Basics of Magic
appearance of playing cards by a master magician can be just as impressive as the production of an elephant. In the history of magic, the most well known production is that of pulling a rabbit out of a previously shown empty black top hat. In the days of old this was especially effective because the magician would barrow a hat from a member of the audience, when such hats where in style for gentlemen.
To disappear an object or person, which is also known as a vanish, is a fundamental aspect of the magician’s art. There are two types of vanishing acts, one with an object or person is covered, such as vanishing from a box. A person steps into a box, the doors are closed and when reopened the person seems to have vanished. The other is to vanish or disappear without any cover whatsoever. A magician can display a handful of playing cards and apparently toss them into the air and they suddenly vanish! This is a classic example of magic at its very best. Harry Blackstone, both father and son, have made a trademark of their ability to vanish a bird cage containing a canary in a split second. There is no covering whatsoever, and this is considered one of the greatest effects in magic. Another example of a vanish or disappearance is where either an object or person fades away. A large container with a paper covering a frame, with a light shown behind the paper the subject can step behind the paper and the shadow can be seen. Slowly the shadows image becomes weaker and disappears completely. When the paper and frame work are removed the object is gone.
This is when the magician changes one object into another. Dante, one of the greatest magicians in history, was once known as Jansen, “The Transformist .” On a smaller level this can be when one playing card, for example the ace of spades changes to the ten of diamonds. On a larger level it can be when a boy suddenly changes into a horse. There are many ways this can be done, a red hat chances to a black hat, or a car can change into a motorcycle. It can be done slowly and mysteriously or instantly.
this is changing the location of an object from one place to another. A girl steps into a box, disappears, and then re-appears in the back of the audience. Another way is that a bird can be placed in a small bag, the magician fires a gun and it disappears only to reappear from his hat. The four effects listed here make up the basis for what a magician does. These are the most common and important elements of the magician’s art. There are others too.
A rope can be cut into two pieces, then with the wave of a magic wand, restored back into a single piece. Another is to saw a live girl in half, separate the top and bottom half, and then restores her back to whole again. Other examples, Most which utilize pretty girls, are burning a young lady on stage and then restoring her back to her original condition, crushing a girl or stretching her arms and legs into various directions, and once again restoring her as before.
This is where an object becomes alive or animated. A good example of this was Howard Thurstons trademark. Various members of the audience would select playing cards, remember them and return them back into the deck. Slowly, one by one, one each card would magically rise up out of the deck. Another example is the famous Hindu Rope Mystery where a coil of rope is displayed on the stage, and without the magician touching it one end would rise up high into the air.
According to the laws of nature, two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. In a magic show a penetration can be when one solid object passes through another, and at the finish there is no visible clue how this was accomplished. A needle can penetrate a glass mirror without any holes in it. Houdini made a feature of apparently walking through a brick wall, again without holes or tell-tale signs of his method of passing.
Examples of this would be a levitation where a person or object rises up into the air without any visible means of support. The Floating Girl is identified on a universal basis with magicians everywhere. Another would be the great Lee Grabel and his famous trademark Floating Piano. For many years he toured coast-to-coast with his mystery Show, performing this in communities large and small. A spectator from the audience would be invited upon the stage and seated at a piano. They would then be strapped into the piano seat, for reasons which would soon become known. As the spectator played the piano, it would slowly rise up off the stage and into the air, and rotate upside down as Grabel and his assistants would pass a solid hoop over and around the floating piano and player! After making a full 360 rotation it would float back down to the stage, and piano and player where none the worse for the experience. Needless to say this created a sensation, and everywhere Grabel presented it people would flock to the theaters. Thirty years later people are still talking about it. A suspension is different from a levitation. In a suspension the person or object is suspended in the air and does not rise. A girl might remain in a stationary position on the tip of a sword, the upper head of a chair or from the inverted bristle side of a broom without explanation. Various forms of the suspension principle and levitation have become popular with magician’s shows and the public often feels disappointed if they don’t see it when attending a magic Show. Of course it is not only large objects or people that can be floated in the air. Small items like a metal ball floating around the stage as presented by American magico Aubrey or the floating light Globe (while lit) as presented by Harry Blackstone, Jr. are class examples of smaller items presented in a big way.
This is when the idea of time is either set forward or set backward according to the plot. A magician may show a grown young lady, perhaps in her mid- twenties and have her step into a small cabinet. Then the magician says the magic words, the cabinet is then opened again and the young lady has been changed to a baby. Another is where the magician shows a pot empty, adds soil and seeds and covers it with a cloth or metal tube. Then the cloth or tube are removed there are seen full grown flowers which he presents to members of the audience. The flower growth effect is very popular with Magician Harry Kellar who at the turn of the century and before created a sensation with it. You can imagine the impact of sitting in an audience in Toronto in the winter, and the magician causes roses to apparently Grow despite the cold, snow and winter weather of Canada. This was a big hit everywhere he presented it .
This is when a magician does something to an object , and Gets a sympathetic or the same reaction to another such object. This can be illustrated by a masterpiece of magic in the hands of Cas Boxley, one of the Greatest Magicians in history. He would show six silk scarves. He would tie three together and place them on a chair. about five feet away he would show the other three silk scarves separate. With his magic words the three that were tied would be found untied and the three that had earlier been separate were now tied together! Another example of this is when a magician ask a spectator to select any colored card with a choice of several different colors. The magician turns his back and he too selects a color and it turns out they had both chosen the same color.
MENTALISM AND MIND READING
A closely related allied art is that of mind reading which is sometimes termed as Mentalism. Joseph Dunninger is generally considered the creator of the word Mentalism, and he was a headliner in vaudeville for many years before turning to radio in it’s early days, and later to television with equal success. Today Kreskin in the United States and Australian born Peter Reveen are the best known mentalists performing in North America . Members of the audience have their thoughts or minds “read” by the performer, in a baffling and entertaining manner. Another of the great mentalists Ormond McGill who for over sixty years was also among the most creative with his original ideas and approach. McGill has demonstrated his amazing ability to read the very thoughts of people in the audience in India, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Korea, Tahiti and other locations with the same ease as he has done in his own hone country of the USA.
This is most often seen in the traveling side shows associated with carnivals or the circus. The thing can´t be destroyed!