Anonymous wrote:Harry Stanley's description of Billy O'Connor's act was published in the January 1983 issue of MAGIGRAM.
From the January 1983 issue of MAGIGRAM:
Many artistes spent time each week looking round the antique shops. Our old friend Billy O'Connor had a keen eye and through the years picked up many fine pieces. On retirement, he took up 'antiques' full time and became a successful and much respected dealer. He taught the act to his son Robert who, although he did very well, lacked dad's flair and vast experience.
Billy O'Connor was of French origin. He often kept us chuckling at his stories about the early days when he worked as a hypnotist, De Voe. He later found fame as a magician and was my favourite stage card comedy performer. He worked 'front cloth' with just a small table and two chairs on stage. The act ran for twelve minutes. He completely fooled two male audience members (not stooges) and the entire audience. Laughs came continuously with patter that hadn't the slightest hint of 'blue'. Don't let anybody kid you to use 'dirt' to get laughs. That's a cheap substitute for talent.
Here's a simple rundown of the act. Billy was first blindfolded. From a well shuffled pack a chosen card was quickly named. This was repeated and the effect ended by naming, rapidly the face cards of the pack while held towards audience. Blindfold was removed during applause. A freely number was named; instantly a portion of pack was handed to helper, who counted them aloud; correct! This was repeated twice with the same result.
Card next selected, was shuffled back into the pack by helper himself; it was quickly discovered. Anther was chosen but it proved to be the same card as before. It was dropped face down on the stage and covered by helper's foot. A further chosen card was found to be the same; the one under helper's foot was different. The two men were dismissed with thanks.
Billy did some fancy shuffles, then placed a half pack in each trouser pocket. He asked audience to call out the name of any card; each named was instantly produced. Holding last named card aloft Billy said he was going to perform the greatest ever visible vanish. He asked audience to shout the word 'go', which they did lustily. He responded "thank you, I will" and walked right off. That must sound a bit corny but, believe me, he always walked off to loud applause. The act was a perfect example of clear cut uncomplicated magic but all the better for it proved the old adage - "It 'aint what you do. It's the way that you do it".
Billy also successfully toured with a longer act adding two fine illusions which he later sold to Murray.
The bent, or cut-corner card locator, was his creation and he marketed 'Instanto', an ingenious cut-corner pack that made easy the location of any requested cards. He taught me how to do it the 'hard way' with a normal pack. Set it up Ace to King, C.H.S.D. and use the thumb riffle. If you practiced hard and long, cards could be located without peeping. I did quite well.
Billy also produced some fine trouser pocket card holders, similar to those used in his own act. There was also his trick in which a freely chosen, signed card was eventually found in a leather wallet taken from the inside breast pocket which, when opened, revealed two brass plates with a large centre hole through which was seen the signature. The plates were held tightly together by masses of stout rubber bands. That was a real fooler.