Hi, I'm Tony Hassini. I founded the International Magicians Society in July of 1968 with only a handful of magicians. Since then, the IMS grew to be the World's Largest Magic Organization.
Why and how I started the IMS is one of the most interesting stories you will ever read. And if you take your time and read this story, you will get something from it. I promise.
I was born in 1941 in the tiny little island of Cyprus, which is in the Mediteranean. As if coming into this world in the middle of the second world war was not bad enough, I was also a disabled child. I have a major hearing impairment, which I have to wear hearing aids for the rest of my life. I also have a severe case of dislexia. For those of you who do not know about dislexia, it is a syndrome more common among boys than girls and those who have it see things backwards or reverse, as if seeing things in a mirror. Quite often, under pressure, I begin writing things in reverse. And that's just the tip of the iceburg.
In the 1940's, very little was known about dislexia. And children like me were not classified as learning disabled. So I was told that I was stupid and that I will never learn anything, because the learning process is much harder for someone with dislexia. As a result, I was so shy that I could not look anyone in the eye.
At age 16, I left the island of Cyprus and went to London, England, hoping for a better life. I didn't speak a word of English. And the best job I could get at the time was as a dish-washer in a Cypriate restaurant. It was here in London that I stumbled across a local magic shop, where I discovered magic. I purchased my first two magic tricks from that shop. I realized then and there that when things seem impossible, there is always a simple solution, like with the tricks I had just purchased.
Magic changed my whole life. Magic gave me the self-confidence and the opportunity to become somebody.
When I showed my first tricks to people, they stopped and paid attention to me. They even asked me "How did you do that?" In the blink of an eye, I became somebody.
What are the chances of a poor boy with handicaps and disabilities to travel all over the world and be treated like a king in countries like Egypt, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Sweden, Russia, China, Japan, Korea, North America, South America, Central America, Australia, and so on.
I want to back up a little to when I was a young boy in Cyprus. There were two things that happened which gave me these wishful desires. First, a visiting magician came to the island and I went to see his wonderful magic show. During the entire show, I kept thinking "I'd like to grow up and become a magician."
Three months later, a large movie company from Hollywood came to Cyprus to film the motion picture entitled "Exodus." This is about a true story of Jews escaping the Nazis in Europe and arriving onto the island of Cyprus with the hope of travelling to Palestine, where someday they can form the state of Israel.
I stood at the beach head watching the filmmakers, specifically the cameraman/director sitting behind the camera and calling the shots. I heard a little voice in me saying, "I want to grow up and become a cameraman/director."
I had accomplished both of these childhood goals. I became a magician, as well as a cameraman/director.
The moral of the story is that if I can accomplish all that in spite of my handicaps, then anyone can reach their goals, as long as you believe in yourself and never give up.
So I founded the International Magicians Society with the hope that I can give the same opportunities that I was given to someone who might take magic and run with it and make all of his/her goals come true.