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


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

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

April 1998

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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

May 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

into halls of glasses, each one reflecting Circe1s face;

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ronald J. Dayton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bobby J. Gallo


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Author: Bobby J. Gallo


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