September – October 2014

We began our meeting with a respectful Broken Wand Ceremony led by president Hunter Gaul, for long-time member and photographer extraordinaire Brian Hurlburt. Brian passed away on August 28 at the age of 62. We will miss his fun magic and great sense of humor.

Next we welcomed visiting lecturer and performer, Joshua Jay. This was his second visit with us, the first was several years ago. Joshua started with his goals for the night: 1) Have a good time, 2) Learn Something, and 3) Passion. He also believes in always giving a good show. And, he accomplished all of these tonight.

Most of the effects utilized cards, and some simple sleights. He began with his “Hitchcock” card trick, using an Alfred Hitchcock movie theme to build suspense and surprise. Another effect had a full deck of cards turning transparent – except for a chosen card. Chinese coins on a ribbon will work close-up or platform.

A wonderful magazine test was presented flawlessly, and had a clever modus operandi. He sold many copies at the break. Josh presented over 10 routines, and finished with a very strong “Any card at any number” effect. The handling really fooled us all!  And the explanation was so simple!


In October, we first made plans for a December fun-raiser/Christmas show to be produced in cooperation with our hosts, the C.C. Hancock United Methodist Church.

We devoted the night to two major topics: Staging a show, and theming a show.               Dave Kelly (me!) drew on his 30 years of working with high school and community theater productions to share a few basic concepts and terms. I talked about stage directions, and how performers need to be aware of sight lines to control what the audience sees. Also, I stressed the importance of repeating your own name (or having it visible onstage), and the names of all volunteers or assistants on stage. That latter tip came from Broadway director George Abbott, who insured that the audience knew the names of the characters on stage. He used the “Rule of Three” to introduce everyone. So should you!

Next, four members shared different thoughts on routines, and routing.

Howard Polykoff did the opening for his children’s show. His fast-paced jokes, and visual, simple magic had us all 8 years old again! He had us guessing where a small ball went, then put it into an empty box, where it transformed into a live dove!  His multiplying hot dogs were funny, and he had us help him vanish a ketchup bottle.

Then Poly explained the whys and hows:  “Get their attention!”

Poly gets his audience involved, and said that he makes sure to get them to like him in the first 30 seconds. Once he does that, he knows that he’ll have a great show. He asks questions to get kids involved right away, and lets them “catch” him en route to the magic. Also, Poly said not to wait for applause from kids – kids don’t applaud!

Hunter Gaul had a nice handout that gave us the major points of his excellent talk on Scripting. Scripts guide a routine, and can help to refine them. Hunter recommended Pete McCabe’s Scripting Magic, for guidance in writing scripts for effects and whole shows.

Ed Schmitt shared just one effect, but it was a fooler, and then he talked about the Halloween Magic show that he produces each year. Ed was looking for an effect to feature Harry Houdini, who died on Halloween in 1926. Ed customized an Abbott’s Cube Escape with print-out pictures of Houdini, and the title “Houdini” on the stand. Ed had the Cube Escape for years and could not figure out a good routine for the Escape. Tying in Halloween and Houdini was a perfect fit. Ed keeps his whole Halloween show in a small script book so that he can update the show for repeat performances.

Master magician Dick Gustafson modestly said that he doesn’t formally script an effect, but his years of performance experience belied that claim. Dick reinforced much of what had been said and performed tonight. When Dick does any show, he and his wife Joan both have an outline of the show on separate index cards. He customizes and revises the cards for different shows. Some of his outstanding advice included not to perform two audience-participation tricks in a row (“Too much traffic on stage.) In his opening, he will do four tricks in two minutes. He also advised to do mental effects during the first half on any show.

Dick performed some classics, including multiplying golf balls with a surprise finish, He also pulled three colored scarves out of a glass, then produced a large brandy snifter from them. He showed several applause getting finishes – for effects, and for the show itself. To finish his segment, Dick performed his hysterical Medicine Show Routine ending with the Multiplying Bottles. For smaller shows, he says it’s a signature effect that many audiences demand on return shows!

Dick said that the goal at the start of any show is to make the audience like the magician. And like him we did!

Thanks to all members who shared so much with the club.


DAVE KELLY, Recording Secretary

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