As a dedicated Michigander, it is hard to admit there is any likeable or noteworthy aspect to Ohio. Sure, Josha Jay, William Howard Taft, the Wright Brothers, Jamie Farr (the cross-dressing actor from M*A*S*H!), Thomas Edison, the Amish and the Mennonites, Vulcanized Rubber, the Classic Joke “What’s Round on both Ends and High in the Middle,” Most of the Early Astronauts, Paul Newman, the First Pop-Top Can, Teflon, Beautiful Streams, and the modern version of what we know call the Hot Dog.
It’s just that gosh-derned Woody Hayes Ohio State University and their rivalry with those kind boys who play football in Ann Arbor in a state the true-blue Ohio folks refer to not as Michigan but “that state up north.”
Beyond all that, we have a new reason to think highly of our owl-shaped state perched just below the base of our mitten. The Akron Civic Theatre of Akron Ohio is featuring The Carbonaro Effect, Michael Carbonaro, from truTV.
His show unloads his national tour of his stage show this Friday will have the same feel of the TV show, Mr. Carbonaro says, “where improbable magic tricks fool unsuspecting victims.’
Tickets range from $39.50 to $150 for the 7:30 p.m. performance this Friday at the beautiful Akron Civic. You can choose your seats here at akroncivic.com.
“Magic brought me to my discovery of becoming an entertainer,” he said.
He drew inspiration from another true showman and performer at the time, David Copperfield.
“He was so on point, so precise,” Carbonaro said.
So he spent his teen years performing for family, friends and whatever gigs he could find.
He landed a gig with Jay Leno, where he used a hidden camera in “Magic Clerk” segments on The Tonight Show.He used his old magic tricks and knowledge to fool customers in a convenience store. He moved to nicer stores and multiple years worth of series with The Carbonaro Effect.
We have seen this very young and talented man perform live for cynical, hardened and oft-smelling magicians in prestigious theaters and been delighted by the new waves of illusion his presence brings. He has little reason to be as humble as he appears but he is a joy to watch. Do not miss your chance.
We’re not judging, just saying. And remember that we are very shallow. You could break your fool neck diving into our soul.
As we were growing up in the backlots of circuses and traveling shows throughout this great land, the only folks we saw with tattoos were people with stories. Their art – usually crudely executed with India ink and a sewing needle hopefully sanitized with a few seconds a top a Zippo lighter – evidenced a special event or devotion to a cause or person.
Consequently, we associated tattoos with folks that had been in a non-mainstream environment; maybe the military (“when I crossed the equator for the first time”), prison (“when I crossed the warden for the first time”) or all-consuming love (“when our paths crossed for the first time”). We also are old enough to remember seeing the tattoos on survivors of the Holocaust.
Tattoos, for folks of our late age, represented a branding imposed either on or by someone in a life-altering event. We rarely saw tattoos for tattoos sake.
Then the world changed. Tattoos are fashionable and hip and expensive. The technology and sanitization have moved far from India Ink and mom’s sharpest needle to computer-aided design and well-trained crafts persons with shops and Twitter followers and huge revenue streams.
We want to be accepting and embracing of the art embodied in the body of the human canvas and we’re getting better. We can actually eat a meal served by someone with visible tattoos now. True, we usually look away as we chew but we do that anyway because of our tendency to drool and collect scraps of food in our facial hair – we don’t have a mustache, goatee or beard but have very bushy eyebrows.
We have a hard time with magicians – our own people – with visible tattoos. And if we are being honest – and why start now? – we probably would have a hard time with people performing magic if we knew they had a tattoo somewhere on their person. We are not sure how we would feel about conjoined twins with the performing sibling having no tattoos but the silent twin having visible tattooing. So far that is a hypothetical thought exercise we like to ponder when we have had too much caffeine or there is a commercial we have seen before or there are no shiny objects moving in our field of vision. Plus, why is “conjoined twins” not hyphenated?
We know perfectly good people with outstanding magic skills who have had their hands inked as if they had a boxing match with a freshly printed newspaper. Okay, that analogy did not work but we spent about five minutes trying to think of something clever to make that point and the alternatives were: “as if their hands were made of silly putty and they had just finished reading a comic book,” “as if their hands were made of paper mache from the funny pages,” or “as if they had been sautéed in a light oil and Easter-egg dyes.” Analogies are hard. They are harder than something that is usually considered hard by most people.
We have seen magicians perform fantastic feats of magic despite their tattooed state. They feel no need to explain away the obvious – perhaps because it is not an issue for them or their audience. That’s when we start to wonder if we are alone in our apparently irrational reaction to something no one else sees?
We wrote a while ago about getting a manicure in keeping with the old adage we just made up, “Dirty Nails, Trick Fails.” We had good response from fellow magicians online and in person. Even magicians with hand tattoos agreed that a performer’s hands should be clean and neat. So maybe it is just us.
We have tried to get over our clear prejudice by seeking out people with tattoos and staring at them intensely; sometimes we will pull food from our pocket and eat whilst staring to test our progress. We are fortunate to live in West Hollywood where one can find many a tattooed person willing to accept our staring and eating without objection or concern.
We will break down this prejudice somehow. Just like we overcame our disgust at people who unknowingly use “myself” instead of “me” in sentences or begin each sentence with the word “so.” We have come to accept folks who smoke e-cigarettes. In fact the other night we saw a gentleman smoking what looked like an e-cigar. It was much larger than a cigarette. When we got closer, though, we saw he was just sucking on a flashlight. But we were accepting and embraced his healthy alternative to smoking tobacco.
Joshua Spivak has a great article in today’s Jewish Daily Forward, “The True Story of Harry Houdini’s Tefillin.”
While researching a totally unrelated topic by reading through old newspapers, he came across an article about Harry Houdini’s death. That led him to further research into the newspapers of the time and into an interesting – if occasionally contradictory – depiction of Houdini’s relationship with the Jewish community and his Jewish practices.
One article, collected the perspective of folks who claimed to be former Wisconsin neighbors and friends, claimed that: “They know him as a man devoutly religious, who, wherever his performance brought him, carried his phylacteries and mezuzahs, Jewish creedal symbols, with him…The mezuzahs, strips of parchment with scriptural passages encased in tin, considered effective in warding off evil, he is said to have nailed to the door of the hotel room wherever he lodged for the night, on the true orthodox Jewish fashion. And the phylacteries, little leathern boxes with scriptural parchment recognized as charms, he bound to his forehead and left arm each morning during his prayers, his friends declare.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.