Category: Latest Magic News

The very latest in magic news

Houdini Magic Shop Owner Aids JFK Investigation

Geno Munari, magician and owner of Houdini’s Magic Shop in Las Vegas and, most importantly for us here in Southern California, Disneyland, had a key role in finding historical documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Harry Connick, father of performer Harry Connick, Jr. served as district attorney in New Orleans and in that role ordered the destruction of files related to JFK’s assassination.  Apparently the order wasn’t followed and some of the files, 67 boxes in total, remained.  The police officer charged with destroying the documents thought they may have some historical relevance and copied them for safekeeping.

Years or decades later, the files showed up on eBay and Mr. Munari bought them.

Investigation enthusiasts and scholars are delighted the files still exist and are combing the boxes for insight into the assassination, according to the website American Free Press.

As a side note, Inside Magic once uncovered files relating to the attempted theft of a magic trick invented by a rather famous magician who travelled through the United States.

Paw Paw Lawton was a part of the Inside Magic staff back in the day when we distributed this blog through cutting and pasting together a newsletter sent to over 20 subscribers on our list (six were members of our own family or claimed to be related by marriage.  The image above was our first logo.  In the latter case, it turned out that Tony Spain was not properly married to our sister-in-law because he had been married three previous times, to the same woman, and none of those marriages were properly ended by divorce.

Tony has held a grudge against Inside Magic since and once had a website called, Down with Inside Magic and its Terrible Blogging (downwithinsidemagicanditsterribleblogging.io).  That site became inactive after one or two (actually one and a half) blog posts and our recent check of the very tough to remember or type URL shows the site is long gone.

Our sister-in-law was devastated and turned over to Paw a letter in which Tony was about to publish Paw’s Glass and a Half where liquid was poured into a glass from a pitcher and yet was able to hold all of the liquid poured.  Sort of a Multum in Parvo but with the added benefit of no set-up.  The trick was never published by Paw or Tony.  Tony is lazy and never got around to publishing the secret or claiming the trick was his.  Paw thought the secret was too good to share because he kept it in his act until his unfortunate passing in the early 2000s.)

But from that one experience we realized how important pieces of paper could be.  We used to think paper with writing on it was a novelty that would fall out of fashion.  After extensive research, spurred by our sister-in-law’s jilting, we learned that many things were written on paper; such as the Magna Carta, the Constitution of our very country, and shopping lists.  That discovery in the early 1990’s essentially changed our way of thinking.  So imagine how excited we are to learn that a magician, Geno Munari purchased 67 boxes of pieces of paper and audio tapes for any reason, much less the New Orleans’ investigation of the Kennedy assassination.

We are old enough to remember the assassination although our memory is only of the funeral and the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.

We credit our outstanding memory to taking some extract from jellyfish that we learned about on a late-night/early morning infomercial.  We didn’t even know jellyfish had brains much less great memories.  We wonder often what the typical jellyfish remembers.  Perhaps good times as a young jellyfish with its jellyfish mom and dad and its ambitions to be a great jellyfish that other jellyfish will remember in their great memory banks right before they are used to make supplements that we purchase online.  But that’s us.

We wonder about a lot of things, constantly.

We wonder why jellyfish, with their great memories, would put themselves into a position where they could be used for the scientists who derive the extracts.  We wonder if by taking the extracts to help our own memory, we are actually capturing some of the jellyfish memories.  Perhaps that is why we like the ocean so much.  Maybe we are living the hopes and dreams of so many jellyfish.  Or maybe we just like getting wet and having sand in our shoes and walking uncomfortably back to our car to deposit the sand throughout.

We just bought a new/used Nissan Eczema and love it  but it is filled with beach sand and the interior smells of dead fish.  We don’t know why they stopped making it in 1989 but it is a great car with very few seatbelts but it does have a cigar lighter that works so we have that.

Back to our story.  We are delighted to see Mr. Munari’s name associated with this historical event and subsequent investigation that has lasted since the assassination of JFK – more than 15 years have passed since November 22, 1963, maybe more than 15, but at least 15 years.  We’re not good at math.

Check out the full story here.

Visit Mr. Munari’s Houdini Magic Shop here.

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Science Channel Greenlights Houdini Series

The Science Channel is set to carry a docuseries titled Houdini’s Last Secrets.  The series purports to be an expose of Houdini’s effects by looking at the scientific and engineering allegedly utilized in the effects performed by the great magician.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will feature not only engineers and scientists but illusionists to “unravel the mystery around the man who caught a speeding bullet, survived live burial and imprisoned himself inside a water tank, spurring celebrity and conspiracy theories. The show will also look into the late magician’s personal life, through authentic scrapbooks, letters and pictures, to piece together his legacy.”

Each of the episodes will seek to discover the secret behind one of Houdini’s effects.

Said Science Channel General Manager “Harry Houdini is the definition of mind-blowing. He was clearly ahead of his time when it came to using engineering to accomplish his stunts, so much so that his methods continue to be debated by today’s master magicians. It’s no wonder that just the name Houdini still stirs the imagination of people, nearly a century after his death.”

Variety reports that the first effect to be explored / exposed will be the Water Torture Cell escape and the other shows will include stunts that we don’t believe Houdini actually performed such as “burning alive” and “catching a bullet.”  In fact, we are rather sure Houdini did not perform the bullet catch after receiving advice from Kellar.  We defer to John Cox, the Houdini expert, for his recollection.

The best scenario would be that the scientists, illusionists and engineers on the show fail to solve the mysteries and keep the secrets safe but unfortunately, we fear that won’t happen.

The show is set to premiere on the Science Channel on January 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Read The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive on the show here.

Check out John Cox’ Wild About Harry website here.

Magician Sebastian Walton Continues to Impress

Young magician and sleight of hand specialist Sebastian Walton continues to impress his peers and, perhaps more importantly, his audiences.  When we last caught up with young Sebastian he had just won the Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year.   He was the youngest, at just 20 years of age (we don’t know what 20 years is in metric so we’re using American data).  That was way back in 2016.  We met him and took in his Parlor show at the Magic Castle three times coming off that big win.

He recently returned to the Magic Castle and slayed lay and magic audience members alike.

As Yogi Berra said about pitcher Don Sutton’s perfect game, “this kid is good.”  Almost any praise for Mr. Walton will seem an understatement.  He takes real risks in his performance with effects that could go horribly wrong.  We don’t know why he does it but it is a pleasure to watch someone with real skills in the sleight of hand department work in front of a real crowd.

We’ll continue to do our Sucker Sliding Die Box and Hippity Hop Bunnies even though the effects do not have the same impact on audiences, we feel safe with store-bought, EZ Magic.  We are saving our lunch money for a Milk Pitcher – soon to be introduced into our act.  But that’s just us and that’s the reason we haven’t won any awards from The Magic Circle or even our family members, for that matter.

His act is not just daring, entertaining, and different from anything we had seen, it was truly mystifying.  Mr. Walton is certainly deserving of the praise heaped upon him by our British cousins.

If you don’t believe us, you can read our review of Mr. Walton’s show on Inside Magic here. We wouldn’t lie, twice.

We just learned that a couple of weeks ago he won Yorkshire’s Own Talent.

The latest news from Mr. Walton is that he has a new website up and running.  We also have it on very good authority that he will be returning to the Magic Castle in 2019.  We will be there, front and center, to watch and review for this well established and esteemed magic news website.

Art of Magic Purchased by Vanishing Inc

If you were not a magician familiar with the two business entities, the title to this post would seem strange.  Vanishing Inc. is an Inside Magic favorite and recipient of our weekly paycheck for the past decade it seems.  The Art of Magic previously owned by Dan and Dave Buck is a fantastic company led by two of the true innovators in our craft.  We have tried their shuffles, fans and cuts for years and their products have been top-notch.

We were surprised to learn that Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin purchased Art of Magic lock, stock and barrel from the Buck twins yesterday.  Here is the announcement from Jay and Andi:

Effective immediately, Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin (on behalf of Vanishing Inc) are pleased to announce the purchase of Art of Magic and all its content from Dan and Dave Buck. For years we have admired their work ethic and output, and we’re excited to take over the wonderful enterprise they have created.

We have grown up alongside Dan and Dave Buck and have a tremendous appreciation for both their artistry and the beautiful brand they have built with Art of Magic.

What we admire most from Dan and Dave is their attention to detail. The spirit in which they work is all passion: that’s why everything they release exudes quality and perfection. Their videos are—without question—the finest produced in all of magic. The people they work with are among our  favorite magicians and the content they offer is top, top quality magic worthy of careful study.

We have promised Dan and Dave the same promise we will make to you: that we will continue in this same spirit, and honor the brand and impact they have forged. You can look to www.artofmagic.com in the coming months for new magic that we believe will excite and delight. We will continue relationships with the artists you love, and we’ll continue to deliver the high quality of service you have come to expect from Art of Magic.

You can also expect some exciting brand synergy, incorporating artists and elements from Vanishing Inc into Art of Magic, and introducing the Art of Magic library to our Vanishing Inc community.
It’s an honor to continue to work with Dan and Dave on Art of Magic, and to serve the magicians who love the brand.

We do not know the details of the deal and, to be honest, to a magician and a fan of both companies, the purchase price and business arrangements are not as important as the fact that Art of Magic will be run by Vanishing Inc.  Vanishing Inc. has proven to be a reliable source of new magic and combines great customer service with a keen eye for what magic is worth one’s time and prides itself in bringing only the tried and tested effects to its consumers.  We see this as a win-win for magicians.

Magic, Mystery and Houdini in New Play

The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini was a comic book from 2017 and is now set to be a multi-level New York play with three different takes on the story.

According to the website ComicBook.com and The Hollywood  Reporter, detective Minky Woodcock, star of Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime’s graphic novel The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini, is starring on the stage of New York City’s Theater 80.  The show opens today and runs until November 10th and according to our theater critic, “sounds really cool.”

Our theater critic has not seen the show yet and our budget (and certain court obligations) will not allow him to travel to New York City to see the presentation.  But Cyrus (our critic goes by only one name – often the same name on consecutive days) likes that there are essentially three different plays in one show.

The show is presented on three different floors of the Theater 80 and audience members get to pick whether they will take on the roles of spiritualists, pragmatists, or the guests of Houdini himself.   The show will present differently according to the role they select.  We don’t know if the producers thought of this but that could actually make audience members want to see the show two more times.   They probably did think of that but in case they didn’t we think it is an unexpected benefit of staging the play from three different perspectives for audiences.

“Minky was created by artist, author, and playwright Cynthia von Buhler. Minky is a private detective in the 1920s with a fondness for rabbits. She debuted in the four-issue miniseries The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini in 2017, which earned critical praise. The hardcover collection of the series released in August.”

According to ComicBook.com, Minky is played by Pearls Daily who was not only the model for the comic book but also named Miss Coney Island in 2018.

Cyrus says another benefit of the show being shown on three different levels is that audience members will want to see the show again and again.  We couldn’t tell if Cyrus was being sarcastic because he knew we said that earlier in this article or if he didn’t read what we wrote and just happened to mention the exact same thing we had mentioned.

We don’t like Cyrus – the name, not the person.  The name is so old-fashioned and hardly in keeping with the personality Cyrus is trying to pull off using the name.  He is going for sort of a Freddie Mercury meets Ryan Gosling image – neither of which fit the name Cyrus.  When he called himself Aunt Bee (a misspelled version of the co-star from The Andy Griffith Show), he adopted a Robert Redford / Paul Newman / Madam Curie air that frankly scared us.

We are glad that week is over.  Plus he didn’t play Robert Redford and Paul Newman from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but used Redford from The Natural and Newman from the logo of the popular salad dressing brand.  Madam Curie was played pretty much as we all remember her, riddled with nuclear radiation and speaking French with a decided wheeze.

Cyrus doesn’t speak French, so that was quite a trick.  Of course, we don’t speak French either so he could have been just making up the words he spoke and wrote.  In which case, we apologize in advance to the actors and director of King Lear about which Aunt Bee wrote a several page critique in French soon to be published here even though there was very little magic performed in the show.

Check out the Theater 80’s website for show times and tickets here.

Magician Matt Vizio Performs this Week

Magicians Matt Vizio and Tom Frank are performing in the Peller Theatre this week at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California.

One of the questions we are almost never asked is, “Is there really such a person as Matt Vizio?”

We are reluctant to answer questions about true legends for fear that we will leave out a detail or embellish unfairly.  (For an example of this tendency and the reason for our trepidation see our horribly reviewed book Wyatt Earp: The World’s Best Short-Order Cook in the West (1978 Simon and Schuster) – although it was made into a very successful movie franchise (or so we and our lawyers currently claim in a soon to be filed lawsuit) called Guardians of the Galaxy.

We have known Mr. Vizio for going on a long time and have even had the honor of performing with him in a stand-up setting.  He is what we hope to become one day: young, handsome, funny and talented.  Actually, we don’t care about the talented as much as the first three qualities. The ladies love him, the men want to be like him, the dogs sniff him and wonder where he has been.

Mr. Vizio used to perform one or two tricks in his set downstairs in the amateur room wherein performers of our ilk are allowed to work.  But he graduated to upstairs at the Castle – ironically, the “Upstairs at the Castle” was the name of our least successful BBC melodrama Series not featuring human actors.  He has been seen in the Close-Up Gallery and this week will be in the Peller.  His act has expanded dramatically and he performs effects the way they should be performed.  For instance, his Cups and Balls is one of the best we have seen in years.  It is in keeping with Dai Vernon’s school of making all actions appear normal, relaxed and fair.

Matt is not just a great magician in all of the classical realms of Close-Up, Parlor and Stage; but he is also a talented stand-up comedian with the adlib instincts of a veteran.

He was responsible for introducing us to performing stand-up comedy and audiences across the San Fernando Valley damn him daily for this.  Interestingly, “Damn Him Daily” was the name of our 1960s daily puppet show that we pitched to PBS – they went with Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood because of some reason we don’t recall because we were in tears explaining it to the puppets and formed a mental block surrounding that time.

If you have a chance, check out Mr. Vizio this evening through the weekend at the Peller Theatre at the Magic Castle.  He will be performing with Tom Frank.  We have not seen Tom Frank perform before but we know that if he is performing with Mr. Vizio, you will be entertained, amazed and leave laughing.

Mr. Vizio and Mr. Frank will have shows at 8:00, 10:00 and 11:30 Wednesday through Sunday.

Check out Mr. Vizio’s website, Honest Deception here.

Magician Mike Super Bets His House on Prediction

Magician Mike Super is literally betting his house that he can predict The Arizona Republic’s headlines.

He has assured the newspaper that if his prediction – currently locked securely in an Arizona Republic newspaper box at Chandler City Hall – is incorrect, he will refund the ticket price for everyone attending his show on September 22nd at Chandler Center for the Arts.

The predictions for the future were made in August – so, in the past, like last month – and sent by overnight courier to the Chandler City Hall.  The prediction is sealed in an envelope, chains and a padlock in the lobby of the city hall.

Mr. Super is not from Arizona but Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He told the newspaper, “I really love the old days of Houdini and Blackstone. Before they even got to the show, they created a buzz in the community, and I really like that. It’s fun and intriguing, and it creates a buzz before the show because it’s something different.”

He even got the mayor of Chandler, Jay Tibshraeny, to sign the envelope before it was secured in the newsbox.

“I think it would be really cool if he gets them right,” Tibshraeny says. “It’s caught my curiosity doing this. I’m kind of wondering ‘what’s the angle?’ I’m excited for the show to come.”

The Chandler Center for the Arts is a beautiful venue but it also seats a lot of folks.  Whilst he has yet to fail in his headline prediction he admits there is a risk element to it.  “It’s like playing Russian roulette. One day it’s not going to work.”

“There’s two ways to look at it,” Mr. Super told the paper.  “There’s, ‘He’s done it 12 times so he’s likely to do it again.’ But the more you do it, it’s like playing Russian roulette. One day it’s not going to work, and then it will be time to retire it.”

“If it was a huge venue and it didn’t go right, I could lose my house,” he says.

We identified intimately with the final quote of the story.

“I love to be fooled and, of course, the deeper you get into magic, the less you get to experience that feeling,” he says. “I try to live that feeling through other people’s eyes, from seeing them being fooled and enjoying themselves. And in the middle of all that, everyone in a while, somebody does fool you, and I’m like the kid in the candy store.”

If you are in the area check out Mike Super, at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 22 at the wonderful Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler, Arizona.  Ticket prices are $36-$48 and the center seats more than we could afford to refund.  Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.

Visit Mr. Super’s website here: http://www.mikesuper.com/

Las Vegas magic star Jeff McBride awarded highest honor by London’s Magic Circle

From Tobias Beckwith –

September 3, 2018 Las Vegas, NV – Last night, at their headquarters in London, The Magic Circle presented Jeff McBride with The David Devant Award. Among the highest awards bestowed in the world of magic and illusion, the Devant award is given to those who have made a significant contribution in advancing the art of magic or who have given outstanding service to magic internationally. The trophy is a miniature bust of David Devant, the first President of The Magic Circle. The original life size bronze is on permanent display in the Magic Circle Headquarters.

A 10-year headliner at his popular McBride’s Wonderground, in Las Vegas, Jeff McBride has long been known as a foremost innovator in the world of magic, being among the first to incorporate masks and pantomime with world-class sleight-of-hand skills. His early career saw him as opening act for such superstars as Diana Ross & Tom Jones. Later, his full-evening shows won raves off-Broadway, in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He is founder of the McBride Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas,McBride’s Wonderground (magic nightclub) and can be seen regularly on such popular television shows as Masters of Illusion and Penn & Teller’s Fool Us. He is author of the book The Show Doctor and host of the Monday Night Mystery Schoolwebcast, currently with over 350 episodes archived. Earlier this summer, McBride was presented with one of the magic world’s other highest honors, the International Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques’ (FISM) Theory & Philosophy Award.

The Magic Circle, located in London, is the premier magical society in the fascinating world of magic and illusion. They have an international membership of around 1500, all dedicated to promoting and advancing the art of magic, an entertainment as popular today as when the famous club was formed in 1905.

Former recipients of the David Devant Award include:

2018 – Jeff McBride

2017 – Silvan

2016 – Lance Burton

2015 – Johnny Thompson

2014 – David Copperfield

2013 – Luis De Matos

2012 – Jim Steinmeyer

2011 – David Berglas

2009 – Ali Bongo

2008 – Siefried & Roy

2007 – Paul Daniels

2006 – John Fisher2004 – Marvin Roy2005 – John Calvert

2003 – Mark Wilson and Nani

2002 – Dr. Eddie Dawes

2001 – John Gaughan

2000 – Channing Pollock

1999 – Jay Marshall

Be sure to check out Mr. McBride, Mr. Beckwith and the Magic Circle sites here:

http://wow.mcbridemagic.com

https://themagiccircle.co.uk/

http://www.magicalwisdom.com

 

Magician Arthur Trace Comes to Venice California

Arthur Trace is an Inside Magic Favorite Magician from our hometown of Chicago.  That should be enough for this article: a complete endorsement of Mr. Trace and description of his background as well as his particular talent.  But we feel something stirring deep in our soul to share more about him and his upcoming one-man show in Venice, California.

Mr. Trace, as our social media team wrote last night on Twitter (@insidemagic), is to “magic what magic is to life.”  It is so true.  His magic transcends tricks or even sophisticated manipulation – both of which are contained in his act.  To watch Mr. Trace perform is similar to watching a tightrope walker.  As a magician, we worry about other magicians when they perform magic requiring incredible skills – we don’t want them to fail or fall.  We have seen Mr. Trace walk that taut wire many times and he has never fallen to the magic equivalent of a horrible true finale.  He does not even come close.  His skill set is so highly developed that there is no risk of failure; only entertainment and complete entertainment at that.

He is a delightful person and deserving of the fame he has received and continues to receive.  It says quite a lot about someone who is beloved by the public viewers of an act as well as his fellow performers with whom he spends times between shows.

If you are in Southern California or can get here by September 15th, do make reservations to see a true Magic Genius at the cozy Electric Lodge Theater.

Mr. Trace’s advertisement provides some clues as to what you will experience:

What would you do if you could stop time?  Arthur will show you what he would do, and the outcome is funny and surprising.

An “invisible bee” that’s brought to life

Arthur will transform a piece of rope into a magical violin.

A long-distance call via a tin-can phone – the result is unexpected.

An interactive painting that is transformed through sleight of hand.

Mr. Trace is only the eighth magician in the history of magic to be awarded The International Brotherhood of Magicians Gold Medal and has appeared on Masters of Illusion and Penn & Teller: Fool Us.

Tickets are limited and priced well below what we would pay to see this 70-minute show – and we are notoriously cheap.  General Admission is $40.00 and tickets to the Front Row are $55.00.

Please read all the details about the show and Mr. Trace here: https://arthurtrace.com/the-artful-deceiver.

Magician / Clothier Ted Baker gives you a chance to touch magic.

We love magic and people who love magic.  Therefore we love Ted Baker the famous clothier.

So, we’re walking through the new Century City Mall, in the ritzy section of Los Angeles, next to Beverly Hills; where people drive Mercedes and Rolls Royce manufactured vehicles not even to show off but because their more expensive, nicer car is in the shop – or so they’ve been told by their household staff.  And we walk by Ted Baker’s clothing store.

We are not clothing  horses.  We’re not even people who know where our clothes came from.  We don’t know if we bought them first hand, were lent them and forgot to return them, or found them in the laundromat  (Suds-n-Suds on Wilshire where you can have a beer (hence suds) whilst your clothes clean (hence the other suds)).

But we stopped in front of the window of Ted Baker’s storefront and fell in love.  He had rabbits coming out of old opera hats – the kind that really collapse and open with a snap – much like our pants.  He had different exotic decks of cards shown and even had a portrait of a magician that had a 3-D image emerging from it.

But there was something about the shingles.  First of all we are talking about the shingles he used to cover the front of his boutique and not the type we contracted and have never had such pain without relief since our days in that special club we joined by accident when first arriving in Hollywood – “Crunch and Pain” sounds like an exercise club and so we excuse ourselves and never associate with the members of what was decidedly not an exercise club – evident by the lack of movement by the members.

The shingles, we learned, were from The Magic Castle.  After the fire, Mr. Ted Baker purchased the remnants of the saved pieces removed from the burnt structure.  His store has the shingles from the roof on the outside and inside of his store and the front counter has wooden cabinets from the Castle.  It is wonderful.

We were told by the very friendly and helpful staff that Mr. Ted Baker has different stores around the world and chooses different themes for each.  We were lucky that he chose magic as the theme for this store.  We have it on great authority – an employee at the Castle – that Mr. Ted Baker is actually a magician and a member of the Castle.

We’ve never bought clothes for ourselves – not even at Crunch and Pain – but if we were to do so, we would do so at Mr. Ted Baker’s store.  If you are in the Century City / Beverly Hills area of California, please do stop by his shop and see all of the wonderful things he has saved from our art’s history.  By all means feel the shingles both inside and outside the store.  They are loose but they withstand even the most amorous caress.