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Thrilling Magic
by Leonard H. Miller


(1 review, 2 customer ratings) ★★★★★

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Thrilling Magic by Leonard H. Miller

From author's note:

The feats of miracle workers - fire eaters, sword swallowers, barehand spike drivers, etc. - have been proclaimed far and wide, but little has been written in explanation of their feats or otherwise detailing the secrets of performance. These secrets have been jealously guarded by the practitioners of these miracles and they have seen fit to pass them on to only a limited few.

Please note that these stunts are dangerous and involve toxic and otherwise harmful substances. We are offering this ebook for historical and informational purposes. Anybody who experiments with these methods does this on their own risk. Please be careful and fully understand what you are doing.

Paul Fleming wrote:

This is thrilling magic, indeed, what with feats in defying fire, swallowing swords, reclining on spikes, chewing glass, and engaging in several other diversions of a type that are not usually practiced by ordinary mortals. All of this comes to us in a clearly printed little booklet, with 25 pages of explanations, illustrated with a dozen line drawings, and bound (appropriately enough) in flaming red soft boards. Fifteen pages are devoted to tricks with fire, four to sword-swallowing, three to what the author terms "miracles with spikes," and three to other fearsome stunts.

In the section on fire tricks are instructions for "eating" small torches of cotton that have been dipped into gasoline and ignited, spouting flame from the mouth, eating a banana that has been dipped into burning alcohol (and also other delicacies such as burning coals and sealing wax), swallowing burning oil, eating lighted candles, and so on. There are, also, a very sketchy description of the usual method of "fire-eating" (the apparent consumption of cotton batting, after which clouds of smoke and even sparks are blown from the mouth), and a detailed (four-page) explanation of Abbott's Smoke Act.

The treatment of sword-swallowing tells, among other things, the best kind of sword to use, where to obtain such a sword, how to adjust its length to the performer's individual needs, how to prepare it for swallowing, and finally how to go through the actual performance of passing the sword down the throat up to the very hilt. For those who prefer spikes to swords, information is provided for driving a spike up the nose by tapping it with a hammer, for driving a spike through a plank with a fist, and for duplicating the Hindoo fakir's feat of lying on a bed of spikes. Other charming pastimes explained by Mr. Miller are causing the performer's body temperature to rise suddenly and appreciably, piercing the flesh with needles and pins, the apparent eating of glass, and walking through fire.

Doubtless many persons will read this booklet with interest, satisfy their curiosity about how certain weird feats are done, and then be properly grateful that they themselves have found pleasanter and safer means of livelihood than these. This kind of performance is scarcely suitable for the drawing-room, nor (with the exception of "fire eating" of the familiar type, which can be exhibited without giving offense, as has been demonstrated by such performers as Jean Hugard) in most high-grade places of amusement. It seems to be essentially "side-show stuff," adapted to spectators with such robust tastes that they relish feats which would be definitely repugnant to sensitive members of the average audience.

On the theory that it takes all kinds of people to make up a world, it may be conceded that there is a place for this sort of entertainment, but the field is certainly very limited and getting smaller year by year. It seems to this reviewer that the exponents of "thrilling magic" (if, indeed, it may rightly be called magic) undergo a degree of exertion and hazard for which they are very unlikely ever to be adequately compensated. We wish them joy in their work, and promise that they need fear no competition from us. We know of no branch of mystery that has so little to offer its followers in return for the very considerable demands it makes upon them.

  • Author's Note
  • Publisher's Note
  • Fire Eating
    • Introduction
    • To Make The Torches
    • How To Eat Fire
    • An Opening Stunt
    • Spouting Flame To Light A Torch
    • Human Volcano
    • Human Blow-Torch
    • Salamander's Dinner
    • Devil's Dessert
    • Eating A Ball Of Fire
    • Chewing Molten Lead
    • Eating Burning Coals
    • Eating Burning Wax
    • Swallowing Burning Oil
    • Magic Flash
    • A Comedy Flash
    • How To Make A Flash Box
    • Eating A Lighted Candle
    • Burn And Yet Not Burn
    • Fireproofing A Hank
    • Fire From Water
    • Fire Eating, Chinese Method
    • Eating Smoke As An Act
    • Cautions For Working With Fire
  • Sword Swallowing
    • Introduction
    • Where To Obtain Swords
    • Preparing The Swords
    • Swallowing The Sword
    • Cutting The Sword The Right Length
    • Cautions
  • Miracles With Spikes
    • Driving A Spike Into The Head
    • Hindu Bed Of Spikes
    • Driving A Spike Into A Plank With The Fist
  • Some Other Miracles
    • Temperature Rising Stunt
    • Human Pincushion
    • Eating Glass
    • Walking Through Fire
1st edition 1959, 30 pages; PDF 28 pages.
word count: 6934 which is equivalent to 27 standard pages of text

Reviewed by Will Tingle
★★★★   Date Added: Friday 26 February, 2021

Many of the methods in this book are wrong; some of which are outright dangerous.