Paul Debek is known as “The Trickster” in the current iteration of the deservedly world-famous touring company of The Illusionists.
The Trickster does more than comedy and magic, he essentially works as the emcee for the show. His work is discussed in today’s edition of Broadway Direct. You can read about him and The Illusionists – the Marvel or DC comics version of magicians – in the edition yourself by going here.
It is a great piece that discusses how he first got into the Art and then learned to mix in his own brand of comedy.
We were called “The Trickster” for a while also but that was a whole, non-magic situation involving alleged tools appropriate only “in a dentist office” or the “bag of a burglar.”
Long-time Inside Magic readers will no doubt recall our first album’s name was “The Bag of a Burglar.” We were sued by McDonalds for our use of the term “The Bag of a Burglar” but because we received the title by using the actual description of a police officer in the line of duty, our local court found we bore no resemblance to the McDonalds’ character who stole meat from people. Plus we didn’t sell many albums. CDs were all the rage and our vinyl records seemed out-of-place and unplayable on most CD players. (Of course we recall that Sony had a Walkman edition that could play vinyl records and CDs but we choose to omit that device from our claim because of its horrible safety record of accidental blinding or cornea scratching from out-of-control LP needles and control arms).
But enough about us. Let’s talk about you. If you are in New York, be sure to check out The Illusionists. You can learn more about the tour here. The show will be in New York at the beautifully appointed Neal Simon Theater just in time for the Holidays.
It should come as no surprise that Derren Brown’s new Broadway one-man show, Secret, has received rave reviews from magicians like David Copperfield. Magicians know what amazing things can come from Mr. Brown’s very fertile mind. He is, in a word, incredible.
But beyond the common magician or human audience member, there is the critical eye of the critics who with their often very critical pen draft criticism of nearly every new show that hits the Great White Way.
Given that truth as prologue, we were very impressed that the New York Times, the Gray Lady, praised Mr. Brown’s show and Mr. Brown in particular — which makes sense in a one-man show situation.
As a showman, Mr. Brown has none of the smarminess of Las Vegas prestidigitators or carnival hucksters. He feels nonsynthetic in his smoothness, and his jokes directed at the audience stay carefully on the sunny side of insults.
We have long taken a firm stand in favor of smarminess of not only Las Vegas performers and carnival hucksters but we are broad-minded enough to accept non-smarmy presentations of our grand art as well. It could be that we like smarminess because we are in fact smarmy. We tried to go to those camps where they sweat the smarminess out of you — we were surprised our insurance company covered the 30 days at Malibu Smart Not Smarmy Treatment Center and Spa, but they did and it didn’t work.
We even wrote an article for the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Smarminess, The New Epidemic?” It was a case study of magicians and hucksters across the US, Canada and parts of Luxembourg. Yes, the study was later rejected by real doctors but at least we brought the issue to the attention of medical professionals. And yes, it was removed from the site and replaced by a study on cancer or heart disease or something. We didn’t read the replacement article — hence proving that we are smarmy by mentioning something that cannot be found to back up our claim. Quod Erat Demonstrandum, amigos.
Mr. Brown is showing his non-smarmy, smart, intriguing and, to some, “life changing” show at the famous prior home of Doug Henning, The Cort Theater in New York.
We look forward to seeing his show as soon as we can get to New York and purchase tickets to this sold-out show.
It is axiomatic that if the New York Times likes the show, the tickets will no longer be available in the short and middle-run. We are willing to pay scalpers’ prices to see Mr. Brown. That is saying a lot because we are cheap, very cheap. We wear the same suit we wore to our baptism (we had to expand the pants a bit because we grew since we were an infant). Our world-famous father once said, “save your money and you’ll always have money saved.” He also said other things that have nothing to do with money unless you consider horse race touting as money related.
If you are in the New York area — including bordering states and parts of Canada — we urge you to work against your cheap ways and go to see this show. It is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime experience. Mr. Brown is, in our father’s immortal words, “a sure thing upon which you could bet both lungs.”
Hurry though. The show is scheduled to close January 2, 2020.
Get tickets for Mr. Brown’s show — when they become available here.
In the book, the Possum Dixon rocker and magician pulls the curtain back on his wild upbringing and coming-of-age story, including everything from an uncle who impersonated an FBI agent to his days as part of the budding music-and-arts scene in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood.
Rob also delves into his struggles with addiction, his recovery and pivot to magic, and his introduction to Hollywood’s Magic Castle.
In addition to being an incredible performer who engages audiences completely, he is an actor on a Delta safety video, on television and in the movies — plus and really nice guy. He has a riveting story to tell.
There are two things we cannot get enough of: Harry Houdini and anything related to Harry Houdini.
So, if you have an exhibit that features images of Harry Houdini and takes attendees through the life of Harry Houdini, you win the golden ticket in our book.
Just to be clear, we have neither golden tickets or a book in which to collect said tickets, but we will remember you fondly until the day we pass to join the great card table session in the heavens. We’ll tell Dai Vernon and Ed Marlo about you and your organization and they will both likely teach us moves that will take an eternity to perform – but that will be okay because we will have an eternity to learn.
The Breman Museum (William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum) is based in the Atlanta area (likely within a mile of a street with the word “peach” in it). We see that Inside Magic Favorite Joe Turner is assisting in the presentation so you know it will be without flaw and have integrity.
The museum tells visitors that the world’s most famous magician and escape artist wasn’t born but invented by the talented mind of Erik Weisz (later translated into Erich Weiss when he and his family immigrated to the United States).
The exhibit it curated by magician David London and shares the story of how this immigrant, growing up in Wisconsin became Harry Houdini – the world’s first international superstar.
Master Magician Lance Burton and All About Eve have one thing in common. They are perfect. We can watch either over-and-over without need for any breaks. But this is a magic blog read by fives to tens of people every day. We are not here to talk about Bette Davis incredible role in her Oscar® winning film, but the incredible magic of Lance Burton.
Watching Lance Burton is, in a word, wonderful. He has the sleight of hand skills to astound magicians, the professional illusionist chops to wow the crowd and he loves animals and is a very nice person.
We know magicians who love animals but fail at meeting the remaining criteria. Lance Burton has it all and always has. His sleight of hand act on Johnny Carson iced the deal for us. He does things that can only be explained as magic. We don’t look for secrets or flaws, we just drink it in like a gerbil immediately after his wheelwork.
We say all this because Lance Burton will be in Modesto August 18th and performing in the perfect environment to see him work. The Mary Stuart Rogers Theater is a fantastic venue and reminds us of the Lance Burton Theater that once held his nightly show at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. The sight-lines are great and the place is plush.
If you are anywhere near Modesto, you need to visit the theater and experience the true magic you will see by the Master Magician Lance Burton.
The chances are you have seen magician Nick Lewin before. But then again the chances are you have not. It’s that way with chances – they can go either way. Regardless of the side of the fates you fall, you need to take time to see Mr. Lewin for the first time or again as he begins his Southwestern swing.
Mr. Lewin is to magic what oxygen is to many people; at least us. He is an essential ingredient that keeps life sustained. We have seen him perform many times and each time end up with what feels like a broken rib from our laughing and enjoyment.
Mr. Lewin performs effects that we know well but cannot comprehend how he performs them so effortlessly. He performs magic that we assume must be based on one of the magic principles but we don’t which one or ones and we don’t want to know. But on top of all that, he is funny. Not just funny for a magician, but funny in the real comedic sense. Finally, he is an outstanding actor. When he explains something from the stage, audiences (or we) believe it. He could say the landing on the moon was real, and we would accept it without question.
He has opened for Tony Bennett, Reba McEntire, Charlie Daniels, Paul Anka, Fortune 500 companies, as well as private functions for David Bowie, Steve Forbes, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Iacocca, Tony Curtis, Orson Welles, Steve Wozniak and others. If that wasn’t enough – and it should be for anyone – he starred for five years in his award-winning one-man show in Las Vegas called “Comedy Magic.”
On the 27th, Mr. Lewin will be substituting for Mac King at Harrah’s in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will take the stage at 1:00 and 3:00 pm.
On July 29th, he will be headlining Magic at the Tavern in Austin, Texas. Joining him on the bill will be Rolando Medina (close-up expert) and Little Jewford, musician. You can purchase your tickets here.
At the end of the summer, Mr. Lewin will be at TAOM 2019.
He also offers (for sale) some of his great effects at Nick Lewin Enterprises – of which we have purchased many and been delighted with each one.
Do not miss your chance to see Mr. Lewin. He is a true Inside Magic Favorite.
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 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.
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.
Mentalism, Magic and Mystery are three very different things – at least in our tattered book. We have never gotten into trouble with Magic and Mystery but on a couple of occasions have experienced harsh but understandable reactions from Mentalism.
First of all, we are out of the Mentalism biz. It used to be the cool thing around the time of people bending things and using specially patterned cards to read minds. There was a time in our business when everyone claimed they could read minds. Why they did that was always a mystery (little “m” mystery) to us. It gained them some notoriety but it would seem to invite constant challenges.
Slowly the world of Mentalism evolved to not claiming to be capable of reading minds. There were some who continued to make the claims but they were now considered psychics and not Mentalists. We were always in the Mentalism camp – back during our Mentalism days. We would, contrary to psychics, affirmatively tell audiences we cannot read minds. We could influence choices and perhaps pick up tells given by volunteers but never, ever could we read minds.
Except one time.
The following story is an amalgam of two events to protect the innocent and make our point.
We performed what Magicians would call a one-in-a-million shot. Our hole card is the Four of Hearts. We don’t know why but it seems like a good even number and has pretty hearts that can be read from the back of the audience. We were performing for some Boy Scouts and held an over-sized card before us and asked a woman in the far back to name a card. Our intention was to fail to have predicted the card and then go about our act explaining why we do not claim Mentalism power.
She called out in a loud and clear voice, “The Four of Hearts!”
We were far less mature then.
We should have joked it off, not shown the card, and said that was why we did not claim to have special powers. But we couldn’t resist. We milked the moment and when we finally turned the card to face the audience, there was true amazement. Unfortunately, there was also deep concern in the heart of the woman – the mother of one of a young scout.
She asked us almost immediately after finishing our routine, how we could possibly know the card. She had told no one and didn’t even know she was going to be a volunteer. Again, we were immature and in need of validation; even at the cost of someone else’s emotional toil.
“I don’t know for sure, we have a talent to read minds sometimes,” we said proudly.
It wasn’t true and still isn’t. We can’t read minds. We can’t even read fortune cookies without bifocals. We do have a very special talent in reading The Racing Form but our mounting losses over the years have proven that talent does not lead to accurate predictions of horse races.
The scout mom became upset. She asked if we could read her mind at that very moment. We paused as if trying to gather psychic messages and had to admit that we could not. But now she did not believe us. We were lying and reading minds. A very bad combination at a scout meeting.
“The Bible is against false prophets,” she told us as she took her boy behind her back and walked away from us.
We felt terrible. Horrible. We had offended – unnecessarily but for our own self-aggrandizement – a seemingly innocent, concerned mother and likely her son.
That is where the Mystery comes into the equation. Magic, to us, is clean. Things vanish, appear, and change shape or quality. Birds come from places you would least expect and disappear into places far too small for them. Magic is the kind of thing you would do (or we would do) for children, teens, adults and even people our age. Mentalism requires some advanced thinking on the part of the audience and if introduced as a real power can cause real concern.
We don’t want to concern anyone with our act. We do our double-lifts, false shuffles, second deals and what passes for a bottom deal and no one is emotionally concerned. We do a short card divination but never describe it as Mentalism. It is merely a demonstration of influence and picking up “tells.”
There are performers with more experience and ability than us. They would handle the troop mother incident in a far better manner. Perhaps they could even devise a method of proclaiming psychic powers that would cause no concern. We lack those abilities. But we can drink whole milk without having stomach or intestinal upset so we are all blessed in different ways. (We are not saying and would never say all self-proclaimed psychics are lactose intolerant; only that most are and we are not).
The Mystery is why we would do such a thing? Why would we concern a troop mom by persisting in the “gag” and asserting an ability we do not have and have never possessed? We learned our lesson years ago but pass it along for those starting out in our wonderful Art. There are very real consequences to what we do and how we choose to entertain.