We welcomed guest lecturer Howard Stevens tonight, and he shared routines and thoughts on presenting entertainment along with our magic. Howard stresses what he calls a modular concept with his walk-around magic: Stuff that he can reset and modify as he works a crowd. He explained how to adapt the effects to everyone’s individual style.
Most of the magic was easy to do, and most of us already do pieces of it. The gift that Howard shared with us was how to combine these bits into entertaining routines. To start, he produced a magic wand from a purse frame, then sponge balls, and silks. The routine he shared showed how to maximize the surprises and entertainment. In a later sponge ball routine, he showed how to adapt to different circumstances – whether for children or adults, surrounded or with the audience in front. He also used a wand when needed for subtle misdirection.
Howard’s Invisible Matrix effect was pure dynamite! He placed four cards from a deck onto a table, then flipped the cards to reveal large coins underneath. He then did his no-sleight coin matrix. I especially liked this opening – where the coins magically appear. It really sets the mood for magic! He had gimmicked sets available for sale at the break.
He continued with coin and card magic. The night flew by: It was nearly 10 o’clock before the first break. Simple magic that is commercial!
For October, we began with performances by three new(ish) members. Rodger Beatty demonstrated how to win at Blackjack in Atlantic City. He used only two cards that changed faces three times, until he finally had Blackjack! He also did a card effect with two volunteers that resulted in a thought-of playing card appearing inside a closed deck of cards in an unusual manner. Martin Dembitzer showed his prowess with a card prediction. He placed a card into an envelope and sealed it. Then he slop-shuffled a deck to mix the cards front-to-back. When he snapped his fingers, the deck righted itself, except for one card. This card matched the card inside the envelope. Finally, Matt Scruggs, in full evening tuxedo, did a routine to music. He vanished a cane, turned silks into a bouquet, another silk became a rose, and a beautiful photo appeared inside a gift bag. Matt explained that he will be playing Herr Drosselmeyer in a local production of “The Nutcracker” this December, and wanted to insure that the character looked like a real magician.
October’s theme was “Collectible Magic.” Several members brought in some rarely seen pieces of apparatus, and many performed magic with them. For many of us, it was a chance to see old effects that we had only ready about in old catalogues.
President Hunter Gaul showed a beautiful Card Spider. After a card was selected, it vanished from the deck, and Hunter gave the spider web a spin. The selected card slowly appeared under the spider in the middle of the web.
Dave Hale next told how he obtained the stock of an old magic shop years ago, and then showed us a Coffee Vase made by Eckam. Water poured into a chrome container becomes steaming coffee. He also had a well-made frame used to easily vanish silver dollars And he showed an amazing Flexible Glass frame, built in a way that made it much more deceptive than the frames that were sold some 25 years ago.
The timeless Dick Gustafson shared some amazing pieces of magic from his collection. Many of these items he purchased 50 or 60 years ago, at prices that seem low to us today, but Dick assured us that they were pricey back then. He first performed the P&L Brahma Bowl trick. The bowls were made of copper, and rarely used by Dick. He filled one with rice, then placed the second bowl over this, and the rice doubled. Then the rice vanished and was replaced with water. He tipped the workings – not at all like the Rice Bowl effect. Another effect was the Champaign Bottle to Bouquet by Abbott’s. Dick said that he used this only once for a New Year’s Eve show. Another treat was to actually see Massey’s “Squeeze Away Block” performed. This very clever mechanical prop that enabled Dick to slowly and visually squeeze a yellow block of wood between two black blocks. Finally, Dick show us a trick that he paid $12.50 at Holdin’s Magic Shop of Boston in 1954: “The Vanishing Alarm Clock.” It was a solid clock on a tray, and its alarm buzzed until it was covered by a cloth and vanished.
Jeff Carson did a wonderful routine to music with a special balsa wood dancing cane. He then explained that he saves the dancing part until the very end of the routine. Jeff also had a rare folding chair mad of precious woods. He uses it to place light props on. Jeff then performed the Shanghai Die Box. Very visual, and different than many standard die boxes. Jeff said that he has a number of different die boxes, and uses them in many shows. Jeff next performed the Zig-Zag Beer Can. A well-made effect that was popular in the 1970s. His patter about light beer made the routine much more entertaining. Jeff also showed the workings of a Brema-made nest of boxes. The slide for the box was especially clever, making the loading much easier. Jeff also performed and then tipped the Thayer Handkerchief Frame. He taped a hank onto the frame, placed it into a paper envelope, and then pushed a sharp knife through it. His story for the effect uses a hank with a pretty girl picture on the hank.
Reba Strong ended the night with a Block off Rope effect. She even has the original box for the piece, and the block itself is a solid, nicely stained piece of wood.
All in all, a night of education and entertainment. We all left with great ideas for future shows (and purchases!).
DAVE KELLY, Recording Secretary