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.

“Psychic” Reveals Tricks of Trade

Inside Magic Image of Psychic SignThe Guardian newspaper had a great article this weekend about what it is like to be a psychic and astrologer.

The author of this fascinating piece quit the practice but leaves the reader – us in this case – wondering if she still believed she possessed some power to read the future or the inner-struggles of her customers.

“The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change. I heard these stories so often I could often guess what the problem was the moment someone walked in. Heartbroken young men, for example, talk about it to psychics, because it’s less risky than telling their friends. Sometimes I’d mischievously say, ‘Let her go. She’s not worth it,’ as soon as one arrived. Once I heard, ‘Oh my God, oh my GOD!’ as an amazed guy fell backwards down the stairs.”

She explains her start in the practice beginning with studying astrology and the tarot.  She signed up for a year-long course at the Sydney Astrology Centre, where she learned how the planets and their alignments vis-a-vis the birthdate of individuals could reveal much.

Her conclusion after studying the mystical methods of the astrologer? “Astrology is one big word association game.”

Her appreciation for the life of a fortune teller waned with the realization that no matter what she foretold and no matter how vague her readings, customers readily made all of the mental associations to give truth to her predictions.

“What broke the spell for me was, oddly, people swearing by my gift. Some repeat customers claimed I’d made very specific predictions, of a kind I never made.”

It is a fascinating article, in part, because she does not conclude the ability to read people is bunk.  She found a talent for evaluating what and how people asked questions that gave away what they wanted to hear.  In essence, she discovered cold reading but without an intention to defraud.

We couldn’t help but be reminded of a great book by Ian Rowland, The Full Facts of Cold Reading.  While the author of The Guardian article apparently stumbled upon the tricks of honest and dishonest practitioners of Cold Reading, Mr. Rowland provides a crash course chocked-full of secrets and methods.

Check it out in The Guardian here.

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.

Magic and Law: Can You Copyright a Trick?

Blaine's Fame is Apparently a Secret
Our Secret

No.

It is a short answer and gets us out of writing a big, long-winded piece on the legalities but perhaps inadequate.

We are not alone in our opinion.  We direct you to a great article by great  Magician and Lawyer Guy Hollingworth from 2008 about an art designed to avoid laws of nature.

It is comforting to see that the country from which we have derived the greater part of our legal system, has not backslid into the easy but philosophically unsound world where an idea can be protected.  The United Kingdom wants to encourage innovation but draws understands it must draw the line somewhere.

In the case of magic tricks, one can patent the method to perform the effect or even copyright the patter used to describe and deceive; but one may not protect the idea behind the trick itself.

For instance, the secret behind our now-classic Marked One-Way Forcing Deck can be stolen by just about anyone.  Of course, some print critics of our invention have suggested “[w]hy would anyone want to steal the idea of a One-Way Forcing Deck that is marked as well?” Regardless, it is not being knocked-off or copied by folks looking to cash in on our genius.  We like to think that is because our brothers and sisters in Magic are ethical folk.

By the way, we will soon announce the follow-up to the Marked One-Way Forcing Deck, The Inside Magic Marked Billiard Balls.  No longer will you have to guess about the location of any particular billiard ball whilst you make them appear or disappear.

Continue reading “Magic and Law: Can You Copyright a Trick?”

Magician Tourshis Azad Works the Stars

Toushis Azad
Toushis Azad from website

Magician and Social Media Star Toushis Azad, the “Lyrical Magician” brought a deck of cards to a rap concert.  You never know when you’ll need to perform a trick.  And it’s a good thing he did.

He was at the concert to see Miami rapper Lil Pump perform – at this point he was not part of the show or even Mr. Pump’s entourage.

He went back stage for kicks and showed his card magic for a concert photographer.  The photographer was stunned.

“He was baffled by it … next thing you know I’m on the tour bus with Lil Pump doing magic for him,” Mr. Azad said. “It was so unexpected.”  His video of the bus show was posted to his Instagram account – like a TV but not really – and it how has over 15,000 views.

This wasn’t his first rodeo with stars.

In  addition to Mr. Pump, he has performed for wrestler and movie star John Cena, actress Bella Thorne, Marlon Wayans, Michael Strahan, and even DJ Khaled.

Mr. Azad says a magician doesn’t have to don the cape and carry a wand anymore.  He told the reporter for Torch Online that a magi is “someone who practices their craft for a number of years, someone who perfected the art of a craft. A magician could be anyone.”

He’s been doing it for more than 10 years and his first shot in the spotlight was a performance for his third grade talent show.

His first magic set was none other than the Criss Angel MINDFREAK Professional Magic Kit which contained over 400 magic tricks and video downloads of instruction from Mr. Angel.

“It helped me start somewhere,” Mr. Azad said.

He has an Instagram account, with about 7,000 followers and a TikTok account (his id is @toushis_54) with nearly 19,000 followers.

We have two followers.

One is a cat and the other is a man we assume owns the cat.  The cat follows us and the man follows the cat.  The cat takes non-linear or flat routes and the man will occasionally follow the cat’s route over trash bins, boxes, disposed of rugs, pizza boxes, crates and the top of our 2007 Nissan Eczema.  We don’t mind the cat but the man, he is heavier, and leaves marks on our car and stomps on our pizza left at our door – even before the cat can open the box.

You can visit his website here.

Read the full article in the Torch Online (St. John’s University)

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.”

Letters to the Magic Editor

Book of Kells Inspired Magic Illustration.jpgWhen in the course of human events (magic related), it becomes necessary by regulation or law to respond to readers and or correct mistakes in content, Inside Magic will provide its Letters to the Editor service to our dear reader.

To The Editor:

Do you call it a “silk” or a “handkerchief” or something else?

Editor Responds:

Good question.

Magician’s often display a piece of cloth made of silk or some synthetic blend.  The wave it before the audience and sometimes need to identify it for some reason.  This is whence the “silk” versus “handkerchief” debate arises.  We have performed exhaustive research into the topic and some of our long-time readers will no doubt recall our six-volume set on the topic, Silks, Hanks or Cloth: A Complete History published through Magic Text, our failed (we are not afraid to admit it) hard-bound publishing division in 1998.

We didn’t see this whole internet thing taking off and never thought a book could be made available in electronic format.  We were confused at the time by the onrush of so many alternatives for information distribution so we figured we’d take the safe path and publish our books the old-fashioned way; in leather-bound, handmade tomes illustrated in the same style as the Book of Kells.  The shipping cost was very high – the set weighed some weight in British “stones” or metric or something.

The other thing that hurt sales was the threatened injunction from Tom Hanks – who is a nice guy but has aggressive lawyers – to stop the publication for fear that folks would assume erroneously that we were using his name to indicate some kind of connection to or endorsement by the then Academy Award® winning actor.  That was not our purpose – of course.

In fact the first book of the six-book set specifically pointed out how “Hanks” should not be used as a term because it could be confused with a person or even an actor.

For our other books, Magic Wand Handling: Safety and Security (a three-volume set with illustration set by a comic book writer from Tokyo) did very well but couldn’t make up for the losses we suffered with the first set.  Magic Text went out of business in 1990 and we were despondent – the two are not related.  We tend to be despondent and so this was just more of the normal but now with a reason to be despondent.

We had to lay-off twelve Irish illustrators and one Japanese comic book illustrator.

They all took it well – or so we thought – until they all filed wrongful termination claims against us.  While we were despondent to be sued, we were so impressed by the beautiful way they illustrated their claims, that our souls were lifted as we settled for a confidential amount.

Continue reading “Letters to the Magic Editor”

Magician Chase Ellsworth Featured

Chase Ellsworth.jpgThe Pulse of Chattanooga has a great feature on a magician we have yet to meet but hope to one day.  Chase Ellsworth sounds like a very interesting young man.

He became infected with the Magic Bug as a child when his uncle bought him an encyclopedia of magic with tricks a plenty to read about and learn.

He had time to practice under unfortunate conditions.  Coming from a dysfunctional home and spending time in a juvenile detention center, he was away from the distractions that many of us face – like TV and video games.

“I wasn’t even able to see my friends so I buried my nose in this magic book and it took hold,” he says. “For me, I wasn’t influenced so much by David Copperfield as I was David Blaine.”

He credits David Blaine as being his inspiration over David Copperfield.  In part, it is Blaine’s stunts and death-defying approach to magic that made him special.

Now, 13 years later, he has the tricks down so well that he can fool himself.  “A magician practices sleight of hand like a musician practices chord progressions,” explains Ellsworth. “I practice in front of a mirror, up close, to where I’m confident enough to perform.”

He eschews the title “magician” and prefers to refer to himself as a mentalist or illusionist.  He has adopted the name Artifice the Mentalist. Despite the intimidating name, he assured the reporter that his shows are fun and involve a deck of cards.

“There is definitely a disparity and diversity when it comes to performing magic,” he says. “That’s why people have a certain cheesy or gimmicky view of it.”

He uses his powers of discernment to help in his audience selection.  “You want to bring up people who like magic and are not trying to figure out every move,” he says. “You want excitable people instead of skeptical people.”

Amen, brother.

“Sometimes people don’t know how to react and even look to me to show astonishment and amazement,” he observes. “But I love to see the reactions of people in that moment where I reel them in.”

He is currently performing his magic at several restaurants in the area and you can catch-up with his very busy schedule by visiting his website artificefx.com.  Word has it he will also be performing at the Creepy Carnival Halloween festival at the Dwell Hotel October 31st. Visit the Dwell Hotel.com for tickets.

Read the full profile in the Pulse here.