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Hood’s Winks – Is magic real?

Ralph Hood floats a woman in air during a magic show. (Contributed photo)

By Ralph Hood

Is magic real? Well, yes and no. Entertaining magicians certainly make it look real. Way back in history, some people truly believed it was real.

I was a professional magician myself in my younger years, performing, as we described it, “…onstage up and down the entire eastern seaboard.”

By far the most appreciated illusion I performed was announced by the emcee, “…watch closely, as the Great Ralph”—that was my stage name—“floats a beautiful woman high above the stage while passing a completely solid metal hoop, over, under, and around her entire body, thus proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the complete absence of any supporting device.”

A photo of me presenting that illusion is included with this column.

Our entire show of circus acts, magic, and clowns was called The Children’s Magic Circus. It was designed to entertain children, but even the adults wondered how I floated that lady. The conversation after the show went like this… “You really fooled those kids with that floating lady.” They would look over the apparatus, and then finally ask me, “How did you do that?”

I answered honestly by explaining, “I did it very carefully.”

We locked a girl inside a huge, padlocked canvas bag, and then locked her into a chained and padlocked box that was covered with thick canvas that was also padlocked. Then the magician stood up on top of the box, pulled up a curtain that surrounded him, then dropped the curtain to show that the girl stood up on the locked box, but the magician was gone! The box was quickly unpadlocked and the magician—inside the padlocked canvas bag—arose from the box.

I also did fire-eating in that show. That’s another thing I did carefully. We even invented a new fire-eating trick. The fire-eater would—believe it or not—stick a torch into his mouth, pull out the torch and, believe it or not, his tongue stayed aflame while another person lit his cigarette from the burning tongue.

Another performer was a sword swallower, and very good at it. How did he do it? I’m gonna tell you. There was no trick to it. Let me repeat that—there was no trick to it. He actually—and I’m telling this truthfully—practiced and practiced with steel poles until he could get one all the way down his throat to the very bottom of his stomach. I’m telling the truth, but few people believe me when I say it is not a trick.

Ah, it’s fun looking back on the things we did in our youth.

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