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alt.magic FAQ part 1/4

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Frequently asked questions in alt.magic/part1 (of 4)

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Last modified: Tue Dec  2 12:40:34 EST 1997

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This section lists what's new or modified in the FAQ this month....

1. Reorganized video section to match book topics.  Additional titles

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4



alt.magic is a public newsgroup with an estimated readership of 41,000+
ALL postings should be made with this in mind.

Q) What is the purpose of this group?
A) This group is for the discussion of magic as entertainment, including
   but not limited to close-up, sleight of hand, platform, stage, and
   illusion magic.
   For discussions of pagan, occult, and spiritual magic try alt.magick
   (note the "k"), alt.paranormal, alt.divination, or alt.pagan. The are
   also alt.skeptic, alt.hypnosis, and alt.paranormal for other non-magic
   For discussing "Magic" the card game try "alt.cardgame.magic".

Q) Why not alt.conjuring, alt.prestidigitation, or alt.magic.tricks?
A) Because escape artists are magicians who don't partake in "conjuring".
   Illusionists don't partake in prestidigitation (sleight of hand). And
   many magicians (myself included) don't like to refer to magic as tricks
   or trickery because of the negative connotation that you are out to
   "get" the audience.  The emphasis should be on entertainment, not merely
   a puzzle, etc. (From: (Jason Y Nocks))

Q) What topics should -not- be discussed in this group?
A) Since this is a public forum some of us would prefer not to openly
   discuss the secrets behind the workings of magical effects.  The
   following are some of the reasons given to support this policy:
   1) You ruin the illusion for others.
   2) Magic as an art only exists when the performance appears impossible.
      Focusing on "how it is done" reduces the art to a puzzle.
   3) Magic as an art exists to entertain.  To allow an audience to focus
      on the performance and not the gimmick is the ENTIRE REASON for the
      performance.  The curiosity you feel when you're fooled by magic is
      part of the entertainment.  When the curiosity is removed, so is some
      of the entertainment.
   4) Although the public thinks it wants to know what we are doing they
      are disappointed when they find out.
   5) Some folks count on the elements of surprise and subtlety in their
      techniques to feed their kids and pay rent.
   6) The secrets are not yours to give.  The creators of certain effects
      have typically written books or produced effects in order to 'stake
      their claim' and to be compensated for their work.

Q) What topics should be discussed in this group?
A) All the other aspects of magic.  For example,
   1) Magic as entertainment
      1a) Showmanship
      1b) Delivery
      1c) Presentation
      1d) Philosophy
   2) The performance of magic
      2a) Embarrassing moments and how to handle them
      2b) Views on borrowing/imitating
      2c) Putting together a show
   3) Magic performances
      3a) Upcoming
      3b) Performances you may have seen
   4) Favorite effects
   5) Magicians
      5a) Favorite magicians
      5b) Yourself and your performances
   6) Where to learn more
      6a) People willing to teach
      6b) Books, tapes, magazines, clubs
      6c) Magic dealers
   7) Magic as a business
      7a) Booking
      7b) How to advertise
      7c) Openings

Q) What other sources are available on-line to find out more about magic?
A1) Many of the subscribers to this list are willing to further discuss
    magic via e-mail with anyone expressing a sincere interest.
A2) There are hundreds of pages on the World Wide Web devoted to magic and
A3) Jeff Isozaki posts four monthly lists of Magic in Movies and Magic in
    TV indicating movies, actors, and scenes in which magic appears.  Jeff
    posts this list to alt.magic on or around the first business day of the
    month.  It can also be accessed via WWW at the URL address:

    Special copies of the list will NOT be sent out upon request so
    please do not request such.
A4) MagicNZ is a FirstClass Graphical BBS in Auckland, New Zealand
    Internet:  Port 510
    Web Site:

Q) How I get into the Magic Castle to see a show ?
A) The Magic Castle is for members only and their guests.  Visiting
   magicians (out of town and members of IBM/SAM may also be admitted)

Q) Is there a possibility this news group could be altered in some way so
   that people wouldn't accidently keep posting things that belong in
A) It is easiest to just ignore these articles.  Many newsreaders have a
   feature called a "kill-file" which will mark articles containing certain
   patterns as having been read or delete the article.

Q) Hasn't it been proven that most of magicK is actually magic?
A) Many magicians have become involved in debunking charlatans who claim to
   have supernatural powers, most notably Houdini and more recently The
   Amazing Randi.
     Magicians can duplicate almost any miracle. There is a branch of magic
   that has blossomed in the last 20 years that uses occult science as a
   theme. Some of the material is strong enough to start a new religion.
   Here is one effect that gives you an example....
     It is an occult alter. A young novice wearing a robe steps up to the
   magi. Several occult steps are performed. After building up to a climax,
   the magi takes a ceremonial dagger and raises it high in the air.  He
   quickly plunges the dagger down, and the novice screams. The robe then
   falls to the floor, empty. The novice has vanished.  If you were at a
   coven meeting and saw this, you would certainly be affected.
   Smaller/simpler miracles are much easier - of course.  When someone
   describes a paranormal event, a magician knows how trivial it is to fool
   someone. Of course he/she is skeptical.
   (Example from: Bruce Barnett [])
   See also alt.skeptic.

Q) Can experienced magicians give some tips on how to read a magic catalog?
   How can we spot tricks that are over advertised?
A) It's amazing what people will say for money.  The trouble is that you'll
   find a lot of misleading but correct ads in a strict legal way.  Look
   for reviews of the items before you buy.  Go and watch a demo, and then,
   if the demo looked wonderful, you need to have someone tell you whether
   this can be done by someone at your skill level.
   Suggested questions: Do you really need this item? Is it useful in more
   than one way? Or is it limited to the effect described?  Will it gain in
   value over the years?  Is it a limited edition?  Will it help you in
   your act?  Do you plan to USE it?

Q) Do you believe that it is detrimental to the art of magic to post
   "insider" information pertaining to the methods used to achieve a
   magical effect?
A) POLLING RESULTS: compiled by Hans Masing.(
   There were 48 responses within the allotted polling time.  35 were
   magicians, 13 were laypersons.

   The average age of magicians in the poll is 32.2 (mean of 26).  The
   typical layperson is 31.7 (mean of 27).

   For magicians, the average experience is 12.9 years, however there were
   a few outliers with more than 30 years that skewed the results.
   Eliminating these outliers, the average experience drops to 2 years.
   Of the 35 magicians who responded, 46% of you say that methods should
   not be revealed, 43% say that they should, and 11% are undecided.

   Not surprisingly, of the 13 laypeople who responded, 33% said that it is
   detrimental, 54% said it is not detrimental, with 13% undecided.

Q) What is the best kind of magic?  Who is the best magician?
A) As in every other area of human endeavor, those with personality would
   prefer that the quality of magic were measured by personality.  Others
   would prefer that it were measured by technique, creativity, success,
   humor or originality.  Of course, it is always the mechanically adept
   that would prefer technique to be the ultimate criterion, the successful
   (and their lackeys) who would prefer that success was the measure, etc.

   Perhaps we could take a break from the polarizing polemic, and recognize
   that making magic is a difficult business.  Good illusions, good parlour
   and good close-up magic all have roughly equivalent wonder-generation.
   A good close-up artist will cause an exquisite level in wonder to a very
   few, while a good illusionist will create a more modest degree of wonder
   in a large crowd.  If you want to optimize for money, of course you'd
   prefer the large crowd.  If you want to optimize for entertainment, I'd
   guess parlour magic has got to be the winner.
   From: Doug Peters []

Q) What advice to successful magicians have for aspiring magicians?
   1.  Read everything about magic that you can get your hands on.  My
       favorite basic texts (and I consult them to this day) are, THE
       Hugard and Braue; and THIRTEEN STEPS TO MENTALISM by Tony Corinda.
       Chase them down.
   2.  Learn to do the cut and restored rope.  Polish it so that you can
       absolutely mystify people with it.  This is a great, great trick
       that will stand you in good stead.  I still use it in our show (in a
       new form).
   3.  Learn some version of the Cups and Balls (there is a wonderful
       one-cup routine in the Bruce Elliot book above).  #2 and #3 formed
       the basis of the act I did for years.
   4.  Wait 10 years before doing the Linking Rings.  It's overdone just at
       this time in our history.
   5.  Learn a powerful trick for the ending to your show.  Warning:
       production tricks are really hard and eat up all your time folding
       silks and fake flowers.
   6.  Remember you are a kid.  You look like a kid.  Don't think you'll
       fool people into thinking you are an old sage from the Himalayas.
   7.  Do a short act.  Don't worry about getting paid yet.  Do six minutes
       that is wonderful and amazing.  You will be able to handle longer
       stints as the material develops.
   8.  The "Miser's Dream" is a really easy trick that's really hard to
       learn to do in a concise, entertaining way.  Learn it.  Learn to
       vary your methods.  Learn to do it fast.  Lots of coins, quickly,
       then a beat of comedy.  Then more coins, then more comedy.  Then an
       ending.  Get hold of a videotape of Al Flosso doing the Miser's
       Dream.  Watch how entertaining that old coot is.
   9.  Perform as often as you can.  You will never get good until you
       stand on stage for a zillion hours and learn how to do it for real.
       It's nice to daydream about grand effects, but if you get out there
       -- by whatever means you have to use -- and perform, perform,
       perform, you will improve.
   10. Behave towards your audience with sincere respect.  You are not
       superior because you know a few tricks.  They are the people you OWE
       a wonderful show  to.
   11. No matter how badly a show goes, remember it's just a show.
       Tomorrow there will be a different show and you can redeem
   12. Make sure you remember all your ideas.  Maybe some stink now only
       because you don't yet know enough to make them good.  Ideas are
       precious.  Keep notes.
   13. Stick with it.  If you truly love what you are doing, you will love
       rehearsing, laboring, getting stage fright, wasting money, even
       failing.  Love magic and your audience so powerfully that you are
       locked in the jaws of its love.  When the cub scouts throw things,
       love the pain; it will teach you.  Stick with it.  Getting good
       takes, not weeks, not months, but years.  Years.  Be prepared.



Send your list of ongoing magical events including: brief description,
location, cost, and admission requirements to
Contributors: (Chris Ragaisis) (Jeff Isozaki) (Paul Nielsen) (Scott Flanagan)

Upcomming events and one time showings merit separate postings.


Clubs for magic:

Comedy and Magic
Hermosa Beach, CA
Does this place still exist? Do they still perform magic?

El Duco's Magic, HB
Lergoeksgatan 18
S-215 79  MALMOE
+46-40-217228 (fax)

Keystone, Indiana (Just North of Indianapolis)
(317) 575-8312

Magic Castle
Hollywood, CA
This is a members only magic club. Probably the best place to watch magic
since they have 3 different magic venues, large stage platform and
The Magic Castle is a membership systemed night club.  If you are not
a member, you have to have a guest card or go to there with a member.
There are some rules on the back of the guest card.
1. Absolutely no one under 21 admitted.  Proof of age required.
2. Strict dress code.  Coats and ties for men, dresses for ladies.
   No casual wear.  (No jeans.)
3. This card is non-transferable, good for one visit only and must
   be surrendered at the door.  Expired cards not accepted.
4. Guests must have dinner and make reservations well in advance
   (1 week recommended.)  There is an entrance charge of $?????
   for each guest in addition to the dinner price.  For reservations
   call 851-3313 between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.  Monday thru
   Saturday.  Please notify the Castle if you plan to cancel.
5. This card honored for dinner Sunday night thru Thursday only
   by advance reservation.  Shows follow dinner and are open to
   all guests.  This card not honored on Friday and Saturday.
If you go there with a member, you can go on any day of the week
and you don't have to have a dinner, you don't have to pay the
entrance charge.
(213) 851-3313

Magic Island
Houston, TX
(713) 526-2442
We went with a coupon for about $25 per person.  That included dinner, a
live stage show with two acts, and two close up shows.  Without the coupon,
prices vary, depending on what you order.  $50 per person is probably a
reasonable minimum estimate, but they may have gone up.  The food was good,
and the entertainment ranged from fair to excellent.

Mississippi Live
Minneapolis Night Club
They have magicians Wed-Sat nights.

For some magic talk at 38th and Madison in Manhattan.
Check it out on Saturday afternoon.
Straight out of Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose"!

This is the place in Snowmass Village, just outside Aspen Colorado owned by
singer John Denver.  Doc Eason and Eric Mead share the magical duties there
working 4 nights a week with Friday night being "tag team night".  The
Tower has been a magic bar since 1975 (20 years old this year) with Bob
Sheets being the original magic guy.  Kevin Dawson, Peter Elliot, John
Lonergan have also put in time as regulars.  Special events have featured
Ammar, Carney, Givan, Murdock, Goldstein, Close, Spill, JCWagner and
others.  For further info email (Doc & Alison Eason)



Altered Reality
National Improvisational Theater
New York, NY

Le Grande David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company
Cabot St. Theater
Beverly, MA
(508) 927-3677


In Atlantic City:

Trop World
Bunny Collins, Brooks Comer, Bully Damion, Dale Vargus

Trump Castle
R.J. Lewis, Carl Ash Marn Ann Calkins, Arian Black


In the Bahamas:

Carnival's Crystal Palace
Dick Arthur


In Las Vegas:

The Las Vegas magicians' round table is held on Wednesday nights.  You
never know who will show up in the land of magic.  All magi are welcome.
Just give a call to any of the shops when you're there and they'll fill you

There are alot of magic shows in Las Vegas. Some of the shows are:
     "Alakazam" - ?????
     "City Lites" with Joseph - Flamingo Hilton
     "Elaine's Restaurant" with Mike Skinner - Golden Nugget
     "Jubilee" with Bob Arno and Hans Panter - Ballys
     "Roman Festival" with Jordan Hahn and David Kesterson - Caesars
     "Spellbound" with Joaquin Ayala & Lilia, Tim Kole & Jenny Lynn, Mark
     "Splash" with Shimada - Riviera
     Kevin Barnes, Teresa Liu, and Joe White - Excalibur
     Lance Burton - Monte Carlo
     Melinda - Lady Luck
     Siegfried and Roy - Mirage
     Vince Carmen and Phyllis Guggenheim - Circus Circus
     Plus many others

From: silverman@kelvin.Jpl.Nasa.Gov (Steve Silverman)

Michael Skinner at the Golden Nugget.
He is the resident magician and strolls between Lily Langtree's and
Stefanos restaurant.  Michael has been referred to as one of the
worlds 	finest close-up performers by some very notable people.  I
was fortunate enough to have dinner with him during my last visit
and must say that he is also a very nice person and real gentleman.
From: Andy Latto []

A very entertaining show, and an amazingly good value for
the money (only about $10). Some of the effects were old
chestnuts, like chopping off an audience member's head with a
guillotine, but there were some very nice illusions, and some
good slight of hand with birds. In addition to the magic, there
are two very good specialty acts: Anthony Gatto, one of the two or
three best jugglers in the world, and a group that plays basketball
and jumps rope on unicycles.

In Reno:

"Spellbound" starring The Pendragons

In Beverly MA -
From: (Jack Poulter)

	Le Grande David etc...
        This company of performers also presents shows several
times a month at the Larcom Theatre also in Beverly MA.  A visual
banquet at most reasonable rates.  Highly recommended.



The following organizations exist to promote magic and further its
development.  Each produces a magazine and sponsors local club meetings.

International Brotherhood of Magicians
P.O. Box 192090
St. Louis, MO 63119
(314) 638-6406

Society of American Magicians
Richard Blowers, National Administrator
P.O.  Box 510260
St. Lousis MO 63151
(314) 846-5659

The following is a list of magic clubs in Belgian
From: (Geert Janssen)

Here's a list of the belgian magic clubs!

MERTENS Jean Paul        Deerlijksestraat 15 A     8500 KORTRIJK
Tel: 056/229439
Fax: 056/229713

THIJS Louis              Bieststraat 46            3360 LOVENJOEL
Tel: 016/462237
NIJS Bart                Broekhout 13              3012 WILSELE
Tel: 016/447057

DE GEETER Kristof        Steenweg 296 A            9810 EKE-NAZARETH
Tel: 09/3856434
BRAEM Marc               Ottergemsesteenweg 125    9000 GENT
Tel: 09/2222815

JANSSEN Marc             Arbeidsstraat 11          2500 LIER
Tel: 03/480.61.96
JANSSENS Magdalena       Heiligstraat 99           2620 HEMIKSEM
Tel: 03/887.74.11

ISBECQUE Claude          20, Square F. Riga        1030 BRUSSEL

BERGERON Docteur         12, Rue Paul Bossu        1150 BRUSSEL

FALQUE Robert            219, Rue Des Haies        6001 MARCINELLE

SCHRAEPEN                Vliegveldstraat 51        3500 HASSELT

VAN GOOL Fernand         Vinkenstraat 1            2250 OLEN

JANSSEN Marc             Arbeidsstraat 11          2500 LIER
Tel: 03/4806196

BRENGMAN Gerrit          Grensstraat 1             1860 MEISE

PLERS Rudy               120, Rue Paul Du Fort     4100 SERAING

Peter Willis (INT-323-4751980)
Dirk Remacle

THIRIART F.              194, Boulevard D'Avroy    4000 LIEGE

JACOBS Jan               Schimpenstraat 5          3500 HASSELT

LINK Rob                 'T Rode Paard 16          8510 BELLEGEM


STAES Willy              Wijngaardstraat 94        9000 GENT



There are a hundreds (thousands) of magic related Web sites and most of
them have pointers to other magic sites.  Here are a few of my favorites to
get you started:

Robinson Wizard's All Magic Guide

The Magic Page

Magic Etcetera

Magic Page

The Linking Page

World of Illusion CD-ROM is published by Alan Ran Multimedia Group
Contact Ed Pierce

Houghton Miflin Interactive published a CDROM for Windows and Macintosh
called "Inside Magic".  It contains Quicktime videos of probably 60+ card,
coin and prop tricks, and comes with a "bag of tricks" containing a set of
marked cards and two coins and 3 rope segments.  The Quicktime videos are
entirely under your control - you can slo-mo, single-frame, go backward,
etc.  There is a "presentation" mode to see how to present it and a
"reveal" mode to see how it's done.  There are also videos of more complex
routines that use combinations of tricks.  The give you a "recipe" for each
of the steps.  A reference web page for "Inside Magic" is


There are a number of BBS magic discussions.  This list is current as of
Jan 1997.

   System                 Country          Sysop             Phonenumber

   MAGIC!-US (MAGIC! HQ)  USA             David Lichtman     +1-8188967450
   MAGIC!-NL              The Netherlands A.Van Rietschoten  +31-23588725
   MAGIC!-BE              Belgium         Geert Janssen      +32-34806666
                                                             (20:00-02:00 CET)
   MAGIC!-NZ              New Zealand     Alan Watson
                                          Chris Parkinson
   MagicNZ Bulletin Board's internet connection via the web:
   MAGIC!-SE              Sweden          Olav Holten        +46-86044555



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