Below is an interview with the author of
Arcana of Bizarre Magick and other
titles. He works his bizarre magick in
Seances, Corporate Settings, Kid Shows,
and in promoting his Wife's Real Estate
How did the magic bug get you?
The first magic I ever saw as a child was when our minister performed some
gospel magic for the youth program. Later I was given a magic set as a
birthday present. My interest began to grow, and my grandparents gave me a
copy of Walter Gibson's the Master Magicians; Their Lives and Most Famous
Tricks, for my fourteenth birthday.
Did you have a mentor or did you learn on your own?
I learned primarily on my own by studying every magic book at the local
library, but I hung out at Fox Fun & Magic Shop in downtown Detroit as much
as I could, learning from Roy Kissell.
How did the performance of magic start for you and at what age?
My first public show was at Paint Creek Methodist Church at age 14. At that
show I was hired to perform two children's birthday parties. In the early
1970's I did a lot of school shows, birthday parties, and Cub Scout
banquets. I also worked with a rock band, performing my "Cosmic Sorcery"
act at colleges and for teens, doing the dancing cane to music and fire
eating to "Light My Fire."
Not until 1980 when I moved to Atlanta did I began working corporate shows.
When did you make the transformation to the world of Bizarre Magick and
what was involved?
As long as I can remember I enjoyed horror movies and Halloween haunted
houses and horror as entertainment. In 1974 I moved to Miami, Florida,
began working in banking, and stopped performing magic shows. But I kept my interest
in magic. I saw an advertisement in Genii magazine for Tony
Shiel's book Something Strange, and it intrigued me. I picked up a copy,
loved the material, then ordered a copy of Shiels' other books, and got
Cameron's books. I began presenting a single bizarre magick effect for
friends and at parties.
In the beginning did you have a mentor or again did you develop your style
on your own?
I began to develop my own material specifically because I enjoyed bizarre
magick, but found so little of the material was practical. My particular
style of bizarre magick is to present a strong streamlined story line,
climaxed with credible phenomenon with a chill to it. I also enjoyed a
touch of humor in bizarre magick.
What did you read in the beginning (of you bizarre transformation)?
I read everything that came out on bizarre magick at its inception,
especially the books of Tony Shiels and Charles Cameron. I followed
Invocation magazine, and New Invocation magazine. One of my favorite books
was an obscure one called the Book of Shadows put out by Randy Clower in
Who were your inspirations?
Besides Tony Shiels: Brother Shadow was an idol, because he published what
I considered was practical material in Invocation magazine. When I met him
at the first Invocational I marveled at the workmanship and quality of his
props. The legendary Tony Andruzzi, because he lived it. He was one of
the most fascinating men I have ever known. Also, I especially enjoyed the
writings of Larry Baukin, who also offered practical material in New
Invocation magazine. Most recently my inspirations include Mark Edward, who
is a top séance performer and Jeff McBride who is a master at bizarre magick
(as well as any other type of magic).
I notice that Magus is not your real last name. How did you come up with
this stage name?
I still have a copy of the program when I performed in April 23, 1971. My
given name (Saltarella) was mis-spelled in the program, and the emcee could
not pronounce my name to introduce me. That was the last time I performed
under my real name (until recently). I realized I needed a name with two or
less syllables. I liked the name Magus because it was a term that meant
magician in a number of ways. Magus is Greek for magician, and is a term
used in English to designate a high ranking magician. Simon Magus was a
magician in the New Testament of the Bible. At the time no one was using
the name Magus.
What would you consider your character to be?
Someone who is knowledgeable about the supernatural, who has a collection of
curios that I enjoy showing.
What types of performances do you do all year? Séances? Corporate?
School Shows? and which ones are your favorite types to do?
My wife and I perform a mind-reading show at corporate events. I also do
strolling magic for corporate events. I perform séance parties throughout
the year when I can get hired. We have had a lot of fun putting on haunted
houses during the Halloween season, and I have been working on a live horror
stage show for the Halloween season. I enjoy all of it. I returned to
performing kid show magic as my children grew up. Last year I retired from
27 years in banking and joined my wife in her real estate business, and we
perform a family magic show under the name Saltarella to promote the real
estate business (Magic Realtors).
Do you have any anecdotes from performances of your Séances? Like did
anything out of your control happen that chilled you to the bone?
One of my first séances: We were conducting a séance at a one-room cabin in
the middle of a woods. During a tense moment during the invocation of the
spirits, someone whispered the name "Roger;" I could not tell where the
whisper came from. A moment later there was a thump at the door. Roger,
who was one of our party, broke the circle and went to the door. He opened
the door and peered out into the darkness for what seemed like a long
moment. Suddenly there was a loud boom (of thunder? or a gunshot?), and
Roger screamed (so did everyone else) as he jumped back into the room,
knocking over and extinguishing the candle (and plunging the room into total
darkness). I jumped up and threw myself against the door, bolted the door
and then pulled the light off the wall trying to turn it on. Roger's shirt
was torn and there were scratch marks on his back that had drawn blood.
You have quite a few items out on the market. In fact, you were kind enough
to set up a shop here for your fans to use. I found the Raising the Dead
for Fun and Profit and the Arcana of Bizarre Magick to be excellent books.
(Note: I have the Turn of a Friendly Card and Mysteries of the Runes as
well, but haven't had a chance to read them yet. Though I'm sure they are
as equally enlightening). Are you going
to be coming out with any effects in the near future?
Thank you. My wife and I are planning on putting out a book on
fortune-telling for corporate events. It is a very lucrative field.
Do you have any plans for a new video in the future?
I want to do a video on seance at some point. I have outlined some ideas
and have studied various seance videos on the market, as well as private
seance videos. I would also like to do a video on my horror show material
once it is complete.
Who would you say are the guys you like today in our field and why?
I am embarrassed to say that while I attended all the Invocational
conventions and the first few Weerd Weekends, I have not been to any of the
more recent magick gatherings such as the Gathering of the Inner Circle of
Bizarre Magick nor the conclave in England. While I know a number of the
names, I'm not equipped to say much about the new generation of bizarrists
except that it is clear that bizarre magick is in good hands.
If you could impart some sage advice to those just starting out in this
sub-culture of magic; what would it be?
First I would recommend that they attend every gathering they possibly
attend and meet as many people as they can. The connections I made at the
Invocational conventions were by far the most important in developing of my
own character and material. Seeing bizarre magick performed in as many
styles as possible is far different from reading an effect.
Second, discover a character you are comfortable with.
Script & choreograph your material to fit your character. Learn it well.
Finally, bizarre magick is (often) storytelling magick, but not everyone can
tell a story, and not every story needs telling. Be certain to edit and
trim your story. Make every word count, and keep your story moving.
Jim, I want to thank you again for taking the time to grant us this
interview and would like to offer you an open door to post anything you
would like to this humble site. From all the readers here at
BizarreMagick.com we want to wish you continued success in all your
Your Friend in Fright,
Thank you for your interest.
If you are interested in Jim Magus' work you
can check out his store here on our site.
Look for more interview pages to be added .
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