Monticup Lectures



June 2012


Ring #320     The Blue Ridge Magicians


President            Eddie Tobey “Tobini”

Vice President      George Buckley

Treasurer           David Clauss

Sgt. at Arms       Jim Champion

Secretary          Dennis Phillips 

Breaking News

Hope everyone is well following the Derecho Weather Event

in our area on Friday evening June 30 

Mark it down:

Waynesboro Magic Cavalcade

Friday September 28th

Saturday September 29th 

Ring Report 

June  2012  Meeting 

Our June meeting was all Peter Monticup and Jackitinge. Jackie grabbed some nice video from the lecture and I am sure Peter will have it available.

Peter owns and operates  in the Charlottesville, Virginia area and is a long time musician, comedian and magician.

His lecture was titled, “Turning Close-Up magic into Stage Magic”. He related how he arrived at a show booked to do “close-up magic” and

found out that he had an audience of 600 people!  After peppering is with one-liners and jokes, he began by tossing out a deck of cards wrapped with a rubber band. Three in the audience peaked at only one card.

He had them stand up and he named three cards and asked that if they heard their card, they sit down.  All three sat down.  The effect is known as David Hoy’s “Tossed Out Deck”

and was made popular by the late mentalist, David Hoy.

Peter followed up with a borrowed finger ring off the string that reappeared in a Lippencott Box. He then had 5 spectators select one of 5 cards. He played a game where they lied and said yes to absurd questions. He said it was to read their body language. He was able to tell who had the Ace of Spades.  The Knife Thru Coat is a classic effect and peter had a great non-gimmicked version.  A “You do as I Do” Rope Tie was next where the magician can tie a knot with out letting go of the ends but the spectator can not tie a knot.  He used the same rope to do three hand-tie escapes, the Keller and Zella and other tie. Peter’s version of Slydini’s paper Balls over the head used the clever idea of sponges which fall silently. Also performed was the Signed Card in a sealed deck.  He presented a mysterious effect where the names of a dozen people were written on slips of paper and placed in a container and cards are handed to each. A card is selected from another deck and a name drawn from the container and they match!

Peter Monticup then did a book test and assorted card effects. Everyone enjoyed the lecture.


Dennis Phillips 

Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment 

I think that an academic essay about the popularity of magic would include that observation that magic has ridden on two wild horses:

1) The delivery system

2) Technology


Prior to the 1860s, it was all “Street Magic” or “Court Jester”. The last half of the 19th century saw the rise of industrial cities and the socialist movements which increased worker’s incomes.  This led to cities and towns packed with people who had a few meager coins and a need for paid entertainment. The Music Hall in Europe and Vaudeville here in America became the “delivery system” for magic.   

The Technology for Modern magic was machine steel and rubber (used in mechanisms by Robert Houdin and Servais LeRoy) and electric lighting  and the proscenium theater stage.,_Duke_of_Saxe-Meiningen 


I consider Houdini to be a Doug Henning type of anomaly.  In an age of immigrants in America, he was the little ethnic immigrant who was breaking chains and escaping the poverty of a mundane ordinary life. He was a performance metaphor for triumph over the system.


Sociologists of business look at eras and tell us that business goes in 20 to 30 year cycles with parts of the cycle defined as:  Novelty, Growth, Maturity, Decline, Replacement.    Any technology business is constantly fighting to stay ahead of the technology and how quickly it becomes ubiquitous and washes over them. A business must be able to define what their core product and evolve. i.e.  Buggy Whip manufactures actually being in the “Acceleration and Control” business… Gas Lamp manufacturers being in the “illumination business”…Kodak being in the “Imaging business”…Newspapers being in the “Information” business… Magicians being in the “Entertainment business”…  


As technology changes, if a business is based on strictly operating due to a specific technology and its limited access, they will fail. You can look at the examples above and see how the successful ones transitioned and the ones that failed to change are gone.


One shining example of successful evolution is a company I used to work for and have had a long relationship with is , The Harris Corporation. (HRS Stock symbol)    Harris began as a printing press and type-making company!  Understanding that they were in the “Information handling” business they moved into electronic communications hardware.  Just this past month, the radio station I work for bought a new Harris Transmitter. We have other Harris equipment in the station.

 lookind at the Magic Arts, you can see some definite trends. The 20-30 year cycle we nostalgically call, “The Second Golden Age of Magic” ran from 1960-2000. the 30 years can be found depending on where you start and end.    Mark Wilson’s TV work along with Paul Osborne’s Theme Park work in the 60s and early 70s put stage magic back in the visibility of the public.  Both freshened up the dated stereotype of the stuffy, bumbling 1920s bumbling magician who most people had never seen but was the typical image in their minds. Actually the few magicians of that era were still doing the routines of the 1920s and the lines!


Doug Henning’s image and style was an anomaly which few could or did copy (other than the Gene Anderson Newspaper Tear) but what he did do was prove that a modern audience could enjoy theater magic. He also translated that into his wildly successful blockbuster TV specials which gave Fred Silverman the idea to use David Copperfield on a special to new 1978 ABC Television fall season.

So if we say, “1970 to 2000” we are looking at 30 years and the academic classic business cycle.  If the cycle began technologically as a marriage of magic and TV, then it was brought to a close by new technology of multi-channel cable and satellite TV and the Internet.  

 he major TV Networks had lost so much viewership, with so many channels, that they can not afford the cost or niche nature of magic TV specials.  Mindfreak was designed as a TV series more in the genre of reality TV.   The high point and decline of magic on TV was the Masked Magician series and the Gary Oullett specials.  His “World’s Greatest Magic Specials” were a tossed salad. No one believes that any tossed salad can be defined as “World Greatest”.  They were inconsistent, formulamatic and lacking the strength of personality. It was just a matter of time before people became bored with the magic.

 The danger in any blend of magic with technology is that the technology smothers over the entertainment value.  We never want an audience to say, “Its just technology” and today, that is a possibility.  The worst put down by an audience is for them to individually say, “If I had all that technology, I could do that also!”    I am certain that anyone could put together the technology for Carl Ballentine’s Classic Act.  No one else could do it.   We want them to marvel at the magic and not the technology and that is a real challenge today!  I am not sure that the currently hot Marco Tempest can do it.

Looking to be a magic star?  First of all be an incredibly talented, unique personality and then think : Delivery System and Technology.

Dennis Phillips  


About blueridgemagiciansring320

Secretary of Ring 320 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians located in the Western Virginia.
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