say with the Egg Vase, we carefully cut the half egg section from the shell piece and replaced it with a slightly larger than half egg section cut from a Weller Egg? What would we have? We would have a shell section, the dome portion of which could be pushed in or reversed to a concave position. In other words, instead of facing upward, the ‘egg’ in the faked shell section would be down inside the pedestal cup when positioned on the vase. A small or medium size genuine or even a blown egg could be placed over the concave rubberized shell. This gives you an egg vase that you can take the cover off of and hand for inspection…remove the visible egg, and later, show an egg back in the vase by allowing the Weller piece to convert to a convex position.

This is a little something I actually did for myself several years ago. It may inspire some ideas of your own along these lines. I cut the half ball section from a standard large ball vase then glued a flat disc of plastic over this newly formed ring of plastic. When dry…I glued a Red Sponge ball section which I had cut in half on top of the disc. I then replaced the solid ball in the vase with a matching whole sponge ball. These modifications allowed me to do the standard Ball and Vase, and to immediately into a Chicago Ball routine which is the multiplying Billiard Balls done with a special half shell and several sponge balls of the correct size. Using sponge balls also allows for the production of several balls from the same vase…visible shape or color changes . or even a magical segway to the multiplying rabbits if you wish.

Ball Vases could just as easily be modified for use as part of a Multiplying Soap Bubble routine such as marketed by Abbott’s Magic Company in Colon, Michigan. A Ball Vase could incorporate a hollow billiard ball, or Silk Production Ball in place of the solid ball. The currently popular Bounce-No-Bounce balls might also apply as part of a routine and sleight of hand switching and loading.

Invisible threads could easily be used in conjunction with lightweight balls, allowing the ball to float magically from the vase to your hand prior to a series of deft sleights with billiard balls.

In a combination of the silk ball, loaded with a silk of a different color…and a section of a round children’s balloon, of yet a third color and slipped over the hollow ball…a series of surprising changes are possible. The ball is removed from the vase…caused to change color by slipping off the rubber shell…then the newly transformed ball is changed into a silk. For a finale’, you vanish the silk, then lift the cover of the vase to reveal that a ball the same color as the silk has magically appeared.

A Hank Ball loaded with a measured amount of glitter of the same color would make for a spectacular transformation from ball to dust. A mouth coil could also be considered as a load concealed inside the ball.

Certain mechanical multiplying balls are hinged, and nest together to form a single ball…yet may be manipulated to produce the appearance of one ball between each finger of the hand. Consider these as well when thinking of the Ball Vase. Small crystal balls are used in unrelated effects. Why not consider tying them to the use of a Ball Vase as well. Given a little more thought, I am certain there are modifications and applications still to be found. One of the most bizarre to come to mind in recent times is this; Check the stem of the vase you are working with to ensure there is no hole down through it. If there is, seal it with a bit of calk or glue to make the bowl of the vase watertight. Next, using a small section of orange silk…glue the silk to the top of the half shell section of the vase. Do this in a manner so the silk appears to be sticking up as if it had been poked down inside the vase, and simply extends above the top edge. Lastly…fill the bowl section of the vase with water colored with orange food coloring. The end result is a vase that will permit you to magically transform an orange silk into orange liquid. Quite a surprise to the unsuspecting.

These are my thoughts on the Ball and Vase. I have presented them to you in hopes that they will assist you in thinking in a creative and divergent manner. Please feel free to make use of any ideas you might care about. That’s what they are here for. But stop to reflect on the material overall…and look for whatever new thoughts they have hopefully instilled in you.

March 1999

Due to membership demand (see, we do listen! <G> ), New installments of Dr.Om’s Stagecraft will now appear here first as well as be added to his cybermagic Textbook(tm) in the Library.

PLEEEASSSSEEEE read the following installment. it is the best one I have ever seen because as a full-time professional I immediately recognized that every word concerning the practical application of magic as a profession is true…BJG

Dr. OM’S Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part XIII


Dr. OM’s dear vanished friend, Poet, and Anthologist, Oscar Williams, without lament, but as a matter of acceptable fact, was often given to saying that: “An Artist must starve for his art”. Mr. Williams, who brought his own friend, the poet, Dylan Thomas, from Wales to America, lived in a loft on the top floor of a partially abandoned office building on Manhattan’s Water Street. He playfully called the loft his penthouse–ah, the magic of poetic illusion. In fact, there did exist a tarred roof terrace, alluded to as the penthouse terrace; a make-shift kitchen with a table-top wrought-iron gas burner for cooking; a spacious general office room providing much place for books, paintings, plants, and friends; and adjoining private offices serving as bedrooms. There, with his wife, poet, and painter, Gene Derwood, the couple practiced their arts and lived the Bohemian Life.

Oscar Williams had left a lucrative career as a young genius in the advertising industry, in order to devote himself wholly to his art. The choice would seem to be between either starvation for one’s art or reduction to the role of “Sunday Painter.” Artists who unfortunately do not succeed in their arts; who do not achieve professional recognition, worldly acclaim, monetary reward, and fame, all too frequently end in bitterness and despair for having surrendered their lives to art without compensation. To some few, success matters not a whit; doing what the artist does is all that matters.

Charles Wideman, one of the founders of modern dance along with his colleague and collaborator Martha Graham, lived in a tiny room no larger than six feet by eight feet, located just off the entrance to his second-floor walk-up 14th. Street, New York City, dance studio. Certainly, one might expect that one of the great artists and founders of Modern Dance might have faired better than that, in his old age, but America does not especially care about artists and art. Charles turned out of his stable quite a few outstanding dancers, some of whom Dr. OM worked with during the time that he served as Director of Theatre, at what is now New Jersey City University.

In those days, the institution was known as Jersey City State College. When the college conferred the Honorary Doctorate upon Charles Wideman, it was a young Dr. OM who drove the dance master in from New York City to Jersey City. Dr. OM was then driving a Siata, a Spanish Fiat roadster, about the size of an orange bathtub. The older Charles, sitting beside Dr. OM, in the two-seater, died a thousand deaths, as they sped through the Holland Tunnel, with the top down. The young OM had never given the matter a thought, in advance, but a more proper sedan drove Charles home, after the ceremony; home to somewhat less than polite poverty, in the studio where Charles eked out a meager living, after paying the overhead.

Charles Wideman’s Christmas and Easter Oratorios, as witnessed by Dr. OM over several years of performances, were consummate works of art offered up as puffs of smoke, as are all works of performing art offered up, even when the life is camcorded out of them. In those days, there were not even camcorders. Viewing a Channel 13 documentary on Modern Dance, a few short years ago, Dr. OM was thrilled to see his old friend Charles cavorting across an expansive lawn with Martha Graham and her troupe: eternally young and forever dancing, on film. “An Artist must starve for his Art.”

As for musician’s Dr. OM has known too many geniuses, in their own rights, who had to hold down menial day jobs, in order to Gig at night or on weekends. When they entered into that other glamorous world of their existences, all seemed worth it, after all, but inevitably, as with Cinderella, there comes Monday morning and the necessity to return to the drudgery of their hum-drum struggles for their daily bread. Dr. OM knows a top Jazz guitarist who plays a night alone now for thirty dollars and a meal; a piece of Jazz history so abused is enough to make one cry.

Actors, actors, actors all over the place and unemployed; working at supermarket check-out counters for “what for,” because a real job or profession would seem to be a betrayal of faith that someday the break might come. There are writers who are teachers; teachers who are writers; and all manner of professionals: lawyers, physicians, pharmacists, engineers, businessmen, and professors, who in their heart of hearts are artists without a Gig.

The independently wealthy are more fortunate. Artie Shaw, for instance, was early on financed by two maiden aunts; Today’s most famous illusionist was supported for a time by his parents, as he prepared himself, after having rejected college enrollment or any other mundane endeavor. He served out his self-apprenticeship in a New York City loft, just as did the poet, Oscar Williams. If he did not starve for his art, he certainly sacrificed for his art. Success does not come cheaply, even to the super talented.

Which brings us to the subject of the rest of us. What do we do? Are the horns of the dilemma the two of either starve or Sunday paint; is there no middle road for the aspirant artist-magician to walk? The choices are hard because there are no guarantees, but such is the stuff that makes life a great adventure: the not knowing.

Dr. OM’s gut advice to the young is: “Provide yourself with practical security, my boy.” Lord knows, the responsibility of supporting a family, which does have a way of coming along, demands practicality; better to prepare for earning a living than to be found unprepared when the loving obligations to family arise; obligations which have pulled more than one young artist away from his art and cast him into whatever occupation he might find.

Time was, before the arrival of the media technology when the local firehouse had no choice but to hire a live band or magician for entertainment; when two and three a day acts flourished in vaudeville, night clubs, and after- the-movie live performances, but, T.V. cut the mileage off any live act, as the “jukebox” and its more recent counterpart the “Disk Jockey” have undone the live musician, and yet, there is nothing like the electricity of a live performance.

Decadence in taste is perhaps the greatest enemy of the artist. Jimmy Durante used to say: “Everybody wants to get into the act.” Standing cautiously on the brink of elitism, Dr. OM believes it fair to say that the diminishing audience attention span is the consequence of lowering taste and so many being so “into themselves” that they would and do upstage, even the best in the business, with their: “How great I am.” chatter. Where are the sophisticated audiences gone? Where has the appreciation of talent hidden? Artistically, it is solely the responsibility of any artist to hold his audience, just as Shakespeare, himself, had to grasp even the groundlings; economically, however, it is quite another story when the disappearance of the audience is causing the disappearance of the magician. The first portion of this article dealing with the other artists is for the purpose of not making the magician feel singled out for punishment but is it not a crying shame to hear about top-notch close-up artists having to perform at children parties, not by choice, as Dr. OM does, but out of econonuc necessity–it is not really the bag they chose and for which worked so hard and long to develop their expert “bag of tricks.” Dr. OM is not intending a gripe session here, but, rather, a reality facing. These days only a few make it in the arts, either because they are among the most talented and most fortunate, as well, or because they sink to the lowest level of mass appreciation: the soap opera double-take syndrome and raucous rap.

On the more positive side, there are the casinos, the corporate parties, the hotels, the resorts, and the cruise ships, but the competition is fierce. Futurists are predicting that in the century ahead automation and robotization will allow a great deal of leisure time, even among the working classes, and that service industries, including entertainment, will be at a premium. Some of us are young enough to wait for that advent.

As a professor, Dr. OM has managed throughout the years to combine his vocation with his avocations; perhaps the teaching profession is still the best place for such a combination. There has for forty-two years been a place in his teaching for writing, magic, music, directing, acting, and plastic arts. His life has been joyous, especially because the art of teaching, itself, is the one of his great passions which has allowed the pursuit of his other artistic passions. Thus has he found the fortuitous solution to his own dilemma. Call him Lucky.Dr. OM, therefore, optimistically urges the young artist to deliberately, not accidentally, find that vocational passion which will accommodate his other artistic passions. Leave nothing to chance. Plan for a future profession or occupation which will be compatible with the practice of the art of magic. Take note, for instance, of I.C.O.M Directors Bobby J. Gallo and Bill Wisch having identified a place for magic among business and professional members’ vocational activity. If you are going to be or if you are a magician, you know that you must use your imagination, so put your imagination to work in plotting your magical course through life. You CAN do it.


The Brainstorming of two Magician’s

They’re Baaaaaaack!

Looks Like we have yet another installment of I.C.O.M-versations! This is a continuation of ideas using the “Open-Back Back” concept described in the following archives..

10/98: I.C.O.M-versations #1, “The Open Back Pack”, 11/98: I.C.O.M-versations #2, 12/98: I.C.O.M-versations The Brainstorming of two Magician’s POST- CONCLUSION,

E-Mail #9

Cool stuff!

Instead of moving the case downward, for the forehead card rise, try closing your eyes tight as if concentrating. Place the box against your forehead and open your eyes wide as if in revelation, raising your eyebrows (and forehead) at the same time. This will cause the card to rise with no perceived movement.

Here’s something else that just popped in: Glue the cutout portion of the box to the back of a joker. If this card is on top of the deck, it will automatically plug the box opening, allowing both sides to be very freely shown. When the deck is removed, discard the jokers to the side and the deck is clean, along with the box being ready for any of the
other uses.

Jeff Campbell

No way, no way am I going to say the end this time <G>!!!…BJG


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 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.

Advanced Lab 1/99-3/99

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

January 1999


It is with a great sense of pride that this month’s offering is presented. I believe you will find “Blended Bands” to be the ultimate “finale” to the “Crazy Man’s Handcuffs” routine, or as a strong, visual piece of impromptu magic which stands well on its own.

The effect is one of two rubber bands becoming linked, then magically blending into one single band held at your fingertips. Jeff Campbell, the owner of The Joke Shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is the creative genius behind the effect. A long-time friend, Jeff has been most generous, indeed, in consenting to share his latest pet effect. During a visit to his shop several months ago, Jeff performed his band routine for me. It was incredible and fooled me completely. Like watching Monday Night Football, I asked if I might see an instant replay. The second time around was even more baffling than the first!

There’s no doubt in my mind that you will thank yourself for taking the time to read The Advanced Lab this month. Here are the 12 simple steps used in creating the total illusion.

Figure 1. Starting position. One #16 band is stretched between the thumb and first finger of each hand. During the instant in which the spectator’s gaze is diverted from your hands, a series of fluid moves take place.

Figure 2. The left-hand approaches the right-hand palm. The back of the right-hand shields the action from the spectators.

Figure 3. The left-hand fingertips tilt downward, secretly releasing the band.

Figure 4. The left hand immediately pivots to a palm-up position, and the thumb and first finger are inserted into the right-hand band.

Figure 5. The left-hand pull away from the right-hand palm.

Figure 6. The left hand begins giving the band a clockwise twist

Figure 7. At the completion of this twisting action, the band should appear as illustrated. The left hand is moved up and down, creating the illusion of freedom of movement between the two bands.

Figure 8. As this “rubbing” action between the two bands continues, the hands begin to part.

Figure 9. The right hand rotates to the position shown as the hands part. The bands now appear to be linked, one within the other. The right-hand thumb and first finger are now inserted into the loop, taking A at a, and Bat b.

Figure 10. The pretended transfer of the left-hand band creates a convincing image shown.

Figure 11. The left-hand thumb and first finger grasp both band sections, pull them free of the right hand, and display them. With a gentle rubbing motion…

Figure 12. A startling transformation is revealed. The doubled loop is allowed to untwist, one end falling free. Suspended from the left-hand thumb, the two bands have seemingly blended into one long band. The hand is otherwise empty, and you are left clean.

You will need to work with this handling until a sense of relaxed confidence is achieved. There must be no hesitation on your part during its performance. Each move must be smooth, well-timed, and fluid. Your efforts will be rewarded many-fold. Jeff has performed this effect close-up, and also as part of “walk-around” performances, always with great success.

Now that you’ve read this far, and have studied the drawings, maybe you’d like to take a few minutes out of your day to drop Jeff a line. I’m certain he’d appreciate hearing your comment /suggestion. The address is: Jeff Campbell, do The Joke Shop, 265 W. Main Street, Waukesha, WI 53186. Thanks, Jeff!

February 1999

Another Opening Stab
Mike Fordice


Steve Beam’s “Opening Stab” is presented on Michael Ammar’s Easy to Master Card Miracles #3. When I saw the effect, I was interested in and began working with it. What I’m presenting is a modification of the effect that I find to be quick and effective.

For teaching purposes (and to agree with the photos) we’ll use the following setup. Place the 4 of diamonds (4D) on the face of the deck. On the top of the deck place the 2 of diamonds (2D) and then the 3 of diamonds (3D) on top of that.

So the set up (holding the deck face down) is 3D, 2D, rest of deck, 4D on the face.

What You Do:
Begin with any false shuffles and/or cuts that retain the top and bottom of the deck. Force the top card of the deck (3D) by your favorite method (I couldn’t resist!). I use J.C. Wagner’s Slip Force (described on Doc Eason’s Bar Magic video, vol. 2). Request the spectator not to show the card to anyone and to return the card any place in the deck he desires. Have him place it so that it sticks out about half the length of the card (Photo #1). Make it very clear that the spectator decided on the position of the card. Allow him to move it up or down into another position.

Photo #1

Hesitate for a moment (a little acting here) and tell him that you’ve decided to let everyone see the card. To reverse the card you will perform Bill Simon’s Prophecy Move (The Effective Card Magic of Bill Simon, 1952). As in Photo #2, with your palm up right hand grab all the cards above the protruding card.

Photo #2

Turn your hand towards your body and clip the protruding card with your thumb (Photo #3).

Photo #3

Turn your hand away from your body (Photo #4) and place the (formerly) bottom portion of the deck on top (Photo #5).

Photo #4

Photo #5

You have effectively cut the deck and reversed the selection. Push the selection into the deck and say that there is, of course, one face-up card. Fan the cards to show this (Photo #6).

Photo #6

Describe (again) that the position to which the card was returned was totally determined by the spectator. Remove the face up card and the 2 face down cards on either side. Place these on the mat; place the deck aside. Reveal that even though the position was random, the spectator placed the card in perfect sequence; 2D, 3D, 4D (Photo #7). Congratulate the spectator on his great job!

Photo #7

Well there you have it! Here’s a couple of additional ideas for this effect. While working with this, I noticed that it is fairly simple to get into this in an impromptu fashion. You can almost always find at least 2 of the cards you need for the set up close to the bottom of a shuffled deck. For example, I just took a shuffled deck. The bottom card is 8S and the fifth from the bottom is 10S. So all I need to find is 9S. The 9S was about a quarter of the way up the deck. Get all 3 to the bottom; set the highest card (10S) on the bottom; the lowest (8S) on the top, and the middle value (9S) on top of that. You’re set to go. Play with this; interesting in itself!

And finally we have the Casino or Blackjack version of the effect. Use the 6, 7, and 8 of any suit. Not only is the selection in perfect sequence, but the 3 cards add up to 21; a sure winner!

Also, special thanks to my wife, Tanya, who took all the pictures with our new digital camera. She thinks this version beats the heck out of the original.

March 1999

The Power of the Shadow
Mike Fordice

This is an effect I’ve known for years, but don’t have any idea to whom it really belongs. Maybe someone will be able to tell us who originated this idea. It uses one slight; the Elmsley Count. When I first saw it, I remember thinking that this effect will convince you to learn the Elmsley Count if you don’t already know it. The effect is basically a transformation. So, grab your cards and let’s take it for a spin.

Set up
The effect uses 8 cards. I perform it with the sixes and nines. Remove the sixes and nines from your deck and separate them into red and black (any order). Place the 4 red cards face down to your left in a small spread. The 4 black cards go to the right, also in a small face-down spread.

Note: The following photos are from the performers point of view.

Phase I
Switch the second card from the 2 spreads. (Take a peek and you¹ll see that the left group is now red, red, black, red while the right group is black, black, red, black‹perfectly set for the counts.) Loosely close the 2 spreads and cast a shadow over the 2 piles with your hands indicating that there is great power in the shadow. Now square the left pile, turn it face up and perform an Elmsley Count showing 4 red cards. Turn face down, spread, and place back on the table to your left. Repeat with the right pile showing 4 black cards. Even though you switched 2 cards, the groups remain all red and all black.

Phase II
This time switch the top 2 cards from each spread. This puts you back to the red, red, black, red position at the left and black, black, red, black at the right. As in Phase I, repeat the shadow and the counts to show all red at the left and all black at the right. Even though you¹ve switch a total of 3 cards, the groups remain all red and all black!

Phase III
This time, switch the lower 3 cards from each spread. Cast another shadow and tell your amazed spectators that even though you¹ve switch 1 + 2 + 3 cards for a total of six, that the cards on the left are now all black. Turn over the spread and display. (No count here!) And all the cards on the right are all red. Turn over and display. A total transformation has occurred!


Part of the I.C.O.M Philosophy is to bring you, not only new magic, but forgotton magic. The following was sent to Ron Dayton by a friend of his in the hopes that someone out there can recognize the inventor of this brilliant card force. In the mean time. Here it is for you the student!…BJG

The Lost Card Force
Ronald J. Dayton / Jeff Campbell

From the archives found in somebody’s basement, attic, or under the couch cushions.

If I could give tribute to the original creator of this idea I most certainly would, but alas, I can’t. Somewhere in history, some creative minds originated the following concept, but for now, I’ll just have to refer to him as the Great Anon. If you should have information as to the origin of this effect, I’d enjoy hearing from you.

This effect, which even lacks a name, is a great method for forcing a card either for a “prediction” or for any other trick where you need to know in advance the outcome. It can be performed with a borrowed deck (always a plus), requires only some good acting on your part, and a little careful instruction to your volunteer.

Here’s the basic effect: A deck of cards is fanned and casually shown on both sides. The spectator
is then asked to take the deck, and place behind his/her back. (If seated at a table, they may hold the cards under the table instead). They will turn the top card over (remember…they can’t see the cards, you can’t see the cards, nobody can see the cards as this is being done) and place it in the center of the deck. They will then cut the deck one, two, three times (more if they wish). Next, they will place the deck face down on the table. The magician names the card that their face-up card is adjacent to. In other words, the magician will name the card they located when placing their card into the deck.

I hope you followed that! If not, follow the instructions, and just like the effect itself, everything will work out.

SETUP: 1. Turn the second from the top card face up in the deck.

2. Turn the second card from the bottom of the deck face up, and NOTE THE CARD IN THE DECK IT IS FACING! The face-down card it is facing will be your force or prediction card.

PERFORMANCE: Explain that you’re going to try a little experiment. Introduce the deck of cards and fan/split the deck as you casually show both sides. (Be careful not to expose the two overturned cards.)

Explain that to make the effect more difficult, no-one will be able to see what card he/she will be selecting. Instruct them to place the face-down deck behind their back.

Once the deck is behind their back (or under the table if seated), your instructions and acting skill will either make or break the effect. The following constitutes the heart of the effect:

1. Tell them, “I’d like you to take the top card and insert it into the deck, somewhere near the center.” While this is being done, keep right on talking. Give them enough time (as you talk) to finish their task, and then ask “did you do it?” They will acknowledge the fact that they did.

2. Here’s where acting and sincerity play a key role. You continue by saying, “okay, good! You took the top card (pause giving them time to nod their head yes), you turned it over, and placed it in the center of the deck…..good…….”

If you played this right, they should interrupt you by telling you that they didn’t turn the card over. When you get this comment, apologize for not making your instructions clear. No big deal!

3. “Okay, let’s start over.” (The cards should still be behind their back or under the table. Remember, now the top card is a face-up card position during your setup). “Take the top card, TURN IT OVER, and insert it near the center of the deck. Now, cut and square the deck. Cut and square again. And, one more time, please. Now you may place the deck on the table.”

4. The deck is now face-down on the table. You ask them “how are we going to know which card you buried in the deck?” Their response should indicate that it will be the only face-up card within the deck. You then ask them, “wouldn’t it be great if we knew the exact spot in the deck in which you would place your card?” As you say this, start spreading the cards to expose the face-up card.

5. When the face-up card is exposed to view, you continue: “This is the card you turned over and placed in the middle of the deck. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you placed it right next to the (name of card)?” As you say this, produce a piece of paper or napkin on which you had written the name of the “forced”

card. Let them see your prediction, and then turn over the card on top of “their” card. Of course, it matches your prediction. WOW!

Again, this is by no means a new card effect, but you would be surprised at the impact it has on an audience. You might also be surprised by the impact it has on many of your magi friends!


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 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.

Beginner’s Study 1/99-3/99

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

January 1999

Supersonic Mathematics

Bobby J. Gallo

When I was a beginner to magic, I shunned mathematical tricks. To me, they seemed very transparent and not very mystifying. As I got older and joined a few magic organizations, I was amazed at how many of my magical peers would fool me with this very genre of magic! It seems I was mistaken to think that this branch of magic should be overlooked. On the contrary, I now feel that all magicians should have at least two or three good mathematical tricks in their heads for impromptu and even formal show applications. Here is a wonderful example.


The magician asks a spectator to write down two rows of numbers, each row containing five figures….For example, lets suppose they write down the following:

2, 3, 6, 9, 7
4, 1, 6, 5, 2

The magician then writes down a third row of numbers under these and asks the spectator to write down a fourth. The performer tops it off with writing down a fifth! Pretending to go into a psychic trance, the performer takes a quick look at the figures and writes down a prediction of a piece of paper witch is then given to another spectator to hold.

“What I am about to show you is a feat of Supersonic Thought” says the magician.

“Computers are said to be able to perform thousands of calculations per second, but I am here tonight to prove that there still is no power like the that of the human mind!” He then asks the spectator to add the figures and call out the total. After the total is announced the magician asks the spectator to open up the prediction and read aloud the number contained therein. To everyone’s amazement, the same number just summed up by the assisting spectator!


When the magician writes down the third and fifth rows of numbers, he puts down numbers that will total 9 when added to the number just above it. Therefore, if the second row were 4, 1, 6, 5, 2, the wizard would write 5, 8, 3, 4, 7, for the third line. The 4 and 5, 1 and 8, 6 and 3, 5 and 4, and 2 and 7 all total 9.

If this is done, the grand total can always be figured out in a jiffy by subtracting 2 from the right-hand number of the first line and placing 2 in front of the first number of the first line.

Sound confusing?????

Here is an example:

Audience writes- 2, 3, 6, 9, 7
Audience writes- 4, 1, 6, 5, 2
Magician writes- 5, 8, 3, 4, 7
Audience writes- 8, 4, 3, 2, 1
Magician writes- 1, 5, 6, 7, 8

Total: 2 2 3, 6 9 5

With a little practice you will be able to do this quickly and without hesitation. The important thing is to make it look as though you are merely writing down random sums after the spectator has done so. Try not to make it look like you are adding anything in your head until the climax of the routine. And even then, do it fast so that you convince them that you have a computer like brain!

Ta Da!………………..

February 1999

The Eleventh Finger
Bobby J. Gallo

For those of you who may know this ancient magic trick/gag you may be thinking, “What is Bobby J. doing by making this old thing the subject of an actual lesson?” And for those of you who have never seen this before, after reading further you may think the exact same thing!

Before I go on, I’m am going to explain the effect, then the method. After that please keep reading, because you will not believe what I am going to tell you next!

Magician holds up both hands and asks the spectator how many fingers on both of his hands. The spectator naturally replies “TEN” The magician says “WRONG, I HAVE ELEVEN FINGERS!”
The performer upon counting his fingers proves his claim by counting each finger singly and slowly and comes up with ELEVEN!

Too easy for words! First, hold up both hands. Now you are going to start counting backwards starting with the pinky of the right hand. Grab that pinky and say , “ten”, then nine, eight, seven, six…..(stop here, you will notice you have exhausted all of the fingers on that hand) now hold up your left hand and say “PLUS FIVE EQUALS ELEVEN!”


This will be greeted with a mixture of laughter, moans, groans, and sometimes even puzzlement.

Now, remember when I said that I had something else to tell you? Well, how about if I told you that I actually do this in professional performances as an ENCORE piece? Think I have flipped my lid yet? Well, not only do I use it for just that, furthermore, it comprises about 10% percent of my 45 minute show! ALL WITH A ROUTINE THAT REQUIRES NO PROPS…..HEH…HEH!

Now let me explain to you how I get away with it as an encore. After the finale of my show, I ask the kids if they would like to see an encore? When they scream yes, I then tell them, that instead of performing another trick, I will TEACH them a trick that they can do themselves!… See where I’m going?

I then go through the routine and when I am finished, not only have I done an entertaining trick/gag, but I have given them an item that they will perform for their family and friends for months after the show. That gives me FREE publicity and I haven’t even exposed any real magic secrets in the process. It costs me nothing, works every time and there are NO PROPS!

How many things can you say that about?…. Hmmmmmmmmm?

Furthermore, at a very recent high profile private engagement I actually performed this trick/gag for corporate executives. How high profile you ask? Let’s just say it was in a private box suite at Boston’s famous Fleet Center during a recent Boston Bruin’s vs. Ottowa Senator’s hockey game, for very important clients of mine.

After I just blew them away with my Commando Four Ace Routine, I closed with this finger trick/gag. It got howls! And that fact that one guy didn’t even get it made the situation even funnier! It was a great way to get offstage…

Don’t overlook the value of trick/gags. The most famous of which is certainly, SLYDINI’S PAPER BALLS OVER THE HEAD. If played right, they have real entertainment value.

March 1999

The Pendulum Swingeth
Bobby J. Gallo

What I am offering this month is nothing short of a classic. the Late great Al Koran, who was one of England’s most famous mentalists made a feature out of this anomaly. For years and years, it has been used to tell whether or not pregnant farm animals would bear male of female offspring. And to this day, even though scientists have a pretty good grasp of how it works, no one is 100% certain of its modus operandi.

I’m talking about the pendulum. The apparatus is simple. All you need is a decent length of string with a weight of some kind attached to the end. This can be a fishing weight, a ring (which is what Al used) or anything else.When the string end is wrapped around the finger “once” and held motionless the performer can make it swing back and forth or in circles upon command and without any perceivable motion whatsoever!

What is the secret? The surprising fact of the matter is that there is none! It just works, plain and simple. Is it real magic? Unlikely, but it may come really close. Scientists think that your thought creates a physical reaction or response so slight that it is not readily noticeable even by the keenest observer. I tend to agree with this, but for years and years and years, midwives swore that this aided them in determining the gender of an unborn child. Also, the power of the pendulum has been documented as far back as the ancient Egyptians. There have been alleged cases of pendulums going into motion on their own without even being suspended from a finger but rather from a pencil balanced in-between two bottles!(this hasn’t yet worked for me <G>) So you never know!

Obviously there is a great close-up trick here by just making the pendulum swing. But with a little theatre thrown in, it can be made into a professional-quality winner. I will give one routine and leave you to develop more with your own creative juices.

Here is an example of how creative you can become with objects to use as a pendulum. I purchased this beautiful hand-blown glass bauble from a street vendor while on a performance tour. The colors in the glass and the gold chain it is attached to gives it a mysterious feel that helps to enhance the overall routines. Always keep your eye out for such props. It’s like finding treasure!

Now, how do we take this natural wonder and make it into an entertaining routine. Gee, just sitting here I can think of dozens of ways. And I’m sure if I asked Ron Dayton, he would come up with thousands of ways!!!!!

Here is a good one. Have a five of index cards at hand. Hand them out to four men in the audience and one lady. However, when handing out the card to the lady, be sure to nick the corner of the card with your nail so you can later identify it. Then have them all write a word on the paper.Not their name!

Have them fold their slips in half and put them on the table. Have another spectator mix them up. Then spread them out and without opening any of them. Casually locate the one with the nail nick. As you go over each card with the pendulum in hand, make the ‘effort?’ to have the pendulum swing in a straight back and forth line over the slips that belong to the men and in a wide circle over the one with the nail nick which is the one belonging to to woman. Always give the pendulum ample time to get going. Concentrate and don’t be in a rush. This not only helps to get the thing going, but adds drama to the presentation as well.

Then dramatically pick up that slip and show that through the power of the pendulum you have located the woman’s slip of paper.

Al Koran Presentation

Here is a brief outline of how the late great Al Koran used the pendulum as one of his most talked about table demonstrations.

In his now very hard to find book “Professional Presentations, Supreme Magic, England.” Al uses six people and six blank business cards. (there is a promotional idea!) He then borrows a wedding ring and ties it on the end of a piece of string. I personally do not like borrowing rings for fear that someone may claim that I damaged it in some way, but other performers are perfectly comfortable with it.

He then has them write some kind of word on the cards and has them torn in half and scattered face-down on the table. The pendulum is then able to match-up the torn halves. What is the method? Why the nail nick of course! Just be sure to nick both ends of the card in the same position before handing them out. This seems to me to be one of the best possible tricks with business cards. As a matter of fact, it may be one of the best possible close-up tricks as well!

If you can ever find a copy of the book mentioned above, it is worth grabbing. In it, Al gives his whole presentation including patter! Hopefully, someone will re-publish it. I consider it one of the top ten magic books of all time right up there with Dai Vernons treatise on Max Malini.

Pendulum magic has many advantages not the least of which is that fact that you can pass the pendulum out for examination for there are no secrets to find! Have the spectator try it and if they succeed, the magic grows ever stronger!

The only down side to this is the fact that at certain times it simply will not work and may need a bit of prodding….<G> Also, it is not a quick effect, you need to have a captive audience to proceed with a presentation like this.

For further study of pendulum use in actual magical routines I refer the reader to The Magic Pendulum By George B. Anderson, Magic Inc. This book contains an entire act using the pendulum and some slips of paper (my kind of stuff). Well worth checking out.

Try this, it can be a real reputation maker!

Mike is a good “Internet” friend of mine that I have known for a few years now. He is an executive assistant for the Microsoft Network’s Magic and Illusion Forum ™. Along with Melody Goldstein who is a fantastic webmaster over there. I recommend giving them a visit if you have an MSN account….BJG

Finishing Touches on
Supersonic Mathematics

Mike Durant

I like the simplicity of the Supersonic Mathematics, but just one suggestion that to me would make it seem more “magical” … maybe

What I was thinking would be to make a small sequence change. Rather than have two audience rows followed by a magician row followed by an audience row finally magician (i.e. a/a/m/a/m), I was thinking about a/m/a/m/a. It seems more … ahhh “regular” and the audience has the last line making it seem “fairer”? more “magical”?

The only down side I see to that is that the “key” row is the last row … and if the answer and the “block” are shown together (like when someone pulls the calculator to add them) the “resemblance” may become more obvious … unless you went from bottom to top … hhhmmmmm … wha-cha think??


Thanks Mike for those great observations. As always, if anyone has any comments, suggestions or improvements to the lessons, send them to us and we will publish them if they work….BJG


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 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.

Secret Passageway 10/98-12/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

Lair Of The World’s Only Bizarre Cyber-Magazine”Shadows”

Ooooooooh, you’ve found the spookiest place in I.C.O.M! What magic related web-site would be complete without a forum dedicated to the weird and bizarre? On this page will be a running compendium of puzzles, tricks, stories and just about anything imaginable and “unimaginable” relating to the kind of magic that goes “bump in the night!” Such is the mysterious nature of I.C.O.M!

October 1998

“Shadows” is a cyber-publication which will appear, as shadows often do, at different times, and in varying lengths and form. As always, the image cast is dependent upon the amount of light being shed, and its direction. Much like our magic itself, shadows change with movement. Without movement, there is no change…without light, there is no shadow.

I view light / illumination, as knowledge. When light is blocked, shadows result…and the total picture cannot be seen.

Shadows and darkness have also been associated with things to be feared over the centuries. This is only right. An unwillingness to learn is indeed something to be feared.

Ancient wisdom speaks of the Ying and the Yang…opposing forces or opposites in our life. For every positive, there is a negative. For every darkness, there is a light.

“Shadows”, the publication, is meant to be a positive force, dispelling the negative connotations of the word as defined within the context of LIGHT and DARK as already explained.

Ronald J. Dayton 3-15-93

“No one knows what it is that he can do ’til he tries.”
Publilius Syrus

Stage Presentation For The Visible Vampire
Bobby J. Gallo

This is a presentation for the commercially marketed stage effect called “Visible Vampire” made by MAK Magic. However, it can be made to work equally as well with Abbotts Vampire Block or enjoy it merely as an interesting read.

I originally developed this to feature in one of the annual magic performance sponsored by SAM Assembly 168 (a tradition which I am proud to say “I” started in that particular club). This was a highlight of one of the better shows. Afterwards I was actually told by magician Joe Shade that the presentation was actually better than the trick itself! A high compliment indeed. Another truly humorous moment was when one of the members told me that his son was actually hiding underneath his seat as I performed this.

In retrospect, upon reading it after nearly a decade later, it all seems a little campy for me at this point in time. Not to say that I would not use it again. Now that we are here in the Halloween season, you never know, vampires do have a way of resurrecting themselves…<G>…


One of the most important elements needed to pull this stunt off in a convincing manner is the correct music. I believe I had probably the best possible score for this effect. It was called HYPNOTIQUE (5:37) from Music For Magicians, 1974 Electric Lemon Records. It was a stunning organ piece that would give you chills up and down your spine even if you were as brave as Achillies (Greek mythological hero).

Of course you need the prop itself which consists of a long rectangular box with a coffin cut-out shape in the front, a wooden block suspended from a chain with a red heart painted on it and a hole running though it that represented the vampire, and a wooden stake. The block could be lowered into the box and it was evident that the box was just big enough to accommodate the block with no extra room at all. Actually, in some ways the trick is not all that visible from the stage, but with the proper presentation, the audience realizes what is going on.

What does go on? It is basically a penetration effect. The block is lowered into the tube, the stake is thrust into the sides of the box through the cube and out the other side. When the chain that is connected to the block is pulled, the block penetrates the stake and is free. It really is a baffling penetration and is one of the few props of its nature that I intend to keep in my collection. Since it is a marketed effect, I will not tell you how it works. The purpose of this lesson is to give you an example of presentation. If you can get one of these little beauties, I suggest you do so. The nature of the magic business is that once they stop making them, thats it…period.

The Presentation:

(Music Starts)

Now ladies and gentleman, we come to a most serious and unusual part of this evening’s performance. Please hold the person next to you as we experience together, that which until tonight, was thought only to exist in the realm of fiction. I speak of one of the most malevolent species ever to be written about in stories best left unread. A timeless terror known to small eastern european countries, “who sometimes know better than we“, as Nosferatu’ The Vampire. (pause)

The Vampire is an evil creature who stalks the night in search of blood…and often succeeds. Do they indeed exist? I believe they may.* To prove this I brought along with me something you probably have never seen before. A genuine Vampire, in his coffin!

The Vampire has taken on the form of what appears to be a wooden block. Legend has it that a Vampire can take on virtually any form he wishes in order to achieve his desired goal. (pause, look at block and proceed to rub neck uncomfortably) You may notice that he is suspended from a chain that I purposely placed on him to better control his movement. But as you can plainly see, the heart is red and therefore still alive, very much so. But fear not good people, the Vampire is under my complete control tonight, and can do no harm as long as no harm comes to me. (sinister smile)

You may also notice that there is large hole running through him as well. Interesting, it seems that this is not the first time he has had a close encounter with this…(hold up stake) A wooden stake, contrary to popular belief, not just any wood will destroy a Vampire, only certain types.

Unfortunately, this is not one of them, but will serve our purpose just as well.

You will also notice that there is a hole in each side of the coffin itself. The purpose of these will also become evident in but a moments time.

I will now lower the Vampire into the coffin, we see that he just fits. No extra room at all. Lower him all the way down (the audience at this point can see the Vampire through the cut-out of the prop)

Now, I will take the stake, thrust it through the coffin through the Vampire, and out the other side! The Vampire is thus impailed. And thus, completely secured in the coffin with no chance of escape.

Or does he?

Ladies and gentleman witness the impossible, for as I pull the chain the Vampire escapes the coffin, visibly penetrating the stake and escaping! (pull the chain up, the block visibly comes free of the stake and out the top)

(Pause for applause)

So next time, when you are walking home alone, late at night, and you hear the faint rustle of leaves behind you or the distant patter of footsteps. Look over your shoulder, it may just be, the Vampire!

(Fade Out)

I know, I know, this routine is really heavy. If I were to use it again for some occasion, I would probably lighten it up a bit. The way it stands, it could conceivably give people bad dreams. But that is what people go to horror movies for isn’t it? And this IS art isn’t it? Is this the kind of entertainment that you would like to bestow on your innocent audience members? That choice it is up to you!

*At this point in my career, I didn’t really care about the fact that I may have been making false claims as to the authenticity of the magic I performed. Though today I would do things differently, I must admit that it DID have great audience impact. Its amazing how people will willingly suspend their disbelief to join you on your journey to the unknown…

November 1998

“SHADOWS ” IS A PUBLICATION which will appear, as shadows often do, at different times, and in varying lengths and form. As always, the image cast is dependent upon the amount of light being shed, and its direction. Much like our magic itself, shadows change with movement. Without movement, there is no change. Without light, there is no shadow.

A single candle is a lonely light. Its sphere of influence is limited. Its very life is consumed by degrees. The wax of even the brightest eventually trickles down ….. returning us to darkness, sealing our fate.

A thought is like a candle’s flame. If it is shared… if it is passed along…perhaps others can benefit, and perhaps, the original light may never fully die.

These pages are my candle. I pass them on to you.

Ronald J. Dayton 11-18-93

“Like our shadows, our wishes lengthen as our sun declines.”

Rope And Silk And Ring
Ronald J. Dayton

Quite a few years ago, and several years apart, two independent rope effects were created. One was called Rope Sue-preme which appeared in the Micky Hades publication Ropes With A Different Twist. The second was a rope penetration I called Zip, and it was printed in the Hades publication “Legerde-mine”.

RASAR is a logical combination of both effects. Together they create a series of on and off penetrations new to the world of magic. Just why it took me fifteen years to put together is a mystery to me. But I am pleased that it has finally happened…and I think you will be too when you put this amazing series of events to the test.

A very subtle handling of the silk used in the effect adds a new dimension to the illusion. It makes one phase of the penetration totally credible. In the eyes of the spectator, they have just seen the impossible take place. Everything is ungimmicked. All may be offered for examination before and after.

The moves used in RASAR affort the performer with four distinct effects. Although the method is very simple, it will take work to make your moves fluid and natural. Do not rush. Take things in a relaxed and confident stride and you will have a miracle at your command, any time, any where.

* EFFECT * 1: An eight foot length of rope has been tied into a loop using a ‘ Thumb Knot.’ This simply means that a single overhand knot has been formed by tying both ends as one. This loop is then doubled and slipped over the performer’s right leg to the point at the bend of the knee.

A solid three inch ring is rested over the rope at the top of the right leg. Suddenly, the rope, taken between both hands is pulled upward. The rope visibly penetrates the leg, and the ring is discovered to be tied within the double strands.

The leg is immediately inserted back into the double loop. This time, when the rope is taken between both hands, it again penetrates the leg…but the ring magically comes free.

* EFFECT * 2: The knotted loop is again doubled and the right leg inserted into same as in effect one. A silk is tied in an open loop around the double strands. When the rope is taken between both hands and pulled upward, the rope visibly penetrates the leg and the silk REMAINS tied to the double strands. Again the rope is placed around the leg, and on the second penetration, the silk comes free. Performer is left holding the securely tied double rope loop between both hands.

* EFFECT * 3 : Leg is slipped into knotted double loop. A silk is tied around the double strands. A ring is introduced and placed on top of the rope at the top of the right leg. Rope is taken between both hands. When the hands pull upward and apart the double rope visibly penetrates the leg. In the process, the silk comes free of the rope, and the ring becomes securely tied within the double strands. The leg is again slipped into the double strands. Rope penetrates leg, and ring once again comes free.

* EFFECT * 4 : Double loop is again slipped over the right leg. A silk is openly slipped under the double strands as before, and tied in an open loop around same. A solid three inch ring is now shown and held in the right hand along with the knotted end of the silk loop. Both are rested on top of the leg for a moment. Rope is taken between both hands and pulled upward as the hands seperate. Rope visibly penetrates leg, and both ring and silk are seen to be tied securely to same. On the second penetration series, rope penetrates leg and silk and ring come free.

It would be best to begin the explanation of this four part effect by starting with phase number four, the last routine. It embodies and will demonstrate all of the moves necessary to accomplish the previous three.

The left hand holds the Thumb Knotted portion of the loop as the right hand grasps the loop at its bottom and gives the loop a half twist. The bottom portion is then placed into the left hand. Take this doubled rope in the right hand between the forefinger and second finger as.in Fig. 1. With the left hand, grasp the two ropes which form the loop nearest the right hand fingertips. In one continuous action, the left hand raises its ropes and begins to glide to the left and toward the knot, Fig. 2. At the same time, the fingers of the right hand, using the right middle finger as a pivot point, swing into the newly formed double loop. This loop may be tugged upon in a very convincing manner.

As the right leg steps into the double loop, the secretly switched portions concealed in the right hand are ‘rolled’ off the right hand middle finger and held within the fist. When this section is pressed up in behind the right knee…elevating the leg just a bit will hold the Grandmother’s Necklace style break neatly at the bend, Fig. 3.

The silk is now shown, then slipped under the double strands at the top of the leg and tied in an open loop as in Fig. 4 using a standard square knot. Right hand holds silk loop at knot as left displays the three inch ring. Ring is now placed in ‘front of the silk loop, Fig. 5, all being held by the right hand.

Right hand gives silk a half twist, Fig. 6…and then places the silk and ring on top of right leg over single, unknotted strand of rope, Fig. 7. Right band fingers now grasp this single strand and pull it up through the center of the ring and silk. Figure 8 shows an exaggerated view. As the ring and silk rest on top of the right leg and the right hand controls this single unknotted strand which lies furthest from the knee…the left hand comes to the front of the leg and takes hold of the Thumb Knot.

With the back of the left hand toward the audience, and acting as a shield…the right hand slips the loop of rope it has formed over the Thumb Knot, Fig. 9. The fingers and thumb of the right hand pinch and hold the strands of their loop together about an inch and a half to the right of the Thumb Knot as the left hand takes hold of the Thumb Knot’s double strands. With an upward pull, the hands separate. The rope seems to penetrate the leg, Fig. 11,

Silk openly tied around the double ropes and ring suspended from same.

The illusion is quite lovely. The Thumb Knot holds the single strand loop securely in place…much like the knot and loop system of the fashion buttons ( Oriental style ) called ‘ Frogs.’

Immediately slip the right leg back into the double loop, the right hand secretly separating the loop and Thumb Knot arrangement. Knot and loop end are held at the bend of the right knee. This is shown in Fig. 12 minus silk and ring for clarity. Working together, the right and left hands give the rope loop furthest from the knee at the top of the leg a half twist, forming the smaller loop as shown. Right and left hand thumbs enter this small loop and also pass under the larger rope section loop nearest the knee. Fingers close around the larger loop loosely. As hands pull upward and apart, ring and silk will automatically come free and you will be left holding a genuine knotted double loop of rope between your outstretched hands.

For effect * 3 the silk loop is never given a half twist. The single rope section held by the right hand and slipped over the Thumb Knot passes through the center of the ring only. Upon the first penetration, the ring becomes tied on the ropes and the silk comes free.

In effect *2 only the silk loop is used in conjunction with the doubled rope. In this instance the silk loop IS given a half twist and the single strand of rope is pulled up through the top half of the silk. On the first penetration the silk remains tied around the double strands…and during the second phase it comes free.

For effect *1 The right hand pulls the single strand up thru the center of the ring then places its rope loop over the Thumb Knot. First penetration, ring becomes tied within double ropes…on second penetration, it comes free.

Experiment with these principles. Use two silks instead of a ring and silk. Use several colored bracelets. Find out what new combinations will reveal to you. RASAR may yet contain some hidden secrets.

December 1998

Look Familiar? To veteran I.C.O.M members it should. This was the effect that was formally included free with new memberships. But now with the current re-structuring of membership plans and due to the fact that brand new members have not yet see it, coupled also with the fact that this is a “pychic effect” that after all is what this forum is dedicated too,…..Here it is!…BJG (boy, talk about a run-on sentence, Oscar’s going to be angry<G>)

Tick-Talk Code
Ronald J. Dayton

This one of the most simplistic coding methods employing a confederate that I can think of. To the best of my knowledge, it is original.

The reason for using a confederate to handle the coding rather than your assistant is that the effect is designed to be performed for a smaller, more intimate setting. You would likely do the effect for a handful of friends seated around a card table. One of the friends, seated to your immediate left, is your secret helper.

While you are out of the room, as per your instructions, a card is selected from a deck, shown around, then shuffled back into the deck and the cards replaced in their case. When you return, you take your seat. As the card is concentrated upon the performer attempts to pick up its image from the thoughts. Eventually, he is able to name the chosen card.

The secret to this effect is that your confederate is wearing a stem type wind-up wrist watch. The stem is already pulled and the time is set at one o’clock. For the code, the hour hand, times one through four o’clock tells the suit….SPADES, HEARTS, CLUBS and DIAMONDS. This is based on the number of points and rounds in the geometric shape of the given suit. The spade has one point, the heart has two rounded sections, the club three rounds, and diamonds have four points. This was a concept utilized by Richard Osterlind.

The minute hand codes the value of the suit, Ace (1) through Queen (12). For the Kings, only the hour hand is used to tell the suit. The value ( king ) is coded by a subtle shift in hand position.

For the cards Ace through Queen, the confederate is seated in a relaxed position with arms on the table in front of him, right hand on top of the left. In the case of a king being coded, the left hand is on top of the right. Except for this small change, the positions are identical.

Being seated to the confederate’s right, it is an easy matter for the performer to glimpse his watch and hands. All information he needs to divine any one of fifty-two cards is given to him without movement or speech from the secret assistant.

After the card has been chosen and shown, as it is being shuffled back into the deck and cased, the confederate casually uses the thumb of the right hand to spin the hands of his watch to the proper time to reveal the card. He then positions his hands in front of him, and awaits your return.


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 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.

Kid Show Konservatory 10/98-12/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

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 in’s and out’s of working kid shows, how to prepare for them, booking them, performing them, etc. etc. etc.

October 1998

‘Assembly Required’
(Thoughts on Routining)
Dynamic Dye Box Surprise
(A Complete Routine)
Bobby J. Gallo

Back around what seems like a decade ago, I toyed with the idea of publishing a book on magic for the family performer. Though it never came to fruition, I never forgot the one routine that I knew must be included if I ever “did” get around to completing that project.

However, with the advent of I.C.O.M, an educational need presented itself that far surpasses the mere inclusion of an effect or routine. That need is one that every performer will eventually find themselves spending endless hours contemplating on. That is the need for the knowledge necessary for they themselves to take individual tricks and assemble them into workable, practical, entertaining routines.

After all, what do most books and tapes do? They merely spoon feed the reader routines that have already been established or created. Sometimes that is good. Sometimes it is bad. The reason for this is that not all routines work for all magicians. There comes a day when you my fellow I.C.O.M’er will have to assemble a routine out of tricks that may have never before been presented side-by-side.

So that being said, the purpose of this work is two-fold. One, to give you a brief look at how “I” routine tricks in my own performances. Two, to give you the routine I feel should have been published nearly a decade ago.

The first question some may have when first reading about this subject is, “what exactly is a routine?” After all, it is a word we hear constantly and one we see all to often in general magic literature.

The I.C.O.M Magician’s Glossary defines a routine as: Routining: The act of combining individual magic effects to ascertain the best possible combination in an overall magic performance. So when the word routine is used within the context of magical performance, we are referring to the action of stringing together individual magic tricks, effects, sleights, or moves in order to create the most logical and entertaining sequence of effects in the minds of the audience.

A magical routine can take shape in one of three ways when looking at it through this perspective.

  • A series of sleights or moves used to make up the routine.
  • A series of presentational elements (lines, patter, mannerisms, etc.) followed by a single magical effect.
  • A series of independent effects strung together to create the whole picture.

In Magic and Showmanship By Henning Nelms, Dover 1969, pages 234-239 the author talks about continuity. And though he writes about it in the context of the entire act, I believe it is just as critical when constructing the individual routine. He does however give an example of the 20th century silks and I recommend reading his work for further study.

I though of many ways to relate to the I.C.O.M student the best ways to routine. I can go into all the psychological Fitskee-esq reasons for doing one thing over the next, but that serves little purpose for us here. I.C.O.M consists of students of all ages and my goal is to get the idea across in the simplest manner possible. The following is how to routine a series magical events. It is broken down to the lowest common denominator. All you have to do is…

Arrange the sequence of magical effects so that it makes sense…

That’s it! that’s all you have to do. If it sounds easy, then you haven’t seen the so many of the magic acts out there that make no sense at all! Magic can become quite boring and monotonous if the performer merely presents one trick…stops…picks up another…does it…stops…and so on. There is no real purpose to what he is doing other than the obvious fact that he wants to show off all the neat new gadgets he just obtained at the last magicians convention. This being said, the best way I can possibly teach you how to do this is by breaking down a routine I developed (which is by no means perfect, but it will get your gears turning) and that I call…

Dynamic Dye Box Surprise

Effect & Presentation: The magician shows a very small (6in) orange silk. He then asks the kids present what he should do with it? “Vanishing it would be too easy!” states the magician. “Changing it’s color? Nah! I could do that by spilling a little grape juice on it!” “I know…how about if I make it grow big?, really big!, bigger than the birthday boy/girl! The kids scream with approval of this idea.

The magician then says, “hmmmmm, to do this I have to put the little hanky in the dark.” “Where can I put it? I know, how about this?” The magician then pulls out of his bag and proudly displays a popcorn box!

“How many of you like popcorn? wow..that’s too bad, because I ate all of it.” Upon saying this the magician turn the box upside down and shows that nothing falls out. “What’s that? you want to see inside of the box? Ok, no problem, but only after the trick! The deal is, you get to see everything, but ONLY after the trick! why? You wouldn’t want me to ruin the surprise would you?”

“Now that the little hanky is inside the box, we need to put other ingredients in there as well to make it grow. Why do we do that? well after all, you can’t grow unless you eat nutritious foods right? So how can you expect a hanky to grow unless we give it some magical nourishment?”

“First some magical milk!
” The magician then takes a glass of milk and pours it into the box. “Now some magical salt!” He does the same with the salt. “Now, since we need some color, lets put in a carrot!” The magician then proceeds to take a carrot and places it inside the box as well.

“I’ll now close the box and shake.” I usually do this over the birthday child’s head. It is a scream to see the expression on their faces to think that at any moment they may be showered by milk salt and a carrot!

“Now lets see what we have done.” The magician now looks into the box and with great amazement, pulls out a 36 inch orange silk! (usually taller than the birthday child) “uh..oh.. I think we overdid it!” Says the magician, upon saying that he then opens up the box and a large bouquet of flowers pops into view as he lets out a loud gasp! The kids go crazy and the milk, salt, and carrot have all seemed to vanish. The small silk is nowhere to be found so it is assumed that it changed into the large one.

Thoughts: I do not use this routine anymore because of it’s only setback. It requires a set-up that became impractical for me once I found myself performing as many as five shows back-to-back on a given Saturday. But it remains a dynamite entertaining and logical routine specially geared toward kid shows.

Requirements: Though in I.C.O.M we strive to give you material where you will not need commercially sold equipment, for the sake of this lesson, and especially if you want to do this routine, here is the list of props I use.

  • A Tommy Windsor Pop Corn Dye-Box: The best investment you can make for under $5.00!
  • A Sealed Milk Tumbler or Milk Pitcher: Standard magician’s prop for making a quantity of milk vanish.
  • A Magic Salt Shaker: Various varieties are available. Same concept as the milk pitcher.
  • One 6in. and one 36in. orange silks. Ungimmicked.
  • One foam Joke Carrot: Available in most magic shops or as part of the multiplying carrot routine.
  • A Set of Paper Spring Flowers: Standard magicians prop that quite frankly, I never found a practical use for outside of this routine!

Set-up: The box is assembled and the props are placed inside in th following order:

  • Compressed Spring Flowers
  • The Large 36in. Silk

The exact working of these props are self-explanatory once you acquire them, but that is not the point here. Notice that these are all independent tricks that can stand alone if necessary as tricks in and of themselves. But with the proper routining, they meld together and actually become stronger when used in concert.

Everything makes sense. The silk goes into the box, then the ingredients are added. The result is a large silk as well as the flowers! The flowers are there because you accidentally made something else grow besides the silk! The climax has a transformation (the growing silk) an appearance (the flowers) and three vanishes! That is one powerful routine. And if you think the mystery suffers because you do not show the box empty at the beginning, guess again. I have used this routine hundreds of times and it is never questioned. The small to large silk, the vanishes and the surprise appearance of the flowers more than make up for the fact that they could not see into the box beforehand.

An additional note in interest is that after the routine, I always went into a series of silk manipulations with the large silk, thus expanding the routine! I recommend Rice’s Encyclopedia of Silk Magic for more moves than you will ever need in this department!

Also, if you do plan on using this routine, always remember to show that the silk is actually larger than the the birthday child by holding it up by the corner right next to the child. In a way, it actually gives the trick a sort of mini-grand illusion status. After all, you just made something appear that is bigger than a person! Think about it…

If you have any further questions of routining or if you are having a problem routining a certain sequence of effects for your own act, be sure to use your “VL” and we will be happy to give you some ideas.


Thanks to our resident scholar for these fine reflective thoughts on the Soda Fountain Act which appeared in this very forum on 7/98 and is now available in the Archives…BJG

Later Thoughts on The Soda Fountain Act
Ron Dayton

Dear Bobby.

I was re-reading your Thayer variation today.

Began thinking.  Thought perhaps the old coding method for remembering the colors in a rainbow might apply in some way to remembering the order of the color glasses you have on your table. ROY G. BIVRed, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.  Or, perhaps small self adhesive color dots behind each glass on the table might be a better idea.

I recall a similar idea which used a multiple fluted mouth brass vase. Each indentation of the fluted area had a drop of food coloring on it.  This allowed you to pour multiple drinks from the same container too…but in a different manner.  It would be so neat to find a fluted mouth flower vase in clear glass, and do the same thing.  I still have such a fluted brass vase somewhere in my old equipment.  Never thought of it done in glass before.  You got the wheels turning.


November 1998

Kolar Re-Visited
Ronald J. Dayton

Several months ago I decided to test a few thoughts I had had concerning the Kolar Straw and String effect, the trick in which a length of string is threaded through a drinking straw…the straw bent in two and cut in half with a scissor…yet magically, the string is withdrawn totally restored.

It has been many decades since this effect was first introduced to the general public. During the many years to follow, little if any changes or additions have been offered to the original handling. Taking the lead and inspiration from Tony Slydini’s Torn and Restored Cigarette…I have devised a handling for the Kolar Straw in which not only is the string restored…but the straw itself is restored as well!

Please study Fig. 1 very carefully. It illustrates a standard drinking straw, length A-D, which measures on average eight inches in length. This straw has been mentally divided into three sections. The shaded section A-B is the section of the straw which is concealed in the left hand. Area A-D is the visible portion of the straw which when bent in two at point C allows the slit, e-f to accommodate the string for the initial cut.

To begin with, I would suggest marking the straw you intend to work with at the three points with a marking pen. Use an X-acto knife to carefully form slit e-f as shown. Now, thread a twenty inch length of string through the straw Extending length A-X is approximately seven inches long, and end D-Z is four inches in length. Prior to performing the effect, length A-X is run along the outside of the straw at A-B. The string is clipped at the B bend between the left hand first and second fingers. The straw is held at B between the left first finger and thumb, and the remining left hand fingers curl in around, and conceal the rest of the shaded section. It appears to your audience that you are exibiting a straw which is approximately five inches in length, and which has a length of string running through it.

The right first finger and thumb grasp and bend the visible section in half at point C, swinging end D down toward the left hand where it is grasped and held in place by the left hand first finger and thumb. The right hand first finger and thumb then pull down on string end Z just a bit, pulling the string at the bend C down into slit e-f. Fig. 2. Prior to this bend and pull being executed, the straw has been lifted from a horizontal to a vertical position.

Picking a scissors from your table, carefully cut the C bend from the straw without damaging the string, Fig. 3. This done, the scissors are tabled.

The right hand first finger and thumb now grasp the short straw section near E, and the two sections A-C and D-E are butted end to end as they are simultaneously returned to a horizontal
position, Fig. 4. Under cover of the right hand fingers, end E is actually inserted part way into end C. Now, the final few moves are executed.

The right hand pushes end D to the left, seemingly pushing the straw sections through the left hand fist. In reality, length E-D is shoved all the way inside length A-C…then the entire assembly is continued to be pushed through the left fist until it emerges at the little finger side of the left hand.

The right hand moves to this little finger position, grasps end A, and swings it down and up to the right. In other words, end C is now being held in the left hand, well into the length of straw… concealing the fact that the straw is now in one piece.

End A is held in the right. The right hand now pulls on end X of the string, pulling it several inches from the straw. This takes out the fouled string which inevitably occures after E-D is inserted into A-C. The string may now be pulled freely back and forth within the straw….proving it to be restored. It is now that you announce not only is the string in one piece…but the straw is as well. The left hand moves to the far end C…showing the straw in its entirety. Your hands are otherwise empty.

The moves for this double restoration have been worked out to be as logical as possible. With care in handling, you can very closely approximate the same illusion as done in the standard version of the Kolar effect…then blow them out of the water with the totally unexpected straw restoration finale’.

Perhaps you will find handling variations of your own, or have suggestions on ways to strengthen the effect even more. I would most certainly welcome any additional thoughts on the subject. I would also be most pleased to hear your reactions the very first time you successfully perform this version of the classic effect.

December 1998

Magic and Balloons?
(The Great Debate)
Bobby J. Gallo

The nice thing about the current restructuring of I.C.O.M is that it now gives us a chance to include articles and pieces that do not solely aim to teach a magic trick persay. This is a very important topic and one that every kid show magician should consider carefully. It concerns the famous and sometimes infamous art of Balloon art, Balloon Sculpture, Balloonology, etc. etc. etc.

No one really knows where or why this became such an integral part of the magicians program, but it has and in a big way! Bammers, as they sometime call themselves take great pains to learn how to twist animal balloons into all kinds of glorious shapes that I admit, children really do love.

I have varied opinions of animal balloons. First off I must say that I think it is a wonderful art and I myself at one time enjoyed the “magic” of taking a long balloon, blowing it up (with a pump), and twisting it into what appeared to be a dog of some sort. I think it is a great gimmick, that should be given to an adult.

What?????????? Did I say an adult?…Yep, I did.

Recently I talked to an insurance agent for the entertainment industry. I was told that balloons are among the top causes of injuries to children and therefore will not insure entertainers who use them in their acts! Yes, you heard right. I was also told that at a recent clown convention (which I did not attend so this is heresay). There was actually a lecture that was concerned with accidents that may happen to children with animal balloons. Can you believe that??? I was shocked.

Children have a natural tendancey to put things in their mouths, balloons are no exception. They easily break and can be harmful.

That is not the only problem with them. Once they break they become rubber bands that some children delight in snapping at one another. This can cause eye injuries. And a balloon does not even have to be handled this way to cause that kind of injury either. I personally spoke to the owner of a party shop that was successfully litigated against because a balloon merely popped and caused the eye of a child to be scratched.

Why am I saying all of this? Because we care about our members and want everyone to be successful without the possibility of accidents resulting from products that may hold potential risks.

All of this being said, are there a ways to entertain children using balloons without risks? Well, while you can never eliminate all risks, there are ways to greatly reduce the chances of something going awry. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Do not give the balloon directly to the child, give it to the parent explaining that the child with the balloons must be supervised at all times.
  2. Lecture the children before you start that they MUST NEVER EVER PUT A BALLOON IN THEIR MOUTH…..PERIOD. And of they are seen doing so , you will take it away immediately and once you leave you will instruct the parents to do so as well.
  3. I think this is the best solution for myself. Just make “one” as part of the show and put it away after you are done. After all, the magic is in them watching the performer twist it up, after that, it is all anti-climactic anyway. After the show, give them something that is safer like stickers of a flyer that they can color. Though nothing is a 100% safe handout when you are giving it to a child, I have not yet heard of serious accidents resulting from stickers or sheets of paper.
  4. Check with your insurance agent to make sure that your policy covers you for balloon animals. You may be surprised. Many magicians think that they are covered when in reality, they are not!
  5. Don’t do them at all, the proper place for balloons is on the end of a string anyway. And even then,…Be careful!

It is not our intention to frighten anyone or put down any desicion to include this art in childrens entertainment. We just feel everyone should know certain aspects about this subject. We think this article is a service to the magic community and would like to hear your comments.


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 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 Spotlight 10/98-12/98

Spotlight 10/98-12/98

October 1998

Another Magic Internet First!

Over the past few months, Ron Dayton has been forwarding e-mail to me that he thought I might find interesting. It contained intense magical conversations between himself and magician/magicshop owner Jeff Campbell. Upon reading these fascinating interactions, I was blown away by the scope and insight being imparted between these two geniuses. I immediately asked Ron to be able to publish these conversations exactly the way they were sent to me! In this way WE ALL can benefit from their expertise. Needless to say, I got the go-ahead and here they are. I hope that this section has a long and fruitful life to it. So sit back, relax, and get ready to join the conversation!…BJG

The Brainstorming of two Magician’s

The Original Effect That inspired This Interaction
E-Mail #1:

“The Open Back Pack”
Ronald J. Dayton

It’s funny how the simple act of just looking at something can often inspire a thought for a new effect or approach to an effect.а A number of months ago, Bobby J. Gallo had made a gift of a pack of his promotional playing cards.а Each card has a likeness of him printed on the back. In order to show this fact off more effectively, the cards are packaged in a case which has an opening or ‘window’ cut out of the back.

I did not think of the possibilities this open back pack offered for months to follow…but recently, I looked at the deck on the shelf in my magic den, andа the ideas began to present themselves.

If you look at the back of a pack of standard poker size Bicycle playing cards for example, you will find that it has a full card back design printed upon it.а You have the full back design, and the white border as well. At the top of the case, at the flap end, there is a dark blue seal, also edged in white.

With a new deck, first open and remove all of the clear plastic which surrounds the pack. Using an X-acto knife, carefully slit open the seal at the top edge of the case and remove the cards.аReplace them with an older deck…one which you don’t mind being damaged.а Make sure the case is full.а Now, cut along the white border, and around the white edge of the top seal as well so in essence, you are only removing the red or blue color interior back design printed on the rear of the case.а Once this task is completed…remove this insert and throw it away.а Take out the old cards and slip in the new deckа with backs facing toward the window you have formed at the back of the case.а That’s all there is to it.

This may sound overly simplified, or too obvious a preparation…but if you handle the card case in a convincing manner…there is no reason to suspect it is anything more than it appears to be.а The fact that the seal is clearly visible in its entirety at the back of the case sells it very well. With the flap tucked in front of one or two cards at the rear of the deck, the illusion is quite nice.

So now that we have taken a few minutes to prepare this special case…what is it exactly that it will do for me ?а Two of the more obvious things would be to use the thumb of the hand holding the case to push up a cardа from the rear while the flap of the box is open.а This cardа or cards has been chosen freely, then controlled to the top of the deck prior to the cards being replaced in the case.а A chosen card can also be secretly reversed in the deck, cut to the top, and viewed openly at the back of the case.а In this instance, even another spectator from the audience could reveal the value of the selected card.

Another card rise, a bit more off the beaten pathа is executed while the case is held at the bottom edges, at the sides,а between the right hand first finger and thumb.а The remaining fingers of the hand are extended out straight.а The deck is held at eye level. then shown to both the right and left, then returned to the front.а Suddenly, a card or cards mysteriously rises from within the open case.а How is this possible??а The case is held in front of your face, and the tip of your nose touches the rear card and acts as the power source as the case is slowly slid downward and then immediately away from the face just a few inches.а Attention is on the rising card.а And since all digits are visible, it gives no clue to the simplicity of the rise.

To be used as just an opening ‘bit’а or ‘piece of business’а the case is shown, opened, then tabled on your close up mat window side down.а The simple act of pulling the case back,а while sort of sliding it flat along your mat will cause the cards within to exit the case automatically in as ribbon spread fashion.а It’s surprising, and different…important factors in an opening move for close-up.а If the case is used for nothing else in your program other than this slide out opening, it will have served its purpose well.

A chosen card which has been returned to the deck and controlled to the topа can be retained inside the case after the pack is replaced in same.а All you have to do is to press against the chosen card as the rest of the deck is tipped out of the case a second time. While the spectator’s look through the deck for their chosen card, the case is brought to the back edge of your table, and the card tipped from the case and lapped…only to be discovered elsewhere any time you desire.

Consider the possibility of having a blue back duplicate of a card within the deck to be forced.а In this instance, you have the blue back card showing through the window, so the back of the case cannot initially be shown.аа All cards but the blue one are removed from the case as in the example above.а You force the desired cardа ( Cut Deeper Force would be good here)…then return and control the card to the top of the deck.а When inserting the deck back into the case, the blue card is secretly inserted somewhere in the center.а A spell is woven over the case…and the cards again tipped out…but this time theа original chosen card is held back by the thumb and retained within the case.ааа You then ribbon spread the deck face up…they slide out their chosen card.аа And when you ask them to turn it over, they are amazed that the back is now blue rather than red.а In essence, you have just performed an in case color change.

I think there are other applications for this Open Back Pack still to be discovered.а If the idea in the basic form appeals to you at all,а I am hopeful you will continue the search for other uses.

Jeff Campbell’s Insights
E-Mail #2:

Open Back Pack:The remaining rim of the card box will retain a coin, if slightly less than a full deck is used (of course I never play with a full deck).

This concept could be used for a Goshman “salt shaker” routine, where the coin is vanished and always found under the card case. The beauty of this is, the card box will hold the coin, allowing the box to be raised showing nothing under it. When replacing the box on the table, slightly move the box so that the coin is dragged from the rim. As you pick up the box again, the coin is now there. Transfer the box to your other hand where the “vanished coin” is finger palmed and you have an automatic reload.

This concept would also make for a simple coin thru deck. Place a quarter in each corner of the box (held in place by the rim). Slide the box diagonally on the table, about an inch each way. This will pull one coin at a time from under the rim. The four coins may be produced at once for a nice opening to matrix.

Enough for now. Ball’s in your court. Lemme know what you think.


The Return Ball, Next Month!

November 1998

The Brainstorming of two Magician’s

“Jeff and I are still having a blast, brainstorming over the Open Back Pack.а For such a strange idea of a trick, the possibilities are expanding daily.”
Ron Dayton

Continued from last month

Ron Dayton Response To Jeff Campbell
E-Mail #3:

I have been working with the Open Back Pack again, ever since Jeff Campbell inspired me with his thoughts of using it to load and produce coins. This works really well by the way!

But I found that removing the deck from the case, then glueing a sheet of reflective mylar material to the inside back of the case gives you a very functional shiner case. With the deck in place, things look normal. With the cards removed, you have a large reflective surface in which to read any card chosen.

The identity of a card to be forced could also be written in this inside surface. The message is hidden from view while the deck is in place…but once removed, the spectator could be given the information with just a glance. This is true of any information or action you wish to convey to a spectator assistant.

If a card is reversed and placed second from the top of the pack prior to the deck being cased…it is an easy matter to push the rear card up just prior to tipping and removing the deck from the case. This allows the thumb to hold and control the second, or reversed card… retaining it in the case as the others are tipped out. The reversed card is then inserted secretly somewhere near the center of the deck as the pack is returned to the case. This method of retaining the card second from the top would work exceeding well in the chosen card color change outlined in a previous series of possible handlings.


Jeff Campbell Response To Ron Dayton
E-Mail #4:

Here’s another one…

Remove the deck from the box. Close the box flap and lay the box on the table between you and the spectator (hole side down,of course). Have a card selected, signed and returned to the deck. Control it to bottom and fold it in quarters (as in Goshman’s card to purse, Mullica’s card in apple…). Cop the folded card as you give the deck to the spectator to shuffle. Move the box out of their way, loading their signed fold card into the box. After some byplay reveal their card. This loading also works with a signed bill (as in a torn and restored bill routine). I’m sure this will stimulate other ideas as well. Have fun!

Ron Dayton Response To Jeff Campbell
E-Mail #5:

After reading Jeff’s newest application for the Open Back Pack…I began to think about other things that might be loaded into the case.

It might be nice to remove the cards as in the original handling, close the case and set it aside, open side down. A card is forced upon a spectator who is asked to remember same. Card is returned to deck and lost in same. Deck is tabled face down. You then glance at the case… pick it up and comment that you forgot to remove the deck. Case is opened, and a cased deck of miniature cards is removed. Spectator is asked to name his chosen card. He then takes the mini cards from their case, ribbon spreads them face down, and discovers the only reversed card in the pack matches his selection.

As a comedy bit, you could make the same statement as above…” Oh, oh…I forgot to take the pack out of the case. This time items such as a pack of chewing gum, a small pack of candy cigarettes or even one of those small back packs such as sold as key-chains might be taken from within the case. Brainstorm a bit and see how many other ‘ packs ‘ might apply to this idea.

Ron <G>

Ron Dayton Response To Jeff Campbell
E-Mail #6:

Dear Jeff,

The suggestion to use the loaded key-chain size back pack to hold the folded card is a nifty one.

There are so many things that could be loaded into the case. Candy, for a sweet trick. Or one of those cut-out card coins could be used as suggested in your coin and pack idea…producing the half dollar with the value of the chosen card literally cut from it.

Another idea I have considered is to have a card selected, returned and mixed in, then the deck is tabled face down. Spectator thinks of his chosen card ( forced ). You then say that people don’t always credit you for the skill needed to perform a certain trick. That’s why I always carry this. Opening the previously empty card case. you tip it, and out slides a credit card. You ask them to name their selection, and, when the credit card is turned over, a smaller duplicate of their card is attached to the back.

I don’t know if it is appropriate or not. That would be up to the performer and the circumstances to decide…but how about producing one of those tiny bibles from within the case…after saying you probably don’t think I have a prayer of discovering what your card was. Open the cover, and there inside is a miniature cuplicate of the chosen card.

A pocket size box for wooden matches ( sleeve and drawer variety ) could be loaded with the folded card selection….then box closed and loaded into the case. You would state that there is a perfect match to their chosen card, still in the case. With those words, you open the case flap, remove the box. Re-close the case and table it open side down, then allow the spectator to push open the drawer of the matchbox and discover signed card.

Your business card could be discovered in the case…turned over to reveal that the name of the chosen card is written on the back. Great giveaway for the spectator.

As a comedy approach…a card which has been folded in half, end to end with the face side outermost is removed from the case after a card has previously been chosen and lost within the tabled deck. You of course have stated earlier that the identity of their selected card would appear within the case. At first, they feel they have duped you, because the card removed from the case ‘does not’ match their selection. You justify the situation by saying that this must be ( pointing to the case), a case of mistaken identity! What was your card again? You turn the folded card over, and there on the back, printed in magic marker, is the name of their chosen card.

Maybe not all earth shattering…but, food for thought never-the-less.


Co-Directors Notes: This is the conclusion to I.C.O.M-versations. The reason I have given you all of it this month is due to the fact that starting in December, We have a whole new series starting that you are going to LOVE! So consider the extra material this month a bonus…BJG

In the great tradition of I.C.O.M-edy Lines #1 and “You Say It, I’m Too Chicken” (Both can be found in the Archives), We now subject you too, err, I mean, We bring you More!!! <G>…BJG (just kidding Ron!)

I.C.O.M-edy Lines Part #2
Ron Dayton

  1. If Jerry Mc Guire were a magician, would he say…” Show me the bunny! ” ??
  2. Question: If Sylvester Stallone did magic, would he call himself Sly-dini too??
  3. The rabbit I used in my act had six feet. Each of his ears were twelve inches long!

Part # 2 Is Now

Dr.Om’s Mini Miracle Course In Writing For Magician’s

Co-Director’s Notes: I.C.O.M is once again proud to announce the birth of yet another ground-breaking, and not mention, totally original concept in the development of the magical arts.

Class Is Now In Session Over At The I.C.O.M Library!

December 1998

The Brainstorming of two Magician’s

Just when you thought it was safe!
Looks Like we have yet another installment of I.C.O.M-versations! This is a continuation of ideas using the “Open-Back Back” concept described elsewhere in this quarter.

E-Mail #7:

I found that removing the deck from the case, then glueing a sheet of reflective mylar material to the inside back of the case gives you a very functional shiner case. With the deck in place, things look normal. With the cards removed, you have a large reflective surface in which to read any card chosen.

The identity of a card to be forced could also be written in this inside surface. The message is hidden from view while the deck is in place …but once removed, the spectator could be given the information with just a glance. This is true of any information or action you wish to convey to a spectator assistant.

If a card is reversed and placed second from the top of the pack prior to the deck being cased…it is an easy matter to push the rear card up just prior to tipping and removing the deck from the case. This allows the thumb to hold and control the second, or reversed card… retaining it in the case as the others are tipped out. The reversed card is then inserted secretly somewhere near the center of the deck as the pack is returned to the case. This method of retaining the card second from the top would work exceeding well in the chosen card color change outlined in a previous series of possible handlings.


E-Mail #8:

Dear Jeff.

Just got your e-mail giving permission to use the Open Back Pack brainstorm ideas. You made my day!

I did a short routine for Sue last night using the deck to produce several coins in a matrix type fashion. She couldn’t believe her eyes !! Imagine that…I actually fooled her with something. Too bad it wasn’t mine ! <G>

The stuff above are some additional thoughts on the deck. Nothing as important as I consider your coin load method to be…but I am still looking.

It works to place the case to your forhead too, as if trying to think or get an image of a selected card ( which has been controlled to the top )…then sliding the case downward a bit and squeezing the sides to hold the risen card in place. This is an alternative to the nose method. It’s just as unexpected, and the squeeze hold allows the case to the moved forward from the forehead smoothly enough that they never really realize the card came into contact with your head as a power source for the rise.

Yes, please…keep that thinking cap on !! This is just great !

The End ???????????

The Ronald J. Dayton Gold Medal Creativity Series

Volume #3
Volumes #1 and #2 may be found in the archives. Volume #1 dealt with The Card Box and Volume #2 dealt with The Egg Bag

This began with a suggestion I made to Ron to continue the brilliant premise he started back near the start of I.C.O.M. Here is the short letter he wrote to me and what followed….BJG

Dear Bobby,

As you suggested, I began thinking about a specific magic prop…and strove to expand upon its uses…just as was done with the Card Box etc. For this first installment, I will take a look at the Coin Pail.


” A Coin Pail By Any Other Name “
Ronald J. Dayton

Coin Pails have been used in manipulative acts for decades. The basic premise is that of the performer using a metal pail as a receptacle into which he tosses coins magically produced at his fingertips. The effect is a classic, and indeed, has many strengths. It was an effect which played well for coin manipulators, especially when they needed to work in large theaters because the sound of each coin being dropped into the pail reinforced the production for those who may have been seated further to the back. The combination of deft sleights…the lights playing off the surface of the coins, and the pleasing sound of metal against metal were important elements for several senses.

Over the years, many methods and routines have evolved. New sleights…new holders, gimmicks, and droppers were developed. Even the pails themselves went through a series of changes and advancements. Recessed bottoms, hidden slots, built-in droppers, the use of magnets, and clamps all had their place in various routines.

The stage trick was gradually modified to accommodate the parlor and then the close-up performer as well. When the costs of producing big traveling shows drove them out of existence, magicians were forced to find new venues and new methods. The pails became smaller metal cups, and then crystal glasses and stemmed goblets. The distance between the performer and the audience decreased, but the impact of the effect itself did not.

Thinking performers often strove to improve handlings…and find new and exciting ways of incorporating basic principles and elements to give them a new ‘look’. Presentation and dressing , when well thought out, can often produce a routine so different in concept, so original, it gives you the advantage of doing something no one else is doing.

What I would like to do now is to take you through a series of exercises in which we will look to find how basic coin pail principles can be changed to give them a different look. We must always remain focused on what the important elements of the original are…and how to best retain them in the newer version.

To begin with…we will start with the container, which historically began as a pail. Is it, given a bit of thought, logical to carry a pail, to begin with…and then for some reason, begin producing coins and tossing them into the same? My first impulse is to answer, no. But…logic can be given to the circumstance if the container had originally been there for a legitimate purpose. I.E. A champagne bucket had been used to hold a bottle of the bubbly…and the bottle was then used in a Multiplying Bottle routine. Later, the performer begins his manipulative act…and finding he could use a container for the coins which are appearing from thin air, opts to grab the empty pail. That would make the combination of coins and pail logical.

What if a performer chose to do a specialty act involving fire as the principle element….and were dressed as a Fireman complete with small ladder…length of hose, and an axe and pail. What a delightful combination this could make, at some point producing both alternating flames and coins at fingertips…dropping them into the pail, and lastly, using the ladder as a Coin Ladder down which to pour the coins for a finale…multiplying them many times in the process.

Who else would logically have a pail at his disposal?? A plumber would! And instead of coins, you could produce metal washers. In many instances, a carpenter or roofer would have a pail What an interesting change of pace to produce nails at your fingertips rather than coins.

Entire acts can be created simply by giving the original premise a bit of serious thought. Combine things of which you are aware, but which would not normally be used together and see what the result might be. Here in the States, uses for pails might well be different than in other countries. Years ago, it was not unusual for beer to be purchased and carried home from the vendor in pails. Some groups did, and may still carry their lunch in a metal pail…precursor to the lunch box. <G> But as I stated before…let your imagination have free range. As performers of the past have discovered…the container need not necessarily be a pail.

What if, just as an example to consider…the container would be a metal cocktail shaker…what then might be a logical thing to produce and toss inside? I’m thinking of ice cubes! The shaker could be gimmicked with any variety of the new zip-seal snack bags glued and positioned opening down near the top edge. Real ice cube could be placed in here, keeping moisture and leakage to a minimum. The shaker could then also be tipped open side down to suggest it is empty prior to the production, and without having to manually hold any object inside with your fingers. If the zip seal bag were long and narrow…the opening could be to one side…and individual cubes could be worked toward, and released one at a time in this way. These are all details you would have to find solutions for if indeed you wanted to create such a routine. Fake cubes could be made from any variety of clear lucite craft polymers currently available. All you’d have to do is create a form into which to pour the mixture and allow the same to cure. These plastic cubes could then be stolen from droppers etc. and attached to catchers as well. When combined with the real cubes from within the plastic bag and their moisture…the psychological impact would be immediate.

As yet another possibility…and a major divergence from the concept of a pail, let’s consider other metal containers which are acceptable to your audience…and logical objects which could be produced and dropped into same. How about the metal tins in which hard candies and cookies are packaged and sold. Just think of all the seasonal applications this could have! Wrapped candies in particular appeal to me. You would, of course, have to get permission to hand some out to audience members if you wished…especially from the parents of children present. Some may have allergic reactions to sweets, and, in other instances the parents simply do not care for the idea. Always check to be sure. It can save you a lot of grief in the long run. But to get back to my original thought…the wrapped candies would be most readily accepted if indeed they are accepted at all. Cookies are great visually…but not as a treat to be given away. In fact, cookies would play wonderfully well when used in conjunction with a series of cookie effects I have devised, and which will appear in I.C.O.M at some future date. Food for thought! ( Pun intended <G>)

Many things are sold in containers which ‘could’ be used in such a routine…but, not all are right for the job. Remember…the visibility of the object being produced is important, but to an equal degree…so is the ‘sound’ being produced by the object into which it is being dropped. It should be in any given instance, not only what they would expect…but it should also be pleasing. A clank or clunk may not always play as well as a gentle ting or ring. Just something additional to think about.

I think, for now, you have the general idea of what I have been attempting to say. When I begin to ramble…my thoughts aren’t always in order or perfectly clear. I hope that what I have presented for your evaluation this time around was concise, clear, and valuable as possible. It is great fun for me to get into a process like this. Many times, forcing myself to begin thinking about subjects I may not have afforded time to produce results that exceed anything I may have expected. This particular exercise is no exception. I feel I have benefited. I hope you have as well. ————————————————————–

I’m really glad you suggested this. It was a hoot! Once I began getting into the thought process, the ideas just kept flowing. I hope you agree with some of my observations. I’ve often said, this is what I enjoy doing best. With luck, you will feel it is suitable for I.C.O.M student consumption.

Best always…Ron

No Ron, “We” are the ones that are glad! Glad that you enjoy doing this. I am sure everyone is thrilled with the prospect of having a ton of great material like this coming up in the following months. This is a true learning exercise and one that will benefit all for years to come…BJG


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