Official I.C.O.M Past Lesson Archive
Kid Show Konservatory 7/98-9/98
Dedicated to the fine art of entertaining children with magic!
Without doubt, despite what many magicians may tell you, the largest market for magic, far and away, is the birthday party circuit. Hence the need for this forum. In I.C.O.M, students will learn many fine points of presentation and aspects of magic. However, some of these theories go right out the window when it comes to entertaining children. Truly, this genre’ is in a class unto itself. It has its own demands as well as its own rewards. It is one of the only classes of magic that needs a forum all to itself.
Over the course of time, routines will be included here from the repertories of working professionals. Also will be the in’s and out’s of working kid shows, how to prepare for them, booking them, performing them, etc. etc. etc.
“Thayer For 2000”
This is the first of a multi-part series focusing on two ancient magical texts from the old Thayer Studio. This Lesson (the first) is a re-vamped version of the Thayer “Complete Soda Fountain Act”. The entire working of the method and routine has been re-worked and re-written by yours truly. No matter how timeless the original concept, most of the old manuscript was hoplessley “dated” and needed much revision. The following is the result, with a multitude of new ideas and insights not found in the sparse original version.
Like much of the old Thayer Manuscripts, They are acts relegated to the golden age of magic. Relics of a bygone era. But that does not mean we cannot learn from the past to create new magic for the present, right?
The following is a routine that “could” be great for children in the right setting. This would be one of the most novel acts ANY performer could possibly introduce in the realm of children’s magic. No one is doing it and I know it could be a reputation maker in the right hands.
The only “caveat” however would be that the performer must make the call for him/herself whether or not they would EVER wish to give food products out to audience members. Depending on your locality, you may even need a food licence of sorts. A course in proper food handling may not be out of the question either. After all, this “is” your career right?
I must admit however, that over the years, I have seen literally dozens of performers hand out lollipops and candy to children at shows, so in essence, this is really no different in my opinion. Nevertheless, we have to state that this knowledge is here for “educational purposes only” and is up to each individual performer whether or not to perform a version of the following act….BJG
“The Soda Fountain Act”
Bobby J. Gallo
Effect: The performer displays a small soda bar of sorts with a number of empty soda glasses. He then shows an empty bottle and proves that it is indeed devoid of any liquid by shining a flashlight through it and letting the audience get a glimpse of the interior of the bottle.
After the music starts the performer says the magic word and lo and behold, pours genuine soda-pop from the bottle! This is the real stuff that you can actually drink! He then continues to pour a large number of soda drinks from the empty bottle and to the audiences delight, they are all different colors (flavors)! For a grand finale, the performer reaches into his pocket and produces a tall glass of milk. An entire act in itself that kids and adults alike will remember for a long time!
Method: Upon studying the old Thayer manuscript, they that the three main aspects to the ultimate success of the “Soda Fountain Act” are the ability of the “personable” performer to…
- Magically pour…
- Good looking…
- Good tasting…drinks
Sounds easy right? <G>
Well, maybe, maybe not. It is important to have all three elements. What good is a great looking drink if, when tasted, may as well be used to water the plants. The flip-side is also the case. If the drink looks horrible, no one will want it. Would you?
The first thing you will need is a “soda bar” of sorts. This can be constructed using a standard card table trimmed in a 1950’s motif’ or any other way you like. The more imaginative, the better! There is no gimmicks in this part of the materials so get creative in its creation. Things you may want to keep in mind of course would be portability and size for travelling purposes. Also, consider a costume. Maybe the type that a 1950’s soda fountain worker would wear. That would be great….!
Next you will need a number of soda glasses. I would strongly recommend staying away from genuine glass and instead opt for the many varieties of “plastic” glasses and tumblers on the market. This is for two reasons.
- Remember, you are working for kids. And kids drop things!
- No matter how carefully you pack, glass tends to break during travel.
Try to obtain glasses that are smaller than normal. You will want to make a small amount of liquid go a long way. And never forget a few towels! Nuff said on that point!
Now comes the magical part. You will need a container that will magically produce drinks. Of course you can use a commercially available Foo Can, but they are rather expensive and do not hold a lot of liquid. Besides, the one “I” had was rather dirty inside due to the fact that it was made of spun copper and never seemed to come very clean. Not something you would want to pour “drinks” out of.
The old Thayer Manuscript had a wonderful solution that could be made inexpensively and was quite simple. Find a quart sized colored bottle. Fill it with Seven-Up or other Lemon-Lime Soda. This should be kept refrigerated until showtime. If travelling, a cooler of some type may be used to transport the liquid keeping it fresh and cold. Certain Thermos bottles could be helpful as well.
Now, it is corked with a piece of cork (yes, you can still get corks!) which fits into the neck of the bottle snug. But which is only about half an inch in length. Incidentally, the cork must not be placed intpositionbottle neck until immediately prior to your performance.
Just before your act begins fill the colored glass bottle to the top with the soda-pop. Then cork the bottle so that the top part of the cork is level with the rim of the neck of the bottle.
In the glasses you are using, place a few drops of “food coloring” in each of the glasses using whatever color the drink in that glass is supposed to be. For example, if the glass is to be filled with “orange” soda, use a mixture of red & yellow coloring. With a little experimenting, (mixing colors etc.) you will be able to duplicate the color of almost any soda-pop on the market! Food coloring is obtainable at almost any food market.
REMEMBER: You are only after the color alone to look good. The taste does not matter. Believe it or not, few will ever know the difference in taste between your disguised lemon-lime soda and other flavors! You may not believe this now, but it is true. You may even want to try a blindfold experiment yourself. Have someone give you several soda flavors and see if you can guess which one each is. You will be surprised with the results.
Now have a system where you know which glasses contain which colors, so that during the routine, if someone calls out orange soda, you don’t pour cola!
Last on your list of props is flashlight. This will become more apparent as you read the workings of the routine.
All set? have your music? oh…no music? ok, just read on!
Pick up the bottle in the left hand. Hold it upside down, the cork will not come out if you have picked one that fits very snug in the neck of the bottle. Pick up the flashlight and proceed to shine the light through the bottle. The liquid, being perfectly translucent, will not show. Turn out the light.
Place the bottle on the bar right side up and, as you do, your right thumb (or forefinger) shoves the thin piece of cork right down into the neck of the bottle. It’s presence there, floating atop the liquid, will not be seen for it is at this place on the bottle that the hand holds the “neck” as the pouring is done. However, at intervals, you may have to tip the bottle a bit to again dislodge the cork if it become stuck in the neck again to permit the release of the liquid.
Pretty clever huh? As far as I am concerned, this is far more effective than the use of a “prop” to produce the liquid.
The key here is to rehearse with an empty bottle so that you will have no trouble creating the “illusion” of an empty bottle (before the cork is dis-lodged) when you handle it. Observe how you handle the empty bottle then duplicate your actions with the filled one.
At this point you may proceed to present the effect in one of two ways. The first method is the classic “any drink called for” or in this case, “any soda flavor called for”. So obviously it is important to know what glass has what color in it when called. You also, only want to have one of each as far as the varieties go. Too much is overkill and anti-climactic.
What is nice about this method is that in addition to the magical appearance of the liquid you have the additional effect of magically making the “selected” flavor appear. Also, dark brown can be cola as well as root beer, etc.
The other way of presenting this would be to just do a magical presentation to music, talking about the various soda flavors while proceeding to pour out those being explained at the time. This has the advantage of not having to worry about soda flavors being called that you are not prepared for. Either way, the routine would be effective. Just be sure to pour the drinks out fast and keep your pacing brisk. It would be a good idea to allow an assistant to then pass out the drinks each time you get four or five ready. Always be sure to include a drinking straw in each glass. That’s showmanship and the kids love straws!
You will be amazed at how many drinks can come from one bottle as long as the glasses you use are not too large. And if you wish you may even want to try an old dodge if you have “wise” ones in the audience. An old secret of “any drink called for” performers of the past is to have several glasses of REAL soda behind your makeshift soda bar. Add these in sometime during the routine and pass them out. This proves (?) that you are producing legitimate soda-pop flavors!
A nice climax to the act would be to get a tight-fitting rubber cover for a glass which could either be purchased from a magic dealer or made using a piece of “dental-dam” material and a rubber band. This you have over the mouth of a glass of milk or ice water in your pocket. As a smash finish, pretend to hear someone call out the contents of the glass in your pocket instead of a soda-pop flavor. Reach into you pocket a produce it for laugh and big round of applause!!!
A Word Of Warning
When working the soda fountain act for children. Never let yourself nor her (or him if the assistant happens to be a “him” venture into the audience with the poured drinks) That you’ll be mobbed is a rank understatement of fact.
Here Are Some Patter Ideas
Ask: “Who has a birthday today? Please raise your hand.” If several have birthdays get them to come up and sit down. Next: Who has a birthday this week? Usually you’ll get enough hands on this one to fill a few chairs. If not: “Who has a Mommy orDaddy who has a birthday this week?” Keep this up until your chairs are filled. Then announce that you are to give them a “Magical Birthday Treat” and continue with the soda fountain act.
Finally, a word to those who may do the soda fountain act. Sometimes your host, or hostess, may want you to magically produce drinks for all the guests. In that case simply have that person provide an opaque punch bowl and have it on a table on the stage filled with punch, or otherwise depending on the audience. After you have poured all but a few drops from your bottle, pretend to empty the last of it intthumbbowl. Yes, really pretend to do so. Bring the neck of the bottle well down into the bowl so that the audience can’t see that there is really nothing emerging from the bottle. When finished, pick up the punch ladle, place it in the bowl, stand aside and say “And there’s the rest of it. Mrs. So and So, (or whatever your employer’s name may be) wishes everyone to have a magical refreshment!
End Notes: Well there it is, a complete act. I hope this has stimulated your imagination as to how concepts like this or others that are now lurking within your magical brain can be applied to your own show.
I’ll leave you with some homework.
What other ways can this act be presented? Can this act even be done without handing out drinks at all? Hmmm, there’s an idea that takes virtually all risks out of performing the routine! What are your ideas? We’d love to know!
Best Of Success!…BJG
Those who know children’s magic, know that the color changing lace is a sure-fire classic. There have been a few on the market over the years, but what we offer you now is the best of them all!…BJG
PERFECTION COLOR CHANGING LACE
Ronald J. Dayton
This effect was part of my “One Man Parade” in the March 1990 Linking Ring. It is an off-beat method for achieving a standard effect. In essence, a yellow shoelace is shown in its entirety as it is pulled back and forth through your fist. Audience members may even touch the lace as a form of limited examination if you wish. Then, as the lace is pulled through the hand one last time, it changes color completely, becoming bright red! The lace is held at fingertips, and both hands are otherwise empty. No thumb tips, pulls or complicated mechanical laces are employed.
The Perfection Color Changing Lace is so easy and visual that it actually excites me to share it with you. It is a color change which will catch those who ‘think’ they know, completely off guard. I stumbled upon the method purely by accident while tinkering with a couple of laces. I had rigged up a set of laces as in Fig. 1. for my ( then ) young daughter Jennifer. In that instance, all four laces were the same color. My thinking was, the lace as in Fig. 1 could be threaded up through her shoe.. .and if she ever broke the lace, she would have a matching spare with her at all times. She never took to the idea, thought her class-mates would make fun of her.. but I still think it’s not bad.
Well, now that I’ve given you way more background than you wanted to know, we can proceed with the preparation of the laces. You will need two laces, one yellow and one red. These are the hollow type sports laces. The yellow lace is 24 inches in length, and the red lace is a 27 inch lace.
Poke one tip of the yellow lace through the material of the red lace near one end. Now thread and push the yellow tip up through the red lace until you come to the opposite red end. Push the yellow tip through the material at this end. Bunch the red lace up in sort of a pleated bundle at the center of the yellow lace, Fig. 1. The yellow lace is length A-B, the red lace is C-D.
By concealing the bunched red bundle in your right fist, the yellow lace may be pulled back and forth through the hand, casually showing its entire length. On the last downward pull of the yellow lace the bunched red section is slipped to a position very near to end A, Fig. 2.
Lace tips C and D have been concealed within the right hand. Tip A of the yellow lace is just barely visible above the top of the right fist. As the left hand seems to grasp end A, it actually pulls end C up in to view as end A slips inside the red lace interior. Do not pull end C too far. Stop when the laces appear as in Fig. 3. Inner tip A is at point X in the illustration. The audience can now see that the yellow tip has changed to red.
With the left hand first finger and thumb, take a FIRM grip on end C, gripping inner tip A at the same time through the material and pull upward through the fist. Make it a smooth, unhurried pull. The yellow lace will seem to visibly change to red. It’s a startling revelation.
At the end of the pull, keep the right fist closed for a moment or two, then open it a finger at a time to show the empty right hand. It is at this point that the full impact of the total color change will register.
There are a lot of possibilities for this lace effect. You could use TWO laces within a third for magical blendo effects. If you use oversize laces such as for clown shoes, this could become a highly visible stage or platform effect. By using two laces within a third, you could actually have a spectator freely choose which of the two visible laces he would like to have change color. The one not chosen is simply pulled free of the fist and tabled, leaving you with the original color change set-up explained earlier.
What other Possibilities can you think of? I’m certain there are more to be found, but if you are content with what has already been suggested, you will find you have a remarkable color change at your disposal. I hope you will enjoy performing it as much as I do!
Arial Crayon Production
Bobby J. Gallo
A few months ago I discussed a concept that had been poking around my mind for the better part of the last few years. It was the idea of using the myriad of classic cigarette moves with crayons to create new and different magic for today’s audiences with a manipulative look and feel. This is the first actual application of this concept. I can think of no other effect for family audiences that can pack so small and play so large.
EFFECT: The performer exhibits an empty hat to the audience. He/she then proceeds to spot something invisible in the air above the children’s heads. When the performer reaches up, he produces a genuine wax crayon! This is dropped into the hat and another is caught, then another, etc., etc., etc.
At the end of the routine, the hat is turned upside-down and a whole bunch of crayons are seen to spill out.
WORKING: The hat is ungimmicked. Either a classic magician’s top hat or in my case an inexpensive fishing hat may be used. It is even conceivable in this effect to borrow the baseball cap of some “lucky?” child may be wearing in the audience may be wearing to use as your receptacle. He/she then could be able to keep the mystical crayons after the production. That’s always good public relation and it costs only pennies.
A bunch of multi-colored wax crayons, the type children use for coloring purposes are palmed at the commencement of the routine. These are then held inside the palm as the same hand grasps the hat and shows it empty. In other words, the crayons are held against the inside of the hat near the brim. After showing it empty, the crayons are released and allowed to fall into the hat proper.
However, as the crayons are falling, the entertainer retains one single crayon inthis hands which is then thumb palmed (fig.#1) as the hat is transferred into the other hand.
After the music starts (assuming that you “are” using taped music) the first crayon is produced. This production uses the classic cigarette production move made famous by such legends as Cardini, Frakson, and Keith Clark. The digital illustrations show the move.
The Crayon held in thumb palm is brought upwards with the back of hand facing the audience. With a catching motion, the first and middle fingers are curled inwards to grasp the crayon (fig.#2) which are then extended bringing the crayon into full view.
The only difference in this version as opposed to the cigarette version is the position you end up in after the crayon is produced. Fifty odd years ago, after the cigarette was produced, it was held in-between the first and second fingers in the position most identified with smokers. In our version we are going to alter that to bring the crayon up to our finger-tips as in fig.#3.
After the initial production of the first crayon, the hand containing same is brought down and the crayon is dropped into the hat. However, as soon as the crayon is dropped the performer thumb palms a crayon of a different color and repeats the process. This is done several times. You will be amazed at how quickly the thumb palming of one crayon and the aquisition of another can be accomplished.
Near the end of the production. there is no need to switch crayon colors, merely pick-up speed and pluck the same color crayon out of the air and apparently drop it into the hat, over and over by re-thumb palming the same crayon as the hand enters the hat.
Then, with a grand flourish, turn the hat over and let the crayons fall…Bow…
This is phase one of the routine. You can end it here, or you may choose to expand the act to include the crayon vanish and reproduction described next month.
Presentation Idea: How about having a large artists drawing pad on an easle. After each color crayon is produced you proceed to draw a different element of the picture. When completed, the picture can be ripped off the pad and presented to an audience member.
Co-Directors Notes: Ok people, here it is! ‘MY’ personal favorite this month. I feel that with the appropriate presentation, this can be a real feature effect. There is something about silk and rope effects that has an element audiences really find interesting. I know that this is one effect that will finds its way into my own act. I know a gem when I see one…BJG
B U F F’ S L E A F L E T S
R. C. Buff, Editor
VOLUME 5 MARCH
NUMBER 3 1984
( Issued monthly and devoted exclusively to Rope Magic )
THE WILLIAM TELL SILK RELEASE
Ronald J. Dayton
Dear I.C.O.M reader.. this effect might well be called The One That Got Away! As you can see by the format given above, the effect first appeared in Buff’s Leaflets. Full sets and copies of same are now highly collectable. When it appeared in March of ’84, it was noted that I reserved the right to use it in a forth coming book. I never placed this handling in a book however, and so, you are reading it now, a brief fourteen years later.
EFFECT: The magician ties a silk handkerchief on to the center of a length of rope. Holding the rope vertically by one end
with his left hand, he anchors the lower end of the rope to the floor with his shoe. When the free hand pulls back the two ends of the tied handkerchief, just as an archer would an arrow.. when he lets go, the silk springs forward and shoots free of the rope. Silk is still tied with a genuine overhand knot.
EXPLANATION: The fine Joseph K. Schmidt drawings should pretty well tell the story.
1) Pinch the silk together at poing “X” in Fig. 1, then allow the ends to fall, so yo~ can grasp end hAN with the right hand and follow figures 1 through 5. ( Pay particular attention to how bight UZN is held with the R.H. second and third fingers as you
2) Figure 6 also shows a second diagram, a schematic view which depicts the silk as another rope.. .50 you may more clearly see how the knot has been formed.
3) The two ends of the silk are brought around the rope towards the performer as in Fig. 6 and 7, then held by the right hand as you allow the rope to hand down vertically from the left hand.
4) Allow the lower end of the rope to touch the floor and hold that end securely to the floor with your foot.
5) Pull back on the ends of the silk1 just as you would if you were drawing back a bow and arrow, Fig. 7. The tension will cause the silk to release itself from the rope.. but a knot will remain tied in the silk.
6) At this same instant, release your hold on the ends of the silk. You’ll find that it will shoQt forward as in Fig. 8.
7) A few trials will give you the knack of releasing the silk at the proper time. Enjoy!