michael h. stewart | Publications

A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic

A Brief Encyclopedia of Modern Magic

Second Edition: Now with more magic!

The Cupboard

Oh. I think it’s just tragic and beautiful.

—Erin Pringle

From Cupboard:

Every illusion carries a price and no one is more aware of that than the wondrous, tragic magicians detailed here. They know darkness that leaves scars. They know failure that gives birth to terrible life. They know their journey is one of haunting, their competition one that doesn’t end with this world. Did it never occur to us they keep their tricks a secret to protect us?

Plus tricks you can do at home!

(You should never do these tricks at home.)

Reviews & Interviews:

Good Reads by Charles Dee Mitchell

Mini-Review by Erin Pringle

Book Review: A Brief Encyclopedia Of Modern Magic by Charles Dee Mitchell

An Excerpt

Bullet Trick, The. The performer is blindfolded and placed before a brick wall. He is offered a cigarette or a cigar, which he should decline. The bullet finds the chamber. Aim is taken. And the trigger’s four pounds of resistance are felt.

When the trick is performed correctly the bullet is caught between the magician’s smiling teeth. When it is not, the bullet is found a bit farther back.


Davis, Cassandra. (1960 – 2005). A woman made of wire, she was just the frame of a person and could collapse and disappear with a sharp flick of desire. As such, she was primarily known for her vanishing acts. Anything she touched seemed more insubstantial. That is to say, its lack would thicken.

She could fuck like a jackhammer. She could fuck so you could break a hipbone, but, after that, she was only the scars and bruises she left and those tended to fade away. Yet for all of that I still find, on occasion, one of her blonde hairs amid the dust on the desk or tucked into the crease of an old blanket.

Her act was a great deal like her love life. It started small with a fork or a coin. She tossed it up and it gradually faded away. Then she would tease you. She would twist and curve a bit. Her bare left hand tickling behind your ear. Everything around you started to lose its edge and when you came around the person to your right had slipped away. Then she would start to pound on you. She would take the things you thought you would never let go: your mother’s face, your best friend’s handshake, the last lines of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She would take these things right out of your head and make them go the way of the fork.

But how did Cassandra die? Well, no one knows, of course; she just disappeared.


A Trick You Can Do #4

Effect: You invite her up and lay her on a thin plank. Gently draw up her dress. Allow the stage lights to make a halo from the thin down rising from her skin. Her legs, her unprepared panties, and exposed stomach. There will be nervous giggles and the widening eyes of teenage boys. Now work a pillow under her head, part her hair. Ensure that she is comfortable. With your finger draw a line across her lower stomach, separating the functions of birth and digestion. Articulate the difference between the teeth of your saw and her skin. Feel that sympathy. See the quivering for breath. You are cutting that as much as her.

Materials: You will need: a lady, something very sharp, and a plank.

Method: Some will twist the lady into the table. Others will invent a set of legs to peek out of the other side. We, however, have neither a table nor a box. Perhaps it is a trick blade? No, our blade is very sharp and very real. How then do we cut into her? Oh, there is no trick to that; the trick is in putting her back together.


Larson, Fredrick the Great. (1950 – 2005). Fred died a few weeks ago when he filled his room with helium and lit a cigar. Not much was lost: a dollhouse, a few props and one son of a bitch. He worked children’s parties where his tricks never quite went off (because he drank almost as much as he smoked). Good old Fred could not be trusted with money or your wife. You should sleep better knowing the bastard’s in hell.