Volume 2, Number 4
December 1996

Notice: This webzine is for magicians only. We know who you are. If you are reading this and are not on the Official Magicians Roster, then it won't be jolly old St. Nick coming down your chimney on Christmas Eve, but his evil twin, Max Clause, the Dark Elf, bent on making sure that the secrets you encounter here go no farther. Bolt the doors and lock the windows if you wish -- it will do you no good. You have been warned.

Season's Greetings from what used to be the heart of basketball country, but which can no longer make that claim after the recent thrashing of Indiana University (the pre-season NIT champs) by Rick Pitino's Kentucky superstars. Whew. But to magic: This issue features yet another Christmas greeting in verse, a special visit with Doc Eason, some last-minute Christmas shopping ideas, some highlights of NBC's The World's Greatest Magic III, and a review of the hot new book Classic Sampler, by Michael Skinner. But first the news . . .

MAGIC DEALER DAYS -- I ventured to Louisville on November 23 to attend Magic DealerDays, a two-day mini-convention/shopping opportunity put on by Joe Stevens of Stevens Magic Emporium, Rich Bloch and Nick Ruggerio of Collectors' Workshop, and Al Cohen of Al's Magic Shop. This traveling event, the brainchild of the Stevens and Collectors' Workshop folks, works as follows. A few top dealers with hot new merchandise visit your city. The entertainment consists of local talent vying for several hundred dollars in prize money, plus demonstrations by the dealers. In the Louisville case, the lure of a low admission fee ($10) and the great shopping drew three times the attendance of last year's Innovations in Close-Up convention (which featured not only shopping but extremely strong professional talent). I'm still perplexed at why most of the Louisville magicians snubbed last year's convention, but that's another story. They embraced the new DealerDays concept, and the event drew shoppers and performers from the neighboring states as well as from all over Kentucky.

Rogues' Gallery: Nick Ruggerio, Al Cohen Joe Stevens, Richard Bloch

So what did I see? The talent show consisted of mostly Not Ready For Prime Time acts, though virtually all showed novel ideas and great enthusiasm. (This is after all the city that gave us Mac King and Lance Burton.) I particularly enjoyed a juggler named Mark Daniels and a very funny straitjacket escape by Stephen Bargatze of Old Hickory, TN. But the real fun was in the shopping. Collectors' Workshop is sort of the Tiffany's of magic dealers, specializing in rare and expensive apparatus. Although I'm not in the tax bracket that allows me to acquire this stuff, it was great to see it in person, the hot items this day being "Jumbo Card on Seat," "Bullet Proof," and "Kyber Cobra." Joe Stevens had his usual assortment of terrific videos and books, but was pleasantly surprised to sell out of a new item, the barbed wire linking rings, officially titled "The Quadro-Vicious Circle." These three rings are very cleverly gimmicked with a locking key plus other features to give the illusion that you have stuck yourself on one of the barbs, and they sell for $195. I can picture this routine being done by, say, Penn and Teller, to music, with their hands bleeding profusely. In addition to his son, Mark, Joe was assisted on this occasion by the delightful John Novak of Ohio. Al Cohen, as always, sold like crazy, featuring such small apparatus items as "The Kinetic Key," "Irish Change Bag," "The Card Swami," "Coin Tunnel," "Ultimate Ring Link," and "Kockamamy Koin Kup." The Magic Castle was launched partly on the ambassadorship of house magician Jay Ose, and I understand they later offered the position to only one other magician, Chicago's Jim Ryan. Al Cohen is so likable when he performs, and exudes such joy, that I've always felt he is one of the very few who could also have filled those shoes had he chosen to concentrate more on performing than dealing. Of course, the Castle management might frown on the fact that Al probably wouldn't let an audience out of the Close-up Gallery without selling them something.

This idea of "bringing magic to the people" is an idea whose time has come. Watch for Magic DealerDays in a town near you soon, in Hollywood, Oakland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.

MAC KING ON FRIDAY NIGHT -- In part to promote NBC's The World's Greatest Magic III, Mac King appeared in the wee hours of Friday night, November 22, on NBC's Friday Night, with host Rita Sever. In addition to a later demonstration of his "Fork in the Eye" and his "Hiccup Cure," Mac performed his famous "Naked Rope Escape-Homing Card-Fig Newton Production-Thumb Tie-Card in Cereal Box" trick. (If you've ever watched Mac King do a live show, you know that his effects all intertwine, to the delight of audiences and to the dismay of magicians in the audience trying to take notes so as to reconstruct the act. The methodology is even more devious. While some magicians are content to set up a climax a move or two ahead, Mac will set one up a full trick or two ahead.) Mac played great off Rita, and it was a delightful 8 1/2 minutes.

COPPERFIELD ON LETTERMAN -- David Copperfield is currently in New York City in his sold-out Broadway run of Dreams and Nightmares at the Martin Beck Theater, where he has received rave reviews from Clive Barnes, currently with The New York Post . David appeared on Letterman on Monday, December 9, with his "Death Saw." (As Letterman quipped in his monologue, "You know, the fact that he can call it the Death Saw . . . that means that they've had trouble with it. If there had been no trouble, it would just be The Saw. . . . It apparently has killed a guy.") After the illusion, David C. sat with David L., in what for anyone could easily have been the "Death Interview," and he handled it very well, commenting briefly on childhood performances, the night he cut his finger off, the fact that Martin Beck was Houdini's manager, and Claudia. For a terrific multimedia look at some of David's best illusions, be sure to check his site on our "Favorite Links" page below.

MERLIN'S WEB FINAL CURTAIN -- Michael Levy, editor of Merlin's Web, a beautifully done online magic magazine, is calling it quits as of December 31 with his currently online "That's All Folks" issue. Check our "Favorite Links" page below for a final look at this project. Best wishes to Michael, and we'll be thinking hard about all that free time he is about to have.

THE GALINA CONTROVERSY -- Galina is the sensational female Russian magician who appeared last month on The World's Greatest Magic III. Or is she? For a hilarious satire on conspiracy theories -- or is it? -- take a look at The Galina Controversy, in which hard-hitting web correspondent Mike Randazzo lines up the evidence that suggests there is no Galina, but that she is in fact Charlotte Pendragon: "On this page I will attempt to prove with scientific certainty that we have all been hoodwinked." Check it out and make up your own mind.

DAN WITKOWSKI PROFILE -- The Winter '96/Spring '97 issue of the Stevens Magic Emporium Merchandise Catalog is at hand, featuring 74 pages of top merchandise from the folks at Stevens. As mentioned before in this paper, the Stevens catalog is also a magazine, and this new issue features another in-depth profile by Amy Stevens, this time on Dan Witkowski, the young marketing genius who produces little things like Superbowl halftime extravaganzas. It's a fascinating piece, as are two Gemini reprints, one from Frances Willard on what it's like to work at Caesar's Magical Empire and one by the prolific Jon Racherbaumer. Speaking of catalog/magazines, Joe's dealer web site is also transforming itself into a magazine, with Gemini excerpts and entertaining monthly communiques from Joe. If you haven't checked it out yet (or lately), turn to "Favorite Links" for a look.

Dear Eugene,
Yes, you have been a good boy this year, and I would love to bring you a Duvivier wallet. But if I do, I understand some fellow in Idaho will sue me . . .


With deepest apologies to Roger Angell

There is, alas, no time to lose:
We face again the Christmas muse,
A magic babe in diaphanous gown
Who once a year strolls through this town
Compelling myriad lines of verse
(An annual creative curse)
To wish magicians, near and far
The blessings 'neath that Christmas star.

We've much to do so let us start
With a note of cheer to Christopher Hart,
Siegfried and Roy (those artful dodgers),
And Escondido's Michael Rogers.
Deliver cards by U.S. mail
To Kevin James and Cheri Soleil,
The magic Wilsons, Mark and Nani,
Senor Wences, Pedro and Johnny.
America Online greetings sing
To Jennifer Sils and MactheKing,
Michael Powers, Bruce Barnett,
Carney and Krenz and Gary Ouellet.
By radio we'll air our love
To T.C. Tahoe, Goldfinger and Dove,
Silly Willy, Peter Reveen,
The Magic Castle's Milt and Arlene.
Extol the yule by telephone
To Scotty York and Bill Malone,
Michael Douglas, Douglas Henning,
And (just for rhyme's sake) Annette Benning.
Send a special Christmas wire
To Joaquin Ayala, prince of fire,
Carl Andrews, Jr., Curtis Kam,
Tomsoni and Co. (John and Pam).
Beam wishes o'er DirecTV
To Paul Daniels, esq., and Debbie McGee,
Mahka Tendo, Jay Scott Berry,
Leslie Anderson and Harry.
Telepathic greetings fax
To Goldstein (Phil) or Maven (Max),
Kreskin (Amazing) and Magus (Jim),
Waters (Tom) and Conover (Tim).
(Let Christmas messages reveal
Themselves on slates to Robert Neale,
Scott Moore-Davis, Jeff McBride,
And Eugene Burger, spirit guide.)
Deploy these lines by book rate, natch,
To Charlie Randall and Richard Hatch.
(We wish them orders off List 15
From Eddie Fields and Scott Cervine.)
FedEx good will to Harry Riser,
Alan Wakeling and Earl Keyser,
Ron Wilson, ye uncanny Scot,
And all plagiarizers -- not!
By UPS truck Christmas cards
To Jerry Andrus, with our regards,
Also to Drs. Wells and Sawa,
Alex Elmsley and Allen Okawa.
By internet we'll span the earth
To contact Brit Guy Hollingworth
(Forget this f****** caroling --
How did you tear/restore that king?)

We wish all magi, Abb to Zak,
Loads of stuff from Santa's sack
Like gifts from Brad Burt's Magic Shop
Or Amy Stevens and her pop.
Harness Prancer, harness Dasher,
God speed gifts to young Lee Asher.
(Upon her roof leave reindeer tracks
For CBS's Melinda Saxe.)
Dear Santa, bring us, if you can,
Longer months for Erika and Stan,
New sleights for Tony Giorgio
And Ricky Jay on HBO.
Bring baby bags of fancy stuff
To Rhett Bryson, Jr. (Algonquin McDuff)
And antique books to Pasadena
For the Caveneys, Mike and Tina.
Leave Godiva Christmas candy
For Bodine Bolasco, Uri and Randi,
Geno Munari, Wittus Witt,
Lynette Chappel and Peter Pit.
Distribute decks throughout the house
For Jim Steranko and Roger Klause,
Roberto Giobbi, Sly the Jester,
And Cards by Martin's Neil Lester.
Fill all stockings, crannies, nooks
With Rudy Coby comic books
And, while you're at it, deck the halls
With Tommy Wonder floating balls.
Shower us all with Letterman hams
And brand new Robert Farmer scams,
Newfound tricks by Kuda Bux
And Ellis Stanyon, twice redux.
And from that flying sleigh (St. Nick's)
Bring us more Chris Kenner tricks,
Steinmeyer illusions for our stage,
More Racherbaumer on the page,
More visits from Tamariz (Juan)
And mysteries from Brother John.
Don Alan books are always nice,
We treasure Gary Kurtz advice,
And for our stockings, count our votes
For Allan Ackerman lecture notes,
A Gamolo levitation -- free!
A major book by Persi D.
And, black marketed from Europe, pray,
Some props from D. Duvivier.

Linger neath the mistletoe
With Yuka or Fantasio,
Penn or Teller, Jade or Daryl,
The Electrics, Marv or Carol.
Lisa Menna! Save a kiss
For Genii's Jamy Ian Swiss,
Luis de Matos, Stephen Spill,
Martin Lewis and Chappy Brazil.
What better spot to stand and neck
With Connie Boyd or Joycee Beck,
Princess Tenko, Joanie Spina,
Luna Shimada or Mystina.
Beneath this seasonal parasite
We've reason to embrace all night.
Et moi? I'll stand right here, oh yes!
For the chance to smooch with Claudia S.

On New Year's Eve we'll Auld Lang Syne
With the Amazing Ballantine,
Louis Falanga, J. Neal Brown,
Rich Marotta and Hoho the Clown.
But first we'll don our gay apparel
To hit the town with Jose Carroll
And gaze upon the star-filled heavens
Arms linked with Sophie Ashton-Evans.
Harry Connick! Strike up the band
For Irene Larsen and R. Lavand.
We'll tango till the morning light
With Jinger Kalin and Nicholas Night.
Let's share a magnum of champagne
With Peter Biro and Harry Lorayne,
Martin Gardner and Gordon Bean,
Jasper Marshall and Marshall Brodien.
Michael Close will man the keys
And play some Gershwin melodies
As Billy McComb, our Irish host
Will raise a glass to make this toast:
"Grant us all Lance Burton's looks
And Richard Kaufman's knack with books,
Doc Eason's skill behind the bar,
The visual awe of Jon and Char,
The card mechanic expertise
Of Larry Jennings and Darwin Ortiz,
The repertoire of Michael Skinner
Or Michael Ammar, Castle winner,
Ken Fletcher's loot from upscale malls,
Earl Nelson's ease with billiard balls,
Michael Finney's gift for laughs
And Anne White's touch with photographs,
David Roth's aplomb with cash,
The gambling moves of Forte or Nash,
And, in this season of Nativity,
A little Paul Harris creativity,
Harry Blackstone's resonant bass,
Tom Mullica's comedic pace,
Houdini's ken of picks and locks,
The memories of Karrell Fox,
Stephen Minch's class with pen,
The showmanship of 'Becky' Yen,
The way with chicks of Johnny Ace,
A bit of Channing Pollock's grace.
At last I sip this golden drink:
Good health to all! Be in the pink!
And this year let us be well-heeled
As Broadway's David Copperfield."

Before we put away this quill
We must apologize, and will
To those we failed to here include:
We weren't intentionally rude.
We love all magi, here or no
For making life a Magic Show.
But rhymes run out, the light expires,
We put away our lutes and lyres.
So good-night, Charlie, good-night, Dai,
We'll get together, by and by.
Good-night, Melinda, and Claudia too,
Some dream of sugarplums; we dream of you.
Good-night magicians, the whole world o'er,
We'll see you all on WGM 4!

What's that? You say you can't get enough of this mush? Last year's poem is still online also.

Last month we presented a list of books certain to delight any magician on Christmas morning. Most of you, I'm sure, printed it out, highlighted the items you wanted most, and left it somewhere for your spouse to find. This month we add a few additional items for the love of your life to ponder, specifically some lecture note titles and a really cool gimmick.

. . . from a shuffled deck in use . . . by Paul Cummins, $25 for a two-volume set, from Paul Cummins, 3703 Foxcroft Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257. Jacksonville magician Paul Cummins has been quietly and steadily producing a solid body of work the past few years, in such sources as Apocalypse, Precursor, MUM, and Stephen Minch's Spectacle. To sample some of Paul's work immediately, check his lie detector trick, "Prevarication Detection," in the online journal 52, or his diabolical collectors effect, "Another Sequestered Collectors," in the Aldo Colombini column in the October 1996 issue of Genii. What captured my attention in those two items is Paul's lines that make the tricks special. His attention to audience interaction is similarly apparent in the rest of the items in these lecture notes, most of which can be performed with an unprepared deck in play.

What if? ($20 -- I think!), Why Not? ($25) by Chuck Smith, 910 South Canal Street, Carlsbad, NM 88220. Chuck's effect "Imagination," from What If? is my favorite of the effects I've seen in print in the past two years. It uses nothing more than your voice, a photograph (supplied), and the spectator's imagination. Also great in those notes is a logical presentation for "Sam, the Bellhop" and a superb Cards to Pocket effect. The newer notes feature a ring on spectator's thumb effect that does not use the Ellis ring, and is in fact superior to that method.

The Lost Cheesy Notebooks, Volume One and Two ($11 each) by Chad Long, available from Doc Eason (see the Doc Eason section for details). Two very amusing sets of lecture notes from the guy who created "Don't Look Now." Chad's "Torn and Kinda Restored" is a completely impromptu version of David Williamson's "Torn and Restored Transposition" and one of the best items in the books. Note: there are some other great Christmas items in the Doc Eason section if you aren't already stocked up on Doc's merchandise.

The Swami Gimmick -- I seldom buy gimmicks, but Al Cohen completely destroyed me with his handling of this one. I took a card from a shuffled deck; he instantly read my mind. I handed him any card; he studied the "secret marks on the back" and named the card. (The cards aren't marked in any way.) The item is from Chuck Leach at Chazpro, the same folks who brought you "The Raven," "The Bat," "The Deck Shell," etc. The gimmick hides itself within a deck of cards that may be shuffled and cut, yet will tell you the name of a selected card. You can easily steal it out later if you desire, or you can sneak it into a spectator's deck. This is cool and very reasonably priced at $14.95 including a book of routines. From Chazpro Magic Company, P.O. Box 41415, Eugene, OR 97404, or your favorite dealer.

Classic Sampler, by Michael Skinner, is the new large-format hardback collection of some of Michael's pet effects. Click Michael Skinner Up Close for an in-depth look at the latest publishing effort by this long-time Las Vegas close-up artist.

Doc Eason is the guy behind the bar at The Tower in Snowmass Village, CO, but you don't have to spring for an expensive ski vacation to sample his wares. Just click The Doctor Is In for the latest on Doc, including the real secret behing the "$100 Card On Ceiling Through Ceiling Fan."
"Stirring the Tana Leaves" is our monthly back-of-the-magazine page. Click What's In This Guy's Cold Medicine for the latest on the travails of Columbine and Golem, news of Ricky Jay, Woody Allen, and Mac and Rita, plus a behind-the-scene look at this year's Christmas poem.

"Well, Mac, I understand you've been exposing secrets again. I don't mind, of course, but the elves are extremely upset. I'm afraid it's going to be a sparse Christmas for you this year . . ."

The It's Better To Receive Than Give Department

The best card tricks from Volume 1 of this magazine are still available as The Little Egypt Gazette/The Lecture '96, for a paltry $15 pp in the U.S. Ye editor's most recent book, Little Egypt Card Tricks, is likewise ready for immediate shipping at $22 pp. Click on the ad! Send us a check and we'll toss a copy in Santa's sleigh. The address, in the cold inner heart of the nation, is 1639 Sycamore Court, Bloomington, IN 47401.

NBC aired the much-anticipated The World's Greatest Magic III on November 27, the night before Thanksgiving, against such formidable opposition as The Pelican Brief and E.T. This has to be just about every magician's favorite annual special, both as an enjoyable two hours' entertainment and as an eventual performance goal. This year's installment, hosted by John Ritter, featured Brett Daniels, Hans Klok and Sittah, Mac King and Rita Rudner, Joseph Gabriel, Michael Finney, Galina, Nathan Burton, Guy Hollingworth, David Williamson, Greg Frewin, Steve Wyrick, Jean-Paul Vallarino, Dirk Arthur, Bob Arno, Peter Marvey, the Pendragons, and a pair of white gloves, all produced as usual by Gary Ouellet. Reviews are already appearing in the real-world magazines as well as on bbs's, so I'll burden you here only with those moments that struck me as particularly noteworthy.

  • The show opened with several female dancers in skimpy jeans shorts, with tight camera shots of same. Although the two hours of magic were enjoyable, the entertainment level never quite reached that initial peak again. This is not a complaint.
  • John Ritter's segment with a turkey, introduced by him as the original NBC peacock. Although a thinking public can never forgive John Ritter for Three's Company, he did an admirable job as emcee.
  • Holland's Hans Klok and Sittah looked great. He has a long blond mane that contrasts with her darker tresses. Following the vanish of Sittah from a black art Dekolta chair (more like dark gray art on my set), she reappeared in dramatic fashion in a glass box, her breasts pressed against the glass. There was plenty of positive energy in both appearances by this couple on the show.
  • Educating Rita: Loved Mac King's serial interplay with Rita Rudner. I particularly enjoyed Rita's line, "I don't want to take just any card . . . I'm not a card slut."
  • Michael Finney's card on forehead routine. Simply one of my long-time favorites.
  • From Russia With Love: Galina. First you see all this hair, a creature looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family, and then two stockinged ballerina legs protrude from it. What a novel opening! I liked all of this young lady's routine, but especially her interaction with the floating ball. She seemed to exert a sensual control over it. Someone on EG recommended that she not float until she steps on the ball, and I agree. It would make for a great surprise. (Connie Boyd startled us all a few years ago by doing just that.)
  • Nathan Burton shoved a guy down a toilet, and I have no idea how. Love to see more from this young illusionist.
  • Guy Hollingworth was a nice surprise, sort of Hugh Grant with a deck of cards. As much as everyone seems to be coveting his torn and restored card, I wonder how many Yanks are going to start using such terms as "all jiggery-pokery."
  • David Williamson. Although I love his Rocky routine, the real treat here was to see him do the cups and balls in a showgirls' dressing room. This trick appealed to my innermost fantasies.
  • Bob Arno's byplay with four spectators, allowing the audience to see the pickpocketing transpire, was great fun.
  • Brett Daniels' sawing takes the Pendragons' "Clearly Impossible" routine one step further by removing the box altogether. How all these modern illusionists do this, including David Copperfield's "Death Saw," is as amazing as it's supposed to be.

Gary Ouellet reports that the show held its own against the fierce competition, which also had the advantage of starting an hour earlier. I conducted my own survey by calling my parents. Dad watched the show and thought everyone was great. Mom didn't realize it was on and watched The Pelican Brief. But that's a 50 percent share, and that ain't bad.

"As soon as I drop all this crap off, I can head home and watch my tape of 'Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants.' I think I'll put out a book of variations on Ricky's routines . . ."

A JSB Creations product
Copyright© 1996 by Steve Bryant
Send your Christmas cards and expensive gifts to sbryant@kiva.net.