August 2018 Meeting- Tips on selling your Magic Collection

Ring Report Ring #170 “The Bev Bergeron Ring” SAM Assembly #99

August 2018  Meeting

President Mike Matson called the meeting to order. We had 4 guests Mike Flannigan, Haran Izary, Clark Orr and Ann Osterhout. We shared a wrap up report on the major magic conventions this summer. Bev Bergeron’s monthly teach each feature two gags. One was a tiny hand in a person’s fist with the premise that the magician is holding a miniature child. The other was a gag with flash paper as a technique to get a free drink. President Matlock did another talk on “Theory and Thaumaturgy”. This time it was on expectations and he used Professor’s Nightmare as an example.

Phil Schwartz, our resident magic historian presented Magic History Moment #95 on “Nuts and Berries — How to Sell Your Magic Collection”.  He first explained what psychological motivations causes a person to collect. He quoted psychologist, Carl Jung, who said we all have an ancient archetype left over from our early ancestors to collect nuts and berries. He rejected Sigmund Freud’s view who linked collecting to the development of bowel control. Phil them gave some guidelines to an orderly distribution of your collection. He said to be respectful of magic history, give some away, donate some and sell some.  He said that to sell your collection you will need an inventory, photos and descriptions and then meet others collectors, learn the market, develop a selling network and avail yourself to cheap marketing such as a web page.  Phil then gave examples on how he had disposed on much of his valuable collection. He owned 800 Thayer pieces and 25 Thayer notebooks filled with ephemera. He wrote the classic text, “The Ultimate Thayer” and has a website, Phil’s Magic Market. He also started a Thayer Magic website. His tips included gathering email address making lists and actively marketing his collection. He advised that someday everyone’s collection would change hands.


Our monthly show began with Dr. Ken Schreibman presenting a clever Poker test. Five jokers changed to a royal flush and the backs changed colors. Greg Solomon showed his latest edition to his medicine show, an Egyptian decorated Drawer Box. Brian Sullivan had a spectator shuffle a deck and place cards around the inside of a book. One of the cards was selected and it matched a prediction that was in an envelope from the beginning. Tom Parkin did a test of memory, a card selected match one that had been turned over before. James Bailey had a “Dirty Thought Detector” and a Rupert’s Pearl exploded as the test. Michael Flannigan had a deck with famous names and was able to predict that the Houdini card would be reversed. Dan Stapleton did his original card effect “Deck Tracy” where two detective cards capture the chosen card between them and then other evidence, like pairs of other detective cards showed up in sleeves and odd places.

Dennis Phillips closed the show with a Sawing in Half Illusion using a stock and Jig Saw. In addition to the classic jokes and sight gags, he added some additional excitement proving the saw was actually going through the assistant’s body.





Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

September 2018

Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow,
What are you weaving? labor and sorrow?
Look to your loom again, faster and faster
Fly the great shuttles prepared by the Master…

-Mary Artemisia Lathbury- known as the poet laureate of Chautauqua-

Mathematically, all timeline processes can be computed using “time” as the domain ( the “x” axis on a Cartesian coordinate system).  Time can be a vital part of much of Calculus. When you start talking about going backwards time travel, laws of causality are violated. For example, you cannot hop in a time machine and travel back in time and kill your grandfather when he was a baby. At least not in this universe. Time and Space are linked and we should think of them as inseparable. You can read Hermann Minkowski and Albert Einstein for the details.  The problem of changing the past has plagued philosophers and theologians for at least a thousand years.

So can we change the past? St. Thomas Aquinas said “No” and even explained that the question is meaningless and invalid. If we could change the past, then there would be contradictory multiple states of “being”.  Example: I could say that I shaved this morning and I could say that I did not shave this morning by changing the past. Aquinas said that contradictory states of “being” ( in this case the historical “cause and effect” record) cancel each other into nothingness and since “nothing” implies non-existence then the question is meaningless heresy.  It is like asking what is on the 90th floor of your house?  You can ask the question but it is meaningless. Aquinas, who wrote” Summa Theologica”,  (as a Roman Catholic Church theologian in the 1300s) went on to say that his Catholic Church believed that God was omnipresent and to say, “there can be nothing” would assert that there was a place where God could not be. To his theology, that would be heresy and deny the omnipresence of God.

Today, the concept of “nothingness” is increasingly scientifically and theologically falling out of favor. We have math that shows the interconnectedness of time-space as a single concept. That interconnectedness is what we call “the velocity of light” but that limit has everything to do with the interconnection of the universe and “speed” is a simplistic part of it.  In string theory when perfect symmetry of waves can occur, the condition is very unstable like an upside pyramid standing in its inverted tip. “Nothingness” is a special class of “existence”. The popular idea of nothingness as “void and inert”  is clearly wrong. The scientific evidence we have seems to be telling us that what we think of as a void is indeed a bubbling cauldron of random energy fluctuations at max-Entropy. You can research, “The Dirac Sea”.  As far as physics is concerned nothing is something!

The question needs to become how did these random energy fluctuations expand and cooled to allow for the entropy-driven Universe that we observe? The answer seems to be that the Universe we observe is one of the degrees of freedom implicit in a timeless random probability field. Indeed nothingness is also a pure symmetric existence, that is if we think of Nothingness as a Perfect  Symmetry,  devoid of particulars and relationships, which exists as islands within the max-Entropy random field.

But,  I keep trying to change the past, rebuilding long gone magic tricks and trying to change the present “now” to connect with a past that never existed.

Here is an example:







This is my  re-imaged classic Egyptian Water Box, in a full Pharaoh costume with a backdrop. My water box has masking on the sides of the flaps so it could be done without angle problems.

My goal was the recapture the magic style of the past with its grand stage props and fantasy stories. It is from the past that I want to change.

I always wanted to make the Grant/Menge Water Box to be as impressive as the Nelson Hanne illustration and catalog description that I first saw in the 1950s.

As a kid back then, I realized the weakness of the trick having bad angle problems, plus the spray-paint  stencil paint job was cheap looking. It was not something that you would ever perform.

So I went to work, building a prop and a stage set that was as glorious as I thought it should be! Notice the side-masking that allows the effect to be almost done without any angle issues.

The patter is about The Nile River, the life giving river of Egypt, the gift of their gods to them.  Every year in the spring it would flood bringing life-giving nutrients and water to the desert land.

In the early 1900s the British built a dam that we now call the low Aswan Dam, but was small and enlarged several times but still limited in function. But it was enough to mostly disrupt the yearly cycle and anger the Egyptian  gods who allowed Howard Carter, the British archeologist, to discover King Tut’s tomb in 1922. The reason was that  inside was the small box containing the sacred Blue Scarab first used by Jannes and Jambres, the ancient High Egyptian Priests,  to tell the Pharaoh when the Nile flood would crest. The gods thought the British would understand that the Nile needed to flow freely. But the British and Europeans dismissed it all away as ancient nonsense. Egypt continued into financial and cultural decline.  In the 1950s, Cold War rivalry led the Soviets to construct the High Aswan Dam which totally blocked the Nile, flooded many sacred sites  and disastrously reshaped the down-river ecology and culture and led to more Egyptian social calamity.

Using translations from The Rosetta Stone, I reenacted the ancient yearly ritual with the symbolic snake coming from the box first ( unties by a reel) and the blue scarab talisman is produced from the box. Clear water is poured into the box and poured out ,but the second time it  turns blue ( I used two glasses and food coloring).

All this was done to Egyptian folk music playing under my live narration.


Not much to add here. It is amazing to me that Penn Gillette can make overt political, religious and philosophical statements and never face a backlash.

This just goes to show that show business has become intertwined with politics, religion and economic philosophy and the divisions and fractures in American life are regretful.

Looking at America is like looking in a cracked mirror.


I always thought that Stu MacDonald was one of those midwestern journeymen magician who always did a superior job with standard stuff. He always put his own twist in his presentations and patter.

Here is the way I remember Stu and Lori from the early 70s










I saw him at Abbotts with wife Lori doing a stage act in 1969 at Abbotts.  Fred Becker says they are still married but I never see her anymore. I somehow got the idea that Stu’s day job is producing training videos and their production for Whirlpool in Southwest Michigan.

Unlike lots of older magicians who keep doing the same stuff, Stu matured real well and has continued to sharpen his skills and create.












He did put on weight and lost his hair but he dresses appropriately and has morphed into a great novelty “sketch act” which took him to FISM for some recognition.  He is approaching an “old age legend” status and will probably be a Convention Headliner until the retires.

Here is the one trick that most magicians hate… Linking Rings.  I don’t think it is because of exposure but because they do not want to put the effort into it. The basic method is logically obvious to anyone with an IQ over 70 but with proper methodology, you can convince an audience that it can’t possibly be a split in the ring.

Take a look…

In two cases I confess that I simple did not see “the move”. I am sure that I do not know all the Linking Ring moves but I would swear that he uses a ring with a magnet in it… (1:14 from the end) and in another he must have one ring smaller than the other or bend in the split ( :46 from the end)  He may be using a Porper Ring for one move and a slightly larger ring for another.

You can see how deceptive good handling can be.

His FISM Act



Is there some magic applications? $30…!  That is very cheap. Stuff like this is almost $1,000 on Magic sites.

Hint: Mount a camera and do the color pen trick or any other mental effect where you need hidden information. For example: The Color Pen and Drawing trick.  By hiding your cell phone receiving screen  in a drawing pad, and having a hidden capturing camera , you can visually see which pen the spectator choses rather than feeling the buzzer.


Make sure you get a supply of magic postage stamps, available at your local post office. The stamps were released at Magic Live in Las Vegas and I think David Copperfield was there to introduce them.













I heard a lot of mixed reviews about this year’s Magic Live and people disappointed with some of the acts. It was said there were to many filler acts, like the guy with the Zebra costume. Attendance was said to be low and if the Asians had not been there, it would have been a decline.

The Orlando National SAM Convention seemed to have low attendance and again, the acts were said to not be not spectacular for most people. Many jugglers on the final night’s playbill.

The IBM was in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Abbott’s continues on and I still am not sure who owns the company. It was supposed to have been sold. My prediction is that FAB magic in town may just merge operations with Abbotts if Greg Bordner does not have hard feelings about it.


I am sorry to say that I believe American magic is declining and the Asians and Europeans and the rest of the world is picking up the slack.  FISM comes to Canada.



Most of you know that I have a journalism background.

There was a time when America was not dominated by just a few big corporations. Business was  mostly local. Each town has a local newspaper, radio station, theater and several ,local magicians, musicians and entertainers.

Back then the local newspaper had an important role in the community, and they welcomed local content and comments.  Some people called The Orlando Sentinel, “The Orlando Slant-inel”. I think that was unfair and was because some people were unhappy with the Sentinel editorials. Their basic news content was balanced then.

They were owned by the Tribune Newspaper out of Chicago. The broadcast part was profitable but the print division declined as the Internet and Broadcasting took over.  The popping of the financial debt bubble and The Great Recession of 2008 led to the bankruptcy of Tribune Media, which was the largest bankruptcy in the history of the American media industry.

I suspect the heavy dept load of the Sam Zell acquisition was a factor. Buying on heavy debt was typical them. It was also a factor in the failure of iHeart Radio and Cumulus Radio. Debt is a killer.  Today, most newspapers are just a shell of what they once were.

Recently Sinclair Broadcasting, the largest owner of local TV stations in the country, tried to buy the Tribune Broadcast Properties, but Sinclair bungled the deal and the FCC nixed it ( by what seemed to be Sinclair trying to maintain a monopoly in many markets by using shell companies they still controlled in the merger).

This certificate , from the Sentinel, was given to me at a 1989 invitation dinner, by the Sentinel staff (At the old downtown Orlando Radisson) for being one of their “Star” Letter writers. There were about one hundred people there.

When the time came, to get the award , at the end of the dinner,  syndicated columnist Charlie Reece stood up from the banquet table , at the front, and had me come forward. He read one of my letters that was published.

In it I said : “Charlie Reece said, in his recent column, that he had no respect for people who made their  living by pontificating and running their mouth. He said that  he only respected people who made a living by making physical things and doing physical labor.  In as much as Charley Reece makes his living solely by pontification and running his mouth and makes nothing physical and does no physical labor, I totally agree with him!”   The audience howled with laughter and Charlie handed me the framed certificate, and laughed and shook my hand and said, “Believe me, I had to put a lot of work and sweat into doing this!”

I wish that we could also “Make American Newspapers Great Again”.


It is a different world today… Copperfield was getting away with some of this in another generation. Times have changed…

Understand your audience and be respectful of them. You will find that in no situation do you have to do humor with innuendo, cruelty and crude aggression.

I am really saddened when a magician feels compelled to use these lines. It gives us all a bad name.



On a sad note: Jim Sommers, the well know illusion builder in Chicago has died. Sommers performed school shows across the U.S. in early 1970’s. He pulled a trailer (to sleep in) and had a full sized car packed with props.













He got involved in a fire-storm of criticism for building a Robert Harbin Zig Zag, long before the Harbin book gave buyers permission to duplicate it. It effectively destroyed his reputation in mainstream magic.

Jim continued to build fine magic but became ignored , as a performer,  by the magic fraternity.













I understand that there are two sides to the story of the Zig Zag and may appear in print someday. I think that the late 60s was a different era in magic in terms of general ethics. Today, you can make a fast buck if you copy anything.

Only the most deep pocketed stars have the legal dollar to fight piracy.

If you read Jim’s book about building your own illusions, you will appreciate his clever ideas and uncomplicated ways of creating great props.


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July 2018 Ring Meeting: Frakson-Egyptian Water Box and more

Ring Report Ring #170 “The Bev Bergeron Ring” SAM Assembly #99

July 2018  Meeting

President Mike Matson brought the July meeting to order.  We had 29 in the seats and three guests, Dr. Ken Schreibman, Jim Duel and Bill Jensen.

Bev Bergeron’s “Teach-in” was on his home-made sight gag, the tape measure watch. He showed how to make it and gave us some great lines, “It’s a foot and a half after 3 o-clock”.

President Matson did  another of his “Theory and Thaumaturgy lectures on rethinking the Hot Rod force. He explained some verbal lines to eliminate the weaknesses of the technique. He also applied the principle to forcing envelopes.


Phil Schwartz, resident magic historian explained  that the day of the meeting, July 18th, was Floyd Thayer’s 144th birthday and showed his book, The Ultimate Thayer. He then presented Magic History Moment # 94 on Jose Frakson, The Man of 100 Cigarettes. Frakson was born Jose Jimenez Savilla in Madrid in 1891. He achieved worldwide success on vaudeville and night club stages. Frakson is best known for his cigarette act.  Phil mentioned that Bev Bergeron, our club’s namesake, is also known for his own cigarette act.  Frakson gained fame from the 1920s to 1950s. Frakson made a fortune only to have it all taken away in the 1936 Spanish Civil War. He fled to Paris, bought a new tuxedo and began his career anew. He became a naturalized citizen US citizen and eventually moved back to Madrid where he died in 1981.

Dany Sanz opened up the monthly show buy cutting to high cards and finding all aces. James Bailey transformed a sponge cube to a ball and back again. Dan Stapleton had spectators write then names on billets and one was selected an burned and re rubbed the ashes on his arm to reveal the name.  Noah had a card selected and revealed it on his iPhone.

Dennis Phillips presented a re-imaged classic Egyptian Water Box, in a full Pharaoh costume with a backdrop. The water box had masking on the sides of the flaps so it could be done without angle problems. Ravelli was the final act with music and a delightful routine of multiplying balls, a giant 3 card monte, genie tube, napkin tear and dove pan finale.

















Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

August 2018 Ring Meeting

A secretary overhears an exasperated math professor of Topology swearing under his breath at the Xerox machine in the Math Office. “What’s wrong, professor?” she asks.

“It’s this frigging copier! I set it for ‘single-sided’ and it’s coming out as a Mobius Strip!”

The Invisible Gorilla :

We think we experience and understand the world as it is, but our thoughts are beset by everyday illusions. Researchers asked participants to watch a brief video of six people passing basketballs to each other. Three of the people are wearing white shirts, and three are wearing black shirts. The white shirted people pass one ball among themselves; the black shirted people do the same. Viewers were asked to count the number of passes the people in white shirts made to each other. In the middle of the video, a person in a gorilla suit walks slowly into the middle of the frame, faces the camera and beats his chest before walking off.

Almost half the viewers did not see the gorilla because they were focused on counting the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. He’s shown the video to his classes, and they miss the gorilla by a similar percentage. By focusing on the white shirts, their brains filter out the black shirts — and the gorilla along with them.


We assume that when a magician shows you his empty hand , there is nothing in the curl of his fingers (The Ramsey Subtilty). Illusionist Harry Blackstone Sr. and Jr. did a stage trick where duck disappeared from a small house. Actually, they were put in the little house in a small box with wheels and a rope that went off stage. At just the right time, a clown on the other side of the stage would trip and spill a tray ,with props, making noise, and while all eyes were diverted, the little box with the ducks was pulled off stage in full sight! We believe that we can multi-task but the human mind mist always struggle to focus on the total view of reality.

Slydini was as master at diversion by psychologically obscuring one action with another as well as controlling your suspicion and expectations. Just at their peak, he would pause with a comic action or relaxation and you would take a breath and let your psychological guard down and he would do the secret action needed to fool you.

The principle of self-illusion extends in every part of our lives. When I was in pilot training, we learning to not be distracted from maintaining level wings, altitude and airspeed. Tragic examples of not doing this fill aircraft accident history books.  Steven Colbert’s two brothers and father died on an airliner, in 1974, with distracted pilots landing at Charlotte. That crash led to the “clean cockpit rule” which demands no non-essential talking, leading to distraction,   below 10,000 feet AGL.  I was a newscaster for WBT radio in Charlotte and covered the story. The crash was less than a mile from my house and both my wife and I heard it  early that morning. Again cockpit distraction happened a few years ago

Deliberate illusion is also used outside the magic field. Many do not know that the late Norman “Stormin’’Norman” Schwarzkopf, the hero of the first Gulf War, was an avid amateur magician. He was friends with Al Cohen, longtime owner of a D.C. magic shop. Warfare has always used “illusion”. Schwarzkopf stage a diversionary raid to convince Saddam Hussein that we would do an amphibious assault in Kuwait. Hussein moved many troops there to prepare and instead Schwarzkopf streamed unopposed, far inland, across the Saudi-Iraqi border. General Colon Powell’s comment to the press was a quote from Carl von Clausewitz’s classic mid-1800s military text (“Vom Krieg” –“On War”)  “Beware of the vividness of transient events”. Powell applied this to the distraction Saddam tried by launching scuds on Israel and as a put down to Iraqi Forces as being so easily distracted and warning that we would not be misled.

We write traffic laws and build criminal cases on the assumption that people will notice when something unusual happens right in front of them. We’re sure we know reality, falsely believing that vivid perception and memories are seared into our mind with perfect fidelity. And as a society, we spend billions on devices to train our brains because we’re continually tempted by the lure of quick fixes and effortless self-improvement.

Deception includes words. Alfred Korzybski ( ) developed linguistic theories in psychology, that led to Neurolinguistic Programming and modern language theories.

You can see this in Mentalist Banachek’s PK Touches and  fellow mentalist, Kenton Knepper’s “Wonder Words”. The audience is verbally manipulated to believe something is happening at a specific time and the witness to the action naturally misinterprets the phrasing of the question.

Much of today’s politics, business, religion, academia and even scientific interpretation of phenomena, is infused with verbal manipulation of perception, presuppositions  and self-deception.  Even in medicine, which should be evidence-based, we see the Placebo effect. Why? Possibly because people want myth and fantasy?

The cynic in me says, it is for money, power and wishful thinking.  P.T. Barnum’s show business techniques: exaggerated and distorted claims, self-serving assertions and deception are well known, even though the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute” did not originate from him.



I was at the SAM Convention here in Orlando and was very happy to have Eddy and Sandra Wade come down from Charlotte to attend the meeting and visit with me. Eddy is an old friend who, as a small boy,  watched my Children’s TV show on WBTV in the early 1970s. He grew up and went to work for the late Phil Morris (Morris Costumes) before going out on his own performing and running a very successful party entertainment business. In 2014  he bought the magic company, “ Magic Methods”, from his childhood mentor, Jerry Mentzer and continues to run it. He has a huge collection magic titles with some of the finest classic magic. Please check his web site.


I enjoyed attending the SAM National Convention here in Orlando. To me the best part was seeing old friends and renewing acquaintances. I got to chat again with cruise ship magician Fred and Bobbie Becker, Joe Eddy Fairchild, Bob Little ( known him since the mid-1960s!), Steve Hart and all the local Orlando and Florida Magicians.

The Convention borrowed by follow-spotlight. I realize that the magic community is shrinking and economics are an issue in an increasing expensive  convention business, so the lectures and performances struggled with technical issues such as sound and the Mark and Nani Wilson video feed from California. A proper CAT 6 or 7  video connection ,plus the gear on Mark’s end would have been an expense, so they made do with  Apple Facetime and used a video camera on  the I phone.  It is apparent that prop magic acts are on the decline. The final show was mostly juggling and ventriloquism with illusionist Jay Mattioli concluding with illusions.

Congratulation to Bev Bergeron for all the honors given to him at this years SAM Convention here in Orlando. A highlight of this 2018 Convention was a tribute to his work with Mark Wilson on The Magic Land of Allakazam. Bev was here in Orlando, along with Mark’s children, Greg and Mike and a video feed through Facetime was projected in the auditorium with Mark and Nani from California.














I will always remember Bev on  Mark Wilson’s “Magic Circus” TV specials, sponsored by Pillsbury and Poppin’ Fresh….

This cautionary note about the famous finger-stab in the tummy of the Pillsbury Doughboy.










Test your magic history knowledge :

  1. Who invented the Zombie floating ball?
    2. Who starred in a Broadway musical called The Magic Show?
    3. Name a Magician who became famous for floating a Violin.
    4. Who developed and sold the plastic thumb tip ?
    5. What Magician has made the most money performing Magic ?
    6. Houdini had several Brothers, name one who was also an Escape Artist.
    7. Harold Rice is famous for what product he contributed to Magic.
    8. Who invented the “World’s Fastest Flower Vanish” ?
    9. Name a Magician who became famous by changing a white glove into a rabbit named “Lefty” ?
    10. Who invented the ” Appearing Cane” ?
  2. Joe Karson
    2. Doug Henning
    3. Norm Nielsen
    4. The McElroy brothers, earlier than Alberto Vergonjeanne (stage name “Vernet”)
    5. David Copperfield
    6. Hardeen, ( also known asTheodore, Dash, Theo)
    7. Art designed silks and a wonderful encyclopedia on silk magic.
    8. Al Delage and made by Horace and Marie Marshall
    9. Jay Marshall
    10. Russell Walsh.


The French currently have us beat in the visibility of theatrical magic…They have a monthly variety program, “Le plus grand cabaret du monde” , presented by Patrick Sébastien. Many of the magicians can be seen on You Tube clips from the shows.

This sketch, in a very shortened version ( just the first part) was just seen on Britain’s Got Talent by another magician.

Like this single post version of the Assistant’s Revenge… it is about 3 minutes into the sketch. I never liked the Harbin version.

I think this method originated with Peter Marvey.


Now worth $1 Billion Dollars







Over the years David Copperfield has pulled off some extraordinary and unbelievable stunts. He’s made islands, jets and even whole monuments disappear into thin air. He walked through the Great Wall of China. He levitated across the Grand Canyon. David’s efforts have earned him 11 Guinness World Records, 21 Emmy Awards, a Knighthood from the French government and “Living Legend” status from the US Library of Congress. Impressed yet? It gets better. As of today, you can add one more extraordinary and unbelievable achievement to his resume: David Copperfield has officially become a BILLIONAIRE.

David Copperfield has been performing magic for over 40 years. His first major media exposure came in 1977 when he hosted an ABC special called The Magic of ABC. This appearance led to a series of specials on CBS called The Magic of David Copperfield that aired between 1978 and 2001. As of this writing, David has hosted 17 specials and two television documentaries.

In 2014, Forbes jumped on the Copperfield train and valued his total net worth at $800 million. By our count, between $60 million in annual gross income and the global increase in real estate values over the last four years, we can now conservatively conclude that David Copperfield’s net worth is at least $1 billion. Perhaps more if we’re undervaluing his art collection.

That makes David Copperfield the world’s first billionaire magician… which is perhaps his greatest feat of magic yet. Hopefully he doesn’t make it disappear!

Oh, and by the way here’s a fun little fact: When he was young and just starting out, David’s mom told him “You’ll never make any money as a magician”


No magician ever moved quite like Richiardi Jr. 

Click and enjoy. His dance style is Pasa Doble and Flamenco.   As Carl Ballantine use to say, “Every move a picture! ”




A magician was walking along a Hawaiian beach when he kicked a bottle poking up through the sand. Opening it, he was astonished to see a cloud of smoke and a genie appear before him.

“For your kindness,” the genie said, “I will grant you one wish!”

The magician paused, laughed, and replied, “I have always wanted a golden highway stretching from Hawaii to California!”

The genie grimaced, and replied, “Listen, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that! Think of all the pilings needed to hold up a highway over such an immense distance, and how long they’d have to be to reach the bottom of the ocean. Think of all that miles of pavement. That’s just way, way too much to ask for! …Can you think of something a little more reasonable?”

The magician thought for a second and said, “Well, yeah, I’ve always wanted to know how Criss Angel managed to get his own stage in Las Vegas and headline there for so many years.”

The genie paused, and then sighed.  “Did you want two lanes, or four?”




My friend, Wes Iseli ( from Charlottesville, Virginia and a full-time professional) says on his Social Media pages:

“Did you know that I often perform a 100 ft rope escape in my show where an audience member ties me up? No tricks, just pure Houdini style escaping!”

I have seen Wes do this bit at least five times and it is always a hit with his audiences. It is amazing how much entertainment you can get from a $20 length of 100 foot rope from Home Depot!

Wes presents this as an audience challenge which asks, “Can I get out in less time than it takes for you  two guys to tie me up?”  The general tie-up time is less than 3 minutes and he always beats it.

He has someone time him and call off the time.

Lee Jacobs has written produced two excellent booklets on how to do this effect. The complete title of the first booklet is “The Real Methods & Secrets of the Challenge Escape From 75 Feet of Rope”. What a title!

The Novak book (also published by Lee Jacobs) is “What Jacobs Didn’t Tell You About The Rope Escape.” Both are out of print but often sold for a couple of dollars each at Magic Flea Market Tables. Few magicians appreciate the value. Both are full of real world tips. There is no “secret”. They just tie you up. Wes’ only instructions are “please do not wrap the rope around my neck”. Then he does hurry them along, and the spectator calling off the time , in 15 second intervals, encourages them to speed up  because the faster they tie you up the more they tend to just wrap the heavy rope around you and with a few wiggles it merely falls off. Wes adds to the struggle by kicking off his shoes. I sometimes will rock the chair until it tips over! It does little to alter the process and time  but gets a gigantic audience response.

Most audience members believe that the thicker and longer the rope the more secure you can be tied and the more difficult the escape. Just the opposite is true! Use 3/4″ nylon rope. White looks less tricky but  the bright yellow color and size on stage is very visible. Nylon is more comfortable than the hairy hemp brown ropes also. Use a rope that looks massive in weight and when the volunteer holds on to 100′ of it ,with  its mass, it gives the impression of being very secure. When asked, the majority of the audience is skeptical that you  will escape faster than it took the volunteers to tie you up.

Perhaps this wonderful bit of entertainment was bypassed by magicians who saw their audiences as  more interested in quick flashy stage props, thumping music soundtracks, glitzy girls and arrogant posing.   Magic also moved away from the outdoor stage in fairs and events in most urban areas in the 1980s and into television “assists” with the effect.   So the Strait Jacket and classically captivating routines, which take time and showmanship, faded into the background.   One note. This routine is psychologically masculine in perception ( as Houdini was) whereas , magic generally seems to have a more feminine approach.  I believe that both gender themes are valid and the individual performer has to decide  which approach to follow. In doing dove magic, I have avoided a long routines with dove steals from silks and favor Dove Catching and vanishing in a fall apart box. My stage look does not favor the mascara of a feminine thin looking Lance Burton  or Joseph Gabriel.  John Schrock and Rick Thomas have made Doves from Silks work for them, with their stockier body build, when combined with some props.

So not everyone can get away with the Rope Tie, but if you can, it is an entertaining interlude in a show.



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June 2018 Ring Meeting- Mystery of Photo of old magic prop

Ring Report Ring #170 “The Bev Bergeron Ring” SAM Assembly #99

June 2018  Meeting

President Mike Matson brought the meeting to order with 28 in attendance. Mike announced all the magic playing in the Orlando tourist areas. We had guest Michael Resto.

Bev Bergeron’s Teach-In feature a effect which used the Physics principle of inertia. He stacked 3 quarters with another quarter on top and flicked the card away and the quarter remained on the stack.

Phil Schwartz presented Magic History Moment #93. He began by showing a photograph of an old painting, “Boy with a Puzzle, Boy with a Toy or Cherub with a Game of Patience” which hangs in Eaton Hall, a residence in northeast London. It is oil on wood and 15 by 13 inches.  The painting is from 1520 and thought to be the first picture to show conjuring apparatus that does not depict the cups and balls! For several hundred years it was thought to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The motif is of a little boy similar to the Christ child in Leonardo’s works. The painting style is Sfumato a hazy, dreamy look with softened outlines.  It was actually painted by Bernardino Luini (d. 1532)

The trick the child is holding we know today as Jacob’s Ladder and the mechanism is found in the Himber Wallet. It is a two little boards which is hinged so it can open on both sides ways.  Daniel Schwenter (d.1636) called it “The yawning mouth”. Today, you can buy it as a toy where 8 plastic boards are attached and by flipping the top broad, it looks like it magical flips down each board until it is at the bottom. It uses the math principle of topology as seen in the Tetraflexagon and Rubik’s Cube.

This month’s magic show began with Dennis Phillips doing the Nail-hidden-in-a-paper-bag spike trick. He has the audience choose which of four bags to crush and they selected all but the bag with the spike. Bryan Sullivan took a shuffled deck  and was able to correctly find and place the aces on four piles and spell where a card was in the deck.

Jaffo  did a fun routine with 10 giant cards and with free choices by spectators each dealing their own hands, Jaffo always had the winning hand.

Dan Stapleton did  some effects from his lecture on Psychologic Numbers. He counted his hands and showed that he had eleven fingers and then showed how to put 12 magicians in a hotel with just 11 rooms and they each have a private room!  Jimmy Ichihana was in top form. He did a kind of double “Out-of-this world” where a spectator unknowingly dealt piles with  both the red cards and blue cards were separated and do were their backs.  Revelli concluded the show with a coin vanish and transformation to a larger coin, routine with color changing CDs, a rope with 4 ends, and he lassoed a selected playing card from his hat.

Dennis Phillips





Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

July 2018

 ” Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto, Klaatu Barada Nikto”

-From “The Day the Earth Stood Still- 1951

Have you noticed that magicians seldom use magic words anymore? “Hocus Pocus” was a popular one.  It seems to have been a perversion of the words of the  sacramental blessing from the Latin Mass at the invocation that transforms the bread and wine into the blessed body and blood of Jesus, Hoc est corpus meum “This is my body.”  So there is a religious connection!

The first to make this speculation on its origin apparently was English prelate John Tillotson (1630-1694).

“I will speak of one man … that went about in King James his time … who called himself, the Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus tabantus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery.” [Thomas Ady, “A Candle in the Dark,” 1655]

Then there  is Abracadabra.  Again, a religious connection.

It  seems likely that abracadabra is derived from one of the Semitic languages. It’s from the Aramaic phrase avra kehdabra, meaning “I will create as I speak”.

  • The source is three Hebrew words, ab (father), ben (son), and ruach acadosch (holy spirit).
  • It’s also found in the Chaldean abbada ke dabra, meaning “perish like the word”

Sim Sala Bim? These magic words were made popular by the famous professional magician Dante/The Great Jansen. They also served as the name of his famous touring magic show. Sim salabim is spoken by a Turkish alchemist with magical powers in the early medieval folk play entitled Robyn Hode. Sim sala bim is “the Swedish equivalent of ‘abracadabra,’” and is known in other Scandinavian cultures as well.

“Ala Peanut Butter Sandwiches”.   This is the catch phrase used by  the Muppet character, Mumfred the Magician, on Sesame Street to cast his magic trick spells.

Presto. It is From Italian and means (“quickly”).


Here’s a look at the world’s highest-paid magician and magic acts from across the world as of 2017.

They all have a heavy presence on TV.

The report has been compiled by Statista.

Here’s a list of the world’s highest-paid magicians and illusionists from across the world as of 2017.

David Blaine | The American endurance artist, magician and illusionist has performed famous acts such as ‘Buried Alive’, ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Drowned Alive’. Blaine has made $6 million to make him the eight highest-paid magicians. (Image: Reuters)

Michael Carbonaro | The American actor, improv artist and magician is famous for his hidden camera ‘Magic Clerk’ segment on The Tonight Show.Carbonaro has raked in $7 million, making him the seventh highest-paid magician worldwide.

Derren Brown | The English illusionist and mentalist has produced multiple television and stage shows including the famous “Derren Brown:Mind Control”. He has earned over $7 million and has been ranked sixth on the list.

Dynamo | Steven Frayne is an English magician who stars in the television show Dynamo: Magician Impossible. Frayne has made $9 million according to the report, making him the fifth richest magician.

The Illusionists | This is a touring magic production that features a rotating cast of five to eight magicians. All of them specialize in specific streams of magic. The production has made $11.5 million so far, putting them fourth on the list of richest magicians.

Criss Angel | Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos is an illusionist and musician. The 50-year-old is known for starring in television and stage show “Criss Angel Mindfreak”. He is the third-most successful magician in history having earned $14.5 million.

Penn & Teller | The American magician and entertainer duo were famous for their acts that included comedy with magic. Together, the duo has made $30.5 million, making them the second-most commercially successful magic act.

David Copperfield | The American illusionist has been called the most commercially successful magician in history by Forbes. Copperfield’s career spanning over 40 years has earned him 11 Guinness World Records. The Las Vegas resident has made $61.5 million until 2017.


This is what really gives magic a bad name…   

It violates the rule of embarrassing people and transforms theatrical fright into terrorism

The sooner we condemn and expel grunge, street garbage, terrorism stunts and nonsense like this the better we will be.


Good News!

We can use rabbits again without a lot of hassle from the USDA.  The rules were  first reported by Marty Hahn, a few years back.  Many have tried to politicize this as a victory for one of the political parties, but the political action was by Marty’s Senator Claire  McCaskill (D-MO) . Common sense laws and no laws should not be a political issue. 

Dennis Phillips with “Thurston the Bunny” 


As a magician, he was very good at one time… Probably could not make enough money with it… Went to the Dark Side of the Force?



How To Do The Like Michael Jackson “Lean”  The complete tutorial.  


From the “How Fast they Fall” department:   This is the same Illusionist who accused Criss Angel of stealing one of his illusion ideas. You have seen him on the Masters of Illusion TV shows and others.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Las Vegas Strip headliner from Germany lost his bid to withdraw his guilty plea in a federal child pornography case involving thousands of videos and images.

Jan Rouven Fuechtener, 39, is expected to face at least 24 years in federal prison on felony charges of possession, receipt and distribution of child pornography, according court records. His sentencing is set for Aug. 2.

Fuechtener is a German citizen who performed as Jan Rouven at the Tropicana hotel-casino. His show closed following his arrest in March 2016. He remains in federal custody.

His plea in November 2016 stopped his trial during an FBI agent’s testimony about images found in password-protected files on computer devices seized from the Las Vegas home Fuechtener shared with his husband, Frank Dietmar Alfter.

Authorities say some of the images depicted sex acts involving kindergarten-age boys.

Fuechtener’s lawyer, Karen Connolly, was unavailable Friday to immediately comment on the June 15 ruling by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro involving the guilty plea.

Connolly previously said federal authorities have recommended Fuechtener serve 24 to 30 years in federal prison and possibly a life sentence.

Fuechtener also faces lifetime registration as a sex offender, near-certain deportation if he gets out of prison, and an order to pay $5,000 restitution to each child sex assault victim identified in his case.

Authorities have said they could identify about 85 victims. That would total some $425,000.

The case arose after Fuechtener was identified in August 2014 by an undercover investigator in Buffalo, New York, as a collector of more than 3,500 internet pornographic videos and images using internet, Skype and email names including “Lars45,” ″LarsUSA22″ and Lars Schmidt.

Fuechtener last year accused his lawyers of misleading him about the consequences of his plea.


Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Comments Off on June 2018 Ring Meeting- Mystery of Photo of old magic prop