Friday, November 17, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 17th November

This report by Joel Howlett - -

The November 2017 meeting had the popular theme “Packet Card Tricks”. The host was Anthony Roberts who was filling in for John Ferguson. Anthony performed a few effects between acts including a trick that was taught to him as a teenager by the late George Cornford.

Performers and Performances included:
David Whitson – Who opened with a “playing card gag” (you had to be there!!) and a demonstration of trick decks and cards. These included the “Fako Deck”, “Forcing Deck” and the “Devano Rising Cards”. David also demonstrated the very popular “Tenyo Card Box”.

Al Hirschel was up next to show off his beautiful brass close up effect made by Viking Hatchem Magic.

Andrew Pickard performed the simple but effective “Rainbow Deck” effect – well done Andrew!!

Steve Irwin performed a version of “Wild Card” with a clever script about Aliens.

And, Yours Truly (Joel Howlett) who performed a series of packet card tricks that included Daryl’s Hole Card, Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right and John Bannon’s Twisted Sisters.

A short meeting followed and during the AGM the same office bearers were elected for 2018.
Thanks to all who got involved with an enjoyable night of magic! We look forward to more great magic in 2018. Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas Season……………………..

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Upcoming Meetings for 2018 and Oficebearers for 2018

The meetings of Newcastle Society will be held on the third Friday of each month (except December) at 7.30 pm at Mayfield Bowling Club, 2A Ingall St, Mayfield. The Club is opposite Albion Street, beside Park Street on one side and the Mayfield Swimming Centre on the other.

Friday 20th April was Colour Changes and Classics – host David Whitson   NOTE: Venue was Bellbird Workers' Club, NOT Mayfield Bowling Club.

Friday 11th May (Note – NOT 3rd Friday) – Bellbird Rehearsal, and Card Tricks with a Borrowed Deck – host Al Hirschel.  Venue is Bellbird Workers Club, 409 Wollombi Rd, Bellbird, NOT Mayfield Bowling Club.
Saturday 12th May – Bellbird Workers Club Show

Friday 29th June -  (Note – NOT 3rd Friday) Stockton Rehearsal(at Mayfield Bowl as usual)

Saturday 30th June – Stockton Bowling Club Show – host Al Hirschel

Friday 20th July –  Silks and Handkerchiefs – host Joel Howlett

Friday 17th August – Balls and Others – host Noel Clair

Friday 21st September – Paper and Everyday Objects – host Al Hirschel

Friday 19th October – Apparatus Magic – host Andrew Pickard

Friday 16th November – AGM and Coins – host Steve Irwin

Of course, you may not be interested in any of these themes.  No problem!  You are MOST WELCOME to bring along something entirely different that you have been working on and do it later in the performance section of the meeting.  The only reason for having a theme is to broaden our horizons, and if yours are already broader than these themes, so much the better !

Office Bearers for 2018

At the November 2017 Annual General Meeting, the following Officers were elected:
Patron:      Graham Holstein                  President:   David Whitson
Vice-President:   Joel Howlett               Acting Secretary:   David Whitson
Assistant Secretary:  Joel Howlett    
Treasurer: Al Hirschel
Archivist:  Steve Howlett                       Auditor:  Cyrus Taraparwalla

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 20th October

At the meeting there were four performers, Al Hirschel, David Whitson, John Ferguson and Anthony Roberts.  The theme was “Apparatus Magic”.

Al Hirschel demonstrated some precision made items in brass from Viking Haenchen.  The first consisted of two tubes, one longer than the other. The spectator placed a pencil in whichever of the tubes he chose, and Al capped both tubes.  With a quick magic word, Al showed us that the pencil was now in the previously empty tube!   Secondly, he showed us the “needle through matchbox”.  It was easy for Al to push a needle through a matchbox, but impossible for the spectator.  When the spectator opened the matchbox, he found it filled with a brass block, and we were left wondering how Al got the needle through !  Thirdly, Al displayed a brass key, and he was able to move the sidepiece of the key up and down the shaft easily.  However, when he gave it to a spectator to try, the spectator was unable to move the sidepiece – it had frozen in place !

Next, David Whitson displayed coloured elastic hair grips in his fingers,  and when he pulled one colour, it instantly changed places with the other colour.   He showed a rope staying rigidly horizontal across his hand, and on command, it collapsed and became like a normal rope.  His last item reflected his penchant for sliding colourful signs into holders and pulling them out to show different colours.  In this item, he held up a sign showing a green Christmas tree, then turned it into a blue Christmas tree. When we called out “Turn it round”, etc, the sign then showed Santa Claus, not a tree at all.

The items that John Ferguson presented were demonstrated as Apparatus items rather than as a magic presentation – the Egyptian Water Box, and the Silk Chimney.

Mentalist Anthony Roberts presented some fascinating items.  He showed us ESP cards, which have symbols on them, like wavy lines or a plus sign.  He gave one deck to himself and one to the spectator.  Both dealt one card on the table – and it was the same card !

Next, he said that “certain people are drawn to certain shapes and colours”. He asked a spectator to choose an ESP card.  Then he showed that the spectator had chosen a card that matched the shape on the predicted one.  

Using a pack of crayons and a outline drawing of a person, the spectator coloured in each of the garments with his own choice of crayon.  Anthony, with his back turned, meanwhile coloured in the (similar) drawing that he had made for himself.  Anthony’s colouring in matched the spectator’s quite impressively.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 15th September

Al Hirschel, hosting the theme “Paper and Everyday Objects”, led off the magic with his item Cut and Restored Newspaper.  Later, he workshopped it for us.  Quite a lot of work is involved in preparation !   Al also performed  Head through Business Card,  in which he very carefully uses scissors to cut vertical slits in the card in such a way that it can expand concertina-fashion to form a large ring big enough to slip over his head.

Next, Tom Blunden showed us a column from a newspaper and asked a spectator to cut the item in half anywhere they chose with scissors.  The line at which the item was cut matched exactly the first line in a duplicate item that Tom had placed before in an envelope that had been in open view.

David Whitson  wove a silk into a rabbit shape.  Good fun !  Then he displayed two elastic hair ribbons between his fingers and made them change places.  The contrasting colour change was visual and magical.

A number of “Bar Betcha” tricks featured in the presentation of John Ferguson – arrangements of coins, matches, and so on.  He showed that if you place your right foot close up against a wall, and also touch your cheek to the wall, you will find it impossible to raise your left foot without falling over.  John showed us the “Drunken Shuffle”, in which the chosen card is hopelessly mixed into the pack with cards shuffled every which way, yet the magician is able to restore the order of the pack – all except one card – the chosen card.  This trick had been useful in defusing a potentially tense situation with a few football fan supporters when John and Jenny were on a train to Edinburgh back in 2000 – doing this very trick for them made them our friends for the rest of the trip.  Magic can be very useful !

Brad Burgoyne did a card trick involving a switch between the chosen card, supposed to be in the spectator’s hand, and the card Brad had in his own hand.  The spectator was surprised to find it was Brad who now had his chosen card ! (Overheard among the onlookers: "I know he must be using "X", but he's so smooth I didn't see it")

Two mind reading experiments were shown us by Anthony Roberts.  His aim in the first was to read the spectator’s visual clues to find out what colour of Rubik’s cube the spectator had chosen….  a brave example of pure mentalism.   Next, what coloured die had the spectator put in the bag and what in the box ?  Anthony was able to suss out which of the three colours and two locations were correct. His ability to track bodily and visual signs in spectators is fascinating.  He vanished a marked coin, then gave the spectator a nest of brass pill boxes (from Viking) and the marked coin was found in the innermost one.  The workmanship of the nest of boxes was admired by everyone.

Friday, August 18, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 18th August 2017

President David Whitson was the host of a very enjoyable and relaxed night of magic. He opened with the Zipper Gag Bag followed by a comedy presentation of Sponge Ball effects that included turning round sponge balls into sponge cubes, a sponge rabbit and the David Ginn sucker sponge effect called “The Big Red Hand”.
Joel Howlett performed the Cups and Balls routine taught to him by Jim Mc Keague. This is Jim’s take on a classic piece of sleight of hand magic accompanied by some quirky story telling!! The entire sequence was perfected by Jim in his days as a Svengali Deck Pitchman on Fairgrounds and at Festivals.
Next unopened decks of cards were distributed to members present. These were a gift to the club from George Cornford’s daughter Karen.
David Whitson took the floor once again to demonstrate some of the magical apparatus he was parting with in his efforts to down size. A unique “Radio Rabbit Production” built by the late Barry Whitson and a card effect by Tommy Wonder had members fascinated.
An informal session with club Patron Grahame Holstein finished off the night! Those present enjoyed Graham’s insight into The Elmsley Count and his Sponge Ball Routine.
A business meeting followed……………….

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 21st July 2017

Joel Howlett gave a Magic Lecture to the magicians.   It is a long time since the club has hosted a magic lecture.  Beforehand, Joel had said “The lecture will include a variety of material including close up, stand up and even routines that can be used for kids - I am aiming to cater to a wide variety of the members interests...........”

He started by coming on stage with a rose in his hand, then plucking off a petal, he threw this in the air and it changed in the air into a red silk handkerchief..

From this red silk handkerchief, he made a large coin appear suddenly. The coin was at least 4 cm across.  The coin then multiplied until he was holding three of them. We asked ourselves, “How did he produce such large coins ?”

Joel showed us three Australian coins, and emptied them into a wine glass.  When he  very openly tipped the wine glass into a spectator’s hand, the coins had changed into one large Chinese coin.  All this was set in the context of a story about a Chinese magician.

Next Joel did an effect called “Confabulation”, in which he asked a member of the audience where they would like to go on a holiday, another member how much they would spend and another who they would travel with.

Later he tore open a sealed envelope to reveal the exact information provided by the audience members correctly written down – giving us the impression that he had telepathically received our brain waves.

In  his lecture Joel also gave pointers about stagecraft, and tips on presentation, encouraging us to develop our magical skills.

Joel did a card trick.  He displayed about ten cards fanned face up and asked a spectator to choose one.  This card he placed face up on the deck, and then expressed surprise that the card chosen was the only red-backed one in the group – and he showed us this was true.  The other nine cards were all blue backed.  Your reporter’s mouth fell open in surprise at this revelation !

Taking four sponge balls of an intriguing brown-purple colour, Joel pushed each into his fist and out of his fist he pulled a silk streamer saying “Impossible”.  The sponge balls had vanished.

These are only some of the powerful items that were featured in this excellent lecture, and every item was explained in detail, with lecture notes. We cannot put the detailed explanations here.  You needed to be there !!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday June 23rd

Your reporter found it quite difficult to keep track of the tricks that were being performed at this meeting, because they were short items, and lots of them !  As this chain of miracles went past in a bit of a blur,  it was only possible to get down the titles of each….

The host was Al Hirschel, and the theme was “Card Tricks with a Borrowed Deck”.  He led off with the Seven Card Trick, then a Four Jacks Assembly, and lastly a Card Layout to find the chosen card. 

David Whitson did a card trick using an ESP deck.  Next he had a card chosen, then found it on a Chinese sign.

Card magician Michael Blakeman started with an item finding a chosen card, then switched a chosen card on a spectator, then did a trick called the Drunken Shuffle,  then did a trick that resembled Vernon’s “Triumph”.  Michael did a mind reading item in which he looked for the chosen card by looking into the spectator’s eyes for a “tell” when he turned over the chosen card in the series of cards.  In his last item, he found the chosen card by peeling off top and bottom cards of the pack.

The next card magician, Brad Burgoyne, also found a chosen card, then he performed an item similar to the “Drunken Shuffle”.    A hopeless mess-up of cards is transformed into order by one cut by the magician - but in the neat spread of face-up cards one is still face-down - the chosen card.

 John Ferguson performed “Handful of Aces”, and “Spectator chooses the Aces”.

The “Piano Trick” is a nice bit of mathematical magic applied to a card trick, and this was neatly done by Denis Norman.   A card  originally between the spectator's fingers magically and invisibly moves from an "Even" pile to an "Odd" pile.

A visiting magician, Craig Hardwick, had a card chosen, then “thirds” were stacked up and the “rejects” put into a spectator’s fist.  When the fist was hit, cards fell out and the chosen card only remained   -  Startling !

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Magicians you may meet when you come to the Club

One person who will certainly welcome you to the club is our President, DAVID WHITSON:

 David's interest in magic began at the age of seven. He learnt magic from reading books at his local library. As a teenager he joined the Magic Department of the Young Peoples Theatre in Newcastle. After completing a Degree in Drama David launched into a full-time career as a professional magician. He performs at schools, preschools, festivals, clubs, shopping centres, churches, as well as birthday parties. He was a winner of Bert Newton's National Television Program: 'New Faces'. David is a past winner of Newcastle's 'Magician of the Year.'

David's website for his new Eco-show is well worth visiting, and the address is


Another person you may meet at the club is our Vice-President, JOEL HOWLETT, of JD Magic.

Joel's first magic performance for an audience was at the age of seven, when after an audition he was invited to perform on an NBN Television telethon, an experience that intensified and animated his love for magic and the stage. Busking, birthday parties and Saturday Guest Appearances in shows, such as, 'The Rowdy Rabbit Fun Show' at the local shopping centre, helped to establish Joel in his early years as a confident and talented young magician.

Since those early days Joel's showmanship has matured and taken him around Australia and the world, where he has appeared, in his own right:
· As the Australian Representative at Disney World Florida for The Millennium Dreamers Awards
· Featured Guest Artist at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas in The Stars of Tomorrow Show:
· Featured Act on 'The Gala Show at the Adelaide Magic Convention, where he also won both the Junior Close-up and Open Stage Competitions:
· Also a guest act at The Australian Centenary Magic Convention:
· Special Guest in 'The World Festival of Magic' Show

Joel's website is  and it's worth while visiting it !

Friday, May 19, 2017

Welcome to the Club


Newcastle Society of Magicians meets on the third Friday of each month (except December) at 7.30 pm at Mayfield Bowling Club, 2A Ingall St, Mayfield.  The Club is opposite Albion Street, beside Park Street on one side and the Mayfield Swimming Centre on the other.  Check at the bar to find the room we have been allocated.

The meeting starts at 7.30 pm with those present performing magic (if they wish) for the others present. Around 8.30pm to 9pm there is a 10 minute break to get refreshments, then a business meeting starts that can last for a half hour to an hour depending on what events are coming up.

Contact Details
If you want to contact us by phone, you can ring our President, David Whitson, on 4947 4980, or our Vice-President, Joel Howlett on 4942 3593.

But, Will I Be Welcome ?

Anyone with a genuine interest in magic is welcome to our meetings.  The usual procedure is to attend for three meetings and then to apply to join the society. The current membership fee for one year is $20.

Because we meet in a registered club, those under 18 are expected to be accompanied by parent or guardian. While this may be inconvenient for some folk, meeting in a club means that room hire is only a modest expense, and we can keep our club fees down.

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 19th May

The theme this month was “classics and colour changes” with President David Whitson as host.
David opened with his “blooming flowers” followed by another colourful children’s magic classic – “The Magic Colouring Book”. Next came David’s very polished and well-rehearsed “Egg Bag Routine” followed by the “Chinese Sticks”.
Steve Irwin took the floor next with his version of Duane Lafflin’s "Colour Change Silk Routine”. This is the one with the false explanation and the sucker finish. Steve is doing the moves very well and he left us “baffled, bothered and bewildered” …………
Michael Blakemore entertained next with his version of the two card transpo effect. A card seemed to change on a spectator’s hand – well done Michael. A very magical looking effect!!
The night’s program closed with Joel Howlett who performed the classic “Wild Coin” effect (three Australian coins change to three Chinese Coins with apparently no moves) and the classic “Mental Photography Pack” (blank cards to printed cards).
After a short break of informal magic discussions, the business meeting followed.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday 21st April 2017

Joel Howlett was leading the meeting, and the theme was “Silks and Handkerchiefs”.  He commenced by showing us Silk from Rose, then Coin from Silk.  This Coin production led into him producing multiple large coins.   Showing us a circle with paper across it, Joel punched a hole in the paper and from it produced a silk fountain.  He turned a black sash into a rainbow streamer.  What a cascade of colour !

Steve Irwin, the next performer, showed his right hand empty, and then asked Al to imprison that hand in a plastic bag and tie the bag to his wrist with rope so that nothing could get in.   Steve then took a red silk in his left hand, vanished it, and it instantly appeared inside the plastic bag held in his fingers in his right hand.   Everyone gasped with amazement, because it was so unexpected.

Next, Joel showed his ability with the Massal tube. Showing a square of material  empty, he twisted it into a tube, and from the tube produced a black and white silk picture of a flower in a pot.  Asking us to throw the colour from our clothes at it, he then produced a silk picture similar to the black and white one before, but with coloured splotches over it.   Then with a magic word, he produced a silk that not only was a fully coloured flower in a coloured pot, but also was of a size that was four times as large.

We know the zigzag effect with cards, with a banknote, and even with a woman.  The next performer, Noel Clair showed us a zigzag with rope – a device that gave the illusion that the rope was pushed sideways into two pieces, then he restored it. He did ring off rope, and made the ring disappear.

He did his rope routine, in which knots appear on a rope and disappear off it; the ends disappear off the rope; he tied a knot in the centre of the rope and removed the knot, then he put the ends back on the rope.  Next he made a rope pass straight through his finger.   A ring tied firmly on the rope came off easily, then went back on firmly. When he threw the ring at the rope, it went on to it immediately.

Joel produced a silk from his bare hands, vanished it, and made it reappear from mid air.  Next he did the Twentieth Century Silks.

Brad Burgoyne did a nice classical sponge ball routine: he appeared to break one sponge into two, transposed one sponge then two from his hand to the spectator’s, and multiplied two sponges to three.  The old classics have an inherent magical power !

Another classic is the Gung Ho Silk Box, which was used by John Ferguson to produce green, then red, then green, then red silks and so on as an introduction to “Traffic Lights”.  This is a chemical magic effect in which a liquid, swirled in a plastic bottle turns red in colour.  Then when the bottle is shaken, the liquid suddenly turns green. The colour change can be repeated many times – as long as there is air in the bottle !

Anthony Roberts showed us a small box, empty.  Opening it, he produced a silk.  These small silk production boxes are very useful.  Next he dealt cards fairly on to the table for one to be chosen – the 2D.  Opening a box in plain sight on the table all the time, he showed us the prediction he had written – the 2D.

The very useful prop, the Change Bag, was used to good effect by David Whitson, who used it to vanish red, white and blue silks, and then to produce from the empty bag a 2 metre silk Australian flag.  Noting that we should be welcoming to others, he said that the bag was made in Japan, the silks in India and the Aussie flag in Indonesia…..   From the change bag he next produced silk costumes of various animals such as a gorilla, that could go around our necks – and he challenged the spectators to put them on !

A new use for a classic prop, the Money Printer, was shown us by Andrew Pickard.  He used it to vanish a silk, by winding the silk into the printer.  Taking a tubular cover off a wine bottle, he showed the bottle was normal.  When he covered it up and removed the tube again, the vanished silk had appeared tied around the neck of the bottle !

What a night of magic ! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday March 17th

The theme was “Coins”, hosted by Steve Irwin, and the night started with Steve doing “Coins Across”, with a smooth transfer of coins from one hand to the other.

David Whitson commenced by promising us that if we could stay to the end of his act, he would share one million dollars with us all.  He showed us that classic trick, the coin slide, then promised if we stayed, he would share $100,000 with us.  Next he used a coin fan to produce a coin, promising us $10,000.  He explained the Miser’s Dream, then promised us $1000.  When we eventually saw the colour of the money, it was the $ 1 million paper cover of a block of chocolate.  He then shared the chocolate with us  - thank you David !

New member Brad Burgoyne did a nice card trick in which he made the chosen card turn invisible, and then found it as the fourteenth card in the deck.

Our host, Steve Irwin, was also telling us about millions of dollars – especially one $5 million dollar note.  He told us a story of $5 million dollars stolen and recovered, and illustrated it by showing us 5 ordinary  bills together with one $5 million bill.  The $5 million dollar bill vanished and then reappeared.

We had new visitors, Anthony Roberts and his father, Jack. Greetings to you !  Anthony did a card and coins item, “The Prediction”.   Much appreciated, Anthony, especially for your first time with us.

Noel Clair continued the session on the “Miser’s Dream” of David Whitson, above, giving us hints on performance of this classic item.

After the official magic time was over, Michael Blakeman, Brad Burgoyne and Anthony Roberts were noticed sessioning on card magic items.  This sort of informal encouragement is one of the aims of our club !

Monday, February 20, 2017

What Happened at the Meeting on Friday February17th

The theme of the meeting was “Ropes and Strings”, and this was introduced by President David Whitson doing a mysterious “Knots on Rope and Knots off Rope”.  This led into a smooth rendition of  “Professor’s Nightmare” / “Equal & Unequal Ropes”. 

Michael Blakeman did the card trick “Triumph”, popularized by Vernon.  The final revelation of the chosen card as the only card facing up in the entire spread is always a surprise.

Andrew Pickard did a sponge ball routine taught to him as a young magician by our Patron, Graham Holstein.  It was neatly done, with good interaction with the spectator.

Steve Irwin took on the classic “Cut and Restored Rope” and did it magnificently.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What Happened at the meeting on Friday 20th January

Quite a large number of our members performed a variety of tricks , with ribbons, coins, cards (including a nice Invisible Deck presentation, and a smooth packet trick), colour changing silks, and a stage size colour block release for mentalism.   This was an excellent time with much camaraderie. 

We were delighted that a visitor, Brad Burgoyne, attended the meeting for the first time and joined the club. Thank you, Brad !

Your author was also delighted regarding the colour block release referred to above.  I came along with this unknown prop, wondering what on earth it was for, and David Whitson not only knew what it did, but kindly volunteered to do an impromptu demonstration of it in front of the club.   I know what to practise up now !   And that is one of the purposes of our club – to help each other in ways like this !