Diane Neal, a former actress on “Law and Order: SVU” claims her magician ex-boyfriend physically and sexually abused her and her pets. She accuses magician JB Benn of being a con artist as well as a “manipulative and maniacal fraudster,” according to The Daily Mail.
The musician Moby posted his disbelief. “I’ve seen JB do magic at least 250 times and each time I’m just as stunned as the last. Some of his magic shouldn’t be possible, and it makes my brain hurt in the best possible ways.’
According to The Daily Mail, the magician allegedly “defrauded her of millions” and “violently inflicted emotional distress” in a “campaign of isolation, terror and (physical and sexual) assault, and destroyed her reputation by doing so.”
According to Page Six, on Wednesday, Mr. Benn pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge resulting in a $200.00 fine and a two-year protection plan for Ms. Neal.
As in any story of this ilk, there are terrible claims and accusations; including injury to their pet. Most of which we won’t print here because they turn our stomach and makes us sad.
If you want to read more, see pictures of the couple and their home, you can read The Daily Mail‘s coverage.
The Guardian newspaper had a great article this weekend about what it is like to be a psychic and astrologer.
The author of this fascinating piece quit the practice but leaves the reader – us in this case – wondering if she still believed she possessed some power to read the future or the inner-struggles of her customers.
“The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change. I heard these stories so often I could often guess what the problem was the moment someone walked in. Heartbroken young men, for example, talk about it to psychics, because it’s less risky than telling their friends. Sometimes I’d mischievously say, ‘Let her go. She’s not worth it,’ as soon as one arrived. Once I heard, ‘Oh my God, oh my GOD!’ as an amazed guy fell backwards down the stairs.”
She explains her start in the practice beginning with studying astrology and the tarot. She signed up for a year-long course at the Sydney Astrology Centre, where she learned how the planets and their alignments vis-a-vis the birthdate of individuals could reveal much.
Her conclusion after studying the mystical methods of the astrologer? “Astrology is one big word association game.”
Her appreciation for the life of a fortune teller waned with the realization that no matter what she foretold and no matter how vague her readings, customers readily made all of the mental associations to give truth to her predictions.
“What broke the spell for me was, oddly, people swearing by my gift. Some repeat customers claimed I’d made very specific predictions, of a kind I never made.”
It is a fascinating article, in part, because she does not conclude the ability to read people is bunk. She found a talent for evaluating what and how people asked questions that gave away what they wanted to hear. In essence, she discovered cold reading but without an intention to defraud.
We couldn’t help but be reminded of a great book by Ian Rowland, The Full Facts of Cold Reading. While the author of The Guardian article apparently stumbled upon the tricks of honest and dishonest practitioners of Cold Reading, Mr. Rowland provides a crash course chocked-full of secrets and methods.
We Have spent untold funds on Nick Lewin’s effects over the years. His routines are tested before real audiences — he often shows performance videos — he sends a DVD and all the props you need to perform wonderful effects.
But now we are psyched in the most psychic manner a young psychic can be psyched.
Mr. Lewin performs in a carefree and entertaining way with great humor and a relaxed manner that puts his audience at ease. There are no bullet catches that we know of, not a single slamming your hand onto a cup that may or may not have a sharp (and likely tetanus teaming nail) through your magic hand or even crude asides at those who have gathered in the ship’s theater or on a Las Vegas stage. To say that we are a fan-boy is accurate except we are no longer a boy — except at heart. By the way, his Gypsy Yarn is the best ever. It is not the Gypsy Thread of your grandparents or even the dental floss version we used to do. No, it takes the game up to new heights. Dizzying heights. It is expensive but worth every farthing.
We have never been disappointed by Mr. Lewin‘s offerings — not once. You know the feeling of disappointment and no doubt have a drawer full of tricks that looked great but once you tried them or even just read the instructions, you were disenchanted or even felt your good money hath gone to the darkside. Not so with Mr. Lewin’s effects.
He has tried the pieces before real audiences for years. They work. And they are not difficult to learn — especially with his wonderful instruction. Just check out this beauty.
By the way, we are receiving zip, nada, zilch for this endorsement. It is written only out of appreciation.
Now he has agreed to release one of this best, time-tested psychic effects ever presented and we are honored that we were among his followers (in the cult sense) to receive the early notice of this offering.
Please click this link to see the offering. The price is clearly too low. At $25.00 you receive an act, not just a trick. And it is a funny, wonderful act that packs very small and plays huge. This is a steal but will not be available forever. Click the link and have something that will never be in your magic drawer but in your magic case — ready to wow people who have never seen anything like it.
We have to go light candles at our altar for Mr. Lewin and his contribution to our great art.
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.”
We are always delighted to receive news about Inside Magic Favorite Magicians. Morgan & West impressed the cheese out of us when we saw their tightly constructed act at the Magic Castle a while back. To be honest, we never really saw them as Kid Performers so we were intrigued to read our email about their entry into this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
If you are going to the festival, do not miss these young men. They are clever, funny and very good magicians. Warning: some of this press release language was written in a different type of English and there are unexpected uses of the letter “u” and curious spellings. Do not let it throw you.
Lee Martin for Gag Reflex Proudly Presents… MORGAN & WEST: MORE MAGIC FOR KIDS! EDINBURGH FRINGE UNDERBELLY COW BARN WEDNESDAY 2ND AUGUST – SUNDAY 27TH AUGUST (NOT 23RD AUGUST) @MorganMagic @WestMagic www.morganandwest.co.uk
Celebrating their 10th anniversary as a duo of deception, time travelling magicians Morgan & West return with their brand new show ‘More Magic For Kids!’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year.
Despite their squabbles about the idea of creating a show for children, Mr West has finally resigned himself to the idea that he now does shows for children, although he’s really not best pleased about it. Mr. Morgan, as ever, is thrilled that people are willing and indeed eager to watch him and his magic tricks.
Join in the fun as Mr. West wants to prove that he’s better than Mr. Morgan, and indeed silly children. No doubt his comeuppance will come as More Magic For Kids! prepares to unload another boxful of bewilderment and impossibility.
What could possibly happen next?
More Magic For Kids! sees our favourite magic duo set out to provide entertainment that is delightful for anyone of almost any age (5+), from any time period, and any level of maturity. The result is a marvellous show that is loved by both adults and children alike and will keep you entertained from beginning to end – the perfect family day out!
Morgan & West have performed their outstanding magic shows across the globe to sell-out crowds during two UK tours, at the Edinburgh Fringe, Perth Fringe World, Adelaide Fringe where they were nominated for ‘Best Family Show’, and Buxton Fringe where they were awarded ‘Best Comedy Show’. They have also appeared on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us (ITV), The Slammer (CBBC) and The Next Great Magician (ITV).
“Superbly crafted” The Stage “Hilarious and good for all ages” Primary Times “Hugely talented” Daily Mirror
LISTINGS INFORMATION: WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST – SUNDAY 27TH AUGUST (NOT 23RD AUGUST)
What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than to check out the winner in the latest round of Britain’s Got Talent, Sebastian Walton?
(By the way, it is pronounced “MAY-oh.” We were corrected on the bus this morning and what the day commemorates has nothing to do with salad dressing, which explains the pronunciation).
To say we are a super fan of Sebastian Walton would be an understatement but certainly a valid defense to criminal charges of stalking in most jurisdictions. (Not that we stalk him but if we did, we would know he has a Facebook page with his upcoming shows listed here: facebook.com/sebastian.j.walton). He wowed us at The Magic Castle last year with a routine that was deserving of our vote for Parlor Magician of the Year.
Mr. Walton is a young man with big boy magic skills. His Any Card Named effect was killer and had those in the know talking around the bar late into the evening. None of us were sure how he did it. As the evening wore on, none of us were sure if he did it and finally, at the end of the evening, two members of our group were not sure where they lived or how to form coherent sentences. Astounding.
In last night’s qualifying round, Mr. Walton received positive votes from the four judges and moves on to the next level of competition.
We received a link to the authoritative British television website, Telly Mix and read of his awesome performance before some very tough judges.
[Telly means “television” in British. They have different ways of doing things and saying things there. We point that out for our US readers who may have confused the website’s name with the under-appreciated cowboy actress, Telly Mix who performed just feet away from where we now write this enthralling article. Telly’s uncle (by marriage) was Tom Mix, the cowboy star and on whose ranch they later built Fox Studios and later Century City. She was a delightful gal who made the transition from vaudeville to movies easier than most – thanks to her winning smile and uncle’s connections. Her career ended tragically when she was arrested in an after-hours cowboy club in Santa Monica with a frozen bullwhip and $623.00 in cash allegedly taken in a fake piñata scheme. According to police records, she would sell defective piñatas that could not be broken open to unsuspecting consumers. Although charges were later dropped – thanks to her connections – she never made a return to the movies and ended her days working at a Hot Dog on a Stick stand in Bakersfield, California; never rising above the position of assistant manager.]
Simon Cowell even praised the young performer. He does not praise anyone, ever.
Mr. Walton performed a great effect with Amanda Holden’s ring. We do not know Amanda Holden but she seems like a much more likable person than Mr. Cowell and, we think, prettier. Apparently, the scene was cut from the show wherein Mr. Walton borrowed Ms. Holden’s platinum wedding ring (so that means she is married), made it vanish in a flash of flame and found it later in a walnut somehow hidden inside an orange.
We have seen Mr. Walton perform this effect before – twice. We can vouch that it is a different ring each time. For a while, we thought he had just done the old genetically mutated walnut in an orange trick with a fake ring planted with the hybrid fruit. But no. The fact that it is a different ring each time means that he could not have raised the walnut/orange from seed with a ring inside. To quote one of the victims in Telly Mix’ case, “we cannot crack it.”
Ms. Holden confided in Mr. Walton, “How you did it, I actually want to believe in magic.”
At this point, we would have immediately started a cult and enlisted Ms. Holden to be a high priestess or something but Mr. Walton has far more class and plus he was surrounded by cameras and an audience – or as we like to call the scene, a witness-rich environment.
Mr. Cowell told the young miracle worker, “You’re very talented and I don’t know how you did which is the whole point of magic.”
Mr. Walton has a bright future ahead of him. We saw that he has a new website at sebastianwalton.com and were very impressed by its content and substance. He is a star – you read it here first.
The Mirror newspaper asked UK Magician Damien O’Brien about his influences and he responded, without irony, “Give me old skool David Blaine any day of the week.”
Mr. O’Brien is one of the stars on BBC Three’s new magic-oriented show Killer Magic.
The six-part series begins tonight at sports a new theme each week. The young magicians then try to make new effects and impress their colleagues and celebrities.
Mr. O’Brien described himself for The Mirror, “I’m a little bit flashy, a little bit cocky. I like to do visual magic. I like to put magic in people’s hands. I want people to be the stars of the trick. I don’t like to give them any suspicions that let people think that I’m cheating… which I am.”
He describes David Blaine as being one of his major influences. “I grew up watching David Blaine. I loved his approach doing it close up with regular items. I like the idea of doing things close up and any time with anything.”
We probably will not be able to see the show until it is released on DVD or on the internet but look forward to checking it out.
Resh Gohel owns an Indian restaurant in Blackburn (UK) but dreams of becoming a professional magician. He is going to take a step towards making the dream reality by closing his eatery at the end of March and hitting the road.
“I have been doing magic on the side and I want to pursue my career as a magician,” Mr. Gohel said. “The restaurant will be shutting down and I will be handing the keys back to the landlord.”
He admits it is a big risk but he has been encouraged by magicians who would know.
“I have met the likes of David Blaine and Derren Brown and they have said you have to follow your dream,” he said. “They all said they had to work wherever before they got to where they are now.”
It isn’t that the restaurant failed and he had no other option. “My target was to get the restaurant to number one on Trip Advisor and to get my name out there and I have done that. But I have reached the point where I have lost interest in the hospitality industry now.”
He has his first show scheduled for just ten days after the doors close.
We wish him the best of luck. We have been similarly advised by many in the magic business to seek employment in a restaurant so we’re kind of similar in that regard except the opposite.
Our Welsh neighbor does not wake until noon and when he does, he hardly seems interested in the goings-on of his native land.
That is why we are so familiar with the writing in Evening Post newspaper. He gets it delivered each morning at 5:30. We are able to read it with leisure, enjoy our morning Diet Coke (without lime, thank you) and low fat generic pastry strudel fresh from the toaster oven. We re-assemble it and place it back in front of his apartment door and no one is the wiser.
Usually, the paper has little or no magic news. But today there was a big write-up about magician Jamie Allan and his perilous escape attempt. We were hooked and were almost caught when our neighbor woke early – likely because his probation officer was doing an announced visit or one of the many cats he has adopted got into a louder than normal hairball expulsion – and opened the door just as we were dropping the paper. He looked at us with bleary eyes, seemed relieved that we were not who he feared, took the paper and stepped quickly back into his cat harem of mess and disquiet.
Mr. Allan recently appeared on the UK’s television show “Get Your Act Together” and as a treat for the Evening Post‘s readers, agreed to perform a special escape just for them. The paper described the stunt as a “death-defying version of Harry Houdini’s lethal but rarely seen water tank routine.” It is to be performed at the beautiful Gwyn Hall in Neath.
We need to check with John Cox on the history of the escape but the paper claims it has been performed by only a handful of top illusionists since it was invented by the legendary Houdini in 1911. It is now part of Mr. Allan’s new show, iMagician: The Evolution of Magic.
Mr. Allan told the Evening Post that he had a couple of near-misses during rehearsals but is certain that he is ready to perform it live. “For this particular illusion, it has to be dangerous for it to be exciting. That is what Houdini intended and we have to stick by his principles. So I’m afraid there’s no health and safety rules for me in this act.”
His partner is not excited about him performing the effect and worries for his safety.
“But we can’t remove every element of danger completely which is why it’s such a great favourite with audiences. But it’s also why it’s rarely performed.”
Assuming he survives the escape, it is a great start to his new UK tour in Yorkshire.
His show includes magic and escapes. He proudly touts his Virtual Assistant routine wherein a woman “passes in and out of a digital world.”
We hope he and his assistant remain safe within this world and wish him the best of luck on the new tour.
For those of you who do not receive the Evening Post in paper form, you can read more about Mr. Allan at their website here.
The Session is billed as the UK’s only close-up magic convention; it is “a conference for serious close-up magicians.” This year the two-day fete was held in Cheltenham.
We have never been to Cheltenham but it sounds wonderful. According to the internet, the town “has no fewer than five festivals, devoted to Literature, Music, Science, Jazz and, perhaps most famously, National Hunt racing.”
We are not sure what category close-up magic would occupy although probably not “National Hunt racing.”
The town was made famous by its spas or the ‘waters.’ Visitors to the waters have included Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, Jane Austen and Lord Byron. We have heard of each of these people and therefore are very impressed.
We were even more impressed by the line-up of magicians in Cheltenham this weekend. Promoters listed Juan Tamariz, Asi Wind, Michael Weber, Peter Clifford, Luke Jermay, Andi Gladwin, Joshua Jay, Boris Wild, Roberto Giobbi and Daniel Madison.
But we have it on good authority – YouTube and Twitter – that David Blaine and Dynamo were also in the area.
According to the social media authorities, Derren Brown, Dynamo and Mr. Blaine went to Kukui, a nightclub on Bath Road. Danny Valentine is the manager of that establishment and told local media that the “punters” were stunned by Mr. Blaine’s magic. “He was really great and did tricks for people in his private booth. He was really nice and polite and let one of the customers play with his pack of cards.”
Just below the article about these icons of magic descending on this historic town was a link to an article that may or may not have been related to this weekend’s celebration: “Walter the dog is confused by his squeaky toy – VIDEO.”
It sounds like there was a lot of surprise and fun confusion happening. We wish we could have been there.