ShowTheatre was first put onto the Internet in 1998. It was the first video website dedicated to strictly magic and illusion. Its conception happened in 1994, when Howard Baltus, founder of The Trickery, LLC, began a video project as a way to better sell the tricks that were offered by his magic shop.
In 1995, Howard partnered with magic inventor, Bob Solari, to begin creation on what still stands as today, the largest magic dealer video catalog of magic in the world. What made this effort different from other magic shop endeavors is that each and every effect was performed by Bob and Howard. The logic behind doing the demos themselves was simple; if they could perform the tricks they sold, anyone could!
In today’s world, most shop owners do not take the time to demonstrate their wares themselves, but rather run other videos created by the manufacturer of the trick or from the trick’s distributor. Back then, DVDs and digital downloads did not exist. Bob and Howard released 4 volumes of VHS catalogs over a 3 year period. There were just over 450 magic tricks that were fully demonstrated. It was a lot of serious magic demonstrated in a not so serious way.
The catalogs were titled Spy Before You Buy. Every now and then, in between the demos, the viewer would witness some very strange and unpredictable behavior from Bob or Howard. One moment had Bob walking by the camera dressed in a coconut bra and grass skirt. It was never explained or quite understood. There might be a rap song or some strange dance that just showed up in between the tricks.
The start of each video catalog would feature a spoof on a current movie or cartoon presentations like the start of a movie back in the day. We dug out 2 of the cartoon clips from the archive.