Spotlight 1/00-6/00


Spotlight 1/00-6/00

This page is devoted to general studies and information that may not fit neatly into other study areas or is knowledge fit for both beginner and advanced students. It also acts as the I.C.O.M main theory page. Theory is where the true magic lies, study it well. It is the inner workings of the magical art far beyond the secrets of any tricks, effects or routines.

June 2000

“The Wisch-List”
June 2000
Bill Wisch

Stars Of Magic

Back in 1954, eleven of the top, sleight-of-hand magicians in the world were featured in individual lessons entitled “Stars Of Magic”.

The effects and routines were the “top of the line” and included the very best ever created by these performers. This was the first time anything like this was ever done and it was truly a labor of love by George Starke, the Editor, and George Karger, the photographer. Magic owes these two men, as well as the contributors, a great deal of thanks because there simply was never and has never been, since, a collection of sleight-of-hand effects, routines and sleights that even comes close to this collection. I consider this THE true “magic book” for sleight-of-hand devotees, not only because of the distant lands of imagination one will fly to as they are studying it, but because of the legendary contributors that are literally giving you a private lecture in the highest order of the art.

You feel as if you know these gentlemen after reading their sections. It’s like reading about Mickey Mantle when you’re a kid and having him explain the finer points of hitting, fielding, throwing and catching! And then when you go out on the field and try the tips and ideas you find you’re actually hitting home runs and making circus catches!

I guess you are aware of the fact, by now, that I absolutely love this book. I remember purchasing it in 1971 and bringing it home wondering if I would enjoy it. I had bought and explored other books, some quite good, that were “sort-of” what the doctor ordered (you know how insatiable your magical appetite is when you first really want to get into magic), but after I started flipping through the 165 pages and reading the mini-bios of these legends and then seeing how great the photos were and THEN seeing how it was possible for a rank beginner like me to have the ability to actually acquire a masterpiece and add it to my hungry repertoire (whew!), then I knew I had found THE magic book!

The individual lessons were sold originally as separate lessons. >From what I’ve been told, after the first were sold, the needed capital was then available for the next lessons and so on. They were a huge success in the mid-fifties ( later on it probably wouldn’t have worked because of photocopy machines). Then in 1961 Louis Tannen published them together in the Stars Of Magic book and it is still available from dealers today. How can perfection go out of date?

I strongly believe that if someone spent a lifetime studying and performing exclusively what is contained in this one book, he or she would be one of the top magicians in the world. I know there is Greater Magic, the Tarbell Course, Rice’s Encyclopedia, Slydini’s books and various other works and collections that are superb, but none, in my opinion, have the power and charisma of Stars Of Magic.

I am not going to list the performers and I’m not going to list the tricks. I realized if I did that ( and I had planned to) I would have to go on and on and on about each thing. Bobby would be mad at me because our band-width would be astronomical and no one would want to read the thousands of pages necessary to give these works of art, and master wonder-workers their just recognition and reward.

Just go out and buy it!

And be a Star Of Magic.

May 2000

The Wisch-List
Bill Wisch

Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic

The Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic by Martin Gardner is a literal treasure chest of magic!

Whether you are a rank beginner or seasoned professional, I challenge you to read this book for more than fifteen minutes and not find an item that you get excited about doing or working on.

This monumental, hardcover work (reprinted in 1978 by Magic, Inc.) is a reprint of the serialized material found in the original Hugards Magic Monthly, from March 1951 through April 1958. However, many extra ideas and tips are included in this hardcover edition (listed a,b,c, and so on) with a neat column of space on each page for your personal notes and thoughts.

Many effects you’ve seen or heard about (but never knew how they worked) are here and the instructions are comprehensive and effective. Also, the illustrations by Francis J. Rigney are outstanding and efficient in their simplicity.

My copy contains 574 pages and how can I even begin to mention all my favorite items? There are over 160 topics covered, including: Apples, Bottle Caps, Paper Cups, Dominoes, Hands, Marbles, Neckties, Poker Chips, Scissors, Thimbles, Watches and Zippers!

Your lifelong, magical experience will probably be made up of mostly impromptu situations. I strongly urge you to absorb this material and not miss out on this spectrum. Not reading this book would be like being a movie buff and only watching movies that are made in color.

This book definitely belongs on your shelf. I don’t know any magician that would argue with me, even if that shelf contained only a few, choice books.

April 2000

The “Wisch List”
Bill Wisch

“Modern Coin Magic”

This book is one of the true classics of magic. It contains the basics for almost all of coin magic. In other words you wouldn’t have to read any other book and you could still be a top-notch coin magician.

MCM contains everything you need to know concerning concealment, production and alteration of coins. It has outstanding plots and routines and patter suggestions. It gives detailed accounts of some of the most cherished and “pet” tricks and routines of some of the finest “coin-men” in history. It is laid out very well with a fine index. It also has a history of coin magic.

I know that Dover has come out with a softcover version available in any and all major book stores, or online. The price is, believe it or not, under $10, and in my opinion, there is no other book available anywhere with as much value for so little cost. Check it out on Amazon. Read the reviews and see what others say about it.

There is so much here that no matter where you start reading, you’ll find yourself saying, “Hey, I would really like to learn this!”. Even though it is a fascinating read and fun to just glance through and dream over, I contend that if you decide to pick an effect, sleight or routine out of MCM and are determined to make it yours NO MATTER WHAT, you will be rewarded with the true wonder of magical study…RESULTS! Many magic books contain great items but lack good explanation which leads to frustration and lack of fulfillment. MCM has a unique quality about it. I think that is what I like most. It really provides the necessary explanation and instruction to actually teach you…if you let it and stay at it. But you have to want to read and study this book if you want the results. Self-working coin tricks are very rare.

I chose this as my first pick for the “Wisch List” for two reasons. First, it’s my single, most favorite book in magic. My original copy is literally falling apart. Second, it is an excellent book to use with the study-system I gave you last month. Try it!

While lecturing over the years I had the pleasure to meet many of the contributors of MCM. This was like magic in itself for me. One quick story. I was running the booth for Sasco Magic about 10 years ago at the St. Louis, IBM convention. Needless to say, I was demonstrating coin effects, day after day…all day. A number of the true legends of coin magic were at the convention, many of which had effects in the “Bobo Book” (the generic name for MCM). It was a real treat to actually meet them and have them show me the same effects I had read about for years. But the biggest surprise was when Jim Buffaloe, after showing me his phenomenal items, told me that Bobo himself was there and that if I’d like, he’d bring him over to meet me. I could go on and on about the lengthy session that I, along with many other lucky magicians, witnessed that day, but let me say that J.B. Bobo was absolutely no fluke! He could do EVERYTHING in his book to perfection! That was the highlight of the whole convention as far as I was concerned. It was like one of those rare, surreal times we all experience once in a great while. What a trip!

So, you can see why I picked this book to start out the “List”. I guess I could go on and on but let me just mention a few of the items I enjoy the most ( it’s tough because I could say the whole book!).

  • Guess which Hand p134
  • Coin through Ring p171
  • The Bent Penny p186
  • Silver Extraction p187
  • Rattle Box Routine page 207
  • Presto Chango p245
  • Stack of Halves p255
  • Routine #4 p342

You haven’t lived until you’ve curled up with Modern Coin Magic (The “Bobo Book”).

March 2000

“Magic by the Book”
Bill Wisch

Magic CAN be found!

Like my partners Bobby, Ron and Oscar, I have an affinity for any and all magic books…large, small, great and sometimes not so great. I believe there is something to learn from each book ever written, even if it is the knowledge that the book is lousy. It’s a little like Edison. He had to go through over 800 failures before he developed the automobile battery. But he said, “I found out 800 things that I NEEDED to know to have that one thing I HAD to know.” The same holds true for the printed magical page.

This is the beginning of a new series for the Spotlight called “The Wisch List”. I am going to try to list books that have inspired me…intrigued me…become part of me…led me through wonderland.

This list will involve magic books and non-magic books that have a lot of magic, if that makes sense.

I am going to try to add a new addition to the “Wisch List” every month but if I miss a month now and then, please forgive me.
I am confident you will enjoy this feature of I.C.O.M.


Many say that it’s hard to learn from books. This can be true. But why? Why is it so hard? Is it the book’s fault? Maybe. Maybe it’s not written very efficiently of completely enough to instruct properly. But how come many of the effects I’ve learned from books are among the least explained or developed? Go figure.

I did develop a system many years ago when it came to learning from technical books. Maybe it came from having to learn the art of percussion from the printed page since I couldn’t find (or afford) a teacher when I started. This opening introduction to the Wisch List will contain that system. In coming segments I will not only name and discuss magical and non-magical works but go into further detail how I believe effects can be extracted from them like nuggets of gold in a mine perceived to be barren or empty.

Let’s stay basic to start.

First step…choose your book or periodical. Obviously, for whatever reason, the item is already interesting to you or you wouldn’t have it, right? Don’t prejudge it in any way. Consider that effect or routine an entity. Literally make your mind blank.

Second, get comfortable…in silence or with soft music if you like. Pick a chair or position of maximum comfort. Don’t have anything to distract you, at least for the next few minutes or you may miss that incredibly important “spark”.

Third step…read the entire piece from start to finish. Do Not Stop! Read the whole piece, even if you think it’s not for you. You may be surprised. Only after you finish (even if it takes a while) do you close your eyes and make the decision whether this would work for you or not. Try to picture yourself performing what the author just explained. Do you see it? Would it work with minor or even major changes? Do you think it’s “you”?

Fourth…the investigation stage. If the effect excites you then you re-read for investigation. Find out exactly what you will need to use. Then investigate what you will have to do. Can you accomplish what must be done or do you have an alternative method? Do you have all the props needed? Go get them or make them up. Have everything! Don’t assume or imagine.

Fifth step…read the run-through. Become familiar with the handlings and props. Is there anything you can’t figure out? Try again and again. Try different handlings that may fit the description. Be creative.

Are you happy with the effect or routine at this stage?

If so, you start the rehearsal stages.

Read through a least five times. Each time rehearse the effect with the patter and movements necessary. This may sound like over-kill but I have seen far too many performers with “under-kill”. Rehearse a lot of times. Do not show the trick to anyone until you’ve done a whole bunch of rehearsal, and only show the item to one or two close people, preferably non-magicians (bear in mind that it has been proven that wives are only good for watching 458 tricks before burn-out so be careful).

Now read the entire effect or routine for REVIEW.

You’ll know when it’s ready to try it and by all means, go for it.

If it fails, decide if it can be salvaged or if even if you WANT it to be salvaged. You’ll know.

If the item passes all thiese tests….then Voila! Instant magic!!! You now have a new “magical buddy” to spend the rest of your life with.

Who said it’s tough to learn magic from a book?

February 2000

DR. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Artist Part XVII


Directors Bobby J. Gallo and Bill Wisch have been raising interesting questions for Dr. OM to Contemplate. This installment’s question is concerned with the nature of CHARISMA, that attractive and irresistible personal quality which on the stage is an. electrically charged presence commanding audience interest and attention.

Dr. OM has previously touched upon the subject of charisma in an earlier article in the series which discussed this quality in actors, singers, and magicians. GOOD NEWS–charisma is an innate capacity in everyone, although not always developed in everyone. Understanding the source of charisma is the first step toward releasing the gift and letting the light shine through.

The existentialist philosophers speak of the SELF; the Hindu mystics speak of ATMA, which is the God within the self; western mystics speak in the more familiar term of the SOUL, which is the inner or spirit self. Each of these concepts differs from one another, but, generally speaking, getting in touch with the inner self, by any name, is moving toward the possession of charisma.

CHARISMA might well be thought of as a visible manifestation of the inner self. Examples of well known charismatic performers who have, as a matter of public record, sought after the inner self, and their several and diverse sources of insight, may be of value to encourage the personal pursuit by Dr. OM’s readers. Those who come to mind are The Beatles (study under a guru); Jeff McBride (drumming and meditation); Ronald and Nancy Reagan (astrology); Eugene Burger (eastern mysticism and world mythology); and Shirley McLaine (past life experiences). Dr. OM’s own sources are: The Hindu Bhagavadgita, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, The Sermon on the Mount, world mythology, and transcendental mystical poetry of any place and time, to list a few. Reading widely about the quest for selfhood provides helpful insights toward the realization of charisma.

Tapping the resources of the inner self is achievable through MEDITATION. The most simple form of meditation is to concentrate on one’s own breathing while either silently or audibly repeating a MANTRA. Dr. OM’s mantra is the classical OM (~) of the Hindus. Lying prone with the tips of the right-hand thumb and fingers touching those of the left hand in a curled fashion and mentally counting backward from one hundred to zero while concentrating on one’s breathing and beginning the utterance of the mantra upon reaching zero is a helpful technique. The technique may be applied to recalling anything forgotten: a person’s name, a telephone number, or more complex thoughts, by requesting the wider memory of your inner self to remind you of the forgotten item, upon reaching zero in the backward counting; then letting go, not trying to remember consciously. Inevitably your inner self will bring what you have forgotten to the forefront of your conscious mind. When it does, you must thank your inner self; that acknowledgment encourages better and better communication between what the psychologists call the subconscious and the conscious mind, which is important to sense memory in a performer for the purpose of body awareness and placement and to tactile memory in the handling of props and the retention of routines which when on automatic, so to speak, emerges as charisma. Charisma will not emerge in the magician who is concentrating on the mechanics of his art; the mechanics must be subsumed. Concentrate on the inner self through frequent meditation and the inner self will emerge charismatically during the performance, because to touch the inner self is to visibly become the inner self and to be in the aura of the inner self.

Recently the buzz words: “He is comfortable in his own skin,” have become popular in Washington D.C., often referred to by the buzz words: “this town.” Apparently, even the Washingtonians can recognize the real thing of the emergent inner self when they see it. Unfortunately, the words have been applied too liberally to politicians who fake a veneer of a pretended inner self–a pseudo self. When a real self emerges he will be recognized as the charismatic leader so much sought after.

History provides many and varied examples of charismatic presidents. Among many who have faded into dim reca1l, the charismatic are those whom everyone remembers: Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, to name a few of the earlier; more recently: Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Reagan stand out from the crowd. Granted, not everyone liked or agreed with any of the above, but each of the presidents named appealed to a significant number of Americans who regarded them as charismatic. Notice that the attraction often transcended even partisan divisions.

The prescription is simple enough: know thyself; be thyself; act thyself, and your stage persona will not be a mere mask but a believable character who grows out of thyself and will be accepted as the real you by your audience. Look to thyself for the emotions you wish to convey; do it naturally; do not pretend. Acting is not pretending but being.


What a fantasic lesson, and Ron has included one of my all time favorite effects. The Ball & Cone!…BJG

January 2000

“An Idle Mind”
Ronald J. Dayton

An idle mind is like a computer in ‘sleep mode’…it’s saving itself…but I’m not quite sure for what. I find that looking for ways to stimulate the thought process is like weight training for the brain. It keeps you fit and toned. It gives you the stamina to endure times when fatigue might well dull the senses. It fortifies your ability to think clearly during times of stress. It is the saving grace when deadlines are to be met.

What do you say…let’s go to the cerebral gym and work out for a while ! <G>

Many authorities in magic suggest that we look to the past to find guides to the future. I believe this is very sage advice. Like it or not…modern performers are confronted with the fact that many brilliant and ground breaking methods were devised and in use long before our times. It has even been suggested that there is nothing new under the sun. A cliche perhaps…but more truthfully, a statement based in fact.

Much of what we are doing today are adaptations of principles and methods of the past. We have found new ways and materials to give them a fresh look…but in essence, they are ghosts of the past.

That is not to say that I find particular fault with this. History of any kind provides the back- ground and understanding to build on the present. I would like to throw out a few ideas to you this month, and see where you might think they could lead.

Let’s take for example an effect from the twenties and thirties…applications for which appear in the bound volumes of original Thayer Magic. The effect is the Cone and Ball. You might say that it was a spin-off of a cups and balls routine…using only one cup or cover…blended with a non gimmicked concept of the Chop Cup…a piece of apparatus not to be created until several decades later. I hope I am not confusing the issue. But basically, a solid ball is displayed …covered with a cone shaped cover…and using only natural principles…the ball is caused to vanish and reappear at will.

How? The answer is so simple, you may not believe it. The shape of the cone itself causes the ball to wedge fit inside when the ball is dropped into the cone. Lifting the cone, the ball appears to
have vanished. Setting the cone back down on your table with a small amount of force dislodges the ball, and allows it to reappear. That is all there was to it. But the question I am posing to you at this moment is, how do we apply this principle to objects more easily related to by audiences fast approaching a new millennium ?

Time to exercise your mind. Think of what ever objects might make sense as a replacement for the time honored leather cone. Ready? Go! I’ll wait.

Conical shaped? What modern objects are acceptible cone shaped covers for a ball? How modern are we talking in the first place? That is an excellent question. See…the thought process is beginning to pay off already. Just how modern am I talking about.

The answer to this, as with so many things, is ellusive… but for the sake of arguement, let’s assume that the presentation you want to give has a setting in the days of flint locks and blunder-busts guns. The barrel of these early guns were shaped like a funnel…and this in essence is a cone shape. The guns also used ‘shot’…which was molten lead formed into the shape of balls. So imagine that. We have a cone, and a ball, blended into a historically themed routine. A performer who is really on his toes can see all sorts of possibilities for this…not the least of which is a cannon ball production finale’ from beneath your stylized hat.

What other things are cone shaped?? Well, factories of the past which dealt in thread and string would wind the finished product on sturdy cone shaped cardboard forms. I wish I knew the proper term for these spools…but I do not. For all I know, spools may actually be correct. No matter though, because the object we have been searching for has been found once again. We
have our cone. Now, a second consideration. What type of ball would be logical to use with same?

I have a suggestion. We have a spool of thread…but why not say it held yarn instead. The knitting needle becomes our magic wand…and the ball of yarn becomes our spherical shape. Another solution found.

Now…as a last little test for the mind, let’s upgrade the effect to present day. What in the world would we use? What is a cone? I’m thinking….Baskin Robbins. That’s right, an ice cream cone. And the ball is of course, the stylized scoop of ice cream! That was too easy. <G>

For the younger performers out there…you might need a bit of help to put a few of these ideas together…after all, much of this was far before your time. Don’t be afraid to ask older people for suggestions. They might just have an idea or two of their own to share. What I have given you are simply suggestions, examples of how to go about striving to be creative. And before I bid you adieu…I have two more cone/ball combinations to share with you.

Circus theme…a pointed clown’s hat…and a ball decorated to resemble the clown’s head and face*. Second idea…a sports theme. Small basketball, and a megaphone.

Good luck in your search my friends. It may not be easy at first…but the struggle is half the fun, and the power of the mind can move mountains.



Notice: This material “IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN” and is intended for the personal and performance use of International Conservatory Of Magic members only.

This entire page is under copyright 1997,1998,1999,2000 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

I.C.O.M Spotlight 7/99-12/99


December 1999

This is one of the best lessons I have ever read…BJG

“A Lot Of Pull”
Ronald J. Dayton

I’ve never really taken a lot of time to think about it before, but as a general rule, magicians are people with real pull. And now that I have taken time to think about it…I remember one of the very first pulls I ever owned. It was what is known as a handkerchief pull…rather pear-shaped, container painted flat black. There was a hole big enough to tuck a handkerchief or silk into at the larger end…and a smaller hole at the more narrow end through which a length of the knotted black elastic cord had been threaded. At the opposite end of the cord was a safety pin which could be attached to my clothing. I remember quite vividly how very magical the whole thing looked because it was so unlike most things I had ever seen. It was a silent messenger which spoke to me of the many unusual and amazing devices the world of magic would introduce me to over the years.

But, what is a pull exactly? I would say it is a hidden device, container, holder, or attachment that is connected to either an elastic or standard cord for the express purpose of quickly moving a visibly object to a place of concealment under or within the clothing to create the illusion of its having vanished. When you begin to see how diversified the different styles of pulls are, you will understand the complexity of the definition.

Let’s take, for example, you wish to vanish something as small as a thimble. A standard thimble pull resembled a sort of bell-shaped rubber cap which was attached to a length of black elastic cord with a safety pin at the other end. The pull usually was attached within the sleeve of the performer’s jacket. The rubber cap was held in one hand and the thimble on the first finger of the other hand was pushed into it. When the loosely closed fist of the hand holding the pull was opened, the pull and thimble shot smoothly into the sleeve and out of sight. In a similar way, specially made wire mesh holders, cylindrical in shape, and attached much like the thimble pull were used to vanish lit cigarettes. In this instance, the attachment was often made under the jacket rather than up the sleeve. The fact that the holder had air holes allowed the cigarette to remain lit without going out… and the pull could later be retrieved, and the cigarette reproduced.

The pear-shaped handkerchief pulls I mentioned earlier was also pulled beneath the jacket by an elastic cord. That is, the jacket is usually unbuttoned, allowing the hand and concealed pull to be held near the opening in front of the chest. I did not want to leave you with the impression that the pull somehow went under the lower edge of the jacket.

Certain pulls were hung from the outside back center of the jacket, and the article vanished remained hanging there, out of sight until an opportunity in the programming allowed the performer to step off the stage and have it removed. Depending upon what was being vanished, this was a clever ploy, because it allowed the jacket to be opened and spread wide as proof that the object was not there.

You no doubt noticed that in my definition, I mentioned that the pulls may be a device, holder, or attachment. I stated it that way because some ‘pulls’ employ clips, hooks, suction cups, cat-gut loops, coin purses, magnets, clamps, adhesive discs, and in one interesting example I can recall, even a ladies hair curler!!

Not all pulls are powered by elastic cords. Some rely on direct attachments to cords with counter-weights attached to the opposite ends. When the weight is released and drops, the cord and object are pulled. In yet another style pull, such as used for the vanishing birdcage, and the silk in glass chimney type effects, the cord is attached to the object…it then runs up one sleeve, across the performer’s back beneath his jacket, and down the other sleeve, terminating at a band around the wrist. When the arms are close together, there is slack in the cord. When the arms move apart, or straight out forward…the slack is taken up, and the connection object is pulled rapidly up the sleeve. One exception to the birdcage vanish was done with an elastic pull attached to the cord and object. In this instance, the elastic was attached to a stocking garter type arrangement on the performer’s leg. Rather than going up the sleeve, the cage folded and went into the performer’s trousers! This allowed him to remove his jacket casually, and allow it to be examined. A real fooler for all magicians in the audience who knew how the usual method worked!

One of the most ingenious pulls I have ever seen is a cigarette vanish devised by John Cornelius. I cannot divulge the method to his current market effect on videotape…but I urge you to look into the matter more closely, and purchase the tape for yourself. It is just one of several brilliant original creations he shares.

As I consider this subject more deeply, I find myself wondering; aside from the speed factor… does the gimmick for “Where Do The Ducks Go” apply as well !? Probably not. But it was just a thought.

Pull-like devices and principles have also been used to achieve simulated anti-gravity effects, and magnetism effects as well. Pull-like attachments have also been responsible for the dazzling antics of many a dancing handkerchief. Forms of pulls, powered by a method we have not discussed… a means of winding the thread around a spindle to create a pulling action has also been used for the Spider Card Trick. Special new pulls have been devised by Vernet which allows you to vanish liquids from your bare hands. The method is totally different from a marvelously ingenious pull design called Squash, marketed by Abbott’s Magic Company many years ago, which allowed the performer to vanish a full shot glass of whiskey in the blink of an eye.

Suction cups vanish billiard balls…spring clips vanish fans and even full decks of cards, magnets vanish a variety of coins and other metal objects…given the right combination of pull materials, it seems there is a pull for every occasion. In one clever adaptation…the simple act of releasing the object and allowing it to fall and swing out of sight by the natural force of gravity has been employed. But then, being the clever individual I know you are…perhaps your day will come as well…and you will devise a new and ingenious design all your own. I’ve given you a bit of ammunition…now it is up to you to set your sights.

November 1999

DR. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Artist Part XVI


John Scarne and Joe Vella were notorious for their constant habit of attending the Sport of Kings events, vernacularly known as “Betting on the Ponies.” John would always have Joe hold the cab fare home, in a separate compartment of his wallet, just in case they might have a bad day at the track. On one infamous occasion, after both betting buddies had lost they’re all, John turned to Joe, saying: “Well, I guess we’d better go home; give me the carfare. Joe’s face dropped as he muttered, “I can’t; I just bet that, too.” “You bet that, too?” said Scarne. “You bet that, too? Wadda ya mean, you bet that, too? When the heck are you going to get your act together?”

When are YOU going to get YOUR act together? Being a magician is not merely learning a legion of unconnected “tricks.”


Because both Stage and Close-up magic are for the most part dependent upon props, large and small, with the exception of Impromptu magic performed with found objects, it is imperative that the performing magician is impeccably well organized. Although a checklist is better prepared last after the props are packaged in performance order, for the purpose of discussion, the checklist will be mentioned first, and should contain numbered effects in the order of occurrence in the act, as follows:

1) Identification of effect
2) Prop description
3) Prop location in bag or trunk
4) Bag or trunk location in storage space (room)
5) Program note, not in terms of the commercial prop name, e.g: Multiplying Billiard Balls, but rather a descriptively, originally coined title, such as: “Behind the Eightball” conveying the premise of the routine. The checklist must become the program.
6) Location of the prop in the staging area, i.e. “on stage.”

Small properties should be contained in pouches or purses and should include all objects necessary to perform the effect, in readiness for unpackaging and body loading or placement upon table or servante. Somewhat larger props short of the largest sized illusions, which are better-termed stage furniture or even settings, should be protectively contained in padded cloth bags and boxes, or wrapped in bath towels, before placement in a trunk. The largest illusions, preferably packing flat (but not always), should be protected in the transport vehicle by wrapping in quilted mover’s blankets.


A” to scale” graph paper floor plan indicating the placement of stage furniture and the props located on each item of furniture is essential. A fragmented example follows:

(color-changing rose) (fan)
(zombie) (glass)
(rice bowls)

And so forth, depending upon the number of stage furnishings and properties.


Close-up cases of any type are better used for transport of props to be on-site body loaded, replacing previously body loaded props, when additional effects are called for. Some close-up magicians work from a topit; Dr. OM prefers working from a coat of many pockets. Working directly from the transport case is least desirable. Where do you put a case when strolling tables, for example? The initial act of an evening is, of course, body loaded at home and its empty case left in the trunk of the magician’s car, where he can empty his pockets into the empty case and reload his pockets from the full supplementary “second act” case.

For most engagements, only one body load is ordinarily needed when the audiences are large and the magician may recycle his effects from place to place and persons to persons. When the audience is small or a repeat audience, additional effects are needed for variety–one cannot repeat the same effects over and over again for the same audience. Some professionals prefer to store all replacement props in a larger compartmentalized suitcase. The old magical adage that an amateur must poorly know many effects because he performs before the same audience, but a professional must know how to perform a few effects extremely well because he plays before changing audiences, does not hold everywhere. Restaurant magic, for example, plays before returning “regulars,” therefore, the restaurant performer must vary his act but don’t worry about where the philosophical truth of the matter lies, your audience will surely let you know when you are in need of new material.

A sketch of the interior of the sectioned close-up case, be it a briefcase, doctor’s bag, wooden box with drawers, or other containers, should be available to remind the magician of both the location and the performing order of the props. Therefore, the props should be in performing order, not only on the checklist but also physically in the close-up case, as well.


Magicians need lots of pockets, because the best storage of props-in-use is in the clothing, allowing the magician to move about unencumbered in any venue, but especially when performing from table to table, and to allow more seemingly magical productions and vanishments of objects, both close-up and on stage. Pulling objects out of a box does not seem magical.


Generally, traveling light is most desirable, but not always possible when larger illusions are on the program. Dr. OM’s adult floor show is body loaded; his coat is not worn to the venues but is rather carried in a garment bag. His top hat, cane, floor stand, and mid-sized props are contained in a smart black duffle bag. In addition, his floor show requires a small tape player and amplifier for musical background.


The practice may be out of act sequence with concentration upon effects most in need of practice. Rehearsing should be conducted in the actual sequencing of the act, as it is to be performed.

ROUTINING is of utmost importance both within an effect and among the collective effects constituting the act. The act isn’t everything; it’s the only thing–to paraphrase Yogi Berra.
Whenever possible, carrying over a prop from one effect to the next provides transition and continuity, for instance, a silk used in a coin routine is retained for use in a color-changing rose effect. The concept applies to utility devices, as well. For instance, a pair of scissors used to perform a cut and restored rope routine, if appearing magically from the magician’s hidden pocket, as he misdirects audience attention, occurs not as a “trick,” but as an unemphasized magical happening–that’s just the way magicians do things, if they need a pair of scissors, they simply produce them out of nowhere. After all, that is the way a magician should produce objects he needs or wants, and, after all, is not the sudden production of An object more meaningful than merely picking it up from a tabletop. All it takes is an upstage turn and steal from the pocket or profonde.

October 1999

” An Arm and Leg “
Ronald J. Dayton

The human body is an amazing machine…a biological creation of tissue and bone, cells and atoms controlled by an all but unexplainable command center, the human brain. We are our own greatest enigma. But the mysteries of creation and the very makeup of our DNA notwithstanding, magicians in their unerring wisdom have even found ways to use our own body parts to mystify and amaze.

Many of you have no doubt seen the simple physical optical illusions played on us by our own minds…that of holding a cardboard tube up to our right eye in the right hand, and holding the left hand against the left side of the tube…flat open palm of the left hand facing toward us. By looking through the tube with the left eye while still keeping the right eye open as well…the mind sees the double image as one…creating the illusion that we are looking through a hole in our left hand.

The second visual illusion I was going to mention is that of the ‘floating sausage’. If you hold your arms out in front of you, bent at the elbow so the forearms are upward…then point the first finger of each hand toward the other and slowly move the arms closer together until the fingertips touch… a ghostly specter of a small fleshy sausage or saucer will appear between the two fingertips.

These are just two simple examples, used to open the door of thought on the many impromptu bits of business and magic we can create using our bodies. Various scientific and physical laws are also employed to create stunning effects.

Many years ago, a slight and demure woman who billed herself as the Georgia Magnet…and Georgia Wondermade a very good living by using laws of leverage and deflection of force to seemingly pit her own strength against that of the most powerful men in her audience. In his marvelous book, ” Body Magic ” by John Fisher…he explains many of her secrets and principles. The ploys and methods she used are little known by younger students of magic today. I will state most emphatically that I think you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not looking into the subject more closely. With props no more complicated than a broom handle or pool stick and a wooden chair, you can easily bewilder and amaze.

You can even surprise your friends with a simple experiment in which you supposedly take control of their mind…and force them to raise their arms against their will. All they must do is to step within the framework of any doorway opening. With their hands at their side, they are to spread their arms out until the back of each hand is pressed against the door jamb at either side. The next step is to exert as much force against the jamb as possible and continue exerting pressure for one minute. At the end of that time, they are to relax the pressure…allow the arms to hang limply at their side…and step away from the doorway. You have previously explained that at the end of this experiment, their arms will rise at their side…and they will have no control of the situation. Lo and behold…the muscles of the arms will indeed relax…and their arms, to their own amazement, will begin to rise. If you doubt me…try this for yourself. It’s wonderful fun!

Mr. Fisher has included in excess of one hundred effects using parts of the body. He includes little known information which is of value to all of us. Heat sensitivity…sensitivity to touch…limitations of movement certain positions restrict us to, why our eyes tend to fool our minds when viewing optical illusions and the way the mind interprets messages it is sent. This hard to find paperback publication has a wealth of information.

A recent television special involving street magician David Blaine had a marvelous example of the type of physical magic I am speaking of…and that was the twisting wrist. It looks impossible, and even a bit repulsive…but it is body magic at its very best. To find examples of even more of this stuff, I suggest you look into Martin Gardner’s book, ” Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic. ” Pull off your thumb, stretch your fingers…twirl your bent arm…it’s all here for the taking.

So many wonderful and diversified principles are employed in this sort of impromptu magic. Properly presented, it is strong, effective, and puzzling to the mind, eye, and senses. Little things as simple as seeming to ‘crack ‘ your nose by holding it between the fingers of the hands which are positioned at each side, and giving it a twist, catch people completely off guard. An ice breaker to be sure…and one which will definitely get their attention. The secret? The thumbnail of one hand enters the mouth just far enough to catch and pull against the lower edge of your front teeth as the twisting action of the hands is executed. The illusion of having broken your nose is very real for the unsuspecting.

Fraudulent ‘ Faith Healers’ also use physical trickery to dupe people out of their money. Shills or secret assistants who work for the phony men of faith come up from out of the audience, just as if they were everyday people with a problem they want this man of God to help them with. Often it is an arm or leg which is shorter than the other. By a laying of the hands, the ailing limb seems to visibly correct itself…growing before their very eyes to match the length of the normal limb! How so you ask. Because if you shift the position of your shoulders or hips to favor one side or the other as you extend both limbs…one will appear shorter than the other. It is a very bold and obvious ploy…but, only obvious to those not taken in by the false man of the cloth…and not at their wits end to find solutions to genuine physical disabilities. This is one of the lowest and most despicable ways to bilk people out of money that I can think of. They prey on victims desperate beyond belief. I am sickened by the knowledge that it is only a trick.

But thankfully…you have higher standards and higher goals. The methods you may choose to look for will bring happiness and entertainment into people’s lives. Isn’t it nice to know that you have been supplied with the apparatus right at birth! <G> And of course…good magician that you are…you carry the props with you everywhere you go.

Investigate the magic of the mind, eye, and body. You will never regret the knowledge that you gain…and you may well be impressed with the capabilities the human body possesses.

September 1999

All I can say is, “They Just Keep Coming!” Here is yet another world-class LESSON in magic for all our illustrious I.C.O.M members….BJG

Ronald J. Dayton

The very first big-name person in magic to refer to me as an ‘idea man’, was U.F. Grant. I would write to him every time a new method came to mind. Now that I look back on it, he really was a patient man because I pestered him to death. We were never actually ‘friends’ in the usual sense.. .that is to say, we never met. The random letters were our only contact, and his replies were short and to the point, being as busy as he was, I marvel that he ever took time to answer at all. But he was my mentor.. .and I was the probable bane to his existence.

At any rate, I should get to the point where all of this is leading. During recent days, I have re-discovered some of the Grant material I have been hoarding over the years. One of the manuscripts I found was a 1944 publication by Nelmar productions out of Chicago. The title of the work was “One Hundred Tips and Gags“ by U.F. Grant. I’ve studied over some of the suggestions, and find they are as applicable today as they were fifty-four years ago. Only minor changes would be needed.

Most of the original material was taken directly from Grant’s private notebook. The majority of the ideas belonged to others, but no one seemed to know who originated most of them. He did credit W. R. Williamston of New York City for several of the items.

A Grant suggestion that caught my eye was that of the annoying person who, as a joke on you, asks you to pull a rabbit out of a hat. To squelch the situation, take a hat or cap, and apparently pull a HAIR (HARE) out of it. As a continuation on a theme…follow by using the invisible hair in the old bit of pantomiming the sewing of the fingers on one hand together. Pretend to thread the long hair through an invisible needle. This ‘needle’ is held between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. The fingers of the right hand are spread far apart. With the right hand turned, palm toward you, you pretend to stick the needle into the side of the R.H. little finger and pull it out the opposite side. You then do the same with the R.H. third finger. As you pull on the needle this time, the third and little fingers move together, side by side. This is repeated until all the fingers and thumb of the right hand seem to have been sewn together. Lastly, you pretend to poke the needle through the wrist and pull it out at the side of the wrist at the back of the hand. When you hold the arm up, bent at the elbow and pull on the string or thread, the hand waves up and down in a ‘ bye-bye, see you ‘round’ type gesture. You say “ Bye-bye”, and walk away. They are left bewildered and mildly entertained.

Have you heard the Bobby J. Gallo-Bill Wisch audiotape yet called Ultimate Magic Rap, Vol. 1 “? If you haven’t.. .do yourself a big favor, and order it today. It is loaded with information, sage advice, and several wonderful, fully explained effects you CAN do. One of the effects offered in the tape is by Bill Wisch. It involves a spectator’s wristwatch…and it is tremendous! Well, one of the effects in Grant’s manuscript reminded me of the Wisch effect.. .and I believe they could be blended together for a nice comedy touch in certain routines.

In the original, the M.C. comes out following the magic act and says that the magician wasn’t so great. He says, “ I have his watch.” as he pulls the same from his pocket. Just before he steps off into the wings, the magician turns and says…” That’s nothing…I have his socks I” and pulls a pair of socks from his pocket. The M.C. lifts his pants leg to reveal he is standing barefooted in his shoes.

A twist could be employed using the Wisch watch idea, and two spectator assistants. After they have returned to their seats, the magician calls one of them back because he has his watch. This is a bonafide spectator, who is not in on the gag. The second spectator who is a confederate ) is called up next. HE pulls the sock gag on the magician…then the magician says, “ That’s nothing…I have your belt!” As this is said, the confederate opens his jacket, and his pants fall down revealing loud boxer shorts. Old schtick…but funny.

During what seems to be a serious series of sleights with lit cigarettes, a person dressed to resemble a cleaning lady comes out on stage with a dust-pan and broom, sweeping up those that have been thrown to the floor. An electric vacuum would also be funny.

After a lady has assisted you in a trick, you bring a beautiful long-stemmed rose for her from just off stage. In reality, it has been cut in two just a few inches below the bloom. You are holding the two pieces as one. When she takes hold of the lower end of the stem, you walk away, leaving her holding only the naked stem.

Here is a spin-off of a coin on forehead effect Grant offered, but this one has more of a genuine magical feel to it. You take a nickel and place it on the forehead of a spectator who has tilted his head back to permit this. The idea is to see if he can bring his head forward in such a way that the coin will drop into a tin can or small bucket you are holding. He does as instructed, and the coin falls right in. Bullseye! You then take the coin out of the pail… vanish it, and.. .it magically flies right back to the center of the spectator’s forehead where he finds and removes it himself!

During the reading, you no doubt have figured most of this out already. When you place the coin on your forehead, you press firmly down on the skin and slide the coin upward just a bit. It will adhere to the forehead. You may or may not want to do this to a spectator that you do not know personally. An alternative would be to place a bit of non-toxic magician’s wax on the coin to achieve the same effect. The coin which falls into the can or pail is concealed under the fingers of the hand holding the receptacle. You then execute a shuttle pass or other move to pretend to place the coin in one hand, actually retaining it in the other. He tips his head back once again. You make a tossing action with your empty hand…the one which is supposed to be holding the coin. The coin VANISHES.. .and re-appears in the center of his forehead. Just a bit of nonsense, I know…but the audience will get a kick out of it, believe me.

For a twist on the vanishing birdcage, have a solid cage rigged up so the BIRD is on a pull. As the hands move forward, the bird and not the cage disappears.

Have a person write something on a slip of paper, fold it, and place their foot on it. You then state that you can tell what is on the paper. Concentrate a bit, then announce, “ Your Shoe!”

Some of these bits are pure foolishness. Use them, and have some innocent fun. Magic should be fun, shouldn’t it?! Some of the others have serious merit. They are both magical and entertaining. Use these too…and have fun…but always consider your audience… and never do anything in poor taste or which might offend them.

Co-Directors Note Hey Ron, you are correct in saying that this is entertaining stuff. After all, I use your chicken humor described elsewhere in I.C.O.M and get a tremendous reaction! …BJG

August 1999

We thought we’d have some fun in the Spotlight this month after the ground-breaking material last month…enjoy!…BJG

Ten Ways To Annoy A Magician
Ronald J. Dayton

1. Pretend to forget the name of the card you chose.

2. During a coin act, drop lots of change on to the floor.

3. In an escape act, after he is handcuffed behind his back…tell him
his fly is open.

4. When he hands you a hanky to inspect, pretend to blow your nose in

5. Keep asking him where his mask is.

6. When he calls you on stage, pretend not to hear him.

7. Before the show, leave lots of empty sugar packets near the cage he
keeps his rabbits in.

8. Hold his feather bouquet behind your head, and begin doing an
Indian Rain Dance.

9. Pretend to use his Foo Can as a spitoon.

10. Bring your own doves to the theater, and let them go during the

July 1999

This a great follow-up to the “Almost Anything Through Table” Lesson two months ago in the Beginner’s study. Here you will be privy to a very RARE magical concept that is worth the entire year of your I.C.O.M membership! One more way we stay on the cutting edge of magic! Between these two lessons and what Bill Teaches in the Slydini Legacy, it seems I.C.O.M has everything you will ever need to know concerning the subject of “LAPPING”…BJG

” Take Another Lap “
Ronald J. Dayton

One of the most diabolical and effective methods employed by close-up workers is the art of lapping. This means, in its most basic terms, secretly dropping an object you seem to pick up from your performing surface, off the back ledge of the table, and into your lap. I refer to it as an Art, because for it to be effective and deceptive, it must be executed with precision and perfect timing. Lapping is not something you casually do, without working at it. The various moves and ploys created for lapping must be practiced diligently…and once perfected, will provide you with
an arsenal of weapons.

There is a good chance that almost every novice magician entering the I.C.O.M ranks is familiar with the Salt Shaker Thru Table effect. This is where the salt saker is set on top of a coin, then covered with a paper napkin that is formed around the shape of the shaker. The magician says he is going to cause the coin to vanish…but this is just a way to keep the spectator’s attention on the tabletop. As the shaker is lifted to reveal the coin…you seem to have failed because the coin is still there. But the actual ‘magic’ is taking place then, as the hand holding the covered shaker moves back toward the edge of the table. You relax your hold on the napkin, and the shaker drops into your lap. Since it appears the shaker is still there thanks to the form the napkin has held,
the ‘ shaker’ is supposedly replaced over the coin. The climax comes when you smash the napkin flat…then produce the solid shaker from beneath the table. This is a classic example of lapping.

If you think about all the ways there are to pick an object up from a table, you will be given some clues to possible methods for lapping. In many instances, the objects are positioned near the rear edge of the table, to begin with. In one instance, say with a coin, the flat hand, with the thumb behind the fingers might appear to scoop the coin up, fingers covering and pulling the coin back toward the rear edge. In another, you might cover the coin, then appear to pick it up in a loose fist. In this instance, as the hand closes into a fist, the tips of the fingers come into contact with the front edge of the coin and literally push the coin off the back edge. Coins may well be covered by the hand…but in reality, you slightly overshoot your mark…and the coin is actually under the wrist…then worked a bit further back to being under the forearm. The coin is then dragged back and off the table as the hand is pulled back to a position a few inches from the edge. Flicking or brushing actions of the hand may also propel a coin or small object off the working surface and into your lap.

There are also many methods in which an object actually held within the hand may be released and dropped in totally undetectable ways. Once an object is in your lap, it may be easily switched for another object, or, re-introduced into the routine at a later time. The lap itself may well be much more than simply a drop off point. The legs may be used to hold items between them, such as classes of liquid, for production later. Folds made in the trousers may be used as impromptu holders or pockets for coins, cards, and other flat objects. The bend of the knee might also be considered as a holding spot for things such as a wand or a deck of cards. The lifted leg and bent knee could be employed to hold an object up against the underside of the table. You can conceal items under the leg as well…pinning it between the leg and the seat of the chair.

Depending upon your situation, the draping of the table ( table cloth ) might be effective as an aid to your lapping ability. By lifting the cloth up on top of your lap, and spreading your legs a bit to form a natural well…you have provided a landing surface that will help to keep items dropped to remain right there on your lap. The folds of the cloth would also act as a trough or ‘ramp’ down which items such as coins might slide. This would funnel the falling object directly to another coin or coins already there, providing you with a well-timed audible clink to coincide with actions happening above the table surface. The same holds true of an empty glass held between your legs, and a coin resting on the thigh of your leg. Pretending to drop a coin into a visible glass on top of the table, timed with the secret dropping of a coin into the glass beneath the table could prove to be very effective.

Although much of what I have mentioned also leans toward the subject of Servantes… I felt it was fair to sort of meld the thoughts together because they are so closely related. There are a connection and interaction which is hard to deny. For that reason, I would like to explain a device
I created about fourteen years ago which I called The Saddle Servante. It is a secret utility item which is worn on the body and allows the close-up worker to ditch and steal various objects, and still have the freedom to stand up at any point in his routine. Something which is not possible for the performer who is lapping exclusively. The Saddle Servante allows you to combine the powers of lapping and a servante as well. This new design in servantes permits the thinking performer to create a device that is geared to his or her own specific needs.

Q: Where is the Saddle Servante worn:
A: It is worn on the top of the thigh, just a few inches above the knee.

Q: What keeps this servante in place ? How is it held on the leg ?
A: The very nucleus of the Saddle Servante is a girl’s or lady’s headband. Those are the flat, U-shaped strips of plastic worn to hold the hair in place. The spring tension of the band is what keeps it clamped to the leg.

Q: What sort of devices or pockets may be attached to this leg
A: This is where the diversity of the device comes into play. You may attach any sort of holder you wish to use on this band. They may be attached permanently by gluing them in place, or, you may want to glue a strip of velcro to the band, and then position matching velcro tabs to the containers or pockets you want to employ with the band. These might be droppers. magnets, cloth or plastic pouches ( pockets ), open-end tubes, loops of elastic for wands, or thumb tips. The combinations you choose are limited only by your own imagination. To allow you to stand at will, attention will have to be given to the positioning of certain holders, or, some may possibly have to be attached in such a way as to allow them to move or pivot.

The saddle Servante may also be combined with the table cloth ploy, towel, or table napkin in the lap mentioned earlier. In fact, the Saddle will hold the material in place more securely.

Q: What will the cost be ?
A: The cost, in its most basic form, should be rather minimal. It is difficult to give a specific range since I do not know which, or how many elements you want to incorporate with the Saddle Servante. I would venture to say the cost should range somewhere between five and ten dollars. This would include the band, velcro, basic elastics and cloth materials, glue/ sewing materials. If you choose to use special holders or droppers
and purchase them rather than making your own, the cost of course will grow. But I sincerely feel that even an expenditure of as much as fifteen dollars would be well worth it.

Q: How should the servante be finished ?
A: The Saddle Servante is never meant to be seen by the audience. But If you desire to give it a more finished look…the band and velcro should be black. This to me is best. It will blend with the usual dress slacks we wear…and the color has been associated with gimmicks and devices for decades. Since this is the case, it follows that the cloth and coverings or painted finishes on the other holders and droppers would also be black. But specialized Saddle Servante’s could also be designed to suit specific needs in dress or costuming.

Q: Who can use the Saddle Servante ?
A: Basically, anyone. It is an extremely good device for female performers.
They always have the option of wearing either a dress or slacks. When used with a dress, we have the same combination as with the table cloth and Saddle Servante. The Saddle Servante may also be worn under the dress…providing the perfect walk-on for the female close-up performer. Anyone with legs above the knee may employ this device.

When you consider all the options opened up by the use of the art of lapping, and infusing it with various other ploys, aids, and servantes…we are now talking about almost limitless means for presenting our close-up magic.

This is the first time in fourteen years that the Saddle Servante concept has been shared with the magic community. That makes this material an I.C.O.M exclusive…and I am proud to offer the premise for your consideration. I am very proud of this device, and the applications it provides. I am, in particular, pleased with the fact that it offers a utility device that may be effectively employed by either gender. The ladies have been left out of the action for far too long.

Manufacturing Rights Reserved By Ronald J. Dayton Copyright 1999 International Conservatory of Magic.


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.

I.C.O.M Spotlight 4/99-6/99


I.C.O.M Spotlight 4/99-6/99

This page is devoted to general studies and information that may not fit neatly into other study areas or is knowledge fit for both beginner and advanced students. It also acts as the I.C.O.M main theory page. Theory is where the true magic lies, study it well. It is the inner workings of the magical art far beyond the secrets of any tricks, effects or routines.

June 1999

Ladies and gentlemen, I.C.O.M members all! Below is more solid gold magical history that you will find only here in the Interntational Conservatory of Magic!…Thank you Dr. Om!

Dr. OM’S Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Artist Part XV

The Entrance


Billie Dunninger reunited with her beloved husband Joseph, in show business Valhalla, within this year’s past. In her youth, Billie had been a beauty, a showgirl. As a young man, Dr. OM knew her and the great Dunninger when they themselves were of middle age. On the night that the great man, himself, crossed the bar, none other than Al Mann, Dunninger’s good friend and fellow mentalist, stood vigil with Billie at Dunninger’s bedside. Billie and Joseph’s daughters, Josephine and Maxine survive them. They all lived together in their spacious home in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

One Rainy afternoon in May 1999, Dr. OM felt impelled to drive down to Cliffside Park and take pictures of the grand domicile overlooking the Hudson River and enjoying a magnificent view of the New York Skyline opposite West Side Church. The precious photographs are presented below:

2. Southerly Exposed Frontag

3. Westerly side Yard

4. Easterly Side Yard

5. Extended Easterly Side Yard With Cabana

In Europe, monuments to unaging intellect have stood for thousands of years; In the United States, the Metropolitan Opera House, an acoustical miracle and an historic artifact was torn down to make way for a parking lot. Caruso’s ghost must roam the place at night. Our history is brief, our memory is short, and our reverence for the past is wanting. In this same Cliffside Park, the home of Boaz, the renowned anthropologist, has been whacked-up, as they say, into a rental multi-dwelling. What a sorrow it would be should the home of The Great Dunninger, to whom Milbourne Christopher devoted an entire chapter in THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF MAGIC, be laid waste to make way for an expensive but tasteless contemporary residence with a Manhattan skyline view. Let the bucks stop here.

Dr. OM is not cognizant of the current disposition of this piece of magic history as a piece of real estate, but if there is any philanthropist of magic reading this article, please save and preserve the Dunninger house as a national landmark of magic.



A bead of water clinging to his chin gleaming as a gemstone the squirrel balanced on the birdbath revels in the grace of the everywhere.

Don’t believe it
there is no such thing
as a squirrel proof
bird feeder
impregnable to the acrobatic
of the trees.

a dove
against the leaves
in a
with time.

The sparrow’s swarm
in perfect
a perfect
of air.

A leaf
wends its way
to the ground
which once sustained
a passing
of high place.

lush and green
in spring
the heat of summer and the winter cold.


If you look down a highway or a railroad track, the sides of the road or track seem to come together in the distance. The natural experience of perspective is imitated by the artist as an illusion through foreshortening.

Foreshortening is the painter’s technique for tricking the eye into believing that a two-dimensional painting is three dimensional. Foreshortening and light and dark shading make the two dimensional seem three dimensional. As Herman Melville noted, the artist is a con man.

The Mandala is found in many cultures around the world and is used to aid meditation. if you stare at a Mandala, you will experience the illusion that you are entering into it.

What the eye sees is sent to the brain through tiny electrical currents called nerve impulses. The brain assembles the impulses to form an engram (image) on the mind. The eye is activated by receiving reflections of light from objects, but the eye can be fooled. For instance, if two lines of equal length intersect at their middles, they will be seen to be equal in length, but if the lines intersect at other points than the middle, they will be seen to be of unequal length.

The eyes experience an optical illusion when they change to focus on the object in view causing the pattern to change. The eyes themselves produce the illusion. What the eye expects to see plays a great part in the message sent to the brain. Because of different environmental life experiences, inhabitants of different parts of the world see the same things in different ways. In parts of Africa where houses are built around and pots and other manufactured objects are round the people do not recognize square forms but see them as round because their eyes expect to see them as round. In remote places where motion pictures had not been seen before, the viewers did not recognize pictures but saw only splotches of light and darkness.

Notice how the expression: “Smoke and Mirrors” has moved from stage magic into the parlance of politics. All of human endeavor and inquiry are connected. The magician must use what science has learned about the human senses of sight (vision), hearing (auditory), Touch (tactile), and taste and smell (olfactory), in providing illusions for the audience.

Co-Directors notes:


May 1999

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


Dr. OM’s earliest recollection of magic and magicians came through the comic strips which every Sunday delivered MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN. To a small boy, there was something fascinating about Mandrake’s power to alter reality; to make things better. Mandrake first made Dr. OM aware of magicians, mindreaders, and hypnotists. Dr. OM will never forget him.

Recently, Dr. OM recommended to his readership the biography of the Canadian Mandrake. Mandrake’s name and Dr. OM’s recollection of early childhood drove him to read the account of the real life Mandrake the Magician. Fortunately so, because there was great value in the book for a grown magician, as there had been great value in the “funny papers,” for a little boy.

Nick’s candy store during the nineteen thirties, contained an odd collection of novelties. The candy store afforded Dr. OM his second experience with magic: a tiny Ball and Vase made , not of plastic, but of red stained wood with a shiny black half ball. The interior of the vase was stained a bright yellow; beautiful to look at; miraculous to work. Dr. OM took it to school with him and performed the effect about the neighborhood, as well. Whenever a little friend was bewildered, if not astounded, by the magical vanishment and reproduction of the ball in the vase, little om felt like Mandrake the Magician, himself.

Not long afterward, Nick had on display a variety of prizes to be won by kids who collected the greatest number of coupons he issued for each purchase made in the candy store. There were baseball bats and mitts, a tin wind-up and moving shooting gallery, leather sacks of marbles, a wooden toy fort, and wonder upon wonder, don’t you know that little om’s collection of coupons won him a Gilbert Magic Set. Opening the box was like walking through the doorway to a new and magical world. Who wanted an old microscope or a telescope or a pair of binoculars, when the brave new world could be viewed through the kaleidoscope of magic.

Appreciating little om’s interest in magic, his father bought him a copy of THE BOY’S BOOK OF MAGIC by Hereward Carrington, Ph.D., published by Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, in 1936. The book bears a 1920 copyright and was printed by The Quinn and Boden Company in Rahway, New Jersey. Pop bought the book from Mr. Avon, at Avon’s Used Book Shop, a few storefronts down from the tailor shop behind which om’s family lived during the depression. There were no television sets, in those days and aside from the radio which had recently ceased being called “The Marconi” the only existing entertainment was to be found in books; beautiful books which exercised a child’s imagination. Little om’s father often had recourse to bartering. In order to pay the butcher’s bill, he would make Mr. Waller a sports jacket or a vested suit, when the bill grew really long. A new pair of pants or mending older clothing frequently paid Mr. Schultz, the milkman, or Pasquale, the grocer. For similar reciprocations, om’s father periodically would bring home an armful of books he carefully selected with Mr. Avon’s assistance, but nothing ever topped The Boy’s Book of Magic.

Dr. OM’s next childhood experience with magic made such an impression upon him that many years after the event the recollection provided a scene in a novel he was working on at the time. The excerpted fictional account probably tells the story best, as follows:

The Method:

Hold up four Jacks, who represent four robbers. Tell your audience that the Jacks have decided to rob a bank, which is represented by the deck. You will place the three robbers into different stories of the bank, leaving the fourth on the roof to play look out, in case the cops should come, but at the end of the trick, they will all appear back together on the roof of the bank.

Before you start, all you need do is place any three cards behind the Jacks before you fan them out to show them. Fan out only the Jacks, and keep the three extra cards hidden behind the Jacks.

Now start your patter. Say, “Here are four robbers all named Jack, who decided to rob a bank. We’ll let the rest of the deck of cards represent the bank.” Place the Jacks, with the three extra cards on top of them, facedown on top of the deck, saying: “All four robbers sneaked onto the roof of the bank.” Then continue: “The first robber entered the bank through a basement window.” Take the top card (which everyone supposes to be a Jack) from the top of the deck and push it into the deck near the bottom. Don’t let anyone see its face. Push it all the way in so that it is lost. Now say, “The second robber went into the main floor of the bank by the front door.” Take the top card from the deck (the second indifferent card) and push it into the deck near the center.

Now say, “The third robber climbed down the back wall from the roof and got into the top floor of the bank through an open window.” Take the top card from the deck and push it into the back of the deck near the top but below the stacked Jacks. Then proceed: “The fourth robber stayed right up here on the roof to act as the lookout.” Pick up the top card and show it to the audience. Of course, the displayed card really is the first of the four Jacks. Replace it face up on top of the three face down Jacks.

Continue your story. “The police come and the lookout shouts, ‘CHICKY THE COPS,’ and what do you know, here are all the four robbers back on the roof.” As you say this, deal off the four Jacks, one at a time, from the top of the deck onto the table; face up so that everybody can see them.

The Spell:

Cappy held up the four knaves between the thumb and fingers of his left hand. Each knave peered resplendently over the velvet cap of the knave below. The low man was placed upon his back among the table crumbs. Collapsing the remaining three, Cappy lay them gently on the deck, Tapping them, he smiled mysteriously and said:

“This is a bank.”

Maria’s large eyes traced an orbit from extended hand to table top. “and these are the thieves.” Space contained three thoughts: Arthur, Cappy, and Maria. The universe is a six foot cube; the room is another story. “The captain of thieves is waiting on the roof,” six eyes danced in three quarter time. The cube was rosy with clossness, “and his henchmen have climbed to the roof of the bank.” Arthur listened in a deathless unbreathing and was warm about his ears and the palms of his hands. Remember the cube root of love. Someday, remembering he would feel the same again and call it nostalgia, but it wasn’t nostalgia, really. How could it be nostalgia in the first times. Later, the memory of first times is the same. Then, we say nostalgia. There are the senses, but there is no taste in the mouth. No man savors life with his mouth. The sixth sense is in the human heart. “The first thief descends to the basement of the bank.” The captain’s eyes are on me. He lies waiting. The crumbs are dying slowly on the table cloth and the wine is deep, dark, and silent in the glass. “The second thief descends to the main floor.” The light plays upon the smiling wine. The crumbs are lonely. “The third thief takes the top floor.” The wine is cylindrically happy. Sometimes the table trembles. The wine is unsure. The crumbs are lost. “Each thief empties a vault.” The crumbs are shaken from the cloth. Only wine’s stain remains, faintly, like shadows of grapes. “The captain calls out: “CHICKY THE COPS.” The wine. The wine, forever. Shape on shape; vessel on vessel. The crumbs feed fishes and armies of loaves. And his three henchmen: one, two, three, jump off the roof of the bank, and they all run away.

“Oh, do it again, please let me see it again,” squealed Maria; but it couldn’t be done again. It was done.

Cappy, in the story, in real life was John Scarne, who was Dr. Om’s father’s friend and customer. Pop, better known as “Harry the tailor,”mended John’s tuxedos and suits, replaced buttons, cuffed pants, and pressed John’s jackets. Occasionaliy, John would sit down at table behind the tailor shop where the family lived and join in a supper or a glass of wine. Later Scarne would join his buddy, Joe Vella, at his boxing gym. Often, with his other little friends om would be amazed by one of Scarne’s pieces of magic right there on the street, in front of Joe Vella’s Gym where Gus Lesnevitch trained and where Joe Louis arrived one afternoon in a chauffeur driven limousine. Those were great days in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, and the great John Scame lived right next door in the southerly adjacent town of Fairview.

The Legendary John Scarne

As a young man, Dr. OM’s later memorable experience came when he was introduced to Joseph Dunninger, The Great Dunninger, and his wife, Billie by Ken Forziati and his family who lived just across the street from the Dunningers’ sprawling manse, at the very end of Grant Avenue, in Cliffside Park. Situated atop the palisades, the Dunninger homestead enjoyed a magnificent view of the Hudson River and the Manhattan Skyline, and an easy commute to” The Big City,” where Dunninger did much of his performing.

Dr. OM remembers being often in the company of Billie Dunninger who would join the Forziati elders for games of pinochle. On several occasions Mr. Dunninger (Young OM always addressed him as Mr. Dunninger), knowing of his involvement in magic, taught him several killer card effects, the best of which is a self-rising mentally selected card effect without gimmicks of any sort, which is still a treasure in Dr. OM’s arsenal.

When, in nineteen sixty-six, Dr. OM and Ken Forziati wrote a musical play titled LIZZY STRADA based upon Aristophanes’ comedy LYSISTRATA. The play was produced at New Jersey City University, where Dr. OM served as Theatre Director. Ken had been the pianist in a swing band in which Dr.OM was guitarist, and the two had been close friends since the age of fourteen when they first met as band members. The combination was a natural and the musical was a huge success. Dunninger and his wife Billie attended the opening night performance. Dunninger’s compliments that night are a treasure in the memory of Dr. OM.

Ken Forziati had been Dr. OM’s best man at Mary and Dr. OM’s wedding, and when Ken and Judy were married, Dr. OM was Ken’s best man. Dunninger and wife Billie with Ken and Judy are pictured below:

The Great Dunninger, wife Billie, and a very happy couple

These are some of the bits and pieces of the beauty the art of magic has brought into the life of one Dr. OM. More recently, serving as the editor for the International Magician’s Society (IMS) and having the opportunity to have a performance and teaching tape (volume forty in the course) published on the subject of Children’s Magic (Bobby J. Gallo’s: Stand Up Close Magic is Volume eighteen), and then to be invited by Bill Wisch and Bobby J. Gallo to write this Treatise on Stagecraft and Showmanship for the Performing Magician and to draft the curriculum for the I.C.O.M Magicschool Program of Study have been the great joys of Dr.OM’s, never old, but somewhat older age. Everlasting thanks are with these great friends and great teachers who have so generously shared their magic with Dr.OM.

And then there are all those great gigs in all manner of venues and the wonderful kids of all ages, past, present, and far into the future.

Dr. Om Entertaining Governor Mario Cuomo


April 1999

Co-Directors Notes: “Early in February I saw a remarkable article in a magazine.

The reason I felt it was remarkable was because it captured the view of magic from a layman as well as anything I had ever read. Not only that, this layman was not only interested in magic for fun but also an expert in the field of sales and marketing presentation. This gentleman is Mr. Tad Simons, editor of Presentations Magazine.

I e-mailed him immediately and asked if I.C.O.M. could use the article. He graciously agreed.

What you are about to read is the complete article. I’m sure you’ll agree that it has much value. if dissected and contemplated. Enjoy it…dissect it…contemplate it. Thanks Tad!

Bill Wisch

A little magic can go a long way in this imperfect world

Tad Simons

“Reprinted with permission of Presentations magazine”

My 5-year old son still believes in magic. Which is why, the day before Christmas, I paid a guy $20 to teach me how to levitate a dollar bill.

I had originally stepped into the magic shop to find a goofy stocking stuffer or two-something to make the boy laugh. They had it all: whoopie cushions, dribble glasses, disappearing ink, rubber doggie-doo. And I was ready, even eager, to buy. Ready, that is, until the store clerk came over and said, “Sir, do you just want to give your son a couple of cheap laughs, or would you rather amaze him?”

The guy couldn’t have been more than 18, and he certainly didn’t look like much of a magician. He wore the uniform of modern adolescence: baggy Old Navy T-shirt, ratty black jeans and paint-splattered tennis shoes. But he had my attention. Sure, I’d rather be amazing than funny. In a boy’s eyes, amazement puts you in the same league with Santa Clause, and that’s right where I wanted to be. I was ashamed to admit, though, that I might need a little help.

“What have you got?” I asked, with just enough skepticism in my voice to let him know that I was not easily fooled. He smirked and walked around behind the counter. A bumper sticker on the rack next to him read, “When in doubt, ask a teenager-while they still know everything.” Then he took a dollar bill out of the cash register and crumpled it into a ball. “This one’s easy,” he said.

After passing his hand over with a hocus-pocus flourish, he picked up the crumpled bill between his thumb and forefinger and held it in front of him about chest high. Then he let go.

But the bill didn’t drop- it just hung there in mid-air, like a little hot-air balloon. Must be attached to some fishing line, I thought. But I didn’t see any fishing line, and he knew it. He then made a circle with his fingers and passed it all around the hovering wad, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that he could indeed defy gravity.

“Not bad,” I said, trying to hide the fact that I was completely stumped. “How long would it take me to learn that trick?”

“That depends,” the kid answered. “You can probably learn the basic trick in about five minuted. But if you really want to make it special, it’ll take you about three months.”

After an hour of practicing the trick at home, I began to see what he meant. It was one thing to master the brute mechanics of the trick, but quite another to develop the verbal patter and fluidity of movement necessary to fool anyone with it, let alone amaze them.

The moral of the story

This cocksure teenager knows something about presentation skills that many of us never learn: It takes patience, diligence and a heroic work ethic to create something special. It also takes a recognition that there is an achievable level of skill beyond the ordinary, and that this level of mastery is wroth striving for.

Thousands of presentations are delivered every day in the country, and though I don’t have any research to prove it, I’d be willing to bet that a good percentage of them are slapped together at the last minute and delivered with about as much style and ceremony as a Dominoes’ pizza. Like the pizza, they may get the job done, but in a flavorless, unadventurous wat that leaves a bad taste in your mouth: the taste of relentless mediocrity.

I know all the excuses-no time, money, energy, desire, need, blah, blah, blah. They are all the reasons why I will never master the illusion of the levitating dollar bill-why it will, in my hands, remain a trivial party trick. I am not a professional magician, though. If I were, I like to think that I would make every effort possible to make that dollar bill float like a cloud.

More often than we would like to admit, however, professional presenters (myself included) step up to the podium with just enough preparation to get by, hoping to get through the ordeal without embarrassing ourselves. Goals don’t get much more modes than that.

But there is something more we can all shoot for-that next level of mastery that distinguishes great presentations from the merely good or the barely adequate. It may be too much to ask for, but in a perfect world, every presentation would contain a little magic.

If you enjoyed this article as much as we did…

E-Mail Tad Simons at:


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.

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.

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


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 re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 7/98-9/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 7/98-9/98

This page is devoted to general studies and information that may not fit neatly into other study areas or is knowledge fit for both beginner and advanced students. It also acts as the I.C.O.M main theory page. Theory is where the true magic lies, study it well. It is the inner workings of the magical art far beyond the secrets of any tricks, effects or routines.

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

July 1998

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



Do not forget to provide general and special lighting for your magical performances, whenever possible.


As Dr. OM is writing this June issue of his treatise, he is sitting in a deck chair on the passenger loading platform of the Arlington, Vermont Train Station. No, he is not waiting for a train; he is visiting the station, now the home, art studio, and gallery of his good old friend, Dr. Harold Lemmerman. Dr. Lemmerman and Dr. OM worked for many long years together at New Jersey, City University; Dr. Lemmerman as Scene Designer, and Dr. OM as Artistic Theatre Director.
Now retired, Dr. Lemmerman is permanently settled in Arlington. If you are ever on vacation in southern Vermont, just over the New York border, drop in to visit “DOC” and chat about scenic design and construction. He will love to see you. Note Dr. Lemmerman vs rendering of his new home, below:


Driving to school each morning, on the New Jersey Turnpike, Dr. OM traverses a stretch of road which passes alongside a radio transmitter, with the consequence that the station being broadcast annoyingly intrudes upon the station of Dr. OM’s choice. Both signals are of about the same intensity, and yet, Dr. OM, by concentrating, is able to screen out the unwanted station and continue listening to the station he wants to hear.

Pianists, harpists, and guitarists, among other instrumentalists are able to divide the mind, in order to function with both right and left hands. Motorists, organists, and percussionists are able to function with both hands and feet simultaneously.

Lesson: So, too, must the performing magician be able to divide attention between, not only the hands and foot placement, but also between the business of magician’s technique and the business of acting when executing magical effects. Practice and rehearsal makes possible the same kind of eventual subconscious control an experienced driver employs. When such happens, the magician has achieved mastery.

In magical performance, practice is for achieving technical skill and for experimenting with the internal routining of an effect toward growth and improvement; rehearsal is for sequencing the effects, both skillfully and dramatically toward the culmination of an integrated act.

Back home again from school, Dr. OM, standing in the front yard of his home, was taught another magical lesson, this time by Mother Nature, herself. He suddenly became aware of pink and white crab apple blossoms and seeds cascading onto the lawn. They had been shaken down by the intelligent intent of a squirrel which was too well camouflaged among the branches and leaves for Dr. OM to see; had they not been so shaken down by the squirrel, a gust of wind would have inevitably done the job, because the seeds were fat, loose, and ready to pop, at the slightest provocation.

The events, as they happened, provide a small glimpse of the grand design of nature: the squirrel eats some seeds shaken to the ground by whatever means; overlooks some seeds leaving them on the ground; swallows and digests some seeds; and eliminates some undigested seeds, in accordance with the cause and effect plan of nature which, thus, germinates new crab apple tree offspring; but without awareness of the apparent causes, the effects seem truly magical. Lesson: In stage magic, when the cause is not apparent, the effect seems wrought by magic. The causes must be kept hidden, either by mechanical means such as camouflage, gimmick, gaff, or by misdirection or sleight of hand. Sleight of hand is a translation from the French: LEGERDEMAIN, or: LEGER (light); DE (of); and MAIN (hand), i.e., literally:LIGHT OF HAND, or, figuratively: LIGHT FINGERED. The English language has a way of contracting words, In the same way that GOD’S BLOOD became OD’S BLOOD and GOD HAVE MERCY became GRAMMERCY, as in GRAMMERCY PARK, so, too: IS LIGHT OF HAND became: S’LIGHT OF HAND, and eventually: SLEIGHT OF HAND; and by further abbreviational corruption, finally became merely: SLEIGHT.

During the two weeks prior to Dr. OM’s visit to Arlington to arrange a series of magical and musical performances throughout the coming month of August, through Dr. Lemmerman’s venue contacts in southern Vermont, Dr. Om had performed four magic floor shows and three musical shows with his musical partner Marcel Guttierez. Two of the magic shows were exclusively for children (and their parents, of course). On the day of his return from Vermont, Dr. OM was stricken by a strange malady. After several visits to his fine physician, four hours in a hospital emergency room, and consultation with a Contagious Disease Specialist, Dr. OM’s ailment was diagnosed as: FIFTH DISEASE, a sickness Dr. OM had never before heard of. Undoubtedly, he had contracted the illness at one of his magic shows for children. Lesson: Dr. OM recommends that he and other entertainers of children consult with our physicians about safeguarding against children’s diseases, which have a way of afflicting adults much more severely than they do children. Suffice to say, Dr. OM spent twelve days flat on his back in bed.

Mrs. OM enjoys watching the figure skaters on television. Occasionally, Dr. OM watches with her for company, but not without his own pleasure. Some skaters are skillful, some are athletic, some are graceful, and some are poetic. All are beautiful in the special way that only youth can be, but poetry wins out-poetry in motion.

Technically, the attention to detail and the split second timing are impressive. A performing magician can learn much from the movement and choreography of skaters and dancers.

The synchronization with music is quite astounding. The physical prowess of the skaters is awe inspiring, but the poetry, when the poetry happens, is the moment of art. The analog here with poetic magical performance is obvious. Magicians are poets more than athletes. All too often, magical performance is conceived of as a sport, rather than an art. The science of magic must be transmuted into the art of magic.

Please forgive Dr. OM for what might seem to be presumption. At times such as this he is writing as a critic rather than an artist magician, with full awareness that his own performance is subject to the criticism he makes. Alas, Dr. OM will never achieve the goal, but winning closer is the game. Ultimately the magician who lives every moment of his life as magician, in his secret heart aspires to be able to perform non-physical magic without props and clap-trap, to truly make authentic miracles happen; to utter the “spirit ditties of no tone,” as the poet John Keats put it; yes: “heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.”

Getting back to earth, the idealism of the artist magician must be seen as achievable only through the material of his art. The artist is a materialist who intimates spirit through the material of his art; who creates magical illusions. Magicians have gone off the deep end in the necessary belief that what they do is real magic. In an old second rate film starring actor Paul Newman, in his first major role, supporting actor Jack Palance plays the part of the court magician, in the setting of ancient Roman times. Unfortunately for Jack, who has built a high tower from the top of which he is to magically fly, he deludes himseaccommodate into believing he can fly without the rig he has invented. Of course, like Icarus, he falls to his death. No, the artist is a realist and materialist who intimates spirit through the material of his art, and yet, the magician must infuse illusion with belief; belief breeds belief. There is a difference between belying and believing. what should magical material then be; what should constitute the repertoire?

Directors Bobby J. Gallo and Bill Wisch have posed a question for Dr. OM’S consideration, as follows:

why do certain tricks work for some magicians but not for others?

Dr. OM’s response to the question takes the form of the checklist which follows:

1) Does the effect suit the personality of the magician’s persona?

2)Is the magician physically capable of performing the effect vis-a-vis: strength, skill, dexterity, and mental acuteness, e.g: can he lift his assistant onto the broomstick, without toppling over, as Dr. OM has.

3) Is the effect too replicative of another effect performed in the repertoire, vis-a-vis prop appearance or magical form, ie: too many cut and restored, penetrations, or transpositions?

4) Is the effect a performance item too identifiable with another local or national magician, especially televised?

5) How well does the effect generally fit into the sequence of effects comprising the entire act; does one effect flow smoothly into the next?

6) Is there building from one effect to the next toward a climax of the entire act?

7) Ultimately, how does the effect play before audiences? Is there consistent positive response in the form of applause or other reaction to the effect?

ADVISORY: Reading descriptions of magical effects is the most economical way to discover appropriate items for the repertoire. The old saw: “Never be the first by whom the new is tried, nor yet the last to put the old aside,” is not necessarily true in magic. New and original inventions are always worth trying, and age old classics, like old wine in new bottles, will be brought to new life by imaginative and novel presentations.

During the seven years Dr. OM’s granddaughter, Allcia, and her parents were living with Dr. and Mrs. OM, they shared many happy hours together. On one occasion when Alicia was about seven years of age, she brought home with her for a play day her little friend, Yu, and Dr. OM performed magic for them. when he had finished the performance, little Yu turned quite spontaneously to Allcia, saying:

“Oh, Allcia, you’re so lucky to have a grandfather who is a magician.” Alicia shot back, sardonically: “Yeah, but you don’t have to live with it.” Lesson: “A prophet is never appreciated in his own country,” or, as Gertrude Stein put it: “I write (perform) for myself and people who don’t know me.” Close friends and family see the magician as himself, rather than the persona he projects. They know him too well to see his character; his well known real self gets in the way.

The fact is that Alicia has quite a sense of humor, and does enjoy Dr. OM’s magic. when she was small, Dr. OM named the squirrels in the yard for her amusement. There were Nutsy and his wife Hazel (Dr. OM could never really tell them apart), and their offspring, among which was the runt of the litter. The tiny fellow had no difficulty eating the bird seed, but he was so short legged that he would trip over a slice of white bread held in his mouth by its crust. Day after day, Alicia and Dr. OM watched him tripping, over and over again, until one morning he stopped dead in his tracks, as if an idea had struck him, extended his tiny paws underhandedly under the slice of bread, and folded it over grasping the opposite edge of crust with his teeth without letting go of the other edge. He had successfully folded the slice of bread in half and could easily run with it held in his mouth. Thereafter, Dr. OM observed him performing the same trick, over and over again, and therefore named him Einstein.

Dr. OM has never before nor since ever observed a squirrel perform the same feat. Generations of Nutsys and Hazels and their children have come and gone, but never another such as Einstein. Thinking about the genius of Einstein, the squirrel, Dr. OM concludes that, although others might explain his act as instinctive, perhaps reasoning that squirrels had done so with large leaves to line their nests, since time immemorial, he, Dr. OM, had never seen a squirrel perform the same act with a leaf; and squirrels, after all, have been around a long time before sliced bread. No, the act was a sheer act of genius. Necessity IS the mother of invention, and Nutsy I and Hazel I’s son was the Einstein of the squirrel world. Lesson: Give a personally inventive twist to everything you do in magic. lf a squirrel can do it, so can you. Take it from Dr. OM, there is no such thing as a squirrel proof birdfeeder.


Directors Bobby Gallo and Bill Wisch have asked Dr. OM to give attention to the use of program music in a magic act. The first act of Dr. OM’s own stage show is pantomimically set to music. During intermission he (one man act that he must be) fades out the first act music and brings up the interlude and second act music. Given that his stage act is componentially composed, the first act stands alone as a nightclub or restaurant floor show, causing no problem with working the sound track. For parlour shows or extended floor shows, he goes right into the vocal second act without intermission, allowing the music of the first act to run out as it will. Magical effects are added to the longer versions of the act and cut from the shorter versions of the act to accommodate physical life transitions and the special nature of the audience, but essentially, the show remains pretty much the same. Items cut are usually those which perform well on stage but do not perform well closer up because of angle and other visual considerations. In no case is any effect added or cut at such a juncture in the act as will disrupt the synchronization between physical life action and sound track. The advantage is that when one act serves multi-purposes, concerted effort can be given to practice and rehearsal-the act is everything.

Again, as in all, prevails the demand to suit the music to the personality of the magician’s persona and the theme of each routine contained in the act, be it comedically whimsical, emotionally romantic, or seriously dramatic. Commercially prepared background music tapes and and CD’s are offered on the market, for magical productions. Dr. OM has found a satisfactory combination of selections drawn from both such specialized recordings and a variety of general music-for- listening recordings. He is about to extend into especially composed and recorded original music to embellish his prerecorded sound track; perhaps with voice-over recitations of his own poetry and his own vocal renditions of original and standard songs. At present, adding the original elements is in the planning and experimental stage.

“Splicing” the selections is not difficult to do, especially if the PAUSE, rather than the STOP button of the tape recorder is used. However, even when unwanted low level juncture noise occurs, it passes quickly and usually unnoticeably during the course of performance, because program music, at its best, provides background without being obtrusive; the music should underpin the act but not dominate the act. The music should appeal to the audience subconscious, rather than conscious attention. Of course a seamless recording is always to be desired, given the necessary technological advantage of high quality equipment or the services of a recording studio. Use music is best of all, but show bands and orchestras to perform special arrangements are rare in most venues these days. In the old days, not only would a live musical organization provide nearly perfectly coordinated program music, but musicians in the front row were enlisted by the magician as assistants who would clandestinely slip him props during the course of the show.

However, carefully selected recorded program music as an alternative to live music can favorably enhance the rhythm, timing, and flow of manipulative magic with cards, balls, and rings, and does emphasize the comedic, romantic, and dramatic moods contained in an act.

In practice sessions with card slights and effects other than manipulative, Dr. OM finds that music lends an evenness and rhythm to his handling, even though no music is to be utilized during walk-around performance, in his customary restaurant venues. The ear picks up the rhythms and transmits them to the hands. The ear picks up the mood of the music and infuses the magician’s sensibility. For walk-around, Dr. OM prefers brief, snappy, visual effects performable in the magician’s and the spectator’s hands. The mood he intends is light-hearted and playful. The music he most prefers practicing to for these purposes are the light-hearted songs of Carlo Buti. Such stylistic choices are extremely personal and only the individual magician himself can make them.
Another practical deficiency in controlling music in a one man act without the assistance of a sound technician or live musicians, is that of graduating the intensity of the music such that it does not drown out the verbal life (patter). Music underlying verbal life must be even less obtrusive than background music to pantomime. Thoughtful selection of musical segments with special attention to their intensity and functional placement as program music in the act can alleviate the problem.

In addition to the thematic emphasis music provides, is the time period setting establishment. An ultra modern act will employ ultra modern music; a traditional act will employ traditional music.

Generally, vocal musical background sung by well known professional vocalists is unadvisable, because the audience will recognize the vocalist and the association resulting psychologically detracts from the performance at hand. Dr. OM has found this to be true of ice skating performances which employ songs sung by the late and great Frank Sinatra, or another well known singer. The great artist singer does not need the embellishment provided by the skaters, and audience focus of attention may well shift from the skating to the singing. Besides, there is something akin here to the amateurism of pantomimists of the twenties, thirties, and forties, especially, who visually “sang along” with Rudy Valee, Bing Crosby. or Nat Cole. The less recognizable the source of the music, the better. Even, too famIliar classical, jazz, or popular instrumentals can distract an audience, if only with the thought: “Can’t this guy find his own music?” Ideally, program music should be composed and performed live especially for an act. who would want to attend an announcedly new musical play contrived of songs stolen from George Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, and Gerome Kern? A recital, yes; a new original act, no. Unfortunately, in magic, the ideal is seldom possible, except for high budget acts.

Nevertheless, if carefully selected and re-recorded, canned program music can be most effective and greatly enhance even the low budget magic show. The low budget should be regarded as an additional challenge inventively and artistically met in every aspect of magical theatre. when such is accomplished, the management of program music can set the mood and help to tell the story of an act by subconsciously affecting the audience sensibility and stimulating the sharing of an illusion, the suspense, and the excitement, of a magical performance. The components of presentation transform a mere puzzle into magical entertainment. Without presentational aesthetic a magical effect remains a trick. Program music can play a great part in aesthetic presentation. A cardinal rule of performance might be expressed as: Do not imitate; rather, assimilate and become an original. Any rule of art may be broken, but if you break a rule, be sure to break it beautifully.


Written composition is effected in one of two modes: 1) the prose mood; and 2) the poetic mode. Dr. OM, throughout this present series of articles, has been employing each of the two modes, as he sees appropriate to the subject matter at hand. Therefore, Dr. OM presents to his readers his poem: PSALM FOR SOME, to better express that, as is true of all performing artists, the artist of magic is a risk taker who must be careful not to reveal the secrets of his art to the general public, either by performing ineptly, or by being unscrupulously profit motivated enough to engage in roguish public exposes, thereby betraying the ancient trust of the magic fraternity.


The first law is survival and we do what we must to survive. We are not hypocrites, but we walk the jungle paths cautiously, avoiding this, or that twig of betrayal. We move in shadows wearing borrowed fleece, disguised in the flock, hurting no one but ourselves, letting no blood but our own, and if discovered, butchered, on the hewn block of mutual agreement. Ours is a life of moments stolen from the great hour glass of convention; ours is the day of stars eclipsing pretense with the bright light of emotion. In the valley of the shadow of death, we call upon no one, and yet, when prayers are answered, ours will be the first.

NOTE: The celebratory August 1998 issue will initiate the magicschool program of study on four successive levels: 1) Rudimentary magic; 2) Intermediate magic; 3) Advanced magic; and 4) Master Class.

The following is composed of material that is always handy to have around. These creative, comedic lines can be used to “spice-up” an act giving an added comedy touch that can be so crucial to good entertainment…BJG

I.C.O.M-edy Lines
Ronald J. Dayton

1. Show a card which is bent in ripple fashion and say; ” Psychic’s Key Card!”

2. A theology student once told me no one could play cards on the Arc. Noah was standing on the deck.

4. Never play cards for big stakes if you are a vegetarian!

5. Strange, isn’t it?  Gambler’s earn a living holding hands.

6. Egg Bag Line:  ” Oh, don’t worry. It didn’t vanish. It just got mis-laid. “

7. Opening Line:  ” Good evening ladies and third time offenders…”

8. The acoustics must be bad in here, I couldn’t hear the applause!”

9. I went to see another magician’s show the other night, just to see what MY act looked like.

August 1998

Magical Commandments
Mike Fordice PhD

The following list of “commandments” has been prepared based on actual experiences over the years. Take them for what they are worth–friendly advise!…Mike F.

I. Thou shalt not, in the middle of a performance, request “that trick you did 19 club meetings ago.”

II. Thou shalt not blast intense flashes of light into spectators’ eyes. (ie, FISM Flash is NOT a close-up tool)

III. Thou shalt not, in the middle of a performance, announce “I was going to buy that, but I didn’t think it was that good.”

IV. Thou shalt not, in the middle of a performance, request the source of the routine and/or trick being performed.

V. Thou shalt not take all the punch lines from the performer. (This particularly applies to those who are not performing, but cannot stand the fact that they are not!)

VI. Thou shalt not announce that: “I would never buy that effect because I make all that sort of thing myself.”

VII. Thou shalt not interrupt the performance complaining that the salad dressing is not your favorite kind.

VIII. Thou shalt not ask why the performer has more that one deck of cards in his close-up case.

IX. Thou shalt, prior to performance or quietly on the side, request the performance of a particular routine which you know the performer routinely performs.

X. Thou, as a magician, shalt lead the applause and appreciation of the performer.

Co-Director Notes: When I first read these commandments years ago that Mike wrote, they didn’t mean much to me as a fledgling semi-pro. Now after years as a full-time professional magician, I re-read them and can honestly say, that I was rolling on the floor laughing. Some times the truth is funnier than fiction…BJG

September 1998

Co-Directors Notes: The reason we offer so much material every month is partly due to the fact that not everything will be for everyone. The following is such a piece. I am attempting to relate this to the reader before the mountain of e-mail starts to come in asking what much of this information pertains to. The bottom line is that the following contains facinating and educational trivia and information for those already familiar with many of the classic personalitites in magic history. It is priceless in that regard. If you do not understand some of it, that’s ok, someday you will re-read this and realize it is one of the best articles you have ever read! However, the part on coins should be read by everyone …BJG

Ron Dayton

An interesting book title,  mirroring the name of a classic illusion  to be created by Robert Harbin decades later, was mentioned  by Walter Gibson in a Jinxiana article, in The Conjuror’s Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 1, March 1949.  A gentleman named Fulton Oursler had contacted Ted Anneman in hopes of learning the author of a book called, ” Zigzag the Magician.”  A huge part of the plot of this book had to do with the way Zigzag stopped a panick in a theater by steering the audience safely outdoors when a fire threatened.  Years later, a Reader’s Digest account attributed just such cool thinking in the face of danger, and attributed it to Harry Blackstone…who also saved a theater full of people in the exact same manner.  The unknown author and creator of Zigzag, may well have had a premonition, a sense of prophecy…or, was it simply fate??

Mr. Gibson reported in yet another article of Jinxiana the Ted Anneman had done extensive experimentation with the spinning of coins to see if any in particular would come up one side more often than the other.  He noted that the head side of a Buffalo nickle varied from the depth of the stamped tail side…and wondered if this difference would affect the end result of a spin.  As it turned out, one side did not favor the other.. but we should applaud  his sense of wonder. As it turned out, Mr. Gibson discovered that a Canadian King GeorgeV nickel did indeed favor one side over another.  In this instance, the head side came up the vast majority of the time.  It had been a year or more since Anneman began the search, and Gibson carried the thought on.

The point I am making to I.C.O.M members is this.  The principle may well apply today as it did then.  If students here in the US, as well as those abroad take the time to look…perhaps you too may discover a coin which may be used to force heads or tails as well.  Personally, I think it would be worth the look.

By July of 1949, Walter Gibson reported that the ‘way’  Ted Anneman’s publication, ” The Jinx ” got its name, had almost been forgotten.  Now, fifty years later,  I doubt all but the most dyed in wool  historian would know.  I thought perhaps the members of I.C.O.M might enjoy this bit of trivia.

Prior to the appearance of Genii magazine in the early 1930’s, the only publication available was ” The Sphinx.”  Magicians of the day began to playfully fool around, kidding about the lack of  choices.  They gave the publication nicknames…ones which rhymed with Sphinx…and ones which were not always kind.  One of the names that caught on in the New York area was Jinx.

Every friday, when the Sphinx would come out, magicians would enter Holden’s magic shop and ask if the Jinx was in yet.  Anneman, quick to see the value in this, produced his magazine, and called it the ” Jinx “.  He timed its release and appearence with that of the Sphinx.  When the boys came in to Holden’s shop and asked their usual question…he said a resounding, ” Yes!”  And the very first issue of ” The Jinx ” was a total sell-out because of it.

In yet another suppliment of Jinxiana, Gibson reported on exactly how Burling Hull came to devise the ‘ long and short ‘ principle found in the Svengali pack, and others. It began as an effort on the part of Hull to disguise a one-card forcing deck.  What he did was to take one half of the forcing deck and  shuffle in an equal number of cards from an ordinary deck…dove-tail fashion.  The cards were not pushed flush.

After seeing for himself the success of this arrangement which showed one card when riffled at one end, and mixed cards when riffled at the opposite end, the next logical advancement for Hull was to shorten the force cards…and so, that is what Burling Hull did.  The rest is magical history.

A very humorous story comes from a billboard ad which ran in the 1930’s for Blackston Cigars.  The ad read;  Blackstone…Extremely Mild.  Upon seeing the ads,  Harry Blackstone Sr. slapped covering stickers over the ‘extremely mild’ part, which advertised which theater he would be playing at that week.

At first, the cigar company was angered…but then, they saw both the humor and the potential for themselves in what Blackstone the magician had done. This resulted in the running gag of the time for the Blackstone show being, Blackstone….Extremely Mild.

One day shortly there after, John Calvert visited Blackstone in his Los Angeles dressing room.  Someone present opened a magazine, and pointed to the Cigar company quotation, where upon another visitor turned to a different page which carried an ad for a popular adult beverage which read…” Calvert is Milder! “

Martin Gardner was a man who followed the trail of  the elusive gambler, S. W. Erdnase, just as a detective follows the clues to solve a crime.  The reward Gardner and others have hoped to achieve was the confirmation of this mans true identity. The life of Erdnase is filled with mystery and intrigue…as well as the possibility of a crime as violent as murder.

Many first class accounts of this search for the man called Erdnase have appeard in print since, but, one of the very first was within the pages of  ” The Conjuror’s Magazine “, August 1949.

Mr. Gardner located and interviewed the man who illustrated the book  Erdnase was said to have authored…” The Expert At The Card Table,”  which was released as a privately published work in 1902 by Chicago printers J. McKinney and Co.

The artist was Chicago illustrator Marshall D. Smith.  He confirmed to Mr. Gardner that the man he met in Chicago to discuss the lay-out of the work had come to Chicago from New York.  He did not recall the man’s first name, but  stated as fact that his last name was Andrews.  Gardner was quick to reveal that Andrews spelled backwards gives the name, S. W. Erdnase(maj).  It is my own personal flight of fantasy to think that maj might be short for maji!?

The New York directory for 1909 lists a James J. Andrews, occupation; clairvoyant as living on Sixth Avenue.  Further, an article which appeared in the 1909 issue of Harper’s Weekly  was written by one S. W.Erdnase.  In the article, he describes himself as being a thin, blonde, blue-eyed, nervous American. This matches the description Mr. Smith gave of the man he met,  Mr. Andrews.

Oddly enough,  Mr. Gardner also reports that within the Harper’s article,  this man who supposedly authored the article also refers to himself as being Abdul Aziz Khan!!

And so dear reader…the mystery continues to this very day.  It is still debated, and, the search for Erdnase goes on.

Coming in October

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.


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.

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


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

This page is devoted to general studies and information that may not fit neatly into other study areas or is knowledge fit for both beginner and advanced students. It also acts as the I.C.O.M main theory page. Theory is where the true magic lies, study it well. It is the inner workings of the magical art far beyond the secrets of any tricks, effects or routines.

April 1998

I.C.O.M Online is proud to introduce the following new series of articles by Ron Dayton. The following installment is worth your undivided attention. It is a true lesson in magic.

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



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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. OM’s Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part VII April 1998


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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

May 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

into halls of glasses, each one reflecting Circe1s face;

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ronald J. Dayton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby J. Gallo


Notice: This material “IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN” and is intended for the personal and performance use of International Conservatory Of Magic members only.

This entire page is under copywrite 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing, manufacturing, & publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 1/98-3/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 1/98-3/98

January 1998

I.C.O.M Online is proud to introduce the following new series of articles by Ron Dayton. The following installment is worth your undivided attention. It is a true lesson in magic.
“Creativity” Part #6
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.


One of the methods I use when developing an effect is to familiarize myself as completely with the object or objects I intend to use in the effect as possible. A cardworker for instance will want to know the following about the brand of card he intends to use. Is the back design conducive to secret marking? Will the pattern allow for secret openings, slits to be concealed by the design itself? Is the card case designed in a useful way? Does the card split easily? Is its degree of flexibility of value? What is the relationship of the card in regard to the size of other cards? Can the border, front or back be used to conceal a secret ingress or flap? Is it a plastic coated or linen card? Does it hold up after repeated creasing or folding? Can the ink be easily erased, removed or otherwise altered? Will the card scale well? Is this a brand the audience is familiar with or will be comfortable with? Is its shape (round, crooked deck, tarot, miniature, bridge, poker or jumbo) useful for a specific effect? Is it a specialized card? Can the fact that it is a Giant Face Deck of value to me?

Perhaps I have taken too much time to make my point, but the implications are clear, and the answers often make your task of inventing an easier one. The questions alone may inspire a thought, or the investigation of the card itself may open new doors.

What is true for cards may, in many ways, be applied to other items. If, for instance, we are considering ropes.. what questions might you ask? How strong is it? Does it cut easily? Do the ends fray? Is it available in colors? Does it cause rope burns? Is it soft and flexible? How much length does it take to form a single overhand knot? Is it easily untied? Does it have an inner core, and if so, can it be removed easily? Can objects pass through the weave? What is the design of the weave itself? What is the rope made of (cotton, nylon, hemp, other)? Can the ends be mended and joined such as with nylon rope? With the core removed, can objects be inserted into the hollow rope? Does the rope soil easily? Can the rope be seen at a distance? Is the rope heavy, light, bulky or compressible? All of these things and more are factors a person should be aware of when considering possibilities with rope. The same may be said for a whole host of objects and materials.

One of my very best coin effects was based on the fact that I observed that the diameter of a U.S. Nickel, when machined properly, was the same as a size eight ladies finger ring. Who’d have thought? All of this too becomes part of the growing knowledge in your firm background in magic.

January 1998

Commando Magic Part #6
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations


It could be said that having a large touring stage show is every young entertainers fantasy. Many performers have attained this goal. But who are these people? Certainly we can see these men and women just by clicking on the television. Going to Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Many of the top paid Casino performers have financial backing and sources of revenues that allow them to stage these productions. It is true that some have started from nothing and have built their careers to get where they are today. Being a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, I truly believe that it is possible. But it must also be recognized that many of these stars have had backing right from the very start of careers, thus accelerating the process dramatically. So if it is in your heart, do it, but also try to look at things realistically as far as what your more practical approach towards breaking into show business may be.


While I have know Illusionists that were able to perform up to four isolated gigs in a given day, It also usually killed them physically and they were limited to engagements that they could drive to quickly. It is just a natural disadvantage of large grand illusions that they are not easily transported therefore ones availability, adaptability and accessibility as a touring performer may possibly suffer.

Hazards &
Other Factors

It is no secret to many fellow performers that I have known, know that I have always been just a bit envious of stand-up comedians and singers. Envious in the sense that these individuals can enter the stage and entertain an audience using nothing but a microphone. Of course it takes skill and years of rehearsal to attain any amount of competence, but the underlying fact of that matter is that they “DO IT”!. and that’s what matters.

With this in mind, let’s ask the next logical question. Why is it that magicians have never been able to apply this to their own craft? Why is it that in magic, The magician “MUST” share the stage with clutter and props that hardly ever impress the people watching them performed?(don’t you just love all of these rhetorical questions?). Can the magician be as , or dare I say it, more entertaining using little or no props? What’s the answer? And the envelope please……rrriiiiiip…..And the answer is, Yes!

At this point let’s get down to the bare bones of Commando Magic. A magical performer does not need anything but himself to put over a stellar performance. It is not necessary to scour the magic catalogs constantly buying prop after prop in order to develop a solid commercial act. Each and every performer must reach from within himself to provide his or her audience with unparalleled entertainment. If an entertainer absolutely must have big objects on stage, use people from the audience! Do effects that require assistants from the crowd, after all you must always bear in mind that people are props! By having audience members come to the stage to assist in a routine you make your performance grow in large proportions. Think about it, a magician can levitate a girl and it seems large, But I can do a mental routine, put five chairs on the stage, fill them with people, (who, by the way are working for free) and all of a sudden I am doing magic that is five times larger that the magician who is floating his high paid assistant! After the show, I have nothing to transport except my small case carrying the essentials. And as I have always said to my personal colleagues, if I need to use an animal, there are plenty of them in my audience! ( That’s a joke!) But even with all of these reasons aside, there is yet more points to be made in favor of the modern day performer who practices the art of Command Magic, (we’ll call them Commando’s) Many of these reasons were born in my mind during actual performances not unlike those stated earlier. But also, ideas were created out of sheer necessity, after all necessity is the mother of invention to coin a classic phrase.

There came a point when I was searching for that ultimate act. a situation I am sure 99% of my current readers find themselves at the moment they are reading these words. But I’m not saying that like it’s a negative. For in truth, perfecting a craft such as magic or for that matter, any variety art, can take a lifetime to achieve. I was searching for an act that would be both humorous, considering that I am a Comedy Magician, and also had to be commercial, so that it would be palatable to a paying public. Lastly, it had to give me, the performer, the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I could depend upon it no matter what situation I was thrust into. For there are other considerations one must take into account when one is a full-time professional entertainer. Such as the business end of performing and how a Commando act can benefit you in this area as well. One must also think of the performers energy level when they are working. When I was carrying a large amount of paraphernalia to each show I was so exhausted by the time I hit the stage that I could not perform to my full potential. There were times that I had to transport my show in 100 degree summertime heat. When I started the performance I was sweating. At the other extreme there were times that I had to move everything in sub-zero weather, hoping and praying that I would not trip and fall on the ice breaking an ankle on the way to the engagement. But probably the biggest problem came when I was booked to do a very prestigious show half way across the country and all of my props absolutely had to be there on time! It should also be noted that I had no way to ship the props where I was going ahead of time and everything had to be carried from the airport into a car that was picking me up, to the hotel, back into the car, to the venue, back into the car, back to the hotel, and the following morning to the airport. But it does not stop there, at that airport I had to board a small two prop commuter plane to a different part of the state where my whole show had to be unloaded, put into a rental car, where I drove to a major corporate office to negotiate an upcoming performance, back into the rental car, to the airport, unload the show and fly home. Now tell me, could I have done all of that transporting a ton of props? I believe you can answer that question for yourself.

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

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

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

Co-Director’s Note: Those of you who have read the above have already realized that this is a serious educational piece. You would find no more quality were you to take a university course in theatre, for that is what Dr.OM is!, a genuine college professor. Therefore, some terminology may be a bit advanced even for the professional I.C.O.M’er. So Dr.OM has graciously provided a short glossary of terms he frequently uses which can be found in the I.C.O.M Library page next to our standard magician’s glossary.

Dr. OM’s treatise on Showmanship and stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part V January 1998


Just the other day, Dr. OM had two experiences in his garden which seem worth reporting. Early In the morning, he was standing approximately four feet distant from a bird feeder hanging at about shoulder height. A tiny chick-a-dee alighted on the feeder perch, In spite of Dr. OM’s proximity. The bird fed, and, then, flew away.

Dr. OM approached the feeder, placing himself one foot closer. The bird repeated its performance, alighting again on the perch to feed. Having fed, the bird again flew away. Dr. OM, in turn repeatedly approached the feeder, until he was finally standing only one foot away. Again the bird returned. The lesson’ in magic, here, is: DO IT BY DEGREES, WAIT, AND KEEP THE HIDDEN MOTIONLESS. MOTIONLESSNESS IS A LESSER FORM OF INVISIBILITY.

When stealing from a pocket or table, have an apparent reason, motivated by the dramatic action, to place the hand in the pocket or reach the hand toward the table, perhaps to deposit a previously held object into the pocket or upon the table Then, move away from the source of the steal, motionlessly holding or hiding the stolen object and waiting for time to pass before producing the stolen object. Time and distance lend enchantment. Allow time for an interval of dramatic misdirection, making the production appear to be magical.

Later in the day, Dr. OM, standing on his front lawn, noticed the lowest branch of a broad leafed maple tree slowly rise, as if of its own volition. The motion was perfect, because a gentle current of air was raising the branch, slowly, evenly and by degrees, in a smooth continuous motion. Suddenly, the Illusion was shattered when the breeze heightened in intensity and the movement of the branch jerkingly accelerated; obviously moved by the wind, The lesson in magic, here, is: OBJECTS WHICH MOVIE SLOWLY AND EVENLY PRODUCE THE ILLUSION OF SELF POWERED MOTION; OBJECTS WHICH MOVE QUICKLY AND JERKILY APPEAR TO BE OTHER-POWERED). The tempo should not be so rapid as to create confusion, but, rather, should be at a pace the audience eye and mind can follow with comprehension. The motions should be smooth and even. Illusions are ever about and abounding in nature. If noticed and raised to a level of consciousness, much can be learned about illusion, from nature.

Consider the camouflage in nature: the plant which at first glance resembles an animal, even a human being; the animal or insect which imitates the plants in its habitat, thereby achieving invisibility, or at least, unnoticeability. Illusions of nature are archetypes of stage illusion, and their methods are to be applied in the techniques of stage magic. Man, too, like the animals and insects, Imitates. Stage illusion is an imitation of natural illusion: the inanimate become animate; the animate become inanimate; falling up, or flying, in defiance of normal expection (because of repeated experience which impresses that heavier than air objects fall down, thereby constituting the scientific law of gravity) suddenly, a camouflaged animal or insect which has been invisible to the eye appears from nowhere when noticed; a deer, taking just the right step, out of light, into shadow, seems to vanish, altogether; a groundhog becomes a tree stump; a tree stump becomes a groundhog; a squirrel becomes a broken branch base; a broken branch base becomes a squirrel. Metamorphosis, transposition, transportation, augmentation, diminishment are everywhere. Is it any wonder, then, that the ancients discovered magic through nature. Like the vacuum cleaner salesman of legend, Dr. OM manages to get his restaurant magic foot in the door through musical performance; gradually introducing the magic by degrees, until it is accepted and expected. One morning, recently, while driving to a Sunday brunch engagement, at the Copperfield American Grill and Terrace, in the Woodcliff lake Hilton, Dr. OM, driving through the town of Park Ridge, New Jersey, which has installed Christmas card, gaslight street lamps, on its main street, noticed at a distance the form of what he took to be a life sized cast iron jockey hitching post grasping a street lamp pole. Upon drawing closer he realized the form was that of an out of breath jogger dressed in tight fitting white clothes and sporting a white baseball hat. The jogger was leaning motionlessly with outstretched arm against the lamp post for support, still looking forever like a holiday hitching post in season Dr. OM, on his way to work, was quite entertained by a natural illusion. New science is old magic; old magic is new science. That which was taken for magic in one age becomes the science of a later age, and that which was taken for science in an earlier age becomes the magic of a later age; just as astrology becomes astronomy and alchemy becomes chemistry so, too, does once held scientific theory, at times, become future fallacy, ergo superstition, ergo magic. New science becomes new magic, too. When electromagnetism was first discovered, Houdin, the father of modern magic, employed the force, in magical effects which astounded audiences. Magnets are still astounding audiences.

Dormant plants appearing to be dead in winter spring to life in Spring and in Spring, the pollen and the seeds, transported and transposed by the wind, germinate, becoming new plants and flowers which appear where they were not before. A sapling cut to the ground will reemerge from invisible roots.

Just as all of nature imitates nature, the magician imitates the apparent miracles of nature: he causes the invisible to become visible, he causes the visible to become invisible, he restores the broken and the torn, He brings the inanimate (dancing hank) or the dead (cremation illusion) to life, he transposes or transports, he levitates or flys, he causes much to be made of little (Multam ex Parvum), and just as a small seed can become a towering tree over long time, the magician causes a tree to grow or a bush to blossom before the very eyes of the audience. Dr. OM, seeing a long crooked stick lying on the ground, took it to be a snake. The magician throws his staff to the ground and turns it into a snake.



Modern man possesses several ways of perceiving reality. The first way is through the unassisted senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch in every day life, the unassisted senses are employed to perceive the phenomenological world, that is, the world of physical things. Man accepts natural perception as fact if not truth, in order to move about and function in the physical world, yet, even the layman is aware that other dimensions of reality exist.

The second way is through extensions of the senses such as the telescope through which the macrocosm is examined and the microscope through Which the microcosm is examined. Such instruments exist in varying degrees of power, from, for example, the simple microscope to the electron microscope and the simple telescope through radio wave “telescopy”. Each degree of examination discovers new realities. The table upon which Dr. OM leans appears solid enough through the unassisted senses, because of. Dr. OM’S physical size, in relationship to the table, and so Dr. OM may lean upon the table. Examined through electron microscope, however, the table top would be seen to be vast in space, in which countless atoms are spinning about like so many solar systems do in the macrocosm. If Dr.OM were small enough, he would fall right into the vastness of space of the table top. If the connectivity between the MICROCOSM (the apparently very small) and the MACROCOSM (the apparently very large) Is a continuum, It well might go on Infinitely (without end) and the macrocosm might be a microcosm to some larger level of existence.

The third way is perception by report, in which the layman engages when accepting on faith the explanations reported by experts in the fields of stud–~the disciplines. Experts in one discipline are laymen in other disciplines and mutually depend on report. So much so that communication among the disciplines is becoming more and more difficult, as a consequence of knowledge explosions within fields. The end of universal scholarship is said to have ended with Erasmus. No longer can an Aristotle be the expert in all fields of human inquiry. The average man is dependent upon expert opinion In everything beyond common sense.

Albert Einstein, in a letter to a friend described his own methodology as non-empirical. “lie empirical scientist must deal with the perceivable, that which can be measured. As each item of data is obtained and held in evidence, after testing and/or measurement, a case is constructed establishing a theorem (theory), which is held valid until refuted by contradictory evidence. On the frontiers of science where no measurements are obtainable in the face of the unreachable macrocosm about which he theorized. Einstein had to arrive at his theorems by way of an intuitive leap. A theorem would then be held valid until contradictory evidence were obtainable. The theory is valid as long as it works. As is well known, Enrico Fermi proved, all too well, that Einstein’s theory works.

There is held to be a fourth way to perceive or non perceive reality which is metaphysical, that is above and beyond the physical. Many such fourth ways have been described by those who claim success in their pursuit. Remarkably, great similarity exists among the descriptions of the many ways. The perceived, beyond the physical world, by pursuit of any one of the fourth ways, is held to be spiritual.

Of late, Quantum physicists, themselves, have been mystified, because, in probing the super microcosm, they have arrived at a nothingness where neither matter nor energy are perceivable to exist; they have reached another dimension , perhaps the dimension of spirit. Physics is now discussing multidimensionality in a manner which greatly resembles metaphysics. Geneticists have found a way, through cloning to simulate the creation of life, not to create life from nothing, or even from pure energy, but, rather, from existing matter: the DNA molecule. Art and science can redefine nature, that is, rearrange the order of matter and energy, as found in nature, but neither Art nor Science can create matter or energy from nothingness, nor destroy matter or energy into nothingness. The magician can seem to do that by seeming to create a whole object, even a person, from nothing, out of nowhere, into here, to the astonishment of his audience.


The layman, accepting reported science beyond his comprehension is accepting science as magic and is prepared, as general audience, for experiencing illusion. The day of the magician is forever at hand. The audience has been readied for magic. The audience has seen free flight and levitations of humans in the films of interiors of space craft. The audience has learned that earthly perception and experience can be contradicted. The audience is as ready as ever for magical theatre and stage illusion. The audience needs and wants the freedom of illusion, in an otherwise pedestrian and hum-drum world. The freedom of illusion is the freedom of the beauty of the flight of the imagination

The action of magical theatre must, therefore, be executed in the realm of illusion, of the surreal presented as real. Everything witnessed by the audience must be visited, as it were, in a dream, in which the impossible seems really to be happening; not distorting reality, as the audience knows it, but presenting an alternative reality, in which, as in a dream, anything is possible. Illusion provides, not escape-the soap operas do that-but transformation, of commonplaceness of everyday life. The transformation, or transportation, is provided no less in comedic magical theatre than in dramatic magical theatre. Comedy evokes awe by fiat (means of) joy, Drama evokes joy by fiat of awe. The result in classical theatre termed CATHARSIS (a cleansing of the psyche). Without pretending (or actually pretending in character) the modern artist of magical theatre, like the poet, provides his audience with a glimpse of the miraculous.

The magical theatre audience is exquisitely prepared by the natural world to accept Illusion; and what is illusion but the contradiction of that which is commonly agreed upon by convention to be reality: solids cannot penetrate solids; one object cannot be transformed into another, as with the alchemist’s transformation of base metals into gold. Noticeably, these feats are the stock-in-trade of the stage magician. Preparation of the audience’s willingness to accept illusion rests on the fact that to the majority of non-scientist laypersons, science is as mysterious as magic. For Instance, in the classroom, gravity is explained as the consequence of two opposed forces. CENTRIFUGAL FORCE, which pulls objects toward the earth and CENTRIPITAL FORCE which hurls objects away from the earth. Centrifugal force is demonstrated by swinging a bucket of water in a circular motion vertically from the floor, The force which holds the water in the bucket is seen to be centrifugal force. Centripital force is demonstrated by whirling a paddle ball at the end of a string, or rubber line, about the head and roughly parallel to the floor. The force which holds the ball at the end of the string is seen as centripital force. Given this lucid explanation, gravity would seem to be a bucket of water and a ball at the end of a string whirled about the head; and ,yet, laymen willingly accept explanations of laws of nature of which they have no real understanding, and will as readily accept contradictions of those laws , if they witness the contradictions with their own eyes. There seems to be little difference between the classroom explanation of gravity and the myth of Atlas supporting the earth on his shoulder.

The predisposition to share illusion rests not in the willingness to suspend disbelief, but in the continuing belief in myth, magic, and superstition and in collective hysteric experience throughout the age of science. Science is not the enemy of the stage magician, but the child of magic and the maidservant of the magician. Lately, the so called New Age return to chasing angels in the snow is evidential of widespread belief in the supernatural. Consider the popularity of TV’s ,”Touched by an Angel.”

Old myths in new clothing emerge with celebrity worship elevating the celebrity to the status of bigger-than-life heros and heroin. No evidence of collective mass hysteria can be found in phenomenon such as tile bobby-soxers swooning for Frankie to the rock concert head trip. How can these and so many other social phenomena easily come to mind be explained, except as a collective need for illusion, transcendency, and miracle.

With realization of the readiness and the willingness of the audience, not to suspend disbelief, but to believe, the magician should be fortified to step on stage with the courage of his magical convictions; to believe and be believed; to mystify; to elevate; to fulfill mythic expectations; to fuse his audience in an experience had in common; to celebrate the unusual; to create an alternative reality; and to thoroughly entertain his audience in a kind of communion; when they gasp together; when they laugh together; when they believe it might be so together; when they cry together. Magical theatre is a high form of performing art, indeed.


Magicians who are intimidated by major network magical theatre productions–take heart. THERE IS NO THEATRE LIKE LIVE THEATRE. The colossal King Kong as seen on the giant cinema screen, is seen as a hand puppet through a twenty-seven inch television screen. Imagine how horrendous he would appear to an audience on the live stage. Larger than life heros of the silver screen are reduced to lilliputian size, but a magician performing a parlor show for a child’s birthday party is fully life sized.

The appearances of magicians such as Dante, in early talkie films are rare and incidental to the main action of the film. Even more rare are films in which tile protagonist is a magician. Other than in actual live appearances in hotels, casinos, clubs, and legitimate theatres, audiences witness magical performance almost exclusively on television alone. The productions tend to be magical variety shows, rather than magical theatre pieces. In spite of the high budget productions of magical television events, the huge and, on stage, impressive settings and illusions appear to be no larger than the average square circle. In flight, on television, the magician is not hovering over the heads of the home audience. the vanish of an elephant, exposed or unexposed, appears to be little more than a pocket trick Counterdistinctly, a magician with his setting and properties on stage “plays big,” even to the most distant member of the audience, at the back of the house.

Television productions, reruns aside, tend to be one-shot shows, whereas the same live show performed before changing audiences can have long life spans. Other magicians can record television productions on VCR’s for study and imitation, but a live show is not easily recorded on a camcorder without the performing magician’s permission; a factor which maintains the integrity of originality. Building a live show takes years of study, planning, practice, rehearsal, and learning experience performances. Copyists can lift a magical effect, here and there, a routine, here and there, and lines of patter, here and there, but they cannot replicate the presence and personality of an artist of magical theatre. The many failed attempts at copying the master, Cardini, bear testimony. Of course, fame and fortune derive from television appearances, these days, but the great contemporary stage magicians have not abandoned live performance entirely, for occasional television specials. The growth and satisfaction that come from frequent live performance, as any actor knows, are the real treasures of the artist. of magical theatre, which are within the grasp of every serious artist-magician.


The audience may, in its group reaction, be regarded as a single organism, but the magician should single out individuals in the audience, making eye contact and speaking through the medium of that single person to the whole organism of the audience; he had better, as well, project his voice such that the proverbial deaf little old lady, at the back of the house can hear him, and he had better have something for everyone, from the least to the most sophisticated; from the grandchild to the grandparent The magician should not be too hasty in distinguishing between magic for children and magic for adults. “The child is father to the man.” The child persists, within, throughout adulthood. Much that is wonderful to adults is equally wonderful to children and magic which appeals to children becomes beloved to adults when the children become the show. A magician must either seduce or endear his audience; endearment is better than seduction, and longer lasting. Thurston, before a performance, would peek through the curtain, at the audience, saying over and over again to himself’ “I love my audience…I love my audience…I love my audience.” If a magician truly loves his audience, his audience cannot help but love him. There are no bad audiences; only poor conditions. A magician who truly cares about his magic and his audience will not perform anywhere, at anytime, for anyone. Inquire about the conditions of the venue, or, better, visit the venue, before accepting an engagement, unless the money is all that matters.

Clients sometimes want a stage show in a transient circumstance, in which the audience, passing through, picks up only bits and pieces of a performance designed to be a whole composition; better to suggest walk-a-round magic, instead, whereby the audience can be intentionally approached with bits and pieces, for the Performance of brief, but whole, illusionary experiences. Restaurant magic had better be stand-up; people do not like others messing in their food. The luxury of magically presiding at someone else’s table is rare. Parties of people who are very much into themselves, builds a resistive wall between the group and a performer. Better not to try at all than to end up with egg on your face through no fault of your own.

The old nightclub crowd was an outstanding audience, because it consisted of two, or a few, sitting at separate tables. Restaurants which confine parties to separate rooms may provide the modern equivalent, given that the sight lines are appropriate. Dr.OM has been able to perform his tableside show as a floor show, under such conditions. Aware, in advance, of the appropriateness of a floor show, he literally introduces his floor show, which is correspondently a portion of the first act of his stage show. If a stage show is constructed componentially, it may be broken down into smaller shows for non-stage venues, just as a band or orchestra may be broken down into smaller ensembles, for smaller venues.

On the other hand, a magician performing specifically for a party which expects a special performance in an Isolated chamber, will find both welcome and group attention. Magic is a visual art. The audience must be willing to look at you, and audiences love the intimacy of a performer being right there in the room with them.


1) The larger illusion of the world of the act is comprised of setting, character, action, and the smaller illusions of the individual magical stage effects and routines.

2) That which is rationally explainable is the province of science; that which perforce must remain forever inexplicable to the human mind is magic. The stage magician serves to remind the audience of the eternal existence of that greater magic.

3) Plot is the path the character performs his actions upon.

4) To acquire knowledge, the magician must be a man of contemplation; to acquire skill, the magician must be a man of action.


Self Motivated

1) love of the Art
2) satisfaction from doing something well
3) Thrill of performance
4) Joy of sharing illusions with audiences
5) Aesthetic realization


1) pleasure and wonder given to audiences
2) Setting an example for the young, of doing something well
3 Exposure and perpetuation of the Art of Magic
4) Joy of sharing illusions with audiences
5) Sharing aesthetic pleasure


*Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Online Library In Dr. Om’s Annex for Dr.Om’s “Devils Dictionary”, a list of theatrical terms worth learning…
Be sure to check out the I.C.O.M Library for additions to the Devil’s Dictionary as well as the “TWELVE COMMANDMENTS FOR A SOUNDER VERBAL LIFE” Both by Dr. OM!

February 1998

“Creativity” Part #7
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.


Other than our own ability to maintain a curious nature, to be as observant and aware of all manner of things going on in the world around us, there is yet another aid to creativity we may make use of. I will call this source, Challenge Creativity. I have used it often, and intend to use it even more in the future. It takes part of the pressure off you due to the fact that someone else is giving you the premise for the effect. They tell you, I want to see this, this and this. You then create a method for producing the desired effect. They have, in other words, issued a challenge to you.

I have accepted challenges, and issued a few myself over the years. Here is one I issued to a friend of mine. An empty glass tumbler is seen resting mouth tp on your close-up mat. A spectator drops a coin into the glass. The coin sinks to the bottom, then suddenly, is seen to rise slowly to the surface of the top. It then sinks slowly back into the glass. when the spectator is asked to tip the coin out of the glass, it is found to be impossible. The coin is discovered to be imbedded or sealed within the solid bottom of the tumbler.

I often got challenges from magic letter pals I corresponded with. It was an enjoyable exchange. The internet offers a whole new world of possibilities. You may also choose to approach various individuals you know at ring meetings, conventions or other social activities you may be attending. You may write or call an outside source for challenges. You may venture so far as to take out a small ad in a magic publication for that specific reason. The investment could be repaid many fold.They will be out to stump you. It will take your finest effort to meet the task. You may, of course, never discover a working method for many of the challenges issued, but that’s really unimportant in the overall scheme of things. What IS important is that the whole process stimulates your thinking.

I have yet to meet the magician who has ‘never’ had the desire to create an effect of his very own. It is conceivable that every individual ‘already has an idea for this effect, but they remain locked within their mind. People have themselves convinced that this idea will be scoffed at by their peers, or fear it will not work, or perhaps be purloined before it takes flight. The fact of the matter is that it will go ‘no where’ if it is not shared and developed. Someone may stumble upon the method for themselves, develop and promote it while you debate if you should take a chance or not. If THEY take the initiative and YOU don’t, the effect will be THEIRS, and your best intentions will be lost forever.

Being creative has a lot to do with finding a balance within yourself. Brainstorming for instance, seems to be finding a balance between the hemispheres of the brain itself. Each side, as you may or may not know, controls a certain set of mental functions. The left side controls language, logic, counting and classification. This is the side we condition in school. It is analytical, objective and orderly. It makes decisions, judgements. It is capable of editing and revising material.

The right side of our brain is the spontaneous side. It is intuitive and illogical. The right side is the ‘idea waker’. It will generate creative thought and allow things to be seen in a new light. Symbolism and association can run rampant here, but there is a catch. One side is usually the dominant side. This is also usually the most developed side… the left hemisphere. That is where the snag in creative thinking arises. The left side is in conflict with the right. In correct brainstorming procedure, the right hemisphere is allowed to work first.

It takes effort at first to get one side to relax while the other becomes stimulated. This is why you must shut out all negative thoughts, otherwise the analytical left hemisphere would have material to work with. Free your mind. Go with the flow, and the R.H. side will soon emerge. Like a toddler learning to walk, the use of the right hemisphere is developed in stages. Extend your time and your goals at each session. Push yourself. And just as a weight lifter gradually increases the weight on the bar, so goes the training of the more underdeveloped right hemisphere. By degrees you will be able to ‘turn off’ the left side of the brain while the right side works. After the creative process has been exhausted, the left side of the brain is allowed to engage and analyze the material.

February 1998

Commando Magic Part #7
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations

Are Large Props Really Larger than no Props at all?

At first glance, this question seems to make no sense at all. However, when you stop to think about it, what is a grand illusion? Most illusionists and magicians would agree that a grand illusion is a feat of magic that involves people. A magician twirls around a big box and whammo! A beautiful assistant pops out. Great Magic? It sure is, however it takes allot of work and expense as stated earlier. Most importantly, it cannot be done in “Most” current performing situations. Now picture this, The magician is going to do the classic bank night effect. But in this case instead of strolling around throughout his audience, having spectators pick the various envelopes supposedly containing the large cash prize, he invites all of them upon the stage. Our situation is now this, a stage filled with, let’s say, five people, each holding an envelope. This entire trick now takes on grand illusion status. It uses five people, where the appearing girl only uses two (magician and assistant). The stage is now filled with five people, all involved with the magic in some form or another. As each person rips open their respective envelopes, they react to the outcome thrust upon them of whether they are a bit richer than moments before. Comedy, drama and magic are interwoven all throughout the effect. Finally, the last person makes the choice, the audience holds it’s collective breath, and the final person makes the revelation of whether or not they foiled the magician. The audience has been thoroughly entertained, the spectators are mystified and the magician has worked for at least ten minutes. Dare I say it, has the bank night effect become larger that the massive production box which takes a U-haul to transport, costs thousands of dollars, and only lasts about one minute? That question is truly a matter of personal preference, but is one was to ask me, I would reply that I have been using a bank night type of effect with great success in my stage show for years now! That is just one example of how minimalist magic can be used effectively for large numbers of people. The golden rule is “People are props!” For every person that is on stage, you have equalled using a Zig-zag or the like as far as props are concerned. Are the Rockettes at Radio city Music hall in New York City considered to be a small production? Of course not, but what do they consist entirely of? The answer is people. The Rockettes are a large number of people on stage dancing, that’s it! People can make any parlor trick into a grand illusion. It just takes creativity.

At this point I am sure that there is a number of readers that would suggest that a bank night type of effect lacks the “flash” of the production box. And that it would not hold the attention of the younger members of the audience. True, the younger members of the audience may not be entertained by this “mental” type of effect. However, one can adapt this principle to any type of magical premise. How about doing the classic rabbit from hat effect using four children on stage? Instead of just producing the rabbit, the performer produces a number of strange items for each respective child to hold. This all leads to the smash climax of the animal production! (using the “spring” type animal) The overall picture is that of a number of children filling the stage each holding strange props while the magician towers over them in the center holding a live animal. Most spectators watching would call that a very big trick. I know, I have been doing this exact routine in my family show for years!

So it was those reasons stated above and many like them that have sold me on the ideas and theories of Commando Magic. The art of performing with a minimum of apparatus. Today each of my different acts fit into their own customized bags that are regulation to carry on any airline. These shows can play Radio City Music Hall if need be, or just as well in someone’s living room. This concept has given me peace of mind, it has made me more mobile than one can possibly imagine, and therefore, able to get up at a moments notice and play any venue offered to me (which makes me very valuable in the eyes of talent agents)! This theory has been proven in actual performances in front of audiences of one thousand or more! It works! And works well! However, it must be stated that at this point I am not the only entertainer practising this, others have in the past and are currently using this style. I believe however, that I am the first to go into this subject in such detail. These are the same techniques that date back to the Parisian artists that performed on the streets of Europe for hundreds of years, they have stood the test of time and prove the adage “What’s old is new again!” But if the reader insists on knowing exactly why this theory of “Less is More” works, it can be summed up in this chapters closing quotation take published here for the first time. Why? Because an entertaining presentation is far more powerful than any large prop will ever be. and a commanding personality is what stars are made of.

Dr. OM’S Treatise on Showmanship and Stagecraft for the Performing Magician Part VI February 1998

As Janus, the double faced god for whom the cold month of January is named, looks back to the past and forward to the future, Dr. OM sits in the warmth of his study musing that the previous portions of Dr. OM’s treatise essentially boil down to the assertion that: All theatre is illusionary presentation of reality, as an alternative reality; and magical theatre is illusionary presentation of illusion, as an alternative reality, i.e., as miracles actually happening before the very eyes of the audience. A MIRACLE is an occurrence which contradicts a law of nature, as experienced through common sense.


Everything which happens in life, dream, or imagination is potential story. The panoramic maze of history (hi-story) is woven into story by historians who are story tellers who fashion subjective order out of chaotic and often unrelated events. The human mind imposes logic upon nature, because the human mind is inherently logical, in function, but events of history and events in nature, occurring as they do, are not logical, except when viewed short term through the human senses, the human mind, and the human sensibility. The other animals or an hypothesized macrocosmic perception far above and beyond the human senses perceive phenomena quite differently. The Big Bang, at best is a theory. No human ever saw the Big Bang, which is a cause/effect deduction of the logical human mind. Unfortunately for humanity, inherent as logic is to the human mind, humans do not always behave logically. Fortunately for stage magicians, audiences are not sufficiently swift of mind to employ logical analysis of illusion; at least not on the spot. They may figure out, or think they figure out the dirty work later, but that is part of the fun.

In order to simplify a metatheoretical view of history, consider Biography and Autobiography which look back upon a single life lived. The selectivity of the biographer, in the case of biography, or of the self-biographer, in the case of autobiography, imposes a logical pattern upon that life, which is no more logical in actual experience than Dr. OM’s, or the reader’s own lives. We cannot really see the future; we are not given absolute predictability or control over our lives. Forces outside ourselves, in conjunction with our own wills are at work. More often than not, external forces defeat the personal will, except for the stage mentalist and clairvoyant, of course, but bending a spoon is not bending the course of human events. Both magic and science make attempts to predict and control events personal and cosmic. In the present, as events ensue, prediction and control are not possible, except by a lucky guess or wish. Only compositionally in retrospect, looking back from some point in the future, can the pattern of logic be imposed, and that is PLOT.

The biography is a look back upon a life already fully lived, at least on earth; then, because the life has been lived from birth through maturity to death, or a rebirth not observable from this side of the line, a biographical life on earth is complete and potentially tells a story. Edgar Allan Poe, in his POETICS, insisted that a story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The main story line constitutes plot; minor story lines are termed SUB PLOTS. Contrary to a novel, which, because of greater length, allows the fulsome development of many characters and plots, the short story tends to fulsomely develop a single character and a single plot. A magical stage act is akin to the short story and should fulsomely develop a single character(the magician’s) and a single plot.

A magical performer would do well to be a playwright, or else engage the services of a playwright, just as he does the services of set designers, artistic directors, choreographers, and all manner of technical experts. The logic of the magical playwright’s mind imposed upon the sequence of actions and magical effects constructs the main story line of the act, or, better, the magical theatre piece. Aristotle, in his POETICS, advised that the plot be begun IN MEDIAS RES (In the Middle of Things). Action begun IN MEDIAS ‘(ES propels the drama forward through fictional time, as dialogue recalls the fictional past, informing the audience about what events of action have led up to the fictional present (the middle of things), and are propelling the protagonist (the main character: the magician) toward the fictional future, in tragedy, toward his preordained destiny of which the audience, but not the protagonist, has been apprised. In classical Greek tragedy, the CHORUS informs the audience of the destiny; in modern theatre, FORESHADOW informs the audience of outcomes of which the protagonist is unaware. In Arthur Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BUDGE, the two of Greek chorus and foreshadow are embodied in the character of Alfieri, the lawyer, who literally functions as did the Greek chorus, in keeping the audience informed about that which Eddie Carbone, the protagonist, is unaware unto his very death. Dr. OM most highly recommends Miller’s play as a modern school for studying classical Greek drama, The PLOT builds toward a major climax constructed of minor climaxes (BUILDS, so-called in the theatre) along the way, which

result in the major climax. Think of the construction of an artichoke, as a model, or of a series of musical crescendos ( which means BUILDS in Italian) toward the major climax, e.g:

For the sake of clarity, the following bullet points have been added by the editor.

  • The top graph indicates MAJOR CLIMAX (Center words are CLIMAX. Outer words are Build-1, Build-2, Build-3, Build-4, Build-5, from left to right).
  • The Second from the top indicates SCENE (Center words are BUILDS. Outer words are Bit-1, Bit-2, Bit-3, Bit-4, from left to right).
  • The final graphs indicate, ONE ACT, TWO ACT, and THREE ACT Plays respectively. (Center words are SCENES. Outer words are Act-1, Act-2, Act-3, from left to right.

*The numbers of builds, climaxes, bits, scenes, and acts are variable from play to play.
In drama, nothing is left to surprise. The climax is FORESHADOWED( predicted or anticipated) by CLUES (another term for FORESHADOW) informing the audience of that which will eventually happen at the climax. The climax should not come as a shock to the audience. The CLUES (FORESHADOWS) are hints at the answer to the DRAMATIC QUESTION. The climax is the whole answer to the DRAMATIC QUESTION. The TENSION builds, as audience expectation of the climax mounts. The setting, characterization, action, plot, and foreshadow have anticipated the climax. The CLIMAX is the culmination of events effected by the series of minor climaxes differently throughout the forward motion of the action; each minor climax supersedes (TOPS) its proceeding minor climax in intensity, until the major climax is achieved with maximum power, as a consequence of the preceding minor climaxes (as should a sequence of magical effects, as well). The TENSION grows, until it explodes in the major climax.

The DENOUEMENT is the final revelation which follows the major climax and makes clear the outcome of the plot. The DENOUEMENT unravels the knot which the plot has tied and explains the very nature of the drama which has taken place.

In a murder mystery, the DRAMATIC QUESTION is WHODUNIT; the foreshadows are the clues discovered by the detective and shared with the audience; the minor builds and climaxes are suspicions raised about both non-culprits and the culprit; the MAJOR CLIMAX is the disclosure of the actual culprit; the DENOUEMENT is the detectives deductive account of the manner in which the crime was committed; the ANTI-CLIMAX is the manifestation of LIFE GOES ON, as the detective and the several other characters go their separate ways and the culprit is carted off to jail.

In MAGICAL THEATRE, each EFFECT builds in intensity and each ROUTINE builds in intensity, as part of a coherent STORY LINE (PLOT), until a MAJOR CLIMAX of both ILLUSION and PLOT are simultaneously achieved. The DRAMATIC QUESTION is both ILLUSION RELATED and PLOT RELATED. The DENOUEMENT is both the revelation of the outcome of the PLOT and the establishment of the actor as magician who has achieved the impossible throughout the MAGICAL THEATRE PIECE. The ANTICLIMAX is at the CURTAIN CALL, the ENCORE, and the MAGICIAN and AUDIENCE going their separate ways, after having shared illusionary experience in common. As these participants in the magical drama go their separate ways, LIFE GOES ON.

When a magician, entering the stage for the first time before a given audience, is able to immediately capture the audience and pull them into the alternative world of his drama, by virtue of the strength of his characterization which creates the illusion that his magician-character has emerged from a real past, exists in a real present, and is moving toward a real future, that magician has practiced the device of IN MEDIAS RES (beginning in the middle of things). Upon his entrance, Carl Ballantine used to quip: “I got here as soon as I could.” Silliness? Yes; Art? YES. Did he draw a laugh and immediately endear his audience; did he establish a past, present, and developing future for his magician-character? Most certainly.

When the suave persona of Channing Pollack first appeared on stage, he immediately captured his audience, as a sheer act of seduction. What lady in the audience did not draw a short breath; what gentleman was not both charmed by and identifying with his handsome figure? The forthcoming illusionary action was set by sheer characterization. Contrastingly, Ballantine employed the device of THE MAGICIAN IN TROUBLE, throughout his performance. His easel, reading: Ballantine the greatest, set the stage for his comical bungling mishaps; just as Pollack’s elegance of appearance set the stage for his delicate and deft manipulations and lovely dove productions. Both Pollack and Ballantine were not casting themselves against type, but rather, in accordance with the types they actually were: the former, dramatic; the latter, comedic; but both theatric. Pollack’s dramatic question was: “What lovely visual miracle will the magician next achieve? Ballantine’s dramatic question was: “Will he get it fight this time, or will he screw it up again?” Granted, here we are observing the shortest of magical stage short stories. The twelve minute or twenty minute magic act must perforce be a short, short story. Theirs were exquisitely composed.

Cardini’s act consisted of what was primarily a characterization: a tipsy gentleman of the evening who enters a hotel lobby and is paged by a Bell Hop portrayed by his wife, Swan. Cardini did not seem to make the magic happen; the magic seemed to happen to him, beyond his own will and much to his surprised alcoholic hallucinations’, but card, ball, and cigarette productions and vanishes, instead of pink elephants. Part the experience of drunken hallucination and part the experience of inexplicable actual magical occurrences, his card, ball, and cigarette manipulations were humorously magical and comically mystifying. Cardini’s characterization of the bewildered gentleman in top hat and tails who had imbibed a bit too much, immediately endeared him to his audiences, but it was the PLOT that held them and carried them along the path of his story line. Surely, there must sifil be a place for a gentleman of the evening who’s formal wear is still the insignia of the magician, in spite of the commentator’s observation, in the recently televised biography of David Copperfield, that David had somehow abolished the magician’s tuxedo by appearing on stage in modern designer dress. Perfectly suited to Copperfield’s persona? Of course. On the other hand Copperfield’s style, fitting his persona so well, does not preclude the lamentably lost Harry Blackstone, Jr’s contemporaneously appearing on stage in formal wear appropriate to his own persona and style.

Current full stage perfonnances of one and two hour duration tend to be a series of vignettes; a collage of short stories, at best, or nothing more than a lengthy variety show consisting exclusively of magicians, rather than mixed entertainment by singers, jugglers, dancers, acrobats, mimes, and magicians. Such shows have the virtue of providing convenient space for comnimercials.
Television spedals3~casino~d touring magic shows offer the same bill of fare, but provided by a solo magician. The world is waiting for one of the outstanding magicians of the day, perhaps David Copperfield or Lance Burton, to produce a cohesive magicai drama comparable to a two or three act legitimate theatre play; a serious engagement in magical drama, whether comedy or tragedy. Dr. OM hopes to be yet earthbound to witness such a magnificient performance successfully achieved and successfully received.

In parting with the February issue, Dr. Om leaves you with the thought and feelings of an invocational poem he wrote as prologue to his verse play: The Virtuoso’s Calliope, Copyright 1966.


But Nature made me heavy at the heels.
And could I,
I would have done fantastic feats
Before your eyes, to please,
But effort would be all sore thumbs,
And I would summon no one in a hexagon.

I would have sung your pleasure,
But though I hear the melody of love within me,
Desire outsteps the possible,
And I strain in vain to reach
The high note of a harmony.

And yet, if you would listen carefully,
If you could take the trouble,
You might hear the whisper of my wishes,
Be pleased by apparitions of the song,
Which sings in me and everyone,
Though silenced by a stage-fright of the soul.

Oscar Muscariello

The March 1998 issue will be devoted to Stage Lighting, Make-up, and Costume.

FICTIONAL TIME: The time: past, present, and future contained in the work of fiction. Not the time required to read or witness a work of fiction, but rather, the compressed time passage described or effected within the work. Many real years passage are compressed in a work of fiction as fictionai time.

JANUS: The only one of the major Greco-Roman gods (The Pantheon) originated by the Rornans. Janus is the gatekeeper of the year and of all time.

MACROCOSMIC: The cosniically very large, in relationship to the size of man.

METATHEORFTICAL: Theory of theories. Literally: ABOVE (meta) theory.

PLOT: The culmination (RESULT) of setting, characterization, action, storyline, climax, and denouement.

SUB PLOTS: Think of the main plot and many sub plots of a long novel such as Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE.

TENSION: Imagine TENSION as a spring being wound, as the drama proceeds, until the spring is explosively released as climax.

March 1997

Spotlight On The I.C.O.M Library!

Hey!….Wait a minute! Where is “Creativity” By Ron Dayton?, Where Is “Stagecraft” By Dr.Om?, Where is “Commando Magic” By Bobby J.Gallo?, What in the world is going on here?

The answer lies in the new banner you see above! There is good news and more good news associated with what we call the NEW I.C.O.M CYBER-MAGIC TEXTBOOK SYSTEM ™.

What is the the first part of the good news? Let’s take a look.

The Cyber-Magic Textbooks are clickable book icons that will be displayed in The I.C.O.M Online Library. Once these are clicked, members will have instant online access to some of the highest quality, full-length, original, magic textbooks available anywhere. They will always be there as a reference to all of I.C.O.M. An electronic library in the truest sense of the word! Some books will be less expansive than others such as “Ten Things Every Magician Should Know” But others Such as Dr.Om’s Stagecraft will be landmark educational resources without peer!

There are many spinoff benefits as well by I.C.O.M incorporating this new feature such as the fact that there will be no more waiting for further installments of Ron Dayton’s “Creativity” and Bobby J. Gallo’s “Commando Magic”. Both have been released in their entirety as I.C.O.M Cyber-Magic Textbooks and will be appearing in the I.C.O.M library sometime in March. This means you get the rest of both series in one shot! Wow! As for Dr. Om’s series, it will be there compiled in a Cyber-Magic Textbook as well. Only his will be “dynamic” meaning it will be added to as times goes on.

So what does this mean for the Spotlight section? Simple, Now you will get even more material each month! Since our series are complete with the publication of the Cyber-Magic Texbooks. We will be releasing more and different material here in the spotlight!

So stay tuned and watch the library, the books should be up around the second week of March. See you there!

Notice: This material “IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN” and is intended for the personal and performance use of International Conservatory Of Magic members only.

This entire page is under copywrite 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

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


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

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

October 1997

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


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

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

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

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

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

You now have your homework!… “Good Luck”

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

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

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

Chapter Two

What is Commando Magic?

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

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

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

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

That is the prevailing question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Month, Part #5

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

December 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Month: Part #6

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

I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 7/97-9/97


I.C.O.M Online Spotlight 7/97-9/97


I.C.O.M Online is proud to introduce the following new series of articles by Ron Dayton. The following installment is worth your undivided attention. It is a true lesson in magic.

“Creativity” Part #1
Ronald J. Dayton
Several suggested roads of travel toward an elusive goal.

It is my intent to offer suggestions and working methods which will direct the reader toward greater creativity. I make no promises for success. You will have to work a little to achieve that on your own. What I will promise to do is to share every means to that end I am aware of. You will be given lists, tips/suggestions, ideas and examples…but no shortcuts. If you are serious about this subject, be prepared to burn the midnight oil.

Creativity is something each and every individual is capable of cultivating. It can be developed to whatever degree you feel most comfortable with. Creativity includes being inventive, but not exclusively so. It is also reflected in the music, patter, costuming, set designs, stage presence and timing for example. These are all aspects of your creativity…all part of the “total” performance to which creativity may be applied. It may be the magical “illusive essence” which makes an act outstanding rather than mediocre.

Every one of us, I believe, would like to contribute something to this world of magic. Something that will leave a mark long after we are gone. It is important to realize, lest we become overwhelmed by the task of becoming creative, that the contribution need not be earth shattering. It may well be something as simple as a particular stance, a gesture or a look. It may be a phrase that captures the imagination of your audience. Like grains of sand comprising a coastal beach, the size of the grain does not diminish its importance to the whole.

One of the keys to creativity seems to be discovering yourself! Knowing who you are, and what you want to achieve in this craft. It isn’t easy. A person must take an honest appraisal of himself and his limitations. You must understand just how much you are willing to sacrifice to attain your desired goal. Creativity, at whatever level, will take real work. Once you come to grips with yourself, you’ll be ready to begin…and to be the very best YOU that you can be!

Next month: Part #2 of our ongoing “Creativity” series!

Magical History Part #1

Though many are interested in magic as a hobby or profession, they know little of how rich the history of this fine art is. No other form of entertainment can be traced so far back in history. Times change, but the element of mystery that makes magic so unique is the same now as it has been for thousands of years. How old is magic? Let’s take a look.

Ancient Egyptian Image

The above image is one of the oldest recorded performances of magic. Archeologists speculate that this represents an early version of the cups and balls feat.(a routine incidentally that you will be learning here at I.C.O.M Online in the not too distant future!) This illustration was painted on the wall of the burial chamber of Beni Hassan around the year 2500 B.C..

In various ancient texts, a number of prominent magicians of the past are mentioned. The most famous of which is probably “Dedi”, wizard to “King Cheops”. This is the same ruler who built the great pyramid at Gizeh. Dedi was famous at re-animating deceased animals such as geese and oxen.( I think I like the cups and balls better!)

Many of the ancient performers tales are recorded in the “Westcar Papyrus” dated around 1700 B.C.. Most magician stories are peculiarly silent throughout the next millennia until about 135 B.C. when “Eunios The Syrian” actually stopped a slave rebellion with a feat of magic (future trivia question?).

The accounts, both large and small, continue in history with a person who was apparently a noble named “Seneca The Younger”, from Spain (circa 3 B.C.), who wrote about a performance of the cups & balls that he had witnessed. (Note that the cups and balls trick is considered a classic, this is why. The classics are tricks that stand the test of time). It is interesting to note that Seneca stated in a letter that he was only interested in the magic when he did not know the secret. When he found out how something was done, he lost interest. Some things never change!

Next Month: More history...

Another I.C.O.M Online Exclusive Series!
“Commando Magic” Part #1
Bobby J. Gallo
How to Perform Effectively in All Situations


First I would like to make a confession that I was not planning to release this material to I.C.O.M Online for at least another six months. But after reading the mind-blowing prose of Bill Wisch (Slydini Legacy) and Ron Dayton (Creativity Series) I realized that it was only fitting that I too begin a quality series for the benefit of all I.C.O.M Online. So it is with great excitement that I start the “Commando Magic” series. First, a little background is in order to familiarize the student with the history of “Commando Magic”.

Four Years ago, I began a task that I felt was needed in the literature of magic. A practical treatise on performing in the real world. As I began writing the book “Commando Magic” I realized that it would be more practical to release it on audio tape, which I subsequently did. It ended up selling to a select “underground” contingent of magicians who like myself, thought that the performing conditions of today, are not what they used to be…

After the production the “Commando Magic” audio tape, I re-thought my position and wrote a reference guide to the tape. A publication which would be more comprehensive and up-to-date with recent experiences that I had while performing on the road.

The book version of “Commando Magic” became another underground best seller, being read more in the STAND-UP COMEDY community than in the magic circles!!! Comics recognized the similarities between our two art forms and embraced much of the theory behind the writings for their performances. “Commando Magic” never made quite the same splash in the magic world which is fortunate for ICOM Online members. Because now, I am releasing, “COMMANDO MAGIC THE BOOK” IN ITS ENTIRETY, in this ongoing monthly series.

As you will see, save for a small number of examples, there will be little magic in the way of “tricks” discussed in this series. There are literally thousands of other books which deal with that. The purpose of this particular series is of a much higher aspiration. It will take any current variety entertainer, and train them to use their craft in its most lean and efficient way, thus increasing their value as a performing artist!

Next Month: Chapter One

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

Place a coin on the table and then proceed to place a cup over the coin, stating that you will remove the coin without ever touching the cup. Then go under the table and knock on the underside of the tabletop (done strictly for showmanship purposes). Announce that “It is done!”. Invite a skeptical audience member to lift the cup to see if the coin has indeed been taken. As soon as the spectator removes the cup, grab the coin and remark that you did take the coin without ever lifting up the cup Yourself! (get it?)

Then run for the door! (just kidding)

September 1997

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

The same applies to younger magicians. Do not be so foolish as to pass them by simply because they are young. Youth is fresh and vital. They dare to try the unknown, to take that step beyond, unaware of the supposed limitations which have been drummed into older minds. Youth has not yet been programmed to disbelief. Too often, we hinder ourselves and our accomplishments by listening to inner thoughts, or those of others, as to what IS or IS NOT possible. I’ve heard it said that, the impossible is that which is yet untried! And I firmly believe that is true.

A person might think…how can I possibly learn all about magic, so I can build a strong foundation of knowledge. There is so much to know…and the subject is so vast.

Do not be put off by the scope of magic. There is no possible way you could learn everything, although there are people out there who claim they know it. They are only fooling themselves. The reality of the situation is…the field is extremely vast, and, constantly changing. At very best, much like a medical student, you will do your best to remain ‘current’. Simply do your best to learn as much as you possibly can. You will retain much more information than you realize.

Once you have begun this foundation of magical knowledge and background, we can begin taking the next logical step. You will want to take the information you have learned and put it to practical use.

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

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

In the legend of “Apollonius of Tyana”, who existed in the first century A.D., illusions were reported that indicate he must have been a truly remarkable performer. So much so, he actually had temples built in his honor! (I know of a few magicians today who think they should be accorded such honors!…just kidding) Not to be outdone by Apollonius, a conjurer named “Iamblichus” used to walk ten cubits off the ground nearly a thousand years before certain modern day illusionists performed similar feats! And that’s not all, he used to do a color changing clothes routine at the same time! Of course, this is what is written according to legend. But with magicians, you never know!

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

Chapter #1

The first question a lot of people may have in their mind is the classic quote of the industry. Why another book* on magic? After performing for over a decade, I finally feel the need to put pen to paper and expound my controversial thoughts about performing in the “Real World”. Notice I said performing and not just doing magic tricks. This book* is about performance and all of its allied characteristics. Sure, there will be routines that I have developed within these pristine pages, but more important, there is a philosophy. One that has grown into a conviction through trial and error. One that has been developed while working in the trenches of real world entertainment.

This book* is written from the perspective of a magician. For that is the type of entertainer I have been my entire show business career. So, much of the material covered will deal specifically with magic and its allied arts. However, because of my extensive experience in the world of stand-up comedy and nightclubs, it is not just the magician who can benefit from these pages, but any working entertainer from comedians to ventriloquists, to vocalists. As a matter of fact, any “live” performer, for the fundamental principles all remain the same no matter what you do. If there are living, breathing people in your audience, this book* will apply.

To the beginner, I hope this book* will prove a launching pad for their success. To the professional looking for further insight into this complex world of show business, I trust my thoughts and materials will spark your own understanding as to why I call this book* Commando Magic. Of course, there will be those who will read this and dismiss many of my writings as outlandish or simply not practical. But if you ponder this book* and then apply it, you will see that it is worth many times the price you have paid.

Consider this a pilgrimage to the guru on the mountain. Consider this magical boot camp. Better yet, consider this book sage advice and information from one who has been there and still is…Of course, I like everyone else in this world am constantly changing and growing. I think of new and different approaches to entertainment everyday. This book* is a compilation of the knowledge I have amassed up to this point in time. However, I am sure that a decade from now, I will have refined many of the statements I am about to make. So the reader is invited to take what he/she wishes. Then work the material out to make the best use of it according to his/her own performing persona and style.

If you disagree with what is here, no problem, you will see in the chapters that follow that disagreement is part of the world that we live in and certainly present in the field of entertainment. But I think that I’ve bantered enough here. I do not want to give anything away prematurely, so as many an adventurous story has started…

“Let the journey begin!”

The journey continues next month with part #3…
* Since this was series was written and produced as an actual book. These references appear. I did not want to change anything in the text so that I.C.O.M students may get the full original text the way it was originally written.

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

I’ve recently given a lot of thought to the possibilities of the egg bag in a magic act. This time, I wanted to go back and look at the card box.

Mr. Hay showed a bit of dismay over the quality of the wooden card boxes of his era. He considered it a cheap substitute for sleight of hand. But, he did appreciate the quality and workmanship shown in the thin metal card box. Why his change of heart?

One reason was the quality factor. Mr. Hay considered himself to be a consummate professional performer…therefore, you must always put your best foot forward in the public eye. Your props, your dress and your manner must be appealing. The metal box obviously reflected his desire to be tasteful. But the box did something possibly even more important in his eye’s. It took the crudely made wooden box to another level…and it allowed it to be used as a functional, everyday object of the time, a cigarette box. In other words, it didn’t appear to be a piece of apparatus.

In the present day world, cigarettes are out of vogue…so the use of a cigarette case for the most part might well be politically incorrect. It would also look entirely out of place in most instances. This fact alone would cast a shadow of suspicion over it. It would have lost its innocence.

Looking at the illustration in Fig. 190 of page 262 in the Hay text, what sort of present day containers might be modified to become a card box, or to work on the card box flap principle for a variety of effect?

The first thing I thought of was a box of candy. Perhaps a person could magically print the golden ticket in a Willy Wonka theme routine.

Maybe the box is one constructed to hold baseball or other collector cards. This would allow you to perform a whole host of card tricks without actually using the playing cards.

Perhaps the box is a small metal hinged lid style box which held the ink pad for a hand stamp. You could print your business cards, theatre passes or even money in a logical manner.

What if the box once held a diary. A page would be forced on a spectator, and when they check the diary, it is missing. The page is later discovered in the box, and written on it is a prediction of a word, color, card, etc. “Dear diary” I have a feeling that on (the date) the word (forced word) will be selected by a member of the audience.”

Perhaps the box is that in which children’s puzzles come. Jig-saw-puzzles. Or one they kept such treasures as pong pieces in. Maybe it is a box from the game Clue ™…and the person who committed the crime is discovered in a magical way. Just think of the possibilities.

The box might have held fishing tackle. A freely (?) selected picture of a fish chosen from a large variety of fish might magically appear in the box. For children, perhaps a cards forced to them from the card game Go Fish.

Use your imagination, Maybe an effect based on a musical theme could be developed using the hinged box from a CD. Or why not use a jewelery box in a card trick…forcing diamonds on each of the spectators involved.

If the box you use were designed like a first aid kit, you might be able to do color changing bandages using the brightly printed bandages of the day. By putting a nurses cap on a young girl from the audience, and a stethoscope on a second girl or boy, you could build a nice little skit out of it. Old chestnut ploys such as color changing finger rings (one on the end of you R.H. first finger, another color on the R.H. second finger) could be done with bandages. By using bandage dots, a variation of the very mystifying magic ashes on palm effect could be rendered. All it will take is a bit of thought.

Collector sets of coins often come in small, flat boxes. You might be able to devise a coin flight routine…or produce a whole set of coins and use them for the date divination found in Mr. Hay’s book, “The Amateur Magician’s Handbook.”

Other boxes you might consider would hold make-up and cosmetics, gloves, ties, stationary, cigars, etc.

Consider if your box will need a tray or simply a flap. In some instances, only a half flap would be necessary. This would cause the change of one item placed in the box while leaving another in tact. Think about a locking or magnetic flap. Black art flaps and clear lucite flaps.

If the box happens to be a pencil or crayon/chalk box, see what additional magic you can do with the things removed from the box prior to their actual use in conjunction with the box.

you might also consider the possibility that the object placed into the box is patterned on one side to actually BECOME the flap in an otherwise ungimmicked box. In this way, the flap could change into the object, and then be openly removed from the box…or added to the box to become the flap. In one instance, the box can be examined after the effect, in the other, before the effect.

Depending upon the shape and size of the box you use, the secret flap or compartment could be in the bottom, on one of the sides, or even in the hinged or removable cover of the box. Some card boxes might even use more than one flap. One locking/magnetic, the other free or removable.

With today’s material, self adhesive magnetic strips, self sticking felt, plastic hinges and tapes, mylar sheets etc., it is possible to make a wide variety of common looking yet fully deceptive ‘card boxes’ for yourself. Make them look ordinary and they will be accepted as just that.

I don’t know if all I have had to say made sense to you. I hope it has. The crux of the matter is, ‘principles’ are one of the most important elements in creating magic. You can take a principle and run with it, transforming your effect into a chameleon of magic, giving a different look at every turn.

By all means, be a creative chameleon! Let the color and look of your magic change, dictated by location and circumstance, mood and whim. Allow your magic to have a degree of freedom and flexibility. Read your audience and determine the colors they’d most like to see. The reed that bends, never breaks.

Note: In the I.C.O.M Online Catalog, we offer a Professional Card Magic Set. Contained within is a decent quality plastic card box for those wishing to apply some of Ron’s teachings from this months lesson.

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