Category: Magician Feature

Magician Ariann Black Profiled

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.

Ariann Black performs this Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock. For more information on the shows and to buy tickets, visit the Theatre of Dreams website. Check out Ms. Black’s website here.

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Kevin & Cindy Spencer Hit the Heartland

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.

Looking for Young Yukon Magis

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 snowpuppy@gci.net.

We wish him luck and hope we will hear when he finds the right person.

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.

Copperfield Tugs Our Heart Strings – Again

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.

Malaysian Magician Zlwin Chew Profiled

The Malaysian Sun has a great profile on magician Zlwin Chew this morning.

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.”

Read the full profile at The Sun here.

Check out Mr. Chew’s impressive website here.

Magician Troy Von Scheibner Lauded in UK Press

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.”

Hardly news.

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.

Check out the full profile here.

Magic Megs is Magic Circle Officer and Female!

Megan Knowles-Bacon is 22-years-old and a female and, according to the UK Telegraph, is the only “female magician to be elected to the upper echelons of The Magic Circle.”

The Magic Circle just began accepting female members 23 years ago and has less than 100 total (compared with 1400 total membership).  But the 109-year-old magic organization has made huge strides towards gender parity by electing Ms. Knowles-Bacon to Secretary.  She is used to the gender ratio being so skewed.  She was elected on November 7th.

“When I was first into magic I didn’t realise girls didn’t do it. It was normal for me. It was only when I joined the Young Magician’s Club aged 10 and there were about 70 boys, it was this sudden realisation of: ‘Where are all the girls?'”

Ironically, we had exactly the same “realization” when we joined magic clubs in junior high school.  We wondered where all the girls were and if we had chosen the right hobby to pursue.  We spelled “realization” differently than Ms. Knowles-Bacon though.

Ms. Knowles-Bacon sounds like our kind of enthusiast:

“I can talk about it for hours and hours,” she cries. “I just love entertaining people and giving them happiness. It’s watching their faces light up in shock, or wonder. Magic shows you can create the impossible.”

Her pals call her “Magic Megs” and she adopted the name for her web presence: magicmegs.com.

“There’s quite a few tricks that I wouldn’t be able to do,” explains Knowles-Bacon. “Like the ‘card on tie’ or wallet tricks, because they’re designed for men. If there were more women in magic, maybe they’d make more women’s parts.

“But it makes you more creative. Women can bring a different character. I demonstrate that with my ballet. I used to do tricks with make-up as well. I really played on being a girl and it went down well. You get some real comedy out of it, like asking a man [in the audience] to unscrew an eye shadow lid.”

Read the rest of the profile at The Telegraph.   We were very impressed and wish her the best of luck!

Lee Asher Teaches the Brute Force Force for Free

Lee Asher is one smart cookie.
His writing is always helpful, complete and thoughtful.
We subscribe to his electronic newsletter and are frequently delighted by the neat ideas and moves he offers.
Sure, sometimes the moves are tough to do and we may practice them for a while before returning to our well-practiced 45-minute version of the Twenty-One Card Trick (imagine Bill Malone’s classic Sam the Bellhop but without the flourishes, difficult sleights, interesting story, audience interaction; but twice as long without a big finale).
But like Miley Cyrus or someone looking to boost their immunities against sub-tropical illness, we need the exposure.
Today’s contribution from Mr. Asher is a great technique to force a spectator to select a card from a deck.
We do not wish to engage in the debate whether a magician should ever “force” a card on an unsuspecting audience member.  We understand and appreciate both sides of the argument:
Pro: it is the very foundation of Card Magic.
Con: it violates the volunteer’s free-will.
And while we appreciate the spirit of the debate, we are against the current move here in California to get Proposition 99 on the ballot.  We just don’t believe the government should come between a magician and his or her audience.
The proposition — though well-intentioned — is misguided and would have unforeseen consequences.
The proposed law would require a performer or establishment where more than one performer appears to provide “adequate” notice that customers may be “manipulated” into make choices that otherwise appear to be fair.
The Magic Castle has not issued a statement on this proposition and while we realize this is really intended to go after other, more “adult” segments of the entertainment spectrum, it would take much of the fun out of performing and watching magic.
If you begin a show by explaining that you will be manipulating the audience into making choices, the audience is tipped to the bit.
That may work fine for those who can use such a warning in their act like Derren Brown or Max Maven but for those of us who lack talent and are excited to hit a Classic Force once or twice in a week of work, it makes things tougher.
One of the best things we have going for us is that the audience has no idea what we are doing.
Some nights, we share their mindset.
The proposal will likely not make the ballot and so this is not a problem for magicians or adult entertainers earn their income by lying to their customers about the freedom of their choices.
Political rant aside, Mr. Asher teaches a great, easy force today to subscribers of his magic newsletter.
It is based on the Charlie Miller, Classic Force (table version) which was thought to be published in one of his many Magicana columns in “Genii Magazine”. However, this is not true. Charlie Miller’s table pass appears in print, for the first time, in Harry Riser’s book Secrets Of An Escamoteur (2006).

The Brute Force force works well.

We just tried it out on a fellow passenger on the express bus. He had no idea how we did it. Now he is watching as we type this and so we cannot write the secret here.

We know he is still reading what we are typing and he should realize that is very rude and he should stop.

Really. Stop reading. When is your stop? You might have missed it because you are so intent on reading what we are typing.

Check out Mr. Asher’s great site and learn the secret to the Brute Force force today.

Magician Andrew Mayne Gets Great Press

Today’s edition of The Sun gives well-deserved coverage to Inside Magic Favorite Andrew Mayne and his new show Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne,

Mr. Mayne is an accomplished performer and prolific inventor of great effects.  The Sun gives us some insight into the self-effacing magician that is rarely the fodder of a typical feature piece about a network star.  It is refreshing to read.

But what about the show’s title?  Shouldn’t all magicians be beloved and trusted without question?  Why would a magician want to begin with the premise that he is untrustworthy?

“I liked the idea of using magic to do something ­different. In this case, instead of just watching me do ­something really cool, you get to see me use magic to help people get revenge on ­someone they love or to ­convey a ­pertinent ­message.”

We admit that our recent search of the internets shows there are no other “revenge magicians.”

(Here is a tip from your family-friendly editor, do not do a search using the words “revenge” and “trick” or “perform” if you are at work or have any concern that humanity is quickly sliding down a well-oiled slope towards a society where one would not want to saunter without first donning a hazmat suit and mega-dosing amoxicillin).

His approach is different than others who claim to be Street Magicians.  

“I can’t just ask someone for a ring, I have to convince them to give it to a stranger.”

That is a little tougher than confronting drunk groups of 20-somethings with a camera crew along to capture the moment.

(Editor: we assume the writer meant that the magician doing the confronting had a camera crew in tow as he confronted the drunken group of young people, not that the magician looked for the unique configuration — rarely seen on today’s city streets — of publicly intoxicated folks matching the show’s focus demographic who happen to also have a camera crew (presumably not similarly intoxicated) in their midst).

The Sun reporter asked Mr. Mayne if his impromptu audiences “see through him” on occasion.

“I think people see through me all the time!”

“I have had times when I do something like making a phone vanish – I then walk away thinking they are still standing there.

“Then someone will run up behind me and grab me and tackle me! They don’t know how it works but they know I had done something to them.”

His goal is not to prove himself superior to those he encounters.  

Yes, his reputation precedes him and, as seen in some of the clips on YouTube, some folks run the other way when they see him coming.

“On the whole, I think many know that I am a pretty nice guy and if I get hold of them, they are going to have fun.”

Check out Mr. Mayne’s website here: http://andrewmayne.com.