This pseudonym hides the charming personality of one of Europe's stalwart magicians. Paul Bessemans was born at St. Trond, in Belgium, in 1896, and although this date sounds a long way back, it does not make him so very old, and to meet him one would judge him to be much younger. He has all the lively 'joie de vivre' of the true continental, and his courtly vivacity makes him a pleasure to meet and to talk to.

From his earliest recollections, he was always interested in magic with a strong leaning toward the science of hypnotism and mental acts.

He first presented a full stage show by getting a booking for a period with a Theatre, and this was at the early age of twenty years old. In 1923. using his first professional name of Paulo Fantas, he presented a long programme of twenty one effects consisting of Manipulation, Mentalism. Hypnotism, Pseudo Spiritualism and Telepathy. He presented me with a well preserved copy of the programme of this show, which has a photograph of himself on the front, and is printed in the Belgian and French languages. Tricks have not changed a lot, for we see he was featuring amongst his twenty one effects, the Ariel Fishing, the Rice Bowls, the Umbrella Trick, Torn and Restored Paper, Changing Cards, Magic Cooking and Inexhaustible Bottle. The second half of the programme was devoted to the mental effects mentioned above.

He later worked at the Palace Theatre, at St. Trond, Limberg, as a dramatic actor and it says much for his part of playing the magician successfully, when one realises acting ability. In the years following he travelled the length and breadth of Europe, featuring in addition HAMIDA, the Telepathic Marvel.

He has always been closely associated with magical societies and was a founder member of the Occult Committee of Brussels. At the present time Paul is a member of the Magic Circle, the French Order of Illusionists, the German Magic Circle, and several other clubs.

He tells us his stage name of recent years has been FAN-TAI-CHE, and in this Chinese Act (Continued on Page 203).




by Peter McDonald Page 201


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