Helpful Hints for Young Magicians Under Eighty

In winning your audience, remember that “Manners make fortunes,” so don’t be impertinent.

An old trick well done is far better than a new trick with no effect.

Never tell the audience how good you are; they will soon find that out for themselves.

Nothing can give greater delight to the gentler sex than to have some flowers handed to them that you have produced from a hat or paper cone.

Rabbit tricks are positive successes.

Never work to fool a magician; always work to your audience. You may think your trick is old, but it is always new to members of your audience.

An old trick in a new dress is always a pleasant change.

When practicing a new trick, try it in front of a looking glass, accompanying your moves with your entire patter.

Don’t drag your tricks, but work as quickly as you can, bearing in mind the Latin proverb, “Make haste slowly.”

When your audience is far distant from you, pantomime work will be well appreciated.

Well-chosen remarks on topics of the day are always in order.

The newspapers generally commented more on Heller’s wit than on his magic. Always have a short sentence ready in case a trick should go wrong. One magician, who has the misfortune to blunder often, says, “Ladies and gentlemen, mistakes will happen, and that is one of them.”

Walk right out on stage, and tell your tale to your audience, and perhaps many will believe it.

It is far more difficult to give a trial show to a house full of seats and one manager than to a packed house and no manager.


The Right Way To Do Wrong“Helpful Hints for Young Magicians Under Eighty” is taken from the 2012 Melville House release of Harry Houdini’s The Right Way to Do Wrong.


Harry Houdini Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary, the son of a rabbi. The family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, when he was four, and changed their name from Weisz to Weiss, and Erik to Erich. To help support the family, Houdini first performed on stage in a trapeze act at the age of nine. After moving to New York at age 12, he became interested in magic, and concocted a stage name: 'Harry' was an Americanized version of his nickname, Ehrie, and 'Houdini' was inspired by magician Robert Houdin. Houdini's big break came in 1899 when he was offered a contract to perform on the best vaudeville stages in the US. Now known as the "Handcuff King," Houdini toured Europe for five years, and upon returning to the US began to perform the death-defying stunts that would make him one of the most famous people in the world, and one of the most popular early movie star. In 1926, after a performance in Montreal, an admirer visiting him backstage punched an unprepared Houdini in the stomach to test his famous muscle control. Houdini's appendix ruptured and, after peritonitis set in, he died—after one last performance in Detroi—at 52.

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