ICOM Spotlight – Jan 2002 – June 2003

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

April-June 2003

We felt that rather than a straight theory article we would offer this as it blurs the line between theory and magic effect. It deals with how to take a classic concept and adapt it to make a fresh new effect. In this case, the old paper tear. Is there anything this genius cannot think of?…..BJG

Ron Dayton
You enter carrying a piece of white gift wrap tissue paper. It is cut in an unusual way. You say, “Magic as you may know relies a great deal on imagination and suspension of logic for a moment. Take this piece of paper, what does it remind you of, a cloud, a swan with gas? Each of us may see something different. Actually, it is a Tu-Tu, see (You hold it in front of you at your waist and do a few brief dance steps. Swan Lake, geez, I just can’t ditch that darn bloated swan! But this is a Tu-Tu , remember, so I was wondering, if you tear a Tu-Tu in half, do you get two twos/one half Tu and one half Tu??”

You proceed to tear the paper shape in half down through its width rather than its length. Place one half in front of the other and tear them in half again. You ask, “What have we now? Just watch!” (you emphasize the word watch as you say it and simultaneously open the packet out to reveal:) A large round paper pocket watch whos hands are drawn to represent 1:45 aka A QUARTER TO TWO (Get it) a 1/4 Tu-Tu! <g>

Needed: White gift wrap tissue sheets. One cut to represent your cloud, the other a pocket watch. With a magic marker draw the watch hands set to 1:45. Fold this cut out into a smaller packet. It is held behind the cloud. Do the tears, then fold the torn pieces into a smaller packet like the watch. Switch one in for the other, open out the watch and deliver your punch line, then run for your life!

It ain’t exactly a classic like Fresh Fish, but it isn’t bad!

Editors Notes: Yes this is a short and sweet lesson. But I think Ron really encapsulates the essence of what it means to create a trick with clever, entertaining lines using tried and true methods. The torn and restored paper has been used to countless effects but this shows that there are still untested waters where what’s old is indeed, new again.

Happy New Year
January-March 2003

(Not Black Eye’s)
Ronald J.Dayton

Shiner: A small mirror used to secretly glimpse a card known only to the spectator. In old times used by gambling cheats. But in modern days used for magical entertainment purposes.
Dear ICOM students:

For your consideration. Recently I have been pouring over old issues of Bascom Jones’s “MagicK”. One section mentioned the use of shiners, the use of mylar etc. It also mentioned watching for natural / impromptu shiners. The now out dated metal cigarette cases and lighters were mentioned, as well as table knives. In the area of silverware knives are nice, but spoons offer more variety. A spoon bowl side down is a convex surface. It reflects in one way for distance glimpses, and the interior or concave surface in another way as the card passes face down over it. A spectators own reading glasses if they wear them, can be a shiner too. In some instances the blades of certain scissors become a shiner for you. Nice, and logical if you intend to do a cut and restored card. Some styles of large polished earrings women wear will work to your advantage.

The inside of a pocket watch case, opened to record your fastest card trick might work as one. But what common object might a magician logically have on his table with cards that would act as a shiner? How about brand new coins to be covered with four randomly selected cards by a spectator for a Coin martix effect with a surprise ending. The coins not only travel invisibly from under the cards, the values of the unknown cards travel to your mind; for a Mind and Metal Mental Matrix.

What other items might become impromptu shiners? Silver candle stick bases, certain glasses filled with dark liquid. or a cup of black coffee as viewed from above. Certain cuff links you chose to wear, bright chrome keys for padlocks; a tube of lipstick for female performers. hat others can we think of? Think outside of the box, these subtle inspired touches are the stuff of which miracles and reputations are made.

Ron Dayton

October-December 2002

Ron Dayton


Kuda Bux, world famous as “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes”, was born in Pakistan. He performed in England as a firewalker during the 1930’s, played vaudeville during the 1940’s with a full stage illusion show and had his own network radio show at one time. He was able to stop his pulse and heart beat at will. However, it was his talent as a mentalist that attracted the most attention. With bread dough plastered over his eyes and layers and layers of bandages wrapped around his head, Kuda could read, ride a bike, and trace over phrases written on a blackboard by audience members.*

A beloved member of the Magic Castle, Kuda never revealed the secrets behind his mystifying mentalism. When asked if he would pass his secret on, Kuda replied,

” I will have to take it with me, because there is nothing to teach.”

* From the book, “The Magic Castle’s Wall Of Fame”

Kuda Bux had the total package; the look, the stage presence and control. I remember his eyes looked mesmerizing and mystical. His pronounced nose, strong wide, jutting angular forehead. He had a pleasant smile, and gentle, dignified nature. He handled people and their minds , as John Calvert sometimes manipulates them physically.

It has been years since I saw Bux on television. So some of what I remember may be blurred. I think they began by pressing bread dough into the eye sockets, Then a thick gauze pad was placed over each eye. Next the if strip of gauze was wound around his head to hold the dough and pads in place. Thirdly a piece of cotton batting was positioned over his eyes and nose. The final phase was when the entire roll of gauze was wrapped thickly around his head and eyes from every conceivable angle. AND YET , he was able to name objects, copy messages written on a chalk board, and other unfathomable things. If I have forgotten some of the steps, please forgive me the ravages of time. But perhaps in magic archives film or video tape clips of the act may still survive so you can get an accurate representation.

You will think I’m crazy when I tell you what I think he he did. It is childishly simple; and perhaps that is why it is so baffling. Look at the physical and theatrical facts we know about him? We know he had a pronounced nose. We know he had a rather wide and angular forehead, and deep-set eyes. What benefits are derived from these facial attributes? The brow and nose will tend to hold any gauze wrap away from his eyes. So what? You counter, his sockets were packed with dough. That’s true, they were. But they were also covered with square gauze pads, which I believe Kuda placed himself. Call me crazy but as his hands came up to his face; the gauze pads held clipped at his extended finger tips, would provide cover for his thumb at the palm side of the hand. I submit the idea that Kuda ran his thumb into and between the eyelid and the dough to create a tunnel. I think he held the gauze pads in place as the first wrap of gauze went over the pads, in front of his eyes and around to the back of his head. That means that one single layer of gauze covered the side of the eye socket and head. A layer thin enough for him to see through using peripheral vision; which is quite extensive. So using the dough tunnels formed on each side by each hand, depending upon how he positioned his body; he could literally see many things. Tilting his head in thought would allow him to read or see things held in his lap while seated.

Another aspect of Kuda Bux was mentioned earlier was his absolute control of the situation. The people wrapping gauze around his head and eyes did not do so in a willy nilly fashion. They did so, following his careful , slow and courteous requests and subtle verbal and sometimes physical direction.

So if you study any tape of his act carefully, I think you will see the gauze wrapped criss-cross fashion over his face, and each side of his nose. Perhaps down around the chin , then to over the top of the head to begin another criss cross. But I do not think you will see the gauze passing more than one more time over the eyes and around the head. As he helped to remove the wrappings, it was an easy matter to press the dough back into the eye sockets, thus destroying any evidence of the thumb tunnels. Perhaps make up powder or something similar, just as flour will do help to keep a baker’s pie dough from sticking. and perhaps the gauze pads were picked up by being clipped between the fingers, making it appear as if the fingers and thumb were used to hold them; but secretly allowing the thumb to be free to do its dirty work This is currently nothing more than guess work and speculation. I don’t think people are ready to believe or accept that an act as legendary as his can be summed up in only a few words; Showmanship, subtlety, and peripherical vision. His facial features made Bux unique, and therefore it is quite possible no one will ever duplicate what he did exactly. The above theory is respectfully submitted for your consideration.
Kuda Bux had the total package; the look, the stage presence and control. I remember his eyes looked mesmerizing and mystical. His pronounced nose, strong wide, jutting angular forehead. He had a pleasant smile, and gentle, dignified nature. He handled people and their minds , as John Calvert sometimes manipulates them physically.

It has been years since I saw Bux on television. So some of what I remember may be blurred. I think they began by pressing bread dough into the eye sockets, Then a thick gauze pad was placed over each eye. Next the if strip of gauze was wound around his head to hold the dough and pads in place. Thirdly a piece of cotton batting was positioned over his eyes and nose. The final phase was when the entire roll of gauze was wrapped thickly around his head and eyes from every conceivable angle. AND YET , he was able to name objects, copy messages written on a chalk board, and other unfathomable things. If I have forgotten some of the steps, please forgive me the ravages of time. But perhaps in magic archives film or video tape clips of the act may still survive so you can get an accurate representation.

You will think I’m crazy when I tell you what I think he he did. It is childishly simple; and perhaps that is why it is so baffling. Look at the physical and theatrical facts we know about him? We know he had a pronounced nose. We know he had a rather wide and angular forehead, and deep-set eyes. What benefits are derived from these facial attributes? The brow and nose will tend to hold any gauze wrap away from his eyes. So what? You counter, his sockets were packed with dough. That’s true, they were. But they were also covered with square gauze pads, which I believe Kuda placed himself. Call me crazy but as his hands came up to his face; the gauze pads held clipped at his extended finger tips, would provide cover for his thumb at the palm side of the hand. I submit the idea that Kuda ran his thumb into and between the eyelid and the dough to create a tunnel. I think he held the gauze pads in place as the first wrap of gauze went over the pads, in front of his eyes and around to the back of his head. That means that one single layer of gauze covered the side of the eye socket and head. A layer thin enough for him to see through using peripheral vision; which is quite extensive. So using the dough tunnels formed on each side by each hand, depending upon how he positioned his body; he could literally see many things. Tilting his head in thought would allow him to read or see things held in his lap while seated.

Another aspect of Kuda Bux was mentioned earlier was his absolute control of the situation. The people wrapping gauze around his head and eyes did not do so in a willy nilly fashion. They did so, following his careful , slow and courteous requests and subtle verbal and sometimes physical direction.

So if you study any tape of his act carefully, I think you will see the gauze wrapped criss-cross fashion over his face, and each side of his nose. Perhaps down around the chin , then to over the top of the head to begin another criss cross. But I do not think you will see the gauze passing more than one more time over the eyes and around the head. As he helped to remove the wrappings, it was an easy matter to press the dough back into the eye sockets, thus destroying any evidence of the thumb tunnels. Perhaps make up powder or something similar, just as flour will do help to keep a baker’s pie dough from sticking. and perhaps the gauze pads were picked up by being clipped between the fingers, making it appear as if the fingers and thumb were used to hold them; but secretly allowing the thumb to be free to do its dirty work This is currently nothing more than guess work and speculation. I don’t think people are ready to believe or accept that an act as legendary as his can be summed up in only a few words; Showmanship, subtlety, and peripheral vision. His facial features made Bux unique, and therefore it is quite possible no one will ever duplicate what he did exactly. The above theory is respectfully submitted for your consideration.

My initial theory it would seem, has been confirmed by none lesser known performer than John Mulholland ; in his book “Gems Of Mental Magic” published June 7th, 1947. On page 27, the effect is called Psychic Vision. The first line of the METHOD: reads, “To successfully perform this illusion, the performer MUST have ‘deep -set eyes’.” Further in the text we learn that cotton wool is placed into the sockets of the eyes and held in place on each eye with an X or criss cross of adhesive tape strips. Then a black cloth bandanna is placed over his eyes and tied behind hid head to effectively blind fold him. Behind cover of straight fingers as they ‘adjust’ the blindfold just a bit; the thumbs of the hands go under the blindfold and under the X of tape to push the cotton wool up against the sticky tape to create an opening, or line of vision. I have just recently discovered this source of information. It causes me to amend my previous explanation ever so slightly. Kuda Bux may not* have used his thumbs to create the peripheral vision tunnels as the gauze pads were set in place. The pads were simply placed and then held in place with a single wrap of the gauze roll. The dirty work took place under the larger and more ample cover of placing and adjusting of the piece of cotton batting. It was than that the subtle master created a line of vision; followed by carefully orchestrated wrapping of the gauze around and in an ‘X’ shaped pattern over the eyes and on each side of the nose. Bux performed a version of the one Mulholland described fifty five years ago. But Kuda Bux, the showman changed it, and made it his own; and in the process, became, and created a legend.

*Then again…..maybe he did?


Kuda Bux always managed to get a line-of-sight vision from his left eye to the tip of his nose, no matter what kind of a blindfold was used.

The late Jack Dean published “Psychic Sight,in which he discussed several ways to to present a blindfold act and various blindfolds, including what he considered to be the one used by Kuda Bux.

Kuda Bux, the mentalist most famous for his Blindfold Drive and other blindfolded feats, eventually lost his sight to glaucoma.

A brilliant, RARE and very little known system calls “EYES OF INDIA”! 6 pages published and commercialized by U.F. Grant, many years behind.

Here it is the effect: “Committee of spectators are invited, you step forward. They place piece of dough or clay to over each of the performers eyes and then encase the perform head in thick towels, wound in all directions. When this is completed the performer head is completely obscured, having the appearance of a mummy head. With his vision thus completely out off, the to performer may proceed you demonstrate series of amazing tests, proving his claim to eyeless vision.”

Would be this the same system that became famous with KUDA BUX??? This wonderful secret was disclosed to me by the great Argentine mentalist Pedro Christofersen, in 1981.

Geoffrey Lamb mentioned the sightless drive and using bread dough under the blindfold in his “Illustrated Magic Dictionary.” He didn’t mention Kuda Bux – Lamb was from Great Britain. Lamb said that lowering the eyebrows as the scarf is tied and raising them when you need to see also works with bread dough. Another method involves secretely pushing up the dough while covering the head with a faked black bag.

Editors Note: Care must be taken when the head is completely wrapped up. I know from personal experience that onstage under stage lights and in the heat of performing that it can become quite claustrophobic in such a situation and those with breathing problems would do well to test these theories well before putting them to actual use….BJG

July-September 2002

This is brilliant. I feel it’s important for wonder workers to learn of their magical pasts. This is a first rate lesson in that vein. What more can I say?…BJG
“Knots, Rope & Magick”
(A lesson in tying the history of knots to story telling magick)
Ed Solomon
One of the things Ron Dayton is known for, other than being one of the better minds in the magic field and being an outspoken guy who reads people like a book, Ron is one of the real exponents of rope magic and has books to his credit that have become the foundation for the work of many “Rope” Magicians.

The following material is sort of a tribute to Ron. Those who work the ropes will understand as they read this. For those of you who might be relatively new to the digest, I posted this material a couple of years ago but there have been a few little additions along the way. Sorry I can’t give you a SITE on to which you could log and glean this material. It is deep in the catacombs of DeNomolos and I for one, will not go gently into those dark places.

Rope Magic

In the multi-diversified areas of magical entertainment that encompasses today’s magic, rope magic is one of the most rewarding from the standpoint of the few props needed for outstanding performance. We see ropes stretched, cut and restored, restored and then cut in twenty different ways, knots appear and disappear and the addition of a couple of metal rings allow for brilliant penetrations etc. etc. ad nauseaum, ad infinitum. That goes for finger rings and strings too. When we are finished, the props go back into the pocket or are left for the hapless audience to examine and we go home.. What could more simple?

The rope magic (perhaps it should really be Magick, as it really has a much deeper meaning), is much more than a few slipknots and a few flourishes. In the ancient and most honorable study of witchcraft and wizardry, rope bindings and spell casting go hand in hand. The specialized handling and tying of knots has quite a different purpose, which opens up a vista that perhaps we had better think about. Perhaps we should be very careful when we begin to tie our magical knots to try to entertain. Who knows what spells we have already cast in our efforts to but entertain?

CAUTION is advised.
“Knot once but twice
or maybe thrice.
A binding takes but four
or five or six a spell to fix
or seven or eight or more,
But knots of nine
will suit me fine
to cast this magic spell
but tempt me not to go beyond
for in the tale I tell,
ten knots is all it takes
to loose the gates of Hell.

We are not talking about soft cotton “magician’s” rope with which we are all familiar. We’re talking heavy-duty stuff like flax fiber and cords, hemp and sisal fiber rope or twine; silk, human hair, dried umbilical cord and leather braided rope made from human skin. While the construction material was important to the spell, the binding or the tying of the knots in a special order with the proper incantation was important if the rites were to be properly carried prepared and celebrated. There is where the real magick came into play and the word play is part of the magical condition.

The Spell presented above is a part of the casting I use for a ritual involving a knot routine. The words are more important than the effect as they set the mood. The story is the thing. In every civilization there are records of string games taught to the children so that they could learn the power of knots. The singsong nonsense songs that often accompany these games are vestigial remains of the incantations handed down from generation to generation.

Perhaps you remember the fowler’s knots on the reed basket that held the infant Moses. The fowlers were the shore people who were the hunters and fisher folk who lived on what they could catch at the waters edge. They used fowler’s knots to tie their nets and fishing lines and they taught the art of knots to their young so that they could survive. Those games were similar to our “Cats Cradle”. Remember though, these were not really games but were teaching tool !

As you recall, we were talking about rope and knot magic. If you came back for the second half of the class, great. .


Records of the teachings of knots and spells has been traced back to the reign of the Pharaoh, Tuthmosis III who lived about 1450 B.C. Part of the curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery schools included the tying of Mysterious knots for great magical purposes. The famed Buckle of Isis shows a strange knot that made up part of a belt for securing clothing. these classes were not a pass/ fail situation. One “learned the ropes” or one did not. The need to bind, connect, fasten and make secure led early man to produce twine, cord and rope. He needed fishing line and thread to stitch animal hides. He needed heavy rope for construction and lashing together poles for shelter. Because these materials came from earth and nature was so important in the supernatural, it is easy to understand why threads, strings, cords and ropes along with their knots came to acquire their magical present meaning.

Let us look at some examples of meaning. A cord, tied end to end, makes a magic circle and can bind individuals with unspeakable spells. Special knots were worn to prevent sterility of to promote fertility depending on how or into what they were tied. Other knots were so powerful as to cheat death itself and others were tied to cause death in an unsuspecting individual.

In ancient Peru, the book keeper of a tribe were knot keepers and all records were kept by tying a series of complicated knots in a cord to keep track of the accounts of grains and other supplies. The knot is a symbol of a sealed bargain. The figure eight-knot represented infinity. These knots had their beginnings in secret societies and religious orders. Bindings were used in initiation ceremonies from the high caste Brahmins to the Knights Templar.

Just think for a moment about some of our every day phrases and think about the origins. Phrases like “the bonds of Matrimony” and “tying the knot”. These are a carry over from a time of the “old ways” about which that most never knew.

As late as the 19th. century, folk medicine had people tying knots in colored cotton thread and wearing it in a locket for protection or dropping a knotted thread in to the coffin of a loved one for safe passage to the beyond. From ancient Babylon comes a 4000 year old formula which calls for a three fold chord with twice fourteen knots tied overhand to be worn about the body for protection from illness or misfortune. Why not? Or maybe that should be Why Knot? Young people today are wearing thread rings and friendship bracelets that they are making just for fun. Oh! if they only knew what they might be conjuring. Where do these fads come from?

Many a witch, wicked or not, was burned, hung or otherwise similarly mistreated for simply having a knotted thread on their person. Even a loose thread on your uniform could get you days in the brig if you were a sailor on one of the early English sailing ships. Superstition surrounding witches claimed they sold knotted strings or cords to the seamen so that when a calm sea befell their ship, they could untie a knot and the wind would come up to take them on their way. The more knots that were untied, the stronger the wind. Knots in another kind of cord could calm a violent stormy sea. Many a seaman paid dearly for these special charms and spells. I find it odd that the terms used for speed of a ship and the speed of the wind is expressed in the term “Knots” It comes of course from the word nautical and had nothing to do with the behavior of the sailors themselves.

Strangely enough, the last of these knotting rituals is still used at sea to make the highly decorative macramé used on the Admirals Barge. Hand tied knots make designs handed down from one boatswain’s mate toanother in the tradition of the early fowlers. This dissertation is used in part whenever I present a piece of “Rope Magick” The spell described earlier is the prelude to the Penrose Knot described in Karl Fulves book, “Self Working Rope Tricks”. On page 75 an explanation will be found. This book is a part of an ongoing series of paperback books published by Dover.

Another of the Gibson books is titled “Knots and how to tie them” published by Wings Books of New York. Another of intrest is called “Cat’s Cradle- String Games” By Camilla Gryski- Published by Scholastic Inc. of NewYork.

A spectator inserts one finger into one of the knots of the nine described earlier, the rest of the spell is chanted. The only true knot closes around the spectator’s finger with the last line of the spell. Nine knots are here with meaning clear. Each knot will come undone and with but a very gentle pull, one knot is left and chosen well.The one you chose was true.

The magick of the knotted spell that kept us from the road to hell, was broken just by you. Some simple magic but with the information at hand even tying one’s shoelaces can be quite magickal.

In the Craft,
Ed Solomon

Thanks for a great lesson with an excellent picture illustration of the props Ed, this is Gold!….BJG

April-June 2002

“There Is Magic Everywhere”
Ed Solomon
Magic can be found anywhere one looks. The toy store is an unlikely place except for magic sets of all kinds and shapes and price ranges but read on.

In the early days of television there was a popular program called Magic Ranch which starred Don Allan who was one of the first to do a magic show on TV. Bringing on famous magicians to perform, he established magic on the screen way before the Magic Land of Alakazam with Mark wilson and Rebo the clown. One of the many tricks that was done was a thing called Yard Bird or maybe it was Ranch Bird. It was a wind up toy that went in a circle and when a selected card was lost in the deck and the deck spread in a circle, the clever bird hopped around the circle and when it stopped it was on the selected card. That one trick was copied and used by magicians everywhere even if they didn’t buy the original.

Remember this was a toy that was available at what we called Five and Dime stores back then. It was a cheap Cheeper that could be obtained cheaply. One foot was bent out of shape and the thing would run around in a circle. The card selected came from a one way deck with but a few regular cards on the face down deck. These could be shown to prove the deck regular. A card was selected from the many duplicates, returned and then the deck was then shuffled overhand and then laid out in a circle. Of course the bird could find the card. They were all the same. Well that was the bare bones of the effect.
The point now is that in the novelty and toy stores there are many little inexpensive wind up toys that will accomplish the same thing. The cards are laid out in a straight row rather than a circle and by some experimenting with how many turns of the winder to make the toy go so many inches, almost any of the little toys will find a selected card. I don’t like card tricks but I have a collection of these little toys that will do the card trick for me and it gets me off the hook so to speak. With a little planning it is easy to find a toy that will represent every season of the year or every age group that makes up different audiences.
There is magic everywhere. All one has to do is look and apply the principal that says “That Looks Like Magic.”
In the Craft,
Ed Solomon

Happy New Year!

January-March 2002

A review of the forthcoming Robert Neale Video
Eugene Poinc

“CELEBRATION OF SIDES: The Nonsense World of Robert Neale ” with Michael Weber

Jewels are treasure, most have many facets, many sides — Robert Neale is such a gem. A prolific one nearing, or to my perspective already having achieved, legendary status. So many intriguing, creative sides: card magic illustrated with stories some
insightfully profound, others delightfully goofy; origami that enchants with giggle oh joy stuff like a jumping frog or his classic folded dollar bill Rabbit-Popping-Out-of-Hat; puzzles that perplex; and…and…and…perhaps ad infinitum. What ceative enormity issues from the the many sides of Robert Neale.

In this wonderful video another side — the Nonsense of Bob at play, nonsense that makes so much sense as he toys with realities and unrealities, perceptions that seem so right but prove to be so wrong except, of course, when they bewilder by being both. No cards, no coins, no ‘magic making’ props, the most simple of things non-magical you’ll find at home that nevertheless make a special kind of magic happen. Consider:

“Brick Wall” Two sections of a paper, cardboard, or if you prefer wood, brick wall. Purportedly a model of the one through which Houdini walked. You see it solid, now you see an open hole. Not an optical illusion. Passage thru the wall — not there, then there — you can stick a finger through it.

“Whatsabox!” A box bottom is a bottom except when it’s a top, or conversely a top is a top except when it decides to be a bottom that prevents a ball from passing through, or with sudden perversity let’s it happen by suddenly deciding to be an upside down open top rather than a closed bottom.. A close-up nonsense weirdity that not only enthrals but has method that could be applied to a larger magical prop.

“Borromean Rings” Interlinked rings of flat plastic change positions in an impossible fashion. This is a crazy-making effect that when you learn how to do it you won’t understand why it works. Even Bob admits he doesn’t understand the ‘why’. The man’s candor and humility is astounding.

“Trapdoor” While a participant firmly holds a trapdoor in a piece of paper, or soft plastic, odd things happen with the ‘Out There’ and the ‘In Here’ — they transpose. Two dimensions having a little confusing fun.With imagination the story applications are limitless. I think maybe this is my favorite. Or…maybe all of them,. Yes. All.

And there are more including a bonus of Bob’s Bunny Bill, the Rabbit-Popping-Out-of-Hat animated delight.

Michael Weber makes a valuable contribution to the totality of this video. He functions as far more than simply participant observer/listener. Michael clearly understands what Bob is explaining, and with perceptive comments and questions helps communicate understanding to the viewer.

Elegantly produced and edited by Tim Trono it is free of transitional electronic gimmickry that contributes nothing, that substitutes razzle-dazzle for substance. This video is simplicity in the most positive sense of the word — clearly communicating its purpose without meaningless padding or trappings. Producers of other teaching videos should watch and learn.

There is one more vital element that makes “Celebration of Sides” something to celebrate. The man himself. That the warmth, the impish charm and profundity of this Philosopher / Elf / Creator / Trickster has been captured on video tape not just for today, but for the far future of Magic is time for celebration, indeed. A legacy for all tomorrows.

Celebrate the existence of this grand meld of Genius and joyous Kid at Play in a Sandbox.

“CELEBRATION OF SIDES: The Nonsense World of Robert Neale” with Michael Weber

$30.00 Available from your Magic Dealer
Wholesale Orders through Murphy’s Magic Supplies, Inc. at (800) 853-7403


Ron Dayton

The flag has been used in magic for decades. Indeed, there are appropriate times and uses for the American Flag and inappropriate times as well. I have no problem using the flag in a show if the flag is the focal point of the trick and is treated in a respectful way. Flag productions, Mismade Flag, Flag staff productions, firecracker, Abbott’s patriotic stage finale’, etc. would fall into this category. Phantom tubes , square circles etc. were once used in the Flags of Many Countries productions. Care must be taken when doing this to be aware of where and for whom you are performing this. Production of a flag deemed offensive for social or political reasons could cause you problems i.e. during W.W.II a flag of Japan or Germany. Always, ALWAYS treat your flag with respect! Thirty years ago I attended my first Abbott’s Get-Together in Colon, Michigan. The illusionist and his assistants for the evening’s gala show allowed the flag to touch the floor, and handled it in an irresponsible manner. three quarters of the audience walked out on them in disgust. Thirty years later, I remember the incident vividly. I remember the performers name as well, but will not repeat it here. The catch phrase for his act however was; ‘Magic Personified! Certainly no truth in advertising in his code of ethics. It is NOT to be used as a table cloth, backdrop, drape/curtain or foulard.

Ron Dayton

To my perspective applause should be generated by demonstration of applause deserving skill — NOT by using a symbol having evolved from the “Don’t Tread on Me” courage, through that so heroically raised on Iwo Jima to the flag of today that has covered coffins of some of the Twin Towers dead. Using that flag as a PROP for something as comparatively stupid as magic tricks? No. Try displaying talent for applause, rather than cheap exploitation of a historical symbol. That should suffice.

Gene Poinc

As a Canadian, I understand the relationship Americans have with Old Glory. It is a flag — a symbol of what the country means — not a sheet, drape, foulard, or anything else. In a recent posting to SAMtalk, I gave my routine for the vanish of the Statue of Liberty (in microcosm; it was a picture on a nine-inch silk). When Lady Liberty is restored, it is out of a blue and red silk (the picture of the Statue is on a white silk), it is NOT out of an American flag. In fact, I stressed that in the instructions; the flag is not something to be trifled with and used as a prop. It is a symbol of sacrifice. Please, treat it with respect.

Peter Marucci

The following (PART OF) flag laws and regulations are contained in the Public Law as amended July 7, 1976 by the 94th Congress of the United States. They set forth the existing rules, customs and etiquette pertaining to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America.

Respect for flag No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.

Bunting of blue, white and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is
designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff
of halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.  Flag Law information provided by Marcus Blakely


Beginner’s Study – Jan-March 2004

Welcome the I.C.O.M Beginner’s Study! Here you will find high-quality material that is within the technical ability of virtually all magician’s. It is important to note that while this place is specifically designed for the magical novice in mind, we strive to include material that is strong enough for even the seasoned professional.

January-March 2004

For further information on the cups and balls please check out the new book talked about in the I.C.O.M Spotlight this quarter!…BJG

Bobby J’s Ultimate Beginner’s Course of Magic


The Classic Cups & Balls

This classic of magic is thousands of years old and is a bit more involved than other tricks in this book, but is included for those who want a challenge doing more “professional” tricks. This routine would make a great way to close your magic show as it is a very powerful presentation if you practice hard to perfect it. So be patient and follow the instructions carefully. This is an ultra-simplified version. This effect can and does get very complicated in the hands of a professional as there are literally dozens of moves and variations. But this is the very basic effect for you to master before you attempt such things.

What the audience sees: Three cups and three balls are shown. Then the balls mysteriously penetrate the solid cups one by one!

What you need: Three plastic cups that you cannot see through and that can be stacked on top of one another.  You also need FOUR small pom poms, balls,  crumbled up pieces of tissue paper or dollar bills.

What to do: As you may have noticed already, you really have four balls but the audience is only aware of three at all times.  Before starting, place one cup, mouth up on the table and drop one of the balls into it. Stack (nest) the other two cups on top of this and this completes your set-up.

Step #1

Start by picking up the three nested cups and remove the top cup with the right hand placing it mouth down on the table, do the same with cup #2. Now do it again with the final cup that contains the secret ball. Turn this cup over briskly onto the table so that the secret ball does not fall out (this cup should be in the center of the other two). You should now have three cups mouth down on the table and under the center cup lies the secret ball. The audience also sees the other three balls as well.

Now show the audience one of the three balls and place it on top of the cup that has the secret ball underneath.  Now take the other two cups and place them on top of the center cup. Say the magic word and lift all of the cups and it will appear that the ball has penetrated the cup!

Step #2

Lift up all the cups and turn them mouth up. Take the top cup and remove it. Notice that the next one has the secret ball in it. Now using the same brisk motion as before, turn this cup mouth down so that you add the ball in the cup to the ball on the table. Place the remaining cup alongside this one on the table. Now place another ball on top of the cup with the two balls underneath.  Stack the three cups again, say the magic word, lift up all the cups and voila! It seems as though the second ball has penetrated one of the solid cup again. Now repeat this process to make the third ball join the rest. At the conclusion get rid of the cups and extra ball and take your bows.

It may sound complicated but if you follow the instructions with the props in hand, you should have no problems in the end.

Over the next few quarters we have decided to go back to our roots and publish lessons from our Beginner’s publication entitled “Bobby J’s Ultimate Beginner’s Course of Magic ™”. This is material for the true amateur just starting to perform magic that I have used to teach literally thousands of students year in and year out. These are basic effects written in a way that everyone can understand and this lay a solid foundation for the more difficult material on the site. After all, this “IS” the Beginner’s Study…BJG

Bobby J’s

Ultimate Beginner’s Course

 of Magic


A lot of beginner magic books contain tricks that are either very hard to do or require objects that aren’t so easy to get. This collection of easy-to-do feats of magic are straight from the actual lessons I use to teach magic before thousands of people just like you! So you can be sure that they will amaze and bewilder your family and friends. Just remember to follow the “magician’s code” and you will be the talk of the town!

Bobby J. Gallo

The Mind Reading Duo!

The Temples of Mind reading

The Magician guesses the number from one to ten that is whispered in the ear of an audience member by placing his hands on  their temples!

Secret: The audience member who’s mind you read is really your secret assistant. (someone you let in on the secret). Beforehand, tell them to tighten their jaws causing their facial muscles to flex. If you place your fingers lightly on their forehead straight  back from their eyes, you can feel the muscles “bump” every time they tighten their jaw. Instruct them to do this the same number as was whispered into their ear. You just count the number of times you feel the “bump”. Then dramatically announce the answer to the rest of the audience.

The Great Crayon Trick

The Magician names the color of a crayon behind her back that she never, ever looked at!

Secret: You take about 4 or 5 crayons and ask the person to hand one to you behind your back then hide the others. Turn back to face them asking them if they are satisfied with the color they gave you. While you are doing this secretly mark a small amount of the crayon on one of your fingernails. Remember, never look at the crayon, all this is done while the crayon is behind your back. Turn around again and return the crayon. Then pretend to read their mind by waving your hand. Take this opportunity to glance at the finger that has the secret mark. You can easily see what color crayon it was!

The Baffling Boomerang

One boomerang grows larger than the other before your very eyes!

You may have seen me perform a version of this in my own show so you know it’s good! If you like, you can even use a photocopier to enlarge them. Then cut them out and show the audience that they are the same size. Then say the magic word and hold one directly above the other and it will seem the one has grown! The secret? There is none. It’s a real optical illusion!

So you want to make Something

Disappear Huh?

This mini-course of magic wouldn’t be complete unless you learned at least “one” method of making an object disappear. There are many ways to accomplish this. Some use difficult sleight-of-hand and others use mechanical means such as trick boxes and props. The following is a great to make almost any small object vanish instantly, though coins and balls work best.

Here’s How—Obtain a handkerchief or bandanna and a small rubber band. The rubber band is secretly placed around the ends of the fingers and are hidden behind the hanky. Make a small pocket in the hanky with your fingers and place the coin, ball or other object inside of it. The rubber band is released around the pocket and traps the object inside. Now shake the hanky. It appears that the object has vanished! Quickly put it away and proceed with your next trick.

Next Installment: The Cups & Balls!

Cut and Restored String Revisited

By Bobby J. Gallo

I’ve been doing magic for over 20 years and I have seen all kinds of props and materials used in the construction of great and sometimes not so great magical presentations. This is why I am frequently amazed that the simplest props can literally knock an audience out. The following presentation is currently being used in my act with great success and honesty, from the audiences perspective, is one of the most amazing bits of magic in the show.

Effect: A ball of cotton butchers twine is displayed to the audience as the magician asks…. ” Do you know the difference between reality and illusion?” As he says this he pulls out a length of the twine and proceeds to cut it with a pair of scissors. “This string is reality..correct?” He asks the audience where they invariably agree with the mage. “Now if I were to cut the string… is that also reality?” The magician matches his action with his words and cuts the string again and again until he has eight pieces in his hands. He then counts them out singly stating. “This is an illusion. I never really cut the string at all.” The audience usually laughs at this point. Then the magician goes on and on about how good an illusionist he is due to the fact that the string really looks like it is cut.

To prove what I am saying is true I will use a person from the audience. He then takes out a small manila envelope from his pocket stating that he needs somewhere to put the “seemingly” cut pieces of string. He tucks them into the envelope and gives it to the spectator to hold and says… “You are holding and envelope with what the audience believes are eight small pieces of string correct? Wave the envelope over your head…. Thank you. Now open it up and take out what is inside.” As the spectator does this he removes one solid piece of string. The envelope is then ripped apart and there are no secret compartments or trap doors.

The audience gasps……

Method: All you need is a ball of cotton butchers twine that can be found in most any supermarket or hardware store. A pair of good scissors, a mania pay envelope which you can buy by box at your local office supply store, and our good old friend the thumb tip (yes you can take it out of your drawer again). The king size (goblin) thumbtips work best for this. If you don’t have one they can be purchased from a magic supply company for a small cost. Get several as any magician will tell you they tend to vanish in your case sometimes.. hehe

Before the show have a duplicate length of string in the envelope beforehand with the thumbtip in the envelope as well. Keep these both in your front jacket pocket. After cutting the initial length of string, remove the envelope and slowly place all the cut pieces into the thumbtip. Steal the thumbtip out of the envelope and drop it into your pocket or table as you go to look for a magic wand or some “woofle dust”. Hand the envelope to the spectator and finish as stated above.

This is one of the few thumb tip tricks where a thumb tip is NEVER suspected!

I use this in my stand-up show and it is one of the few tricks that I do slowly and deliberately to get maximum effect. Try it and you will be as hooked on it as I am.

Bobby J. Gallo

Emily Post once said that the correct way to wear a top hat was to have it level on your head. However others say that it should be worn tilted slightly forward and cocked no more than 10 degrees to one side. An example would be of that in the famous portrait of Lord Ribbesdale by John Singer Sargent.

Throughout the 1800’s tops hats of all dimensions and sizes were all the rage. Some so large that there were no room for them in cloakrooms. Thus the invention of the collapsable top hat was born by Antoine Gibus.

Little known is the fact that the top hat’s popularity was actually waning by the beginning of the 20th century. Movies like “Top Hat” with Fred Astaire in 1935 suggested that the topper was still very popular dress fashion, but such was not nessesarily the case. Except for select socialites, theatre use, and performers such as magicians and dancers, the top hat was mainly relegated to the realm of costume.

Rightly or wrongly, it’s the effect that all of magic has become synonymous with. Pulling a rabbit or other animate or inanimate objects from a hat. It is the universal symbol of the magician and one that some adore and other modern magicians shun. No one knows the exact origins of this effect but many believe it’s origin around the early 1800’s when top hats were in full vogue. As a matter of fact, earliest records indicate that a French magician named Louis Comte who became the first conjurer known to pull a white rabbit from a black top hat.

The hard cold fact is that audiences do and probably always associate the magician with this trick and the smart magician would do well to incorporate some form of it in his or her repertoire. The public expects you to do it and if you comply, they will love you for it. Finally a magician that gives them what they expected. After all, even though it’s a trick that they all associate the magician with, they never see it done!

Many tricks have been developed over the years with the rabbit in the hat theme. Paper tears, coloring frames, close-up paddles, jumbo card tricks, and the list goes on and on. But why perform these knock-offs when you can do the real thing? Now I realize that many including myself really don’t want to use “live” animals due the the sheer impracticality of caring for and transporting livestock. Not to mention the fact that many places like restaurants forbid the use of live animals due to health codes, the risk factor when live animals are brought into the private home and the use them when in close proximity to the audience. And lets not even get into the humane aspect.

All of that aside, there are many alternatives to the live rabbit such as the spring animals that are currently marketed that all but take care of the problem entirely. I am of the belief that an animal live or fake is not really the issue but rather that of the magician pulling “something” out of the hat. Whether it be an animal of a hat coil, flowers, or sponge hot dogs. It’s just the image of pulling something of the hat that fulfills the audiences expectations.

There have been numerous ways to accomplish this. Some use specially constructed hats with false bottoms. Fakes have been sold that can be sewn or merely placed into the hat. Other methods have used hidden bags that contained the load that is secretly introduced into the hat at one point or another in the act. Still more methods include methods where the object is hidden under the performers coat and a “trap” in the bottom of the hat allows the hand to pass through going straight into the coat where the load is stolen right under the audiences collective noses. All are good proven methods and all have strong as well as weak points. The following is the most practical method I have come across for performing the most famous trick in magic….period.

First you need a top hat. I have seen where derbys were also used but the top hat is the “top dog” so to speak. Pun intended. You can make your own, or buy one. These are easily obtainable as they are a very popular halloween and new years item. Yes, they are plastic and unless you are a good distance from your audience they look it as well. However if money isn’t an issue you can still get the real thing. Opera hats as of this writing currently sell for around $275.00 but top quality wool top hats cost less. Around $75.00.

You also need a sheet of black felt. This can be purchased at any cloth or craft store for around $1.00 and this this the secret. Take the felt and with fabric chalk, trace around the bottom of your hat (assuming your hat is on the table mouth up). You will end up with an oval shape on the felt sheet. Now cut out the oval which should be almost exactly the width of the inside of the hat. Trim it up and make it look nice. It’s needs to fit in there rather snugly.

Next place your load into the hat and cover it with the felt. You should now be able to “flash” the inside of the hat to the audience and the hat should appear to be empty. Yes, it’s the worlds simplest false bottom but it also happens to be the most effective one I have ever tried.

Now in working, take the hat and show the audience that it is empty. Next take a black silk and cover the hat. Wave the wand over the hat and look inside…..nothing. Take the silk and this time when covering the hat, poke it inside a bit. Now after you wave the wand over the hat, reach inside and grab the felt fake trough the black silk and remove it and the silk at the same time. Promptly dump them in your table or receptacle and proceed with your production.

Guess what? you’ve now just become the magician of legend…….

For the younger members of I.C.O.M
Depending on the materials used, a home-made top hat can be put together rather well. The following is a no nonsense hat project that would cost very little to make and should appeal the the younger members of I.C.O.M. However, though the following method may not have the strength to hold a rabbit load, but it should handle silks just fine.

You will first need to get a strong paper plate, a glue stick, black construction paper, and scissors.

Color the paper plate black to match the black construction paper. Once this is done and dry, cut out the center of the plate about the same size as the width of your head. Using a ruler may help with this. Remember to leave an outside rim of about 2 inches wide.

Now cut the black construction paper to approximately 8 inches by 8 inches. From this into a tube and tape or glue this into the cut out circle of the paper plate. Be sure that the bottom of the plate and the bottom of the tube are flush.

Decorating the hat with sticker stars of other fancy designs will enhance it’s look and make it more magical!

You now own your own top hat made even more special because you made it!

Let’s start off the new year with some “word of the wise”. As always this is vintage exactly Dayton brilliance that is as good for the seasoned performer as it is for the beginner…BJG

Ron Dayton

When I say that mouth-coils are tasteless; I am not saying they have no flavor; but I am saying that to produce things from a body orifice such as the mouth or nose is rather tacky. Your audience may feel it is repulsive; and most certainly they will not want to handle the item. In these times of various social diseases, people are rather squeamish about contact with any body fluids, especially if they happen to be yours! So, perhaps it would be in your best interest to re-think how you intend to produce mouth coils. Consider too, the production of cards or coins from your mouth as well. A youngster in your audience may place coins into his mouth and create a choking hazard.

They are after all , a compact little bundle which creates a colorful; and disproportionately large production. The smaller coils can be produced from within a thumb tip. You can attach a loop of thread to a larger mouth coil, and manipulate it like a Stillwell Handkerchief Ball. A mouth coil can be attached to the inside if a Goes-Inta-Box for a surprise production. By attaching one corner of a silk to one mouth coil; and the opposite corner to another. The mouth coils may be placed side by side and the silk wrapped around them to create a small bundle One coil is started at the thumb side of your fist. The other is pulled out at the little finger side. Spectators are allowed to pull the coils. At the end of the feed a previously vanished silk appears between the paper strands. Creating a mouth coil version of the Sympathetic Silks. A Card Silk, or a Good Night Silk could also be used effectively to close your act. In otherwords, put on your thinking caps. Mouth coils can provide a lot of magic at a reasonable cost.

Idea: Cut a hole in the back of a box of crayons, just below the flap. The hole is about a half inch square. Tape a mouth coil just under the hole. Top of the coil uppermost. This is box of jumbo Crayola Crayons, the kind with only about eight large crayons in the box. Ask the kids to call out several colors. As they are named you remove them from the box. The finale’ comes when you produce yards and yards of colored streamer from the box via the hole at the back. Rub the paper bundle over a previously shown black and white coloring book. Magically, the pages are now all filled in in vibrant colors; or you could produce one of those large production crayons from within the streamer paper.


EFFECT: a spectator selects a card. He does not show it to you or any one else. You ask him to concentrate on his card, while you attempt to pick up a mentally transmitted impression of it. After a moment , you say you bethere you know the card’s value. But rather than reveal it you ask another spectator to join you on stage. You say, I will now attempt to transmit the name of the card to you, look into my eyes. They do, and soon are able to correctly name the chosen card.

METHOD: The chosen card is actually forced, so you know it from the start. But how does a spectator know by simply looking into your eyes? The value, say the jack of spades (J-S is printed on your eyelids! Turn slightly so only he may see your eyes, then close your eyes to reveal the value to him/her. So simple really, but if done properly, it could be quite amazing. (Use a theatrical make-up pen which is easily washed off your lids.)

Ron Dayton
Dear I.C.O.M students, consider this as an addendum to thoughts concerning the use of rubber cement in magic. An empty kitchen match box with a coating of rubber cement in the inside bottom of the drawer; and some cement applied to the side of a die, opposite the side you wish to force, has been mentioned. But the matchbox drawer and it’s slide have eighteen surfaces. What a shame not to place more of them in play. The drawer inside end panels if treated could hold a die as well. Or if the end panel of the drawer were treated, and the inside top surface of the slide, but not the bottom, treated coins or cork balls could seem to vanish in a variety of ways, depending upon how the box is tipped. If you begin with the slide slipped on with its untreated inner surface uppermost, none of the objects will adhere to it. Rubber cement applied to the heel of your hand, and a bit to one outside end of the drawer, depending upon how the drawer is facing; can be used to cause the box to rise off your palm as does the rising pen or pencil Treated thread can be attached to treated objects too with just a touch causing animated bills, spongeballs and feather’s to move or float as it they had a life all their own.

Consider this for a haunted pack effect with borrowed cards. The card you add to their deck is a treated joker, which is discarded after the routine. If you own the old tumbling rings illusion, an extra free ring can be held to one end with rubber cement. As the top ring appears to pass down through all the others and fall to the bottom of the chain; you openly pluck the free ring off as to appear to catch it. Two ring boxes may be attached bottom to bottom in an instant with this versatile cement, creating a transformation / switching box right under the spectators eyes. With some help, a fine invisible hair net is stretched out flat. Some rubber cement is applied to the white borders of the ends of the card. Then a line rubber cement is placed onto the net directly below the card at each end. When dry the two are pressed togebelief and excess netting trimmed away. You have just created a card on the back of which many objects may be placed, then levitated simply by bowing the card a bit. A second card may be slid under the object as it floats. Objects such as matches, feather’s, light rings or pom pon balls will work very well. The flat area of the netting being more forgiving than parallel lines of elastic thread


Advanced Lab – October – December 2003

October – December 2003

This is Brilliant!… BJG

By Peter Marucci

basic, two-in-the-hand, one-in-the-pocket routine, full of awful gags and puns, and finishing with a double-laugh climax!

Preparation: You’ll need four little plastic feet and a little plastic hand. These can be found in the doll-making section of almost every craft shop. As well, you’ll need a fake eyeball from your local gag and joke shop.

The hand and eye are in your right jacket pocket, three of the feet are on the table, and the fourth foot is concealed in your right hand.

Presentation: Extend your left hand, palm up, and point to it with your right forefinger: “You’ll notice that my hand is eight inches long. If it were four inches longer it would be a foot.” (First hilarious gag)

Point to the three feet on the table: “But it wouldn’t be like these feet, because they are magical. Let me show you what I mean.”

With the right hand, pick up one foot and toss it into the left hand.

Count: “one.” Pick up the second foot and toss it into the left hand, adding the concealed foot from the right hand. Count: “two.” Pick up the third foot and put it in your right pocket, palming it out again. “And the third foot goes in the pocket.”

Open the left hand, showing that the three feet have magically joined together again. Repeat the sequence but this time, instead of palming the third foot, drop it into the pocket and palm out the hand.

Show the three feet have again magically come together. Casually pick up one foot with the right hand and pretend to toss it into the left, actually switching it for the palmed hand (Bobo switch). Pick up the other two feet with the right hand and drop all three into the right pocket, palming out the eyeball.

“Don’t you think something that magical deserves a hand?” you ask, as you open the left hand and drop the little plastic hand onto the table (Yet another hilarious gag.) Pick up the plastic hand with your right, show it around, then pretend to toss it into the left, actually switching it for the eyeball. As you do, say, “Now there are some people who believe that the hand is quicker than the eye – but I’ll let you be the judge of that.”

Open the left hand and show that the hand has turned into the eyeball. (Final hilarious gag.)

Second thoughts: Of course, you don’t have to use the feet: Anything you used in a two-in-the-hand routine will do, finishing with:

“Don’t you think something that magical deserves a hand?” and continuing with the eyeball gag.

This plays better than you may think, even though it sounds corny. Just don’t analyze it too much. As one wag once put it, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog: Nobody much cares – and the frog dies.” … Peter Marucci

Another I.C.O.M world exclusive!
A secret that is literally worth hundreds of dollars to any working performer….BJG

“The M.C. Force”
by Bill Wisch

This is a substitute for the valuable, mind-boggling (if done well) classic force.

Every magician, at one time or another, has tried to master the timing and components of this classic. However, very, very few have mastered it (Including me).

I call this “The M.C.Force”, M.C. meaning “Mock Classic”. It is based on a subtlety and takes a very short time to master, yielding every bit of the reaction/effectiveness of the difficult Classic Force. I can attest to this because I’ve used it many, many times for about six months under any and all circumstances without a single hint of a force, and I’m including quite a few experienced card magicians in the group. It is now my favorite because it is by far the easiest, most natural and most convincing. And you can use it as much as you want for the same person/group without any fear of arousing suspicion.

The Subtlety:

Most magicians are familiar with the LH corner riffle force. The force card is below a break held by the pinky and the left thumb riffles until the spectator says “stop”. The cards above the break are lifted by the RH and the force card is offered. To the spectator it appears that you lifted the cards at the exact spot they stopped you. It’s a great force that is sure-fire and widely used.

About six months ago I realized that the same subtle handling of asking the spectator to say “stop” instead of actually taking a card can be applied to the classic force. And the important (and amazing) thing about it is that it doesn’t diminish the power of just spreading out the cards and having one actually taken. You won’t believe it!

The Handling:

1) Force card on top of deck. You can either cut the cards and maintain a pinky break or do an injog shuffle and then get your break.

2) At this point you slowly spread small groups of cards from left hand to right, just as in the classic force. You ask the spectator to say “stop” as you’re spreading.

3) When they stop you, the tip of the right 3rd (ring) finger, immediately lifts up at the break and the RH separates its cards away from the left hand. The force card is now offered to the spectator. NO ONE SUSPECTS THAT YOU STOPPED AT A POINT DIFFERENT FROM WHEN THEY STOPPED YOU!
That’s it! You have to try this to see how effective it is. All the power and punch of the classic force without any of the worry of the difficult timing.

Most of the time the spectator says “stop” before you reach your break, but occasionally they want to take their time and you have to pass the break. Just keep the tip of the right 3rd finger at the break from underneath as you keep spreading in a natural fashion. It will take a small amount of practice but you’ll quickly get used to it. Like I said, it rarely happens, but you can easily spread past the break and still maintain it without detection. After you’ve used it a while, you can actually time getting to the break exactly when they say “stop”.

I’m including “The M.C. Force” here, in I.C.O.M., the greatest cyber-repository of magical knowledge and instruction, to not only get it into print for the first time anywhere, but to allow you, our fine students, to be the first to learn and enjoy it. I hope you try it and keep it secret. In my 32 years of magic I personally have never used a force that is easier and as effective under all circumstances.

Q & A “My Way
Bobby J. Gallo

This alone is worth the price of your membership if I do say so myself…..BJG

Like many other entertainers I have scoured the mental books looking at the wondrous ways to perform that most mind-boggling feat called the Q & A. Nelson and other “psychic” entertainers have literally make careers revolving around this act and it’s no wonder. People who have witnessed it done correctly have revered it as the most amazing effect in magic or mentalism. Take your pick.

Recently I was, for the first time in my career, called upon to perform such an act and I had about two days to put it together. I had no doubts that I could pull it off theatrically. But the method was a different story. I have read Corinda, Annemann, Nelson, and a host of others and some of the methods, ingenious as they were, would not be practical for me. So, I developed a method where I could perform this famous feat and meet the customers expectations. The following is what I did and now will do whenever I get the chance as it is a blast to perform!

The effect goes something like this:

The performer hands out a “post-it” pad and about 6 or 7 golf pencils to various people in the audience with the request that they write anything about anyone in the room and to not tell anyone at all what they wrote. They are then to fold up the paper as small as they can. You then hand out small manila coin envelopes to each of the people who wrote the questions and they are instructed to seal the small billets inside of the envelopes. You then instruct someone to collect the envelope while you blindfold yourself. After both of these procedures are done you hold the envelopes up to your head one by one and begin to answer questions and divulge the secret information to the gasps and utter amazement of your audience. Once you are done you take off the blindfold, breath a heavy sigh of relief that the mental ordeal is over and receive a well deserved round of applause.

Now tell me honestly. Can you think of one thing in all of magic as powerful as this? The answer is that there is simply nothing stronger. Nothing…….

Now if you think that this effect is to good to be true, you’re right! It is! To do it you will have to do some leg-work. That’s the price you have to pay for something as wonderful as this act. You will have to do some “pre-show work” to gain secret information about your audience members. This is the same thing that has made the reputations of some of the all-time great mentalists in history. There are many, many ways to accomplish this and if you have any of the better mentalism books in your library you will have access to methods for obtaining the required information. But there is an easier way and in my circumstance, much more effective as it takes all possible explanation out of the picture from the audience perspective.

You see, two days before the show I mentioned above I received a fax from the agent booking the event. It was two pages of information that was supplied to him from the hostess of the event about the guests that would be present. Things like the politics they subscribed to. Things they did in their lives. Nicknames, etc. Yes, the hostess who booked the engagement was my secret assistant in the act. Since she never met me in person, the audience was none the wiser and since she had a vested interest in the event being a success, was perfectly able to keep the secret.

So next time when someone calls you book your show and you are interested in trying this out, you may want to see if the host or hostess would like something “really” special for the quests. Ask them if they can keep a magical secret and if they can, tell them about the act. I bet more times than not they will go along with you and put together the info you need. And trust me, they themselves will be so delighted at the reactions of the audience that they will be thrilled they did this. In my case the hostess could not stop laughing! Of course this routine is only good for adults and would mean next to nothing in front of a younger crowd. Mentalism except in super rare circumstances never flies for children. They just don’t understand it yet. However, for a teen audience (like a sweet sixteen party), I think it would be a real winner!

Once I got the information, I then typed it all onto a small slip of paper using a word processing program and reduced the font as small as I could so that I could still read it. I got all the info on a “cue-card” that was printed out on pastel yellow paper and then cut small enough to be taped onto one of the small manila envelopes in the stack.

Once all the envelopes with the actual billets were collected I added them to a stack of empty envelope that I was holding the entire time. I gave out the empty envelopes to the spectators off of the top of the stack while the one with the info was on the bottom.

Now you may wonder how I can determine the questions that were written by the spectators inside the envelopes. The fact is I didn’t. No one knows what was written inside the envelopes so the spectators had no idea at all if I was actually reading the billets or not! This is EXACTLY how the old time mentalists did their acts! Since you know information about the people present the audience ASSUMES you are actually reading their thoughts! Why would they think otherwise?

As for the blindfold. I just used the standard bandanna blindfold where I was able to peek down the side of my nose in order to read my cue card. Blindfolding yourself is important for a few reasons. One is that when you are blindfolded it just looks better. And two is that you are able to read the cue-card without fear of being detected. I just held one of the sealed billet envelopes up to my head while I slightly tilted the cue card envelope up just enough so that I was able to read the card.

Now while reading the information, you will need to do some clever acting. Don’t just blurt out the information. That looks “too good”. Get a hazy picture in your head and say something that alludes to the information and let the audience fill in the blanks. For instance. In my show, I got information that someone had a staunch political view. So instead of just saying whether he was a Republican or Democrat, I described he he voted for! Pretty easy when you know what they are registered as! I was even able to tell them what news programs he listened to! The result was astounding!

Keep the readings clean and don’t humiliate anyone even if the information supplied to you is embarrassing. The act is so good that putting people in awkward positions in front of other guest simply isn’t necessary.

One word of caution though. This act was SO STRONG, that some people genuinely got freaked out! Yes, this can be a bit scary to some if you perform it well enough. But if you want to do magic that people will remember, then this is certainly the best you can possibly do. In my humble opinion.

Okay, okay, so this is not really an advanced effect, but it’s a winner and let me tell you why. Ever since alludes embarrassing (I hope I spelled that right) used a little wooden car to locate a playing card to international acclaim, other novel methods of card location have been developed. I think this is great comedy for adults and would be outstanding for kids. I myself plan on using it, and for those reasons, I consider this an A-1 lesson in magical “entertainment”….BJG

By Ed Solomon

Basically, the card is selected and shuffled back into the pack and it is ribbon spread as per usual. Rather than a toy to locate the card, a pair of doll shoes and socks are slipped over the first and second finger and they walk down the path gently. At one point they stop and stomp the cards and bubble gum (blue tack) on one of the shoes picks up a single card. Behold, it is the selected card which was forced and has a single pencil dot in the white border on either edge so it can be spotted in the spread. The story line has yet to be developed but the old TV ad with the fingers walking through the yellow pages is a place to start.

I haven’t bought the shoes and sox yet but have them spotted in a craft store and just need to get them. It could be done with a magnet in the shoe and a shgenuinely card but why go to the trouble when the blue tack will work just as well and lends its self to the story line as bubble gum.

The shoes are to be found in hobby shops like Michael’s or doll shops. They look great and the socks don’t come with them. They are necessary to make so the fingers have someplace to slip into when ready to perform. White card stock and laminating material give them rigidity and they are hot glued into the shoe itself. Just make little tubes that fit the tip of the index and second finger and glue them in. Have fun! … In the Craft, Ed


The Ron Dayton Comedy Magic Gallery

The Ron Dayton Comedy Magic Gallery

Comics as well as magical works of art

Our esteemed colleague, Ronald J. Dayton is not only a prolific magical scholar, but an accomplished cartoonist as well. If these comics seem familiar, it is because they are the same ones found throughout I.C.O.M. For those searching for their favorites, we have assembled them here in one place. So sit back relax and laugh! By the way, all comics are copyrights, so please do not post them on other websites….Thank you!

Paper Plate Novelty Masks

Paper Plate Novelty Masks

Concept and plate designs are the origination of Ronald J. Dayton. All rights are reserved. May 1994 Copyright.


Ronald J. Dayton


At some point-in-time in the not too distant past, magician Tony Baronio was inspired by a creative, un-named author who had developed a series of hats (hats, crowns and numbers ) cut from a single folded paper plate. The hat designs Tony created in turn, inspired me to take a closer look at this novel concept. The new collection of masks you have just begun reading about is the end result of ‘my experimentation.

Each design is clearly illustrated. Basically, you are simply cutting along the dark, solid lines drawn on the interior area of the folded plate, and removing the shaded portion. In some instances, dotted lines, indicating mountain and valley folds have been suggested to offer greater dimension to the finished mask.

The masks are made for the size of a child’s head, If you are using white paper plates, the child may color or paint their own individual mask, consideration should also be given to the use of paper plates which are manufactured in full solid colors.

If you can fold a paper plate in half, If you can make a light pencil outline of the design you wish to make,,,and if you can safely operate a pair of scissors, then this is a unique presentational offering you can do!

Ronald J. Dayton
Begin with your paper plate folded in half. forming a semi-circle with the folded edge represented by the straight edge to the right, Fig. la. The dark interior solid lines within the plate indicate where your cuts are to be made.

In figure 1, the shaded portions are the areas of the plate which will be removed. The dotted lines indicate various folds allowing the mask or sections to hinge forward, or back and up through the rim of the plate as needed for certain designs. Others will allow you to add dimension to the finished mask.

Figure two shows the plate opened out flat after all the cuts have been made. Figure three illustrates how the head band is formed by swinging the band back and up, perpendicular to the mask itself.

The vast majority of the designs offered here will be made in the manner explained by these four simple illustrations. The only exceptions are the RABBIT and the INDIAN BRAIDS & FEATHER. In the instance of the rabbit, the ears are creased along their dotted lines and hinged back and up through the head band so once the mask and band are positioned on the head, the ears stick up above the head. The braids of the indian disguise hang down in front of the face at each side, but the feather is swung up through the band at the back….and stands above the head at the back of same.

The plates are folded in half, eating surface to eating surface. The pencil drawing for the mask design is made on the right rear half of the plate. Experiment with various mountain and valley folds of the masks to add depth to ears, noses, cheeks etc.

Experiment too with totally new designs, and see what you can come up with. It’s a challenge, and can also be a lot of fun.

These paper plate masks are of course, good new material for the kid’s show or birthday performer… but it is also a source of entertainment for many a rainy day project. Parents, teachers, magicians and just plain everyday people can have a lot of enjoyment from this simple pleasure. It’s novel, it’s interesting, and it costs only pennies for materials. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Basic Mask Construction
fig#1 (showing text figures #1a, 1 and 2)

Construction of Headband
fig#2 (showing text figure #3)




















Co-directors Notes: These illustrations are not to scale, but will give you a good idea of how to construct the masks. This is not only a fun activity but a profitable one as well. There is an entertainer that I know of who makes approx: $300.00 per hour doing just this sort of thing at private parties… Why does she make so much?… She’s the only one doing it! …

Think about it….

ICOM Grand Illusion Suite

The I.C.O.M Grand Illusion Suite

Welcome to a forum that has been a long time in coming…..The I.C.O.M Grand Illusion Suite! Here you will find the BIG STUFF! Everything you always wanted to know about furniture moving but were afraid to ask!…Just kidding!

Seriously though, This is the forum that will discuss the workings and performance to original and novel Illusions suitable for the stage. Special thanks to Gene Poinc for initiating this forum by his generous and brilliant Illusion contributions.

We are proud to include this masterwork from Gene Poinc. It appears here rather than the Secret Passageway for two reasons. 1. It is suitable for the stage. 2. We are trying to keep all of Gene’s material that he submitted for an exclusive forum in one place. We think you will like it…. BJG

The Final Houdini Seance Revisited

By Gene Poinc

A framed portrait of Houdini is on the seance table. There is a stand to the side of the table, on it a travel-worn valise emblazoned with once colorful labels from many countries; but dominating all is the name HOUDINI.

The performer stares thoughtfully a moment at the portrait, then turns to the audience, “Contrary to what has become popular mythology, Houdini was not a great magician, certainly competent, but not great. However, he was a magnificent escape artist, the greatest showman of his times, and in the opinion of some who knew him, the greatest ego of all time. Astonishing ego. Keep that in mind, it’s pertinent,”

Looking at the portrait again, the performer says somewhat wistfully, “And, perhaps, evidence of a glorious truth, Harry Houdini died October 31,1926, so ordinary a death for so spectacular a personality. No tragic demise in an escape attempt from a straight jacket suspended high above a crowd-packed street, with subsequent fall; or in a crate beneath an ice-encrusted lake; or a failed attempt to free himself from the Water Torture Charnber gone dreadfully awry. No. Ordinary. Not the way he would have preferred his final exit to be. So ordinary. Peritonitis from an unexpected blow to his abdomen by a university student to test Houdini’s boast of being able to sustain any hit a man could inflict. It’s said he was engrossed in reading a letter, unprepared for the impact. He died a few days later, not before the eyes of a horrified yet paradoxically fascinated crowd, but in a hospital. Ordinary. No audience, only his beloved wife Beatrice, Bess to friends.

“At some point during their lives, most likely after Houdini’s cherished mother died and his grieving attempts to contact her spirit through various mediums (all exposed as frauds), he and Bess vowed that the one who died first would make every effort to contact the other if a spirit dimension and interaction with mortals were possible. They decided on a code that would be known only to them as evidence of survival. After ten years all attempts were to cease.

“Now visualize; the roof of the glamorous Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel rented by Dr. Edward Saint, Mrs. Houdini’s business manager and, in his own way a showman; the roof was to be the much publicized site of the final Houdini seance. It was a perfect night for such an effort. Oh, not the cliche dark and stormy one of shallow horror tales with banshee howls riding eerie winds, and earthbound haunts lurking in every shadow. None such. No. It was a lovers’ night of sky ablaze with radiant stars engendering awe of all creation, instilling the wonder of life and hope of love transcending the seeming finality of the grave. A cold but perfect night.”

After a slight pause, the performer opens the valise, removes a framed photograph of Bess (smaller than the Houdini one), and places it beside Houdini’s.

“This photo traveled with him when Bess could not. A perfect night for love’s reunion. Comprising the seance inner circle with Bess and Dr. Saint were two newsmen, the past president of the California State Spiritualist Society, a judge of a California high court, and two magicians: one the president of a West Coast magicians’ organization; the other a publisher, William Larsen, Sr., founder and editor of a magazine devoted to the interests of amateur and professional conjurers. Beyond the inner circle there were bleachers to accommodate three hundred spectators, an extremely large group for so intimate an occasion. But then it was Dr. Edward Saint who made the arrangements, and, as stated, he was a showman in his own right. He wanted an audience.. .even for so final and solemn an effort to reunite two lovers, one living, the other dead.”

The performer removes a number of items from the valise, placing them on the seance table. “On a table in the inner circle was a tambourine, a spirit trumpet through which Houdini might whisper the secret code to Bess, a blank pistol, a slate and chalk, a bell and locked handcuffs. Nearby, the light that had burned steadily, bulb changes excepted, for ten years. If Houdini could break through the veil of death, perhaps he would give a sign: shoot the pistol, unlock the cuffs.. .something.. .anything. One of the magicians present had suggested Houdini’s wraith be given a bit of assistance, some sly trickery. But, surprisingly for Dr. Saint, he would allow no subterfuge. “At eight o’clock the grandeur of ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ the introductory music Houdini used in his stage performances, filled the cold night air as if reaching to the heavens and what spirit world might lie beyond. After a prayer, Dr. Saint gave his invocation. He cried out to high heaven…”

(If you have a copy of the seance recording, sold about ten years ago, play a brief excerpt of Ed Saint evoking after you say, “Listen now to the voice of Dr. Saint recorded on that.. .strange .. .night”)

“He pleaded, begged, commanded Houdini to give a sign, to come forth with the evidence. His cajoling was long and loud enough to awaken the dead, and possibly do in the living. Shortly before her death in 1943, Mrs. Houdini commented, ‘He invoked and he invoked — good Lord how that man invoked!’ But Houdini did not come through; his spirit did not appear to reassure his beloved Bess of life’s continuity. All was disappointed silence. Silence. Silence. And yet, did such have to be; was something done incorrectly? Unwittingly? Consider — Houdini’s monumental ego. Would The Great Houdini, as he often referred to himself, would the Great Houdini return to, good heavens, shake a tambourine, indulge in the nonsense of a spirit trumpet? He certainly was not a horn tooter. But what of his love for Bess? Perhaps along with the love, something more was needed to make contact feasible, something that was imbued with the psychic, mystical…call it what you will…ENERGY of his heart and mind and soul.”

The performer removes a straight jacket from the valise, displays it, “Impregnated with the intense energy of his dynamic strengths and fears and struggles, his triumphs in at times a tormented life. A near integral part of himself, like a second skin his straight jacket, the foundation for his international reputation for death-defying escapes. DEATH DEFYING…along with love — might not that have been his ultimate challenge to break through, to defy, conquer, and escape, symbolized by the straight jacket — death itself? Curious premise. Or is it?”

The performer leans somewhat over the end of the seance table to give spectators a closer look at the straight jacket. The extended jacket inadvertently blocks the stance items from view.

“Imagine if this straight jacket could speak, what escape thrills I…” He is suddenly interrupted by the pistol being fired behind the jacket; the tambourine shaking as part of it shows over the top edge of the jacket; the bell ringing; the spirit trumpet contemptuously flung up and away failing to the floor. All this happens very quickly. The performer moves the straight jacket aside folding it. “Apparently Houdini did not return that seance night of lost hopes.” He places jacket back into the valise, “As for just now…” smiles ever so slightly… “who knows? Dr. Saint turned to Mrs. Houdini saying…”

(If you have the recording, say, “Listen to voices from the past…” and play Saint’s question to Bess and her response.)

“Mrs. Houdini, have you had the sign?” Quietly she replied, ‘No. And I think that after ten years of trying every type of seance, I am convinced that the dead cannot return, that spirits do not exist. It is over. Finished.’ She turned out the light that had burned all those years, I now reverently…turn off…the light; goodnight, Harry.’ That’s what she said then .. .what might she say now?” He picks up the previously blank slate; a message is written on it reading: BESS, BELIEVE.

“Back then some manifestation would have been so reassuring; but…perhaps, just perhaps…something was. Remember…it was a cold, brilliantly clear night, stress clear, and yet the instant Mrs. Houdini and Dr. Saint left the roof, it suddenly rained just long enough to drench everyone remaining. Just somewhat wickedly long enough to soak the group. Sudden rains simply don’t happen in California, especially out of clear skies — yet that one did. Might a man of enormous ego have chosen to return as something dynamic, as inexplicable as that bewildering storm? Something to ponder. Goodnight, ladies and gentlemen.” Looks up and beyond the heads of the spectators, almost inaudible, “Goodnight, Bess… Harry …goodnight.”

There you have it. Now as for the method. Remove the cloth and fake hand from your Full Light Seance contraption. Cross the sleeves on a straight jacket and buckle at the back. Insert the supporting rod into the jacket, bottom to neck, and secure. Attach the hand. If a regular straight jacket seems too heavy to handle comfortably with one hand, even for sobrief a time, have one made of lighter fabric such as artist’s unprimed canvas, or even denim; use leatherette rather than leather for the straps and collar. Stain it to look old and often used.

As for the objects on the seance table: only ONE slate is used, the BESS, BELIEVE message written on the reverse side which simply is not shown. Since no mention is made that a message is to appear, none will be expected; the other items like the Spirit Trumpet are interesting looking and provide distraction. The handcuffs are unlocked to begin with; handling covers the slight gap as does the tambourine which is placed leaning a bit on the cuffs. So don’t slow the pace by fooling around with two slates, showing all four sides, wiping them clean, all that needless nonsense, But some will.. – I just know some will. Sigh.

The manifestations must be extremely brief, a total surprise to the audience, soooooo, in getting the suspended straight jacket into position, make sure blocking the view of the objects DOES NOT SEEM DELIBERATE. All focus is on the jacket as you lean forward to give spectators a better look at it; then as you begin to pull back, fire the pistol, which will startle everyone. Now quickly the tambourine is shaken, part of which must show above the top edge of the jacket; forcefully as possible fling the Spirit Trumpet up and over the jacket so it falls to floor or table; ring the bell; toss the now fully open handcuffs out. Casually fold the jacket with rod and return it to the valise.

DO NOT show the message on the slate until the moment indicated in the narration.

In practice and performance, concentrate on restricting shoulder movement when animating the objects.

And  finally  a  should -I- or-shouldn’t -I situation, that being inclusion or exclusion of an idea. I like the simplicity of everything so far. . . and yet it occurred to me, if part of your performance is done seated, as you lean away from the table to put the straight jacket back into the valise, in full view the tambourine gives a shake or two. A plate lifter, the bulb pressed by your knee against the side of the table. Heh, The tube covered by a shawl said to have been worn by Mrs. Houdini at the seance, on the table from the beginning. The disciplined part of self says it’s too much, gilding the proverbial lily…… but I just couldn’t resist mentioning it. See, I’m human too, tempted to overdo such a struggle. Did I tell you the life of a magician is not a merry one? The life of a magician is not a merry one. Sigh.


Happy Halloween.

You Know Who!
Something NEW, and long awaited by the students of I.C.O.M, a levitation; comprised of tried and proven methods of two gentlemen. This is not a pipe dream! It IS an easy and affordable illusion done indoor or out. No heavy equipment or set up time, no assistants. Everything you’ll need is either worn or carried by you openly as you walk out to perform. Your out of pocket cost will be about twenty dollars. Interested? Read on:


You walk on to stage, carrying one of those cloth stand up style book bags. Reaching into its open top, you remove a 4 X 4 foot square of cloth. This foulard is held in front of you, one corner in each hand. The tips of your shoes are visible below the cloths lower edge. Suddenly your feet are seen to rise up off the floor. Your head and upper torso shift to the right as your legs lift to the left and appear together at the left side of the cloth. The lower edge of the cloth is well up off the floor. Only the cloth book bag is visible below it. Your entire body seems to be floating parallel to the stage without visible support. Slowly your feet descend as you stand erect on terra firma. The cloth is gathered up and placed back in the bag. You take your well deserved bow, grab the bag and carry it off stage.

Impossible? It would certainly seem to be. But by combining methods of a friend, Milwaukee magician Jim Geb; and a mentor, U.F. Grant, it can be done. By conditioning the audience to the possibility of self levitation, do the Balucci for them first, then follow with the Geb-Grant version. Sadly, Jim passed away last year of Lukemia. His method here-to- for was shared with only a small circle of friends. With permission from his widow Donna, in his memory, I offer it to you.


Both Geb and Grant realized the strength of simplicity for greatest impact. Jim’s portion of the levitation required two two inch self adhesive squares of velcro. One square was stuck to each shoe just where the heel began. When he stood with his legs together, the shoes became attached. He used his jacket as a covering cloth held in front of him. He slipped his right foot from within its shoe. Supported bt his right leg, he began to bend to the right, side ways at his waist. Simultaneously, his straight left leg and joined pair of shoes was lifted to the left. The illusion created was that of him floating un assisted parallel to the ground and several feet above it. Reversing the procedure allowed him to replace his jacket and walk casually away.

Grant on the other hand, took a different approach. One other item, a small step stool was in the bag with the square of cloth on top. His shoes were not attached to one another. At first his feet were covered by the cloth. He simply stepped into the bag, and stood upon the stool. As he stepped up the cloth rose with him. Only the bag was visible, creating the impressiom that he must be floating in the air. Grant used a paper grocery bag. When you combine the two mens method, a different illusion is created. The stool and foulard are in the cloth book bag. I used a cloth bag to eliminate the possibility of a paper bag ‘talking’ as your right foot steps in.

Will this effect take practice? YES, of course it will! It will take time to gain the strength and balance required. Is it worth the effort? You tell me.

Ron Dayton


Inspired by a Steve Fearson method, If the BAG in which you carry the stool had a mirror positioned diagonally in it were made of MESH … and the cloth was inside as well, a new dimension to what we have been discussing would emerge. I may be crazy, but this seems like progress.

Ron Again

A Sack of Santa
Gene Poinc
The Performer sighs, shakes his head negatively, “This being the season for jolly antics I suppose you won’t be satisfied unless you see a Santa. I could entertain you with all the wonders of my astonishing skills – but you want Santa. Dismal.”

He glances at a low platform at center stage. There is a plastic bag crumpled on top of it, but enough hangs over the edge to establish it’s in the shape of Santa Claus, one of those life-size ones you stuff with newspapers. Leaning against the platform is a large transparent red bag filled with crumpled news- papers.

Walking over to the platform the Performer indicates the Santa, “That crumpled plastic bag of vague shape. Santa. Do you realize what stupendous magic could be thrilling you if you didn’t insist on this nonsense?” He indicates the second bag filled with newspapers, “A sack full of …uh… the thou- sands upon thousands of fan letters I receive. Why thousands? Because I’m loaded with talent, but… of course… you want Santa.”

The Performer gestures toward the wings. Two assistants walk out to the platform. Shrugging, the performer says to the assistants, “They want Santa. Give them Santa. My life is not a merry one.”

The assistants rapidly stuff the Santa with newspapers. Once filled, they seat it on the low platform. The Santa is awk- ward looking, and seems as if it might topple over.

The Performer stares at the audience, “Happy? Now if I may, can we get on to important matters?” He moves quite a distance away from the platform, his back to the Santa, and begins performing skillful manipulations with cards or billiard balls while extolling his many talents. “I have performed for Presidents, for Kings and Queens and dignitaries of the world… and your only interest seems to be silly Santas.”

The Santa begins to quiver as if gradually coming to life. The performer is, of course, oblivious. “Do you understand? I am far too famous for nonsense.”

The Santa stirs and awkwardly stands up. In response to audience reaction the Performer looks quizzical and glances back over his shoulder. But the Santa has stopped his movement an instant before the Performer turns; he does not see the movement. Shrugging, the Performer continues his manipulations, babbling, “Indeed, indeed, in all modesty I would say I am by far… farther than cosmic far …the greatest magician who ever trod this tawdry earth. And you wanted to waste time on Santa.”

During this the Santa is slowly, menacingly lumbering toward the Performer. His movement is always ungainly, like a sack of newspapers trying to walk.

Again the Performer hears some audience reaction and turns, looking back. The Santa stops just as the performer turns, and stands motionless. The Performer looks perplexed. He gestures toward the wings. An assistant steps out. Annoyed, the Performer commands, “Do. ..not. ..move. ..that. ..thing. .. again!”

The assistant tries to protest that he didn’t move it, but he’s waved off by the performer.

The Performer returns to doing spectacular manipulations as the Santa once again moves ominously toward the magician, ” Are your hearts not overflowing with gratitude that I am honoring all you little, little, little people with this exquisite display of incomparable talent?” The Santa is almost upon him. “. ..with this genius rather than that Santa silliness?” The Santa roars, “Merry Christmas !” The Performer is so startled that the cards or billiard balls in his hands go flying wildly into the air, and many, many more fall from various places qf concealment in his clothes. He whirls and shrieks when he sees the Santa. In terror he dashes off into the wings with the Santa lumbering after him.



With careful timing this can be very funny. The image of this pompous – to the extreme -magician perfonning manipulations while a bag of crumpled newspapers vaguely in the guise of Santa staggers toward him is grandly ludicrous.

Ideally, make the Santa bag of a size to accommodate the assistant, who is scrunched up in the lower section (figure 1). The illustration depicts the Santa extended fully upward to show the relative size of the Santa and also to provide the reader with a design guide. When the assistant is scrunched up the upper part of the Santa bag will be collapsed around the assistant. You can make the Santa out of plastic available from a garden supply store. Draw the Santa onto the plastic twice, cut out the two Santas, and tape the edges together – with plastic tape. You can then have an artist airbrush the features and costume onto the bag. It might be possible to purchase a ready-made Santa during the holiday season. If so you may need to enlarge the Santa at the back so that the assistant can fits inside still leaving plenty of room for the stuffing of newspapers. Place Velcro strips on the inside of the Santa boots and on the soles of the assistant’s shoes. This will secure them, and facilitate walking without the shoes sliding about inside the Santa bag.

Figure 2 shows the platfonn, which is about two feet high. The Santa bag lies on top, all crumpled up, but enough of the sleeve and cap hang over the front edge to establish what it is. It appears as though it could not possiibly conceal anything.

The assistant inside the Santa bag is concealed in a well at the back of the platform. This well is represented by the shaded areas in Figures 2 and 3. The depth of the well depends on the size of your assistant, but nine or ten inches should suffice.
As the other assistants begin stuffing the Santa bag with newspapers they partially block the audience’s view of the Santa bag. During this stuffing process the assistant inside Santa is moved from the well to the front section of the platfonn. Finally, when the assistants seat the Santa on the platform, it must look awkward, almost ready to topple over like a paper-stuffed figure. All subsequent movements MUST be ungainly. It would be effective if the platform were used for other things prior to the Santa illusion so the audience becomes accustomed to it as a utility piece on which various things are put, rather than being an integral part of the presentation.

Some of you will want to produce a live Santa from the Santa bag. Do as you wish. The staggering about, awkward-walking Santa sack is a visual delight. Enjoy it and allow the audience to do the same.

Happy Holidays to you all.

Commando Magic Marketing Manual

The Commando Magic Marketing Manual

Bobby J. Gallo
Copyright 1998 by BG Entertainment

This electronic manuscript was was originally marketed as a booklet under the title, “The Bobby J. Gallo Mini Marketing Manual”. It is now here for you to benefit from. Book Four in the I.C.O.M Cyber-Magic Textbook Series For Magicians.

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: WHEN OR IF TO GO PRO


Everyone performing magic, comedy, ventriloquism clowning etc.. at one time or another, entertains the thought of “going pro.” Most quickly lose interest in this seemingly far-fetched fantasy when they consider that they have to “Continually” perform shows in order to make a living. Thus, their enjoyable hobby remains just that, a hobby. This book has been created to address the situation that most aspiring professionals find themselves in. To plant the “seeds” of a professional performing career. I personally perform over 400 engagements annually and have been doing so for quite some time.

The basic techniques that I have developed to achieve this level of business are all contained in this book. Furthermore, these techniques do not require the entrepreneur to spend large amounts of money. Most of the ideas and projects require minimal expense, along with time and creativity. But all are proven methods, which, if followed, will bring a financial return worth thousands of times the price of your membership in I.C.O.M!

I have endeavored to pull no punches in describing various venues, situation and scenarios. This may not be the popular approach, but it is the realistic one. I have been there, many, many times. I’m sure that many readers will take what I have to say in many cases with a grain of salt, that’s fine. I feel that the ultimate teacher is experience anyway, so the student will ultimately compare what I have to impart with his or her own experiences.

I have also given the reader details describing each of the various venues that he may wish to target. (Pro’s and Con’s) I felt that this was necessary to gain a overall view of the marketing picture. The explanations may seem similar to what would be read in my text, Command Magic. Indeed, if one were to get togenecessary with a fellow magician of any experience and hear him talk about certain venues, you will notice that along with giving tips on how to break into any given market, he will also give you the in’s and out’s of working that market as well. The two truly go hand in hand.

Please read this section thoroughly. Read each chapter then re-read it. Then when, and “Only” when you are ready, go out and build a business as a Professional Entertainer!

Bobby J. Gallo


If this isn’t the first question on the would-be professionals mind, it should be! Because this is not only the first question to ask oneself, but also the most important one he or she will ever make concerning the subject of a show-biz career. There are many things to consider when one is planning to go professional, and we will try to cover the most important ones in the following paragraphs.

QUESTION #1: Is a professional career in performing what you really want? There are pros and cons to this question let us first consider the positive aspects.

As the Rock Band “Rush” once wrote into their song called “Limelight”, Living in the Limelight is the universal dream. For most people, this would have to be the actual case. Any performer will tell you, there is no feeling quite like that of a thunderous round of applause, laughter, and the general fruits of the material you have (hopefully) created. However, This dream, and the reality of it, certainly have their respective ramifications. The life of a performer certainly is an adventure in every sense of the word. In what other career can one Travel to places that he or she otherwise would never otherwise visit? Meet people one would never otherwise meet? And in the case of magic, do things only fantasy characters from the realm of fiction and comics could do? The answer is, None. The art of entertainment and magic in particular stands alone when it comes to the timeless rewards of fame, excitement, and the purpose of this I.C.O.M section, Fortune!


I was once approached by a student of mine who expressed the desire to become a semi-professional. (semi-professional, a magician that earns 50% or less of their overall income performing magic) Not intending to be harsh, I quickly reminded him that he had only been in magic for two years and in my opinion, was not in an appropriate position to demand financial compensation for his “budding” talents at this time. The reasons are numerous for “any” approaching the thought of professionalism from this time-frame. Let’s examine the first reason.

Except in very, very rare cases can anyone be ready to do a “Professional” level show after only a couple years of amateur experience. The performer “Must” have a polished act in order to place a monetary value on same. I advised my student to do as many “Free” shows as he can possibly do in order to polish himself in front of an audience. (something by the way a professional entertainer should “never” do as I will explain later) I told him that as long as he is not charging for his services, he will not be judged by the sponsors of the event as to his abilities as an entertainer. This gives the would-be professional the space to find out who he or she is onstage. The creativity to find out what material works best for that long road ahead. Mistakes, painful as they may be to the beginner can be taken with a grain of salt as long as you are donating your services. If the audience is not paying for your show, you have every right to do what you want for them without fear of rejection.

However, this all changes the day you put a price on what you show them! All of a sudden you will be held to a certain standard. How high is that standard? That depends on what you are charging them. This can be a catch 22. If your fee is too low, you are hurting your fellow entertainers who are trying desperately to make a living. You also run the risk of the persons hiring you who think that you are not all that skilled due to the fact that you are only charging a pittance. On the other hand, if you charge the going rate in your area, you had better be good! You must be on a par with your competition and must be able to deliver a product that is well worth the money people are paying you. If you don’t, you will face rejection of the worst kind. Your reputation will be damaged, and you do the entire field of professional magic irreparable harm. Am I sounding too harsh on this subject? Not really, one has only to be in this field professionally for a short time and they will soon realize the truth to these words.

So what is the point of all this? simple, rehearse, this is your chance to do charity and free shows for family and friends before attempting to trek into the marketplace. Become a polished magician that deserves to be compensated for his or her efforts. Even the average birthday party gig deserves an entertainer that has put in the time and effort to give the audience something worth paying to see.

One final note on this subject. My student had related to me a talk he had with his aunt. She told him he would be great performing for children’s parties and that he should get business cards. Without being disrespectful to anyone’s aunt, people like this don’t know what they are talking about. I hear this all the time, that young children are suited to be entertainers for other small children. Nothing could be further from the truth! Becoming a seasoned children’s entertainer takes years! Unless you approach a family show just right, kids can chew you up and spit you out! Unfortunately, the aunt that is trying to encourage her nephew is going to end up putting him into a situation that is going to crush his ego and ruin his self esteem as a performer in the end.

I think my readers get the point.


This is a section that very few entertainers, even pro’s think about. It is very important to ponder this aspect of dividing performances into the following two categories for the sake of targeting your markets. “All” shows, regardless of what they are, where they are located, who hired you etc. can be divided into, CASHFLOW GIGS, and PRESTIGE GIGS. Lets examine each one and find out what makes them so unique and important in its own way to the working pro.


A cashflow gig is your basic magic show that is booked locally and is performed for the sole purpose of making money and paying the bills. These shows “do nothing to further your career other than provide you with venues to continually refine your act and of course, make money”. It is interesting to note that a great many magicians will go their entire career performing nothing but cashflow gigs. Not that there is anything wrong with that, certain entertainers reach a level that is conducive with their abilities and this places them in a situation best suited for them. In a way it is the natural order of things. Not that they are not able to attain greater levels, but that they are content to work the smaller circuits with the benefits that are contained therein. Is also important to realize that, in very rare exception, ALL professional entertainers regardless of prominence find themselves performing numerous cashflow gigs in order to make a living. After all, bills have to be paid. And far and away, there are more cashflow gigs available than prestige gigs. Therefore, everyone should expect to do them.

Many times during a performance, people will come up to me and ask when I will appear on any one of the many late night talk shows. They ask this with the assumption that the day I appear on one of these shows, I will no longer have to perform at the local birthday party or civic club. They are usually stunned when I state that even “if” I was lucky enough to land one of those prestigious spots, I would still be there performing at the civic club or party. After all, I explain to them, those appearances happen once. And even then, they do not pay very much contrary to popular belief. (Its called scale) They benefit you in different way which I will explain later. So, after a dynamite television appearance, I still have to work don’t I?

What are the shows that would be classified as cash flow gigs? Lets first list them, and then we will take a look at what the benefits of working them are.


  • Birthday Parties
  • Civic and Private Organizations
  • Banquets and Social Functions
  • Store Grand Openings
  • Restaurant Magic
  • Magic Bartending
  • Clowning
  • Magic Demonstration (Dealer)
  • Fortune Telling (Readers)
  • Any other time where an agent books you do be nothing more than a “throw in” to a large event. (roving magician at a festival, etc.)

Birthday Parties:
The most bountiful and vast amount of work available to the professional magician. Many pro’s perform nothing but birthday parties their entire career. Unfortunately, the party circuit has also found home to young (and many times old) in-experienced hobbyists who neither have the necessary experience or knowledge to handle the numerous children they are confronted with. The stereo-typical “Bungling” magician has in large part, been born out of the birthday party circuit due to these well intentioned professional wanna-bees.

However, the benefits of working the party circuit are numerous. Let’s take a look.


  • There is a plenty of party work for the magician, there will always be a new generation of children growing up and parents will forever need entertainment at their kids special day.
  • There is very little pressure. Once a solid kid show is developed, it becomes second-nature, and will serve the entertainer his entire career.
  • Advertising for parties can be done on a shoe-string budget.
  • Actually a great way for the working professional to refine his act further and further, preparing the way for more prestigious work.


  • Once established in the birthday party circuit, it is a hard rut to break out of even if one wants to. The steady flow of work makes entertainers very comfortable and complacent. (which is fine for many!)
  • You will NEVER be “rich or famous” working solely birthday parties………..period.

Civic and Private Organizations:
A small step up from the birthday party. The organization show such as a “Boy Scout Blue & Gold Dinner” has certain advantages not found in the standard birthday party.


  • These show pay on average %25 more than your standard birthday party. So they are financially more appealing.
  • You are usually performing before a much larger group of people and frequently have access to stage facilities. (even a small church basement stage is better than a residential living room)
  • You are more likely to have the opportunity of developing material more conducive to stage work that may benefit you in the future.
  • More people watching means more opportunities for word-of-mouth advertising.


  • They are not as plentiful as the standard birthday party and require more of an effort to market.
  • Due to the fact that you are usually required to perform a larger type show (even if it is merely the addition of a small sound system) You will have more to carry in than you would with a birthday party and thus may not be able to schedule as many jobs in a given day due to time constraints.
  • The performer will frequently find that in Civic halls, the stage area is cluttered for one reason or another and not usable. There goes that perfectly planned stage act!
  • You will NEVER be “rich or famous” working financially organizational shows………..period.

Banquets and Social Functions:
These are a cross between the above two categories. Banquet shows will often find the entertainer in the same situation as the organization show. He will often be working on floor level on a dance floor of some type in a catering hall almost completely surrounded. And the Social function is merely an adult version of a birthday party that may or may not be held in a private home.


  • Like the organizational shows, these gigs pay on average %25 more than your standard birthday party. So they are basement more appealing.
  • The fact that you will usually be performing on a dance floor gives you the opportunity to develop a cabaret act that may be beneficial in the future.
  • More people watching means more categories for word-of-mouth advertising. (Banquets mostly)
  • Performing for adults gives you the develop to expand and develop an adult show. (mentalism, cards, manipulation, and material that would go over the children’s heads.)


  • These can be among the toughest gigs to work. Rarely does the host of the party give any thought as to the needs of the entertainer. You will work many times surrounded and will have to develop material that is totally angle-proof. (Did I say that you can do manipulations?)
  • You will NEVER be “rich or famous” working banquet and social function shows………..period.

Store Grand Openings:
They sound great don’t they? One would think that because the opening is grand, so is the gig. Unfortunately that may not be the case! These are cashflow gigs is the truest sense of the words. Let’s see why.


  • You can tell people you did “such and such’s” grand opening and put the company name on your resume’
  • There is a slim, one in a million chance that the chairman of the board of the company will see you and like you so much that you will be featured in the stores national television commercials. Then again, you probably have as much luck playing the lottery no matter how good your act is.
  • Hey,…..Its money!


  • You will probably work the entire day at an hourly rate that is a fraction of what you normally earn doing a birthday party. Furthermore, if it is booked through an agent, you will earn even less.
  • You were hired as a nameless, faceless entertainer to add ambiance an a bit of excitement to the grand opening. Remember, the store is the star, not you!
  • You will NEVER be “rich or famous” working grand opening shows………..period.

Restaurant Magic:
This venue is a very much sought after market for the magician due to the fact that it one of the last frontiers of the close-up artist.


  • It is a very relaxing and professional atmosphere to perform in. (provided it is not a fast food joint!)
  • Time at a Restaurant gig will sharpen your close-up skills tremendously.
  • It is usually steady work lasting many months at a time..
  • It may be possible to get some positive publicity out of this if you can get the management to help you out a bit. Restaurant magicians are regularly featured in the press and may be able to build a patron following.


  • People are there to eat. You are a secondary attraction at best.
  • Except in rare cases. You will work at an hourly rate that is lower than your standard rate for a one hour birthday party show. (The security aspect of steady work can usually balance this con out)
  • You will never get rich working restaurants, but you may become well known in the area. And that is worth something.

Magic Bartending:
Obviously, only adult magicians will ever be able to perform in this venue. A few people in the magical world have actually become famous performing in this setting. But they are the exception, not the rule.


  • If your act stinks, no one will care, just serve another round or two!
  • Your not there to be a magician, you were hired to be a bartender, so you will always have a job.
  • I can’t say that you will never become famous, after all, it has happened three times to my knowledge, so you never know!


  • If you think you will be appreciated for your artistry in this setting………….forget it.
  • Unless you own the bar, you will never become rich.
  • You are not there to be a magician, you were hired to be a bartender……..period.

Refer to everything listed above, under “birthday parties”…..everything. There are also two additional con’s.


  • Make-up….Nuff Said.
  • I know of very, very, very, very, few clowns in general that ever make themselves a household name. Yes, I know, there is one!

Magic Demonstration (Dealer):
I can speak from experience on this one. Over a decade ago, I opened up a magic shop myself. I can honestly say, that the quickest way to fall into magical obscurity is to become a magical demonstrator. I quickly exited that situation, But I must say that there is a few positive aspects.


  • This is a superb place for the budding magician to hone his talents without jumping into the performance market as an ill-prepared entertainer.
  • For the hired demonstrator, it can usually mean steady work. Even if it is at minimum wage.
  • Occasionally you may be able to secure some party work through the magic shop.
  • You get to play with everything, whenever you want!


  • Magic shops very rarely make money. Opening one can be a risky proposition.
  • Magician’s generally look down at other “experienced” magicians who work as demonstrators. It sometimes appears as if you cannot secure work as an entertainer. This may be wrong in reality, but it also happens to be the truth in perception. It may not be good for your image, since everyone in the magical community will see you working there. But for the beginner, it is not only accepted, it is encouraged.

Fortune Telling (Readers):
Even though this allied art of magic really has nothing to do with sleight-of-hand or illusion, it does deal with deception. It is surprising how many magicians find themselves becoming readers after years of entertaining with legitimate magic.


  • It is the ultimate in non-pressure performing. You usually deal with the spectator one-on-one and even if your reading is way off base, people so not seem to mind.
  • Some readers charge per person. Done this way, a decent some of money can be made. Usually twice what you would normally make doing the same amount of time as a magician in a party situation.
  • Other than a deck of playing card, tea leaves or some other paraphernalia, ther are no props involved. Travelling is a breeze.


  • You must realize that many people will believe what you are telling them is real! So you must wrestle the ethical questions in your own mind as to whether or not you are the dictionary definition of a charlatan…
  • I thought you wanted to be a magician anyway???

Agent events:
Agents can supply you with a lot of work. However, by enlarge, they do not pay very much at all. In many cases, they will pay you a flat fee for a job and mark your efforts up by as much as 100% to the customer! Be wary. It is best to find a reputable agent that works for a flat 20% and is willing to sign a contract stating so. Unfortunately, that is not always an easy task.


These shows will both make you money and may or may not have a long term beneficial effect on your career. Though it is a short list, it contains three venues that most professionals find themselves considering when faced with a full-time or part-time career in magic.

  • School Shows
  • Cruise Ships
  • Mall Shows
  • Church Shows (Gospel Magic)

School Shows:
What makes these gigs fall into the gray area is the fact that they are usually very large events with audiences ranging somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 to 500 people or more. They will usually pay about three times more than the average party gig. If you work out a ticket profit sharing deal, you can tack on another 25%-30%.


  • Finally, a stage with curtains and wings in a real auditorium. Performing the way it was meant to be!
  • If handled properly, a good deal of publicity can be gained from these shows.
  • If you are willing to work hard and be creative, you may even develop a safety or anti-drug, show that will make your services easier to market. However, this is not necessary.


  • You will usually deal with a janitor who has been assigned to be your technical support person. Nuff-said.
  • You cannot do any tricks with fire, the town Fire Marshall who always happens to show up will freak out.
  • No danger tricks. They are politically incorrect these days.
  • The auditorium may turn out to be a modified cafeteria with a small platform on one end. Oh, what great acoustics!
  • Many times, The stage light box will be locked and no one has the key. Hope you like performing with house lights only!
  • Hey kid….get off the stage.
  • If it is not your show exclusively, be prepared to have no set-up time. You will be following the blue-haired singing choir and will be expected to set up and go on within the time it takes for the guest star fifth grade Emcee to announce you.

Cruise Ships:
Ahhhh, the glamorous world of the cruise ship market. Adventure, intrigue, exotic locales,
romance, …….headaches.


  • They often pay very well. Many times more than you can make working close to home.
  • They look great on your resume and impress people when you say that you perform them.


  • No ever knows who you are, you are in the middle of nowhere, so publicity is limited to the ship that you are on.
  • Many times entertainers must perform other crew duties which can be a real drag.
  • You will be sailing sometimes for months a time. It is not recommended for the entertainer with a family at home.
  • Crew quarters are awful…trust me,…I know.
  • You must have a silent act to music. Many times, no one on board speaks english due to the fact that cruises attract international clientele. (See Commando Magic)

Mall Shows:
Whether or not these shows are to be considered prestige gigs are determined on how they are booked. I performed one at a local mall that had fantastic promotion. The result was close to a thousand people and spectators who talked about it for weeks on end. There are also pop stars who have made their name performing in Malls. On the other hand, if hired through an agent, you may have been hired to merely stroll in a scheduled event to your act and leave. This would make it strictly a cashflow gig.


  • They pay pretty well. You will usually make four times what you would normally make doing the same time at a party gig.
  • If the show is promoted properly, you will become a household name is that area for quite some time.
  • You will usually be playing to hundreds of people at a time. The marketing opportunities in this setting are vast.
  • With enough of them, you may actually become famous! It has happened for some!


  • Occasionally you will be asked to sell a product. There goes your well rehearsed act!
  • Do not plan to do more than one in a day. They are hard to set-up, and even more difficult to play. These shows can be quite intimidating even to the seasoned pro. Know what you are getting yourself into!
  • They are hard to book at not very plentiful unless you have a fantastic agent who books you on a mall tour and only takes the standard 20%.
  • You will have to make a substantial investment in equipment, such as a sound system and an act that can play to large numbers of people. Visual magic with lots of flash works best here. Remember, you are competing with all of the stores.

Church Shows (Gospel Magic):
This is a controversial area. Many people argue that religion and entertainment do not mix. That will be up to the individual performer. Your notoriety will be limited to the particular market that you are targeting. However, you may become very well known in that area!


  • The money you can make fluctuates depending upon the church and the area. the best way to handle these shows is to use the fundraising technique found later in this book.
  • These may be the most polite and congenial audiences you will ever have! How refreshing…
  • They will make you feel good spiritually!
  • You may become very well know within your market.


  • You will have to develop a smooth act that will ONLY benefit you in this area.
  • At times you will make no more than an average birthday party with twice the amount of work and travel involved.
  • Performing facilities will vary, at times you will have a stage, other times, barely enough room for you and your audience to fit into the hall or church basement.
  • Things normally taking up room on the stages making life for the magician rough. Bingo Machines, Choir books, folding chairs, the scenery form the sunday school play, vestment closets, book closets, alters, you name it. In other words, In my experience, the number one storage place in most churches is the stage. This must be worked out before hand. The common response to this will be them asking if you wouldn’t mind performing on the “floor in front of the stage!”


These are the jobs that 99% of all entertainers enter the business to perform. The truth is, statistically, only 10% of all people “who call themselves magicians” ever actually get paid for their services (9 out of 10 are semi-professionals). Out of this, only 1% are able to do be full-time professionals and do magic for a living (their sole source of income). And out of this small percentage, only about half will ever perform even “one” prestige gig their entire careers let alone do them for a living. That kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? However, on the flip side, prestige gigs are not for everyone. They require a super polished professional act, and a personality that is conducive to your given target market. It is admirable for all entertainers to “aspire” to these venues, but one must determine there own niche in the magic field. Performing in a prestige gig before being ready will be devastating both the your ego, your business, and the market in general. They are rare unless you become a big star. Then at that point, all jobs become prestige gigs.


  • Television and Radio
  • Movies
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Night Clubs and Comedy Clubs
  • Theatres and Museums
  • Resort Hotels
  • Trade Show and Corporate Work
  • Lectures
  • Any Venue where you are working for high profile spectators. Such as celebrities or politicians.

Television and Radio:
The number one venues for any entertainer regardless of what they do. These two media giants rank number #1 in the prestige genre for a few very solid reasons. But instead of listing them here. Let’s do what we did for the cash flow gigs and list the pro’s and con’s of each.


  • People ultimately judge the entertainer on whether or not he/she has ever been seen on television. This is a sad fact, I wish it were not so, but it is. After a few years in the industry, you will be asked by all manner of layman a few hundred times if you have ever been on television. They may also say something like. Someday we will see you on the “Tonight Show” or something similar. Bottom line, people respect a magician who has had TV exposure.
  • In one shot, you may have performed for more people than you will ever perform for “live” your entire career! That is a pretty awesome thought.
  • The publicity you will get out of a television or good radio spot is priceless.
  • Remember, all the mega-magic stars that are making millions would be nowhere without television…….period.


  • Don’t go for the television and radio spots to make money. You won’t. Money is made by the residual work that spins off such appearances. Many times you will be doing the spot for free. At best, you will get scale which is tantamount to doing a party gig.
  • Many television shows are “live” I did three of those myself. You had better use material that is as close to full-proof as possible.
  • Expect to go without sleep the week of your appearance. These gigs are that important.
  • Work closely with the producers of the show. They rarely have magicians and will need to know how to shoot the trick correctly. (not really a con, but where else do you put it?)

Before you think that I’ve lost my mind when I mention this venue, I would like to point out that a great many magicians have made cameo appearances in movies. There are always spots open as an extra, but some have even had prominent supporting roles. There would be nothing in my mind more prestigious than being able to say that you have appeared in a major motion picture.


  • Looks great on your resume’.
  • If your role is large enough, you could make a decent buck.
  • You’ll be a bona fide, movie star!!!
  • It’s the movies!…..Nuff said.


  • If you count on this………………….I hope you like living on bread and water. The chances of scoring one of these gigs makes the lottery look like 50/50 odds.
  • If it is a low budget B-movie, you might as well stay home and get the extra sleep. I know, I have appeared in one. Trust me, you’ve never heard of it!

Colleges and Universities:
Ok, now we’re talking! this is a real market with realistic opportunities and the pay is dynamite. This is one of the most sought after markets in the entertainment industry today, and for good reason. I have been working the colleges for a number of years so I know what I am talking about when I write this info. The venue has wonderful potential, however, there are always a lot of snags in a pretty picture such as this. Let’s take a look.


  • Colleges pay very well. You can make up to ten times your normal fee with just one show!!! WOW!
  • Many times they treat you like a real star, hotel, hospitality suite stocked with food etc. And you thought they only did that for the guys who make large public monuments vanish!
  • Many top stars still work the college circuit, it is considered a premium gig.

Con’s (ok, where do I start?)

  • At times you will only make slightly more than an average party gig if it is a community college.
  • At times, you will have to stay in a dorm room and eat cafeteria food…yuck!
  • You will have to travel….period. If you think you can make a living doing the colleges while going home every night, think again. You will get to know the national airports very, very well.
  • College kids are the toughest audiences you will ever face. (I could give you stories that would make you pre-maturely grey, but that is another book)
  • You MUST be funny. The straight magician will suffer a slow agonizing…well, you get my drift.
  • Be prepared to work in a crowded cafeteria, with no stage what-so-ever. Remember, never let them see you sweat! Hee…Heeeee.
  • They are really, really, tough to book. Your best bet is to find a college agent. Trouble is, they will not represent you until you have television exposure……Yikes!
  • Your performances will be rated and sent to a national publication where they will be published nationally for all to see…..Double Yikes!!!
  • No matter how well you do, even if you get a standing ovation, chances are you will never come back the next year…..why? The college centers are run by students who do most of the booking, and quite simply, they are more concerned with variety than they are with the caliber of your act. So in other words, it takes a lot of work to book a gig you will only play ONCE!
  • See, being a birthday party magician, DOES have its advantages, doesn’t it?
  • There are other con’s, but I don’t want to scare you!

Night Clubs and Comedy Clubs:
A fair number of aspiring magicians will already have this topic in their minds when contemplating a professional career. There is a certain romance to the notion of being a night club entertainer. Look at Cardini and all of the old time supper club greats! Indeed, many people will really think that you have made your mark when they see your name on a night club marquee. I played one club in particular for over two and a half years! Let me tell you, I was a legend in the region for quite some time because of that. Both performers and the club patrons looked up to me because, in most minds. If you are good enough to be playing the clubs….you’ve got to be good!


  • It really is a boost for your image. After all, how many present say television stars have had their start in night clubs? Answer, A LOT!
  • This venue will really hone your act. You will have to be a cutting edge performer with all original material to survive in this market. But that can make you a better performer in the long run.
  • You can get tons of publicity out of this gig. We’re talking everything from newspapers to..yes, even television.
  • I can think of no other venue where an average performer can actually build a fan base! I have even had audience members present me with things like Easter baskets full of candy during the show just to show because appreciation for me. (makes me blush, just thinking about it!)
  • This market has an incredible grapevine. If you are good, word spreads like wildfire and you can become famous in no-time.


  • Despite all of the above, it is one of the lowest paying gigs in entertainment. Yes, Sometimes even lower than birthday party by as much as 25%! Further, they will expect to you travel great distances to perform for this relatively low pay.
  • Many times you will be performing for intoxicated patrons that are solely interested in ripping the entertainer apart for no other reason than the fact that they are either showing off to their date, or blowing off steam from a stressful work-week.
  • Many of today’s audiences are more interested in “Blue” material than they are in seeing quality entertainment. So do not surprised if the “raunchy” comedian gets more response than your best magic routines.
  • Club owners are a breed all their own. Nuff said on that point.
  • All in all, it is very difficult to make a living playing clubs despite popular notions.

Theatres and Museums:
These are fairly rare gigs that are usually booked through agents. What is nice about these jobs is the fact that you usually have a first-rate performing area such as a stage and tech crew. Something that is very rare these days.


  • These jobs pay well. The budget that the sponsoring organizations have permits the purchasing of top-quality acts.
  • Usually you will have a fully equipped stage complete with a tech crew to take care of your every whim…pinch me, I must be dreaming!
  • They actually sell tickets to your show! Wow, isn’t this how it always used to be?
  • There is potential for fantastic publicity here. These venues command great respect from newspapers and other media sources.
  • This is a venue where you can put on the stage show of your dreams without having to worry about angles and poor staging conditions.


  • There are not many con’s to these shows other than the fact that unless you have a dynamite agent, they are very…very…rare!

Resort Hotels:
Ahh, visions of lounge lizard singers and stunning headline entertainment in the big showrooms. Resort hotels are the staple of all the big stars! This is a venue that all magicians should aspire to. For in truth, it is in many ways the ultimate venue for what we do. As with anything there are pro’s and con’s, but when you stop to think of the potential money and status. The con’s definitely take a back seat.


  • These jobs do wonders for your resume’. Few jobs are more prestigious than resort work. If you do these jobs you will start to be identified with the best entertainers in the business. With a few resorts under your belt, you can start asking for higher wages!….no joke.
  • They pay very well. On average, three to five times what you would normally make for a private engagement.
  • There is no feeling quite like the one that comes with receiving applause on the stage of a large showroom. (I guess it’s a performer thing!)
  • This is the big time baby!


  • If you are not working the main showroom stage, you may have to be very persistent about getting on the bill of events. Many times resorts will hire entertainers as “fill-in” performers with no real recognition involved.
  • Sometimes you will have a tech crew to take care of all your needs, but sometimes you will be completely on your own to stage the whole program. But hey, what else is new?
  • Almost the entire industry is “closed” which is to say that if you do not book the job through an agency that the resort works almost exclusively with, you will most likely not book the gig at all. So the moral of this story is, if you would like to work this market, get ready to work with agents….a lot!

Trade Show And Corporate Work:
If there were one industry that has sparked the interest of aspiring professionals, this would be it. Trade Shows in particular are the among the most sought after and misunderstood venues available to magicians. I work quite a few trade shows and can speak from experience when I give you the low down on this very prestigious field.


  • They pay very well. You will usually make five times “per day” what you would would normally make doing a private engagement. And that’s on the low end of the scale!
  • Listing the companies you work for looks great on your resume’. Trade show clients are usually very large companies, and the fact that they have hired you looks good to buyers in other fields.
  • Fellow magicians salivate when they hear you are doing trade shows. It is a venue everyone wants to get into.
  • You are treated like a real star. You will stay at first class hotels, and if you eat out with the company, you will dine in restaurants magicians usually cannot afford on their usual salary.


  • These shows are so hard to book, that most magicians give up after a short time. You must realize that the ultimate benefit is worth the initial hard work involved in establishing yourself in this field.
  • This is THE HARDEST WORK A MAGICIAN CAN DO….PERIOD! If you think that you are going to enjoy yourself, think again! You will be on your feet all day and will have to be in your magician persona constantly! There are no other venues like trade shows. It may take a week to recuperate from a four day trade show. And I’m not kidding!
  • you will be working surrounded, in the brightest light, and under the worst working conditions imaginable. You will have to be good….real good, and your routines completely polished and clean.

We have all been to them. An out of town magician visiting our local club, teaching us his pet routines and peddling his wares. Many magicians have become famous doing them which is mainly why I have classified them as prestige gigs, and I would venture to guess all magicians at one time or another have fantasized about being the one at the head of the room showing just how knowledgable he/she is.


  • The list of magicians who have become famous doing lectures that otherwise would not have been is truly a mile long. If successful, you will be on the cover of magic magazines and invited to perform at magicians conventions all over the world. Not a bad deal.
  • If you have a dynamite lecture, you will be able to sell a lot of your own materials such as video tapes, books and lecture notes.
  • The average lecture date pays about double what you would normally make doing a private gig.
  • Your peers will look up to in a way that no other venue can match. Why? I really don’t know.


  • You cannot do a lecture on the material of others. You will have to develop your own original concepts and that will take a long time.
  • You have to be REAL, REAL, REAL, good. Magicians are tough critics and will spot an ill prepared lecturer like a pack of…..well, you know!
  • Even though it pays reasonably well, lectures are an all night affair. Plan on getting home late!
  • Club politics….Nuff said.
  • Sometimes you may have a larger crowd, other times you will be playing to a few magicians and bunch of chairs. In which case, “The show must go on”.
  • This is not really a “con” as much as it is a necessary afterthought. You must looks as good as you normally would doing an actual show, because contrary to popular belief, that is what lectures are…..shows!
Special thanks to Bill Wisch “The king of Lecturers” for the final two cons!

Any Venue where you are working for high profile spectators. Such as celebrities or politicians:

Many times when you see a performers press kit they will inevitably have scores of photos of them poses with the rich and famous. I truly have never seen the real necessity of this. After all, who are you trying to sell anyway, you or the person you are posing with? An do not think that is such a stretch, Some clients you may be dealing with may actually have the budget to buy the big star! So keep the focus on yourself. However, there are times when this has its advantages.


  • Provided you promote the fact that you have performed in a specific famous place or for an extremely famous personality such as a politician who can never give you competition in the entertainment field, you will have a worthwhile piece of promotion that may look good in your press kit.
  • Hey, its fun to work for someone who you always wanted to meet!
  • If you are REAL lucky, you can make a valuable networking connection with others in the show-biz community. And that can be a wonderful thing.
  • If performing for the personality connects you in some way with a good cause, that makes you look good….Not that you wouldn’t want to be connected with a good cause anyway…right?


  • Remember…YOU are the star, other famous celebrities are your competition, remember that.
  • I have mixed feeling about people who promote that fact that they have opened for more famous stars at resorts etc. This is a judgement call you have to make for yourself.

Wow! That was a gruelling task. But I hope that now when you venture forth into each of these venues, you will have the benefit of my experience working to prepare you for the things that, YOU WILL, WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT, discover for yourself!


There are three, and only three ways an entertainer can market themselves. They are:

  • Advertising
  • Networking
  • Exposure

All of these work, and as you will see, the successful entertainer needs to employ a balance of all three. Let’s take a look at each one individually.


Advertising, networking, exposure, what’s the difference! Most people would consider these identical. However, only insofar as the fact that they ultimately “sell” the magician are they the same. The reality is, all three have their own unique features that make them all critical in different ways to the working entertainer.

In this case, we are talking about advertising, and for our purposes, we are going to narrowly define the definition. Advertising for us is “the act of trading money or services for ad space in an industry periodical or public advertising venue”. For example, advertising would be taking an ad out in the local yellow pages, newspaper classifieds, radio, or TV.

Are all of these places to advertise necessary? No, you may pick any one and it can be a significant source of bookings. The key is to pick the right ones. Everywhere you advertise, you are reaching a specific targeted audience that will book you for different reasons. The yellow pages are great for birthdays, civic events and all other “Cash Flow” gigs. Remember those? If you decide to place an ad in an industry publication (which are usually very expensive). You will be targeting “Prestige Gigs”. In the latter case, you will also notice that these ads get far less response than the Cash Flow ads. Just the nature of the beast, I guess.

Can we advertise without any expense at all? There are only two ways that I have come across in which this is possible. The first is to “barter” your services with the management of a publication. Several magicians I know have done this and I was approached myself on one occasion. So be on the lookout for people who may wish to hire you in return for advertising. It can be well worth it.

the second way is to develop a “tear tab” flyer that can be hung up on the bulletin boards of supermarkets and small shops. This may seem like “too basic” an approach, but I personally know of a magician “WHO MAKES HIS LIVING” with nothing but tear tab flyers which cost him only a few dollars to produce. If you would like to make an effective tear tab flyer, I would wager that you have a program on your computer right know that is capable of producing them. If not, you can obtain one for about $20.00. A small investment when you consider the potential returns. The “con” to this approach? It takes a real effort to post them and “re-post” them again and again. The key is to be persistent.


What is networking? Well, let answer a question with a question. What are business cards for? That’s right!…Networking. There are two ways to network. With customers, “word of mouth” and with others in the entertainment field. There are no reasons why you shouldn’t get as many business cards out to customers as possible when at a job or on the street. Business cards do you no good in the closet. Get them into the hands of as many people as possible even if they are not immediately interested in booking you. I cannot count how many times I have gotten work from cards people say have been hanging around their homes FOR YEARS!

Many people make the mistake of thinking that “word of mouth” alone can build a business. Wrong… It is a fine adjunct, nothing more. It has been my experience that word of mouth goes maybe three contacts deep and then abruptly stops. This basically means that you give the person who booked you a business card, they pass it along and you get a booking. This in turn leads to maybe one more person in the chain and then usually stops. But why? Should not this chain continue on and on? Nope, even in science, the splitting of atoms eventually stops and therefore, so does word of mouth.

There are many possible reasons for this but the most likely is the fact that many groups are self-contained. Once you exhaust all of the birthday parties and engagements in a given group or community, eveyone has seen you so they look forward to other forms of entertainent.

So to sum up word of mouth advertising is to say that “word of mouth”is only so good as your “initial” advertising.

Of course networking with the entertainment industry is a whole other ball of wax!

Networking with others in our business takes two basic forms.

  1. Networking with other entertainers onthe same level as you (other magicians).
  2. Networking with agents.

Networking with other entertainers on the same performing level as you is what we as a brotherhood of magicians should all be striving for. Competition is only in the mind, because the reality is, there is ample work for all. When one establishes a reputation and builds a solid business, there are always more calls than you can handle. But at many times, all will be asking for similar dates. This is when you can pass them off to other entertainers and in turn, when they have overflow, they can pass them off to you who may be able to fill in those empty time slots on your calander.

Networking with agents is another matter as is so many things we have already mentioned in this business. Do not try to be exclusive with any one agent. Having all your eggs in one basket is one sure way to have few bookings. “Remember, the more eggs, the fewer bookings!” When your act is ready to go public, you should strive to contact “as many agents as possible” And never, ever sign an exclusive contract with an agent. I have seen entertainers do this only to be one of many acts of an agency roster and have no hope of extra work unless the agency bestows it upon them in which case they will act like they are doing you a huge favor. Listen to the Ron London audio clip in the broadcast center for the truth regarding agents.