July 2012 | Volume 21 | Number 11

COVER: Yes, He's Bent

By Rory Johnston

Yes, He's Bent

The young wizard sat in the closet under the stairs and practiced his magic. Unlike a fictional young wizard who was forced to live under the stairs, the real child was there by choice. This special place, an inner sanctum where he could submerse himself in a fascinating world of books full of secrets and unusual mechanical devices that twisted reality, thrilled him. His latest creation was ready. Clutching a magic wand, he slipped quietly out of his lair and approached the woman who was standing with her back to him. She turned, startled by his stealthy approach. He broke into a wide, gap-toothed smile. "Watch this, Mom!" From the day Mike Bent received a Peter Pan magic kit in 1969, at age six, until — well, today, he has been fascinated by the world of monsters, magic, and practical jokes.

5 & Counting

By Rory Johnston

5 & Counting

Chris Zubrick and Ryan Makowski first learned of the SandCastle Dinner Theatre via networking and social media. They submitted a promotional package, and on February 14, 2007, the SandCastle's entertainment director contacted them to begin negotiations. What a nice Valentine's Day present! Three months later, all of their magic, illusions, and a few household possessions were crated and shipped to Saipan. On June 22 of this year, Zubrick Magic & Illusion celebrated its fifth year at the SandCastle Dinner Theatre. Voted "Best Show on Saipan," Chris and Ryan are currently under contract until 2014.

Preserving and Sharing

By Alan Howard

Preserving and Sharing

Legendary names of magic: Houdini, Thurston, Blackstone, Okito. What would you give to see these fabled entertainers in their prime, experiencing firsthand their skills, stagecraft, and personality? While ever fewer people can claim to have witnessed them live, these performers can still be seen on film. And thanks to technology both old and new, that is getting easier to do than ever. Over the past forty years, the SAM Film & Tape Library has been dedicated to preserving recordings of conjurors. Now known as the SAM Media Library, it is a remarkable resource, containing thousands of hours of video and audio files. Today, students of magic can have these records of the past delivered right to their home computer.

Remembering Jack Kodell

By John Ekin and Marvyn Roy

Remembering Jack Kodell

Legendary performer and innovator Jack Kodell was known as "The Original Bird Manipulator," having created and performed an act featuring magic with birds that was the pinnacle of sophistication, in demand among the most prestigious cabarets in Europe and the United States. Here, two fellow performers remember Kodell's life, work, and friendship.

Music to My Ears, Part 3

By Soma

Music to My Ears

It's a well-known fact that magicians need to practice every day. "How many hours do you practice a day?" is the question I often hear. The answer is, "Several hours every day." We know that even if that answer is not always completely true, regular practice is essential for different tricks, or for a performance to reach completion. Before going onstage with a musical performance, it's essential that you get to know your music as soon as possible and practice your tricks for the selected tunes. I always encourage my students to imitate stage circumstances — suit, shoes, appropriate music, lighting, and at least 500 to 600 people — after acquiring the technical knowledge of a trick that requires dexterity. Okay, we can leave out the lighting and people, but the suit and the music is a must. It helps to increase our confidence onstage. Practicing to music is important for several reasons.

Magic at the Movies

Magic at the Movies

The release of two major Hollywood films about magicians — The Illusionist and The Prestige — coming only seven weeks apart in 2006 does not seem to have dissuaded filmmakers from returning to magic as a theme for more upcoming movies. Big-budget films with big-name casts will be coming soon to a theater near you, again putting conjurors up on the silver screen.

A Moment with… Paul Gertner

A Moment With Paul Gertner

For just over two weeks in May and June, the South Carolina city of Charleston bustles with arts and entertainment at the internationally known Spoleto Festival. This year, one of the featured shows was a new theatrical production by close-up magician Paul Gertner. Braindrops combined Gertner's interest in both conjuring and science. Referencing a famous quote by author Arthur C. Clarke — "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" — in both the opening and closing of the performance, Gertner joined his audience in exploring the concepts of technology and magic. We asked Paul for some backstage info on this new show.


Remembering Ray Bradbury

Remembrances of Edd Patterson, Jack Kodell, Cherie Kay Sanders, Tony Blanco, and Ray Bradbury.


Edited by Gabe Fajuri

Backtwist Fast and Loose

Sixteen products are reviewed this month by Michael Claxton, Farrell Dillon, Peter Duffie, Jason England, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti:

Reflections by Helder Guimarães
Risky Bet by Henry Evans
Back Twist by Matthieu Bich
Fast & Loose by Harry Anderson
Burn Notice by Christopher Wiehl
Yaya by Jesse Feinberg
Pentacle 2000 by Craig Petty
Cereal Brainwave
Mousetrap by Steve Hollifield
Card Cheats: How They Operate by Floyd Moss
Robert Harbin Magicassette Interview
The Spiral Principle by Stephen Leathwaite
Animate & Restore by Jesse Feinberg
Anti-Faro with Christian Engblom
Everything I Know About Marketing Magic by Maxwell Murphy
Trigger by Valdemar Gestur
Thirty-Five Years of Sustained Wonder
Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase by Hurt McDermott
Ray Goulet: Recollections of a Renaissance Man by Frank Dudgeon with Ann Goulet

Talk About Tricks

Joshua Jay

Talk About Tricks Psychic Numbing and Cognitive Schemata

Kyle MacNeill (with some help from John G) riffs on one of the most beloved card tricks of all time. Cody Nottingham offers an instant change from a one-dollar bill to a five; it's easy to set up and easy to perform. Mark Zellinger's Rattled is a fine way to vanish a coin or ring. And Eric Hu and Brandon Williams round out the issue with their "pet" effects.

Loving Mentalism

Ian Rowland

Loving Mentalism Radioactive Fog

This month's installment is a two-part book test. In part one, the spectator reads your mind without any fakery whatsoever. In part two, you read her mind in a way that will convince even the most cynical observer of your astounding psychic talents. And all you need are two borrowed books.

The Almighty Dollar

Gregory Wilson

The Almighty Dollar Shirt Happens

A dollar bill is removed from your wallet and placed flat on top of your hand. The bill mysteriously folds in half, then into quarters, and then into eighths. The folded bill is placed onto a spectator's upturned hand, and you press down on the bill with your flattened hand. When the bill is displayed, it has magically transformed itself into an origami "shirt," which is handed out for examination and as a souvenir.


Joanie Spina

Directions #7. Strength Training

Good posture and movement are instrumental in creating a strong presence onstage. Your physical comfort level and command of movement contribute to making you a compelling and impressive figure. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas recently hosted a daylong event featuring professional speakers Colin Powell, Terry Bradshaw, Laura Bush, and Rudy Giuliani, just to name a few. Each gave a speech lasting about twenty minutes. It was interesting to see the different presentation styles of the various speakers. Colin Powell exuded confidence and control. Terry Bradshaw was wonderfully funny and should do his own one-man show. One a soldier, the other an athlete, their command and comfort level with their bodies was apparent. Watch powerful speakers. Study how they move and carry themselves. Observe their body language and composure. What makes him or her a forceful presenter?

Paynefully Obvious


For What It's Worth The Ten Percent Solution

Magic magazines are rife with tales telling us that magic is in decline. You needn't look far to find an article saying how Internet exposure will be our downfall, or that DVDs are creating an army of mindless clones who wander the streets inflicting their ill-practiced guerrilla magic on the unsuspecting. Magic, they assure us, will not survive. However, those who have even a modest knowledge of our history know that these complaints are nothing new. Conjuring literature has always been filled with such laments and dire prognostications. The inevitable and imminent demise of magic has been predicted for decades.

For What It's Worth

Mark Kornhauser

For What It's Worth Can't Sing. Can't Dance. Can't Act. Seeking Fame.

I have seen many tormented show producers. They often face the impossible task of quickly putting in a show filled with complicated technical requirements, an inattentive cast, and a union crew eager to go into overtime. There is a lot of money at stake. A lot can go wrong. I enjoy watching their torment. It means less worry for me.

Real-World Methods

Nick Lewin

Real World Methods Opening up the Cruise Market

Working on board a cruise ship is a very solid way to make a living. It has stood me in good stead for over forty years, and it can do the same for you. It is one of the few work opportunities for a magician that offers more outlets now than it did a year or a decade ago. There are a great many bookings — 52 weeks a year — to be filled on luxury liners sailing around the world. These gigs are all just a plane ride, or maybe even a drive, from your hometown.

Buy This Issue