Category: Magic of Australia

Magician Tim Ellis is a Dangerous Man

Inside Magic Favorite Magician Tim EllisTim Ellis is a dangerous magician.

Nice guy, sure. But dangerous.

Not because he does dangerous magic and teaches others how to do it during his five-star lecture but because he makes the difficult look easy.

Mr. Ellis is from Australia – a land where danger and adventure await all and at all times.

We have never been there but have developed our conception of what it is all about from television, movies and Outback Steak House. It is a place where people are always friendly, helpful, genuine and innovative. We have met seven people from Australia and every one of them met that stereotype. Ipso facto, QED.

Mr. Ellis has been a supporter of Inside Magic since the early days of this virtual news source. We first met him in Garden City, Michigan where he and his former partner and spouse Sue-Anne Webster lectured a capacity crowd on how to be innovative (and have fun) with magic. It was a great experience and we accurately reported about it on the old rendition of Inside Magic.

Mr. Ellis took the time to correct our various grammatical mistakes and word choice and we developed a perfect – if co-dependent – relationship with him from that day. He is a great writer and so we gladly accepted his submissions and story ideas over the years. He was kind enough to send us several items for review and, not surprisingly, our reviews were almost always glowing.

Longtime readers likely recall the one exception to our effusive praise for his work. We dismissed his 24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis DVD but retracted this criticism once we realized we needed a DVD player to watch the disk. We had spent hours trying to fit it into our GAF ViewMaster — a technology that apparently was not compatible with the new DVD format.

We revised our review to hide our error and tried to delete the negative reviews from the internet. But you know how that goes. The stuff you don’t want to live forever does and the stuff in which you have great pride, doesn’t stay a day. That is why you can still find videos of our unfortunate scuffle with security backstage at the H.R. Pufnstuf National Tour but our classic articles on the history of magic cannot be found.

But we digress.

Tim Ellis is to magic what diamonds are to minerals. He is the best and brightest and can cut glass and liked by women.

He is charming and clever and generous. His lecture begins with his silent Razor Blade swallowing trick and is followed by attempts to switch a coin from the clutches of a mouse trap and then a bear trap. Sure, not the best stuff for kids’ shows but then again kids today are growing up so quickly and it will give them something to talk about with social workers later in life.

To be fair, Mr. Ellis does not believe the Razor Blade swallowing or bear trap trick is for kids. In fact, we are pretty sure he explicitly said they were not. But that is just one magician’s opinion. Perhaps kids in the US are more able to handle such magic. After all, we have more television channels in the US than they have in Australia. We think we read they only have one or two channels and one of them is ABC but not our ABC – a different one where the A stands for Australian. Sort of like how people knock-off Dairy Queen by calling their ice cream stores, Dairy King.

Again, we are far afield of the true purpose of this post. We are here to praise Mr. Ellis, not to bury him in ephemera and trivia.

Mr. Ellis provided attendees with a simple mnemonic to improve their acts.   He speaks from a wealth of experience. His message is woven like a high-priced hair transplant throughout his lecture. And like a great hair-transplant, we left with something with which we can work. Sort of a virtual comb-over to hide the glaring bald spots in our routine. Perhaps the hair transplant metaphor has limited usefulness. Perhaps we need a better copy editor.

[Editor: You have a better copy editor, you just ignore me].

Mr. Ellis performed later in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and was outstanding. He has adopted a somewhat more serious persona on stage – still playful but less non-stop comedic – and it works very well for him. He endears himself to the audience in the opening fifteen seconds with a simple, silent entrance that is quirky and engaging. He performed his Razor Blade routine and did so with such great effect that audience members were genuinely concerned about his safety. They were urging him to not swallow the blades and were relieved when the trick was complete. He clearly connected with them from the outset and held their attention for the remainder of the show.

To return to our thesis: Mr. Ellis is dangerous. He performs so effortlessly that one (namely us) could easily assume that what he does takes no effort. We would be wrong. His smooth presentation is perfectly timed to the music selections and yet seems spontaneous. Clearly it cannot be that his spontaneous interaction with his audience just happens to end perfectly and at the exact same time as the music ends but it sure seems like it. We are guessing it has something to do with planning, rehearsal and experience. But this is just our guess. It could be that he is incredibly lucky to find audiences that interact exactly on cue to help him perform tricks they have never seen to music selections they do not choose.

Mr. Ellis will be heading back to Australia soon. If you have had a chance to see him on this most recent tour, consider yourself fortunate. If you haven’t seen him lately, we dare say you haven’t really seen him. Check out his website, get his DVDs (particularly 24 Years of Living Next Door to Ellis – if you have a DVD player) and seek him out.

Mr. Ellis is a dangerous talent and one we are proud to consider a friend.

Escape Artist Gunnarson Takes Australia by Storm

Inside Magic Image of Dean Gunnarson Chained to High Speed Roller Coaster Track - An Escape that Nearly Took his  LifeAccording to press accounts, this is Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson’s first tour of Australia and judging from the favorable press, it will certainly not be his last.

But then again, as an escape artist with a penchant for pushing the envelope with no concern for paper cuts, Mr. Gunnarson comes harrowingly close to making every performance his last.

Inside Magic readers will no doubt recall Mr. Gunnarson’s near-death experience in China last year.  He was able to free himself of the shackles and came very close to clearing the hurtling roller-coaster and landing safely on a stunt cushion.

Somewhere we heard that Force is equal to Mass times Acceleration.

We don’t know if that is true or if it is just the kooky theories cooked up by the crazy kids in their college classes.

But assuming there is a positive correlation between mass, acceleration and force, a steel framed roller coaster traveling at  62 miles per hour would likely bring a significantly larger force to bear on a human leg than would the human leg impose on said roller coaster.

You can see what happens when little mass and little acceleration meet big mass and big acceleration by visiting the frame-by-frame Zapruder-esque footage of the escape attempt here.
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View-Master, Magic & Lance Burton

Inside Magic Image of Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable Banner AdWe have a GAF View-Master Fetish and we are obsessed with magic.  It is rare (and slightly dangerous) when those two passions collide in one story.  Today is one of those very rare days.

Lawrence Leung  serves the good people of Australia as skeptic par excellence.  His new six-part series Unbelievable! has been described as “Mythbusters meets Ghostbusters.”

In this weeks episode, the curious host looks to “fool a master magician.”  The advertisement claims he will learn the tricks of the trade from Las Vegas magicians, pickpockets and neuroscientists to create an effect that will fool magicians.

The theme of the show and this week’s episode are sufficiently magic-related to evoke our interest and coverage on this august magic news site.  But what of the GAF View-Master angle, you ask.

Mr. Leung has the ultimate web site design for those of us who could spend hours studying, playing with, and talking about the stereoscopic viewing wonder that we keep in a well-worn leather holster attached to our belt as we type.
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Are Ellis and Webster Evil?

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne WebsterWe have met and come to know many people in magic and find no discernable correlation between skill and personality.

There are good people with no skill, bad people with great skills, mediocre people with mediocre skills and vice-a-versa, respectively.

Given the broad spectrum of personality types and skill level, we welcome any encounter with anyone professing to enjoy magic. We make no assumptions about their ability or inherent goodness and cannot formulate an opinion about either quality from a single encounter.

Tim Ellis’ first impression is wholly positive. But of course, that could be just first impressions. Maybe he has a deep, dark side we have yet to see. If he does, it must be very, very deep and in a very, very dark place because we have yet to sense even a whiff of its existence.

Additionally, his wife and full-partner Sue-Anne Webster makes a very good first impression without a hint of evil intentions brewing in a dark caldron of her black soul, heated by the unquenchable fires of hell fanned by Lucifer himself. But, then again, it may take more than one meeting to crack the veneer separating the unwholesome, bubbling goo of sin and inhumanity from her public appearance.

But we have met Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster on several occasions and, as of yet, caught even the slightest aroma of brimstone-fueled depravity or seen the glint of evil in their clear, smiling eyes. In fact, our contemporaneously written records of those meetings indicate they smelled “pleasant” or “nice” 95 percent of the time.

While we agree with the philosophical axiom “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” odds are we should have perceived some indicia of evil, badness, or even not-goodness after a while.

Mr. Ellis is both incredibly talented and a down-right decent person who deeply cares about our craft and has world-class skills and creativity. He is a past winner of national awards in Australia for close-up and stage work and a two-time winner at FISM.

Ms. Webster one of the very few female invitees to the F.F.F.F. Convention, is an Australian National Convention of Magicians Silver and Gold Medalist, and performs with style, grace, and charm.

Our recent periodic check of the INTERPOL database reveals no outstanding wants or warrants for either Mr. Ellis or Ms. Webster for any offense involving firearms or explosives.

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Australian Magician Faces Child Sex Charges

Australian Magician Franky Houdini Charged in Child Sex Cases “Renowned magician and escapologist Franky Houdini” has been charged with 19 counts of “sexual offences against teenage girls”  The Queensland Times reports

The magistrate court took evidence related to Mr. Houdini’s alleged indecent actions involving a 15-year-old.

Mr. Houdini is 35-years-old.

According to the Queensland Times, Mr. Houdini was previously charged with another 19 charges including:  “12 of indecent treatment of a child under 16, two of carnal knowledge and one each of possessing child pornography, making child pornography, procuring a child for sexual acts by false pretence and common assault.”

Mr. Houdini will face these other charges in a separate trial.

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Roberto Giobbi’s Five Volumes of Great Stuff!

Magic Student Resting on Card College Books

We were  first exposed to Roberto Giobbi’s Card College back when we ran a small magic business.

We considered carrying the entire series for sale but even at wholesale, the investment was more than we could swing.

Since we were working on a cash-only basis, we could not afford having expensive inventory on hand.

We bought three of copies of Card College Volume One and sold every one within five days.

The quick sale and high demand actually caused us to think.

We decided to read Card College Volume One.  That mean we had to take it off the shelf and buy it.  We are cheap but apparently more curious than cheap.

We were amazed by Mr. Giobbi’s attention to detail and his innovative epistemological approach.  His method of teaching was so effective that we even learned from the book.  Our ability to learn totally new sleights ended at around 18 years of age.

(Sure, maybe you kept learning new knuckle-busting moves throughout life, but we didn’t.  Agreed, that makes us terrible and not worthy of writing a Magic News Site so sue us).

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Melbourne’s Magic Age Featured in New Exhibit

The young, Australian museum curator Simon Gregg believes “the history of Melbourne as two parallel stories: one about the development of a modern-day metropolis and the other about the emergence of floating ladies, vanishing handkerchiefs, straitjacket escapes and a bottomless barrel of logic-defying tricks and illusions.”

Mr. Gregg is featured in a big way in Melbourne’s The Age for his new museum exhibit Hocus Pocus: Melbourne Magic, Mystery and Illusion.  The show starts next week, December 6, at the beautiful City Museum.   The focus is “the city’s so-called golden era of magic, from 1850 to 1950.”

Gold was discovered in Melbourne’s environs during the 19th Century.  And where there is gold, there are people.  And where there are people, there are audiences.  And where there is an audience, there is bound to be at least one magician.

Mr. Gregg believes Melbourne’s “emergence as a magic town came to be after the discovery of gold and the subsequent population explosion of the 1850s.”

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Ellis and Webster Top Beanie Weenies

Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster in Ellis in WonderlandAssume you grew up in the wild and never knew of civilization; as if you were a modern day Kaspar Hauser.

This strange man/boy wandered into a German town and lived a short, mysterious life. He lacked the social, hygienic and language skills that come from being raised by humans.

And yet he was very bright and inquisitive. He was plagued with a terrible hunchback apparently caused by his prior imprisonment in a small space.

He was either murdered or killed himself in the center of the town one evening and the cause of his death has never been determined.

Now, you as little Kaspar, stumble into civilization and are adopted by a very rich person and treated to only the best in life.

You have the best food, even though your palate lacked the sophistication necessary to discern Filet Mignon with a fine 1989 Mondavi Cabernet Reserve from Beanie Weenies and Grape Kool-Aid.

You would rightfully guess that all food in this brave new world tastes so wonderful and that all homes were stately mansions populated by caring and giving people.

You’re probably thinking, “what the heck is he talking about? So much for modern psychotropic medication!” Or maybe your thinking, “I haven’t even read this far. I gave up in the first paragraph.” Actually, no, I don’t know how you could think that if you stopped reading in the first paragraph.

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