We also take great pride in our programming abilities and yet we were stumped yesterday trying to load an active graph from Google documenting the past and present searches for Houdini since 2010. We couldn’t go back further; like to 1920 and figured out that we were limited by the reality that Google did not exist in the Roaring Twenties.
So while we don’t have the live data stream for Houdini searches on InsideMagic.com yet, we can report that the term Houdini continues to be searched daily with peaks in the number of searches on special days and weeks around Halloween and the date of his death in 1926.
Why were we trying to construct this real-time search presentation?
First because we thought it was a cool tool to put on our website. We’re always looking to spice up our space.
Second, because we search for news or articles about Houdini daily. Sometimes the searches come back related to a rapper that used Houdini in his name. Sometimes it comes back with a wine bottle opener. Sometimes it comes back with the great Houdini Magic Shop from Disneyland or Las Vegas. But usually there is at least one hit for Houdini, the world-famous magician and escape artist par excellence.
It is amazing that his name, story and images still register on the Google Search metrics.
What a testament to his self-promotion, his place in modern history and his ability to entrance modern audiences even without being present (assuming you disregard claims of connections during seances).
Magicians today still make reference to Houdini in their acts; often comparing themselves to the master performer. The modern audiences have never seen Houdini (other than the Tony Curtis film, perhaps) but the reference still resonates with them.
We tried to think of other performers that have that kind of staying power. In the 1920s the American and European theaters were jammed full of performers and on a typical evening’s bill, there would be a star or top act. Yet, we are at a loss to name any of them unless they later had a career in a more permanent medium like film or radio.
Houdini is what got us heavily into magic and we assume his popularity is having the same effect on a new generation of magicians and escape artists.
What a wonderful art we have.
By the way, if we are ever in doubt about Houdini’s work or history, we refer to the source that knows all, Wild About Houdini, run by John Cox. If you are a Houdini fan, it needs to be your first stop daily for the latest findings and exploration about this incredible legend.
We will continue to work with our crack programming team to get real time search stats on InsideMagic.com but until then, we’ll just report the highlights we find through our searching or from Mr. Cox’ website.
There’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.
Magician, 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.
Genius 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.
He 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.
Carisa Hendrix is more than an accomplished magician and world-record fire-eater, she is also a Persuasive Calgarians according to a great profile in today’s Calgary Herald newspaper. But magic was not her first choice. She was “seduced by the ‘glamor of magic.'”
Like many of us, she watched David Copperfield on television with her family. She was able to “think outside the box” and correctly guess how the illusions were being performed.
Her intended career was to be a teacher. But the lure of fire-eating and card magic proved strong.
“It’s never had to be a career; just what I did to survive. “
“The 32-year-old Calgary-born wizard is at the top of her game today, performing in iconic clubs – in her sexy personality Lucy Darling – setting a Guinness World Record for Eating Fire, inviting Penn and the TV show Teller and co-hosting Shezam, a popular feminist podcast on magic.”
Her abilities have been noted not only by her peers in the magic community (a tough crowd) but also magic clubs. She no longer needs to send audition videos.
“I wouldn’t exist if not for the other magicians who encouraged me, paid me to be their assistant when I was 16 and 17. It was money between hunger and no.”
Three years later, “I did everything – fire, acrobatics, chair dance, magic – whatever he wanted. I was making money until it was no longer scary.”
Ms. Hendrix is looking forward to a possible Canadian television tour to her North American club appearances.
“The magic has to be proven directly,” she says. “It’s just so powerful.”
You know the Ace Hotel New York even if you have never been there. Check out their website to see the iconic building with tons of history and literary connections. If we are not mistaken (and their is a very good chance we are), our very favorite short story writer, O. Henry lived in one of the rooms of the building way back in the day.
Zach Alexander, Michael Karas and RJ The Magician will be appearing in their show The New Face of Magic tomorrow, December 14th in Liberty Hall at Ace Hotel New York.
So there is a fine mixture of the past and future awaiting you. Once you are seated and watching the show, it will then be the past, present and future. We suppose that goes without saying and so . . .
The title of the show is fitting for performances by new magicians that push the art of the craft forward.
Mr. Alexander has been featured on ABC Morning News and is a member of our art’s very secret society, The International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Joining Mr. Alexander will be RJ the Magician. He truly is part of the coming generation of magicians. His objective is not only to entertain but also “prove that magic and civic engagement can help contribute to modern society.” He is a member of the International Association of Black Magical Artists; and was the winner of their 2018 “Rising Star” Award.
Mr. Karas is an international award-winning juggler. He has toured the world for more than a decade with his very unique and comedic juggling routine.
If we were in New York, we’d stay at the Ace Hotel if only for the history and O. Henry’s legacy (assuming we’re correct about his residence there) but if we had a choice of nights to stay, it would be tonight and tomorrow to catch The New Face of Magic show.
If you are anywhere in the vicinity of New York city, you should check out the show and see these three amazing performers.
You can read more about the show and the performers here.
Proof of his multi-talented skills is evidenced by his new show Robert Ramirez: The Musical Theater Magician live through Jan. 5, 2020, at Pittsburgh’s Downtown’s Liberty Magic.
By the way, Downtown’s Liberty Magic has a great website. We don’t normally comment on the quality of websites because we feel inadequate about the layout of InsideMagic.com — and we didn’t just mention InsideMagic.com to boost our position in Google ratings — and we didn’t just mention Google to associate Google and its Google Search Engine with InsideMagic.com. We were just making a point why we point out great websites when we see ’em and instantly compare them with our site dedicated to providing the latest magic news for the professional performer here on InsideMagic.com.
Mr. Ramirez’s musical abilities including the ability to play the piano and tap dance; plus perform magic tricks at a level that brings unsolicited praise from fellow magicians.
He became interested in our art when he was merely 8-years-old, after his parents divorced. He then branched into playing the flute, being involved in musical theater in high school and college and even took classes at the very prestigious L.A. based Upright Citizens Brigade. As if that wasn’t enough, he found time to promote creative writing for children in California’s elementary schools through a program called the Imagination Machine.
We would posit that this was sufficient; but no. He went on to star in the touring company of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, In the Heights from 2011 to 2012.
Holy cow. We can only do magic and really only with cards and really only with cards that we have prepared before performing and really only with one type of a deck in one color and whilst seated and without any potential bad angles and with special sticky stuff on our fingers. Forget doing music or dancing.
Now here’s the strange part. Once he finished the tour, he found it tough to get auditions. He hit a dry spell — like our hands and that is why we need the sticky stuff on our fingers but he was using the term “dry spell” as a metaphor not a physical sign of aging and dry fingers.
“I had realized I’m going to have to create my own work if I want to get out of this little rut,” he says. “So I started doing more magic and I started doing weddings or I started doing strolling gigs when I could.”
He served as a magic consultant on “America’s Got Talent” and appeared at the world-famous Magic Castle in Los Angeles and the Chicago Magic Lounge. Soon his unique combination of skills brought him to the forefront.
“Now in the last two years, I got to a point where now I have to set time aside to do a theater show, do a musical, and then audition for that show,” he says.
Did we mention he also has a comedy background and uses comedy in his performance? We realize we shouldn’t ask readers to go back through this post to determine whether we mentioned it when we clearly could do it if our Tandy X1000 running WordStar 1.25 had an easy way to scroll back up.
“I don’t want to set that expectation because you may not get my brand of humor. Everybody loves magic, and there’s kind of not a ‘brand’ of magic. Either it’s going to feel whimsical and feel like magic or it’s not,” he says.
He is in to magic history and history in general “Magic’s been popular for hundreds of years,” he says. “I think, when all of these historical events were happening in the world, what was happening in magic?”
Following the lead of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the show, In The Heights, to construct a show that he wanted to see, Mr. Ramirez put together an act that he would want to attend. “Now all I do is I create magic that I want to see, something that I wish I was in the audience to laugh at.”
If you are in the Pittsburgh area, check out “Robert Ramirez: The Musical Theater Magician.” Various times. Now through Jan. 5. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org
You’ll see it all in one place. Visit Mr. Ramirez’ website here.
We don’t know the website “Looper” but it caught our eye today with a story on the behind the scenes of the wildly popular magic-oriented television show, Penn & Teller’s Fool Us.
We love logistics. Perhaps our love is in the extreme. We love to be at the back of the theater to see how props are packed and unpacked. The huge trucks and the many workers who move the props into their show-ready position. We really love it. Ask anyone who knows us — that’s about three people (or 2.2 people in metric, we think).
Looper takes readers inside and behind the filming of Fool Us and the time expended to film a season’s worth of shows in just a couple of days in front of an audience that could understandably be less enthusiastic as the taping goes on for hours.
One of the burning (literally — but that’s due to a Voodoo curse we received in New Orleans when we refused to pay for what we considered inadequate Voodoo practice — guess Madam Etouffee proved us wrong. We know experience physical burning sensations each time we obsess on some random thought. But that’s our problem, not yours, we hope) — trying to figure out why the delightful Alyson Hannigan wore the same lovely but repetitive dress for each show.
The Looper knows and explains.
We also wondered why there were many more female magicians fooling Penn & Teller — again, The Looper knows. It is an encouraging reason and promises good things for our beloved art. (“Beloved Art” was also the name of our sister’s fake lover — according to some court documents detailing the catfishing efforts of someone who wasn’t really name “Art” and certainly shouldn’t have been beloved by our innocent little sister). Louise took it stride — meaning she ran and kicked the fake Art to break off their relationship. Louise is now working in Hollywood as a freelance conjoined twin for some of the biggest stars in the business. She has beautiful red hair all down her back — unfortunately, none on her head, just down her back.
So our sister Louise shares the redhead / red-hairy back trait with Ms. Hannigan.
The story goes even further behind the scenes to reveal how Penn & Teller’s guess at the method of the trick is checked by a magician who knows the secret. There have been times when Penn & Teller disagreed with the off-stage judge but the judge’s ruling is final. How many times have we heard that phrase in our errant attempts to become Mr. California, Mr. Hollywood, Mr. North Hollywood, Mr. single block between Melrose and Santa Monica, Mr. Living Room in an apartment over a dog food bakery on Santa Monica? Many times, that’s how many. We still have our sash for third prize (“Mr. Congenital”) but it doesn’t mean so much to us now that we know what “congenital” means.
Long-time readers of Inside Magic are already familiar with this story. Almost all of it nearly true.
It was Thanksgiving dinner years ago. The family was gathered around the table. We have a large family both in girth and number. Our now departed grandfather and the magician scion of the Hardy clan (our family’s stage name) was seated at the head of the elongated table created by pushing three wooden tables and one card table into a long row.
Grandfather Hardy (his real last name from which we took our stage name) clutched the family bible in his liver-spotted hands and gazed over his progeny with pride. Assembled were five magicians and their families as well as non-magicians and their families. He was waiting for all to cease their conversations, the passing of plates and the taking of places.
Once all were quiet, Grandfather Hardy turned to his favorite passage from the holy book on Thanksgiving day, John 10:10 “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.” He spoke for a few minutes about the abundant life God had provided and a tear formed in his right eye, his voice cracked and he looked down at his amply filled plate. “We have much abundance and for that we should always be thankful.”
He crossed himself and we all followed – even those around the table who did not customarily cross themselves in their faith.
We began to eat.
There was clanging of forks and knives on Grandmother Hardy’s prized china and the occasional sounds of chomping from those in our family who had no manners and could not close their mouths whilst eating. We thought nothing of it, though. This was a time of family dedicated to giving thanks.
Then Grandfather Hardy brought out a deck of cards.
The mood around the table changed.
Some of us were excited. Some showed signs of ennui and others just averted their glance from the old man and his preparation to show a card trick.
There are people who eat with their mouths open and people who don’t like card tricks. If you were to draw a Ven Diagram describing those two groups, they would not only connect, they would likely match up exactly in one circle with no evidence of outliers.
Grandfather Hardy asked the youngest of the families to select a card from the deck.
Young Natasha was just four but knew how to select a card and was excited about the attention she was now receiving from not only her Great Grandfather but also the entire crowded table. She pondered the perfect fan of cards before her and made a selection.
“Show it to everyone but not me,” Grandfather Hardy said.
Natasha did as she was told. Our memory may be fading but we think it was the two of clubs.
“Now, Tasha, Grandfather Hardy said with a smile, “sign the card so we’ll know it is yours if we see it again.”
She joined in the smile and looked to her mother, our aunt, as she took the pen she was handed and slowly, very slowly wrote her name on the card. It said, “Tasha.”
Without urging from Grandfather Hardy, she placed the card back in the deck, still spread in a perfect fan. She knew the elements of such a trick.
Grandfather Hardy handed the deck to Tasha’s mother and asked her to help her daughter shuffle it thoroughly. The two shuffled for quite a while – or so it seemed to the magicians around the table. It is difficult to say what the non-magicians thought.
Tasha’s mother returned the deck to her father and he held it fairly in his left hand.
“Tasha,” he said. “Do you remember what your card looked like?”
Tasha turned to her mother with a smile. Her mother whispered something in her ear and Tasha turned back to greet the gaze of her Great Grandfather. “Two of cubs,” she said.
“Indeed?” asked Grandfather Hardy. “And it has your signature on it too.”
Tasha nodded and looked back at her mother for approval. Her mother again whispered something in her ear and she turned again towards the table and nodded with a smile.
“Take a look at the cards and tell me if you see yours,” Grandfather Hardy instructed with a kind smile.
As he turned the deck face up and began to spread them across the tablecloth – one of four covering the assembly of tables – everyone could see that all of the cards were blank. Tasha’s card was gone but so were the faces of all others.
Tasha’s eyes grew wide. She had never seen this trick before. She had been the volunteer for many of the old man’s tricks but this was a new one. She turned to her mother again as if to verify that what she was seeing was not only amazing to her but to others. She saw her mother’s proud smile and her smile increased accordingly.
“Where did it go?” Grandfather Hardy asked.
Tasha shook her head, still smiling.
“Look under your plate, Tasha,” Grandfather Hardy said softly.
Tasha lifted her plate and taking the instructions very literally looked at the bottom of the plate, not the table beneath. Her mother pointed down to the table and drew her daughter’s attention to a single face down card.
Tasha seemed to accept that the trick was over. She was impressed, delighted, amused, and very, very happy. She had no need to turn over the card, she knew it had to be the one she selected and signed.
“Turn it over,” said several of the non-magician family members almost in unison.
Tasha did as she was urged and indeed the card was the same one she had selected and signed.
Her smile grew wider, she looked to her mother and now back to Grandfather Hardy and then her mother again.
She leapt from her chair to give the old man a hug and a kiss. He accepted both and hugged her tightly.
His eyes were filled with tears now.
“Abundantly,” he said with cracking voice. “We have been blessed with abundance.”