Category: Latest Magic News

The very latest in magic news

A Trick that Fooled Us

We are magicians through and through. The FOB caused serious damage to us. We’re no Penn & Teller although we refer to our self in the third-person.  But we love to be fooled and fooled horribly.  The kind of fooled where we can’t see straight from the headache that comes on almost  instantly, interrupted by the need to catch or absorb our slobber.

We stamp on the ground like a baffled horse — which was our 22:1  the pick in the Oaks Classic at Churchill Downs the day before the 1999 Kentucky Derby.  It was an all filly race and we figured we had the inside track.  We had a dream that day that the Number 7 was rubbing our back with a light oil (scentless), we woke at 7:07 am, we caught the 777 bus to Churchill downs, found Baffled Horse was the 7th horse in the 7th race and put $777 on the nose.  We watch the race with a certain sense of satisfaction to find that our pick game in 7th.  So even though we didn’t win, it was significant to us and taught  us to not sleep or if we do sleep, not to enter into REM states of sleep where dreams can occur.  We have switched to coffee in large amounts.  We go to 12 step meetings just to get the free coffee and cigs.  We never even smoke cigs, we just light them in a cool manner and blow the smoke out through the cigarette and then toss the flaming stick on the ground with the assured throw once would see in 1940s movies.

But we digress.

What’s new?

We love this trick.  It fooled us so badly.  We were sitting with friends outside the Magic Castle one night an a young man asked if he could show us a trick.  He was smoking a cigarette but really smoking it.  It was as if he wanted the smoke to go into his lungs.  He still had the cool toss and the smelly fingers but he was taking smoking to a whole new and likely unsafe level.  We don’t know if there has been any research on the effects of taking tobacco smoke into your lungs but it seems like something they should look at it.  Maybe the big tobacco companies could look into it since they would seem to have the most data.

He performed the trick and I could find no explanation.  None.  Now I learn that it can be bought here at MJM Magic.  Check it out and see if doesn’t make you drool.

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Impostor Syndrome and Magicians

There is a wonderful, short essay in Jeff McBride’s newsletter today from a fellow magician by the name of Santiago.  His topic is one that we ponder incessantly – the Impostor Syndrome.

Magicians may face this more than other realms of the variety arts.  After all, our whole job is to be an impostor.  We recall Robert Houdin’s famous saying that a “magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.”  We weren’t around when he said or wrote it but we think it applies in spades to our feeling each time we take the stage or the close-up table.

Part of being a magician is deciding how we represent ourselves to the audience.  Do we claim to have magical powers (or can a psychic truly read minds)?  Or are we simply using skills undetectable by the audience to accomplish what appears to be real magic?  Or are we just presenting puzzles for the audience to guess their method?

Pop Haydn taught in his phenomenal School for Scoundrels that when presenting the Three Shell game, the audience doesn’t see it as true magic because they know there must be some way the invisible movement of the pea is being accomplished.  But that does not diminish the effect.

We are a sucker for charts.  You could tell us that the earth was round, the sky is blue and grass is green, and we would nod knowingly.  But if you showed us in a chart or a graphic, we would say things like “of course, now we see!” and we would say it in a manner that implied an exclamation point at the end of our statement.  Probably by speaking emphatically and nodding like a bobble head and smiling like a fool who is doing brain damage from incessant head nodding.

We mention charts not only because we love them but also because Santiago includes charts in his essay.

If you have pondered the Impostor Syndrome or are suffering from it, you should check out the essay and sign-up for Jeff McBride’s newsletter.  It has yet to disappoint.

Read the essay here.

Sign-up for Jeff McBride’s newsletter here.

Criss Angel Heads to Broadway

Magician Criss Angel is taking his show from Las Vegas to Broadway.

He recently returned to Planet Hollywood, where he began the MINDFREAK television series that brought him and his unique brand of magic into the living rooms of millions.  That led to a long run with the Luxor and his association with Cirque du Soliel.

But now, as he points out in an interview with Fox News, his new show has “more lights than all seven Cirque [du Soleil] shows combined — over 2,000 lights. People are going to come to this show even in the entertainment capital of the world and they are going to see a show that will blow their mind unlike any show in the world of entertainment.”

He will bring his show “RAW – The Mindfreak Unplugged” to Broadway in July.

“The Broadway show is another goal that I’ve had since I was a kid and now I’ll be accomplishing that July 2nd — doing eight shows at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre that once housed Doug Henning, my childhood inspiration,” he said.

What will it be like?  Think of it as a rare, intimate evening with a magician usually only seen in huge venues.

He told Fox, it will be like a “stripped-down version of getting to know Criss Angel, as if I was in your living room hanging out having a beer,” adding that the experience will “make you feel like you can go out and conquer the world, especially after you see me levitate in pure light in a way that no one has ever done in the history of magic.”

The man works nearly around the clock performing, inventing and rehearsing.  It is more than just learning the secret to a trick on the internet.

“I didn’t have the Internet back in the day, I went to the card catalog … Now you know if somebody wants to learn a secret they go online and there’s no real work to understand what that secret really means to make it something valuable and to make it your own,” Mr. Angel said.

He is not just working to perfect his performances at Planet Hollywood or Broadway.  He has dedicated much to bring awareness to childhood cancer.  His son, Johnny Crisstopher, was diagnosed with leukemia at 2 years old. Now, Johnny, who is 5, is in remission.

“It really underscored what it means to really be a voice for these kids. And, so for me, my life’s commitment is these kids. I’ve dedicated a lot of my time, my money and just my focus to using my success which I’ve been blessed with to really raise awareness and be a voice for these kids.”

Read the full Fox interview here.

Check out Mr. Angel’s website here.

Why is TV Magic So Unmagical?

Entertainment Weekly writer Brittany Frederick asks why with so much magic on television recently, we are not feeling magical?

She points to the recent spate of shows about our craft such as Criss Angel BeLIEve; Syfy’s Wizard Wars, Close Up Kings, and Troy: Street Magic; The CW’s resurrection of Masters of Illusion and importing of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.   She likes the craft but apparently not the way it is being translated to television sets.  It is tough to disagree with her take.

She points out that Masters of Illusion has been squished from an hour-long show to 30 minutes (including commercials).  The net effect is that “Dean Cain has to go through acts so quickly that you barely have time to let the tricks sink in.”

Ms. Frederick bemoans – again with our wholehearted agreement – the move from logistics of putting on a magic show to the effect in isolation.
“What was so fantastic about Criss Angel BeLIEve when Spike unveiled it in October 2013 was that it was almost about everything but the performance. We got to know Angel a lot better and understand what it was like for him to do these challenging tricks every day. We learned about the history involved with many of his demonstrations. We met his team, and were able to listen in on their discussions about how to make magic happen, whether it was building a prop or finding the perfect location. We saw when things didn’t go according to plan and how they dealt with those situations. These are elements of magic that most TV audiences probably haven’t even thought about.”

Audiences are now taken from appreciating the history of a particular effect and the very real logistical challenges of presenting the trick, to merely asking whether an effect is performed with camera tricks or dodgy editing.

Check out her full article and well-considered opinions here.

David Blaine Takes on UK

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.”

Continue reading “David Blaine Takes on UK”

American Museum of Magic VIP Invite

We received a very exciting note from Joshua Wilde of Wunderground Magic about Marshall, Michigan’s American Museum of Magic.  His post follows.

The site is located in the beautiful historic town of Marshall. The museum’s extraordinary treasures, dating from as early as the 16th century, tell the story of the history of magic – a story with deep Michigan roots!

Readers of Inside Magic are invited to partake in the American Museum of Magic’s 9th Annual Magic Gala on the evening of Saturday, June 15th. The festivities begin at 5:00pm with a reception at the Oak Hill House. Then at 7:30pm the party moves to the Franke Center for the Arts at 214 E. Mansion St. in Marshall for an evening of magic by the internationally renowned magician Matthew David Stanley.

You’re invited to an evening of wonder and magic to support the American Museum of Magic, featuring Comedy Magician Matthew David Stanley.

VIP admission includes a one-of-a-kind insider tour of the American Museum of Magic at 5:00 pm and a wine and cheese reception at the museum before the show. General admission includes the show only.

Matthew David Stanley is the proud recipient of the prestigious Lance Burton Award presented in Las Vegas, NV as well as the “International Brotherhood of Magicians Stage Champion Award”. He has been featured on NBC and FOX television networks and currently tours the United States, as well as internationally, performing at comedy clubs, colleges, theaters, and corporate events.

Tickets are available at the museum. You can also reserve them by calling (269) 781-7570. Tickets can also be purchased directly on-line at Brown Paper Tickets.

Marshall is one hour west of Detroit and 50 minutes south of Lansing – located just east of Battle Creek at the intersection of I-94 and I-69.

The American Museum of Magic is located on Marshall’s main business street at 107 East Michigan Street. It will be open on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Please consider helping us get this Michigan treasure back on its feet by joining us for some fun! If you are unable to join us but would like to help out with a tax deductible donation, please send the museum a check at P.O. Box 5, Marshall, MI 49068.

If you’re not familiar with the American Museum of Magic, it’s the largest collection of magical props and memorabilia that’s open to the public, and it’s just down the road from us. Please show your support for our magical heritage by attending the Gala or making a generous donation to the museum.

Tickets for the RECEPTION & MAGIC SHOW are $70 or for MAGIC SHOW ONLY $35. Tickets for this event are available online. or if that link doesn’t work you can find them from the main page of the American Museum of Magic at http://americanmuseumofmagic.com/events/summer-fundraiser/

Please come and invite your friends for an evening of pure magic!

Take care,

Josh

P.S. Share the Wunder, not the secret

Cartamundi Buys US Playing Card

Cartamundi’s purchase of the U.S. Playing Card Company has rocked the magic world.  Although the sale is not scheduled to be final until this summer, it has already set a bright line between the pro-sale and anti-sale forces.

As the fives of loyal readers of Inside Magic know, we do not take an official position on the conglomeration or acquisition of companies related to magic or the variety arts.

[Yes, we recall that this hard-and-fast rule was broken on two occasions: the merger of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (Martin & Lewis Combo Doomed to Failure!) (July 24, 1945); and the manufacturer of fine wood magical pieces, Tree Top Trix, with metal and Plexiglas® effects maker Modern Magic Studios (What Do You Get When You Combine Wood and Plastic? We Don’t Know But We Wouldn’t Eat It) (April 12, 1966).  As it turns out, we were wrong on both counts.  Martin & Lewis went on to be very successful and Top Plastrix turned out some great effects (although only one was digestible and even then only inadvertently and the subject of much litigation leading to the magic studio’s ultimate bankruptcy.  “Mini-Marbles from Nowhere” was a trick just begging to be Exhibit A in litigation,” New York Times, February 19, 1972)]

Continue reading “Cartamundi Buys US Playing Card”

David Copperfield to Add Star to Historic Flag

There is a reason we love Inside Magic Favorite David Copperfield.  He is not just a great performer but an outstanding innovator.  According to The Hill, his latest public attempt will be to restore the 15th star on the Smithsonian’s flag from the war of 1812.

We have checked the magic catalogs we keep in our vault and under our mattress, and did an extensive search of all on-line magic stores but have failed to find the Restore a Star on a Historic Flag trick.  We found several tricks involving flags (Sympathetic Silks with Flag; Unsympathetic Silks with Unsympathetic Flag; Flag through Body; Flag Hat from Paper Tear; Torn and Restored Flag; Burnt and Restored Flag; Washed and Dried Flag to Doves; Washed and Dried Doves to Flag; Cups and Balls (presumably with some flag oriented finale); Appearing Flagstaff; Disappearing Flagstaff; The Town of Flagstaff (this may be an entry from an Arizona specific map but we include it just in case – plus we are paid by the word); Flag through Nose (this is actually a medical procedure documented in a 1920s version of  the Journal of the American Medical Association but could be considered magical by some); Restoring Stars to Paper; Restoring Torn Stars (please be very careful when searching for this item and spell “Torn” with precision to avoid unwanted photographic and video results); and a patriotic version of the classic “What’s Next” with stars rather than dots made during the American Bicentennial (we think that was around 1976 but need to verify). Continue reading “David Copperfield to Add Star to Historic Flag”

The Sorceress Takes the Stage

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.

The Illusionists- Live From Broadway

Check out the full story on The Morning Call here.

 

Magicians Steve Wastell & John Shryock to Close Wolf Week

Sedona is a magical place anyway; so adding magicians Steve Wastell and John Shryock to close out their annual Sedona Wolf Week (aka “SWW”) is only appropriate.  In our book (Ways to Close out Annual Weeks: An Examination of the Proper Way to Close out Weeks in this Fast Moving Environment, Muffin Press  1972), it is necessary.

The two performers will put on their coup de gras (literally, “coupe of the grass” – an old French term that meant the time when lawn grass takes over the world and can drive any car it chooses.  It was the subject of a utopian (or dystopian – if you root for humans to stay on the top of the food chain) novel by Larry Orwell, George Orwell’s younger brother).

The two will be performing Saturday, March 30, during the closing night dinner.

Best of all money raised will be used provide transport, rescue, and lifesaving medical care to wolves, wolfdogs, sanctuaries, rescues and other wolf supporting organizations.

This is the third year for the SWW, a collaboration betwixt Plan B to Save Wolves and Apex Protection Project. The organizations’ mission is to change the way people view wolves and to influence government policy development “regarding wolves while creating respect and protections for this essential apex predator.”

Mr. Wastell told reporters that A true magician doesn’t merely “do tricks.” A true magician connects with their audience and takes them to a place of wonder.  Mr. Wastell has been dubbed “a master magician and a great entertainer.”

Mr. Wastell seeks to bring magic in to the modern age, eschewing bunnies, rings and ropes (coincidentally, “bunnies, rings and ropes” was the name of our first filmstrip produced to promote safety in the use of all three items).

John Shryock, a famous entertainer, known for his million dollar smile has performed in over 100 cities across three continents. Shryock and Mari Lynn are regularly featured on television and in the top casinos, night clubs, cruise ships, conventions, and resorts across the globe. Audiences worldwide have enjoyed his energetic personality, captivating ‘sleight of hand,’ and spellbinding illusions. His impressive skills earned a command performance at President George W. Bush’s Gala Inaugural Ball and numerous appearances on the nationally broadcast television series, ‘Masters of Illusion.’”

The seating for the show is very limited (one per chair) and is expected to sell out. To purchase tickets, find out more information or for a full schedule of events or to get tickets, please visit www.SedonaWolf week.org or call (559) 425-6191

For a complete listing of events or to purchase tickets, please visit www.SedonaWolfWeek.org.

Plan B to Save Wolves

Read more about The Plan B Foundation here PlanB.Foundation.

To learn more about the Apex Protection Project visit ApexProtectionPro-ject.org.

Unfortunately our filmstrip and the above-referenced book are no longer available but do appear in collectors’ auctions on occasion.