Inside Magic Favorite Mac King received well-deserved, positive press in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal for his tireless work to promote reading. This is the fifth year Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour has visited Las Vegas elementary schools to promote the magic of books.
Beverly Mathis, director of literacy for The Public Education Foundation, praised Mr. King effusively (see how we up our adverb choice when talking about literacy?).
“Mac King is fabulous, and we know how he motivates children to read,” Mathis said. “There’s a little book by Dr. Seuss, and the title is ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’, and just think about that. Children can go anywhere they want, even though they’re right here at Bunker Elementary School. Reading opens up the world.”
Mr. King acknowledges that young audiences can be tough audiences.
“It’s hard doing magic for kindergartners and first-graders, you know?” he said. “They kind of believe it; they believe it’s real.”
“I started doing a few school assemblies when I first started at Harrah’s,” said King, “and I started seeing libraries in Las Vegas and thought, ‘Maybe we can get some more books in there.’ When I was a kid, I checked out a book about magic —Tricks Any Boy Can Do — from my school library, and it literally changed my life.”
Mr. King’s multi-award winning show runs Tuesday through Saturday afternoons at 1pm and 3pm at Harrah’s in Las Vegas.
Each student got a free book, courtesy of a book drive sponsored by local companies and the YMCA of Southern Nevada.
“Some of these kids, it’s the only book they’ve ever owned,” King said. “And that’s just appalling. But, for them, it’s like Christmas.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a great profile piece on Italian escapologist Andrew Basso today. Mr. Basso is receiving raves for his twist on Houdini’s Water Torture Cell escape performed as his turn in The Illusionists nationwide tour.
How did he get into magic? To impress mom.
“If you knew my mother, you would say she’s Morticia [Addams],” he said. “She was very serious, no smiles. But when the circus came, she watched the magician’s act, and laughed out loud. I thought, Aha! He has the power to make my mother laugh. I want to be like him.”
He has worked escapes professionally since 2003 and has brought audiences to the edge of their seats and the limits of their composure town after town during The Illusionists’ tour.
Mr. Basso can hold his breath for about four minutes but aims to be out of the restraints and back to breathing air in two minutes. He has had a couple of close-calls.
“It was this big opening, Sydney Opera House, and I was pumped — I just couldn’t get my adrenaline down,” he said. “After 2 minutes and 30 seconds, it was taking longer than normal, and my guys knew that I was in trouble, so they got me out.”
He was also burned when performing an escape on live Italian TV. He was locked in a wooden coffin rigged with explosives and severely burned over his face and hands. “I haven’t done that trick again, but I would, but different,” he said. “I learned something from it.”
We received the following from Marleen Dacri Goddard this weekend.
Hi, I am Steve Dacri’s ex-wife(married circa 1980s-1995) and mother of his son Jesse.
Jesse and I are going to meet in Vegas the week of 3/31 and will be cleaning the storage area of Steve Dacri’s magic and personal belongings that have been left. There is a vintage antique Oak Library Card Catalog that Steve used to store many tricks in. I can’t think of a better use or anyone who might want it rather than a fellow magician who would like to keep his/her tricks in each little drawer. Steve loved this unit as it kept each “trick” with the proper props it required in each drawer.
I don’t know what is left in the storage unit, but if anyone is interested in what I might find, please feel free to email me.
My main purpose is to get Steve’s Ashes out of the storage unit that his last wife left. Jesse and I will hopefully find a nice place to let his ashes go during our trip.
Any ideas would be great! Coming from the East Coast. Thanks for reading!
Magician Ariann Black received a great write-up and interview in today’s Westword in advance of her upcoming shows this weekend at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock, Colorado.
Ms. Black is well-known to Vegas audiences and is now taking the craft she began at the age of four to Colorado. She took inspiration from Doug Henning and his non-traditional appearance.
“At four, you don’t realize that there is more than one magic trick out there. I was fascinated with the idea that there was more than one magic trick and you could do all sorts of things. When I was twelve, I saw Doug Henning on television, and prior to that I had been told that girls couldn’t be magicians. But when I saw Doug Henning and I saw him with his look — he didn’t look like that stereotypical magician — I thought, yeah, I can be a magician, too. He really inspired me.”
The road has not been easy and she points out that within our predominantly male ranks, “women are just an oddity.” She has a small group of female magicians with whom she attends conventions and share. Ms. Black is “always on the lookout for female magicians, especially the younger ones, to make sure that they know that kind of behavior (toward them) is not okay, it’s not acceptable and that they need to stand up for who they are and be respected. It doesn’t just happen in magic — it happens everywhere.”
Be sure to check out the full interview for her thoughts on animal acts, David Copperfield, Criss Angel and why magic still works with today’s modern audiences.
Inside Magic Favorites Kevin and Cindy Spencer will bring their incredible show, “Spencers: Theatre of Illusion” to Elgin, Illinois’ beautiful ECC Arts Center Saturday on April 11.
The Theatre of Illusion is an incredible event with high-tech effects, drama, comedy, romance, and suspense. Blending the theatrical elements of a Broadway-style production with the energy of a rock concert, Kevin and Cindy Spencer take audiences on a journey to the impossible. The Spencers won the International Magic Society’s “Magician of the Year Award” in 2009, joining the likes of David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller, and have been described as “modern day Houdinis” by critics.
The Spencers’ production is a unique fusion of magic and illusion, humor and mystery, and persona and personality. With a background in clinical psychology, Kevin likes to say, “I was going to help people’s minds, but now I just mess with them.”
“Theatre of Illusion” stands in stark contrast to the traditional magic show. Kevin Spencer sees it not as a stage full of tricks used to fool people, but as a way to inspire viewers with a sense of wonder. Audience members don’t simply watch the show, but are also invited to participate in the magic. Using magic much like a storyteller uses words, Kevin fuses this family-friendly production with a gamut of emotions. And with the skills of a master showman, he creates a world where nothing is impossible and anything can happen.
Tickets to Spencers: Theatre of Illusion are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets for all performances in the ECC Arts Center are available online at tickets.elgin.edu or at the ECC Arts Center box office. Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To purchase tickets by phone, call 847-622-0300. All major credit cards are accepted.
Magic is not an innate talent, possessed from birth. Rather, it must be learned, practiced and perfected through mentoring and patient instruction. An article in today’s The Juneau Empire describes the perfect opportunity for a young student to learn from a professional magician.
Mike McRea, a/k/a The Magic Man, is retiring but wants to pass his baton a/k/a magic wand to a young apprentice.
“I’m getting older,” Mr. McRea said. “My kids and grandkids, they love watching dad and grandpa perform but they know how much work it is, and so they don’t want to do it.”
He wants to find someone willing to take up the mantel, put in the work and continue the performing tradition.
“That’s why I’m looking for someone here,” he said. “I’ve already got someone down in Seattle that would just love this, and he already works at a magic shop, a perfect candidate. But Juneau would be out of a magician.”
Mr. McRea has been performing in Juneau since 1989, covering much of the small town in those years.
“I’ve done just about every household here,” he chuckled.
How small is the magic community in Alaska? According to the paper, there are only 13 members of The Society of American Magicians – and they are spread across the state.
If you’re interested, Mr. McRae will stake you to all of his equipment (worth thousands of dollars), help you learn and guide you in the magical ways. He will also ask you to sign an agreement to not sell or give away the tricks.
“Whoever gets it, it has to stay with them, and when they retire they do exactly what I’m doing: they give it away to some deserving child,” he said. “This is the legacy.”
Do you or someone you know have what it takes to carry on the proud tradition? Are you willing to put in the hours of practice necessary to be Juneau’s sole professional magician? You can reach Mr. McRae at email@example.com.
We wish him luck and hope we will hear when he finds the right person.
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.
Just in case you needed one more reason to love magician David Copperfield. We read today of his efforts to make a terminally ill child’s wish come true.
According to a post this afternoon on IJR’s website, Aiden Davis is only 10-year-old but has been fighting cancer since he was three. His wish was to see to see David Copperfield perform.
Mr. Copperfield apparently heard about the young man and his wish through a social media campaign. He granted it and then some. He flew Aiden and his family to Las Vegas and dropped in on them once they checked into their hotel room.
They traveled by limo (Aiden’s first) to the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign where the two posed for a memorable photograph and then headed out for sightseeing and finally a visit to Mr. Copperfield’s hidden warehouse/museum of magic.
They finished off the visit with Aiden getting the best seat in the theater, in a perfect position to see Mr. Copperfield perform.
Mr. Copperfield expressed thanks to Aiden and his family for the opportunity to meet and spend time with “an example of strength and courage for him and all who have been fortunate enough to meet him.”
Like we said, in case you needed another reason to love Mr. Copperfield. We’re going to get some tissues and be thankful.
He went from interested student to major player in Malaysian magic with performances for celebrities, royal figures and the former prime minister. He has traveled throughout Asia and his YouTube performances garnered the praise of David Copperfield.
We loved his answer on failure:
“If you are a musician and you played a wrong tune, chances are most people will not realise your mistake. But if something goes wrong in your magic tricks, your mistake will stand out like an elephant in a room. So you cannot afford to make mistakes. You need to keep on practicing until you perfect your trick. As far as I can remember, I have only failed once. It happened in the early part of my career. The best thing to do is to learn from the mistake and move on.”
He debunks any theory that magicians are practitioners of Black Magic and says he wants to change the public’s understanding of magic and the role of a magician.
“They think magicians are people with torn jeans with a deck of cards who performed on streets or people with glittering jackets and a magic wand who performed at children parties.
“In the past, whenever I tell people that I am a magician, they will immediately say: ‘Good, you can perform at my children’s party.’ Malaysians do not respect magicians. They are so ignorant about magicians. I have dreams to perform large-scale illusions in the near future.”
According to press reports, the entire pop band One Direction asked UK Magician Troy Von Scheibner a very valid question, “What is wrong with you, why have you eaten a balloon?”
We realized as we wrote this sentence that if we failed to mention that Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the teen-fave super-group’s question would likely not have garnered such prominent placement in a major metropolitan daily. It would be just another group of musicians combined for purposes of hitting the top of the charts and asking questions about the eating habits of young people. Like when the Beatles famously asked 19-year-old Mobile, Alabama car wash cashier Harriet Williamson, “Why do you only eat the tops of muffins?” or the Asian Touring Edition of Les Miserables inquired of Japanese supermodel Nozomi Sasaki, “Why do you eat so little in the way of green vegetables.”
But because Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the question reveals that he performed a trick for the loveable lads that make up One Direction. He did not really eat a balloon – we think. He just did a trick that gave the impression that a balloon was eaten.
It is a well-respected journalistic technique employed by Susannah Butter, the smitten writer for The London Evening Standard.
Ms. Butter is impressed with the young performer and star of his own television show, Troy. She admits she is frustrated by his skills and her inability to uncover his secrets but she clearly fancies him.
Troy Von Scheibner is the closest thing to a superhero London has. He uses his powers to help others. “I was outside a party with Thandie Newton,” the magician tells me. “She asked for a lighter. I didn’t have one but I made one appear. She kissed me on the cheek and I thought, ‘I’ll never wash my face again’.”
We do not know Thandie Newton but she must be very attractive or famous or both to cause someone to risk acne and general scruffiness from a single, tobacco-smoke infused kiss. For you younger magicians, remember that audiences will judge you on your appearance and hygiene so make good choices and form good habits. Mr. Von Scheibner notes later in the article that he was kidding about not washing. “Presentation is part of the job done so I’ve always made sure I look the part – nails clean, hair done.”
And as for smoking, as someone once said, “cigarettes and kittens are wonderful and safe until you pop one in your mouth and light it on fire.”
Mr. Von Scheibner seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is unlikely to have it turned by the fawning of amorous media types or smoking damsels in distress. He became intrigued with magic after watching David Blaine and clearly enjoys the attention our craft brings him.
At school he was known as “Magic Boy”, and if anyone teased him about it he won’t admit it. “I stopped performing for people at university because when you are known as the magic man everyone wants you to do tricks all the time. Sometimes I just want to chill so I kept it on the low.” Does it impress women? “It does. Girls are like: ‘You must be so good with your hands’. I don’t deny it.”
Ms. Butter ends her article with a purr: “Von Scheibner, I salute you – next time I need a cigarette lighter I will try my hardest to conjure you up.”
Editor’s note: we normally would have an image of Mr. Von Scheibner accompanying this article but were unable to find any available for editorial use.