The Great Magician (Part 1)


The Great Magician was coming to town! The lurid three-colour posters proclaimed the glad news on every wall and telegraph pole. Showing a human silhouette outlined by radiating bands of Supernatural Energy in red and yellow, they announced that the Renowned Psychic would be appearing for One Show Only at the venerable “Her Majesty’s” Theatre, where he would demonstrate the Powers of the Mind, show us how to Unleash our own Infinite Subconscious Potential in time for the dawning New Age and, at no extra cost, fix any old watches we might happen to have lying about!

No, this was not satire, this was the early Seventies and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. It was a time when the Old Beliefs & Certainties had crumbled and people scrambled around desperately trying out strange new beliefs and looking for (chuckle) “Answers”. Or at least a System.

Hence the popularity of Astrology, Jogging, Meditation, Krishna, Macrobiotics, The Flying Saucer Brothers, Revolution, Feminism, Maoism, Buddhism, The Children of God, etc, etc.

People would cycle fervently thru them all, sampling one True Belief after the Other. Truly it was an Age of Belief, Dis-belief having been suspended for the duration, and in these fertile fields, as W.C. Fields might have observed, “there was a new one born every minute.”

And into this rich environment of gullible Belief, came New Age con-men & hippie charlatans like Charlie Manson & Erich von DanikinJim Jones, striding onto the World Stage &and making like Prophets & Wonder-Workers.

ESP was popular again too, the CIA was rumoured to be using clairvoyant “Far-Seers”, and the spoon-bending/ watch-fixing “powers” of Uri Geller were all the rage amongst the Psychically Gifted Set.

Geller toured the world (sometimes visiting ESP research Labs but mostly appearing onstage) as a clairvoyant and possessor of a vague set of Psychic “Powers”, which he claimed, if memory serves correctly, to have derived from a giant super-computer in the Future called SPECTRA.

The “Powers” however, Uri liked to insist, were merely a sort of side-effect. What was really Important apparently was the Message from the Future he was supposed to pass on to Humanity, warning them to prepare for Extra-Terrestrial Invasion, or something like that. It was all a bit vague and frankly I wasn’t paying attention.

Yes, well, anyway.. one of Mr Geller’s Powers was his “Matter Manipulating” ability, which he would demonstrate by causing keys & spoon handles to bend by using the Power of His Mind alone! Well.. he was holding the spoon delicately between his fingers, but not so much as to exert pressure and perhaps he did also gently stroke said spoon handles a couple of times as well, but not so much putting pressure on it as directing the electrons.. and etc etc.. You get the idea of the style of the thing. The Power of the Mind may have had a helping hand on occasion.

Uri Geller gets bent

Mr Geller also had the neat trick, which the Great Magician replicated in his act , of starting broken watches from a distance. He did this by calling, in his promotional material, for people to bring broken pieces of clock-ware to his performances. Then at a suitable time the watch-bearers are asked to hold their silent time-pieces and concentrate while the Magician himself performs an appropriate bit of psychic mummery on stage. When the audience is asked to check to see if their watch is working, lo! Miracle! There are always a couple of time pieces that have started ticking again in all the excitement.

Yes for all the New Age trappings, the magic of these Seventies Psychics was as old as Vaudeville.

But I was a Child of the Times and as gullible as anyone else at the time. Everyone believed in the latest extra-ordinary claim popularised by the sensation hungry Media, be it Bio-rhythms or Vitamin C curing Cancer or Flying Saucers and so did I. As for me, I was just around 13/14 years old at the time of the Great Magician’s visit and I had just started taking a keen interest in such things. I felt sure there must be more to Life than the banality of Brisbane.

I’d bought a book on ESP and made my own set of Rhine cards to practice with. I persuaded my scouting group to invite a member of the QLD UFO Society to give a lecture and show his slides of famous UFOs. Indeed, the first time I took a girl on a “date” was to see the Ancient Astro-naught himself, Erich Von Daniken.

space date

And now the Great Magician was coming to Brisbane on the Australian leg of his “highly acclaimed” World Tour, and I was taking an interest, not least because for some reason my Father had somehow become the Brisbane agent/promoter for the Great Magician’s performance here.

How it was that my father came to know the GM is a mystery, but then he was always bringing odd people home, to my mother’s polite and formally chilly disapproval. Visitors like Japanese Judo Masters, bent old Coppers, Vaudeville fringe-dwellers like George Wallace Jnr or Side-Show Alley strongman “Young Achilles“.

Amongst other things, Young Achilles made a living by eating entire cars, piece by piece and when he came to visit my Father he would entertain us little ones by pushing a large sewing needle up one nostril and out the other. Sadly he died in Darwin some years later while attempting to consume a Chevrolet.

Yes despite my father’s quiet suburban life, part of him always looked for an escape to a more Bohemian existence. Not that he ever thought of himself as being Creative, but he liked the idea of being a manager type of figure for creative people, and helping to promote performers or venues. So every now and then he’d get involved with these odd little projects, like the “disco” he ran for awhile at a pub in the out in the boondocks somewhere.

His biggest show biz venture was probably booking Sixties Aussie Pop Star Normie Rowe’s return tour, after he got out of the army and returned from Vietnam.

But now he was bringing the Great Magician to our town and your teen-aged narrator was eager to witness the show. Her Majesty’s Theatre had long been rumoured to have it’s resident ghost, and the Journeyman magician had announced that he would be attempting to contact this theatrical shade and make it manifest during his show. I could hardly wait.


Sunday Sermons will return next week with the stunning conclusion to ‘The Great Magician’. In the meantime here’s an introductory guide to basic spoon-bending:



The Reverend Hellfire was a practised Performance Poet,

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity Inc.,

and a Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism,

AND the Church of the Universe.

Wants to be something important when he grows up.



~ by reverendhellfire on January 1, 2018.

One Response to “THE GREAT MAGICIAN (Part1)”

  1. […] THE GREAT MAGICIAN (Part1) […]

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