Kid Show Konservatory 1/00-6/00

Dedicated to the fine art of entertaining children with magic!


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

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

June 2000

Something Out Of Almost Nothing
Bobby J. Gallo

About 10 Years ago, I came across a small toy that I haven’t seen since my childhood. I’m talking about the little skeleton hand joke, where you have a small set of skeleton arms that you clip to your shirt or jacket pocket. To the onlooker, it seems that a miniature skeleton in crawling from your pocket.

When I was young, these small toys were used in advertisements for magic and novelty catalogs. I can vividly remember the ad showing a picture of the hands saying that they will spook your friends! Watch a creepy skeleton crawl from your pocket! etc. etc. The ads read much like an old-time spook show promotion. The best part of this was that you got a set of these skeleton hands FREE with the purchase of a magic catalog! Well, I couldn’t get my 25 cents in that envelope fast enough (8 weeks later I got them). What they did not tell you was that the skeleton hands were only 2 inches long!

Years later when I saw them again, it was in a magic shop where a gross of them were on sale. Needless to say, I snatched them up because they were the last gross left in the store. I then spent the next year fastening them onto promotional materials that I would hand out at college trade shows. I thought it was a nifty gift to give to potential clients.

When I started to get low on the “tricks?”, I saved the rest of the supply I had and shelved them. After all, I didn’t know when I could get them again. Then, another 9 years later (actually recently), I found them again through a bulk supplier of carnival premiums. I was thrilled! So I purchased a full case which was so big I could barely lift it! I think it is somewhere around 1000 gross!

As far as I can tell, these are the cheapest toys on the planet, costing mere pennies each! Which make them ideal for party give-a-ways for children over three years of age.

The point of all this?

Well, at first glance, these little pieces of plastic are very near worthless, even to the kids getting them. After all, if you don’t show them what they are for, most will not even know what to do with them. But since I had such fond memories of this little trinket, something in me wanted to share this experience with the kids that I perform for. I get sentimental that way <G>.

The magician performs his last trick then addresses the audience.

“Before I leave today, I’d like to ask all you boys and girls a question. How many of you would like to know how some of my magic is done?” (all hands go up!)

“Great!, well, here’s the answer, I get a little help from a very small friend of mine. His name is Boris and he’s my skeleton.” (take a set of the skeleton hands from the inside of your top jacket pocket and clip them to he front proper without exposing the fact that they are just a set of arms and nothing else.)

“See the little skeleton crawling out of my pocket? He won’t come all the way out because he’s really shy. But when I do magic, he crawls all around my coat doing what needs to be done to fool you! He’s a great helper!”

“Now, how many of you here today would like your very own Boris the skeleton?”
(kids go wild!) “Ok, then, but in order to give you your very own, I have to let you in on another little secret.”

At this point, you show them the hands and show them how to clip it onto a shirt and make a story up to show their family and friends.

I have given a lot of premiums away at shows and currently, this is the most popular and the most cost-effective from my standpoint.

If any I.C.O.M members want these for your shows. They are available through I.C.O.M at $4.00 per gross (That’s less than 3 cents each!) plus $3.00 shipping for any amount ordered. So if you are interested it’s best to get several grosses at a time to save on shipping. You can also try your local magic or novelty shop for availabilities, but I’ve seen that they can be hard to find. Whatever you do, get a good amount. Trust me, you’ll go through them and the kids will love it!

May 2000

“On That Rare Occasion”
Bobby J. Gallo

This month I think I’m going to just talk about something that is rather unusual for me. For those who have studied my lessons and more aptly, read “Commando Magic” in the library are well aware of my views concerning the transport of what may seem like several tons of props, tables, and general stage dressing to and from shows as small as the average birthday party. An act that seems so common with many magicians today ranging from amateur to professional.

I thought that I was the one guy who would NEVER bow down to the lemming-like approach of patronizing what are actually very few magic companies that thrive on every magician’s dream to be the next Copperfield. Regardless of the fact that they have no “roadies”, stagehands or the mammoth budget. And unlike the top 1/1000th percent of all working pro’s, the average magician MUST perform more than one show per weekend day in order to make ends meet. Therefore large stage shows are all but out of the question.

But recently, I have had the opportunity to perform on a few more large stages than I have in the past. Though I have been on them many times before, it seems that lately, they are becoming more common, at least for me. And because of this, my beloved “Show-in-a-bag” although effective, sometimes seems to fall as a teeny-tiny bit short when performed on a large stage.

Well, when faced with this problem the question naturally is, “what to do”? Well, in light of this dilemma, I have finally broken down and purchase a few large props to “fill-in-the-void” so to speak, of my show when performed on a large stage.

Now I think that there are a few important points here that I would like to address, and only here in I.C.O.M would I share them. So From a working performers point of view, here are the props that I purchased and the “rare occasions” where I would “or could” perform them.


  • The first was the “one” giant prop that I felt I not only needed but “wanted”. Ever since I was a small fledgling magician, I wanted a “FLASH APPEARANCE”. I think that this is the ultimate illusion. What could possibly be more magical than the magician appearing in a flash to start the show? Answer: NOTHING! The model that I purchased, folds flat, can be done with no assistants and when assembled stands 6 ft, tall! Nice and big and dresses the stage nicely.
  • A HUGE custom made SQUARE CIRCLE-Why? The answer to this comes next month when I talk about classic effects and their value.
  • A Bunny Bucket complete with “LIVE” rabbit!– The bunny bucket (ironically identical to the duck bucket used by the top pro’s seems to be the most reliable and humane prop I have come across for the production of a live rabbit. Besides, my daughter wanted a rabbit <G>.
  • A serious backdrop frame.-While many stages have “runners” that can be closed in to frame the magician, most do not. So for this reason I purchased two DJ light trusses. These are far more sturdy and reliable than just about all the commercially available backdrop frames made for magicians at about half the price. If there is a magician’s backdrop frame that is sturdy and reliable, I haven’t yet seen it and I own most of them.


The rest of the show is the bag show that now is merely dressed up to accommodate the stage. The backdrop, super spectacular appearance and the addition of “one” live animal, allows you to take your normal show and make it into a show that you can charge “FIVE TIMES” as much for. You read correctly.


“On That Rare Occasion” Yes, exactly, this is not an everyday show. I estimate it will take two hours to set up. 30 min. to load-in, unpack, and re-park the car. 15 min to set-up the backdrop frame. 15 min. to set-up the flash appearance. 15 min. to hook up the sound system and cue the music. 30 min for the rest of the show, and 15 min. misc. time. And that is if everything runs smoothly and that almost NEVER happens. In addition, a tech rider has to be sent out before the show to the client with the following specified conditions. EVERY condition must be met or in my case, I would have to eliminate the Flash Appearance”. And yes, according to the contract, I will still get paid for the full show.

  • This show can only be done on a stage. No if’s and’s for but’s, So I ask the client to please be sure that the stage is cleared of all storage boxes and the like. This is not the responsibility of the performer.
  • Electricity must be available near the stage for the sound system.
  • No fluorescent lights. Since the flash appearance uses the black art principle.

So after looking at the above we are back to the question, WHEN TO PERFORM THIS SHOW? Again the answer, “On That Rare Occasion” But, that occasion does indeed come!!!

April 2000

A Novel Kid Show Idea
Bobby J. Gallo

This article rides on the heels of last month’s article and came to me during a magic class I was teaching at a local elementary school in my area. So this is an idea that I have never yet tried but know in my gut that it would work, and work very well!

The trick I was teaching the kids was the famous and ancient “snapper” trick. This is the puzzle type trick we all had as children where you displayed a small plastic tube with a rubber band at one end and a hook at the other end. The object is to hook the plunger on the rubber band by inserting the hook into the tube. Of course, the spectator can never do it because you need to know the secret first. Suffice to say that it is very easy when you know how, but nearly impossible if you don’t. Unless of course, the spectator stumbles onto the method, which happens from time to time.

The following is a “workshop presentation”. Meaning the whole object of the presentation is to ultimately teach them the trick. So the following is how I would present this for a birthday party as well as a magic class situation.

Materials needed:

One deluxe version of the snapper trick.
This is for you the performer. Your version of the trick should be a nicer version of the trick than the one you give the kids. After all, you are the star magician and your props should reflect that. Also, it makes for a more professional presentation to the adults booking the performance and shows that you are not being paid to just play with toys. Which is exactly what the less expensive version of this trick is. This is an important fact that should always be kept in mind when contemplating any prop that you perform with. Does it look like a toy??????????????

The snapper can be found made in brass and wood available from finer magic companies. This trick alone also makes an exceptional walk-around trick for adults as well as children without ever teaching them the secret!

A gross or less of inexpensive snapper tricks (depending on how many shows you do or plan to do): These can be purchased wholesale from magic suppliers at a very reasonable cost. Alternatively, you can strike up a deal with your local magic supplier for bulk purchases. (Listen to Ultimate Magic Rap Volume #1 by Bobby J. Gallo & Bill Wisch for further information). Remember to reflect the cost of these in the price of the show you charge the customer and make it a selling point that each and every child will receive a (FREE?) trick during the course of the show. This is so much better than a balloon animal that will just pop after you leave <G>. And of course, as always, no tricks to children under 3 years of age for reasons that we should all know by now.

Note: For some children’s groups I remove the rubber bands if I feel that they cannot be trusted with them. Then proceed with the presentation stating that there is an “invisible rubber band” inside the tube that they have to find. This actually works just as well. You may or may not wish to do the same. The choice is yours….


I start by stating that before I go ahead and show them the magical secret, I will perform the trick for them first. The reason for this is that it will be the last time “for the rest of their lives” that they will be fooled by this particular trick. A heavy thought indeed, but that is the price of “learning” magic!

I then proceed to perform the snapper trick the way it is explained in the trick instructions and ask the guest of honor to be the first to try and figure it out. I state that I will give each person who wants to try, 30 seconds. No more! At this point, if there are 20 children this takes a minimum of 10 minutes. Naturally, none of them can do it.

Then I hand out the tricks to each person. This takes about five minutes which brings us to 15 minutes of showtime. See where I am going?

After everyone has their trick I give them all 30 more seconds to figure it out. Then I begin to explain the secret. 5 more minutes pass. We are now up to 20 minutes.

I then offer to help any that are having trouble. Those who get it right away can do it for a friend while I am busy. This is another 5 minutes which brings the grand total of performing time of this routine to 25 minutes!!! Talk about pack small…play big!

What astonished me was how entertaining it was to the kids when I gave each and every one of them a turn! This takes an enormous amount of time and the kids would not have it any other way! As a matter of fact, after about five kids trying it, I ask if they are ready to learn it, and without fail, they all say NO! they want to have their turn figuring it out first before you give them all out and let them in on the modus operandi! This is magical heaven! And by getting the kids approval to let the rest have a turn, you cannot be held responsible for apparently “milking the trick” he he……… But if it’s entertaining, who cares anyway?

There are other tricks and puzzles that you can use in place of the snapper trick. Some that come to mind are the classic pyramid puzzle, “T”-puzzle, and others. I’m sure you can even find something that does not require commercially produced props at all. This way you can make as close to 100% percent profit on the show as possible.

March 2000

The “In-Between” Show
Bobby J. Gallo

If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will.

You are called to do a show for kids, but the problem is, they are 12 to 15 years old.

In the words of a trench-coat clad Carl Malden…

What will you do? … What “will” you do?

You can’t do your normal kid show. “These kids” are older and will think all of your cleverly crafted lines and cute kid tricks are childish (corny) and will then attempt to eat you alive. That’s a problem in my book, what about you?

Answer: Magic? yes! But not kids magic and not adult magic. The way I see it, they are still not ready for the advanced ESP type of effects or long drawn out card routines that we can get away with performing for adults. After all, they still “are” kids. Just a little older than the crowd that kids shows were originally tailored for. So the same magic can be performed, as long as you “gear up” the presentations so that it doesn’t seem like you are talking down to the older kids. That is step #1.

Another Answer: After you perform about 30 minutes of “cool” magic. You can offer to “teach” them how to do a couple of tricks. This solves a whole host of problems that you would normally face. Here is the list.

  • You will immediately get them on your side. The antagonism will vanish because they realize that you will ultimately let them in on the secret.
  • This approach will get the attention of this particular age group unlike the BEST magic trick on the planet. Trust me, I’ve seen it time and time again.
  • It helps in selling a show for this age group to the customer who is paying you.
  • Unlike straight magical performing, this idea is a real time killer. You can often knock off a half-hour with just three tricks with no loss of interest.
  • They will think you are the coolest magician they have ever seen!

But what do you teach them? I would suggest going to the I.C.O.M Easy Magic for Beginner’s section and picking out three tricks. It’s ok, we give you permission to teach “three” tricks from this page. After all, there are certain “LOW LEVEL” secrets that are ok to share with the kids in the interest of sparking the flame of future magicians. And if ever there was a page that could do it, its right here in I.C.O.M!

So go out there where other magicians are terrified to tread, the 12 to 15-year-old age group!

February 2000

The Dancing-Floating Handkerchief
Bobby J. Gallo

It probably the “biggest little trick in magic!” Performed by countless professionals and amateurs alike. Thinking about it, I cannot imagine a better trick for a theatre full of screaming kids. Here we will explain our method. There are actually many methods of doing this. Some are self-contained and may be better suited to solo performers. But since they are marketed effects and this lesson explains a general principle with my own insights and handling, we will teach the latter.

The performer holds a white handkerchief up by the corner, strokes it several times, shakes it, casts a spell over it, etc. when suddenly it comes to life and starts to float, jump, dance, and act as though it were alive. The magician drops it into a bottle where it still dances and then jumps out! The performer commands it to stop and it then falls to the floor motionless. Wow….Cool.

Well, for those who do not know how this is done we will teach the basic method here. You will need five basic things. ALL FIVE! (never said it would be easy!)

  • A Handkerchief (duh!)
  • A Stage-Yep, this can only be done on a stage with curtains and wings, not to mention correct lighting. No fluorescent lighting. This eliminates this trick being performed in a church basement or multi-purpose room.
  • A spool of fine black thread
  • An offstage assistant
  • Licensed music with delivery system (boom box or P.A.)

Sew a small wire hook in the corner of the hanky so that the hook protrudes about 1/8 of an inch above the corner.

Fasten one end of the thread to something solid of one side of the stage, have it travel across the stage to your assistant waiting in the sings on the other side. Have the other end of the thread attached to a small bead so that the assistant has something to hold on to. If this trick is performed later in your act, be sure not to trip or break the thread. Know where it is at all times.

Have the assistant hold the thread about three feet off of the ground. During the presentation, hook the hanky on the thread. Some may even dispense with the hook entirely and merely run the thread through a small knot in one corner of the hanky and have it set up from the start (come to think of it, this is probably how I would do it <G>). The assistant should let the thread drop to the stage at this point. When the music starts, pick up the hooked up hanky and begin the act of bringing it to life. The assistant now takes over and by gyrating the thread offstage, controls the hanky’s movement. You are not limited as to what the hanky can do. You may even want to try a more slow spooky movement rather than the frantic hopping hank that has been seen in the past. This will take a bit of rehearsal. You may even want to videotape your practice sessions to see what the audience will see. I think that this effect, in particular, could benefit from this modern age technology that we did not even have 20 years ago.

Yes, it will take some work. Especially perfecting the movement of the hanky so that it does not look “jerky”, but rather smooth and flowing. But remember, the effort is time well spent. For, in the long run, you will have a feature effect.

Get creative and do all sorts of things like passing a hoop around it, make several hanks float, etc. Just remember to have a dark or busy background and at least 10 feet between you and the first row of the audience. And if someone yells out that you are using a string, remember that they do not see it, they are assuming it. So in response, you can say what I would say…and that is…

“That’s What They All Say!”

January 2000

Licensed Tricks For Kids IV
Bobby J. Gallo

Here we are in the final installment of this mini-series. In the last Millennium (how I love saying that) we evolved a routine that is suitable for virtually any age that is old enough to see the magic in general. So now that we have entertained them with the previous sleights, it falls to use to give them a big finish.

There are a number of tricks that are suitable for all age groups but we must remember to keep it simple. A few have already appeared in I.C.O.M such as my version of “The Sandwiched Card Trick”. Another great trick that is appreciated by kids is the standard “Insurance Policy”. The giant card ending gets a response from even the youngest spectators. But a personal favorite of mine can be found in “Card Manipulations by Jean Hugard, Dover Publications 1973-Page 50. Entitled, The Rising Card (Horowitz Thumb Method). and is available from Barns & Noble for around $5.95. I imagine you can get it at as well.

Of all the excellent material in that book (and there is a lot!), the following trick is what I consider to be one of the “showiest” impromptu feats with a deck of cards. Because it’s currently in print I will not give out the method*, but I will describe the effect.

A card is selected, controlled to the top by “your favorite method”, then after the cards are given a nice “Thumb Fan”, the selected card begins to rise from within the fan, actually travels from one end of the fan to the other where the performers free hand then grabs it and removes it. Truly spectacular and the kids love it. Well worth the $5.95 for the book. And you know what the best thing is? I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANOTHER MAGICIAN DO IT! It seems that it is one of those things everyone who owns the book just seems to glance over without ever really trying. So consider this “buried treasure” an exclusive that only members of I.C.O.M will be performing.

I am sure you will find loads of other card revelations that will work, but at least know that the ones I have presented before you, really do work.

*Despite the title of the trick, the trick is nearly impossible to perform until a certain grip is obtained that is not easily discovered without seeing the illustrations in the book.


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 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.

Kid Show Konservatory 7/99-12/99


Dedicated to the fine art of entertaining children with magic!

December 1999

Kard Tricks For Kids III
Bobby J. Gallo

Double Lift

Last month I stated that one of the only card feats appreciable by younger audiences is the color change. There is no doubt as to its effectiveness as far as adults are concerned, but it is equally appropriate, if not more so, for kids.

When this point is arrived in the routine, I ask the kids, “what are the only two colors in a deck of cards?” Most will know this answer and yell out that they are red and black. If some get picky and mention the blue backs of some cards or the yellow as part of the kings clothing, ignore them or come up with a clever comedic line.

I then proceed to look for and pull out a red ace, asking them what color it is. When they say red, I turn its back towards them, and have them all give a collective magical blow. “Just like blowing the candles out on a birthday cake” I say. Then when the card is turned over I pretend not to notice that it has changed to an ace of spades (black ace). This gets a tremendous reaction.

There are two ways I do the color change depending on my mood and both are just as good as far as the kids are concerned. The first involves the use of the old trusty double lift as pictured above. When looking through the cards to find your red ace, actually locate a red ace and the ace of spades. I always use te ace of spades for the black card because when it is revealed, it seems to be a more dramatic card than the ace of clubs due to the oversized spade pip in the center. Remember, little things can mean a lot.

I then double lift both cards to show the red which in reality has the spade hidden behind it. While talking replace both cards back down on the deck and lift the spade up again keeping the back twoards the audence and proceed with the trick.

The second way is with the old standard top-change. The presentation stays the same.

Next Month: Continuing the routine.

Top Change

November 1999

Kard Tricks For Kids Part II
Bobby J. Gallo

In This illustration the cards are fanned with the fingertips. This is a personal choice whether or not to use this method of to use the traditional “Thumb Fan” method.

Step Three:
Diminishing Cards

After you have completed the fanning series, ask the audience if they ever saw a deck of cards “shrink”? As you are saying this, once again execute a thumb fan. After they respond, close the fan and ptremendous to squeeze it by the long edges, then execute the diminishing fan. This is very easily done by merely placing the thumb of hand holding the deck closer to the center of the backs of the cards rather than at the bottom where is is traditionally placed when creating a thumb fan. By changing the “pivot point” the thumb fanned cards are spread out in a smaller radius and appear to have “shrunk.” This will get a huge laugh if you act surprised that is actually worked yourself. A little acting goes a long way.

They reverse the process doing yet another thumb fan to show that they have returned to normal size.

This pretty much marks the end of the exhibition card fanning segment of the routine. Now you are about to perform one of the few tricks that can truly be appreciated by younger audiences. “The Color Change.”

Next Month-Part III

October 1999

Kard Tricks For Kids
Bobby J. Gallo

*One handed-reverse Fan

I’ve heard it said many times that the one thing you NEVER do for a child’s birthday party are CARD TRICKS! It is said that they go over the heads of the children and that the kids simply do not understand the premise that there are 52 cards in deck that are all different and the magician is going to defy the laws of averages and find the selected card.

There is a lot of truth to this no doubt. And I for the longest time subscribed to it. But in recent years, I have actually changed my tune a little realizing that there are card tricks that actually entertain even the youngest of spectators. I now have an entire 10 minute routine for birthday parties, and over the course of the next few months, I will be parceling it out here, bit by bit so you can learn, digest, and perfect each step.

The key to successful card magic with kids is to keep it brisk. No lagging or you will lose them instantly. Also, no pick-a-card tricks with the rare exception of something like the sandwiched card trick (my version) described in the archives. Now, with that, let’s learn step one.

Step One:
What kind of card to use?

Though it isn’t one hundred percent necessary, you should try to obtain a fanning deck. Try to stay away from those oversized ones with dragons on the back. Just a regulation size deck with a four-color change on the back. Abbotts makes a fine one. The cards should also be powdered using the commercial magician’s fanning powder obtainable at any magic shop. Talcum powder can also be substituted but is not quite as good. Powder them once, shuffle them a hundred times to break them in and get all the excess powder out and they will be good for at least a fifty performances before you need to re-powder or get a new deck.

Step Two:
The opening

I take the cards out and ask the kids to identify what they are. They will all say that they are cards. This is important because it will establish to the adults in the audience that the kids know what you are doing. You would not believe how many lay adults will question the wisdom of doing card tricks for kids. Everyone is an expert you see…

The first thing I do is a one-handed fan. With the remark that “magicians do this to fan themselves off during the show”. Follow with appropriate actions and this will get a laugh and show some skill at the same time. Follow this with a thumb fan, show the front of the card and then display the color of the backs. Do a snapback to close the fan. Reverse the cards end for the end while blowing on the cards for effect. Perform another thumb fan and the card backs will have changed color! Pretend surprise and this will get a bigger laugh. Remember to have the kids tell you what color the cards were before and after to get them involved.

Close the fan and do a one-handed reverse fan* to show the faces blank. This will get a mixture of gasps and laughs, again pretend surprise. This will also change the back colors one more time so be sure to show them again.

Finally, riffle half the cards into the left hand and perform a one-handed fan with both the right and left hands. This not only shows skill but will enable you to have a fan of cards in each hand, each with a different color back. Close the fans and you are ready for the real laugh getter!

Next month…..

All of the flourishes I have described can be found in the I.C.O.M Sleight-of-hand gallery located in the Library.

September 1999

” Big Look…Small Space “
Ronald J. Dayton

In this month’s segment of our continuing series of thoughts concerning specific phases of magic I would like you to consider production items. In this instance I am referring to articles produced from a single piece of production equipment such as a Square Circle, Flip Over Box, Jap Box, Buddha Tubes, Phantom Tubes and the like.

Items such as glasses of liquid, livestock, candles etc. are impressive…and perhaps one such article might be considered in a given production depending upon your audience. But in most pieces of production equipment, concealment space is at a premium. You must give serious thought to what should be and what should not be produced. The size of the apparatus being considered is also important. Things must remain within predetermined limits.

Let’s begin our examples with a standard piece of equipment…the thumb tip. It is evident that it will hold only so much…so your goal is to maximize the appearance of the production by using something which will pack small, but play big. Which production articles might meet our requirements? Common place items used with great success in the past have been silks of course. Sponge balls are another very compressible item which expands to many times its concealed size, and has good visibility. Larger thumb tips will accommodate the new product…the Vernet Spring Flowers. Special tiny versions of mouth coils are also being sold currently, and make an excellent production. Bigger thumb tips will also hold multiples of folding coins which make for an interesting and unexpected production. False fingers, although rarely used these days are yet another consideration to extend the size of your hidden load. Granular materials such as salt for Long Salt Pours, and glitter used in a similar way create the illusion of greater quantity.

If we were to move up a notch or two to the area of top hats for instance…the chamber which will hold a given load is much larger, and our choices are larger as well. Depending upon the method used to introduce the load, the use of livestock as well as compressible inanimate articles may be combined. From within a hat you could easily produce silks…sponge balls, spring flowers, spring bills. appearing canes and flag staffs, pop dice, rubber production items, etc…then bring forth the rabbit. Just when they think you are done, the hat is tipped and a large hat coil billows forth from inside…giving ample cover once it is gathered to steal and produce a dove or two if you’d like.

Many articles are made to nest, one within another. These have been used for decades to create the impression of more from less. Nesting alarm clocks and bottles have been standards for magicians for years as have feather flower bouquets. The English have used inverted pie tins decorated to resemble rich Plumb Puddings for productions. The tins of course, nesting nicely within one another. If you look around, and keep an open mind, I am sure you will find things which can be changed in just such a manner to create new and original nesting productions items for your own use.

Speciality articles have also been produced…objects made of rubber and latex which are easily compressible, but will still expand to create the illusion of a full size object when needed. You may find everything from rubber bottles of catsup and beer to melons, bananas, doves and even a suckling pig !

But we have been thinking in terms of some pretty specialized production items. What is available to the average person which is taken from everyday life? Paper or cloth fans are quite nice…as are parasols of all sizes. They fold down small…but open wide. When I was fifteen years old…one of the finale’ productions from a large Square Circle I had constructed myself was that of twenty-four one foot diameter paper parasols…and one three footer. It really brought necessary and ahhs when produced in rapid fire fashion. I have a news clipping of myself and the prop somewhere. Perhaps if I dig it up some time, I’ll send it to Bobby and see if he’d care to use it in I.C.O.M. <G> (Love to have it Ron <VBG>….BJG)

Most of this may seem very basic. In many ways, it is. But the point being made in the choices you make for production items will become part of your thinking as well when it comes to picking effects you want to perform. In time you would discover that big heavy props do not necessarily translate to big impact on the audience. You learn to minimize the size and weight of the props you present your magic with. You find things that pack flat, and set-up fast. You learn what really captures the imagination of your audience, and what does not. It takes alot of leg work…and a fair share of disappointments as well. All of magic is a learning experience, if you are paying attention.

Aside from the illusion show performers who seem quite content to lug around several tons of bulky equipment…take a close look at your average close-up or cabaret performer. They usually do a walk on with little more than an attache case. A few small side tables may hold a parlor magic size prop. Often the prop, and the tables upon which they are perched will fold flat and travel light. These are absolutely essential considerations if you are doing back-to-back shows for different groups.

One final thought. While it is true that card productions pack small and play relatively large, as to effects such as the Snow Storm In China….unless details have been worked out in advance… it is really very wise not to make a mess. You may not have time to clean up after yourself…and, worse yet…you may be laying the groundwork for potential accidents or injuries to any act which may follow yours. Be prudent. Be considerate. If you do, you may avoid a call being made to your lawyer. Topper Martin may be the exception…but the rest of us will not fare as well.

Co-Directors Notes: It was I who bold and italicized certain sections of the above as what I feel is particularly important. Well done Ron! I could not agree more with the entire lesson, especially the thoughts on the snowstorm effect!!!….BJG

August 1999

” The Refracted Pencil “
Ronald J. Dayton

During my recent three and a half month stay in a hospital, out of sheer boredom I was seated at a large, dark wood table with thick glass top. The effect was that of a dark background mirror. The open window was in front of me, and of course, the remainder of the relatively dark room was to my back.

There was a pencil lying on the table top, and I noticed that the image of the pencil as reflected in the ‘table like mirror ‘ looked refracted, or broken into three distinct images, a center core, which was about one third the thickness of the pencil, and two shadow like images on either side of it.

I wondered what the image looked like from the side nearest the source of light, and much to my delight, the image was solid and in tact, not refracted like from the shadowed or non light source side.

It occurred to me that this was a novel application of an impromptu optical illusion using two simple objects, a mirror, and a pencil or pen…coupled with a light source. The idea being that you state that you can cause a solid pencil to appear split into three parts, or look solid as you wish by simply placing it on a mirror.

I hope that you do not feel this was a waste of your time to read, since it is not really magical, but perhaps this minor observation will lead you to experiment with the principle, and see what results you achieve.*

As my first new thought to I.C.O.M in over three months, this may seem a bit weak…but I hope to improve my standing as time goes on, and I get back into the swing of things. Best of luck to you, and may this suggestion lead to powerful ideas on your part. Perhaps what works with a pencil will work with coins , dice or other objects. Give it some thought.

Co-Directors Notes:*Are you kidding Ron? A waste of Time? I am sure that most I.C.O.M members will realize that what you are giving them is a REAL lesson in magic. If we can get all magicians to start thinking like you, the magical world would see the biggest boom in new effects in the history of prestidigitation. Thanks Ron, This is priceless in my opinion. And we are all VERY GLAD you are back!….BJG

” Additional Thoughts On String Thing “
Ronald J. Dayton

Last month we discussed the Chinese Sticks at some depth, but I felt as if there were still more objects that might logically be tied to the ends of the strings on the sticks to expand patter and presentation possibilities. Here are a few more:

Small plastic space ships, lunar landers, or toy astronaughts ( possibly in a zero gravity situation.) Toy submarines, scuba divers, hot air balloons, clear plastic balls representing soap bubbles…dollar bills to indicate the stock market, and the rising and dropping value of US currency in the global market. Kangaroos. Two mock report cards with some grades being high, and others, low. Tiny loaves of bread, rising and falling in the oven.

I know this is still a partial list. But I hope someone out there will pick up the gauntlet, and see how many more you can list and put to practical use.

July 1999

” A String Thing “
Ronald J. Dayton

Years ago, variety stores…in particular, the Ben Franklin Stores, were known as Five and Dimes. A youngster could go into one with a dollar or so burning a hole in his pocket…and very likely come out with a nifty toy or two.

The store I frequented also had a counter top, rotating metal rack upon which hung various novelty items and tricks from S.S. Adams Company. They were the same fine people who made Joy Buzzers and Whoopie Cushons available. The novelties were fun of course, and I bought my share…but it was the magic I was most strongly attracted to. One of the first I ever bought cost me about thirty-nine cents. It was called, The Cord Pillar.

I had no idea that this effect was a plastic model of an item manufactured and carried in the catalogs of none other than Floyd Thayer. The Thayer pillars were fashioned of wood, and very well made. Even when they were available, the price being asked was only twenty-five cents!

The Thayer Cord Pillars consisted two small wooden pillars, joined at one end so they could be swung apart, or spread like the slats in a hand held fan. At the end opposite the joined end , a length of cord ran through small holes in each pillar. With the pillars together, the cord could be pulled back and forth, proving it was one continueous length. The blade of a knife was then inserted between the two pillars, and the string apparently cut in half. When the pillars were slid apart, the severed halves of the string could be seen. Then, by using a bit of magic, the pillars were closed, and the cord once again pulled freely back and forth between them.

I have taken a few moments to tell you about this clever pocket trick because I feel it is closely related to the effect we are going to discuss this month…The Chinese Sticks. The name Thayer originally gave these sticks was The Wands of Mah-Hoe. And the reason I firmly believe that there is a connection between the Sticks and the Pillars was because of the progression of thought and marketed effects within the Thayer Company. The Wands of Mah-Hoe came first, followed by the Mystery Sticks of Peng Yeng, The Devil’s Pillars, and eventually, the Cord Pillars.

The Wands of Mah-Hoe are basically one and the same as the modern effect known as the Chinese Sticks. The apparatus consists of two wand like sticks. At the front end of each, a string runs through the bottom and out the top of the tip. One string is long and the other is short. Each string has a tassel at one end, and a bead at the top.

You hold the sticks close together, side by side in one hand at the ends opposite the tasseled strings. When the short string is pulled on…it gets longer, and the long string gets proportionately shorter. The string pulls are alternated several times until the audience begins to think that the string runs through both sticks. To quell this suspicion, you separate the wands at the front…then holding in sort of a V shape in one hand. Again the strings are pulled…again, one grows in length as the other shrinks. Now the audience is convinced that the string must run down inside one wand, out the end and across to the other wand…then up to its front tip. After a bit of by-play, you separate the wands again…proving there is no connection. Placing and holding one of the wands under your arm…the othe hand reaches over and pulls on its short string. The string of the wand under your arm lengthens, and the string of the wand held in the other hand gets short. That my friends is the mystery of the Chinese Sticks.

These sticks or wands have been available in a variety of styles. Some were made to resemble sticks of Bamboo…others were square metal tubes which prevented them from rolling off your table…and eventually, modern plastic injection has brought us to the sticks still popular today. A small set may be purchased for three or four dollars I guess. Maybe a bit more, but they are worth every penny. The construction relies on a couple of internal sliding weights which control the lengths of the cords. Properly handled, the Chinese Sticks are a mystery to be sure. The mechanisms are silent, and the effect highly visual.

I offer as proof that the sticks are of value the fact that they too have been thought about and modified to create still newer versions of the theme. Although methods are drastically different, the ‘look’ of such effects as the Devil Stick, and The Pom Pom Pole ring true to the original wands of the 1930’s. Not at all strange when you consider that The Wands of Mah-Hoe were very possibly influenced by a popular Parlor effect which preceded by quite a number of years…the Pillars of Soloman.

Students of I.C.O.M may, if they wish, purchase their own set of sticks from our on line magic store. If you do…I would very much like to make some suggestions…to give a few ideas which might inspire you to find new and different routines of your own for the Chinese Sticks.

We already know the basic premise. One long string, one short. Pull on one, it becomes long, and the other automatically becomes short. Process is repeated a few more times to build suspicion in your audience. That’s just fine if you happen to want to present the effect exactly as it has been done for decades. But what I would like you to think about now is what sort of object might be attached to the ends of the cords in place of the tassell which will give you the opportunity to generate new patter ideas…and presentational possibilities. What can you think of that might logically hang from a string or cord?

Perhaps for younger children in your audience, you might consider attaching ‘cute’ looking rubber spiders. Don’t use ones which will frighten them…because your patter will be based on the Miss Muffet nursery rhyme. For older children or adults…go ahead and use scary looking spiders. Weave what ever tale you can to fit the new Arachnid-Sticks you are using.

What about yo-yo’s, or maybe even small plastic soldiers who are in training, and climb and repell down steep cliffs ? For the holidays, Ornaments might well be hung from strings. Mountain climbers and rescue workers dangle from ropes from time to time. In each of these instances, you have built in, logical opportunities to devise patter which will make your presentation different from all others. Some more examples are; elevator cars which dangle from cables….the scoop shovels on excavating cranes…or fish on the lines of fishing poles. There are a lot of possibilities. I’m sure I have missed quite a few. It will be up to you to figure things out…and change the sticks and their handlings to suit your style and needs. Perhaps one day, I will see you performing your version on the stage of some club or theater. Make the search for a method an adventure.

Wow Ron, This is platinum!….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 and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Kid Show Konservatory 4/99-6/99


June 1999

Magical (?) Sticker Printing
Bobby J. Gallo

Notice the blank leader atop of roll of stickers* caused by what else? Handing out the stickers of course!

This routine is one of those rare gems that you stumble upon by accident, then use as a regular item in every show hence.

As many of you know, since I do not use animal balloons in my kid show, I prefer to hand out stickers instead. Kids love’em, they are cost effective and do not take up valuable show time to “twist”. Also, stickers, in my mind, are among one of the safer items to hand out to kids. Schools hand them out as rewards for good behaviour and academic achievements all the time. So if they like stickers, then maybe I should as well. Of course as always, when it comes to handing anything out to kids, “you are on your own!” For even stickers are not recommended for children 3 and under.

One thing you will notice when using stickers that come in a “roll” as opposed to ones that come printed on a sheet. After only as few as two shows you are left with a long paper leader where the stickers used to be. During one show, I told the kids that they were going to get magical stickers. I pulled the roll out. The same one that I had already used for two previous shows that day and displayed it. The kids yelled “where are the stickers?” I looked and proceeded to unroll the long paper leader. They laughed as I acted like I was surprised to find that the paper was blank. Then a thought came to me. I will have the kids say a magic word, and if I time it just right, the stickers will come into view as they say it.

I said, “say abracadabra!” and as they did, the stickers came into view and what do you know?, I got a tremendous reaction! Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t fool adults at all save for a few at your local magic club, (just kidding) but it is an extremely handy gag for the kids and adds just a tad of entertainment into the otherwise hum-drum act of handing out stickers.

*To find out more about stickers to hand out at your shows, call ALBERT THE STICKER MAN/HOLLY SALES (904) 223-5828 for a fantastic selection of stickers for entertainers including the ones you see in the photo.

May 1999

The Gag Climax
Bobby J. Gallo

Ever notice that magic like music usually has a set series of steps that are used to create a complete routine? The trick usually starts with a patter opener, then either more patter or music for the main body of the trick, then almost without fail, the climax or end of the trick is some grand climax that always has to be magical in nature.

But is this how is always has to be? After all, our primary function as entertainers is to ENTERTAIN! so if that is indeed the case, how else can we structure the end of a magical routine?

I have found in many circumstances that a routine can be put together in four basic ways.

  1. Magical Beginning, Magical, Middle, Magical End.
    This means that in each step of the routine, magic effects take place with usually the strongest effect last.
  2. Non-Magical Beginning, Magical, Non-Magical Middle, Magical End.
    This is very common. It merely means a patter opener followed by more patter/comedy or a series of tricks culminating into a climax.
  3. Magical Beginning, Magical, Middle, Comedy End.
    This is where the magic starts the trick off but a comedy gag finishes the routine.
  4. Non-Magical Beginning, Middle, Comedy end.
    This starts with “magic theme” patter and ends up with a gag finish.

Numerous tricks illustrate the practicality of what I am stating here. The following is a list of magic that uses one of the above mentioned structures.

  1. The Classic Baby Gag-#4
  2. The end of the Linking Card routine found in the I.C.O.M Archives entitled, Devil’s Play Link.-#3
  3. The climax to the Bobby J. Gallo Commando Ring & Rope Routine.-#3
  4. The Classic 52 in 1 Card-#4
  5. Any of the myriad of “KID SHOW” items where snakes jump out from a magical looking prop. Remember, there is no magic here, but the climax is still entertaining and the introduction of surprise is an element that is allied to magic.-#4
  6. The ever popular Rabbit In The Hat Puppet is a great example. Here is a prop that adults and kids alike know is not real, but yet has a magical element to it and since it is comedic in nature, can be classified as a rabbit gag.

There are numerous others including a certain very popular close-up trick involving the use of spiders… yuck!, but the point is, it actually may be beneficial to have a few routines like this dispersed throughout your show. Why? It adds texture and interest rather than having the same set series or as Bill Wisch likes to say, “PARADE” of trick after trick after trick.

I think most pro’s come to this conclusion after a certain point, but it with the beginner that this technique of dispersing non-magical items into a show must be realized. I’ll never forget a stand-up comedian friend of mine saying that he hates card tricks because they are so boring. Maybe if the magician that created that view in his mind used some of these methods, his opinion would be different.

For a final thought it should also be mentioned, that for notable exceptions such as the “rabbit in the hat puppet”, Gag endings should not be overused and always used as an adjunct to regular magic. Keep the audience in the dark as to the true nature of the gag climax till the last possible moment for maximum impact, and as the old magic adage goes….keep em’ guessing.

April 1999

My Name is Magician
Bobby J. Gallo

At first reading, like so many of my other articles, this subject may seem a bit trivial. But many trivial things add up to make a complete whole as far as a performance career. Be that as it may, I think this is a very important link in the chain of elements that a modern magician needs in order to perform and function in a crazy modern world.

As a preface to what I am about to discuss, let me tell you why it all came about. They say necessity is the mother of invention and in this case those words could not be truer.

The toughest part of roving and trade show magic is without doubt, “the approach” there have been books written about this and without fail at magic lectures, people often ask me how I deal with “the approach”. For those of you who do not know what I mean by the term “approach”, Let me just say that it is the act of literally approaching a group of total strangers or even a single person and performing a show for them that they never asked for and sometimes don’t even want. The inherent problem with the approach is the fact that you very quickly have to establish yourself as an entertainer before the audience gets a pre-conceived notion that you are some extremely weird person approaching them for no apparent reason. As magicians, we are by our very nature, “weird” but that is besides the point. Even after we have introduced ourselves, the damage is done. Something subconscious had grabbed our audience, put them on guard and the subsequent performance suffers as a result. Even if this is not the case, in a restaurant situation you do not want to be mistaken for the waiter and heaven forbid you approach the children without the parents knowing who you are in advance and you may be looking at physical injury (Not that I can say I blame them in this milk carton day and age). In the trade show environment it is a similar reaction for entirely different reasons. Once you approach a busy conventioneer striding down the isle, you are immediately perceived as one of several thousand sales people trying to get their business. You can only imagine how much they want to stop and see your nifty color changing paddle routine.

All this being said, the question remains, “how do you address all of these very important obstacles?” Because they are indeed obstacles. The partial answer lies in the simple, but powerful BUTTON! Did I just say button? As in button that you wear on your lapel? Yep!, that’s what I said alright. And it is far more effective at addressing all of the concerns I have mentioned than a hundred cleverly crafted one line openers.

The button I wear all the time is bright red and has one word on emblazoned upon it…..


I thought of this one day when I was accidentally wearing one of the stickers that I give out to the children after my kid shows that also says “Magician” printed on them. Upon arriving to my next show I realized that everyone knew who I was even before I introduced myself. The kids starting yelling, “The magician is here, the magician is here”! That started me thinking, so I then went down to my local magic supply house where they also made custom buttons. I had a few made that said “Magician” on them, and started wearing them to all of my shows. The difference was startling! All of my approaches were so easy. When I did roving shows, people would come to me to ask for a trick! A magicians dream come true!

The real test came when I started working trade shows with them. There was very little sales person phobia when I wore the buttons and made my job there a lot easier as well. And all it took was a few dollars to make a few buttons.

However, I must leave you with one caveat. You will hear TWO pseudo-joke lines over, and over, and over, and over again from layman who think they are funny.

  1. Gee, you must be the magician, I can read. ha, ha.
  2. Gee, I know your name, it’s magician right? ha, ha. To which I say, yes, in your case, my name “is” magician, ha, ha.


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 and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Kid Show Konservatory 1/99-3/99


January 1999

The Sandwiched Card Trick*
(A Final Bite)
Bobby J. Gallo

For those of you that have been following the bizarre premise here on I.C.O.M of having a freely selected card appear between two slices of bread, you are in for a yet another take on this ‘savory’ premise. You may also be wondering why this is appearing in the Kid Show Konservatory and not in the Advanced Lab where the others reside?

There are two answers to that question. The first is that I have been using this routine for a number of years in my current family show! It is geared to all ages and that is one reason why it is here. The second is that my method, as much of my magic is actually too simple of a method to be considered “advanced”. Yes, my presentations are usually more advanced than most magician’s, (I find it gratifying to think for myself instead of using the classic cookie-cutter presentations) but the technical workings must be made “automatic” or the routine becomes impractical for the vast number of shows that I perform annually.

So with the introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at the effect and you will see why I use this item in every show except pre-schools. Why not pre-schools you ask? Well, think about it. Do toddlers know what a deck of playing cards is? Do they know that a deck consists of fifty-two cards, each one different?…..No, they do not. So this trick would mean nothing to them. However, I must say that when there are very young ones present in the audience, they ARE entertained by the presentational aspects of the routine if not by the magic itself. But in almost every other situation, this trick is a sure-fire, almost self-working, killer effect.


The magician states that he will do one of the most spectacular card tricks ever invented. He shows the deck around and has a card selected and returned to the deck. The deck is then legitimately shuffled and cut many times by as many members of crowd as they wish. The card really is lost!

The magician then states that he gets three chances to find the card behind his back or the spectator wins a fabulous prize! (the challenge aspect makes this an attention getter)

The performer places the deck behind his back and with the look of great concentration takes out a card and proudly displays it to the audience. But to his dismay the crowd eagerly states that it is the wrong card! (I know that this premise is similar to the spelling trick ploy described last month in the beginners study but that trick is for close-up and this is for stand-up. The two tricks never appear in the same program)

The magician tries a second time with the same result. When the third time has a repeated outcome, the magician concedes that he must give the spectator the prize. Upon reaching into his case he take it out, a week old sandwich! After the laughter subsides the magician states that this is no ordinary sandwich but a magical one.

You see, (as he pulls the sandwich out of the paper lunch bag that is resides in) he says. this is not real bread, it is made of sponge, and this in not luncheon meat, it is a silk handkerchief. And we do not put mustard or mayo on the sandwich we put…….A playing card?

The magician looks inside and pulls out a playing card. Slowly turning it over it is seen that it is the very same card the the spectator selected!

Well, the spectator did not get the prize but they did get a dynamite piece of entertainment!


All you have to do is force a card. (see October Beginner’s Study for the Forcing Primer) Have a duplicate of the card forced in the fake sandwich. The rest is just pure showmanship.

You can obtain the fake sandwich in two ways, first, there is a trick currently marketed that has the necessary foam slices of bread, but also many magic shops stock joke sandwich items. Any one that you can put a card into will work. Also, pet stores sell rubber bread slices sold as doggie chew toys, these could work great too, though I have never tried them.

As a final note, it is important to put the sandwich inside a paper lunch bag. This is the equivalent of a sealed wallet as in the popular card to wallet effect. It is also another object the audience can relate to and that is important.

*With respect to the trick originated by Ronald J. Dayton

February 1999

The Ultimate Show
(according to me)
Bobby J. Gallo

Here we are in February, just after the holiday season that any pro or semi-pro knows is the absolute busiest season of the year. Literally dozens of shows are performed in the month of December alone!

Looking back upon this past season, I have strengthened my conviction that virtually the only way I could have and indeed did survive the onslaught of gigs was to put into practice the very theory that I talk about in the “Command Magic (TM)” Cyber-Magic Text Book found in the I.C.O.M Library. And that is the act of packing small and playing big.

It’s actually amazing to me that in looking back, I calculated that more than half but not quite 9 out of 10 shows would have been IMPOSSIBLE for me to perform in were it not for the fact that I carry my entire stand-up act in a black catalog case.

I mean that sincerely. Even if all I had was ONE suitcase table I could have not done certain jobs. During this past season I have walked city blocks in the freezing cold, have been directed up and down numerous flights of stairs, have been put into corners of restaurants and rooms with only a few feet between me and the audience. And the list goes on and on and on and on. In other words, I have been put into situations where there could have been NO WAY to lug in so much as a suitcase table or the like. Upon leaving these gigs I could not help but wonder how the other magicians were able to do it……if indeed they were doing it at all.

It seems as time goes on, less and less consideration is being given to the need of the entertainer. Even when you try to get information beforehand you find out that the agent booking the party hasn’t a clue (usually the case) or the host/hostess of the party is equally in the dark as to what needs be done.

The only way to handle these unknown circumstances is to have an act that can play in virtually all of them!

There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that you will be able to work effectively in virtually any situation. The con is that you cannot use all of the fancy toys that we have all purchased in our favorite magic shops.

It is indeed possible to put an effective act together using what I term Command Tricks and the following is an outline of my CURRENT act that I use for just about everything. I hope it helps you in YOUR quest of developing your own professional quality act.

  1. Single Silk Routine*
  2. Sponge Ball Routine (Yes, I do it for stand-up performances)*
  3. Egg Bag Routine (for my complete routine, see the I.C.O.M Archives)*
  4. Ring & Rope (for my complete routine, see The Bobby J. Gallo/Bill Wisch Lecture)*
  5. Multiple Silk Routine (again, see The Bobby J. Gallo/Bill Wisch Lecture)*
  6. Streamlined Rising Egg or Comparable Effect (See I.C.O.M Archives)
  7. The Sandwiched Card Trick (Bobby J. Gallo version, see last month above!)*
  8. Jumbo Card Trick
  9. Silk Knotting Routine followed by Silk/Wand Penetration (Coming to this forum soon!)*
  10. Spring Animal Routine
  11. Blendo Effect
  12. Spirit Slates
  13. Extra: Thimble manipulation.*
  14. Encore: The Eleventh Finger (See this months beginner’s study)*

Two things I would like to point out concerning the routines you see here.

  1. EVERY routine is hand held. There is no need for a table of any kind when working this show! All that is needed is a chair to place the bag on that I stand in front of (I borrow the chair at the gig). When one trick comes out, I perform it, it goes back in and the next comes out and so on. At the end, it is zipped up and I am packed up in less than a minute!
  2. Many of these routines can double as close-up items (noted by the *). This is VERY important when the agent booking the engagement fails to ask the client whether or not this is a stand-up show, and when you arrive the customer tells you that you are roving instead of performing for a large group. This happens a lot.

That’s it! This is what I make my living with and as you can see, it contains a little bit of everything and can run an hour if need be. After almost a decade and a half of professional performing, this is what I have learned and developed.

Though the show itself is my own, the general idea and format of this show is not entirely my original creation. Years ago I found that many of the classic supper club magicians of the past used this same pack small, play big concept. A booklet entitled Programmes of Famous Magicians by Magic Inc. is suggested reading.

Now it is up to you to develop your own style and routines. May this give you the inspiration you need.

March 1999

Do You Pull A Rabbit Out Of A Hat ?
Bobby J. Gallo

This is a follow-up to last months piece on traveling with a practical show. But also addresses other current issues as well.

It seems that magicians today are faced with confronting a stereotype every time we are engaged to perform at a professional venue. As a full-time professional, the same questions are repeated over and over when prospective clients call me for a job. The problem is, most of these questions are what people ASSUME all magicians do nowadays. The reality, however, can be quite the contrary.

The following is a list of commonly held beliefs of what magicians perform, and what they perform with through the eyes of the lay public. If you perform magic for money. You will immediately see the truth in these examples. If you don’t, it will give you valuable insight into what the public considers professional magic to be.

  1. Do you pull a rabbit out of a hat?
    The classic trick of all magic… This imagery has been drilled into the minds of the public so much, that to them, it is hard to imagine a magic show without the performer doing this feat. It amazes me however that most do not realize that in all of the television special of magicians doing their magic. You NEVER see this being done. Yet the question is always asked.
  2. Do you use a “live” bird or rabbit?
    While there are still a handful of magicians that DO still use livestock. Most do not. I prefer the artificial “spring” animals in my act. Yet the public still thinks that a live rabbit that just sits there motionless after being produced may still be more entertaining than a prop animal that can do amazing and funny things including actual tricks….go figure.
  3. Do you twist up balloon animals?
    Read the archives for my thoughts on this anomaly. It still makes me wonder how these got into actual magic acts anyway? Guess the same way juggling did <G>!
  4. Do you come dressed as a clown?
    ??????????????? Then again, I have seen some magician’s outfits that could conceivably fit into this category. And should clowns be doing magic anyway? Now there is a discussion!!!
  5. What do you give out to the kids?
    Since when did the magic act become a part-time toy outlet? Yet this is asked, time and time again.
  6. How many props do you bring?
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the classic image of the magician was this mysterious character that roamed around with his “bag of tricks?” Sorry, I’m not a traveling magic shop.
  7. Do you wear a tuxedo?
    I realize that the tuxedo is a time-honored symbol of magic, and I respect those who wear them. And I have to say now that this is the least of what I think is wrong with magic. But is it really necessary to wear one when you are performing in a private home on a 90-degree day while uncle Billy is sitting in the easy chair with his ripped blue jeans and motorcycle t-shirt? You get the idea…

These are all issues the prepared magician must have pat answers for when called by a client. These are also issues that we all must face sooner or later or risk perpetuating false stereotypes that have plagued us since the turn of the century.

I will leave you with this thought.

Max Malini-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Nate Leipzig-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Al Koran-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Dai Vernon-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Tony Slydini-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Harlan Tarbell-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Joseph Dunninger-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Cardini-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Dariel Fitskee-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Keith Clark-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Frakson-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Paul Le Paul-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Ade Duval-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Robert A. Nelson-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
John Scarne-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 6.
Dr. Jaks-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5,6, or 7.
J.B.BOBO-Did not practice examples 1,2,3,4,5, & 7.

To the best of my knowledge, all these examples are true. Please correct me if you saw any of these guys with a balloon animal!

I could go on but I think the point has been made. Above are some of the greatest magicians in the past 100 years and virtually all of them traveled like I now do with a suitcase show and virtually all of them did not fit the present-day magician stereotype. Though MOST of them did wear tuxedos, it must be remembered that they performed in the classic cabarets and supper clubs where EVERYONE was dressed that way. I think that if they were around today, at least SOME of them would probably re-think their attire. Then again maybe not.

So the next time someone asks… Do you do ????? Tell them no and because you do not, they will get a better overall performance.


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 and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Kid Show Konservatory 10/98-12/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

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

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

October 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dynamic Dye Box Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Compressed Spring Flowers
  • The Large 36in. Silk

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

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

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

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

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


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

Later Thoughts on The Soda Fountain Act
Ron Dayton

Dear Bobby.

I was re-reading your Thayer variation today.

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

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


November 1998

Kolar Re-Visited
Ronald J. Dayton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Kid Show Konservatory 7/98-9/98

Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive

Kid Show Konservatory 7/98-9/98

Dedicated to the fine art of entertaining children with magic!


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

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

July 1998

“Thayer For 2000”

This is the first of a multi-part series focusing on two ancient magical texts from the old Thayer Studio. This Lesson (the first) is a re-vamped version of the Thayer “Complete Soda Fountain Act”. The entire working of the method and routine has been re-worked and re-written by yours truly. No matter how timeless the original concept, most of the old manuscript was hoplessley “dated” and needed much revision. The following is the result, with a multitude of new ideas and insights not found in the sparse original version.

Like much of the old Thayer Manuscripts, They are acts relegated to the golden age of magic. Relics of a bygone era. But that does not mean we cannot learn from the past to create new magic for the present, right?

The following is a routine that “could” be great for children in the right setting. This would be one of the most novel acts ANY performer could possibly introduce in the realm of children’s magic. No one is doing it and I know it could be a reputation maker in the right hands.

The only “caveat” however would be that the performer must make the call for him/herself whether or not they would EVER wish to give food products out to audience members. Depending on your locality, you may even need a food licence of sorts. A course in proper food handling may not be out of the question either. After all, this “is” your career right?

I must admit however, that over the years, I have seen literally dozens of performers hand out lollipops and candy to children at shows, so in essence, this is really no different in my opinion. Nevertheless, we have to state that this knowledge is here for “educational purposes only” and is up to each individual performer whether or not to perform a version of the following act….BJG

“The Soda Fountain Act”
Bobby J. Gallo

Effect: The performer displays a small soda bar of sorts with a number of empty soda glasses. He then shows an empty bottle and proves that it is indeed devoid of any liquid by shining a flashlight through it and letting the audience get a glimpse of the interior of the bottle.

After the music starts the performer says the magic word and lo and behold, pours genuine soda-pop from the bottle! This is the real stuff that you can actually drink! He then continues to pour a large number of soda drinks from the empty bottle and to the audiences delight, they are all different colors (flavors)! For a grand finale, the performer reaches into his pocket and produces a tall glass of milk. An entire act in itself that kids and adults alike will remember for a long time!

Method: Upon studying the old Thayer manuscript, they that the three main aspects to the ultimate success of the “Soda Fountain Act” are the ability of the “personable” performer to…

  • Magically pour…
  • Good looking…
  • Good tasting…drinks

Sounds easy right? <G>

Well, maybe, maybe not. It is important to have all three elements. What good is a great looking drink if, when tasted, may as well be used to water the plants. The flip-side is also the case. If the drink looks horrible, no one will want it. Would you?

The first thing you will need is a “soda bar” of sorts. This can be constructed using a standard card table trimmed in a 1950’s motif’ or any other way you like. The more imaginative, the better! There is no gimmicks in this part of the materials so get creative in its creation. Things you may want to keep in mind of course would be portability and size for travelling purposes. Also, consider a costume. Maybe the type that a 1950’s soda fountain worker would wear. That would be great….!

Next you will need a number of soda glasses. I would strongly recommend staying away from genuine glass and instead opt for the many varieties of “plastic” glasses and tumblers on the market. This is for two reasons.

  • Remember, you are working for kids. And kids drop things!
  • No matter how carefully you pack, glass tends to break during travel.

Try to obtain glasses that are smaller than normal. You will want to make a small amount of liquid go a long way. And never forget a few towels! Nuff said on that point!

Now comes the magical part. You will need a container that will magically produce drinks. Of course you can use a commercially available Foo Can, but they are rather expensive and do not hold a lot of liquid. Besides, the one “I” had was rather dirty inside due to the fact that it was made of spun copper and never seemed to come very clean. Not something you would want to pour “drinks” out of.

The old Thayer Manuscript had a wonderful solution that could be made inexpensively and was quite simple. Find a quart sized colored bottle. Fill it with Seven-Up or other Lemon-Lime Soda. This should be kept refrigerated until showtime. If travelling, a cooler of some type may be used to transport the liquid keeping it fresh and cold. Certain Thermos bottles could be helpful as well.

Now, it is corked with a piece of cork (yes, you can still get corks!) which fits into the neck of the bottle snug. But which is only about half an inch in length. Incidentally, the cork must not be placed intpositionbottle neck until immediately prior to your performance.

Just before your act begins fill the colored glass bottle to the top with the soda-pop. Then cork the bottle so that the top part of the cork is level with the rim of the neck of the bottle.

In the glasses you are using, place a few drops of “food coloring” in each of the glasses using whatever color the drink in that glass is supposed to be. For example, if the glass is to be filled with “orange” soda, use a mixture of red & yellow coloring. With a little experimenting, (mixing colors etc.) you will be able to duplicate the color of almost any soda-pop on the market! Food coloring is obtainable at almost any food market.

REMEMBER: You are only after the color alone to look good. The taste does not matter. Believe it or not, few will ever know the difference in taste between your disguised lemon-lime soda and other flavors! You may not believe this now, but it is true. You may even want to try a blindfold experiment yourself. Have someone give you several soda flavors and see if you can guess which one each is. You will be surprised with the results.

Now have a system where you know which glasses contain which colors, so that during the routine, if someone calls out orange soda, you don’t pour cola!

Last on your list of props is flashlight. This will become more apparent as you read the workings of the routine.

All set? have your music? oh…no music? ok, just read on!

Pick up the bottle in the left hand. Hold it upside down, the cork will not come out if you have picked one that fits very snug in the neck of the bottle. Pick up the flashlight and proceed to shine the light through the bottle. The liquid, being perfectly translucent, will not show. Turn out the light.

Place the bottle on the bar right side up and, as you do, your right thumb (or forefinger) shoves the thin piece of cork right down into the neck of the bottle. It’s presence there, floating atop the liquid, will not be seen for it is at this place on the bottle that the hand holds the “neck” as the pouring is done. However, at intervals, you may have to tip the bottle a bit to again dislodge the cork if it become stuck in the neck again to permit the release of the liquid.

Pretty clever huh? As far as I am concerned, this is far more effective than the use of a “prop” to produce the liquid.

The key here is to rehearse with an empty bottle so that you will have no trouble creating the “illusion” of an empty bottle (before the cork is dis-lodged) when you handle it. Observe how you handle the empty bottle then duplicate your actions with the filled one.

At this point you may proceed to present the effect in one of two ways. The first method is the classic “any drink called for” or in this case, “any soda flavor called for”. So obviously it is important to know what glass has what color in it when called. You also, only want to have one of each as far as the varieties go. Too much is overkill and anti-climactic.

What is nice about this method is that in addition to the magical appearance of the liquid you have the additional effect of magically making the “selected” flavor appear. Also, dark brown can be cola as well as root beer, etc.

The other way of presenting this would be to just do a magical presentation to music, talking about the various soda flavors while proceeding to pour out those being explained at the time. This has the advantage of not having to worry about soda flavors being called that you are not prepared for. Either way, the routine would be effective. Just be sure to pour the drinks out fast and keep your pacing brisk. It would be a good idea to allow an assistant to then pass out the drinks each time you get four or five ready. Always be sure to include a drinking straw in each glass. That’s showmanship and the kids love straws!

You will be amazed at how many drinks can come from one bottle as long as the glasses you use are not too large. And if you wish you may even want to try an old dodge if you have “wise” ones in the audience. An old secret of “any drink called for” performers of the past is to have several glasses of REAL soda behind your makeshift soda bar. Add these in sometime during the routine and pass them out. This proves (?) that you are producing legitimate soda-pop flavors!

A nice climax to the act would be to get a tight-fitting rubber cover for a glass which could either be purchased from a magic dealer or made using a piece of “dental-dam” material and a rubber band. This you have over the mouth of a glass of milk or ice water in your pocket. As a smash finish, pretend to hear someone call out the contents of the glass in your pocket instead of a soda-pop flavor. Reach into you pocket a produce it for laugh and big round of applause!!!

A Word Of Warning

When working the soda fountain act for children. Never let yourself nor her (or him if the assistant happens to be a “him” venture into the audience with the poured drinks) That you’ll be mobbed is a rank understatement of fact.

Here Are Some Patter Ideas

Ask: “Who has a birthday today? Please raise your hand.” If several have birthdays get them to come up and sit down. Next: Who has a birthday this week? Usually you’ll get enough hands on this one to fill a few chairs. If not: “Who has a Mommy orDaddy who has a birthday this week?” Keep this up until your chairs are filled. Then announce that you are to give them a “Magical Birthday Treat” and continue with the soda fountain act.

Finally, a word to those who may do the soda fountain act. Sometimes your host, or hostess, may want you to magically produce drinks for all the guests. In that case simply have that person provide an opaque punch bowl and have it on a table on the stage filled with punch, or otherwise depending on the audience. After you have poured all but a few drops from your bottle, pretend to empty the last of it intthumbbowl. Yes, really pretend to do so. Bring the neck of the bottle well down into the bowl so that the audience can’t see that there is really nothing emerging from the bottle. When finished, pick up the punch ladle, place it in the bowl, stand aside and say “And there’s the rest of it. Mrs. So and So, (or whatever your employer’s name may be) wishes everyone to have a magical refreshment!

End Notes: Well there it is, a complete act. I hope this has stimulated your imagination as to how concepts like this or others that are now lurking within your magical brain can be applied to your own show.

I’ll leave you with some homework.

What other ways can this act be presented? Can this act even be done without handing out drinks at all? Hmmm, there’s an idea that takes virtually all risks out of performing the routine! What are your ideas? We’d love to know!

Best Of Success!…BJG

August 1998

Those who know children’s magic, know that the color changing lace is a sure-fire classic. There have been a few on the market over the years, but what we offer you now is the best of them all!…BJG

Ronald J. Dayton

This effect was part of my “One Man Parade” in the March 1990 Linking Ring. It is an off-beat method for achieving a standard effect. In essence, a yellow shoelace is shown in its entirety as it is pulled back and forth through your fist. Audience members may even touch the lace as a form of limited examination if you wish. Then, as the lace is pulled through the hand one last time, it changes color completely, becoming bright red! The lace is held at fingertips, and both hands are otherwise empty. No thumb tips, pulls or complicated mechanical laces are employed.

The Perfection Color Changing Lace is so easy and visual that it actually excites me to share it with you. It is a color change which will catch those who ‘think’ they know, completely off guard. I stumbled upon the method purely by accident while tinkering with a couple of laces. I had rigged up a set of laces as in Fig. 1. for my ( then ) young daughter Jennifer. In that instance, all four laces were the same color. My thinking was, the lace as in Fig. 1 could be threaded up through her shoe.. .and if she ever broke the lace, she would have a matching spare with her at all times. She never took to the idea, thought her class-mates would make fun of her.. but I still think it’s not bad.

Well, now that I’ve given you way more background than you wanted to know, we can proceed with the preparation of the laces. You will need two laces, one yellow and one red. These are the hollow type sports laces. The yellow lace is 24 inches in length, and the red lace is a 27 inch lace.

Poke one tip of the yellow lace through the material of the red lace near one end. Now thread and push the yellow tip up through the red lace until you come to the opposite red end. Push the yellow tip through the material at this end. Bunch the red lace up in sort of a pleated bundle at the center of the yellow lace, Fig. 1. The yellow lace is length A-B, the red lace is C-D.

By concealing the bunched red bundle in your right fist, the yellow lace may be pulled back and forth through the hand, casually showing its entire length. On the last downward pull of the yellow lace the bunched red section is slipped to a position very near to end A, Fig. 2.

Lace tips C and D have been concealed within the right hand. Tip A of the yellow lace is just barely visible above the top of the right fist. As the left hand seems to grasp end A, it actually pulls end C up in to view as end A slips inside the red lace interior. Do not pull end C too far. Stop when the laces appear as in Fig. 3. Inner tip A is at point X in the illustration. The audience can now see that the yellow tip has changed to red.

With the left hand first finger and thumb, take a FIRM grip on end C, gripping inner tip A at the same time through the material and pull upward through the fist. Make it a smooth, unhurried pull. The yellow lace will seem to visibly change to red. It’s a startling revelation.

At the end of the pull, keep the right fist closed for a moment or two, then open it a finger at a time to show the empty right hand. It is at this point that the full impact of the total color change will register.

There are a lot of possibilities for this lace effect. You could use TWO laces within a third for magical blendo effects. If you use oversize laces such as for clown shoes, this could become a highly visible stage or platform effect. By using two laces within a third, you could actually have a spectator freely choose which of the two visible laces he would like to have change color. The one not chosen is simply pulled free of the fist and tabled, leaving you with the original color change set-up explained earlier.

What other Possibilities can you think of? I’m certain there are more to be found, but if you are content with what has already been suggested, you will find you have a remarkable color change at your disposal. I hope you will enjoy performing it as much as I do!

Arial Crayon Production
Bobby J. Gallo

A few months ago I discussed a concept that had been poking around my mind for the better part of the last few years. It was the idea of using the myriad of classic cigarette moves with crayons to create new and different magic for today’s audiences with a manipulative look and feel. This is the first actual application of this concept. I can think of no other effect for family audiences that can pack so small and play so large.

EFFECT: The performer exhibits an empty hat to the audience. He/she then proceeds to spot something invisible in the air above the children’s heads. When the performer reaches up, he produces a genuine wax crayon! This is dropped into the hat and another is caught, then another, etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the routine, the hat is turned upside-down and a whole bunch of crayons are seen to spill out.

WORKING: The hat is ungimmicked. Either a classic magician’s top hat or in my case an inexpensive fishing hat may be used. It is even conceivable in this effect to borrow the baseball cap of some “lucky?” child may be wearing in the audience may be wearing to use as your receptacle. He/she then could be able to keep the mystical crayons after the production. That’s always good public relation and it costs only pennies.

A bunch of multi-colored wax crayons, the type children use for coloring purposes are palmed at the commencement of the routine. These are then held inside the palm as the same hand grasps the hat and shows it empty. In other words, the crayons are held against the inside of the hat near the brim. After showing it empty, the crayons are released and allowed to fall into the hat proper.

However, as the crayons are falling, the entertainer retains one single crayon inthis hands which is then thumb palmed (fig.#1) as the hat is transferred into the other hand.

After the music starts (assuming that you “are” using taped music) the first crayon is produced. This production uses the classic cigarette production move made famous by such legends as Cardini, Frakson, and Keith Clark. The digital illustrations show the move.

The Crayon held in thumb palm is brought upwards with the back of hand facing the audience. With a catching motion, the first and middle fingers are curled inwards to grasp the crayon (fig.#2) which are then extended bringing the crayon into full view.

The only difference in this version as opposed to the cigarette version is the position you end up in after the crayon is produced. Fifty odd years ago, after the cigarette was produced, it was held in-between the first and second fingers in the position most identified with smokers. In our version we are going to alter that to bring the crayon up to our finger-tips as in fig.#3.




After the initial production of the first crayon, the hand containing same is brought down and the crayon is dropped into the hat. However, as soon as the crayon is dropped the performer thumb palms a crayon of a different color and repeats the process. This is done several times. You will be amazed at how quickly the thumb palming of one crayon and the aquisition of another can be accomplished.

Near the end of the production. there is no need to switch crayon colors, merely pick-up speed and pluck the same color crayon out of the air and apparently drop it into the hat, over and over by re-thumb palming the same crayon as the hand enters the hat.

Then, with a grand flourish, turn the hat over and let the crayons fall…Bow…

This is phase one of the routine. You can end it here, or you may choose to expand the act to include the crayon vanish and reproduction described next month.

Presentation Idea: How about having a large artists drawing pad on an easle. After each color crayon is produced you proceed to draw a different element of the picture. When completed, the picture can be ripped off the pad and presented to an audience member.

September 1998

Co-Directors Notes: Ok people, here it is! ‘MY’ personal favorite this month. I feel that with the appropriate presentation, this can be a real feature effect. There is something about silk and rope effects that has an element audiences really find interesting. I know that this is one effect that will finds its way into my own act. I know a gem when I see one…BJG

B U F F’ S L E A F L E T S

R. C. Buff, Editor
NUMBER 3 1984

( Issued monthly and devoted exclusively to Rope Magic )

Ronald J. Dayton

Dear I.C.O.M reader.. this effect might well be called The One That Got Away! As you can see by the format given above, the effect first appeared in Buff’s Leaflets. Full sets and copies of same are now highly collectable. When it appeared in March of ’84, it was noted that I reserved the right to use it in a forth coming book. I never placed this handling in a book however, and so, you are reading it now, a brief fourteen years later.

EFFECT: The magician ties a silk handkerchief on to the center of a length of rope. Holding the rope vertically by one end

with his left hand, he anchors the lower end of the rope to the floor with his shoe. When the free hand pulls back the two ends of the tied handkerchief, just as an archer would an arrow.. when he lets go, the silk springs forward and shoots free of the rope. Silk is still tied with a genuine overhand knot.

EXPLANATION: The fine Joseph K. Schmidt drawings should pretty well tell the story.

1) Pinch the silk together at poing “X” in Fig. 1, then allow the ends to fall, so yo~ can grasp end hAN with the right hand and follow figures 1 through 5. ( Pay particular attention to how bight UZN is held with the R.H. second and third fingers as you

2) Figure 6 also shows a second diagram, a schematic view which depicts the silk as another rope.. .50 you may more clearly see how the knot has been formed.

3) The two ends of the silk are brought around the rope towards the performer as in Fig. 6 and 7, then held by the right hand as you allow the rope to hand down vertically from the left hand.

4) Allow the lower end of the rope to touch the floor and hold that end securely to the floor with your foot.

5) Pull back on the ends of the silk1 just as you would if you were drawing back a bow and arrow, Fig. 7. The tension will cause the silk to release itself from the rope.. but a knot will remain tied in the silk.

6) At this same instant, release your hold on the ends of the silk. You’ll find that it will shoQt forward as in Fig. 8.

7) A few trials will give you the knack of releasing the silk at the proper time. Enjoy!

What a great move!


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 and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Kid Show Konservatory 4/98-6/98


Dedicated to the fine art of entertaining children with magic!


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

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

April 1998

To be completely honest with all of I.C.O.M I was planning to start my series on Crayon effects this month. But alas, I find myself going on yet another performance tour tomorrow. I was prepared to spend the entire night photographing the digital images that were planned on being here, And I would have done that since there is nothing more important to my magical existence than our I.C.O.M membership. But then I was given a request by one of our new members overseas to supply a routine for the classic egg bag. After reading Ron Dayton’s excellent treatise on the bag (found in our very own archives), they were intrigued enough to ask if I had any ideas for a complete routine. Boy do I…! I typed out a “virtual lesson” to our esteemed member and was very pleased to say the least. The following is my complete professional routine that use at every show! In retrospect, I could not offer anything better in this forum than what you are about to read.

Commando Egg Bag
“A Professional Routine”
Bobby J. Gallo

I call this the Commando Egg Bag for the very reasons set forth in our Cyber-Magic Text Book (tm) entitled Commando Magic ™. It is streamlined commercial magic with a simple premise and maximum impact. I have done this on television as well as literally thousands of “live” performances. If you compare this to earlier published versions of classic egg bag routines, you will notice that I do not introduce extra props into the bag as a climax or use the “under the arm gag” that everyone and their brother uses. Not to say that prop climaxes are bad. It is just that this routine was designed for a specific purpose. And that is to be practical to the working pro. But there is no reason it will not work for the serious amateur as well.

The following is an exact transcription of The Virtual Lesson.

I am going to give you “MY” original egg bag routine that I use over here in the USA.  I do it at EVERY show and it never fails to get a fantastic response.

It is based on an idea from Ken Brook that shows that an egg bag routine does not have to be very complicated to work well.  All that is required is an egg and the bag. (I use a wooden egg)

Start by having the egg already inside the pocket and the bag turned inside out before the start of the routine.  Take the bag placing one hand inside the bag and slapping the bag with the other hand to prove it is empty.  Ask the audience, “what is on the outside of the bag?”  They will answer, “nothing”  Now, turn the bag inside out again, (actually, you are now turning the bag, right side in but the audience does not know this)  Slap the bag again asking the same question and they will give you the same response, “nothing”.

Now hold the egg in the upper corner of the secret pocket in the palm of your hand as you allow a spectator to feel inside the bag.  Ask them if there is anything in there.  They will say again,”nothing”

Remember, at this point, do not tell them what you are about to do.  Let the appearance of the egg be a surprise and it will get a great response.

After the spectator removes their hand, have the whole audience raise their hands and say a magic word.  Ask them to wave their hands towards the bag. at this moment drop the egg down into the bag, reach in and act as though you do not know what it is, take the egg out and look very surprised. (this always gets a laugh because an egg is a naturally funny object to look at, so take advantage of this fact!)

Now I Challenge the audience to see if they can catch me make the egg vanish.  This gets them very interested and makes them watch the routine very closely.  Challenging the audience is an old Slydini ploy.

Take the egg and slowly place it into the bag.  As you do this, place it inside the pocket and now allow the spectator to feel the egg through the bag.  Ask them if it is there.  They will say “YES”.  Then ask them to hold out their hand.  And in one smooth motion, take the hand out of the bag as though it were holding the egg. (actually, the egg is now in the bag inside of the secret pocket) and place the imaginary egg in the spectators hand acting as though you are really doing it.  Look away as you are doing this and pretend not to notice that there is no egg in the spectators hand. One of two things may happen at this point.

A) The spectator thinks that you are letting them in on some inside magic secret and will actually pretend to hold the egg.  In which case you can do a real miracle by waiving your hands and asking the spectator to open their hand up revealing that the egg has vanished.

B) They will look shocked to see that the egg has vanished and will stare at their hand in astonishment.  Some will actually say that they saw the egg vanish in their hand….It’s true!

Either way, you will get some applause at this point.  Now you are set to go through the first set of moves to prove that the egg is NOT in the bag. (Inside out, spectator feels inside the bag, etc…) After this is done. I have two comedy endings that I use.

1) If someone is wearing a hat in the audience, I tell them that the egg in under it.  When they lift their hat I say “wouldn’t that be amazing!” This gets a big laugh…

2) After the spectator feels inside the bag to show that it is empty, drop the egg in the bag through the pocket and ask them to feel inside again. They always take the egg out.  Do not look while they are doing this and pretend that they did not take out anything.  This gives you the opportunity for a lot of comedy.  If you are working for kids they will scream like crazy trying to tell you that the spectator has the egg.

Finally look at the spectator, notice that they have the egg and act very surprised.  Motion for the audience to give the spectator applause, get your egg back! and bow.

The one aspect of the egg bag I have found needs the most rehearsal is getting the egg in and out of the pocket smoothly.  That is why I developed the ploy of placing the egg in the pocket while the spectator is feeling the egg through the bag.  This works very well.

This routine first appeared as a “Virtual Lesson” to an I.C.O.M. member. One more reason everyone should take advantage of them……
To those wishing to do this routine and do not own an egg bag, there is a quality felt bag available through the I.C.O.M Online Catalog called the E-Z Egg Bag.

May 1998

Co-Directors Note: What can be more familiar to a child than a drinking straw? The following routine is well worth your study as it can be a worthwhile addition to any performance for children. It also constitutes the first in our series of magic that can be done with crayons. This is my kind of magic. Simple in premise, and dynamite in effect. Hopefully it will be a favorite of yours too…BJG

“Surprising Straw Variation”
Ronald J. Dayton

On page 148 of Henry Gordon’s book, ” Henry Gordon’s World Of Magic,” you will find an effect called A Surprising Straw. His effect is novel and has a nice surprise ending to it. My version creates the identical effect. Only the handling has been modified a bit, allowing you to use objects longer than a soda-straw which has been cut in half. If you wish, you may also eliminate the comedy ending, and do a straight vanish and reproduction of the object.

You may use a full length soda-straw if you would like, or a crayon, or any other wand-like object of appropriate length. The handling I am giving uses a standard *2 pencil which has been cut down in length one and one half inches with a coping saw.

Begin with the pencil held at the eraser end as shown in Fig. 1. The other hand holds an opaque handkerchief at one corner. The hanky is draped over the pencil as in Fig. 2. For a brief moment, the end of the pencil is grasped by the left hand at X through the material of the handkerchief as the right hand turns palm down. The right hand is in a very relaxed fist, and the eraser end is inserted deep into the fork of the right hand first and second fingers. The left hand releases its hold and lowers momentarily to your side. The covered pencil is displayed.

The left hand now grasps the hanky at point Z in Fig. 2 and begins to pull it back off the right hand. In a simultaneous move, the right hand swings upward and fingers extend. The two movements should be timed so the empty palm of the right hand is facing the audience as the removal of the hanky by the left hand is completed. The pencil will be concealed at the back of the right hand, Fig. 3. Angles are important. Shorter objects are not as critical.

Now your options may be applied. For the comedy reveal…the left hand immediately tosses the empty hanky into the air and allows it to fall to your table or floor. With palm facing the audience, the left hand criss-crosses in front of the left. The hands move back toward your mouth, where the unsharpened end of the pencil is taken between your teeth. Then, after a moment, the hands lower to reveal the missing pencil held in your mouth. This will kill a bit of the magic…but it will bring you a nice laugh. Perhaps as a lead-in to some serious sleight of hand, this would be very nice indeed.

If on the other hand you would like to keep it purely magic… this is how you might choose to proceed. The hank is retained in the left hand after the initial vanish, and the pencil is concealed at the back of the right hand. With the right palm still toward the audience, the left begins to cover the right once again with the handkerchief. ( Shake the hanky well before hand so they know it is empty…or toss and catch it prior to the covering.) Once the right hand is almost half way under the hank, it lowers and turns palm up. In other words, the covered right hand now rests flat and palm up under the hank. The pencil is suspended beneath it and concealed by the draping of the handkerchief. The left hand now pats against the palm of the covered right hand to show in this way that the right hand is empty. The first finger and thumb of the left hand now reach in and grasp the center of the hanky at the right hand palm and begin to slowly lift it up. As it does, you turn your right hand over so it assumes the position shown in Fig. 2. The left hand releases its grip once the pencil is fully upright, and allows it to be shown as in Fig. 2. You again take hold of end X for just a moment as the right hand repositions itself, taking hold of the eraser end of the pencil as in Fig. 1. The handkerchief is now lifted away for the reveal of the reappearance of the pencil at the right hand fingertips.

Any object which may be clipped between the first and second fingers…or an object, the end of which can be gimmicked so it may be clipped between the fingers will work for this effect. Wands, candles, bread-sticks etc. Crayons, ladies curlers for their hair, if its of the correct general shape and length, you just may be able to use it. Best of luck in your search…

Variation for adult performances only!

Naturally, for those of you who still smoke…cigarettes and cigars may also be used (of course this is not appropriate for childrens shows, but may be effective for adult cabaret performances). Even a pipe which is not too heavy might work well. Bowl end must point in the right direction to be deceptive.

June 1998

Co-Directors Note: OK,…I admit it! I perform over 400 shows a year and YES,…I use a rubber chicken!!! Why you ask? Because it’s funny!…Period. That being the case, I was extremely delighted when Ron showed this manuscript to me containing the following material. I can praise it no higher than to say that as of this moment, I am actually using more than a few of the following lines. If the Kid show entertainer is looking for pure entertainment, in my estimation, one of the best investments he/she will ever make is in purchasing a rubber chicken. (I can’t believe I just said that, but its true) ….BJG

“You Say It…I’m Too Chicken”
Ronald J. Dayton

My friend, Jim Klein, editor and publisher of ” The Magician’s Home Companion “ has once again consented to my using material from that three volume hardbound set. This time it happens to be lines and ideas for the classic.. Rubber Chicken. Thank you Jim!

Alright then. You’ve just pulled your chicken from a square-circle, or from under your jacket.. now what? It may be true that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but it’s not entertainment. You’ve got to say something son! Here are eight ideas which will will either make you a hit.. or get you hung. Are you feeling lucky?

1) This punch line isn’t mine. All I’ve done is to dress up the presentation a little. Take your chicken and tie a two foot length of one inch wide red ribbon to each leg. Now sling the chicken over your back, bringing the ribbon over each shoulder and tying it at the front of your neck in a bow. When you enter, make sure the audience sees the chicken hanging down your back. Turn to face them, undo the ribbons and hold the chicken out in full view at your side. Say, ” What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a magician with his cape on?” ( Capon )

2) Hold the chicken by the legs in one hand and hit it with a small plastic baseball bat held in the other hand. Look at the audience and say, ” Battered Chicken!” Smack the bird so it flies out of your hand. Now tell the, ” Oh, oh.. fowl ball.” Be sure to emphasize the word FOWL.

3) Make a slit in the lower end of your bird and insert a small squeeze-bulb bicycle horn. Display the Rubber Chicken and secretly honk the horn. Look at the audience and tell them it’s a “Leg horn Chicken.”

4) This is for those of you who own U.F. Grant’s Comedy Climax Egg Bag. Dissect the legs, wing sections, and head from a Rubber Chicken and use them to replace the cloth chicken parts found in the Grant bag. In this way, the “chicken” you transform the bag into at the end of the routine will look 100 times better than the original.

5) This use for the Rubber Chicken may be regional, depending upon which products are available in your supermarkets, and how well they are known to the audience. Here in Wisconsin, it works well. Take some foam rubber and some red felt material.

Make a small set of boxing gloves and form them so they may be placed on the feet of the Rubber Chicken. When you bring the chicken into view, look at the gloves and say, ” You’ll never guess what I got at the supermarket today.. .Tyson Chickens.” ( If your audience doesn’t know who Mike Tyson is.. find another town to work.)

6) Novelty shops now have small Rubber Chickens on key chains available. They look just like the normal sized chickens, and they offer a lot of potential for magic. You could have shrinking
or growing chickens. How about a ” chick (chip) off the old block?” The small chicken could be produced from within a plastic egg which appeared in your egg bag. This could be a tie-in to the Grant Egg Bag mentioned earlier.

7) Cut a slit in a Rubber Chicken and insert either a real or an artificial orange. During the show, display the chicken and have it ‘lay’ the orange. Say, “I’ve heard of orange duck before but this is but this is ridiculous.” Produce a small plastic bowling ball and tell the audience its for the ” Pin Feathers!”

8) Two ideas which involve a Rubber Chicken and a play-on-words are as follow: Pin a large name tag on the front of your chicken. The name printed boldly on the tag is TUCK. Look at the Rubber Chicken and then at the name tag. Tell the audience, ” Must be a fryer.” ( Friar ) For the second suggestion, tie a thin blue curtain sash cord around the chicken’s nick. Your comment to the audience? ” Chicken Cord-On-Blue!” ( Cordon Bleu )

All of this may never answer the question Jim Klein asked, “Which came first, the Rubber Chicken or the Weller Egg?” But it may offer some ideas to those inclined to flaunt the latex bird. Not something everyone might wish to embrace, to be sure. But at the right time…in the right hands…it can be pure 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 copywrite 1998 by the International Conservatory of Magic and its respective contributors. No part of this page or its contents may be re-produced without the expressed written permission of I.C.O.M. All marketing and publication rights are reserved. Violation of this is considered intellectual property and information theft and carries penalties under federal law.

Kid Show Konservatory 1/98-3/98


Kid Show Konservatory 1/98-3/98

January 1998

Old Dogs….New Tricks

Up front I must begin by saying that I truly had trouble deciding where to place the following material. In truth, it is not only appropriate for children’s entertainment, but virtually “ANY” magical venue! What you will find will at first seem a bit simplistic due to where you have likely seen the rudimentary forms of the following tricks before, but do not be misled by that fact, they are solid gold.

The title and theme,…Old Dog….New Trick, are a Ron Dayton Creation. I added the plural aspimagine in this rendition (Old Dogs…New Tricks). After receiving his manuscript in the mail, reading and admiring the material, I realized that I myself had a routine that fit perfectly into the framework of what Ron is talking about utilizing the particular classics he describes.

That being the case, I am adding “MY” Old Dog as an addendum to his routines which appears this month in the Beginner’s Study.. I feel that if you try “ALL” yourself, you have several new routines that will become standards in your own programs.

Old Dog…New Trick
Ronald J. Dayton

When I was very young, one of the very first coin tricks I learned from a book was to vanish a penny from the palm of my hand. The trick depended upon a dab of soft bar soap applied to the nail of your middle finger. When the hand closed into a tight fist around the penny, the fingers bent so the prepared nail came into contact with the penny. When you opened your hand quickly, palm up, with fingers outstretched…the coin seemed to vanish into thin air. I had a lot of fun with that trick. I used everything from chewing gum to pinches of soft tar when pressed for the proper material. What ever it took to make it work. Sometimes, things got a little messy!

I was just a young pup back then, but now I am what you might consider to be an old dog…and they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I would like to offer an exception to that rule by explaining a different way to achieve a similar effect to the one mentioned above.

Today, a young conjuror need not depend upon out moded things such as soft bar soap to perform his miracles. These days there are a whole host of poster puttys and adhesives which will literally do the trick.

One of the most difficult aspects of the nail vanish of a small coin such as I explained was the recovery of the coin. It had to be manipulated so it could be ‘peeled’ off from the finger by the thumb of the hand, and drawn back into the fist.

what I am proposing is that you apply some rubber cement to the nail of your right hand thumb. Apply a coat of same to the dime or penny you wish to use for the effect. Coat both sides of the coin and allow to dry.

With the coin placed onto the palm of the right hand, display it, then move it onto the surface of the second and third fingers, near the first bend. As the hand begins to close, the tips of the fingers pivot so they are basically facing toward your body. The right thumb enters just as the formation of the fist is being completed. The nail of the thumb has come into contact with the prepared surface of the coin. As the hand lifts and the fist moves palm side toward your audience, the hand opens out fully with finger and thumb spread wide. The coin seems to have vanished completely.

To cause the coin to reappear, simply lower the hand parallel to the floor….closing it into a loose fist and allowing the thumb to enter same before it has closed all the way. Pull the coin from the thumb with the fingers, retaining it in the fist as the thumb withdraws from same. Turn hand over and open to reveal the return of the vanished coin.

The thumb, being a larger digit, offers more concealment than an individual finger. work with these moves and see what they will do for you. Try other adhesives if you wish to find which is best.
An Additional Thought or two on rubber cement and coins:

With a coat of rubber cement applied to each side of a small coin, you are set to experiment with a variety of magical possibilities.

Consider if you will, having an area of rubber cement applied to the shell of an un-cooked egg. The egg could be casually examined. The coin is then vanished by the sleight of your choice. The coin is secretly retained in one hand or later retrieved after having been lapped. The egg is then placed into the hand on top of the coin. The egg may be transferred freely from hand to than at fingertips, the coin being attached to same. When the egg is then broken into a goblet…the vanished coin will seem to somehow have reappeared inside the egg.

Another old production of a coin was to break open a baked roll. In the original method, the coin was simply held under the roll. The roll was then torn open first from the bottom between both hands. The coin was secretly pushed up into the roll, then the roll was bent or broken from the top…splitting it open and revealing the coin. If the bottom of the dinner roll had a coat of rubber cement, it would hold the coin and still be able to be handled freely. The final reveal of the coin supposedly inside the roll would be done just as in the original method.*

A prepared coin could also be vanished via this method by using a coated card in a matrix routine. Give it some additional thought. I’m sure you will discover methods of your very own.

*Be sure no one eats the roll afterwards!…BJG

Ronald J. Dayton

One of the most fun things a magician can do is to perform an effect for other magicians…one they know the method for, and then turn the tables on them by ending with a complete surprise. This is that sort of an effect.

Almost every beginner is familiar with the old impromptu illusion of appearing to pull your thumb in half and then restoring it. Even though it’s simplistic, it really is effective when shown to someone for the very first time. Basically, the illusion is created as shown in figures 1 through 3. In one smooth move, as the hands are brought together, palm to palm as in Fig. 3, the P.R. thumb bends inward, Fig. 1, and the left thumb bends as in Fig. 2 with the index finger covering the bend at the front. When the left hand is drawn or slid toward the right band fingertips, it appears as if the right thumb has been pulled in half.

To modify the handling into something which will catch even seasoned performers off guard, you will need three things. You will need a good grade thumb tip such as a Vernet Tip available from your local magic dealer…a scissors and a tiny rubber band such as used to add tension to the bows of eye glasses. These are available from magic dealers ( for use with folding coins ) or from optical stores.

First of all, take the thumb tip and cut it down in size so when it is worn, it fits to just below the first bend or joint of the thumb. Make sure the color is a good match for your skin. If not, you may have to purchase some flesh color paints from a craft or hobby store to create a good match.

Just prior to your performance, slip the tiny rubber band on to the thumb to the first bend joint. The tension of the band will cut off the circulation just a bit, and dis-color the end of the thumb slightly. At a glance, it appears as if you are wearing a thumb tip. That’s just what you want.

Put the modified thumb tip on the right thumb along with the band, and you are all set.

Be casual with both hands. Handle the tip just as in the instructions so as not to flash its presence prematurely. Now execute the original version of pulling off the thumb, figures 1 – 3. When the left hand has moved to the fingertips of the right, reveal the workings by showing the bend of the left hand thumb. Remember, this is shown only to other magicians and not to lay people.*

Now, as the left hand returns to the right, the right thumb straightens out flat along the N.H. first finger. The left hand now grips the right thumb, but between the left thumb and first finger. In other words, the left thumb is at the front knuckle if the right band thumb, replacing where the left index finger had originally covered in the first handling.

I will attempt to show this set up in Figure 4.

In essence, the left thumb and first finger are now holding on to the thumb tip. when the left hand moves or slides toward the right hand fingertips, the right thumb pulls free of the tip and bends inward on the right palm just as in the original handling. The illusion created is much like the first, only this time, it is the tip that appears to be the genuine end of the right thumb.

Since you are using your left thumb to hold the other digit, those watching are aware that you are not doing the effect as you did at first. They are momentarily confused.

Allow the effect to register, then slide the thumb tip back to the right thumb which straightens as it approaches to allow it to be slipped back on.

You now lower your hands and take a bow. During this time, you secretly pull the thumb tip off the right thumb with your R.H. fingers. Using the left hand to point toward the right, when the hands come together, the tip is stolen away by the left hand thumb. Video tapes by Bernard Bills will demonstrate excellent methods for doing this. Your dealer, or I.C.O.M instructors can also offer suggestions.**

This now leaves the right hand basically clean with the exception of the tiny rubber band still worn on the thumb. As the right hand is shown, the left ditches the thumb tip. Lap it, or simply casually put it in your pocket.

All attention is now on the right hand. It appears as if a thumb tip can still be seen worn on the right thumb. This is where you really catch them good. Very slowly and deliberately, you pull the tiny band off the right thumb.

From beginning to end, those watching think they have your number. As a finale…you are left clean, and they are left bewildered.

* When performing for children and the general public, omit the rubber band & thumb -tip ploy and merely perform the trick the way Ron originally describes it in the first two paragraphs. It is a really effective stunt for kids…..BJG

**Use your virtual lessons!….BJG

February 1998

The Birth Of Something New & End Of Something Old
(The New Art Of Crayon Manipulation)
Bobby J. Gallo

Since the inception of I.C.O.M we have been striving to be unique in the world of magic. To those who have been with us since its inception we hope that you have found many inspirational thoughts, tricks and routines throughout the many I.C.O.M forums. I also hope that “The Kid Show Konservatory” has been no exception. Looking back on its short history, I have given what I have felt to be the most important knowledge I know in an order that would be beneficial to our members.

That being said, I am extremely excited to bring you this months forum. This may be the best installment yet for those who are actively seeking a career in the kid show market. What I am about to share with you will open up a HUGE new vista for ANYONE performing for a family style audience. But before I delve into the concept itself. allow me to give you a little background on WHY this is so important.

Around the turn of the century, it is important to note what the primary materials were that the traveling magician used. Granted, there were the occasional mammoth stage shows with all the accompanied boxes and such. However, most magicians were performing what was known then as “parlor magic”. This consisted mainly of, cards, coins, balls and thimbles. The question of whether or not I can back-up this claim is made manifest if one reads one of the all time classics tomes on magic entitled, “Magic Without Apparatus” By Camille Gaultier. This 500 page giant was considered, and still should be, the definitive source on sleight-of-hand. And what did a book of this size and scope cover? Exactly, just what I mentioned above, cards, coins, balls, and thimbles. Because back then, that was all a magician needed. However, when time went on, two more objects became standard to take their place among the magicians most valued props of choice. Silks and CIGARETTES!

Cigarettes? You means those nasty little things that everyone in the country says are among the most ruthless things ever invented? Yep, as a matter of fact, some of the most famous magicians of all time performed cigarette acts as their feature routines. People like Frakson, Keith Clark, and Cardini himself! Keith Clark in particular actually wrote a huge 300 page encyclopedic work called quite appropriately, ” The Encyclopedia of Cigarette Tricks” By Keith Clark.

Am I advocating the resurgence of cigarette tricks? No, quite the contrary, you will get hung out to dry if you ever even attempt to show a cigarette trick in public these days, ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF KIDS! Case and point, without mentioning names, I was working the sound board for a popular illusion couple (you would recognize their particular names) nearly two years ago. The show was for area kids (around 300) and was held in a vast gymnasium. During their act, there was fire, the sword basket, (where the assistant was apparently stuck with swords) and other danger tricks. However, during the opening sequence to music the magician lit up a cigarette as part of the routine. The town mayor who was at the show FLIPPED OUT! The show was stopped and an announcement made to the kids that the cigarette was only “make-believe” etc. etc. Can you imagine that! Suffice to say that during the next show, the magician was required to remove the cigarette portion from his act. This will give you and indication of what the current public mentality is concerning cigarettes. People do not like them. Couple that with the fact that in most public places that you will be performing, it is “against the law” to lite one up anyway! The general rule is, don’t do them…..period.

Once again let’s reiterate


So why am I relating all of this to the reader? Simple, I want the student first to realize that there is a literal “mountain” of material at this point just floating about in the magic world pertaining to cigarettes that can not be used because of the subject matter inherent. There are so many tricks, routines, gimmicks, books, methods, and knowledge pertaining to the “so-called cancer sticks” that if there were only something to take their place, the innovative magician would have TONS and TONS of new material at his or her finger tips. Well, that being the case, let’s think. What object is:

  • About the same size and width as a cigarette? (no, candy cigarettes is a wrong answer!)
  • Is instantly recognizable and universally accepted by even the smallest audience members.
  • Has been around as long as anyone reading this can remember?
  • Can be the basis for endless routines?

The answer is…….CRAYONS! That’s right! The little wax sticks that children grow up coloring things with. The lowly crayon can be used to replace the cigarette move for move in virtually every routine that was ever conceived using the now publicly ostracized tobacco filled tubes. Can you see the possibilities?

Why we are so excited about this new concept

We at I.C.O.M are about to embark on an enormous project over time. We are going to adapt all existing sleight-of-hand with cigarettes to sleight-of-hand with crayons! This will be an I.C.O.M exclusive and will provide the student with the basis for literally hundreds of trick and routines. Both stage and close-up (Did he say stage?….yep, that’s what I said!) This is material you will use, and that will make your reputation. It is time to take the thousands of cigarette methods out of obscurity and revamp them for the modern day. The fact that the object is a crayon is why this concept appears here in the Kid Show Konservatory. So starting next month, the various classic cigarette sleights done with crayons will begin to appear in the I.C.O.M Sleight-Of-Hand Gallery bit by bit over time. We will also be including routines here in this forum as the need arises.

If you are a beginner, this is for you!, If you are a pro, this is definitely for you! If you work for kids, this is a must! if you are into sleight-of-hand, this will be a dream come true. All with an object that your audience will LOVE seeing you perform with! The crayon will have instant acceptance, not even a billiard ball can claim that! Think about it, crayons are even more recognizable to children than playing cards! That puts things into perspective.

So what are we waiting for? Lets learn dynamite kid show magic using ordinary everyday ciga….er….crayons!

It all starts in the near future!

March 1998

How Complicated?
Bobby J, Gallo

Those who know my work, know that I am a big proponent of simplicity in magic. I have never subscribed to the notion that magicians need to be “traveling magic shops” in order to entertain children. If the show sits in one place and does not have to be transported, that is another case. But overall for the travelling birthday party magician, “Less Is More”. That has not been the first time I have said that and I suspect that is future lessons, it will not have been the last. So why do I bring it up now? To illustrate that the next effect we will learn, though simple, has fantastic entertainment value.

I have seen tons of props that make even small objects vanish. Some very mechanical that in no way could ever be examined by the audience. I offer in this lesson a way to vanish small objects using completely ungimmicked everyday objects. After all, that is what looks like magic right? When we can take articles that are easily recognizable and in some cases even borrowed, and create magic.

There are not a lot of props to what I am about to describe, and the effect is but a simple vanish of a coin. But it can be worked into another routine where you need to accomplish this or you may build a sweet little routine out of the basic effect itself.

The magician places a coin in the center of a hank or bandanna that is spread out on a table. He then takes a small glass in his left hand and, picking up the coin and the hank, places the coin over the glass, with the folds of the hank hanging down and concealing it from the view of the audience. He drops the coin into the glass and the entire audience hears it strike the bottom of the glass as it does so. When the hank is removed from the glass however, the coin seems to have vanished.

Actually, the coin is NEVER dropped into the glass at all. The glass under the hank is tilted slightly to the side and the coin is dropped AGAINST THE SIDE of the glass. The sound this makes is exactly the same as if the coin were actually dropped into the glass proper. After striking the side of the glass, the coin drops down into the left hand, and is then palmed. The attention of the audience is diverted from the left hand by lifting the covered glass with your right hand and putting it on your table, until you are ready for the final revelation that the coin has vanished. In the meantime, you may go to your pocket to obtain your magic wand and dispose of the coin at the same time.

This is a mixture of sleight-of-hand, misdirection, and subtlety. It take a little practice to get the knack of catching the coin after it has been dropped. You may drop it on the floor a few times during rehearsal but it will become second nature in no time and you will have a vanish that has a list of fine features.

  • Ordinary props
  • No set-up
  • You are clean at the end
  • Can be adapted to other small objects.

So how complicated do things have to be? As you can see…….Not very!


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

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

Kid Show Konservatory 10/97-12/97


Kid Show Konservatory 10/97-12/97

October 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next month, keep em happy!

Bobby J. Gallo

November 1997

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

The dynamite benefits in using these balls is threefold.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete the vanish.

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

December 1997

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

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

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

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

Bobby J. Gallo

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

Kid Show Konservatory 7/97-9/97


Kid Show Konservatory 7/97-9/97



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you have fun with it!

September 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

Materials needed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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