December 2012 | Volume 22 | Number 4

COVER: Open Sesame?

By Milt Larsen

Open Sesame

The Magic Castle in Hollywood is an iconic landmark, known the world over as the clubhouse of the Academy of Magical Arts. Milt Larsen, one of the founders fifty years ago, reminisces with tales of how the venue came to be, kicking off a series of articles celebrating the Castle’s golden anniversary. In this first installment, Milt takes us from first concept up until January 2, 1963, when he found himself waiting for the last of the paint to dry and trying to figure out why his invisible pianist didn’t work. Meanwhile, designer John Shrum was out buying flowers to put in the men’s room urinals — but that’s another story!

Marcel: Prince of Nightmares

By Jaq Greenspon

Marcin, Prince of Nightmares

Nine years ago, Marcel Kalisvaart, at the time a twenty-year-old upstart illusionist with only five years of experience, had the hubris to compete in the Stage Illusionist category at the 2003 FISM competition in his home country of Holland. It wasn’t far from home and he’d already been getting some attention locally — like winning the grand prix at the 2002 Dutch championships — so why not? Why not, indeed? Marcel walked off with the top prize in illusions, and did even better in FISM 2012.

Road Trip!

By Jason England

Road Trip

In “a quest for great magic, great food, and a flawless false shuffle,” Paul Wilson and Jason England recently took a 7,000-mile trip across the US — a journey that began in Las Vegas, covered 13 states, and ended up in Los Angeles. They spent over three weeks on the road, visiting magicians and pool hustlers, collectors and casino security experts. They interviewed some of the most recognized magicians in the world, gained entry into some of the most wonderful collections one could ever hope to see, and met some really interesting characters. Along the way, they managed to gather enough stories to fill a small book.

Twelve Magical Months

By Alan Howard

Twelve Magical Months

The end-of-year holidays are sometimes portrayed as a time for over-the-top gift giving — and over-the-top gift getting! But there is no reason why you have to limit your extravagance to a single season. There’s almost always an excuse to celebrate, so you can spread your presents out over the whole year! Here is a month-by-month guide to gifts that any magic fan would be thrilled to receive. Buy them for your magic friends and family, buy them for yourself, or just keep hinting to everyone within earshot just how much you wish someone would give these presents to you in the upcoming months.

Magic Circle Awards

Magic Circle Awards

The Magic Circle Awards took on a new format this year, jettisoning the usual banquet, cabaret, and “gong show” at a nondescript hotel and moving the new event to the Circle’s very own Headquarters in Central London. Members of the public were also encouraged to attend with a promise of top-quality magic and entertainment.

A Moment With… James McKinlay

A Moment With James McKinlay

NBC’s America’s Got Talent is reaching out to the magic community in an effort to get more magicians to audition for the show. When contacted in late October, Stan Allen raised a number of questions regarding the way magicians had been treated on the show in the past. Co-Executive Producer James McKinlay, with twenty years in the field, the last six of which with AGT, agreed to field those questions.


Happy Valley Magic

While magicians tried to get Houdini to show up in a séance in Texas, he did return to the silver screen in Hollywood; conjurors gathered in Chile in “the driest place on Earth;” the life and magic of Alan Shaxon is remembered; and much more.


Edited by Gabe Fajuri

The Bumblebees The Definitive Sankey

Twelve products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Jared Brandon Kopf, Francis Menotti, and Arthur Trace:

The Definitive Sankey by Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay
Unreal by Bruce Bernstein
The Bumblebees with Woody Aragón
In the Frame by Mark Elsdon
The Essential Sol Stone by Stephen Hobbs
TKO 2.0 by Jeff Kaylor
The Complete Walton Vols. 1 & 2 by Roy Walton
Lincoln’s Best Boon by Lincoln Kamm
Carey On by John Carey
The Money Card by Shaun Robison
Stitched by Alexander Kölle
Chill by Tom Wright

Talk About Tricks

Joshua Jay

Talk About Tricks   Best of 2012

This month, Walt Lees brings us a lovely match effect with a — forgive the pun — strikingly unorthodox method. Justin Higham delivers a high-caliber card effect, and Chris Piercy shows you how to take one of Sankey’s cleverest effects to new heights. Harapan Ong and Waseem Mohammed round out the issue with two clever card ideas.

The Almighty Dollar

Gregory Wilson

The Almighty Dollar Taken For Granted

With only a $50 bill and a $1 bill, the classic Slow Motion Bill Transposition is demonstrated as a two-phase shortchange swindle. One of the bills is in your hand and the other is placed in your pocket. The bills secretly change places, apparently based on clever and confusing “crosstalk.” This is immediately repeated, but this time in the spectator’s hand.


Joanie Spina

Directions #11. Music, Maestro

People watch a performance to be moved in some manner, to laugh, to cry, to be amazed, etc. Music can greatly enhance a presentation and further help you fulfill those expectations of the audience. Music sets mood and energy, and when chosen wisely can kick up the impact of a routine. If you don’t presently use music in your act, you should consider it.

Bent on Deception

Mike Bent

Bent on Deception The Overly Complicated Simplex Bill in Lemon

When Mike Bent is working with a classic effect, he searches for super-easy methods, with maybe just a little James Bond gadgetry thrown in. Here’s his take on the Bill in Lemon. “This miracle, created by Emil Jarrow, is a classic for a reason: it’s a stunner. For audience appeal, you just can’t beat it. No matter what else you do in your show, you know the audience will be talking on the way home about how the bill got in that damn lemon.”

Loving Mentalism

Ian Rowland

Loving Mentalism Navigate To Icy

Ingenious word play and some slightly eerie surprises feature in this month’s helping of “Loving Mentalism.” It’s a story routine based around a famous historical tragedy. Are there really strange forces at work, reaching from the past to the present, to bring about a diabolical series of coincidences? Maybe not, but that’s what it looks like to the audience! What’s more, the routine is easy to do and only requires simple props that you can make in an evening.

For What It's Worth

Mark Kornhauser

For What It's Worth Coca-Cola and the Fourth Dimension

Sound, lights, sets, music, video, costumes, script, staging, direction, pyro, props — all are as much a part of an illusion as bubbles are to “The Real Thing.” When performers give appropriate importance to these other “dimensions,” it provides valuable perspective. It’s not just Coke that goes flat. When your audience is farther than eighteen feet away, you go flat. Stereoscopic vision flattens out. People who are more than eighteen feet away will have a diminished sense of your three-dimensionality. You begin to lose one of the few advantages of a live show: the all-important third dimension. You need every dimension you can get!

Paynefully Obvious


Paynefully Obvious A Fool’s Errand

“Where can I find a trick that will fool magicians?” This question is usually asked by novices in the craft of magic, individuals who are under the mistaken impression that instant fame and respect can be garnered if they can fool the socks off of other magi. I suppose they believe it is the magical equivalent of counting coup. Their quest is doomed on multiple levels.

Buy This Issue