Magician David Copperfield contributed to L.A.'s Promise "A Night of Magic" fete this week and gave attendees a souvenir unlikely to be forgotten.
Mr. Copperfield's creative people built a photography studio to simulate each guest's levitation. The effect was really cool.
As regular (and irregular) readers of this magic news source know, we are loathe to expose any magic secrets, ever. So this story provided a challenge for us. Could we expose the secret behind trick photography used to apparently show a real magic trick that we would never expose? We checked with Mystic Hollow, Michigan's resident scholar on all things related to ethics and magic, Maurice "Moki" Vanderwallenjag. Professor Vanderwallenjag wrote the book on magic ethics, literally. His The Ethical Magician is the authoritative text in the field and he teaches a course on ethical considerations of the variety performer at the Mystic Hollow Community College every other year.
"To expose a trick is always wrong," Moki wrote. "Unless one is exposing the trick to a very select audience for the purpose of educating that audience on the subject of performing said trick and the trick being taught is the sole intellectual property of the instructor."
We weren't sure how that helped us in this circumstance. We didn't feel like asking for clarification because we had a deadline to meet and Moki takes forever to say anything. There was a reason he succeeded as a silent act and failed miserably as a telephone solicitor.
We invite you to visit BizBash for a behind the scenes look at Mr. Copperfield's very ingenious method.
Magicians and magic historians have thousands of magic props, costumes and tools of the trade but no place to show them. The Los Angeles Times covered the Society of American Magicians’ on-going effort to select a home for the more than 5,000 piece collection years after an explosion in a nearby building coated the items in soot and carcinogenic PCBs.
The collection in exile is currently housed in de classe digs in Pico Rivera, California – not quite its former home at the corner of Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood.
"We'd love to reopen the museum. The problem is money," said John Engman, president of the society's local assembly.
The magicians sued and settled with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for $57,000.00 after more than three years of battling over the cost of decontamination. Chase purchased the bank building in which the museum was housed and restricted access to bankers’ hours thereby prohibiting any evening events.
"We're looking for around 3,000 square feet, preferably in Hollywood. We'd have a little theater, a display area and storage space," said Engman, a retired California attorney and magician. Space is dear in California and if the society cannot find a benefactor to donate a suitable venue, the museum may be moved to Parker, Colorado where its national office is to be opened.
Members of the local assembly can still see the items by visiting the storage facility but that arrangement is not practical or befitting such an important trove.
The Inside Magic Museum of Magic endured a similar episode when local Mystic Hollow, Michigan zoning ordinances were updated to prohibit the public display of “old things” or images of “old people” that may “scare vulnerable members of society” or “contribute to respiratory distress due to mold or accumulated dust.”
Unlike the society’s collection, the IMMM was easily moved to its new location by towing the single-wide unit to the south side of Dante Avenue and thus out of the official village limits. The sudden starts and stops during the trip did result in indelible snow-cone juice stains on the museum’s collection of used mouth coils.
Curator Darla White estimated the damage to some of the more popular bunched up mouth coils could be “significant.” The prize of the collection, The Thurston Wad – nearly 47 feet of multicolored crepe paper spewed by the great magician whilst suffering a severe cold in Chicago – remained pristine and still glistening within its protective glass case.
A thumb-tip attributed to 1950s Vegas magician Alopecia Jones was also found still permanently affixed to its wooden base along with a plaque explaining how Jones utilized the gimmick in unique and not all magic-related ways. Continue reading “Magicians Seek New Home for Old Tricks”→
Originally written on Christmas Eve seven years ago and posted on Inside Magic. We’ve republished it by request. Definitely not one of our “light” or “funny” pieces.
Our father, Li’l Tom Hardy, was a proud man who frequently tried to pretend we were not too poor for Christmas presents.
Usually around December 13th, he’d come stumbling back to the trailer just as we were getting ready to head to the next town and announce,
“You know, I was talking with this Jehovah Witless Guy and he convinced me there is no biblical basis for celebrating Christmas.Now, while I don’t accept everything they those old boys say, ‘specially the no-drinking or smoking stuff, but I started thinking about it and I think they might be right.
I’d hate to see our whole family damned to Hell just to get a present under some pagan tree.”
“You know, I ran into that guy that used to be a ringmaster with Stamster Brothers and he commenced to talking about how Judaism – in its strictest form – really had the whole picture together.
They were waiting for the Messiah and that’s got a lot to say for it. I disagreed with him on the whole no-drinking and dragging out their equivalent of Christmas for a week or whatever, but the idea that we should really anticipate the birth of our Lord is a good thing.
Sooo, I’m thinking we anticipate how he can come into our life without the week of candles and presents.”
Or the worst was:
“You know, I was down at the Stop, Drop and Roll (that’s Circus Talk for a booze tent or trailer – usually just off the parade grounds), and I was walking back and saw this guy with a gun. He was mumbling something about how people demand so much from him and stuff and he was pretty well-bombed. I didn’t want to get too close cuz he was drunk and had a gun but I walked up a little closer and thought he looked like a biker.
There is a maxim we follow — and we don’t mean the magazine by the same name. Although it is possible that the magazine Maxim actually has written about our maxim. Of course, we would never know. We trusted and apparently our trust was foolishly tossed to the four winds – three of which came from the person we trusted.
In fact, the more we think about that lying little creep, the more we become perturbed. She said she was selling magazine subscriptions for her troop. We’re always looking to help out any scouting activities and while we normally associate cookie sales with troop fund raising, we trusted.
And we gave her good money to go with that trust. We mean we paid for the subscriptions with “real money”; not a charge on one of our almost certainly over-the-limit credit cards or even proceeds from a cash advance or payday (HA!) loan.
Our intention was to use real funds to purchase subscriptions the great journals of our era; and help the local troop raise money for something.
Well, we learned the hard way.
We have not received a single issue from any of the top quality magazines we ordered.
We paid over $422.12 for the subscriptions and received nothing. No cards falling out of the pages and cutting one’s lap or landing in the toilet. No poster-size images of the featured models in faraway places with a “come hither” or, in our case, “don’t bother,” or “stay there-ith” look in their eyes.
Yes, we were foolish to trust. We should have been suspicious and cautious. Did we already mention she wasn’t wearing a scout uniform?
This is the stream of thought that went along with our writing of an article about a magic lecture from John Luka.
John Luka is the Head Muckety-Muck in our Pantheon of Magicians and so we were shocked to receive his invitation to learn the secrets of a certain magician’s act.
We knew it wasn’t a lecture by the magician in question – after all, what professional magician actually lectures on tricks he or she performs for a living.
We assumed, therefore, John Luka had crossed over to the Dark Side. Out of our respect for Mr. Luka, we immediately prepared to stick with him like glue or something equally sticky but preferably non-organic. We have no pride but at least we’re shiftless.
But wait, we read more of Mr. Luka’s email note to us and learned we were wrong. We were completely wrong. Mr. Luka hadn’t moved to the Dark Side. We wish we had read his entire email message before we reacted so quickly to abandon our principles and publish an expose of every magic trick we know.
To all of our brethren and cistern in magic, we apologize for exposing your secrets. We take some solace in thinking that our excited writing made the whole 982 page book unreadable or at least unwieldy. Plus, when we get nervous we revert to our first language.
Nonetheless, the book All of the Magic Secrets Ever is currently available on Amazon.Com. One reviewer noted:
Inside Magic’s home base is and has always been in beautiful Mystic Hollow, Michigan.
We are stone’s throw from several other hubs of performing arts, including Puppeton, Michigan (home of the Hand Puppet Capital of the World); Nodrop, Indiana (Home of the Ball Juggling Mecca); Meltmouth, Massachusetts (Fire Eating’s Home on this big blue marble); Bisect, Arizona (the Razor High Wire practitioners’ gathering spot); and Mushgrin, Iowa (The Royal Order of Her Majesty’s Mouth Catchers of Croquet Balls built the first non-UK facility there).
We are not on the payroll of any town mentioned. Indeed, there are some in each of the above hamlets who would prefer their special gathering place remain secret and thereby more special. Each of the towns offer a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet our fellow (and the feminine form of “fellow,” fella) performers in a non-threatening setting.
In modern society, it is considered gauche for one’s breath to smell of paraffin, in Meltmouth it is expected. “It is a strange character indeed,” wrote Chris Flagler in a 1937 edition of The Meltmouth Daily Telegraph, “to encounter a citizen of this town who sports not a single blister on their lips or tongue.” There are few brave enough to brush one’s teeth with anything other than a regulation toothbrush. In Mushgrin, Iowa, you will likely not find a single such dental tool in any shop up and down the High Road. In Mushgrin, most people use a cloth towel imbued with hydrogen peroxide to cleanse their crumpet hole.
So too is Mystic Hollow, Michigan. It is expected that everything will be something other than what it appears to be. A hat is not a hat but a home to birds, bunnies, or a bountiful bonanza of bandanas and bemusement. A coin on the floor will likely stay there because it is attached with a hidden nail; the police do not use handcuffs to restrain evil-doers (alleged) but a special elixir of Magician’s Wax and Velcro attached to the almost always oversized eyebrows of the malicious magi.
So what is our point?
We cannot judge others based on our own perception of what is normal.