Using Magic To Prevent Drug Abuse by Stan Davis

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii November, 1996)

What with school programs being a popular market for magicians today, and prattling about drugs being a popular market for politicians, and my own lack of interest in either subject, this booklet seemed to be a timely and potentially useful item that would be of little if any interest to me and that I approached warily, to say the least.

But having read it I must admit that, at very least, if you have even the slightest interest or inclination toward this type of work, whether you are new to it or, perhaps especially, if you have been engaged in it for a long time, then I highly encourage you to read this. The author seems to (A) actually know something about and is qualified to discuss the subject intelligently, and (B) genuinely respects his audience—that is, the kids you're supposed to be talking to. These unusual attributes, presented with a tone of gentle sincerity, make this book worthy of your attention.

The author is in fact a social worker and part-time professional magician, who was a self-described "active participant in the hippie culture of the '60s," which I take to mean that he knew enough about marijuana to have actually inhaled. (Unlike our recently renewed White House tenant. Whatever.) He is apparently experienced enough with both kids and drugs to provide a rational analysis of American culture's various and often misguided attempts to prevent drug abuse, and proceeds to provide cogent examples of the difference between teaching and preaching.

These examples include presentations for standard tricks like Professor's Nightmare and the like that the author has developed, often hand-in-hand with the students in his junior high school magicians' club (a project in itself about which the author has some interesting advice to offer on the book's final page). The book includes a complete 40- minute scripted show specifically concerning tobacco addiction, intended for ages seven through twelve.

Note that there is little if any instruction concerning methods here. The author is concerned with accurate information about drug abuse, and how to incorporate it with magic; the magic part is your problem. And speaking of accurate information, the author points out that crack cocaine kills maybe 1000 people a year in the U.S., amid perhaps 4000 deaths a year from all illegal drugs combined; alcohol takes about 100,000 U.S. lives a year; and tobacco kills some 400,000 a year. Hey, anybody out there just learn something new?

8 - 1/2" X 11" comb bound; 29 single-sided pages; no illustrations; 1996; Publisher: Stan Davis