Category: Latest Magic News

The very latest in magic news

Magician Changes Show Title After Concerns of Insensitivity

Box-Bottom The MarshMagician David Hirata has changed the name of his show, now playing in Berkeley, California, in response to objections from Japanese-Americans as reported on The Mercury website.  The show was originally called “The J*p Box” and is now called “A Box Without a Bottom.”

Mr. Hirata is a Japanese-American whose mother’s family was interned in a “segregation camp” during World War II.  He posted news of the new title on the theater’s website in an essay titled “A name change and an apology.”

“I deeply regret the pain that my choice has caused,” he wrote.

Mr. Hirata received complaints that his use of the term “normalized use of a slur” and was “harsh and degrading.”

His show will run through the first of December and features the story of the 19th-century Japanese magician, Namigoro Sumidagawa.  The original title reflected the mocking the magician received.  The new title references one of the magician’s effect,  Soko-nashi Bako (the “bottomless box”).  Mr. Hirata noted that American magic manufacturers appropriated the trick and sold it under the derogatory name.

Mr. Hirata said the show traces Japanese-American history, told through magic.  “We start with Namigoro Sumidagawa and his story and his interaction with Wellington Tobias, which says something about attitudes towards race in America, and weave that with my own personal history as a magician and my interest in the magic of these men. And my own identity as a Japanese-American then weaves in the fact of the internment as part of my family history.”

Mr. Hirata said that he “was extremely nervous when I considered the title.” He discussed the title with friends in San Diego as he premiered the show before bringing it to Berkeley.

In his post on the theater’s website he wrote  that“[t]he higher-profile run of the show here in the Bay Area exposed the show to a broader audience. Subsequent discussions with the Japanese-American community have led me to realize that I have simply underestimated the raw pain of the ‘J’ word. The title itself provides insufficient context to justify its use.

Though I have a real connection with the account of the Soko-nashi Bako, the raw pain of the ‘J word’ is not my story to tell.”

Read more about Mr. Hirata, his show and the decision he made on The Mercury’s website here.

Visit The Marsh Theater’s website and information about Mr. Hirata here.

Actress Accuses Magician Ex of Abuse

Inside Magic's Famous BunnyDiane Neal, a former  actress on “Law and Order: SVU” claims her magician ex-boyfriend physically and sexually abused her and her pets.   She accuses magician JB Benn of being a con artist as well as a “manipulative and maniacal fraudster,” according to  The Daily Mail.

The musician Moby posted his disbelief.  “I’ve seen JB do magic at least 250 times and each time I’m just as stunned as the last. Some of his magic shouldn’t be possible, and it makes my brain hurt in the best possible ways.’

According to The Daily Mail, the magician allegedly “defrauded her of millions” and “violently inflicted emotional distress” in a “campaign of isolation, terror and (physical and sexual) assault, and destroyed her reputation by doing so.”

According to Page Six, on Wednesday, Mr. Benn pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge resulting in a $200.00 fine and a two-year protection plan for Ms. Neal.

 

As in any story of this ilk, there are terrible claims and accusations; including injury to their pet.  Most of which we won’t print here because they turn our stomach and makes us sad.

If you want to read more, see pictures of the couple and their home, you can read The Daily Mail‘s coverage.

Rapper Macklemore Now a Magician Too

Inside Magic Image of Ask Alexander LogoWe’re not big into the Rap scene.  Sure, there are a couple of Rap artists that we enjoyed but they hale from what now seems to be decades ago – because they do – like Sugar Hill Gang and . . . okay, so the Sugar Hill Gang really is our last real affection for the genre.  But to be fair, how could anyone top “Rapper’s Delight” with the memorable rap opening:

I said a hip hop
Hippie to the hippie
The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it out
Bubba to the bang bang boogie, boobie to the boogie.

QED

But there is a rapper from Seattle who is hoping to steal our heart.  Macklemore posted on his Instagram page that he is releasing the “first ever Magic Rap album.”  We don’t have an Instagram page but we do have Twitter (@insidemagic) and that’s where we learned the news of this melange of magic and Rap.

It could be true that Mr. Macklemore (if “Macklemore” is his last name – we’re not sure) is releasing the first Rap and magic album but we aren’t sure.

We checked our always reliable Magic Guide book to see.  It is like Major League Baseball’s stat and history book but for magic.  It said Alexander (“the man who knows”) did an impromptu poem to ghostly hums during a performance in Detroit, Michigan.  The poem was about the dead (he was doing a “Dead or Alive” test effect at the time) and while it didn’t rhyme as well as modern rappers, it could be considered a Rap:

I ask who is dead
And who is alive
I’ll be able to discern this jive
Bubba to the bang bang boogie, paper notes to the Magi.

Apparently the last line is a traditional fourth line of any essential rap.  We didn’t know that until we checked Wikipedia.  The fourth line was obliterated by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s groundbreaking work in the 1970’s with “The Message (It’s Nasty).”

Mr.  Macklemore wrote “I’ve been working hard on this magic s—.”  He told a hip hop site that  he’s “been doing magic for about 2.5 years now.”

“A lot of people are already calling me mid-pack David Blaine,” he said. “One afternoon in my magic shed, I was doing some rabbit work when the idea hit me — ‘What if I combined my natural ability of wizardry and used music to genre blend!?’ I ran it by the local magician community in Seattle and one out of two of them agreed — it was a great idea.”

We embrace his ambition even if we think 2.5 years and the opinion of “one out of two” magicians (we think that is close to 50% but we don’t know what that would be in metric for our European readers, sorry) share our embrace may indicate he has not yet mastered his skills.  That said, we likely would not book him yet for our birthday party but that is only because we have already booked two rappers from the 1920s to appear via hologram.

The Man Behind the Carbonaro Effect

Derrin Berger.pngSo, we were reading through the on-line version of The Poughkeepsie Journal and came across a great story about Derrin Berger, the man behind the wondrous magic performed some of the Carbonaro Effects.

In case you are not aware of the Carbonaro Effect, you need to get a television, stat.  It is one of our favorite shows  on cable television next to 90-Day Fiance but for different reasons.  Although both deal with deception and trickery but we are rather sure that Mr. Berger does not create the effects for 90-Day Fiance unless he practices in that very niche area of our art entitled “Catfishing Magic.”

Back to our story, though.

Mr. Berger has been interested in magic since he was just six and shared his joy of the art with his dad.  He performed for parties and attended a magic camp with his dad.

He decided as he grew in age to pursue magic full-time.  His father was supportive but very father-like in his questioning of the move.

“I asked him, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?'” Marc Berger said, noting his son has a master’s degree in engineering and computer science. “He told me, ‘I’ve been doing magic all my life.’”

He is 40-years-old now and has performed in some of the greatest venues for a magician including The Magic Castle here in Hollywood and the Chicago Magic Lounge, in Chicago, we believe.

As if that was not enough — and by our standards it would be — he has also become a contributor and part of the consulting team for truTv’s “The Carbonaro Effect.”

He’s been with the team for five years which coincides with the five years Mr. Carbonaro’s show has been on the air.  He estimates he has created more than 700 effects.

“I tell people all the time, the 12-year-old me could not even comprehend doing what I’ve been doing,” Derrin Berger said. “When I was 12, TV magic was mostly David Copperfield, David Blaine and as a kid and teen, you think ‘I absolutely want to do that when I grow up.’ And, cut to 20 years later when I’m actually doing it, it’s pretty amazing.”

And his dad is a proud watcher of the show — he claim to have never missed a single episode.

“He knows so much magic and people will come to him to ask about tricks,” His father told the reporter. “He rattles the answers without thinking twice. He is more knowledgeable than I ever know.”

The #CarbonaroEffect begins its new season tomorrow (Thursday, November 7th) on truTV at 10 p.m. 

Make sure you check out the full interview and article at The Poughkeepsie Journal here

You can visit Mr. Berger’s website here.

Check out the Carbonaro Effect’s page here.

Magician’s Equipment Gets Swiped But You Can Help Him

Tall Paul and Vern the Bird.jpegAlbuquerque’s KOB-TV reports that magician Paul Cochrell a/k/a “Tall Paul” has been in the birthday party biz for more than 20 years.  Usually the birthday party is a cause for celebration and fun.  Nice people hiring magicians for a nice gift for a son or daughter.  We never performed for an angry crowd at birthday parties.

Mr. Cochrell saw  the other side of humanity when someone broke into his car and swiped his props.

“It’d be nice if people weren’t terrible. I mean I guess the weirdest part is they don’t know what they took,” Cochrell said. “Yeah there’s some puppets and some sound equipment they may recognize but the rest of it—they don’t know what to do with.”

The good news is that he has found the car and replaced the window shattered in the break-in but was not able to recover the stolen items.

He particularly misses his puppet, Vern the Bird. “He’s like family. I’ve been using him for over 20 years,” he said.

He hasn’t given up on people though.  He sees this incident as an aberration rather than the rule.

“Bad things happen, but people are good so you know I haven’t lost faith in humanity,” he said. “Just bad things happen occasionally so just gotta pick yourself up and keep moving forward.”

Mr. Cochrell set up a Go Fund Me page to seek help from fellow magicians and fans and anyone who cares about helping with the victim of crime.  You can visit the page here.

You’ll even have a chance to see Vern the Bird right at the top of the page.  He has a goal of $3,400 and has already raised close to $2,000.

There really are good people amongst us – even non-magicians.

You can read the full article on Mr. Cochrell and even see a video of him performing on the KOB Channel 4 website here.

And be sure to visit Mr. Cochrell’s website here.

Anthony Owen to be Remembered in Unique Book

Anthony Owen.pngThe Camden New Journal of London reports today that magician Anthony Owen, who tragically passed in April of this year, is to be remembered and celebrated in a new book.

Mr. Owen was just 46-years-old and the father of three children at the time of his death.  A coroner has ruled his death a suicide.

He worked with the true stars of our art including Dynamo and David Copperfield.

Following his death, hundreds of contributions of stories and memories of the beloved man and performer were received and those who loved and knew him best thought it best to compile a book capturing the emotional submissions.

Paul Andrews, Mr. Owen’s partner in the company Dynamic FX in the early 2000s, said “It’s really to show what his life was, what a full life he had and for his children as they grow up to remember their father and be proud of his achievements and hopefully to have a laugh at some of the stories.”

Magician and actor Andy Nyman thought there would be no doubt he would have become the president of the prestigious Magic Circle.

“He was so well thought of and well loved in the magic world and he was so sweet, and funny and considerate and thoughtful,” Mr. Nyman told reporters.

Vanishing Inc. announced after Mr. Owen’s death that it would start a magic scholarship to encourage young people interested in magic.  The scholarship fund starts with profits from his latest and very successful book Anthony Owen: Secrets.

The Assistant Coroner said he resigned from FAB Media Group the day before his death.  “Mr. Owen had clearly been under immense stress at work for several months and this had been quite devastating for him.  I think the great sadness here is that he had finally dealt with that by resigning and the evidence both from his wife and his partners, he seemed happier.”

Mr. Owen’s family released a statement following the coroner’s finding.  “The sudden and tragic death of our beloved Anthony has changed our lives forever.  Anthony’s creative genius paved the way for so many that he selflessly mentored, and his gentle generosity of spirit will be remembered by all that were fortunate enough to know him.

“We are hugely grateful for the phenomenal outpouring of love, support and compassion that we have received from our family, friends and community since Anthony’s untimely passing.”

Shawn Farquhar’s Hidden Wonders

Hidden Wonders LogoWe received a great note from award winning magician and great (and funny) guy, Shawn Farquhar.  He wrote to tell us about his new 75 minute show (which is about an hour an 15 minutes if our Casio watch / Calculator is correct).  Check out the very well-produced website here and visit this once in a lifetime experience with demonstrably one of the best in our humble art.
During the whole month of October I’ve opened a speakeasy style magic experience in a fake business front in Chinatown in Vancouver, Canada.  If anyone is coming through Vancouver let me know.
Hidden Wonders is a speakeasy-style performance venue hidden behind a fake business facade in Vancouver’s Chinatown and is the brainchild of two-time world champion of magic, Shawn Farquhar. The idea is part of a new trend in magic entertainment that focuses less on grand-scale illusions and more on intimate experiences that leave the audience awestruck and moved. Similar venues can be found in such cities as New York, Chicago and San Diego where they have become hugely popular.
The seventy-five-minute magic experience will feature effects exclusively designed for the venue as well as several of the effects Shawn created to impress Ellen, win the world championship and to fool Vegas’s Penn & Teller twice on their hit television show Fool Us.
Cheers,
Shawn Farquhar
Editor’s note:  If you were to ask, “Hey, what’s one of your greatest weaknesses?” We would respond that we are easily star-struck.  Even at the Magic Castle or at magic conventions, we lack the ability to walk up to stars of our art and start a conversation.
We stumble, smile uncontrollably and remain mum.  (Ironically, “Remain Mum” was the name of our script for an un-produced project about a mom who doesn’t change in any way but raises her children without incident, accident or trauma.  The script ran 3 hours but needed no special effects budget so we thought it was a sure sale.
Hollywood, according to all the major studios, the indie studios and guys and gals that have access to the latest iPhones and apps to make movies, needs some kind of character development or “incident” or “something” to happen that affects someone in the script.
Examples given by the studios were: Rocky (he develops his body and fights someone and hits meat and gets a dog); Spider Man (he develops his super powers, fights people, eats meat and gets a girlfriend); Snow White (she develops friendships with dwarfs who own a diamond mine, eats an apple and gets married).  The guy we approached who owns the iPhone and special app that lets him make movies cited Citizen Kane (he develops the power to name snow globes, makes a newspaper, eats meat and gets married).  But that’s Hollywood.
We’re hoping someone will pick up the script or we’ll have to add meat eating and super powers.  Mom could have web strands that catch meat and feed her dog with it).  Our point — and this time we have one — is that we are so honored that Mr. Farquhar contacted us.  We’ve met him on several occasions and each time acted like a statue.
We’re sure he was impressed by our inability to speak — even after we just performed our act in the basement of the Magic Castle where we speak a lot — and that’s why he wrote us.  Plus, despite his fame, he is truly a nice person with talents that would be great for a movie script — assuming he eats  meat and/or has a dog.

Eric Knaus is the Great Zucchini

eric knausEric Knaus, known by the stage name “The Great Zucchini,” performs “900 shows a year and has been flown around the world to different conventions to be keynote speaker to other entertainers.”  He is beloved by kids and one funny guy.  He will be performing during Magic Month at Vienna’s 2019 Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 131 Church St. NE. in Vienna.

He got his start performing when he “was working at a kids’ party place as one of their hosts and realized that lots of parents were requesting me to host their kids’ parties, because of my ability to make kids laugh.

‘Then, I realized I could do it on my own and 30 years later, I still enjoy performing, as when I first started.”

Mr. Knaus says the key to being successful in the very competitive market of Kid Show work is reliability and trust.

“I had a mom book me for her kid’s 4th birthday party and I did the mom’s party when she was 4. I care about each and every performance, and my success is based on reliability, and the trust that parents have in me. For instance, my show is geared for 2-7-year-olds. Most people know that, but if they don’t and I get a call from a mom that has a child turning 8, I’ll recommend her to a friend that gears shows for older kids.”

He derived his unique name from a suggestion from his father.  “My dad was just rattling off names and he said, “The Great Zucchini,” and it rhymes with Houdini, so I liked it right away.”  He credits his mom as his inspiration. “She is the most positive person I know, and at age 74, is still learning new things and living every day to the fullest.”

Learn more about the event here.

Check out Mr. Knaus’ website here.

David Copperfield Has to Live Somewhere

Inside Magic Image of World Famous Magician David CopperfieldWe were reading The Los Angeles Times this morning.  Our neighbor is a late sleeper.  And came across a story about a very wealthy casino person buying or building a $16 million home just outside of Las Vegas.

We were amazed to read that his neighbors would include casino person Steve Wynn and David Copperfield.

It never occurred to us — because we are very shallow and you could break your fool neck diving into our intellect — that David Copperfield had a house.

Yes, we know he has an Island and has done wonderful work for the people devastated by the recent hurricane by helping provide food and necessities and being physically on the ground serving people who were in desperate need.

But those stories did not trigger the thought in our pea sized (and shaped) brain that Mr. Copperfield has an actual home some place where he lives, and has non-hotel-type keys with logos on both sides and a magnetic strip that must be inserted the correct way to enter a room or a suite.

We assumed — and we learned from our world-famous magician father to never “assume” because something, something, bad (learning is not the same as remembering but we know not to use “assume” — that he lived backstage of his constantly sold out Las Vegas show or in one of the hotel rooms at the MGM Grand where his constantly sold out show happens.

We figured that while he was on the road, he stayed in the tour bus, backstage or maybe a nearby motel.  Actually, we didn’t really think about it that much and just presumed — we assume that’s a better replacement for the term “assume” — that he lived on the big tour bus like a country music star but without the country music accouterments.  Our dad said to never use the word “accouterments” but there was some other reason and it could be that we were using it incorrectly or didn’t seem to understand its meaning or were saying it in a non-French accent.

Now we know that Mr. Copperfield has an actual home.  He likely has more than one.  Maybe on his island in the Bahamas — in which case, we hope the damage from the hurricane was not horrible.  If it did sustain horrible damage, then we are even more impressed that he took time out his life to work in soup kitchens and hurricane relief centers for the people of the Bahamas.

We’ve said it before but we will repeat it because it bears repeating, David Copperfield is not only an Inside Magic Favorite and Magician of the Millennium but a great guy who cares.

We are happy he has an actual home and hope he likes his new neighbors.  He probably will  because he is a good guy.