Monthly Ring Report

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Editor, Dennis Phillips

Ring #320     The Blue Ridge Magicians

President       Wes Iseli

   Vice President   Eddie Tobey “Tobini”

Treasurer           David Clauss

Sgt. at Arms       Jim Champion

Secretary          Dennis Phillips

Breaking News

November 19th  is the Peter Pitchford Lecture.


George Buckley notes that our Ring is 17 years old!

Eddie Tobey notes that it is almost able to vote.

Another member notes it still has 4 years to go before it can drink.


Mentalist, Paul Hallas,  is appearing for a lecture (free to Ring #320 members) on September 13th at the S.A.M. “Hersy Basham” Assembly #32 of Lynchburg, VA. They meet at Tharp Funeral Home Contact: Patrick Hubble at (434) 847-4933 or John Jennings at


From IBM Ring #103 in Hampton Roads:

David Simoson Book Auction

July 27th at 1:00 p.m.

The auction of David Simoson’s excellent book collection is scheduled for Saturday afternoon July 27th beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the Shafer Room at Virginia Wesleyan College. The auction will be conducted by Harold Wood.  To download a complete listing of the books, magazines and pamphlets that will be offered. 


Here are the themes for the Ring Meetings for the rest of the 2013.

 Remember these are only suggested themes

August – Comedy magic

September – Holiday themed magic

October – Swap Meet

November – First trick / favorite trick….. or both

December – Christmas Dinner & Show 

Remember the blog address is

 Ring Report  

July 16, 2013 Ring Meeting 

The heat of Summer was apparent for our July Ring meeting. President Iseli was away performing at a County Fair and President Eddie Tobey (Tobini) conducted the meeting.

First up was information from two guests from the March of Dimes who informed us about their willingness to host a fund-raising magic show by our Ring. We hope to get a high school auditorium to use and present a 90 minute show on a Saturday night to the general public and raise funds for the March of Dimes.

This month’s pre-show lecture was conducted by Treasurer David Clauss who did an informative lecture and demonstration of using an end short card as well as corner short card. He also provided a hand out with printed materials on the techniques. David used it for mindreading as well as finding cards. Short cards are a useful tool.

The theme of this month’s Ring show was “Gimmicks and Gaffs”. Dennis Phillips was first up with a zip lock bag filled with flesh-colored gimmicks. He had a Silks from Newspaper gimmick, several Stillwell balls, a Palmo, an Al Baker Die Tube and Ireland Dye Tube. He then showed a PK Bat gimmick. Using a spectator he showed how to gimmick spoons to make them stick to a magnetic man. He then showed Al Gorham’s BINGO trick where a bingo number is predicted. He concluded with an Applause Meter where the children try to outdo each other screaming until the break the meter.

Bryan Bence blew up several balloons and they broke on command with nothing near them. A spectator was also able to break them with his thoughts. Steve Pittella showed the difference between a gaff and a gimmick. His gaff was a two-headed duck and his gimmick was a Jack Chanan device for blowing smoke out of your mouth.   Guest Alexander MacPhail, whose father is member Ralph, showed a startling card demonstration of being able to cut to all four aces in a deck after repeatable being shuffled. He explained that John Scarne never revealed his method as he told us the history of the effect. Ralph explained his own technique but we still marveled at the skill needed to do it.

Jim Champion had his version of the Ambitious Card effect but using a clever gimmick. Jim called it, “The trick that fooled Houdini”. He also showed a gimmick that made cards exchange in a spectator’s hands.  Finally Eddie Tobey had a spectator select a card and sit on it. Eddie had him hold a thin wire between his hands. Eddie took the wife and heated it with a flame and it formed into the symbols of the chosen card.

Dennis Phillips


Feedback is welcomed. Write a comment. Disagree. Agree. Call me names.

These are my personal opinions. I respect your opinions.

Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

By Dennis Phillips

August 2013

“haud ignota loquor”  Virgil‘s Aeneid, 2.91. 

Female illusionist, Ariann Black had a disastrous performance on America’s Got Talent. She and her assistants accidently exposed Jim Steinmeyer’s “Interlude” Illusion.   Black has been attempting to mystify people with magic for the last twenty years.  She’s been mostly unsuccessful at imbedding herself into the  top tier in the Vegas magic scene .Her own show on the strip seemed to fail, she reinventing her show on the strip, which seemed to fail again, she was another magician’s opening act, and then a part in Splash… And now at age 45, I think that you can see the pattern.  I believe that she does have talent but has not been able to translate it and her good looks into the shinning career she seems to want.  It could be that the times and Vegas conditions are just not right.  For all the talent that the late Peter Reveen had, he just never quite succeeded as an illusionist. Both he and Black had their best chance at being top acts in the 80s.

This latest disaster with Ariann Black and The Interlude may have pulled the final curtain  on her attempt at being a star Vegas Illusionist. As sarcastic and snotty as Howard Stern and the rest of the AGT panel, they seemed baffled at trying to understand what she was trying to do.  That means her act was not bad. It was not even good enough to be just “bad”.

Much of the problem is the Illusion she was trying to present, Jim Steinmeyer’s Interlude. 

No one has greater respect for Jim Steinmeyer than I do. He is the single most prolific creator of illusions in the last quarter of the 20th century and he continues to create. But like most thinkers and inventors, not everything he creates is great. One great illusion he created was the Origami Box, another is Modern Art. It virtually made Harbin’s Zig-Zag obsolete.

A clever but not spectacular Steinmeyer illusion is “Interlude”.  It is where a magician steps into an upright frame and is covered in the middle and a woman crawls through his body.  It is another one of Steinmeyer’s puzzles like about 50% of what he creates.

P.T. Selbit (P.T. Tibbles) , the genius of the early part of the century, also had a ratio of failures.  I think that like Selbit, many magicians performed his lesser illusions out of respect rather than merit. Both Virgil and Levant abandoned Selbit’s “Mighty Cheese”.  It was a novel idea with a giant two-foot high cheese wheel (cylinder) which could not be turned over by a group of spectators.  The secret was a large internal gyroscope which was spun to high speeds by an external electric motor or bicycle method.  Like all gyroscopes, it resisted any forced movement through its vertical plane of rotation. For all you math geeks, like me, its used Precession. It is is a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body. It can be defined as a change in direction of the rotation axis in which the second Euler angle (nutation) is constant. In physics, there are two types of precession: torque-free and torque-induced. Enough of that!  A gyroscope can be mysterious and I am sure it was more so at the beginning of the 20th century and Selbit’s audiences.  But a puzzle is not a magic trick.

“Interlude” is just not that great of a magic trick. The only way the Interlude sort of works is with a virile male in the box and a gorgeous female passing through such as Charlotte Pendragon and Joanne Spina. Siegfried and Roy added a surprise ending by backing it up to a Million Dollar Mystery mirror tube and producing a black panther out of Roy’s middle.

The illusion always seems to take on  a sexual metaphor. (Not to get too Freudian, here)   It has a tinge of masochism-domination as the guy gets penetrated by the female, For some this must be a male and female fantasy. I will just leave this line of commentary at that point.

“Interlude” works as a throw-away for a big box show when used this way.  Copperfield helped his performance with the remote controlled rotator. The Pendragons were all beef and flesh. The boxes were irrelevant except as shock and awe.

One other performance I saw with it had merit. It may have been Hirakowa ( The guy in Honolulu with the hotel dinner show)

I seem to recall that his Interlude split in two down the middle! .  It was themed in bamboo with vines and at the end were tiki torches that he held on to as he was sacrificed by an island  shaman to have a slender Hawaiian Goddess pass through his heart.  It clam-shelled open  to let him in and then closed. The plot dominated the trick, as it probably should with this illusion.

But for me and most others to do this effect would come off as kinky… Ah,  the pain of growing old ( and knowing it)  Apparently  Ariann is clueless about her age. She has increasingly become garish in her looks and was spooky on the AGT clip…harsh and old. She is not aging as well as Heather Locklear, who is also getting ragged.  Ariann, like Melinda, was very attractive in her youth and still appealing but in a different way.   Like Melinda, she needs to take a different career path and business model.  What she is doing is not working



About blueridgemagiciansring320

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