Tag: Criss Angel

Real Magic Duplicated for Effect

How could you not be intrigued by a man who is quoted as saying, “[a]nyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin”?

But you would correctly ask, what does this statement have to do with magic, Las Vegas, Barry Richardson, Criss Angel, David Copperfield and Doug Henning?

The answer that would come back would, at first, be unsatisfactory.

Dr. John Von Neuman was a distinguished polymath who could speak ancient Greek, helped to determine the scientific models necessary for the first atomic bomb and several schools of mathematics.  To say he was a genius is an understatement.

But it is his connection to magic and magic tricks that brings him to the front page of this humble publication.

Personally, we’re not good at book tests and don’t really enjoy watching them.  We have seen perhaps hundreds over our very long life but none have left a lasting impression.

While we take pride (also a sin) in our ability to speed read books but we don’t remember every word.

But Dr. Von Neuman could memorize entire phonebooks.  For real.  In fact, on one occasion he recited every entry until those listening agreed he had the phonebook memorized – that was after about fifteen minutes of reciting the name and associated phone number on each page.

The late genius of mentalism, Barry Richardson would often couch his effects with a story about some incredible individual who actually lived a real life and could be identified.  He would then duplicate the effect they performed allegedly by psychic powers but disclaim such powers in his performance.

We watched Mr. Richardson duplicate a demonstration performed first by a young Russian girl who could allegedly read any item with her fingertips.  She would be blindfolded or perhaps she was legally blind (we can’t recall) and could, through a pane of glass held by her examiners, read the serial numbers of currency, handwritten notes  and other documents using only  her fingertips running along the glass.  The pane of glass was used to prevent her from sensing the characters by feel.

Folks were amazed and attributed great powers to the young lady.

Mr. Richardson would then duplicate the effect, pane of glass and all, whilst blindfolded to the satisfaction of the magicians in the audience.  He could then read the serial number of a bill previously offered and signed by a random audience member.  The bill was signed to prevent his memorization of a pre-prepared note.  It was an outstanding performance.  We were astounded not only by the effect but also the story upon which it was based.

Dr. Von Neuman’s ability to memorize a phone book handed to him by a volunteer was performed as a trick for entertainment..  He used the power he had to entertain, not to boast.  Unfortunately for us magicians, he apparently actually did memorize the content of the phone book and there was no trick employed; thus making this duplicate by his method.

But, by combining Dr. Von Neuman’s story with a book test, magicians could elevate the effect on audiences.  In place of a book test, the memorization of an entire deck of cards ala Bob Cassidy could also benefit from the real-life story of Dr. Von Neuman.

We have performed the Bob Cassidy method of memorizing a deck of cards shuffled together by four audience members and then reviewed by us for just 15 seconds.  We never had a story to go with it.  It was at best a stunt or demonstration of our alleged powers.

But just think how using Dr. Von Neuman’s story in a method similar to that employed by Mr. Richardson could boost the effectiveness and interest in the trick by audiences.  It would no longer be a stunt but a duplication of a talent possessed by a real person who really existed.  It would therefore be possible and real.

We never claim to have psychic powers and disclaim any such ability but until today, we have never had a satisfactory story to present along with our performance.  We can now move beyond “hey, look at me and my clever stunt” to “let me tell you the story of an extraordinary man with a real history who had a real talent.”

Most book test performances we have witnessed involve the apparent guess of a word selected by the volunteer from a book selected from a collection of two or three volumes.  The magician asks the volunteer to select a page (either directly or through some apparently random process) and then proceeds to read the volunteer’s mind by having her concentrate on the selected word.  The magician presses his hand to his forehead for effect and then announces the word or phrase with some guessing (in some methods) or directly.  The volunteer is thanked for her participation and the audience applauds.

Perhaps this article is just a note for us and will be dismissed by those performing putative memorization or psychic readings.  We hope that it is more than that.

Mr. Richardson’s performance left a lasting impression on us not because the effect was impossible – the solution would be apparent to most magicians – but because it was couched in a story and built to the demonstration of what was apparently sufficient to have the young woman in the story proclaimed to be psychic and exceptional.

The memory of such a presentation lasts long after the volunteer retakes her seat and we move on to the next effect.  It brings the audience on a journey and leaves them with questions about the real person on whom the effect is based as well as the performer now duplicating that effect.

That’s a win in our book.

Read more about Dr. Von Neuman and his amazing skills and contribution to our everyday life through higher mathematics here.

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List of the Richest Magicians in the World

Who is the richest magician in the world?

We won’t give away the secret but the compilation at The Silver List surprised us.  And we are not easily surprised.  We figured for sure we could correctly identify all persons on the list but we were wrong.  We beat ourselves up when we make a mistake so this was crushing for us.

You can check out the list here.

We thought for sure there would be some mention of Inside Magic editor-in-chief and magician person Tim Quinlan but nary a comment.  We don’t like to brag but between the ad revenue for Inside Magic and our professional appearances, we’re rolling in the dough – plus we’re making a lot of money.  But we spend it on dough to roll in and we like a high-quality dough, not some Pillsbury fake dough that doesn’t give the comfort one expects when one is rolling.  We were going to put up a YouTube video  of us rolling but a woman beat us and she does a much better rolling that we could ever hope to accomplish.

You can see just one of her many dough rolling episodes here. The video shows her rolling in baked dough but she does real, unbaked dough as well.  We cannot compete.

Similarly, we are unable to keep up with the magicians who make millions of dollars every year for performing their magic.  We admire them but don’t envy them.  Envy is or should be one of the deadly sins and does not leave the person feeling the sense of envy in a good place.  It is like when you have a fight with your Uber driver about whether we should worry about fluoride or chem trails and he/she dumps you in a bad neighborhood.  That’s a physical bad place to be but as a metaphor it works.  Envy leaves you wondering what happened to the last few hours and why you can’t remember why you even worried about the success of others.

Check out  the list and see if you agree with the rankings.  But do it with an open mind and heart.  Embrace the success of others and the willingness of others to work very hard at what we all do.

We do find some pleasure (guilty, no doubt) that Inside Magic arch-nemesis Tony Spain is not listed.  He claims millions  per year from his itinerant magic travels around the world, but apparently he didn’t make the list.

Why is TV Magic So Unmagical?

Entertainment Weekly writer Brittany Frederick asks why with so much magic on television recently, we are not feeling magical?

She points to the recent spate of shows about our craft such as Criss Angel BeLIEve; Syfy’s Wizard Wars, Close Up Kings, and Troy: Street Magic; The CW’s resurrection of Masters of Illusion and importing of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.   She likes the craft but apparently not the way it is being translated to television sets.  It is tough to disagree with her take.

She points out that Masters of Illusion has been squished from an hour-long show to 30 minutes (including commercials).  The net effect is that “Dean Cain has to go through acts so quickly that you barely have time to let the tricks sink in.”

Ms. Frederick bemoans – again with our wholehearted agreement – the move from logistics of putting on a magic show to the effect in isolation.
“What was so fantastic about Criss Angel BeLIEve when Spike unveiled it in October 2013 was that it was almost about everything but the performance. We got to know Angel a lot better and understand what it was like for him to do these challenging tricks every day. We learned about the history involved with many of his demonstrations. We met his team, and were able to listen in on their discussions about how to make magic happen, whether it was building a prop or finding the perfect location. We saw when things didn’t go according to plan and how they dealt with those situations. These are elements of magic that most TV audiences probably haven’t even thought about.”

Audiences are now taken from appreciating the history of a particular effect and the very real logistical challenges of presenting the trick, to merely asking whether an effect is performed with camera tricks or dodgy editing.

Check out her full article and well-considered opinions here.

Criss Angel Tears into UFC Competitor

Magician and Las Vegas Star Criss Angel tore asunder UFC strawweight fighter Paige VanZant as part of his upcoming October 12th television special.

We are not being metaphorical or figurative.  The images of the physical tearing of this petite powerhouse is startling and not appropriate for those with a faint constitution.  How intense are the images? A UFC website cautions its readers “WARNING: It gets a little graphic, but hey, it’s all fake, right?”  This from a site that must assume its readers are used to a full-color display of gore and body fluid.  We watched the tease video because we felt obliged to protect the sensitive eye(s) our loyal reader – we’re working on rebuilding our audience numbers.  We should not have been eating baked ziti at the time, though.  Perhaps it was the warm, flat red Kool-Aid or the bumpy ride over city streets, but our sensitive stomach did not react well to the imagery; neither did the Uber driver to what she saw in the back seat and the back of the seats of her otherwise spotless and odorless Prius.

Ms. VanZant has apparently done well in the UFC (like “KFC” but with people instead of poultry, we think) and is said to have a devastating kick attack.  Nonetheless, she weighs just 115 pounds and stands just under five foot four inches tall.  We can tell you from the video that she has a very flat stomach, straight spine and some sort of anemia in her abdomen.  She is brave and tough and has proven her ability by fighting competitors in the UFC as well as the perhaps more formidable Dancing with the Stars.

Criss Angel’s Trick’d Up will appear on A&E at 9:00 pm on Wednesday, October 12th.  We are told he will perform 30 illusions and will be joined by celebrity guests (in addition to Ms. VanZant) including: Gary Oldman, Paris Jackson, comedian Andrew Dice Clay, “Blackish” star Miles Brown, Latino pop superstar Belinda, DJ Steve Aoki, and UFC stars Frank Mir, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture.

You can check out the teaser video showing the vivisection of Ms. VanZant here.  It is very graphic and not suited for young people (under 30), older people (35 and up) or folks eating baked ziti in the back of a Prius.

Magician Ariann Black Profiled

Magician Ariann Black received a great write-up and interview in today’s Westword in advance of her upcoming shows this weekend at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Ms. Black is well-known to Vegas audiences and is now taking the craft she began at the age of four to Colorado.  She took inspiration from Doug Henning and his non-traditional appearance.

“At four, you don’t realize that there is more than one magic trick out there. I was fascinated with the idea that there was more than one magic trick and you could do all sorts of things. When I was twelve, I saw Doug Henning on television, and prior to that I had been told that girls couldn’t be magicians. But when I saw Doug Henning and I saw him with his look — he didn’t look like that stereotypical magician — I thought, yeah, I can be a magician, too. He really inspired me.”

The road has not been easy and she points out that within our predominantly male ranks, “women are just an oddity.” She has a small group of female magicians with whom she attends conventions and share.  Ms. Black is “always on the lookout for female magicians, especially the younger ones, to make sure that they know that kind of behavior (toward them) is not okay, it’s not acceptable and that they need to stand up for who they are and be respected. It doesn’t just happen in magic — it happens everywhere.”

Be sure to check out the full interview for her thoughts on animal acts, David Copperfield, Criss Angel and why magic still works with today’s modern audiences.

Ariann Black performs this Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock. For more information on the shows and to buy tickets, visit the Theatre of Dreams website. Check out Ms. Black’s website here.

Kevin & Cindy Spencer Hit the Heartland

Inside Magic Favorites Kevin and Cindy Spencer will bring their incredible show, “Spencers: Theatre of Illusion” to Elgin, Illinois’ beautiful ECC Arts Center Saturday on April 11.

The Theatre of Illusion is an incredible event with high-tech effects, drama, comedy, romance, and suspense.  Blending the theatrical elements of a Broadway-style production with the energy of a rock concert, Kevin and Cindy Spencer take audiences on a journey to the impossible. The Spencers won the International Magic Society’s “Magician of the Year Award” in 2009, joining the likes of David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller, and have been described as “modern day Houdinis” by critics.

The Spencers’ production is a unique fusion of magic and illusion, humor and mystery, and persona and personality. With a background in clinical psychology, Kevin likes to say, “I was going to help people’s minds, but now I just mess with them.”

“Theatre of Illusion” stands in stark contrast to the traditional magic show. Kevin Spencer sees it not as a stage full of tricks used to fool people, but as a way to inspire viewers with a sense of wonder. Audience members don’t simply watch the show, but are also invited to participate in the magic. Using magic much like a storyteller uses words, Kevin fuses this family-friendly production with a gamut of emotions. And with the skills of a master showman, he creates a world where nothing is impossible and anything can happen.

Tickets to Spencers: Theatre of Illusion are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets for all performances in the ECC Arts Center are available online at tickets.elgin.edu or at the ECC Arts Center box office. Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To purchase tickets by phone, call 847-622-0300. All major credit cards are accepted.

Criss Angel Adds Lunch to His Sold-Out Schedule in Easton

It is a great publicity person who can sell the story of a magician eating lunch.

Credit goes to the folks behind the scenes for magician Criss Angel who got great copy in The Morning Call from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

We reported earlier that Mr. Angel will perform two shows at Easton’s State Theatre on January 20th and now we learn that he will also eat lunch the day before those two show.

“On the 19th, I’m going to be chilling at Billy’s Downtown Diner in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” Mr. Angel can be heard saying in a video posted on the diner’s website, www.billysdiner.com. “I’m going to chill and have my Mind Freak burger. So have some lunch with me.”

The restaurant will host a daily contest where hopeful diners can answer a trivia question for two passes to the VIP Room.

Lest one think this is a random event, it turns out that Billy’s diner is owned by Billy Kounoupis, Mr. Angel’s cousin.

Mr. Angel has roots in the Easton area.  His late father, John Sarantakos,  attended Easton Area High School, and his grandfather a local restaurant across Easton’s Northampton Street from The State Theatre.

“Easton just has a special place in my heart,” Angel said. “My dad really loved Easton. It has a very special place in my heart because of all the memories we shared in Easton.”

Mr. Angel’s early show (6 p.m.) is sold out and there are but a few seats remaining for the 9:30 p.m. performance.

On a related note, we will be at the 7-11 on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood this Thursday night where fans can join us in a Slurpee® and Big Bite® Hot Dog.  We will be in the parking lot by the Redbox® machine.

Criss Angel to Play Easton PA

Criss Angel’s Mindfreak Live! is heading to the Lehigh Valley, about 70 miles north of  Philadelphia this winter.

According to local press, Mr. Angel will bring his newly developed Mindfreak touring show to the beautiful State Theatre in Easton, Pennsylvania on January 20, 2015.

The show is recommended for guests 12 and older for some of the more intense aspects of the presentation

Mr. Angel will perform two shows: 6 PM & 9:30 PM and tickets go on sale for State Theatre Members tomorrow, Thursday, November 13th at 10 am at the State Theatre with public sales starting on November 20th.

Promoters are limiting sales of six tickets per State Theatre members.  That kind of limit speaks volumes about their expectations for the show.  They have reason to believe it will sell out quickly.  Mindfreak is seen in more than 90 countries with more than 100 million viewers each of its six seasons.

Mr. Angel has family in the Lehigh Valley, including cousin Billy Kounoupis, owner of Billy’s Downtown Diners in Bethlehem and Allentown. Early in his career, he was mentored by Easton’s Lou Reda and has been on the State Theatre stage in 1991 for a promotional photo shoot.

Criss Angel Does It: Houdini-Inspired Escape a Success

The headlines coming across our teletype here at the Inside Magic News Room confirmed that Criss Angel succeeded in his “Houdini Death escape” at the lovely Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Anxious editors stood hunched over the clicking wire machines as they typed out the news that Las Vegas magician and television star Criss Angel entertained “a crowd of hundreds of fans from a 75-foot crane, while restrained in a regulation straitjacket with a 50 lb. weight hanging from of his neck by a noose.”

One of the grizzled old copy editors dropped his filterless cig into his coffee mug. “Well, I’ll be . . .” he said to no one as he reviewed the news feed.

Yessir, It was quite a day around the horseshoe-shaped city desk here at Inside Magic.

According to local news reports, Mr. Angel was “suspended upside down by his feet, arms constricted in a straitjacket, dangling from a 75-foot-high crane, with a 50-pound weight hanging from a noose around his neck, Angel wiggled and swung his way to freedom, seeming to rock to the beat of loud electro-rock music.”

The performer dedicated his performance to America’s veterans in keeping with the spirit of the day.

How did the 46 year-old feel?

“My legs are just spent,” he said. “I spent a lot more time up there than I would have liked to.”

Mr. Angel told reporters he succeed only half the time in rehearsals.

One school child told the local paper, “It seems almost impossible to get out of that, so it must be magic. I thought it was scary, cause he could fall and hurt himself really badly.”

Mr. Angel is performing his new touring show, Mindfreak Live at Foxwoods Thursday through Saturday.

Criss Angel Prepares for Second Shot at Houdini Escape

Robin Leach has the inside track to Las Vegas magician Criss Angel and has brought readers of The Las Vegas Sun an account of the final 24 hours before Mr. Angel attempts a second “Houdini Escape.”

Mr. Angel will hang upside down in a straight-jacket with a 50-pound weight hanging from his neck to promote his upcoming appearance at the fabulous Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

He feels better prepared — mentally and physically — for the ordeal.  He worked with UFC Champ Randy Couture last time and is apparently still in training for this attempt.

His work at Foxwoods is to launch his new touring show Mindfreak Live. He will launch a second touring show titled The Supernaturalists next June, also at Foxwoods.

We read earlier today that the demand is so high that Foxwoods has added six more shows at the casino in January.

He told Mr. Leach that he will avoid injury “by being smarter, more diligent and better prepared since going through the worst case scenario — aside from going unconscious or falling. But ultimately it’s a calculated risk.”

Yes, he was injured and sidelined for a couple of months from his last attempt at just this type of escape but this time is different.  “I am completely and utterly focused, and in the moment I visualize over and over again what it should look like in my head before I attempt it. If something should happen to change that plan, I make the necessary adjustments. Life is death without change.”

Is he thinking of leaving Luxor for a national touring stint or perhaps to relocate to Foxwoods?

Nope.

“I’m so honored to have this opportunity and want to sincerely thank Cirque du Soleil, Luxor and Foxwoods for making this possible. These outreach shows I’m doing are designed to promote Believe,  still ‘The only A+ magic show in Vegas” and the incredible experience that awaits for guests at the Luxor.”

We have yet to hear from the other magic shows in Vegas on Mr. Angel’s grading curve.

Mr. Leach promises updates on the escape as they happen.  We’ll keep our eye out for the news and share with you — that’s just the kind of folks we are.