Looking Forward to Nothing But a Good Nothing

“Skinny” Frenchie O’Toole

Magic is like any art in which you manipulate props in front of people and lie to them about what they are seeing. 

Robert-Houdin was said to have observed, “magic without magic is nothing.” 

This may have lost something in the translation or it may be the most vapid quote we have ever heard.  We agree, though.

Magic is special precisely because it is special. 

If it wasn’t Magic, it would be the mere manipulation of props in front of people but not lying.  That isn’t magic; although in many counties, it is a misdemeanor.

So, we look forward to what Magic will bring us next year to keep the Magic in Magic.  For as we all know, “magic without magic is mothing.”  

We asked Santa to be kind to us this year and bring us a few things.  We have no expectation we will get them — not because Santa’s Magic is limited.  No, Santa’s Magic even without the magic is still Santa.

We fear we will be stiffed by the old guy for being “naughty.” The same goes for what we expect from Santa.  

We think it was Ira Davenport who coined the now famous come-back, “Yeah, I got your wax-sealed knot right here!” 

But it was our sitcom idea to combine the Davenport Brothers, the Fox Sisters, the Georgia Magnet, and Timmy and Lassie. 

This idea was stolen by the big networks and only changed slightly to become the 1970’s hit game show, Match Game ’77.  The part of Gene Rayburn was supposed to be played by animal stars Gentle Ben or Flipper.  

The Rip Taylor and J.P. Morgan characters were our idea and carried through to the final show.  

So where does that leave us?  You may have heard that “magic without magic is nothing.” 

Well, in our Masters Thesis in Divinity School, The Theological Implications of Miracle Whip, we chose to not address this issue.  But we did hit head-on the least known of the early Spiritualist Siblings, Samantha and Frenchie O’Toole. 

Unlike the Fox Sisters who used their blemished, dried and cracked toes to click and clack their way to world-wide fame, the O’Toole Sisters brought class to the world of Spirit Mediums. 

It was Samantha who first discovered she and her younger sister, Frenchie, could communicate by the ultra-high-pitched gurgling of their stomachs.  The gurgling could only be heard by the sisters and some dogs. 

We are sure that now in the sensitive feel-good era, child-endangerment agencies would object to the intentional starving of your children to enable a fraudulent seance. 

We would some how justify the ending of their career in the interest of “keeping kids healthy” or “preventing abuse.”  

Those times were different though.  Frenchie O’Toole could project her high-pitched stomach gurgle across 200 yards to her sister but to do so required her to fast for days. 

Their stomach sounds method of two-person telepathy is still used in the industry today but requires a keen sense of…

“Skinny” Frenchie O’Toole

Magic is like any art in which you manipulate props in front of people and lie to them about what they are seeing. 

Robert-Houdin was said to have observed, “magic without magic is nothing.” 

This may have lost something in the translation or it may be the most vapid quote we have ever heard.  We agree, though.

Magic is special precisely because it is special. 

If it wasn’t Magic, it would be the mere manipulation of props in front of people but not lying.  That isn’t magic; although in many counties, it is a misdemeanor.

So, we look forward to what Magic will bring us next year to keep the Magic in Magic.  For as we all know, “magic without magic is mothing.”  

We asked Santa to be kind to us this year and bring us a few things.  We have no expectation we will get them — not because Santa’s Magic is limited.  No, Santa’s Magic even without the magic is still Santa.

We fear we will be stiffed by the old guy for being “naughty.” The same goes for what we expect from Santa.  

We think it was Ira Davenport who coined the now famous come-back, “Yeah, I got your wax-sealed knot right here!” 

But it was our sitcom idea to combine the Davenport Brothers, the Fox Sisters, the Georgia Magnet, and Timmy and Lassie. 

This idea was stolen by the big networks and only changed slightly to become the 1970’s hit game show, Match Game ’77.  The part of Gene Rayburn was supposed to be played by animal stars Gentle Ben or Flipper.  

The Rip Taylor and J.P. Morgan characters were our idea and carried through to the final show.  

So where does that leave us?  You may have heard that “magic without magic is nothing.” 

Well, in our Masters Thesis in Divinity School, The Theological Implications of Miracle Whip, we chose to not address this issue.  But we did hit head-on the least known of the early Spiritualist Siblings, Samantha and Frenchie O’Toole. 

Unlike the Fox Sisters who used their blemished, dried and cracked toes to click and clack their way to world-wide fame, the O’Toole Sisters brought class to the world of Spirit Mediums. 

It was Samantha who first discovered she and her younger sister, Frenchie, could communicate by the ultra-high-pitched gurgling of their stomachs.  The gurgling could only be heard by the sisters and some dogs. 

We are sure that now in the sensitive feel-good era, child-endangerment agencies would object to the intentional starving of your children to enable a fraudulent seance. 

We would some how justify the ending of their career in the interest of “keeping kids healthy” or “preventing abuse.”  

Those times were different though.  Frenchie O’Toole could project her high-pitched stomach gurgle across 200 yards to her sister but to do so required her to fast for days. 

Their stomach sounds method of two-person telepathy is still used in the industry today but requires a keen sense of hearing, and an either genetically or artifically modified diaphram.

So while the Fox Sisters popped their corn-covered big toes for Royalty, and the Davenport Brothers played see-saw in the dark, it was the O’Toole Sisters who developed one of the most mystifying methods of communicating and yet could never translate those gurgles into commercial success.

Houdini writes briefly about the O’Toole Sisters in his A Magician Among the Spirits,

. . . [M]any of the so-called psychics were proven frauds by me because of my ability to duplicate or foil their “tricks” and thus expose to the world their true fraud.  

In Des Moines, Iowa, I ended the career of two very skinny girls who claimed to communicate with each other and beyond by “super-natural” means. 

Right before they began their “show,” I shoved a tablespoon full of bicarbonate of soda in each of their mouths.  The audience was stunned I would do this, but even more amazed to find they could not communicate with each other, the other-realm, or even the audience.

Houdini’s account fails to point out that he had no special knowledge of the true secret behind the sisters’ communication. 

[Note: We should disclose that this is a shameless attempt to hype our soon to be completed book on the phenomenon of the O’Toole Sisters.  We’ll keep you informed as it approaches publication].

It was fortuitous the bicarbonate of soda acted as a digestive aid and stopped the high-pitched gurgling. 

It is common knowledge, Houdini would shove a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda into the mouth of any person he met for the first time.

Some have speculated this was why Robert-Houdin’s widow did not allow Houdini into her home. 

It was not antipathy for the young American artist who took her late-husband’s name but her disgust at the method in which she was greeted by the man.

This brings us back to Robert-Houdin’s quote.  Magic without magic is nothing.  Remove dyspepsia from the “skinny girls” and there is nothing.  Put corn-pads on the Fox Sisters and the spirits leave you alone.  Break both arms of each Davenport Brother and you have no show.  

So we look forward to next year when things will make sense once again.  Of course this has been our wish for the last 45 years but here’s hoping. 

Mark Twain said “Hope is nothing but at least it’s something.”  

      

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