Indian Magician Dies During Escape

Indian Magician Chancal Lahiri who went by the stage name Jadugar Mandrake apparently died during an escape attempt in West Bengal, India on Sunday.

We never met or corresponded with Mr. Lahiri but as John Donne wrote, “any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

We know there are deaths occurring around the world every second and our focus on this particular tragedy must seem strangely specific – especially for someone with whom we had no relationship other than the love of our wonderful art.

More likely we are moved to bring this to these pages because of the incredibly cruel and wicked response we saw on Twitter and other social media outlets.  Perhaps there has always been a subset of our population that could see the death of someone as fodder for entertainment or their own self-aggrandizement.  Before social media, however, we never met them or had to read their vitriol against someone they also likely never met.

Those that did meet Mr. Lahiri, however, feel his absence in their lives at this moment.  There is no joy or entertainment in the event for them.  He will be forever gone to them.  A part of their lives on which they doubt relied, taken from them in a public way.  Our prayers are with those who mourn his departure from their life, their days, and their shared enjoyment of this world.

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

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David Blaine Takes on UK

In an interview on this morning’s Heart Radio from the UK, Magician David Blaine talks about secrets – and how well he keeps them.

Even though that is what a magician does best – keeping secrets – his pals remind him to “not tell anyone” before letting him in on some confidential information.

He is in the United Kingdom for a tour – the first time he has ever toured with a live show.  He was suspended in a Plexiglas (“Perspex” in metric, we think) box near the Tower Bridge back in 2003.  But he didn’t tour in the box.  It remained in one place and was not dragged around the nation for people to peer at him trying to avoid motion sickness.  For that we and he are grateful.

His new show is called “Real or Magic.”  The title is somewhat similar to our tour of the tri-county area, “Really, it’s Magic.”  We had to adopt that title because we were ill-prepared and hardly able to perform the new effects we had inherited just five days before we started the tour of two towns in three counties.  (One of the towns was on the border so it still counts as a “Tri-County Tour” according to the official rules.  See, “Tri-County” entry in the 2nd edition of Black’s Law Dictionary).

The write-up on the Heart Radio page dispels an image of David that is apparently going around in the UK world.

Mr. Blaine, according to the article, has a “reputation for being somewhat of a ‘weirdo’, but in person he’s surprisingly friendly – and normal.”

Phewf!  In our book, being called a ‘weirdo’ is right up there with being called a ‘magician.’   At least that was our experience our whole life up until the typing of this article on our Underwood Portable TypeWriter; being watched by our covey of doves and two rabbits (both female – we think) over by the bed in our studio apartment near the train tracks for which we haven’t paid rent but for which we do little shows performing tricks a/k/a babysit for the building superintendent’s kids while he is out looking for a “better job than living in this dump by the tracks.”

Back to Mr. Blaine.

He loves being a father to his eight-year-old.  “Being a dad is the greatest feeling and the greatest joy and greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my lifetime and I can’t imagine anything ever equaling it.”

Continue reading “David Blaine Takes on UK”

American Museum of Magic VIP Invite

We received a very exciting note from Joshua Wilde of Wunderground Magic about Marshall, Michigan’s American Museum of Magic.  His post follows.

The site is located in the beautiful historic town of Marshall. The museum’s extraordinary treasures, dating from as early as the 16th century, tell the story of the history of magic – a story with deep Michigan roots!

Readers of Inside Magic are invited to partake in the American Museum of Magic’s 9th Annual Magic Gala on the evening of Saturday, June 15th. The festivities begin at 5:00pm with a reception at the Oak Hill House. Then at 7:30pm the party moves to the Franke Center for the Arts at 214 E. Mansion St. in Marshall for an evening of magic by the internationally renowned magician Matthew David Stanley.

You’re invited to an evening of wonder and magic to support the American Museum of Magic, featuring Comedy Magician Matthew David Stanley.

VIP admission includes a one-of-a-kind insider tour of the American Museum of Magic at 5:00 pm and a wine and cheese reception at the museum before the show. General admission includes the show only.

Matthew David Stanley is the proud recipient of the prestigious Lance Burton Award presented in Las Vegas, NV as well as the “International Brotherhood of Magicians Stage Champion Award”. He has been featured on NBC and FOX television networks and currently tours the United States, as well as internationally, performing at comedy clubs, colleges, theaters, and corporate events.

Tickets are available at the museum. You can also reserve them by calling (269) 781-7570. Tickets can also be purchased directly on-line at Brown Paper Tickets.

Marshall is one hour west of Detroit and 50 minutes south of Lansing – located just east of Battle Creek at the intersection of I-94 and I-69.

The American Museum of Magic is located on Marshall’s main business street at 107 East Michigan Street. It will be open on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Please consider helping us get this Michigan treasure back on its feet by joining us for some fun! If you are unable to join us but would like to help out with a tax deductible donation, please send the museum a check at P.O. Box 5, Marshall, MI 49068.

If you’re not familiar with the American Museum of Magic, it’s the largest collection of magical props and memorabilia that’s open to the public, and it’s just down the road from us. Please show your support for our magical heritage by attending the Gala or making a generous donation to the museum.

Tickets for the RECEPTION & MAGIC SHOW are $70 or for MAGIC SHOW ONLY $35. Tickets for this event are available online. or if that link doesn’t work you can find them from the main page of the American Museum of Magic at http://americanmuseumofmagic.com/events/summer-fundraiser/

Please come and invite your friends for an evening of pure magic!

Take care,

Josh

P.S. Share the Wunder, not the secret

Big Guy Magic Shop is Magic!

We went on an Inside Magic journey and recently returned.  We traveled through the heartland of this great country and stopped where we could to see places of magic interest.

One of the places we stopped was Big Guy’s Magic Shop in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.  We had a wonderful time meeting the Big Guy and his wife Mary.  Their shop is incredible and very much brick and mortar of the classic magic shop design.  There are tricks everywhere – in and out of beautiful and refurbished counters with streamers and signs festooning the place.  There are chairs to sit and chat and wonderful chats to be had with the Big Guy and Mary.

Local magicians were visiting throughout our time in the shop.  We even saw a celebrity magician just as we were entering and will keep his identity from the peering eyes of our tens of readers to protect his privacy.  Also to protect our embarrassment because we didn’t recognize him in his everyday dress clothes; complete with a hat – although not a magic hat, so there’s that.

Name a trick and the Big Guy has it.  He showed us his backroom and it is filled (as in, there’s no more room for anything) with magic.  His eCommerce site boasts – in a modest way – over 17,000 tricks.  And that’s not like saying he has 16,000 thumb tips and the rest in sponge rabbits.  These are classic effects and the latest.  He even has a texting service to let customers pre-order effects before they hit the streets – the tricks not the customers.

We bemoan often the lack of real magic stores and wonder if there is a place for the classic magic store amidst the eCommerce world with its fancy tools.  The Big Guy proves it can be done.  He has a place to learn, trade stories, work on tricks and just relax in a magician-friendly environment.  He holds lectures from some of the big names in our craft and is the hub for magicians available for shows. Check out his About Us page for images of some of the big stars that have visited.

We walked out with new effects and some classics we needed to replace in our collection and we were happy.  We didn’t stop smiling until, well, we’re still smiling.

The chances that you will visit Pewaukee, Wisconsin may not be as great as the chances you will turn on your computer, but either way, we hope you visit the Big Guy and his wonderful magic offerings.

We should point out that we received not a dime for this unabashed hagiography of the Big Guy, his wonderful wife, Mary, and his spectacular online and in-life store.  It is our pleasure.  It was such a wonderful experience, we want to spread the word.

Check out his brick and mortar establishment here.

Visit his on-line cornucopia here.

Sign-up for his newsletter and text service while you’re there.  You won’t be spammed but you will be treated to advance notice of great tricks that are sure to sell out.

Inside Magic Rating – Five out Five – Our Highest!

Guest Magic Essay: Paw Lawton

Paw Lawton has been associated with Inside Magic since we started.  A former assistant to our father and advance man for circuses, carnivals and a few magic shows, he knows his stuff.  His take on the stuff he knows is often jaundiced and embittered by years of seeing the shady side of our magical arts.  Ironically (or fittingly) he actually recorded the song “Shady Side of Our Magical Arts” and was involved in lengthy litigation with the songwriter of “Sunny Side of the Street.”  He ultimately lost but as he noted, “you can’t win if you don’t play.”  Such is the philosophy of Paw.  We asked him to pen a short essay on the current state of our art.  That essay, edited to remove libelous and offensive sections, follows.

There is no magic now that is not the best ever.  The Internet has demolished the traditional magic store and replaced it with email touting (like a real tout would do) “The Best Trick” or “The Most Amazing Illusion Ever!” If the ads don’t come with those titles, we get testimonials from people we don’t know (or know too well) saying, “I was fooled so badly, I bought three of _____!” “This trick had me from the start.  I had to buy it just to learn how it works!” “This is the illusion I carry with me at all times!”

I haven’t seen a trick I had to carry at all times since my Color Changing Knives.  That’s it.  I can use the knives as knives so that makes them something I would want to carry.  I don’t even carry cards with me.  Does my impromptu audience care?  No, not one of them has asked me to show something else with props I should be carrying.  It makes sense that I would have a knife with me and because I am a magician, it makes sense I could do something magical with the knife.  I can make it change color and then change back and hand it to my spectator to see if he can open it.  He can’t.  I can, end of story.

I have been in the business long enough to know that advertising is a different animal than talking or writing or drawing.  You have to create the need.  Fill the need.  Move on.  You move on because 8 out of 10 times, the need you created wasn’t there to begin with, didn’t need filling and the thing you sold couldn’t fill it – or would break the second it was used.

Continue reading “Guest Magic Essay: Paw Lawton”

Cartamundi Buys US Playing Card

Cartamundi’s purchase of the U.S. Playing Card Company has rocked the magic world.  Although the sale is not scheduled to be final until this summer, it has already set a bright line between the pro-sale and anti-sale forces.

As the fives of loyal readers of Inside Magic know, we do not take an official position on the conglomeration or acquisition of companies related to magic or the variety arts.

[Yes, we recall that this hard-and-fast rule was broken on two occasions: the merger of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (Martin & Lewis Combo Doomed to Failure!) (July 24, 1945); and the manufacturer of fine wood magical pieces, Tree Top Trix, with metal and Plexiglas® effects maker Modern Magic Studios (What Do You Get When You Combine Wood and Plastic? We Don’t Know But We Wouldn’t Eat It) (April 12, 1966).  As it turns out, we were wrong on both counts.  Martin & Lewis went on to be very successful and Top Plastrix turned out some great effects (although only one was digestible and even then only inadvertently and the subject of much litigation leading to the magic studio’s ultimate bankruptcy.  “Mini-Marbles from Nowhere” was a trick just begging to be Exhibit A in litigation,” New York Times, February 19, 1972)]

Continue reading “Cartamundi Buys US Playing Card”

David Copperfield to Add Star to Historic Flag

There is a reason we love Inside Magic Favorite David Copperfield.  He is not just a great performer but an outstanding innovator.  According to The Hill, his latest public attempt will be to restore the 15th star on the Smithsonian’s flag from the war of 1812.

We have checked the magic catalogs we keep in our vault and under our mattress, and did an extensive search of all on-line magic stores but have failed to find the Restore a Star on a Historic Flag trick.  We found several tricks involving flags (Sympathetic Silks with Flag; Unsympathetic Silks with Unsympathetic Flag; Flag through Body; Flag Hat from Paper Tear; Torn and Restored Flag; Burnt and Restored Flag; Washed and Dried Flag to Doves; Washed and Dried Doves to Flag; Cups and Balls (presumably with some flag oriented finale); Appearing Flagstaff; Disappearing Flagstaff; The Town of Flagstaff (this may be an entry from an Arizona specific map but we include it just in case – plus we are paid by the word); Flag through Nose (this is actually a medical procedure documented in a 1920s version of  the Journal of the American Medical Association but could be considered magical by some); Restoring Stars to Paper; Restoring Torn Stars (please be very careful when searching for this item and spell “Torn” with precision to avoid unwanted photographic and video results); and a patriotic version of the classic “What’s Next” with stars rather than dots made during the American Bicentennial (we think that was around 1976 but need to verify). Continue reading “David Copperfield to Add Star to Historic Flag”

The Sorceress Takes the Stage

Magician and illusionist goes by the name “The Sorceress” and is excited to be the first female on stage with the fabulously popular The Illusionists – Live from Broadway” tour, scheduled to stop this weekend at the Easton State Theatre.

Sabine Van Diemen has a background as a model and dancer, but this weekend she will perform our art (and include some of her dancing chops)

Ms. Van Diemen told the Morning Call’s reporter it is “really cool” to be the first and only woman on the tour.

She will be working along with  An Ha Lim, “The Manipulator,” Jonathan Goodwin, “The Daredevil” Colin Cloud, “The Deductionist,” Paul Debak, “The Trickster,” and Raymond Crowe, “The Unusualist.”

Some have referred to the show as “Magic’s Cirque du Soleil” but we think it is better classified as a Tour de Force of great performers doing what each does best.

Ms. Van Diemen has been at it for about ten years and includes illusions, escapes and an effect you cannot buy online, a trick featuring a bullwhip.

She started as many of us did, as a ballerina when she was just 4 and joined the Holland Show Ballet when she turned 18.

She became focused on magic when “a magician in the show and one of the assistants had an injury one day,” she says. “They put me in the illusion called the fire cage, and I immediately loved it.”

She moved from modeling and dance to studying our wonderful craft.

In 2011 she met famous Dutch illusionist Hans Klok and worked together to create several hit shows.  We know Mr. Klok from his high-speed performance of magic and illusions.  We imagine working with him would be exhausting.  We get out of breath just breathing hard.  Ms. Van Diemen said of that partnership, “It was a rush.”

The two toured the globe and she was named the Silver Clown winner at the Circus Festival in Monte Carlo.  She started a solo act and was undaunted by being one of the few female performers in a very male dominated craft.

Ms. Van Diemen is able to speak multiple languages, has model looks and a great background in dance.  That could be the reason for her success or perhaps it is her daring willingness to take on dangerous escapes and full-scale stage illusions.  Whilst in Holland, she was named one of permanent hosts and perfomer at “Amsterdam Magic” and was featured on “Holland’s Got Talent.”

She moved from Holland to London to be one of the cast of the 2015 show “Impossible” and was asked to be one of “four horsemen” featured in the “Now You See Me Live” international magic tour.

Ms. Van Diemen says “Modeling is far behind me, but dancing will always be a part of me, so naturally I incorporate it in my act. Not that I necessarily do full-on choreography, but it’s in the way I move and hold myself on stage. I try to combine speech with movement to music while I do my illusions.”

Yes, but what about the bullwhip trick?

“The bullwhip is fun and exciting. It has a very surprising ending to it for one member of the audience.”

Sabine told reporters she enjoys working along with the other great performers on “The Illusionists” and “loves” the nickname “The Sorceress.”

“It’s cool,” she says. “It really sounds like a power chick, and I always strive to be one.”

It is a wonderful production and plus you get to see a trick with a bullwhip.

The Illusionists- Live From Broadway

Check out the full story on The Morning Call here.

 

Inside Magic Review of Honeybee Playing Cards

Any deck of playing cards are magic cards and if there is one thing we love it is cards.

In the 12 decades we’ve been performing, we have always used cards.  For the first part of our career, when we were young and impetuous (assuming impetuous means what we think it means), and we are reluctant to admit this but know we are among friends, we even used bridge dimensioned decks with borders and kitties.  We don’t mean that the cards had borders or kitties necessarily but that we would perform tricks for animals and residents at our mother’s boarding house in the little town that would one day become Mystic Hollow.

As the Apostle Paul said not about playing cards, “we have put aside childish things.”

On March 15, 1972, we switched to one brand and size and quality.  We made the move to Bee Playing Cards made by the U.S. Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.  At that time, we only knew of Bee deck in the larger “Poker” size and dimension.  They were larger in width and height than the childish “Bridge” deck we had been using.  The also lacked a border.  The beautiful diamond pattern ran up to and past the edges of the card’s back.  Yes, they were a devil to mark (or to read the markings later) but they were so smooth, so wonderful.  We found that our lifelong struggle with dealing seconds seemed to ease.  No border and smooth with great, long-lasting cardstock made for a perfect deck.

Continue reading “Inside Magic Review of Honeybee Playing Cards”

Passing of Magicians Thompson and Brodien

We are easily affected by many things.  We cry at weddings, movies, supermarket openings.  But we were very moved by the passing of Johnny Thompson and Marshall Brodien.  We knew both – although we are sure they didn’t know us – and respected each for their incredible contributions to our wonderful art.

We are originally from Chicago and watched Mr. Brodien on the Bozo Circus show as Wizzo the Wizard.  As a young (first very young and then just younger than we are now), Wizzo was wonderful.  It was live television and Mr. Brodien was performing real magic effects for both the studio audience and the kids home for lunch during school days.

Later, Mr. Brodien was seen nationally with his TV Magic Cards.  Realize we had never seen a Svengali Deck before and so Mr. Brodien’s commercials were memorized and worshipped.  We could not understand how he could pull off the miracles he performed with a simple deck of cards.

We bugged our father for days to take us to Walgreens to purchase the deck.  We had saved the money and when we brought it home, it was worth ten times the $2.95 we paid for it.  It was incredible in construction and instruction.  Within an hour, we were performing the effect for family and then in our shows at the elementary school we attended.  A true miracle.

It also taught us a very important lesson: never perform the same trick twice for the same audience.  A Svengali Deck is to be seen only once.  Once is enough.  Put the deck back in the case and back in our pocket.  We learned this lesson the hard way when one of our classmates asked, “Is it always the 2 of Spades?”  We said something about how she was just lucky and moved on to our next trick. Continue reading “Passing of Magicians Thompson and Brodien”