Plans for Day of Magic Announced at February Ring Meeting

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

February 2018  Meeting

Incoming Ring President Mike Matson brought the meeting to order.  He brought up the discussion from the board meeting before the meeting and asked for approval of the board’s decisions. Our Day of Magic will be this May, with the date to be determined. It will include lectures and a flea market.

It was good to see some working full-time professionals back with us for a visit: Nathan Coe Marsh and Scott Pepper, who is now based in San Antonio, Texas. Guest Brandon Jackson from Goldsboro, North Carolina and Greg Solomon’s son, Eric.

Bev Bergeron’s Teach-In recalled the problems with carrying a “Color Changing Pocket Knife” on an airliner  and the correct way to do The Gypsy Thread effect. Bev said the original is the best, using wool yarn.

Phil Schwartz presented Magic History Moment #90, the strange history of The Swastika Magic Company. He began by presenting an ABC Block routine with Chinese blocks. The red block vanished between two other colored blocks in a stack and reappeared in a box. Phil mentioned that the original characters on the blocks were swastikas.  In the last 7 decades of the 20th Century the Swastika Symbol became stigmatized from its use as an icon of the German Nazi Party.  It had been a 5,000 year old sacred symbol in many religions and in the Western world a symbol of good luck. Used that way, it could be found in the pre-Nazi era on magic props. Sometime before 1904 John Petrie, the son of a clipper ship cabin boy turned factor owner, renamed  his metal working magic company, the Swastika Magic Company. He operated it from a shed behind his Connecticut home. Several years later, in 1909  Petrie teamed with A.C. Gilbert to form the Mysto Magic Company and dropped the Swastika name. The Mysto name was suggested by Petrie’s wife by combining the words mysterious and presto. In 1917 Petrie met banker Tom Lewis and formed the P & L magic company. Phil mentioned in the 1920s there was a mentalist names Swastika and an Allentown, Pennsylvania Swastika Magic Society. During World War Two, the Abbott Magic company sold a paper tear where a Swastika and Rising Sun were torn and transformed into a U.S. Defense Bond Poster.

Mike Matson opened up the monthly show with a Valentine themed Ring and String routine using a heart shaped ring and red string. He followed up with a torn corner of a selected card appearing inside  what appeared to be a wrongly predicted card.

Dan Stapleton presented the classic O’Henry  Card trick where he makes a prediction of a card  that was selected.  Brandon Jackson named a card selected and it was the only one of a different color.

Nathan Coe Marsh tried out a new routine he was working on. He took a Mike Close effect and made it staged sized. He invited a female assistant to “do-as-I-do” with IKEA signs. The humor was that it is difficult to follow IKEA directions. Of course, Nathan always got the signs in the right order but the assistant hilariously could not.

Dennis Phillips


Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

March 2018


“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.

And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”











All we baby boomer magicians know that Kellogg ‘s, was the original sponsor of Mark Wilson’s “Magic Land of Allakazam”.  Because a large consumer base for breakfast cereals have been kids, the cereal companies became tied in with magicians and magic.

What boy Baby Boomer did not get a few magic tricks off the back of cereal products or find tricks inside?

Few know that mass marketed manufactured Breakfast cereals are a unique American invention. It all started in the late 1800s at a 7th Day Adventist affiliated sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan run by John Harvey Kellogg an MD.  He was looking for a meatless breakfast for theological reasons. Dr. Kellogg was a deeply religious doctor who believed that cereal would both improve Americans’ health and keep them from masturbating and desiring sex. (Only half of his message made it into their later ads.) John Harvey wanted to return to the Garden of Eden and that meant living in innocent nakedness, so he favored nudity but used a bathrobe for modesty.

A perennial assumption among vegetarians is that vegetarianism increases longevity. Somehow this meshed with American religion and personal holiness.  In the last century, Grahamites—devotees of the Christian “hygienic” philosophy of Sylvester Graham (1794-1851)—taught that adherence to the Garden of Eden lifestyle would eventuate in humankind’s reclamation of the potential for super longevity, such as that ascribed to Adam (930 years) or Methuselah (969 years). By the way, Graham’s messages inspired the creation of today’s Graham Cracker. He would have been quite upset that Nabisco added sugar to the cracker and would he detest using them as a melted chocolate and marshmallow campfire treat.  Sylvester Graham was no relation to the late evangelist, Billy Graham.

The Adventists (who are now big in the hospital business, especially locally here in Florida!)  still follow a movement called Restoration Theology from the American Second Great Awakening.  It basically believed that people should get back to a meatless “Garden of Eden” type lifestyle (along with not burning with lust -1 Corinthians 7:9 ) because the world is ending soon and God will save and restore only  those who choose to live that way. Near the end of the 1800s, health and healing, were big religious, as well as secular movements.

John Harvey Kellogg created some tasteless and bland cereals because he preached to avoid the 5 White deaths: White Flour, White Sugar, White Salt, White Lard and White alcohol… See! Dr. Oz is nothing new!

One of his patients at Battle Creek was a mentally unbalanced promoter/salesman named C.W. Post (later became very rich but committed suicide) who copied the foods but added lots of sugar and salt and created Postum, the breakfast drink (overly roasted barley grain), Grape-Nuts and Post Toasties.

Not to be topped, John Harvey Kellogg’s brother, W.K. was not as religious, so he started sugaring up his brother’s “health food” so he could compete with C.W. Post! It worked. It made WK rich. This all began while John Harvey was on a mission trip to Europe.

WK breaking John Harvey’s rules led to them becoming estranged until shortly before their deaths. WK was making a whole lot of money.  The Battle Creek Sanitarium burned down in 1902. It was partly rebuilt but economically suffered in the Great Depression and became outdated due to modern antibiotics, psychiatric drugs  and medical care techniques and was eventually sold to the Army as a Hospital in World War Two.

But this was not the only quasi-religious and cultic nutritional approach!

Webster Edgerly, under the name Everett Ralston, published a 1900 edition of The Book of General Membership of the Ralston Health Club.  The name RALSTON came from Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen and Nature. Edgerly was also a racist. He promoted a superior race, based on Caucasians, and free from “impurities”. He advocated the castration of all “anti-racial” (non-Caucasian) males at birth.   Watermelons were supposed to be poisonous to Caucasians.  I am only telling you the historical facts. You will never feed your dog Puppy Chow again, will you?

Edgerly joined forces with William Danforth, of Purina Food Company, to take the name Ralston Purina Company. It made whole-wheat cereal that Ralstonites were to consume. Thus, the food company Edgerly founded evolved into what is now called Ralston Purina (Ralcorp) and was the original owner of the cereal brands Chex.

I will bet you never knew the connection of magic and breakfast cereals. With advertising and the consumer economy, much of this history has been lost!



I have to hand it to Dan Stapleton. He has the unique ability to dig into old books and recover what had been old chestnuts from bygone days and revive them and make them the foolers they used to be. At the last meeting he performed the O’Henry Card Trick. It is a self-working stunner. I could kick myself for dropping it out of my arsenal 40 years ago. What always made the trick so great was that what you think you saw is so much greater than what really happened and your mind is incapable of reverse engineering the procedure.

Let me help you out. Here is a link to a free site where the O’Henry Trick is explained, as well as dozens of others.  Bookmark it and look there.  There is magic gold buried on those free webpages!












Tommy Trent

The caption says:      To  Dennis! A refreshing young magician. You’re great!!

                                     Always your friend.

                                     Tommy Trent


The Tommy Trent “Punch and Judy” Routine

I met Tommy Trent during the Christmas Holidays in 1977. I was hired to work with him doing family-children’s shows for the employees at the Harris Company in Palm Bay, Florida.  My agent was Burton Van Dusen, an old vaudeville agent who was semi-retired and lived in Lake County.  Tommy had done the shows for years for the Harris Christmas Party but they had gone through a series of other acts and magicians and had not been pleased with them until Tommy and I became their team for the next 4 years. When variety shows faded in the early1960s Tommy became a draftsman. He would come up from Miami Beach for the show day.  We did six performances on the Saturday before Christmas.

When I first met him, I had no idea how famous Tommy was. He had been a top headliner at Radio City Music Hall and had appeared in the early 1950s on the Ed Sullivan Show with his “Punch and Judy” act.   Later, I was able to see his Sullivan act and Trent had definitely evolved his puppet’s personalities and modernized them.

Trent’s “Punch” during the 1970s was a mischievous immature child who was playing like an adult. Tommy no longer used a mouth swizzle.  Trent’s normal voice was naturally nasal and immature and sounded like Charlie McCarthy. Tommy just added a little more juvenile vocal tones for his Punch character.   Punch was playful and a big tease for the children. The classic violence was downplayed. The Baby became a baby doll and the slapstick was called a baseball bat. Punch was not a bully but a tease using ridicule and sarcasm.

Trent’s puppet stage was a 3 fold screen that was painted to look like a small house with 2 curtained windows below and a chimney. The puppets could poke their heads out of the 2 windows or come up on the flat roof or come up through the chimney.

Trent ad-libbed a lot when talking to the kids. Every year he would have a different set of puns and topical humor.  He would open the Christmas show with a 2 or 3 minute monologue out front and then go behind the stage.

In the early 90s, I called Jay Marshall in Chicago to ask about some magic props and I mentioned the name Tommy Trent. Jay asked, “Did you know Tommy Trent”?  I said, “Yes, I worked with him for a few years.”  Jay said, “Please tell me that you have a tape of his act.”  I said, “No, but I know it by heart”. Jay said, “Please write it down!”

Here now is Tommy’s basic routine as I remember it from the late 1970s and as I have performed it.


The Routine:

Punch: (pops up)   Oh!

(Looks around- shakes and looks some more as if he can not believe what he is seeing)

Oh! Hello boys and girls.

(Pauses and then says in a loud voice)


(Repeats again slower and louder)


That’s better!  Now… always let me know that you are out there.

We are going to have a lot of fun playing together.

Open up your eyes really wide (rubs fingers on head and then jerks to attention)

Oooba Oooba    that’s good!

Now open up your ears really big (again rubs fingers on head while shaking and says)

Arrrga   Arrga  Arrga   Ahhhh rump!  (And jerks to attention)

(Reaches down and grabs his slap stick)

I’ve got my stick and I am ready to play ball.  (Swings stick like a ball player)

Wee. Strike one!   (Swings again very overt and wildly swings 4 or 5 times)

(Judy comes up on the left but Punch does not see her. The kids will scream)

Strike two!  !   (Swings again very overt and wildly swings 4 or 5 times)

Judy:  You’re out!  (Judy pops up and ducks down)

Punch:  Who said that?   (Looks at audience)

Did you say that? Did you see someone boys and girls?

Judy pops up but Punch is looking to the right- bits of business with her popping up and the kids screaming at Punch to look at her as she pops down)

Ohhhkay.  Back to the game.  Wee… whooo.

(Punch swings the stick a couple of times and Judy pops up and grabs the stick and whacks him 5 or 6 times)

Judy: Hee hee hee,  Home run!  I win!

Punch:  Judy!  My wife! I love you Judy!

(Punch drops stick and grabs Judy and bends her over side ways kissing her all over with loud smooches- rocking back and forth and ending up pinning her to the stage. She tries to get away but he grabs her back)

Punch: What a heavy kisser!

(Judy finally breaks away and spits several time)

Judy: Tuh Tuh Puft Puft… Yuk!   Punch, I have to go shopping and I need you to take care of my doll baby.

Punch: The baby! The stinky little baby!  Pee-u!

(Judy brings up the baby and hands it to Punch)

Judy: You be nice to my baby.

Punch: (sarcastically) Oh, I’ll take care of the baby.

Judy: Bye bye. Have fun (Judy drops down)

(Punch swings baby wildly from side to side)

Punch: (sings) Rock-a-bye-baby on the tree top.

Go to sleep. Go to sleep, kid.

(Baby screams)

Wooooo ahhhhh!

Punch: Shaddd-up!

(bangs baby against the  stage a few times)

(Baby screams)

Wooooo ahhhhh!

Punch: Shaddd-up!

(bangs baby on the stage a few more times)

(Judy pops back up)

Judy: How dare you mistreat my baby!  Give me my baby!

(Punch holds on to the head while Judy pulls on the body- The baby has a stretchable rubber neck made from the rubber tubing on a shark gun)

Judy: Give me my baby!

(Neck stretches out long with rocking and pulling by Judy with the body)

Punch: You want the baby?  Do you really want the baby?

Judy: Give—me—my—baby!

Punch: You can have him!

(Punch lets go of the head and the head flies back knocking Judy and the baby down and off the set)

Punch: Ha Ha!  Got rid of the stinky little baby!

(you will need to fill a little time while changing your hands in the puppets. Move punch from side to side as if looking for something and talking to the audience at the same time. This is the standard filler)

Punch: Root-ee Toot-ee Toot-eee. Who else do I see? Do you see anyone?

Ghost comes up behind Punch alternating from the left to the right side without Punch seeing him. Ghost hold out hands making a spooky sound)

Ghost:  Oooo Oooo Oooo

(Kids scream at Punch)

Punch: What is it?  Who? Where?

Ghost:  Oooo Oooo Oooo

(Do bits of business with Punch looking one way and ghost going on the other side. Finally the ghost and Punch come face to face)

Punch:  Yikes! (Shakes with fear)

Who are you?

Ghost: Ooooo  Ooooo

(Punch gets up courage and becomes sassy)

Punch:  You don’t say much, do you?

(Ghost gets angry and speaks louder)

Ghost: Ooooo  Oooooo!

Punch: You lost a lot of weight, Skinny. You need to eat better! You look really pale.

You need a little meat on those bones.

Ghost: Huhh?  (Does a double take to the audience then turn in anger to Punch)

(Even louder, holds out hands)


(Punch looks at the audience, laughs, goes down and returns with slap stick)

Ghost:  Oooo Oooo Ooooo Ooooo?  ( voice gets weaker and with a kind of up inflection as if he is asking the question if Punch is scared)

(Punch beats down Ghost and looks down)

Punch: Go wash your sheets, use lot’s of bleach!  Ha ha!  I took care of him didn’t I,

boys and girls?  (Looks down and yells) Find somebody else to scare!  Ha ha.

Root-ee Toot-ee Toot-eee. Who else do I see? Do you see anyone?

(Devil comes up behind Punch- same bits of business with kids yelling and Punch looking in the wrong direction. Finally they come face to face)

Punch: Oh!

(Devil with deep slow evil voice)

Devil: Mr. Punch, I have come for you!

Punch: You are really red! You have good sunburn!

Devil: No, I have a BAD sunburn!

Punch: Huh? (pause) (Does a double take to the audience) I guess that makes sense.

Devil:  Mr. Punch, I have come to take you down, down down

(moves down as he says this)

Punch: I don’t wanna go down down down. I wanna go up up up

(For this bit both puppets are moving together up and then down)

Devil:  Down Down Down!

Punch: Up Up Up!

Devil:  Down Down Down!

Punch: Up Up Up!

(Punch takes slap stick)

Devil: I have come for YOU Mr. Punch!

(Smacks devil down)

Punch: Oh yea! Now you can go for me!  Down (smack) Down (smack) Down (smack)

Root-ee Toot-ee Toot-eee. Who else do I see? Do you see anyone?

(Dog, Toby, pops up on side of the stage with Punch on the opposite side and runs , like a dog, in bouncing movements over to Punch while panting and jumps on him and bends him over like Punch did to Judy earlier)

Toby: Arf..Arf…Arf…

(panting and breathing and licking Punch with a very wet  slopping licking sound)

Schu-loff  Schu-loff

Punch: It’s my dog, Toby. Go away dog. Down Boy, Down

(continues licking and pinning down Punch who can not escape much as he did to Judy earlier)

Wow! What a heavy kisser!

(Toby breaks it off and stands upright center stage and whines)

Punch:  Whatsa matter boy, gotta go outside for a walk?

Toby: (nods yes about 5 or six times and says)  Uhh Huh!

Punch: Go do your duty! (Toby goes down behind set)

(the fir-covered leg of the squirt-gun comes up and you squirt it a half dozen times so that water sprays out over the audience!)

Aim for the tree. Be careful where you go!  Peee U  (The kids will scream!)

(Dog barks and sound gets weaker as Punch looks down)

Root-ee Toot-ee Toot-eee. Who else do I see? Do you see anyone?

(Skunk pops up on left facing Punch- kids will scream)

Punch: Oh, look boys and girls, its pussy cat! (Kids will scream that it is a skunk)

Punch: No boys and girls it’s a pussy cat!  Nice kitty kitty, nice pussy pussy cat!

(Punch vigorously pets skunk against the fur grain- so much so that it would hurt a real animal)

Punch: Pussycat, you have bad breath!

(Kids will keep screaming as the skunk slowly turns around so the tail is facing Punch. Punch looks right onto his back side)

Punch: Oh Pussy cat! This side doesn’t smell good either!

(Punch grabs his slap stick)

Punch: Shall we send him away too?

(Takes practice swings with the stick while counting)

Punch: Uh One…uh Two… uh

(skunk squirts out 3 or 4  puffs of powder from the tail)

Punch: (spits and coughs)  Ah choo pst pst yuk!  He is a real stinker! Chanel #5.

Root-ee Toot-ee Toot-eee. Who else do I see? Do you see anyone?

( small cute alligator pops up surprising Punch)

Punch: Who are you, Greenie?

Alligator: I want to be your friend.

Punch: You are green and ugly and have a long face.

(The cute alligator slumps on the stage and cries and acts sad)

Alligator: You hurt my feelings.  Boo Hoo.

Punch: That’s not all I can hurt. (Lowers down to get slap stick)

Alligator:  You’re a mean man, Mr. Punch.

(Punch beats down the Alligator as it cries)

You are a mean man. I am going to get my big brother on you.

Punch: I am not afraid of your big brother!  Go get him. I can take care of him too!

I am not scared of his big brother. I have my stick.  See my schtick?

(Just the tip of the nose of the long alligator just peeks up from below and the nostrils look like the eyes of an even smaller Alligator)

Who is this?  Ha. This is your big brother?

(Punch grabs slap stick as if to hit the small nose. As he turns away to wind up for the swing, you thrust out the entire large alligator -20 inch mouth!-with the huge mouth open toward the audience. The kids will scream but Punch is looking the other way. You lay the mouth open on the stage and Punch goes right into it looking on that side of the stage while the mouth stays open.)

Punch: I don’t see anything. Where did he go? Where is that little brother? I can take care of him!

(Punch then moves to the other side of the stage as the huge mouth snaps closed with Punch avoiding getting bitten. The kids will scream)

Is he over here? Where is he?

(The mouth opens again and Punch goes inside looking off the corner of the stage)

Where is he?

(Keep playing this bit a few times more and the kids will scream. Finally Punch sees the open mouth and plays with it. Going in and going out as it snaps closed and opens)

Punch: Wheee.  This is fun!

(Punch finally turns the stick up on its end and wedges the mouth open and dances around the stick through the open mouth.)


At this point you keep the puppets in this configuration and walk out from behind the set and show them it is just you and the puppets and take a bow.


Tommy’s Punch and Judy set can be seen upstage from my props.










This photo was made in December of 1978 at The Harris Company

in Palm Bay, Florida.  Tommy and I was their Christmas entertainment. He did 6 shows to accommodate all the children of the employees.   My assistant is Debbie Abraham.

The photo was made by Cecil Stoughton who was John F. Kennedy’s White House Photographer. He took the famous photo of Lyndon Johnson being sworn in on Air Force One after the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.  He left Washington and was the photographer for the Harris Corporation.

My Punch and Judy set and stage: Puppets made by my wife Cindy Phillips. Cindy was an Elementary School teacher.   I made the set.  This is a photo of Cindy and me in 1972.

























Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Leave a comment

New Ring 170 President, Michael Matson for 2018

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

January 2018  Meeting

 Mike Matson, our new Ring President  for 2018 opened the January meeting. Mike is an active fulltime professional. We had 30 people present.  After a brief introduction, our special guest lecturer, Michael Eaton, was introduced. Michael now lives in the Orlando area but also lived in Kentucky. A magic friend made the trip to Orlando just to see Michael’s lecture. Eaton had spent a lot of time in Orlando, a few years back, doing crowd magic for The Orlando Magic NBA Basketball team.

Michael opened with some great sponge ball magic. Several moves were baffling such as his retention vanish technique and an amazing “transfer move” using a heel clip so that one ball becomes two.  He followed up with a “3 Coins Across” effect and again clever moves such as the “French Pop” as opposed to the French Drop.   He showed some simple , yet effective way of using a Sharpie for adding a wax blob to a card for the “Card on the Ceiling” effect.

More card effects continued, with a 4 ace production, his version of “The Gathering” and a clever “Card in Mouth” using a double short card.

He concluded with an Anniversary Waltz type effect called “Opposites Attack”.

His lecture was well appreciated and recommended.

Dennis Phillips.





Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

February 2018

“O tempora o mores”


Congratulations to our new Ring president, Michael Matson, and all our board members.

A special thanks to Craig Schwarz for his many terms as Ring President. That job is not easy and requires lots of work and social skills. He will continue on with us and generously lend us his time and talents.

I am honored again to be your humble but verbose scribe for the Ring for 2018.

As many of you know, journalism and communications has been a vital component of my 70 years on earth.

During my 5 year sojourn to Virginia (2009-2014) after 10 years as Ring Secretary here, I assumed the same duties at Ring 320 in Staunton, Va.

And then on my return in 2014, you trusted me again with the duties here at Ring 170.

I have worked in print journalism ( was a Star Letter Writer for The Orlando Sentinel) as well as working in TV and radio broadcasting . My major job during my recent time in Virginia was as a radio news anchor.























Here we go again…

David Copperfield accused of drugging, assaulting model when she was 17






On Wednesday, David Copperfield preemptively released a statement saying he supports the Me Too movement but cautioned against rushing to judgment about false allegations.

Shortly after, a new, decades-old sexual assault claim broke against the famed illusionist.

According to The Wrap, aspiring model Brittney Lewis, then 17, was drugged and sexually assaulted by Copperfield in 1988.

The alleged assault happened after she competed in a modeling contest in which Copperfield was a judge, The Wrap reports.

Copperfield, then 32, invited her to a show in California and later poured something into her drink in a bar. Lewis says she blacked out, but remembers him taking off her clothing and performing sexual acts on her in a hotel room.

Lewis’ story was corroborated by The Wrap with her grandmother, best friend from high school, husband and ex-husband. Lewis said she reported her claims to the FBI in 2007 and is not seeking a financial settlement.

A representative for Copperfield had no comment, but earlier Wednesday the 61-year-old illusionist posted a long statement to Twitter, calling the Me Too movement “crucial and long overdue. We all want people who feel they’ve been victims of sexual misconduct to be empowered, and as a rule we should listen, so more will feel comfortable coming forward.  It’s important.”

We have not heard from Chris Kenner (Copperfield’s head producer-writer), but I would guess that Copperfield’s “Panty Exchange” Trick is no longer in his show. Seriously, he used to do the trick! It was never one of my favorites.



The late Fantasio (born Ricardo Francisco Roucau in Argentina in 1936) said that he got the idea for his plastic candles from the “material”, (not the basic metal coil method that Walsh and others used)  from the old roll up plastic dividers they used years ago to stack 6 packs of soft drinks in grocery stores. As a row of drinks was sold the plastic spooled back. He tracked down the manufacturer of the racks and started making vanishing candles.

When I was a kid, I made my vanishing candles out of adding-machine paper and just taped a white birthday candle on top. A sprinkle of talcum powder helped it close fast.  I even used to do a Moebius Strip “Afghan Bands” Paper Cutting in the same show and no one was the wiser.

I was told that the original idea of a collapsing pole using a paper coil came from the Chinese. You can still buy it at toy counters such as at Cracker Barrel and it’s called a “Chinese Yoyo”, It has a short stick in it so you flip it open and it recoils.

Here is some engineering information on metal and plastic coils:

I was also told that Russ Walsh originally used the same high carbon steel that Gillette used to stamp out their safety razor blades.   Not to get too technical, but there is a thing in metallurgy engineering called the “Rockwell Hardness Scale”

and maintaining that and tempering the spring in the steel is a process that I won’t bother to bore you with.  Heating ferric metal anneals it.

I spent lots of time in “steel country” around Pittsburgh and could rattled on for hours about metallurgy. Jack Gwynn also worked in a steel  mill in Bradford, Pa.  near Pittsburgh.

I also dealt with plastic molding and fabrication ( as Bev’s son did) when I had my costume manufacturing business.  I relied on Rohm and Hass for plastic supplies ( now a part of Dow Chemical) and had them provide my molding sheets which made to my percentage specs for flexibility/hardness and memory (ABS)


The first guy says tricks on YouTube are going to ruin magic, then the second guy says it’s nothing to worry about. ( I love the coin penetration through the cup…).

I do not believe that any exposure hurts magic.   Anyone with an internet connection can always find out how tricks work.  At least enough to do magic if they want.  Books, Videos, etc. You can buy any illusion plans from Michelle Osborne(Paul’s Widow) and many other outlets.

Sure… You Tube makes it easy to instantly Google the secrets. But the vast majority of people simply do not care.  They know it is a trick, enjoy it and move on.  It is like Special Effects in a Movie. Some zealots want to know all the secrets of Movie Magic.

If anything, the ease of learning magic builds more hobbyists and today that means walk-around and close up.  That seems to be a growing area, especially with kids.  Prop and Stage magic is all but dead.

Magic appeals to a certain class of people… It will never be mass appeal. Not even Copperfield ,Henning, Angel and Blaine were ever totally respected mass entertainment stars.  No one would ridicule a singing star like they did all four of these people from the beginning!

There is something bizarre about magic anyway. Not everyone cares.

I learned at age 20 to never tell a girl , who I wanted to go out with , that I was a magician/ ventriloquist/radio DJ.     My wife ,of 46 years, was  a kindergarten teacher. She  did know that I was a Radio DJ on an EZ listening music station and on a TV weatherman when I first met her.  That was impossible to hide in a small town in 1971 with only two TV stations.

Only after a couple of dates  did I volunteer the information that I was a kid’s magician and did ventriloquism.  Her first response was, ” You will have to come to my school and do a show!”  Perhaps never had a magic show been so vital to a personal relationship.   After the show, with all the hooting and hollering (” turn it around”)  and my silly jokes, her fellow female kindergarten teachers said, “Keep him! He’s a winner”.      Probably, I would have never gotten to first base with her, if she has not been an elementary school teacher.

Time and time again, magic has been exposed.  Every major illusion method has been shown on  FOX TV and rerun on  the 30 or so, “Masked Magician” programs. Today 25 years later they still can be down loaded on You Tube.   Has that killed illusion shows?  No. It isn’t the “exposure” that killed illusion shows, it is the lack of venues, the increase of digital special effects and the competition for eyes on  social media and the Internet.

Every new technology goes to excess and is very experimental at first. The internet is still in its infancy.

I think the novelty will wear off and new technological (point to point private) will become more of the norm.

The reason will be cost of bandwidth. Already the US is moving away from Net Neutrality and that will limit a lot of free You Tube.

The real change will be where knowledge is so ubiquitous that “no one will care”.  Magical entertainment will transition into something where only the unique and talented and get an audience. So all the magicians with just boxes, glitzy assistants and smoke and lights will go away.. All that was a late 20th Century fad anyway.  It was built on the dying days of network TV and the excess consumer cash , prior to the Great Recession, that allowed middle class families to go to Las Vegas and sail on Cruise ships as well as see anything of cable TV.

I am not hopeful that those economic situations will return to the Americas, if ever. The United States is headed into a new Feudalism  (Few Rich owners and many poor working peasants) all maintained by a Neo- Superstitious cultural mindset and a coming succession of failed political Messiahs.   Pessimistically, we could just wallow along for centuries this way until we are drowned in sea-level rise or nuclear fire. Or we could wise up and try to build a global Middle Class of consumers.

I think that there will always be a place for magic. It will probably return formally as a “wealthy” person’s entertainment. The poor will muddle along with folk street-corner close up tricks and whatever they can get on television outlets.

The Internet effect should be the last thing magicians worry about…

Dennis Phillips



Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Comments Off on New Ring 170 President, Michael Matson for 2018

Holiday Party and Fun

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

December 2017  Meeting

President Craig Schwarz gaveled the December Holiday meeting to order. We had 38 people attending. The only official business was to elect a new yearly board in accordance to our state corporate charter. Outgoing president Schwarz opened the floor for nominations after reading the nominating slate by the board. There were no nominations from the floor.  Bev Bergeron made a motion that the slate be approved. Phil Schwartz seconded and the vote was taken. Here are the new and returning  elected board members for 2018: President – Mike Matson, Vice President – Craig Fennessy ,Treasurer – Bev & Alouise Bergeron, Secretary – Dennis Phillips, Sargent of Arms – Chris Dunn.  Schwarz also made a motion to establish the non-voting Committee several positions. It was seconded and approved:  Chairman of the annual Ring Day of Magic and Webmaster. Schwarz will take that position. Financial  Assistant to Bev and Alouise, Josh Arroyo and Lecture Chairmen, Craig Fennessy and Jimmy Ichihana. At the conclusion of the business meeting , outgoing President Craig Schwarz passed the gavel to new president Mike Matson. The gavel had the date June 5,1962 which was the date of the Ring formation and used by the first President, the late, Don Masters.  The entire FAME group thanks Craig Schwarz for his years as President and for all of his efforts to make us a great magic group.

We also collected funds for Carrie, who was our hard working IHOP waitress for many years of club activities. She is moving to Tennessee and we wanted to give her a great send off.

Jacki Manna returned again as the lively emcee and  featured entertainer for our party fun.  Jacki had three fun activities: The first was a gift wrapping contest, where teams of 4 competed to see who could gift wrap the most boxes in the fastest allotted time. The second was our annual gift exchange where everyone brought a gift and drew numbers to exchange this. This year some excitement was added by also rolling dice to create for excitement and less certainty in the exchange.

Finally, Jacki invited everyone to play a Magic Trivia game. The questions contained a lot of magic history and Phil Schwartz , our resident magic historian and Bev Bergeron were standouts with answers.   Jacki made it all fun. It was a great evening for all.

Dennis Phillips





Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

January 2018

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin

Remember: Steve Martin never said, “Be so original they can’t ignore you.” We know the source of the trick this guy does, and it’s done by a lot of magicians. The Beatles did everyone else’s hits when they started out (their first album is full of them) — and still they climbed out of obscurity to become great and later “original” (with the help of George Martin)

One tiny bump in the road: You’ll notice when the guy accidentally left one card on the table, he had to fan through the cards and cut to the right place to put the tabled card back. A good sleight of hand worker has more courage than a naked guy swimming through a tank full of hungry piranhas….

Don’t you think that any reasonably intelligent KNOWS it is done with a stacked deck?

Yes, this is a clever variation and done well.

I did a close-up gig years ago after Bill Malone had popularized “Sam the Bellhop” and at the gig one of the other magicians was doing “Sam the Bellhop”… He did it well. The ONLY comments I heard was about how “cute” the story was and how “The guy is great at setting up the cards”… They did not know how or anything about false cuts but they intuitively knew it had to be done with a stacked deck.

Years ago, when I was using a stacked deck in a trick for lay men at conventions, , I would just ask the people at the table, “Have you see a guy named Sy Stebbins at this convention?” They would say, “No” and I would say, “I want to give him back this deck that I borrowed from him. This is a borrowed deck.”  Once I did have a magician come up and tell me that he about fell over laughing when I pulled that line.”


I rarely get into the topic of Hypnotism, but here goes:

First watch this video:


I over the years I have been  friends with several guys who have done stage Hypno acts. Paul Royter has been a friend for 45 years and his mentor was Peter Reveen.

And yes, up until the 1980s, I did a Hypno act, as another of  my Variety offerings.  I cut way back and eventually ended because of Liability Insurance costs and limited venues. It has been increasingly difficult since the mid 80s to get booked… And now, it is almost impossible. Why?

Much of America has drifted into an irrational superstitious and anti-science mindset , especially in the rural areas, and the Fair markets ( mostly in rural areas) dried up and that was about all there was in terms of venues. High School Proms used to be big and a lot of fun but School Boards stopped that due to parental complaints and lawsuits.

Hypnotism is basically “crowd and individual manipulation” The individual participant wants to please the crowd and the performer.  The  technique seems identical to a modern religious Faith-healer. I don’t want to set anyone off here on a fight over religion. Certainly the mysteries in life and our experiences and convictions, both individually and communally should be respected.  My purpose in writing is only for analysis and comment and not a comment or criticism of religion or anyone’s belief of causality or authenticity. I am a man of faith and active in my church.

I grew up watching Faith-healers so I thoroughly know their manipulative techniques and the amusement value.

The whole performance begins with “Expectations”… The Faith Healer says, “Expect a Miracle!”.   The hypnotist says:  “Expect to see people prance like chickens and talk to their shoes like they are kitty-cats and act like their pants are on fire! ….

The hypnotist need banners, posters and a line of pre-event hype about how great he is. Loads of publicity pictures of people slumped over in a lines of chairs.  Remember “Expectations!”

The show event begins with 20 minutes of loud pop rock music… with frequent announcements calling for volunteers to help. “It will be fun! We need some of you to come up who wants to have fun. The experience of a lifetime!” In the case of Faith-healers, it is religious music from lively to somber and a call for the congregations to be in prayer and expectation.

You bring up 12 to 18 people to sit in the chairs and you begin the “induction” , which is simply finding out who is going to play along, listen to directions and be your most active and energetic volunteers. In a Faith healing service, they line up in wheel chairs and with walkers and canes hours before the service in desperation for a miracle.

As you do the induction exercises (I did between 8 to 10 demonstrations), you winnow down the people and send those unsuitable back to their seats.  On the TED talk video,  the girl that failed, next to the guy on the end would be sent back by me , unless , as in this case, the guy was her boyfriend and he left her up on stage to egg him on.  I did that occasionally but I did not like anyone on stage who I was not controlling.

You then rationalize away and dismiss those who don’t  cooperate…. They go back to their seat. You dismiss them by thanking them for being good sports.

If you are a faith-healer, those who do not “get their miracle” simply lack enough faith to claim it. The problem is their faith and not the basic premise. In my thinking that is emotionally devastating to the sick and dying person and reduces healing their sickness and sorrow to the level of a crass Carnival  Sideshow or Hypnotism Act.  It the worst case it delays or stops proper medical care.

After you get down to between 3 to 6 really good cooperative people, you go on with the silly and humorous  exercises and demonstrations.

All the words you use are identical to a Faith Healer… minus the theological part and demonstrable permanent cure.

Here is the bottom line: In my opinion , after dozens of shows… Stage Hypnotism is an emotional/ imaginative state of hyper-suggestionYou get them focused and simply command then to follow directions.

I am not attacking anyone’s religion. I actually believe that some people do find relief from pain and psychosomatic sickness and , in some cases, the emotional state can lead to bodily healing. I will leave pronouncements of a supernatural causality to others and their faith. Endorphins (contracted from “endogenous morphine”) are power natural substances. We do not fully understand the connections of influence between mind and body. Look at an printed paper insert that comes with medication and read the statistical double-blind test results. By Federal law the results of taking the drug must be better than a placebo but sometimes not by much! That is why some drugs are removed from the market. In a cost to benefits analysis, the drug’s helpfulness does not statistically outweigh its side-effects.

Hypnotism for smoking cessation, removing phobias, giving up illegal drugs and weight loss does work, for some. So does religious faith! Again, it is allowing the hypnotist to manipulate the patient toward positive thoughts and behavior. There is a close parallel between Hypnotism and faith healing and that may be why all faith-healers are against any form of hypnotism. Often, psychologically an addictive personality merely substitutes a less harmful addiction for another one. It like the old joke: “I finally gave up cigarettes! I joined smoker’s anonymous. Now every time I crave a cigarette, I call up a fellow member and they come over and have a drink with me!” .


Speaking of Smoking. I hope no one reading this does:

Chuck Windley once joked with me  many years ago and told me: “When I came back from South America in 1979 I decided to cut down to one cigarette a day. So far, I have been successful. This morning I had my cigarette for July 14, 2329.”

Charles “Chuck” Windley died of cancer last week at age 75.  The young Chuck pictured was 20 years old and the old Chuck was 75.









I have known “Chuck” since 1958. That is almost 60 years! (He detested the name Chuck after he reached middle age, and insisted on being called Charles)  We both grew up together in Norfolk, Virginia.  I was there because my father was in the Navy.  Norfolk produced some big names in Magic. Bob McAllister, a Norfolk native and then of New York TV’s Wonderama fame. Dick Oslund, Mike Rogers and others came through with the Navy.  The center of magic was Earl Edward’s Magic shop. That was where I was introduced magic.


Charles worked behind the counter, as a High School kid. I was 6 years younger than him and with me being 10 and him being 16, there is a world of difference in maturity.  To Chuck, I was always the pesky little kid, even the last time I talked to him at my age current age of 69, he still pulled rank with age. But it was a warm friendship and I appreciated having him as an old brother in magic. I still remember holding his derby for him in his 1960 act at Virginia Beach’s “Frontier City”, a Western themed amusement park. Our paths kept bumping into each other over the years and we never lost touch. He was off to New York and Hubert’s Dime Museum and worked as a side-kick to “Congo The Jungle Creep” and did magic.  I moved with my family to Pennsylvania, in 1963 to finish High School.

He found a wife, Sher-lee and had an instant family. She had two photogenic teenage daughters. At 20 he married, Sher-lee an older ,and gorgeous mid-30s, mature woman (pictured holding the dove) and she managed their show. Al Cohen, of Washington, D.C. Magic Shop fame was his accountant. Few know that Al Cohen is also a skilled book-keeper and accountant.  He then had a daughter with Sher-lee and after some early 60s work playing side shows and Circuses, he settled down with Sher-lee to a Mid Atlantic School Show Route and summer amusement park gigs. He did well with it,  enough so that Chuck bought a nice suburban home in Bel-Air at Bowie, Maryland just outside of Washington, DC.  Chuck always lacked all concepts of managing money, but good luck shined on him

Chuck lived about a block and a half from me during my college years from 1967 to 1971. So, I was frequently over at his house building, repairing and maintaining his props.  In the Summer I would watch his house while he did a month or two at amusement parks.


The summer of 1968, he had a gig at Charlie Wood’s Gaslight Village in Lake George, New York. It could arguably be called America’s first East Coast theme park, preceding Disneyworld. Knotts Berry Farm in California was before Disney World. He wanted to do the Ducks from a Tub and Where do the Ducks Go.  It is a classic routine and I recalled seeing Joe Smiley perform it. So I set about making the props for him.  I kept telling him he needed two ducks and should practice.  The props were finished, and I was using throw pillows for ducks. I also made a wooden crate to carry the ducks. He loved the props. Still no ducks. Finally, the night before he was going to leave for New York with his Econoline Van towing his travel trailer, he realized that he needed ducks! Baltimore Ed Sparrow was visiting Chuck and Sher-lee and Ed had his wife and family with him. It was a good-bye party for the Windley’s.  At 9 pm Chuck looks at Ed and says, “I need two ducks!” Ed and he had been also having a slow and enjoyable conversation with Jack Daniels and Jim Beam.  So, Chuck and Ed pile into the Van and go looking for ducks.  The hours roll by and Ed’s wife and Sher-lee are in a panic at 3 am when they were still gone. Finally, close to 4am the van pulls in and out stumbles Ed and Chuck soaking wet.

According to them, they searched every pond for miles in Maryland and eventually ended up at the Pentagon which had a lagoon nearby.  There they tried in vain to catch two ducks. They even found an all-night grocery store and bought a loaf of bread as bait. Finally, they lured two ducks but they had to jump in the water to catch them. Stop and think, the only ducks that you can get close enough to are the friendliest ducks and because they are used to being fed by people, the result is that they are the fattest. They had stolen two of the fattest ducks I have ever seen and had been chased by the Pentagon police who  thought they were two Russian spies . But, they were just  two drunks in a green Falcon Econoline van with a couple of quacking ducks in the back. The van had been trailing smoke from burning oil rings all around the Pentagon parking lot .Chuck ran the engine on half STP and half oil.  No Russian spies would leave a smoke trail.

So Ed and his kids stayed over for the night to see the Windley’s off in a few hours. Chuck told me later that Saida, his daughter by Sher-lee, caught the chicken pox that night from one of Ed’s kids.

About the time that I graduated from college in 1971 and moved to Roanoke, Va. to work in Television, Chuck and Sher-lee broke up. I am not sure if she just wanted more financial security. Her new husband owned several profitable gas stations in the Bowie area.  Once I asked her what drew her to Chuck and show business and she said, “I guess I was just a bored housewife”. Chuck said the blended families of Sher-lee and her new husband became “the new Brady Bunch thing”.

I think that Sher-lee got the equity from the house when it was sold and Chuck ended up doing some cruise ships and managing and owning a magic bar in Miami.  When I moved to Charlotte from Roanoke (1972), Chuck moved back to Virginia and Roanoke! He married Liza (standing next to the fire in Chuck’s hand). He found his way 2 years later to Charlotte, where I was living and went to work with Phil Morris on one of Phil’s touring shows.

I moved to Florida in 1975 and opened up a costume shop which I owned for 34 years. Chuck moved back to Norfolk where Liza sadly died young of an illness leaving him a widower. He never emotionally recovered from it. She really was his one soul mate. In the mid 1980’s he opened up a magic and costume shop and absorbed the old Earl Edwards Magic shop and later expanded to another satellite store in Virginia Beach.  Again, he found a great and organized woman to run the stores. They did not get married.  Eventually in the late 90s most costume business migrated to seasonal super stores and that spelled the end of local year around costume stores as well as brick and mortar magic shops, so Chuck began the slow process of divesting himself of his magic stock from a warehouse in Norfolk for a few years.

Age caught up with him and he began to write his memoirs. His step-father was wealthy, and Chuck inherited an income from rental properties in Washington, in his later years. His step dad (Said Hadad married Betty, Chuck’s Mom ) owned ABC Demolition Company ,was a legend in the demolition business and the prime contractor for government demolition in D.C. and was the company that cleared the rubble from the 1968 King Assassination riots in Washington.

In his time in New York in the early 60s Chuck had helped Chang as well as Bill Neff. I put Bill Rauscher in contact with Chuck while Bill was writing the book on Neff, “Pleasant Nightmares”. I am also mentioned in the book because Neff was from near where my relatives lived in Indiana, Pennsylvania and my uncle, a Teamsters Union worker, in New York knew Bill and Evelyn when they lived in Manhattan and lived in a hotel in the 50s, and very early 60s. My uncle sneaked me into one of Neff’s shows in the late 50s and I had never seen such sights. I was probably a little too young to see women dressed the way Neff’s assistants were. But at that age, the magic was all that I wanted to see.

I will let history and others sort out just who was Neff’s successor. Both Chuck and Roy Huston claimed to be. Certainly, Neff influenced Chuck and you can see Chuck’s version of the Neff (Sherms-built) Upright Noma Blade Box below.  I believe that Roy Huston had hopes that he would become Neff’s successor and did manage to salvage the old Neff truck with the much of the gear from a Manhattan parking lot. But at that point Neff was back in Indiana in poor health existing in a perpetual alcohol stupor. Chuck seemed to be only the loyal stage manager but he did preserve many elements form Neff’s show, which Huston did not: The Haunted House of Drury Lane, a Sherms Broom suspension, the Neff Rope trick and Pigeon Catching and the Duck Routine.

At one point in 1966 to 1968, Chuck drove an emerald green Econoline van, and kept around several matching gallons of green paint.  I painted all his wooden crates, that I made, with that green paint and cut a “Windley” and IATSE stencil and stenciled them in black and white. He would say to stage crews: “The green crates go in the green truck! “Chuck said the color was from Fu Manchu’s show (David Bamberg) and the reason for the logo for IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees , Union) was to please the union help! They would see the logo and treat him and his props with extra care. He said that many times the logo prevented problems with locals.

I am getting to the age where I know far more dead people than living. I recently lost Phil Morris and earlier Bob McAllister and so many others. These friends still live in my memories and I hope my stories have kept them alive for you. History is a living thing and if you know more than I do or can correct my memory, please do.








Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Comments Off on Holiday Party and Fun