Magic Castle Honors Armed Services and Families with May 7th Show

The Beautiful Magic CastleWe received this great piece of news from the World Famous Academy of Magical Arts and The Magic Castle.  A very special program for active military, veterans and their families on May 7th.   Lance Burton, The Evansons, Suzanne, and Brandon Scott will appear.  Any one of these acts would be more than enough.  All four makes this a show not to be missed for any reason!  We thank the Magic Castle for keeping us up-to-date on their breaking news and upcoming opportunities.  

In honor of U.S. veterans across the country, the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) and its world-famous clubhouse The Magic Castle is presenting a star-studded, virtual magic show, Saturday, May 7, 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET in honor of members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

Appearing are such globally recognized magicians as Lance BurtonThe EvasonsSuzanne and Brandon Scott. Select Zoom participants will have the opportunity to interact with talent and participate in the magic.

Veterans can register for complimentary tickets at:

http://www.MagicCastle.com/AmericanLegion

 NOTE:  If Zoom registration is full, a live, streaming link will also be available at this site.

Said event organizer, magician Brandon Scott, also serving as Master of Ceremonies, “The mission of the non-profit Academy of Magical Arts is to advance and preserve the art of magic. As part of our community outreach, it is our honor to share the wonder of magic with veterans and others who serve our country and to organizations that serve children who are underprivileged, hospitalized or have special needs … Which meant going virtual during the pandemic, a time when people need a smile most.”

On the Marquee …

Lance Burton (from Kentucky) — A master magician, Burton has appeared on The Tonight Show and numerous TV specials. For The Lance Burton Show in Las Vegas, he won “Best Magician” for 11 years in a row from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and has performed15,000 shows over the past 30 years. The AMA has twice awarded him “Magician of the Year” and a Masters Fellowship “Hall of Fame.”

The Evasons (from Maryland) — One of very few couples in history who have mastered the rare and mysterious art of two-person telepathy, they have appeared in more than 40 countries and on such hit TV shows as Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Masters of Illusion and The World’s Greatest Magic. In their live, interactive, online display of Virtual Telepathy and Remote Viewing, The Evasons appear to reach through the screen and seize your thoughts.

Suzanne (from Minnesota) — You may have seen Suzanne on Penn & Teller Fool Us with an engaging style that makes the audience an essential participant in her performance that other magicians call “flawless” and “amazing.” She is a favorite at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle and has been awarded “Close Up Magician of the Year” by the AMA.

Brandon Scott (from California) — Scott comes from a family of American Veterans and received two first-place medals as winner of the American Legion Oratory Contest on the American Constitution. He has appeared in numerous television shows, films and commercials, as well as live performances at such places as Caesars Palace-Las Vegas, The Hollywood Bowl, Disneyland and in Milt Larsen’s It’s Magic. He is a headliner magician at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and has delighted corporate executives, international nobility, prominent political figures and some of the world’s most famous movie stars.

[Talent subject to change.]

About the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.

The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) is a unique non-profit. The AMA’s membership—including the world’s most pre-eminent and celebrated magicians and illusionists—lives by the “Magic First” creed, devoted to the advancement of the art of magic and preserving its history.  Its headquarters and private clubhouse, the Magic Castle, has been an internationally revered gathering place for the magic brotherhood since opening its doors in 1963.  Located in historic Hollywood in an elegant, Victorian-era mansion, the Castle is an experience within itself—a remarkable meeting spot that captures a lost era and is timeless in its appeal, having hosted generations of magic enthusiasts from around the globe, as well as show biz elite from Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander (all performing members) to Katy Perry and Johnny Depp. The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen and his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr.  Visit us online at: www.MagicCastle.com.

 

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini planning a new film in 1925?

We were searching John Cox’ wonderful website Wild About Harry and found a very interesting article about Houdini’s possible return to film making in 1925 – a year before his untimely passing.

Mr. Cox points out that the nascent film was to be based on Miracle Mongers and their Methods.   We consider that book to be a must read for every fan of Houdini and the history of Spiritualism.  Fortunately it is no available in the public domain and thus accessible to fans gratis.

We would have paid big money to see the film.

Thank you to Mr. Cox for finding this important piece of history and sharing it with us Houdini fans.

Please check out his full article at Wild About Harry here.

As we know, Houdini stepped away from movie making after he completed The Man From Beyond and Haldane of the Secret Service in 1921. So the idea he’d consider a return in 1925 is pretty interesting. It’s also interesting to see the name of Arthur B. Reeve, who co-wrote The Master Mystery and Houdini’s Hollywood films.In 1923 Houdini told the L.A. Times he planned to adapt his book Miracle Mongers and Their Methods into an “out-and-out stunt picture” following his Keith’s vaudeville tour. This item appeared the Monday after he completed that tour. So could this signal the start of that process?

Source: WILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini planning a new film in 1925?

Houdini Searches on Google

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniWe love the world’s best known magician, Houdini.

We also take great pride in our programming abilities and yet we were stumped yesterday trying to load an active graph from Google documenting the past and present searches for Houdini since 2010. We couldn’t go back further; like to 1920 and figured out that we were limited by the reality that Google did not exist in the Roaring Twenties.

So while we don’t have the live data stream for Houdini searches on InsideMagic.com yet, we can report that the term Houdini continues to be searched daily with peaks in the number of searches on special days and weeks around Halloween and the date of his death in 1926.

Why were we trying to construct this real-time search presentation?

First because we thought it was a cool tool to put on our website. We’re always looking to spice up our space.

Second, because we search for news or articles about Houdini daily. Sometimes the searches come back related to a rapper that used Houdini in his name. Sometimes it comes back with a wine bottle opener. Sometimes it comes back with the great Houdini Magic Shop from Disneyland or Las Vegas. But usually there is at least one hit for Houdini, the world-famous magician and escape artist par excellence.

It is amazing that his name, story and images still register on the Google Search metrics.

What a testament to his self-promotion, his place in modern history and his ability to entrance modern audiences even without being present (assuming you disregard claims of connections during seances).

Magicians today still make reference to Houdini in their acts; often comparing themselves to the master performer. The modern audiences have never seen Houdini (other than the Tony Curtis film, perhaps) but the reference still resonates with them.

We tried to think of other performers that have that kind of staying power. In the 1920s the American and European theaters were jammed full of performers and on a typical evening’s bill, there would be a star or top act. Yet, we are at a loss to name any of them unless they later had a career in a more permanent medium like film or radio.

Houdini is what got us heavily into magic and we assume his popularity is having the same effect on a new generation of magicians and escape artists.

What a wonderful art we have.

By the way, if we are ever in doubt about Houdini’s work or history, we refer to the source that knows all, Wild About Houdini, run by John Cox. If you are a Houdini fan, it needs to be your first stop daily for the latest findings and exploration about this incredible legend.

We will continue to work with our crack programming team to get real time search stats on InsideMagic.com but until then, we’ll just report the highlights we find through our searching or from Mr. Cox’ website.

Unfortunate Article on Phantom of the Card Table

Inside Magic's Famous BunnyWe are loathe to ever write anything negative on the pages of InsideMagic.com.

We do not provide reviews of new effects if the review would be less than at least four stars.  We just don’t review tricks we have found to be unsatisfactory.  We don’t promote articles or videos that we believe expose or denigrate our art.  We have held this position since our start in the mid-1990s.

The reason behind this philosophy is based on the fact that as a whole, magicians are good people and their work represents a source of income and a source of pride.  We would be the last organization to interfere with those sources of positivity.

And so, why are we writing this post about the two-part series published in Genii last month and this?

The series was written by Jamy Ian Swiss on the momentous night in Brooklyn when the Phantom of the Card Table, Walter Scott performed seemingly impossible feats of card dealing whilst wearing a blindfold.

The event has been captured in books and has gone down in magic lore.  Most recently, a copy of Cardini’s version of the manuscript has been published by Conjuring Arts with notes, a preface and forward.  It is a fine production and we have been pouring over it since our purchase on the first day it was available.  Please take the time to read about the making of the new book, Phantom of the Card Table, Critical Edition.

Mr. Swiss concedes the publication itself offers the magic community something of value and is well produced.  In doing so, however, he attacks several magicians, magic historians and dealers.

We don’t mind honest criticism and we have no puppy in this battle.  But we were distraught at the vitriol used in the attacks. He questions the motivations and credentials of contributors to the effort in harsh terms and provides his “considered opinion that Joe Crist, Walter Scott and Eddie McGuire all had a lot in common.  All three were confirmed bull___t artists.”

We think the Phantom / Walter Scott story is fascinating and view the new book as a major step-forward in the study of our great art’s history.  It is just a shame that a two-issue article on the matter could not be presented on a higher, non ad-hominem, level.

There are some in our art that we like and some we like more or less.  We see no need in attacking those we like less, especially publicly.  We also realize that this post does exactly what we are against.  That explains our reluctance to write it and even greater reluctance to post it.  We mean no ill-will to Mr. Swiss or Genii.  We are devoted fans of both.  Our complaint is only with this two-part article on a subject in which we are so interested.

Meir Yedid’s Business Card Penetration Magic

Image of Meir Yedid's Business Card Penetration FrameWe received our Business Card Penetration Frame today from Meir Yedid Magic.

The premise is well known by magicians and likely performed early in their careers.

A frame is shown with a piece of clear plastic within its four corners. A card is inserted on each side of the frame so that if you looked at the props it appear as a sandwich with card, the clear plastic, and another card.

A threatening sharp stick is shown and without any hesitation, pushed through the first card, the clear plastic sheet and out through the card on the other side. The threatening stake is removed the same way it goes in or pulled through on the other side. You can show spectators that there is in fact a hole through both cards and the plastic sheet. The cards are removed from each side and now the hole is gone. The plastic sheet is intact, nary a hole to be seen. If needed, the frame can be inspected by audience members.

That’s the plot of the classic Penetration Frame and it remains the same with the Business Card Penetration Frame.

The difference is the appearance of the frame. It is smaller in dimensions than Penetration Frames we have used in the past. It works perfectly with business cards.  Playing cards would cover most of the plastic sheet, diminishing the effect. But the frame is also different in appearance from your old Penetration Frame.  It sports a metallic look, a gold metallic appearance.

It is not real gold – we checked with one of the local gold and silver merchants that occupy our building on the street-level.  He previously bought one of our fillings so he knows his stuff.  He said it is not real gold. That explains the very reasonable cost for the effect.

So the question is why would we want to buy another Penetration Frame?

We admit – and have done so under oath in one infamous family law proceeding – that we buy duplicates of tricks we own and purchase entire genres of effects that we never perform in our act. We are almost exclusively a card magician and take pride (because it would not be given to us otherwise) in never using gimmicked cards. That limits the number of tricks we can justifiably buy for tax and rational reasons.

We are usually restricted to bricks of Bee Jumbo Index decks and books on card magic written by John Bannon, Juan Tamariz, John Luka and the Stars of Magic series. So why have we purchased more gimmicked coins than we could ever need?  Considering we don’t even do Nickels to Dimes anymore or Scotch and Soda, that’s a question psychologists have found puzzling and others who care about bank balances, infuriating.

But this effect is different and will likely join our regular routine – the same routine, word-for-word, since 1974 – because it looks pretty, gets our business card and the spectator’s business card into play as souvenirs, and requires no difficult moves. If you have been doing magic for more than a decade, you know the moves. Now you need something that looks beautiful with which to perform those moves.

In our Twitter feed, @insidemagic, we have been repeatedly referencing Meir Yedid’s weekly mailing. If you are not a subscriber, you should be. He has new magic that won’t be found in other stores. Many are gems like the Business Card Penetration Frame. Along with the effects offered are great write-ups and suggestions for handling that you will not find elsewhere.

Some considerations: Even though the frame is not really gold, it looks like gold. But under close inspection there are some minor flaws in the coating – at least on the one we received. The flaws will be invisible to even close-up audiences but we thought we would note it. The trick itself works well and feels very durable. Despite being an effect most magicians know and have seen, in all of our time at the Magic Castle’s amateur rooms, we have not seen it performed. For a lay audience, this will come across as a unique effect. Finally, the wooden stake that comes with the frame is sharp. Be careful reaching into the envelope containing the frame or at least don’t be as grabby and careless as we can be.  Although the blood stain we caused at the tip of the stake gives it a certain something.

Even with the minor finishing flaws, we give the trick a Five out of Five for construction, inspiration and real-world use. Plus, the price cannot be beat.

Remember that Inside Magic accepts no payment for our reviews. If we review a trick, it is because we bought it and like it. If we bought it and didn’t like it, we won’t review it. There is enough negativity in the world and we’d like our Art to be a safe zone for innovators and businesses.

Abbott’s Magic Get-Together is On – with Restrictions

Lance Burton the True Master Magician Performs in Happier TimesMaster Magician Lance Burton will be joined by the incredible Mac King, Jeff Hobson and Kevin James at this year’s Abbott’s Magic Get-Together.

Abbott’s owner, Greg Bordner, announced the good news in today’s Sturgis Journal.

But given the uncertainties in this time of a pandemic, nothing is certain.

“Probably the best quote you can put in the paper is, ‘we’re proceeding cautiously,’” Mr. Bordner said. “That’s how we’re approaching this and we’ll stay optimistic that we can go ahead and have the Get-Together this year.”

A big feature of the Get-Together are the big shows in the Colon High School gym but due to health and safety concerns, the seats available will be half of what they were in pre-pandemic times.

“It’s a different show every night, of course, but it’s the same people in the audience every night,” he said. “Where we used to sell tickets to any, some or all of the four different shows, this year we’re selling the tickets in four-night (packages).”

The price for the four nights is $300.  Considering the line-up, this looks to be a real deal.

“The shows will be of serious quality and they always have been, but nobody is working right now, so we have a great lineup of headline magicians that are dying to perform,” Mr. Bordner said.

Check out the full line-up at the Get-Together site here.

 

Virgil the Magician – An Unexpected Treat

Virgil and Julie ImageWe discovered, quite unexpectedly, a literal metric ton of information about Virgil the Magician and his partner, the Sweet Heart of Magic, Julie.

Our discovery started like all our internet discoveries.  We were looking for coins to add to our collection — we have a fondness for Silver Dollars minted by the Carson City Mint.  They’re not magic coins and we usually look for the lowest grade, soft coins, for ease in manipulation and difficulty in discerning the difference between coins vanished on one side of the close-up mat and reappeared on the other.  But that’s just us.

So, we’re looking for coins on eBay and finding nothing.  eBay’s algorithm directs us to thing it believes we will like based on our search for coins around the 1900s.  That leads to gift or challenge coins given by performers or military members to one another or to audiences as a memento.  One of those coins happened to be a rather distorted version of a token for the Virgil show.

That lead us to searching Virgil and we hit a divided road in an internet constructed wood: we could chase Virgil the poet or Virgil the magician.  We chose the latter.  As far as we know Virgil the poet was great at writing in dactylic hexameter about the sacking of Troy and visiting Italy.

We saw no mention of him performing even rudimentary magic tricks although we did stumble upon an abstract for a paper about the use of magic in his poetry.   (See, Rand, E. K. “Virgil the Magician.” The Classical Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, 1930, pp. 37–48. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3290464. Accessed 29 Mar. 2021).  His magic seemed to be restricted to sorcery and the ability to predict the future according to the author’s abstract.

We saw no mention of coin routines, Cups-N-Balls or Color-Changing Hanks.  There was a slight mention of what we thought might have been an ancient method of performing Hyrum the Haunted Hank but it turns out we were reading it incorrectly.

But back to Virgil the magician and his assistant, Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic.  We wanted to know more, especially after reading about his world-tours and notes by his contemporaries that he was of the old school of our Art.

He was born in 1900 and passed away in 1989.  While performing one of his early shows, he invited a young lady to the stage to assist in an effect and injured her in the process.

We searched and searched for more information about the trick causing the injury and the extent of the injuries.   Nonetheless, Virgil felt so badly about the injured woman that he visited her often.  They fell in love and she became his life-long partner, the Sweetheart of Magic, Julie.

We were hooked.  We had to know more.

 

Their posters proclaimed the world-wide acclaim received for their marvelous and astounding shows consisting of a full magic show and then a memory act by Julie and a Spirit Cabinet.

Spirit Cabinets are our secret obsession.  We have been in them as a volunteer and watched them as committee members and audience attendees.  We can’t get enough of them.  If you hint you’ll be doing a Spirit Cabinet, we’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

They bring together the excitement of Spiritualism and the origins of the modern escape act — I believe.  The Kellar Rope Tie was kept top secret and allegedly derived from Kellar’s work with the Davenport Brothers — Spiritualists who were securely tied to wooden benches in a cabinet.  The doors to the cabinet would close and instantly — faster than a Metamorphosis transfer — hellz would be apopin.  Things flying, music playing, slates getting written on and then instantly the doors would open to show the bothers securely tied as they were left at the start of the hullabaloo.

We learned the Kellar Rope-Tie as a young man and realized it was not that easy to pull off secretly and consistently.

So we sought more information about Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic.  They travelled with an enormous amount of equipment.  According to Genii’s MagicPedia, they went from 10 tons of props, drapes, curtains to 33 tons in 1957 when they travelled the world from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, England and Ireland.  Whoo!  That is some travelling.  They continued to tour in the Americas through 1978.

We were fortunate enough to find a video of Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic performing the Spirit Cabinet on the old television show, The Gary More Show in the 1960s.  We have embedded it above to show a truly professional couple perform amazing feats under incredible test conditions.  They truly were of the old and fondly missed school of magic.

We love going down the rabbit hole and find that if we are in a hardware store, a carpet center, Costco or even a bicycle shop, our mind — small as it is — activates its Magic Obsession Gene and we will search out magic of some kind.  Tricks we could create, tricks we know, and objects we just know are worth buying to bring back to the shop and develop into the next miracle.

Whilst on the web, we do the same thing and can spend hours tracking down minute and sometimes conflicting. details about our art.  (For example, there is a debate whether Virgil appeared on Ed Sullivan.  Some web authors say he did — and there is even a brochure with images that were allegedly taken during the performance — but we have read other authors like David Charvet, author of a Virgil biography with help from Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic, who claim he did not perform the Sullivan show because he was concerned stage-hands would learn his secrets during rehearsal.   (*See, Magic Cafe at https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=98821).  If, in fact, he did not perform on the show, that demonstrated incredible devotion to his craft — at the time, The Ed Sullivan Show was must-see television for all America and the launching pad for The Beatles in the U.S.

Our interest is only piqued.  We will continue to search and learn about this man we so fortunately uncovered in our search for soft, silver dollars minted in a factory that came and went during the silver strike days in Nevada.

Some Times Call for Silence

We haven’t written in a while.

We have shared with so many in our wonderful magic community the passing of leaders and friends and role models and inspirations.

The passing of Bev Bergeron, his wife and Mark Wilson hit us so hard. These are people were knew and loved in TV (in the case of Mark Wilson) and live at the Diamond Horseshoe Review at Disney World and our first magic convention in Winter Park, Florida.

All were devoted to entertainment and encouraged our arts their entire lives. All will be missed for such a long time.

We are so blessed to have met and been encouraged by them. Truly a gift. May their memories be a blessing.

Inside Magic Review: Bob White’s Torn and Restored Tissue

Bob White’s Torn and Restored Tissue DVD deserves a place in your magic collection.

Chances are every magician reading this esteemed news source is familiar with the Torn and Restored Tissue and has undoubtedly performed it often.  It may have even been the first trick you learned. So why would you want to purchase a DVD from 2015 that features just one effect and that effect being one you already know and have performed?

Because it is a fantastic DVD and will stir joy in your 2020 scarred heart.

Mr. White provides a fantastically detailed preparation portion of the DVD.  He is detailed and shares his decades of experience with the effect.  He gets all the way down to the ply of napkins to use, the color of those napkins (it depends on whether you are performing close-up or parlor), and the grain patterns to detect.

His performance evidences years of perfecting the routine.  We are not ashamed to admit that he fooled us at one point.  We love being fooled so there is no shame but we get ashamed easily so we thought we would clarify that point.

He takes time to talk and show viewers the incredibly well thought out movements and patter that works so well and seems so fresh.  He admits that he has been performing the effect since he was 19 and at the time of the filming, he was 65.

The last portion of the DVD is Mr. White performing the effect live before a real audience.  The reaction is great and the performance is as smooth as butter (warm).

If you do the effect, get this DVD.  If you have never done the effect because you think it is too simple or too well-known, get this DVD.  If you want to see how a professional treats a classic of our art to make a wonderful closing piece, get this DVD.  Basically, get this DVD and enjoy the wonderful feeling of your heart filling with peace and joy.

Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five!  Our Highest.

Inside Magic Review: The Imp Bottle

Advertisement for Imp BottleEditor’s note: With the pandemic causing dramatic changes in our Art, we thought we would republish some of our reviews from a while back.  Here is one from September 19th, 1907.  Inside Magic was just a pamphlet then and published in limited quantities (and qualities). 

The hottest trick on the market is the new Imp Bottle effect.  It is the rave of all the magicians in the know that we know.  It has received oodles of praise in the magic press and greats such as Houdini, Kellar and Thurston have testified to its endearing qualities and profound affect on audiences.  Just how good is it?  Inside Magic’s review follows but the skinny is that it is the genuine article, the cat’s meow and how.

Effect: You show a cute little vase made from a high quality wood and finished with a brilliant sheen.  It stands erect on the table or in the magi’s hand.  You explain that this bottle contains an “imp” that can be mischievous at times if not assuaged with praise.  If the imp is pleased, he will allow the vase to lie down with its top touching the table.  If, however, the imp feels frightened or insulted, he will refuse to allow the bottle to be set in such a configuration.

You demonstrate what you have explained by praising the imp and comforting it with soothing talk.  You then set the vase on its side and it remains in that position until you take it back up.

You now ask one of your many spectators to hold the vase and try to set it on its side.  Despite the volunteer’s kind words and good intentions, the imp in the bottle refuses to recline.  The vase remains standing straight up.  It is quite a mystery.

Review: We received the effect from a magic supply house for the purposes of this review but that shouldn’t bias our assessment.  We have to give it back when we are done with it.

This one is a real fooler.  The effect as described above is exactly what your audience sees.  You can play up the story of the “imp” with gusto and ad libs aplenty because the effect is almost a self-working one.  When we performed this for an audience recently, we gave a story about how the imp was entrapped in the bottle by a mean sorcerer who was jealous of the imp and his charming ways.  Perhaps the story went on too long because the audience dwindled to a single member and we presume he remained only because we set the imp bottle in his hand as we provided our patter.  Nonetheless, he was suitably impressed when he found that despite his kind words and magic flourishes provided by his free hand, he could not make the imp comply with his instructions.  No matter what he tried, the bottle would not remain on its side.

We felt badly for those in the audience that left before this pay-off because it was a real hum-dinger!

In the future, we will limit the time allotted for our story about the imp to no more than five minutes.  We started losing audience members around the ten minute mark and so five minutes ought to provide just the right amount of backstory to build up the astounding final effect.

If you are a close-up magician, this is a trick you should have in your waist coat or vest pocket no matter the situation.  It is the perfect combination of “easy to do” and “great to see.”

For those of us who do stage shows, it may be possible to build this into a very large bottle with a real imp but we haven’t worked out the plans for such an illusion.

Inside Magic Rating: Five Out of Five!