Special Magical Event at Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater

Magician John CassidyA Special Note From Our Friends at the Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater:

We hope you and your family are well and that you are staying safe in these uncertain times.

Danny Archer & Marty Martin opened the Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater in August of 2017. The theater was instantly regarded as a gem, not only by the public but by the many headliners from around the world who played there. With its unique amphitheater seating, there is not a bad seat in the house and the performer has the best possible conditions to share their art with the audience. Until COVID hit, and on Friday, March 13th, the theater was forced to close for almost 6 Go.

They are reopening and we are pleased to announce that they will be donating a portion of their ticket sales to the SAM, along with giving the SAM members a discount when they watch a show. They bring in different acts on a regular basis, and this is a great opportunity to watch some great live performances and help out the SAM as well. Their tickets normally sell for $25, and when you order you save $5 off the ticket price and the SAM receives $5 as well. This offer is for their first two shows David Corsaro on 9/26 and John Cassidy (pictured) on 10/3. If the promotion does well for the SAM, this program will be extended.

To purchase tickets, you would go to https://streamingliveshows.uscreen.io/catalog, start to make your purchase, and enter discount code SAM5 (for the Corsaro show only) and SAM5JC (for the John Cassidy Show)  to get $5 off your purchase. Due to the nature of online tickets, the discounted tickets cannot be purchased on the day of the show. One neat feature is that if you miss the live show, the show will be available for viewing for up to five days afterward. So basically you can watch once either live or as Video on Demand. Since this is a fundraiser, please feel free to share the link and discount code with your friends and family.

For more information on the theater, please visit;  http://www.smokeandmirrorstheater.com

Facebook Page  https://www.facebook.com/smokeandmirrorsmagictheater/

Twitter                @smoke_theater

Instagram          https://www.instagram.com/smokeandmirrorstheater/

 

 

Great Magic Tricks and Magic Dealers

1926-Johnson Smith Co. AdAs all readers know, InsideMagic.com does not do paid endorsements of Magic Dealers or their tricks for sale.  When we review a trick, readers know that we really, really like it and are not receiving a red cent for the good word.

Not that we are against being bribed to writing a great review for a lousy trick but the offer doesn’t come around that often.  That could be because Magic Dealers are notoriously honest and we have a readership hovering in the single digits and the hovering is in the lower range of that single digit range.  We prefer to think that Magic Dealers are honest and above bribes.

But the subject has caused us to wonder: why do Magic Dealers like Viking Magic, Meir Yedid and Cody Fisher produce quality tricks.  They could produce the same effect to do the same thing with lousy quality but they don’t.

We got to thinking about this when we received Viking Magic’s Nest of Brass Boxes.  The tolerances of the brass machining is exact and, dare we say — and we do dare, it’s our nature — perfect.  The trick is not new, it is the quality of the trick that makes the difference.  George Robinson is not just a nice guy and proprietor of a great shop, he seems to insist on quality when less than quality would do.  The brass is beautiful, the instructions are great, the delivery was prompt and the trick works right out of the box.  We didn’t have to make the gimmick or even polish the brass.

Meir Yedid apparently loves magic as much as we do.  His services include the latest magic news and his descriptions of the effects he sells are first class.  He gives a short history on how he came upon the trick, offers his suggested variations on handling, and great prices.  Again, he doesn’t need to do this.  People in our business know Meir Yedid.  They trust him and so he could rest on his laurels.  We recline on our beanbag chair, we have no laurels on which to rest.  If we did, they would probably have thorns making for a difficult resting experience.

As many InsideMagic.com readers know, we have a jones for color changing knives.  It could be because it was the first trick we received on the first day upon being employed by the legendary Barry Gibbs — developer of the finest Rising Card effect ever made, the A.M.Y Rising Cards — at the legendary Magic Wagon at the no-longer existent Palm Beach Mall.  He instructed us to learn the moves and to come back for our next day at work with it practiced.  He also told us to clip and clean our fingernails before demonstrating any magic at the kiosk.  That set was from D. Robbins with the locking blade.  We loved it because it was our introduction into our mentorship with Mr. Gibbs.  Over the next two years, he taught us so much but the Color Changing Knives stuck — pun intended.

We have purchased Joe Mogar sets, Rodger Loveland‘s beautiful and larger set, and now two more sets from Meir Yedid including a set made from used car parts.  How many sets does on magician need?  We don’t know but when we find out, we’ll share the news on this humble site.

Cody Fisher is not only inventive, he is a great guy.  His personal approach to dealing with customers and past customers is the finest — and it does not have to be.  His tricks are strong enough to be a less interested or helpful dealer but that apparently not his style.

But why?  Why make such great Magic Tricks with such high quality and great customer service?  Because we are a small market?  No, they would have greater economic incentives to do the bare minimum and take the least path to satisfying the customer.  The economics of the situation would seem to dictate that they should do enough to get the sale and move on.  Yes, customer service would help build loyalty but pricing lowered by lesser quality would compete against this benefit.

We come to the conclusion that they are magicians first and Magic dealers’ second.  They promote our Art and care about their customers because they want to put out the best quality effects and follow up with customers because they care about their customers’ use of the products.

They don’t need to but they do.

We are thankful that they do but we are not above taking bribes for endorsements.  Perhaps that’s the difference between us and them.  Fortunately in the last 25 years of this site’s existence, we’ve never had to face that dilemma.

 

Magicians Making it Work in Unique Times

Image of Balloon SculptureOne of the chief complaints we receive here at the spacious Inside Magic office overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California is “Why do you have to be so specific in identifying where your office is?”

The second complaint we are forced to address is “Why don’t you have more articles about Balloon Sculptures?”

We have thought about the two complaints for weeks and cannot find a common link.  We’ll save the first complaint for later and focus on the second one.

We read today in the East Anglian Daily Times of two performers who have innovated a method to stay in business during these trying times.

Steff Evans and Olly Graham are accomplished magicians, balloon and bubble artists in Woodbridge, UK and in an article about their venture titled, “Don’t Pop Me Now,” they have received great publicity for what appears to be a winning business model.

The two entertainers were working steadily before the pandemic and like many of us had to find a way to make ends come close to meeting when business dried up overnight.

Mr Graham told the paper, “We were well-established and successful but absolutely nothing could have prepared us for what happened with corona virus. As soon as lock-down was announced, all of our work died instantly.

“Phones were going crazy cancelling everything and almost overnight we went from having a jam-packed diary to nothing on the horizon at all.

“As full-time professionals in the entertainment business, neither of us had anything to fall back on.”

Ms. Evans recalled how they were asked to use their balloon sculpting skills to “jazz up” a friend’s living room for a birthday party.

“Just because people cannot have big parties or events doesn’t mean they don’t want to mark special occasions, decorate venues or create a magical or memorable experience for someone and balloons are a great way to add colour and beauty and to get a wow factor.”

Ms Evans said: “We now have a whole load of bookings for balloon arches for weddings, gender reveal balloons for baby showers, balloon bouquets and huge numbers to mark special birthdays.”

They are even going so far as to provide bubble equipment to let customers make their own shows.

You can read the full story and see images of their great creations by visiting the East Anglia Daily Times here.

Visit Olly Graham‘s very cool website and Steff Evans home on the net for more information.

As for the first complaint, why we always describe our office location at the outset of our articles even thought such information has nothing to do with the following story.  We are lonely (or as our spell check just wrote, “loony”) and we hope that someone may happen along Santa Monica Boulevard one day, look to the single office window above the place where they make gourmet treats for dogs, and decide to wave.  We don’t need that person or persons to come up to see our spacious office; just a wave will do.

 

Zack King and David Blaine and Social Media

Inside Magic Image of David BlaineThere’s a great article about two great magicians in today’s edition of Broadway World & TV.  David Blaine and Zack King have huge internet followings and for good reason — they are good at magic and very, very savvy.

From the post at BW&TV (we don’t know if that’s their actual acronym but if it isn’t, it should be:

Today, digital superstar and viral illusionist Zach King released a Youtube collaboration with world famous magician David Blaine. In the video, which was uploaded to Zach’s Youtube channel with over 8MM+ subscribers, Zach and David are shown on a video call showing each other some magic tricks. David advises Zach to up the ‘fear factor’ of his tricks by showing some of his infamous tricks – coughing a tarantula out of his mouth and igniting a fire on the palm of his hand. This collaboration comes on the heels of David announcing he will attempt to float over the Hudson River using only helium balloons.

You can check out his promotional video for the stunt aqui.

Can we say this?

We have fear every time David Blaine takes on one of his stunts.  Getting shot in the mouth by a 22 caliber round was scary, being locked in ice, holding one’s breath under water for 18 minutes (but felt like an hour), standing on a narrow pole for more than 24 hours and then jumping into boxes from said pole.  Coughing up spiders and frogs from one’s belly — or the opposite — going without nourishment for 40 days in full public view all scare us.

We know his plans are well considered and he is far from reckless but, golly, he sure does a lot of scary stuff.

We were okay when he would rub ash on his arm to reveal a playing card previously selected by clearly inebriated spring-breakers, or throwing a deck of cards against a window and having the selected, signed card appear on the other side of the glass.

We might be okay with him performing a Finger Chopper effect if it is the kind we grew to love during our years of performing as “The Mini Magician” for our schoolmates in reform school during the 1940s.  Even that could involve risk if you stuck your finger in the wrong hole or didn’t set it right.

Basically, what we are saying is that we are cowards.  We eschew things that could hurt us.  We don’t even like being as tall as we are.  We avoid walking down aisles in darkened movie theaters (back when such things were done) for fear we would fall into the lap of some theater patron with an embarrassing thud — as opposed to the non-embarrassing thud, we suppose.

But there is something in Mr. Blaine that causes him to push the envelope until it contorts into something that looks less like an envelope and more like a coffin.

We cringe at gymnastics of any kind being practiced by anyone — even circus performers.  Escape artists cause us to cringe without recourse.  We can’t get images out of our mind or worry about the people involved and the people watching — all could be effected by a trick gone wrong.

So, once again, Mr. Blaine will try the impossible — to Ascend over the New York skyline by holding onto a group of balloons.  The thing is the does not need to do it.  We would like and respect him regardless — and even irregardless.

Mr. Blaine we worry for you.  Please be careful.

Check out Mr. Blaine’s website and tremble here.

David Blaine Practices for “Ascension”

Balloon Use Over SkiesMagician, illusionist and risk-taker extraordinaire, David Blaine was spotted in Porterville, California this morning.  He was hanging on to a group of balloons — technically called a “lift” of balloons.

We are happy to report that according to other reporters who appeared to be happy to report as well, Mr. Blaine landed safely after his soaring above the California landscape.

He plans to hold onto a lift of balloons to fly over the skies of New York City.

We think he is either fearless and/or the stunt has been well planned in advance.  We asked no one in particular whether we would ever do such a stunt.  We answered in the negative with a shudder.

Some dedicated InsideMagic readers no doubt recall our failed attempt to float over Mystic Hollow, Michigan, by holding on to birds through a special harness set-up.  We barely took off — official records kept by the arresting officers said we lifted one and a half inch from the ground but this may have been accomplished by our “hopping.”

Unlike our attempt, it is doubtful Mr. Blaine will be covered by the waste product of “excited and/or frightened birds,” to use words from the arrest record.

We wish Mr. Blaine the best of luck and we will watch with envy and fear.

What’s a Magician to Do?

Inside Magic Library Cover Page for Happy Hollisters and the Perfect FarosWe have no idea how our fellow magicians are doing during the shut-down, but we do have some awareness of how we are doing.

Again, you may be different, but we live for live audiences.  Without an audience fix at least weekly, we go through withdrawal symptoms.  Our mood suffers, our eyebrows are not timely trimmed (a hazard for Irish-blooded magicians (men and women)), our fingers loose their callouses that were developed over the years.

We have been practicing our sleights almost non-stop.  We do stop for sleep and regular washing of our hands and that only dries them out and makes some of the sleights more difficult to perform.  In that way, it is a good thing that we are forced to perform under more than severe conditions.

Our Second Deals (strike and push-off) are becoming honed to the point that we can fool us — and our  point of view is directly behind our hands.  Perhaps that dependent clause did not need to be written.  Where else would we be in relation to our own hands?

We have started doing Bottom Deals and are starting to get a handle on something that has eluded us for years.  We don’t fool us yet, but we are working on it.

Of course the ultimate would be to learn how to perform a half-pass without detection.  We’re sure there are people in the world can do it.  After all, it was written up in The Royal Road to Card Magic and taught on YouTube.  We’ve been working on the sleight since we were 14 and have only dared it when we have a cover or distraction or both.  We keep trying but like the Pressure Fan, we fail; yet we try.

But any success we enjoy learning or perfecting sleights pale in comparison to our deeply felt need to perform in front of a joyous (maybe also inebriated) crowd in the basement of The Magic Castle.  There is nothing that beats the feeling of working with a small crowd of people, entertaining them (we hope), and using our sleights under the close examination of people up-close.

When we receive applause or laughs, endorphins release their bonds and float smoothly to our little brain.  Our attitude improves and our eyes glisten.  Our eyebrows return to a smooth line without errant strands going off into strange patterns.

Perhaps it is a reflection on our own mental makeup that we need an audience.  If so, we think we share a similar psychological status with many magicians and other performers.

We will now open a new deck (Bee, of course), remove the jokers and advertising cards, practice our fans, Faros, Seconds, Bottoms, Charlier Passes, False Shuffles and, of course, the half-pass.  But our eyes don’t glisten and our eyebrows sit unruly above our unglistening eyes.

Passing of Magicians Due to the Virus

Inside Magic's First LogoWe are in a tough era of life and magic.  One of the benefits magicians offer to society is a respite from tragedy or daily anxiety caused by war, strife, natural disasters and economic troughs.  Unfortunately, there is remarkable difference in this time of world concern, the individuals looked to for entertainment and distraction are not immune to the virus and economic devastation.

This article started out as a focus on several magicians around the United States and the world who have passed away due to the virus.  These were men and women of ages from early thirties to the late seventies.  They lived in different sized towns, large and small.  They entertained different audiences in different venues of varying sizes.  But all of them had fans, if only their families and close friends.

We realized that we could not chronicle each magician’s passing.  The official publications of the Society of American Magicians and the International Brotherhood of Magicians have added extra space to cover their lives and too early deaths.

On top of the virus, we have social strife over something as basic as human rights and equality for all men and women.  Black lives matter.  This shouldn’t be a new concept.  It is one set forth in the 13th and 14th amendments to our constitution but wouldn’t be fulfilled through reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement of the 1960s and even today.

Magic has had a good, not perfect, but good reputation of treating magicians of all races equally.  In some cases, the equality was seen only on the stage but behind the curtains, those very same performers were discriminated against in lodging, travel and basic human commerce.

We are the type who see the glass half-full always.  We have been proven wrong by those on the margin of our society who would like nothing more than to push back on the hard-fought progress made thus far but in no way complete.  Still we agree with Martin Luther King, Jr. that the arc of the moral universe will inevitably bend toward justice.  It may take time but we agree and find great hope in the inevitable endpoint of work and struggle.

We realize this post is unlike any post we have ever made in this modest web publication but we felt moved by the deaths and struggle we see on television, our love for our fellow man, our hope for a cure for both the medical issues surrounding the virus as well as the societal illness that would ever deny equality to any man or woman based on the color of their skin, their beliefs, their disabilities, their social standing, who they love, or where they were born.

As noted in the Broken Wand section of the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ publication, The Linking Ring, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Magician Richard Adler is a Genius

Magician Richard AdlerGenius we tell you.  Inside Magic Favorite Richard Adler is featured in The Palm Beach Post for his great idea to keep magic flowing to audiences even during the quarantine.

We’ve known Richard since the mid-seventies and have always been impressed by his creativity and drive.  When it comes to know how, he really knows how.  Check out his web site here.

“I just want to keep bringing joy into the world and making people smile,” Mr. Adler said. “This allows me to pursue my art and connect with people.”

What is he doing?  Well, we will tell you.

Through the magic of Zoom or other tools that are like Zoom but have a different name, he brings magic to parties and get-togethers.  “It’s kind of like having a celebrity at your party,” he told the Post. “I’m not sure how long social distancing will last, but I think this helps fill a void.”

The procedure to invite The Amazing Mr. A (Mr. Adler’s stage name) and his puppets into your home or office is straightforward.  Visit zoompuppets.com, pick a character and provide some information.  Mr. A and his puppet partners will join you at the time you set.  He says the service has worked for corporate businesses and family reunions to happy hours and birthday parties.

Mr. A is also starting a zoommagician service to bring magic to similar gatherings.

It’s genius, we tell you.

We’ve seen Mr. A perform perhaps a thousand times and are always entertained.  We hope this method of reaching audiences continues and spreads his good work further than just South Florida.

Check out the full story and great photos at The Palm Beach Post here.

Giant in World of Magic Passes

Inside Magic's Famous BunnyHe may not have been known in the Las Vegas cohab and he never performed for a crowd larger than family and friends, but Jim Quinlan was a giant in magic.

He passed away recently but his impact on magic was profound – to us.

Our father was kind, accompanied always with an easy smile and receptive spirit.  He made friends easily and was loyal to those friends to the end.

As a father, he was also a great teacher and inspiration to our magic career.  Our first effect we performed was acquired by him from a magic shop in our hometown of Oak Park, Illinois.  He brought us the Ball and Vase, performed it for us, amazed us, and taught us to perform it.

We brought it to our first grade class the following day and performed it perhaps ten times before our teacher took it and locked it securely in her desk drawer.

We were hooked.  We had drawn crowds of first graders with the trick and felt the special sensations that accompany performing magic.  If there is a magic bug, its sting was felt that day.

We got the trick back and spent hours on the playground after school performing the Ball and Vase for those unfortunate souls who were not in attendance at our morning show.

As we walked home, we performed it for strangers on the sidewalks, the construction workers on the main boulevard leading to our home street, and of course for our mother — it was not our first performance for her of the new trick.  She was instrumental in our beta testing of the effect the night before.

And when our father returned from work, we performed it again and told him of the day’s events.

In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, our father encouraged our pursuit of the art.  We learned that his mother had performed in vaudeville and we took pride in our theatrical lineage.

Our father would provide great insight on the performance of magic, the presentation of our magician personality, and essential rules for taking a stage and exiting gracefully.

A few years later, he purchased Stratospheres for us and launched our career (nascent still) on the real stage.

He was proud of our sleight of hand skills and would often ask us to perform for his friends and co-workers.  We were so proud and delighted that our father would ask us to perform.

As we matured in the art and in life, he was always supportive and interested in what and how we were performing.  He was big on rehearsing one’s act.  We were not.  But, we’ve learned, he was right.

Our father’s passing came quickly and with a devastating impact.  It is still difficult to think about or discuss.  We remember him as young, vibrant and out-going.  He would play basketball with us until there was insufficient light to see the ball being shot or passed.

Time passed so quickly and we knew the time would come that he would no longer be with us in a physical sense.  We miss him terribly.

Gibtown Fest About to Start

Inside Magic Image of Embarrassed ClownWhile not strictly magic, the annual International Independent Showmen’s Association Trade Show in Gibsontown (herein after “Gibtown”) is something to which we look forward every year.

We’ve been to Gibtown many times but never during the trade show.

Oh, how we long to be there during the show.

Our problem, though, is that we geek-out (as the kids say) about geeky things.  You show us a hall full of rides for sale, equipment to repair those rides, or even cotton candy machines of varying price points and features; and we’re not right.

We search out carnivals and circuses to search out people who work in both with the hope of talking to them for hours.  We imagine they have better things to do but we don’t, so it is kind of a balance.  We could listen (and have) to ride operators talk about set-up and tear-down of their rides.  We talk to people working midway games far too long and circus logistics — don’t get us started.

Oddly, we could care less about the engineering that goes into the creation of the track upon which a ride must travel safely over and over.  But let us shadow the person who sets up that track on a marshy ground with little or no spacing between the ride and the ticket kiosk, powered by big thick cables emanating from a junction box, in turn powered by thicker cables from a generator behind the backdrop of a nearby ride and we are in heaven.

In our very much younger days, we worked for essentially free at Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers’ Circus during its stop in south central Florida.  We say essentially free because we got free food, a Coke, and tickets to the show.

But we were in the milieu (as the avantgarde kids would say).  Back in those days, the elephants were responsible for pulling the rope to in turn pull up the canvas of the big top.  We were responsible for setting chairs on risers.  The big top would then come down at the end of the night, get rolled up and loaded for the trip to the next town.

Gibtown is to carnival and amusement folks as Colon is to magicians.  A mecca with homes, trailers, rides and people taking their winter hiatus, preparing for their next stretch, fixing equipment, meeting others and sharing stories of the road or plans for the next trip out.

At night, in Gibtown, the air is humid, thick and still.  There is the faint whiff of cigar smoke as one walks down the dirt roads coming off the main highway.  People set up outside their homes, trailers or vehicles and talk.

We have walked and driven by on such occasions but never had the audacity to stop and introduce ourself — we don’t know how that would go.  What could we say?

So the idea of attending the big yearly show is far more intimidating than driving or walking by friendly people enjoying the evening.  That intimidation is entirely self-generated.  It has nothing to do with the people, the surroundings, the culture or any action on their part.

It is all on us.

One day we’ll make it to Gibtown for the show.  We hope.