What got you into magic?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
User avatar
Posts: 229
Joined: March 14th, 2008, 8:48 pm
Location: Mexico

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby luigimar » October 12th, 2003, 10:07 pm

Thank you Dustin.


Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8414
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 16th, 2003, 6:30 pm

I can't say for certain. I can trace this back to a dream from around age 10.

My parents and I were walking in the dessert. My father traded me to a wizard for a cup of coffee.

I guess we both gained from that deal.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » October 16th, 2003, 8:38 pm

People ask me "How long have you been doing card tricks?" and I say "Since the Nixon Administration. He got caught, I didn't."

My first magic shop was the Arcade Magic Shop in Toronto, (I managed to talk them into selling me a paperback Erdnase)but I think it was one book, more than any other that made me a card guy, and that was a copy of How To Do Tricks With Cards , by Bill Turner, a mass market paperback sold to the general public for 95 cents. I don't know how many of the general public mastered the bottom deal it taught, (more or less the Erdnase bottom deal,) but it is full of sleights and tricks of high quality.

Some of the tricks in that book I still do, and I would recommend "The Brain Buster" (thought of card to pocket) as a lesson in misdirection to anyone who was thinking of teaching someone magic.


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » November 4th, 2003, 6:50 am

Originally posted by Dennis Mahoney:
How did you become infected by "The Magic Bug"?


It was the late sixties; a very boring day for a nine year old. I was playing in our attic - having found a box of old magazines that belonged to my dad, mostly old Hot Rod, car mags, and some Popular Mechanics, but as young children are want to do I dug until I found GOLD!

It wasn't very large, and seemed to be made of pulp paper, on the cover at the very top it said HOUSE OF A THOUSAND MYSTERIES and on the bottom VICK LAWSTON. Somewhere in between it mentioned
something about MAGIC. When I started reading it, I was totally captivated by the descriptions and the artwork - then the epiphany...
My first exposure to magic was Mark Wilson and his Magical Land of Alakazam, but I didn't actually think I could do any of these things.

My Uncle Bob was a magician. He performed for me and got me my first kit (Adams, Rice Bowls, Paddles, Balancing Wand, etc.) and I've been going off and on (more off than on sadly) since then.

And I remember Vic Lawston and his monkey! I miss that sense of fun! If I were to do a magic shop (before I had myself committed for even entertaining such self-destructive notions) I would like to have done something similar with a dragon character.

Oliver Corpuz
Posts: 105
Joined: May 9th, 2009, 8:33 am

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Oliver Corpuz » November 4th, 2003, 8:32 am

What got me into magic? When I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois, one of the dorms had a Hypnotist perform. A friend living in that dorm invited me to come watch because she thought I'd be interested in seeing a hypnotist. She was right. The show was very entertaining and funny, and I was even selected to participate and do some embarrassing stuff hypnotized on the stage.

After the show, the hypnotist, Andy Dallas, did the cannibal kings card trick. I've seen card tricks before, but nothing as entertaining and magical as what Andy did. I was instantly hooked.

I asked Andy where I could learn card magic like that and he said, at my shop, "Dallas & Co." Blowing off a morning lecture, I visited his shop at my first opportunity. The first card trick I learned was Color Monte. Then I was well on my way on the Royal Road to Card Magic. After I had learned some basic card slights, Andy suggested I learn the ambitious card routine in Harry Lorayne's Close-up Card Magic. Then I found John Bannon's Impossibilia.

Recognizing my interest in card magic, one time at the shop Andy brought out a first edition of Don England's Gaffed to the Hilt and offered to sell it to me for $150. At the time, being a poor college student, that was more money than I could afford. I had to decline because $150 could buy a lot of quarter beers. Andy said I'd regret not buying it. He was right and I kick myself every time I think about that golden opportunity I passed up. (To relieve the pain of not buying it, years later I obtained a Gaffed to Hilt set of cards, made in Bicycles, from Don. I also have one of the 50 special gaff card sets to accompany his Paradox book.)

Andy suggested that over summer break, I go visit Jay Marshall's magic shop, Magic Inc., in Chicago. That pretty much sealed my fate. After meeting Jay, one of the better cheaper acts, there was no turning back. My passion for magic by this time had become incurable.

It has been a long time since I've been back to Champaign to see Andy and his shop. I doubt Andy remembers me, but I sure remember that he is responsible for getting me into magic. Thanks Andy. It is good to know Andy and his shop are still going strong. The Daily Illini recently printed a nice article on Andy and his shop on Halloween. Daily Illini Artical on Andy Dallas


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » December 5th, 2004, 1:18 pm

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
Amazing how the age of NINE seems to be the common age to get taken up with magic...regardless if it is a passing interest for a month, or a life long calling.
For me, my brother had an obnoxious friend named
Steve, who was the "Eddie Haskell" of the neighborhood. He came over to our house with a copy of a catalog from "Top Hat Magic Company",(Evanston, Ill.) He was more interested in the "gags", but I was fascinated/swept up, in seeing what seemed to be the secrets of the universe, contained in that catalog, and they were for sale! I showed the items that I NEEDED to start my career, to my mother, who pointed out I could only spend, what I had in my savings.($3.00) and no, her son could not consider the gags/joke items in the back of the catalog, that the awful Steve would. I bought a set of 5" linking rings, the spirit silk that untied itself, and very important, a BOOK to study a number of tricks.(Will Dexter's "101 Tricks you can do") Later my grandmother brought 2 books from the (well used by her) library, "Houdini on Magic", and The Amateur Magicians Handbook", which I renewed and renewed, lest anyone also be able to read them. My mother and grandmother said one of the things they liked about my being into magic, was that it got me reading and reading more...about magic...as time went on, they vainly tried to get me realize the benefits of reading something other than magic-related books.("If you would only start "Huck Finn" or "Call of the Wild",.....!"
As time went on, I would run into my grandmother's room, she would dutifully put down her sewing and watch my latest feat. She would say, "You're getting to be pretty good...you should have seen that "Willard the Wizard", (she did in Chickasha, Oklahoma) now he was something!"
UNBELIEVABLE - I was 8 or 9 after seeing a magician at my school for the Christmas talent show and read somewhere in Boys Life I think about the Top Hat magic Company in Illinois. I started ordering tricks from them, the diminishing milk pitcher, Chinese Box and loved waiting for the UPS truck to deliver them. My mom wrote the checks, I mailed the envelopes etc. and waited.

Brian Marks
Posts: 914
Joined: January 30th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Nyack, NY

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Brian Marks » December 5th, 2004, 1:55 pm

I went NYU. In Washington Aquare Park I saw a street performer. Never caught his name but I saw him many times. Same week I signed up for the NYU magic club.


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » December 22nd, 2004, 12:51 am

I guess watching PC Sorcar's show at the age of five had something to do with it too, but I would say the inspiration was entirely in Lee Falk's Mandrake the Magician.

My journey in magic, has been a yearning to be Mandrake... That sort of explains the current pre-occupation with Mentalism...

Thanks Lee Falk. Thanks Mandrake!

Bill Palmer
Posts: 719
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Houston TX

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Bill Palmer » December 27th, 2004, 12:16 am

I don't believe in predestination; however, my involvement in magic almost seems to be preordained. My father was a musician and an amateur magician. When I was born, the first two visitors in the waiting room of the hospital were dad's boooking agent -- "Mysterious" Howard Campbell (owner of the local magic shop) and Cal Emmett (U.S.O. Magician).

When I was about 6 years old, I saw Harry Blackstone during one of his last tours through the country. The vanishing bird cage suckered me right in!

I went to work for Howard's Fun Shop on weekends, during the Christmas Holidays and during the summers, and I learned a lot from Howard. I got to meet all of the traveling magicians when they came into town.

I dropped out of magic for about a dozen years when I went to college, but in 1970, my interest was rekindled by the Kreskin show. I recognized a lot of the stuff he was doing as the very same things that I had done when I worked behind the counter at Howard's.

This time, when I got back into magic, I did it systematically. I bought and read Bobo, Tarbell and Erdnase. I didn't learn all of Erdnase, but I read it! And I purchased other classics that I knew were important.

From then, it's been a magic carpet ride for me.
Bill Palmer, MIMC

User avatar
Posts: 917
Joined: March 17th, 2009, 2:25 pm
Location: TC and KOZ at the Funny Bone

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Tabman » December 27th, 2004, 10:12 am

My grandma was a huge Blackstone Sr. fan and she caught the show whenever she had a chance to in NYC and DC. My uncle was an amateur magician who traveled to Cuba during the Batista years to work in one of the clubs there, then to Argentina and finally Mexico.

Well, Grannie dragged me to Baker's Magic Shop in DC when I was about nine or ten and bought me a beautiful copper chick pan, a small metal die box, a neet metal silk pull and some other stuff. She would take me there regularly and to Garrison's Novelty. I don't think I discovered Al's until I was grown. On my birthdays she would send me hardbound books like, _The Amateur Magician's Handbook_ and _Magic Made Easy_and Walter Gibson's books. It's been a lifelong adventure.

I still have most of those old props from Grannie however my then wife gave my oldest boy the chick pan to play with in the sand pile when he was five. I guess she was making some kind of statement!!! Interestingly enough I guess it may be genetic like Sir Bill suggests. My oldest boy who is now nearing 40 goes to Vegas every few months to see the magic shows and my youngest son has his game room decorated with some nice larger magic posters.



Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » December 31st, 2004, 12:54 pm

My father was not a magician, but he did a few simple tricks for me when I was four. I remember that Saturday afternoon with astounding clarity, even though I usually can't remember to zip up when I leave the can. The first thing Dad did was to show me his hat was empty, then reach in and pull out some candy (hidden under the inner hatband; a pretty okay trick if you're four and on a strictly reduced sugar intake because your pediatrician says it makes you hyperactive.) Next, he threaded some washers on a string in a contrived manner, covered them with a hanky and removed them. Even at that tender age I knew [censored] when I saw it. The last trick, though, was positively astounding-- he took the broom out of the kitchen closet, made passes over it and told it to go to sleep and suddenly the broom leaned back and remained suspended at an utterly impossible angle. It freaked me out. Wisely, my father taught me the candy and washer tricks but refused to show me how the broom thing was done. It took me years to find it in print and it's still a mindblower done 'informally' with someone else's broom. Little did he know that his performance would result in years of his being awakened from a sound sleep and asked to pick a card.

I sought out all the books in the library on magic (yes, I could read quite well at four but it didn't prevent me from being an idiot today)and devoured the usual stuff: The Joseph Leeming books, resulting in many happy hours spent tooling around the house in my Sunday suit coat with a toilet paper tube attached to a string of rubber bands running up the sleeve so I could vanish a slightly-used handkerchief; The Bill Severin books ('Clickety-Clips', a Severin trick where the spectator HEARS a handful of paper clips linking themselves together in a chain, is still a part of my at-the-office repretoire to this very day, although I use a shuttle pass to switch the loose clips for the chain rather than Severin's sleeving); The Cub Scout Book of Magic, where I first learned of a valuable substance that can be made from matchbook striking surfaces; Spooky Magic, a Scholastic Book Services paperback that reads like Tony Andruzzi as a 6 year old (pulse-stopping, sticking pins in your thumb, seance effects, plus the classic severed finger in a matchbox); Bruce Elliot's Magic As A Hobby which featured 'No Time Lost', a thematic concept I've returned to again and again; his Classic Secrets of Magic which prompted me to cut up the family sink sponge and learn the Benson Bowl routine; Paul Curry's Magicians Magic which tipped not only OOTW but the equally devastating 'The Joker Knows' which my brother still mentions seeing me perform decades later (I need to show him Eddie Fields' take on the plot with HIS deck.)

Luckily, though, I met some magicians and found out that none of the stuff in the library was PROFESSIONAL magic, so on their sage advice I bought many items from the tastefully airbrushed line of Mak Magic tubes and boxes (word is they have a real live chinaman on staff who draws all those foreign characters)and rectified the error of my ways by becoming a gospel magician. Appropriately enough, I'd like to ask you to join me in prayer for a moment as I thank the good lord for delivering me from the foul pit of amateurism. Dear God, thank you so much for showing me the way of Stratospheres, The Egg Vase and the Proxy Substitution Chest. I thank thee for the precious gift of the Heavy Air Tube and the glory that is the Spotted Silks Cannister. Thank you for allowing me to serve you with a giant Jesus Christ silk which can also double as Charles Manson. Thank you for inspiring me to put crepe hair and a beard on Forgetful Freddie so that the Lord's head pops like a zit as it reappears. Thanks for allowing me the poetic license to re-enact the martyrdom of Saint Peter with a French Arm Chopper. Oh, and sorry about saying the 'F' word in front of those children, although I doubt that's the worst thing that ever happened to a twelve year old in a church basement.

Then I joined the IBM. God help me.


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » January 3rd, 2005, 12:03 pm

My first real exposure to magic and a real-live magician was when my mother had a house party and had a professional magician entertain with close-up illusions. He devestated everyone with the Benson Bowl Routine and Polaroid Money and many other effects too numerous to remember. I still remember that after the Polaroid routine, he did a false-counting exhibition with dollar bills that was purported to help keep all of us from getting short-changed. It was very funny and mysterious. His name was Ernie Heldman and at the time I didn't realize just how big a name he had in magic. Bitten by the bug, my mother then signed me up for night classes at a local high school. The teacher, none other than Harry Monti, former president of the S.A.M. This was back in the 70's and I can still remember practically every trick Harry demonstrated. That was really the start of my lifelong interest in things magical.


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » February 6th, 2005, 2:14 am

I grew up Like everyone else and had seen a magic show here or there but they never really intrigued me much... then about 12 years ago I was at a local Ren Faire and a fellow by the name of jeramiah wiggens(stage name...) who was a story teller... well he told a few short stories with coins and all kinds of diffrent types of "pocket" props but what hooked me was the sponges :) ... he told a really nice story and with some nice spongball work he hooked me.... found a magic set(ok so at 18 I felt alittle goofy buying it but it had SPONGBALLS!!!) and a good hardbacked book plus some other basic cant live without props(thumbtip,silk, plastic cups and balls etc etc)well in about a month I was desperate for another fix. I found a small magic shop at a local felamarket and before I knew it I was behind the counter "volunteering" my time and of course hanging out with magicians all that I could. After about 7 years of this some things came up in life and I grew away from magic... got married had a few kids and all that fun stuff. Well here a few months back a friend of mine was wanting to learn some stuff that would help him entertain people when he was behind a bar and I told him to find a shop and we would go and check it out..... welll needless to say as soon as I walked through the door........ here I am again :)

Michael Morgan


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » February 6th, 2005, 7:52 am

Cheating...John Scarne...Dai Vernon

Posts: 165
Joined: August 28th, 2008, 5:59 pm
Location: Washington State, U.S.

Re: What got you into magic?

Postby mark » February 6th, 2005, 1:29 pm

From my earliest memories, I loved the magic on Bozo's Circus and the Magic Land of Alakazam. I was seven or eight, and had to go to some sort of ballroom to play accordian for a bunch of 'old' people (old, meaning my parents' age). Most of that night was nervous energy, performing, eating a bland 'old people' dinner, and then the main event - Ricky Dunn. He did all the usual watch steals, belt steals, and ended by stealing some guy's shirt. In between though, he did some really nice stuff, and even at that young an age I could sense that I would rather be doing magic than performing on the Lawrence Welk show (Dad's dream). So, my birthday and Christmas presents began to be largely magic related items and books. I took time off to try growing up, but around age forty ended up in Vegas with my wife and some friends, attending Caesar's Magical Empire. The fire was lit again, and I have been busy stoking it ever since. Obvously, the growing up plan didn't take.


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » February 21st, 2005, 8:13 am

wow reading these post brings back alot of memories. My start down the road was with Tony Curtis and the Movie HOUDINI I saw the film on television when I was about 5 and went wild for magic from then on. I am lucky to have grown up in the age when magic was a pretty popular way to promote your product I got to see the Magical Burger king show at the fairs and Dale Harney from Canada on his show as well as Bill Daly hocus pocus gang and the heydays with Doug Henning. Wow what a trip. I even got to work at the Forks hotel and know and learn form the likes of Karl Norman, Ray Mertz, Lou Gallo. The last 2 have left us now and what great guys they were. From Karl I learned to haev a sense of humor and a good time with the performing end of this and its served me well in my carreer both as a magician and actor. I'm a lucky guy for having know all of these great people. THANKS


Re: What got you into magic?

Postby Guest » March 15th, 2005, 5:24 pm

The magic age for me was not nine but ten. That was when I saw Topas on the World's Greatest Magic. I immediately decided that sleight of hand was what I wanted to do. Topas had this beaming, upbeat personality and had good tastes in background music. ("Hello" by the Cars) And his magic seemed more amazing than anything else on the show to me.

So that Christmas, I got two books: The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay and Now You See It, Now You Don't by Bill Tarr. I wore both of them out. Neither of the original copies survives to this day . . . they both fell apart after much use.

That's been eleven years ago . . . wow . . .

But really, my magical interest goes back further than that. That was just the year I got "serious". But when I was really little, my Uncle David used to do the old "vanish-a-coin-and-pull-it-out-of-your-ear" trick for me and absolutely astonish me with it . . . and he finally taught it to me and I did it in my first-grade talent show. I did little tricks here and there, especially the Magic Works (Tenyo) stuff. Then . .. the Topas thing . . .

Return to “Magic History and Anecdotes”