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By Mark Nelson

It was fifty years ago this month, on October 1, 1960, that the television series The Magic Land of Allakazam first aired over the CBS Television Network. The show was the fulfillment of a long-held dream for 31-year-old Mark Wilson and his wife Nani, the culmination of a five-year struggle to bring television magic to a coast-to-coast national viewing audience for the first time. You’d think a flood of emotion would have been forthcoming, coloring the event and making it stand out for the stars and creative participants. A few extra performance butterflies, perhaps. Maybe a few dozen sleepless nights. But you’d be wrong.

For the young married couple from Texas, it was just another show — just like the scores of other television magic shows they had created, produced, and starred in back in Texas, during a time when the term “syndicated programming” had barely been invented. For instead of shipping prints of kinescopes around the state or the country, Mark and Nani had made a considerable reputation in the southwest by shipping themselves from city to city, presenting their magic shows live on five different TV stations in multiple weekly time slots. Mark had demonstrated time and again that the so-called programming experts were wrong when they said magic wouldn’t work on television. It not only worked, it was a tremendous ratings success.

The road to The Magic Land of Allakazam is a story of talent, determination, patience, perseverance, and a bit of faith. The impact of this fifty-year-old television classic has reverberated throughout the magic world ever since.



By Rory Johnston

A few weeks ago Francis Menotti was sitting as a passenger in his own car as his friend and performance partner, Ran’d Shine, took the second shift of a 769-mile drive from Philadelphia to Chicago. In the trunk of the car was a giant plastic lobster, a saltshaker full of multi-colored paperclips, a book of Federico Lorca poetry with a rapidly diminishing number of pages, and a variety of other eclectic items. These were props used in How to Write a Magic Show, one of four different magic plays that Francis has written “or conspired upon” in the past few years.

Twelve hours before that, he was editing storyboards for the animation of stop-motion characters that will be projected onto his chest for his new razorblade-swallowing routine. Twelve hours before that, he was out on a fourteen-mile run while training for the upcoming Philadelphia marathon. And twelve hours before that, he was putting the finishing touches on the new stair treads and risers that he had personally cut, routed, and stained for the house that he and his wife have been refurbishing for the last three years, grilling up an original recipe in the under-construction kitchen, and enjoying a frosty bottle of his own home-brewed beer.

These things may seem to be unrelated, but they’re all part of the puzzle that, when properly assembled, forms a picture of a unique magical entertainer.




By Gabe Fajuri

In a way, this year’s 31 Faces North conference, August 19–22 in Toronto, was exactly what you’d expect of a magic convention: forty magicians met for four days of performing, lecturing, and sessioning. But it was entirely unlike every other magic convention.




By Ricky Brandon

It’s no secret that Halloween is a favorite holiday for magicians. But are you having the fun you deserve on All Hallows Eve? When you were a kid, you eagerly counted down the days until October 31. Now, you probably just leave out a bucket of old Tootsie Rolls with a sign that reads “Take one.”

Over the past five years, I have become known locally for having the hottest trick-or-treat house in town. The really fun part is that I get to live out my childhood magic dreams every Halloween. With a captive audience at my door, I can pretend I’m a Vegas headliner! For instance, I’ve always wanted to perform the Dancing Hank. This year, I am going to set it up in my garage and I’ll probably do my routine about forty times on Halloween night. It will be the talk of the town all year long and I’ll most likely end up on the local news.

So here’s the deal. Your neighbors expect — and deserve — to see something cool. They listen to your “I’m a magician” stories all year long, and Halloween is the perfect time to show off. Best of all, you can provide a variety of magical thrills on a very tight budget.

This is a how-to guide and brain dump of my twisted Halloween ideas. The goal is to take classic old illusions and modify them to be performed at your front door. This sampling of ideas is meant to get your creative juices flowing.




Saturday, September 4 marked the final performance of Lance Burton: Master Magician at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas. Lance requested none of the traditional closing night practical jokes be played. The only major variation in the show came at the end. After flying away in the Corvette, Lance returned to the stage to receive a long and enthusiastic standing ovation. A video camera recorded the event and projected it on the big side screens as he said, “Thank you. I will remember this day as long as I live.” The camera then followed him backstage as he received hugs and kisses from both cast and crew. Finally, he and Gabriella walked through the rear of the theater, out the exit, buckled themselves into his street Corvette, then drove away to a quiet night at home.




The Jewish Museum in New York City will feature Houdini: Art and Magic, a display that is billed as “the first major art museum exhibition to explore the life, career, and lasting influence of the legendary magician.” Alongside historic pieces will be examples of contemporary art inspired by the life and legend of the world’s most famous escapologist. These works of art in various media speak to Houdini’s continuing influence in modern consciousness.




An announcement was made at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego introducing Charismagic, a new comic book from Aspen Comics. The main character is a Las Vegas magician and is inspired by Lance Burton. In the comic, written by Vince Hernandez with art from Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez, the Vegas entertainer is revealed to be a magician in the true sense of the word, possessing powerful supernatural abilities.




Seventeen products are reviewed this month by Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Brad Henderson, Will Houston, and John Lovick:

The Hawk 2.0 by Alexander Kolle
Restless with Dan Hauss
The Mini Cyclops Box by Martin Breese
Mnemonica Trainer by Nicolas Palacios & Dnd Studios
CardOracle by Yves Doumergue & Blue Source
Keymaster by Craig Petty
Audio by Eric Jones
TKO by Jeff Kaylor
Bill Neff’s Miracle Rope Trick
Illustrated Magic by Ottokar Fischer
Tales from the Uncanny Scot by Ron Wilson
Laws of Attraction with Shoot Ogawa
Monty the Spiv by Matthew Garrett
Oddballs by Scott Strange
Solari’s Silver Streak Deck
Wayne Dobson: A Life in Magic
Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata



A return to difficulty! In the past few months, we have explored very commercial, generally easy-to-do effects by well-known veterans of close-up magic. For sake of variety, this issue is dedicated to technicians, and it features a collection of difficult but impressive card magic. Non-card enthusiasts fear not! Pinned is a versatile, charming effect using a campaign button pinned to your shirt.



In the early stages of creating an act, we must all go through the process of editing it. That may seem obvious but here’s the catch: editing is a process that never ends. It is a lifelong process. As you get more experience, it becomes easier. But in the beginning, it’s difficult. You might have an emotional attachment to a trick or piece of business. Even though the audience tells you to abandon it, you might be reluctant to give it up. Listen to the audience!




Motion Sickness
DEAR SHOW DOCTOR: I use music in my show and often have the opportunity to work with live bands. I know that you work with live music in your show and also use recorded music sometimes. What are you thoughts on working with live music? What is the best format my recorded music should be in: CD or MP3 or what? Are there legal issues with using copyrighted music?
— George A.




Nate Leipzig to Fred Sinclair
The value of this letter, written by Nate Leipzig, is due not to any earth-shaking information contained within. In fact, quite the contrary: its value lies in the perfectly ordinary information it contains, information that today would be dashed off in a quick email to be read, deleted, and lost forever. This letter, celebrating its 100th birthday this month, provides a fascinating peek into the everyday life of a truly great magician during the early years of the 20th century.




Magic can be more than just an entertainment; it can be educational as well. Brian Daniel founded the Teach By Magic program [see MAGIC, September 2010] to provide teachers with magic and puzzles that are designed to engage students while they are learning, but the ideas need not be confined to the classroom. The concepts can be used anywhere, from kids’ shows to corporate sales meetings — whenever you want to deliver a message, present a lesson, or instruct in some way. This month, we feature a routine by Michael Rosander and Myke Holmes of Wilmington, North Carolina, who perform as El Mago & Rocus Rocus, respectively. A large cut is made in a balloon and then the balloon is immediately inflated as if the cut had never been made.





It’s absolutely true: in watching other performers, we can see ourselves. We sometimes make the same mistakes or the same brilliant choices, but don’t recognize them until we observe them in someone else. Through this series of articles, enhanced by the accompanying videos you can find at, you can learn from watching other performers as I gently point out ways that their material can be improved, as well as the aspects of their acts that are working well. Although they refer directly to the video in question, these points also carry over as general principles of performing. There are many right ways of doing things, and these are a few options.



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MAGIC, The Magazine For Magicians (ISSN 1062-2845) is published monthly for $54 per year by Stagewrite Publishing, Inc., 6220 Stevenson Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120 USA. Periodical Postage Paid at Las Vegas, NV, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MAGIC - Attn: Circulation Dept., 6220 Stevenson Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120 USA
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