Category: Magic of Canada

Shawn Farquhar’s Hidden Wonders

We received a great note from award winning magician and great (and funny) guy, Shawn Farquhar.  He wrote to tell us about his new 75 minute show (which is about an hour an 15 minutes if our Casio watch / Calculator is correct).  Check out the very well-produced website here and visit this once in a lifetime experience with demonstrably one of the best in our humble art.
During the whole month of October I’ve opened a speakeasy style magic experience in a fake business front in Chinatown in Vancouver, Canada.  If anyone is coming through Vancouver let me know.
Hidden Wonders is a speakeasy-style performance venue hidden behind a fake business facade in Vancouver’s Chinatown and is the brainchild of two-time world champion of magic, Shawn Farquhar. The idea is part of a new trend in magic entertainment that focuses less on grand-scale illusions and more on intimate experiences that leave the audience awestruck and moved. Similar venues can be found in such cities as New York, Chicago and San Diego where they have become hugely popular.
The seventy-five-minute magic experience will feature effects exclusively designed for the venue as well as several of the effects Shawn created to impress Ellen, win the world championship and to fool Vegas’s Penn & Teller twice on their hit television show Fool Us.
Cheers,
Shawn Farquhar
Editor’s note:  If you were to ask, “Hey, what’s one of your greatest weaknesses?” We would respond that we are easily star-struck.  Even at the Magic Castle or at magic conventions, we lack the ability to walk up to stars of our art and start a conversation.
We stumble, smile uncontrollably and remain mum.  (Ironically, “Remain Mum” was the name of our script for an un-produced project about a mom who doesn’t change in any way but raises her children without incident, accident or trauma.  The script ran 3 hours but needed no special effects budget so we thought it was a sure sale.
Hollywood, according to all the major studios, the indie studios and guys and gals that have access to the latest iPhones and apps to make movies, needs some kind of character development or “incident” or “something” to happen that affects someone in the script.
Examples given by the studios were: Rocky (he develops his body and fights someone and hits meat and gets a dog); Spider Man (he develops his super powers, fights people, eats meat and gets a girlfriend); Snow White (she develops friendships with dwarfs who own a diamond mine, eats an apple and gets married).  The guy we approached who owns the iPhone and special app that lets him make movies cited Citizen Kane (he develops the power to name snow globes, makes a newspaper, eats meat and gets married).  But that’s Hollywood.
We’re hoping someone will pick up the script or we’ll have to add meat eating and super powers.  Mom could have web strands that catch meat and feed her dog with it).  Our point — and this time we have one — is that we are so honored that Mr. Farquhar contacted us.  We’ve met him on several occasions and each time acted like a statue.
We’re sure he was impressed by our inability to speak — even after we just performed our act in the basement of the Magic Castle where we speak a lot — and that’s why he wrote us.  Plus, despite his fame, he is truly a nice person with talents that would be great for a movie script — assuming he eats  meat and/or has a dog.

Magician Julie Eng on CBC

Canadian Magician and Inside Magic Favorite Julie Eng teaches a magic trick that we cannot see.

While there is no evidence this is a result of the recent trade war with Canada, it is nonetheless frustrating as all get out.  According to Twitter, Ms. Eng, a treasure of North America and life-long performer, is part of a new program (or programme for our Canadian readers), called The Science Of Magic on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” show.  In fact, if you visit her well-executed website at www.magicienne.com you can see a link and a tease of the show.  We presume that if one (or more) lives in Canada, that one or ones can see Ms. Eng teach what is described as a simple coin magic trick with which one can mystify one’s friends and family.

Except we can’t because we don’t live in Canada and our antenna won’t pick up the CBC in our part of the high desert.  Our antenna is one of the now defunct Radio Shack’s best –  we’ve got that baby high in the air thanks to a cheap tower we picked up at the annual Burning Man trash and treasure after-fest sell-athon.  So, even with all four wings pointed north and standing 32.5 feet above the sandy desert floor, we can’t get CBC and see the trick or Ms. Eng.

We do get stations from Salt Lake City and Boise but they have very little in the way of magic programming.  In our native Michigan, we could watch the CBC on channel 99 so we could see Hockey Night in Canada and The Big Comfy Couch but not anymore.

Ms. Eng knows magic from her years of training and heritage as a member of a magic family.  (Her father had a magic shop in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)).  She performs for thousands of private functions, festivals, conventions and special events around the globe – but none apparently in Mystic Hollow, California.  We checked our TV Guide (it came by mail on Thursday) and there was no mention of the CBC listings.  We put a bookmark for the Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune entries for each night of the coming week and sighed.

But Ms. Eng is more than a magician available to millions through the considerable broadcasting power of the CBC.  She is one of the founding organizers of two unique community outreach programs, My Magic Hands and Senior Sorcery.  She took part in Magicana’s productions, a theatrical show, Piff Paff Poof which was designed specifically to introduce the experience of the theatre to young families.

Incidentally, Piff, Paff Poof was our favorite trick featuring diaper pins throughout our career.  We were known world- over for our expert handling of the technically undemanding four-second effect.  We milked it for a full 15-minute bit by having everyone in the audience inspect the pins before and after the trick.  As our career went on, the audience numbers decreased; making the inspection part of the illusion much shorter.

Ms. Eng is frequently seen in the U.S. and beloved by audiences for her energy and innovation.  We’ve seen her perform live and named her an Inside Magic Favorite based on her live performance.  Under new FTC rules, a magic website cannot proclaim a person a “Favorite” or “Our Favorite” based on video, radio description, telegraph communication, shadow puppets or any non-live performance.  We suppose this is in reaction to YouTube’s popularity but we abide by the rules under which we are honored to publish.

So, the bottom line at the end of the day, when it comes down to brass tacks and the real root of things, we like Julie Eng very much and are very frustrated that we cannot see her new episode just because we don’t live in Canada.

[Update]  A reader from Luxemburg – a country that is not in Canada – has written to tell us that one can configure one’s computer to make it appear that one is in Canada and thereby watch programs to be broadcast only in Canada.

While we appreciate the tip, we cannot countenance breaking the FCC laws to see a show – even Ms. Eng’s show.  We become very paranoid when it comes to FCC regulations.  They have vans that drive all around cities looking for people breaking the law.

Our Uncle Taffy (also a magician at one time until his huffing of roughing fluid (he called it “aromatherapy”) rendered him less effective) who used to broadcast golf tournaments with his walkie-talkie, and later a HAM radio set.  The FCC nailed him and almost took away his walkie-talkie and HAM set until they determined neither was powered and he was just talking to himself about an imaginary golf game featuring cartoon characters from the pre-talkie era of Hollywood.  He would have long commentary about Betty Boop going head-to-head with Inky the Clown at Augusta’s famed Amen Corner.  The family thought it was a good habit and kept him off the public buses but the FCC had another view.

Uncle Taffy managed to kick his “aromatherapy” habit and now performs Three Card Monte for friends at his halfway house in Iowa.

We take no chances.

If you are fortunate enough to live in Canada, be sure to watch Ms. Eng tonight on the CBC.  You can tell us about it but don’t send us videotapes (VHS or Betamax) because that seems illegal too and our videotape machine (also from Radio Shack) won’t play tapes anymore because the heads need to be demagnetized and the store no longer sells the demagnetizer cassette.

Magicians are Cognitive Artists

At the very same institution where Houdini was fatally punched in the gut, McGill University in Montreal, psychologists and neuroscientists are trying to learn more about their respective fields by studying how magicians fool people.

We read about the investigations into psychology and magic in a recent issue of The Atlantic.

Jay Olson is one of the researchers working on what a recent issue of the journal of The Frontiers of Psychology call “neuromagic.” In an article “The Psychology of Magic, the Magic of Psychology,” Mr. Olson reported on a fascinating study where subjects were shown the same trick over and over until they figured it out.  We now have scientific data to support the maxim that a magician should never perform the same effect twice.

Mr. Olson studied the psychology of forcing.  To his credit, Mr. Olson refused to disclose the secret of the forcing technique he used.  He was able to successfully force a card on a subject 98 percent of the time – and 91 percent of the time, the subject felt the choice was entirely free.  The study authors wrote, that magic “can provide new methods to study the feeling of free will.”

Perhaps more importantly, some curious magicians might hope, the study can teach an effective forcing technique that works 98 percent of the time and leaves nine out of ten participants ready to swear the choice was entirely free.

Again, Mr. Olson refused to disclose his secret method.

We urge you to visit the study’s website to learn more about the work done and the areas of investigation.  It really is a fascinating read.  Like painters are masters of perceptual illusions, the study notes, “magicians are the cognitive artists.”

Check out additional articles in the field here.

Reveen the Impossiblist’s Tradition Continues

The late Peter Reveen, known professionally as Reveen the Impossibilist, passed away in 2013 but his family’s gift to the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre in Newfoundland, Canada.

Mr. Reveen’s last show was on the main stage at the Arts and Culture Centre in 2008 and now on Saturday, his son Ty will carry on in the Impossiblist tradition with a new Reveen show on the same stage.  Mr. Reveen’s 13-year-old grandson Taj was also at the presentation. He says he’s looking forward to taking over the show when his father, Ty, retires.

The family donated Mr. Reveen’s famous bejewelled red tuxedo to the Centre.

Tickets are available for this weekend’s show here.

Check out the Reveen website here.

Lucas Wilson & Kelly Defilla Put the Heart in Magic

Magic performers Lucas Wilson and Kelly Defilla are everything we love about our beloved craft.

The duo received a great write-up in The Norfolk News in advance of their shows next Monday at the beautifully appointed Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover, Ontario.

They returned from the bright lights and big city vibe of Las Vegas with a new illusion they cannot wait to share.  “We’re bringing a slice of Las Vegas to Port Dover,” Mr. Wilson told the reporter during rehearsal.

“It’s fun, quick, colourful – illusion after illusion after illusion,” Ms. Defilla offered.

She is the putative assistant but really the key to the show.  She does the heavy lifting behind the scenes, gets cut in half and puts her professional acting background to good use.  After seven years performing together, “we play off each other really well now,” she said. “And I think my acting training really helps with that, because I know how to be animated (on stage) and stay in that world.”

They were separated during the Christmas season last year when Ms. Defilla needed surgery to repair a “toonie-sized hole in her heart.”  A “toonie” is a rather large one-dollar coin.  That’s a big hole.

Ms. Defilla said it felt “weird” to know that the show was going on without her – a classmate from Holy Trinity filled in for her – but she was touched by the outpouring of concern and love their fans sent her way.

They are their own roadies, responsible for the load-in, tear-down and load-out as they tour.  Do they get tired?  Yes, but it is a good kind of tired – a “rewarding exhaustion.”

“One of the things we try to remember is this could be someone’s first magic show. There could be someone who’s about to fall in love with magic because we put 100 per cent in,” Mr. Defilla said.

“You have to put that kind of energy and excitement in, because you don’t want to let anyone down.”

If you are in Ontario, check out their performance next Monday, March 16, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover.  There are a limited number of VIP seats available for each show so act quickly.  You can visit their website to learn more about the couple, their magic and upcoming shows here.

We wish the duo the best of luck and will keep Ms. Defilla in our prayers.

Peter Marucci Lauded by Canadian Press

Magician Peter Marucci received a great write-up from Canada’s The Wellington Adviser noting his unprecedented second win of the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ Howard Bamman trophy.

He is the only Canadian to win the award and the only magician to win it twice.

The award was given in recognition of Mr. Marucci’s 28-year contribution The Linking Ring.

IBM members know Mr. Marucci from his Showtime column in our organization’s official magazine.  He is a great writer and has been incredibly prolific.

The article provides a nice history of Mr. Marucci and his career in magic and journalism.

Mr. Marucci performed across North America in venues from conventions, trade shows, clubs restaurants, street fairs and festivals.

He even had his own restaurant where he performed for diners.

Congratulations to Mr. Marucci on the great piece and thanks for his wonderful contribution to our art over the years.

Meeting Our Old Friend Murray Hatfield for the First Time

We finally had a chance to meet our friend and big-time illusionist Murray Hatfield this weekend at the Magic Castle.  He and his better half, Teresa were wrapping up their sell-out week in the Palace of Mystery and he went from his last show on Sunday directly into his lecture in the Parlor of Prestidigitation.

When we say ‘directly’ we mean, immediately.  The applause was literally still going as he entered the Parlor to begin his session with us.

We have written about Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield for nearly a decade; chronicling their tours of Canada with Illusions: Magic ‘n Miracles.  They have brought the full-evening magic show to lucky cities across our neighbor to the north on a yearly basis – each year with new illusions and a new featured performers.

Even though they stopped each year in our former neighborhood of Windsor, we never had a chance to see them perform or to take Mr. Hatfield’s kind invitation to see the show and meet afterwards.

It only makes sense, then, that we would finally meet in Hollywood, California.

Mr. Hatfield and Teresa put on an incredible show.  We have seen approximately a million illusion acts in our short time on this earth, but few can compare with the staging and presentation we witnessed.  They are fast, charming and mystifying – even to jaundiced magicians who have seen millions of illusions.

The audience loved the show and the performers.  They truly connected with the crowd from their opening and all the way to their incredible finale.

Mr. Hatfield comes across as a very modest but capable person who is fully in control of the illusions he and his lovely wife present.  He knows what is about to happen and cannot wait to share it with his new found friends.

That’s either a great act and tough to pull off year after year, show after show; or, he is sharing his genuine nature.

As we learned at his lecture, it is no act.  He is someone who has wanted to be a magician since he was a child.  He loves the art and enjoys people.  That’s a pretty good combination for someone who wants to do what he does for a living.

His lecture was a great chance to learn from someone who has created a new touring show every year for the last 25 years.  Yes, he taught us some tricks – good ones – but more importantly, he told us his secret of staging any performance for maximum audience engagement and enjoyment.

Mr. Hatfield taught the lecture attendees a special five step mnemonic device arrange a performance. Achieve all five and the show will succeed, he promised.  It does not matter if one is performing close-up or a big-time illusion show.

His stage show follows that formula to great success.

It was an honor to finally shake hands with Mr. Hatfield and a real education in how a true professional works.

John Carney Announces Lecture Workshop Dates

Inside Magic Favorite John Carney sent us a note dates, places and times for his upcoming Lecture Workshops.
If you are in or near any of the cities below, you should plan on attending.

Vancouver, BC Tues, March 25, 2014
7:00pm $25 CAD at the door
Douglas College
New  Westminster Campus
700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster, BC
Canadian programs are sponsored by 
Magicana, the Canadian magic arts organization.
Canadian tickets may purchased with cash at the door,
or secured in advance from Magicana’s web site:
 Seattle, WA Mon, March 31, 2014
7:00pm $25 US (No advance tickets)
Hale’s Palladium
4301 Leary Way NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Portland, OR Tues, April 1, 2014
7:00pm $25 US (No advance tickets)
Zimmermand Community Center
(Entrance on 14th ave, between Quimby and Raleigh)
1542 NW 14th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

Magician Mac King Goes to Canada for 2 Shows

Inside Magic Favorite and perennial Las Vegas people’s choice award winner Mac King announced today he will be taking his outstanding one-man and eponymous show to Canada at the end of the month.

He will traverse the northern border for a show on February 28th in beautiful Ottowa and then head to the Toronto suburb of Burlington for a show on March 1st.

Mr. King will perform at two great venues during this rare sojourn from Las Vegas.  In Ottawa, he will bring his Cloak of Invisibility and other magical effects to the Centerpointe Theatre.  Show time is 7:30 pm.  If you miss him in Ottawa, you can see him in the beautifully appointed Burlington Performing Arts Centre when he takes the stage at 8:00 pm.

If you have seen Mr. King’s show before, you need no coaxing from this humble internet media outlet to book your tickets now.  If you have never seen him live, you need to make reservations immediately.  Seriously.

IBM Announces Sorcerer’s Safari Partnership for Youth Camp Scholarships

The International Brotherhood of Magicians (“IBM”) Endowment and Development Fund provided funds for two scholarships to the Sorcerer’s Safari Magic Camp.
Two lucky teens, one male and one female, attending the IBM Lance Burton Teen Seminar will be selected to receive these awesome scholarships.
The McBride Magic & Mystery School will also select one Teen Magician to receive the McBride Magic & Mystery School Faculty Award.
Founded in 1991, the McBride Magic & Mystery School’s goal is to provide a safe, supportive, and inspiring place for magic enthusiast (both amateur and professional) to work on their magic. They work with students of all skill levels and interests.
At McBride Magic & Mystery School the unparalleled faculty are there to answer your questions, help you become a better magician and, most importantly, to have fun.
One lucky teen magician will receive the opportunity of a lifetime!
For additional information on the McBride Magic & Mystery School, go to their website: http://www.magicalwisdom.com/
The Sorcerer’s Safari Magic Camp will run from August 27th through September 1st at the beautiful Camp White Pine in Ontario, Canada. Continue reading “IBM Announces Sorcerer’s Safari Partnership for Youth Camp Scholarships”