Resh Gohel owns an Indian restaurant in Blackburn (UK) but dreams of becoming a professional magician. He is going to take a step towards making the dream reality by closing his eatery at the end of March and hitting the road.
“I have been doing magic on the side and I want to pursue my career as a magician,” Mr. Gohel said. “The restaurant will be shutting down and I will be handing the keys back to the landlord.”
He admits it is a big risk but he has been encouraged by magicians who would know.
“I have met the likes of David Blaine and Derren Brown and they have said you have to follow your dream,” he said. “They all said they had to work wherever before they got to where they are now.”
It isn’t that the restaurant failed and he had no other option. “My target was to get the restaurant to number one on Trip Advisor and to get my name out there and I have done that. But I have reached the point where I have lost interest in the hospitality industry now.”
He has his first show scheduled for just ten days after the doors close.
We wish him the best of luck. We have been similarly advised by many in the magic business to seek employment in a restaurant so we’re kind of similar in that regard except the opposite.
Known for his endurance stunts, many of them televised, David Blaine will open the spring season of LIVE From the New York Public Library. This event will be more on the open-air side of things, unlike a previous outing in which he was buried alive for a week. He will be joined in conversation by Paul Holdengräber, director of this series. At 7 p.m., Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public.
Check out the details here: nypl.org/locations/schwarzman.
According to press reports, the entire pop band One Direction asked UK Magician Troy Von Scheibner a very valid question, “What is wrong with you, why have you eaten a balloon?”
We realized as we wrote this sentence that if we failed to mention that Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the teen-fave super-group’s question would likely not have garnered such prominent placement in a major metropolitan daily. It would be just another group of musicians combined for purposes of hitting the top of the charts and asking questions about the eating habits of young people. Like when the Beatles famously asked 19-year-old Mobile, Alabama car wash cashier Harriet Williamson, “Why do you only eat the tops of muffins?” or the Asian Touring Edition of Les Miserables inquired of Japanese supermodel Nozomi Sasaki, “Why do you eat so little in the way of green vegetables.”
But because Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the question reveals that he performed a trick for the loveable lads that make up One Direction. He did not really eat a balloon – we think. He just did a trick that gave the impression that a balloon was eaten.
It is a well-respected journalistic technique employed by Susannah Butter, the smitten writer for The London Evening Standard.
Ms. Butter is impressed with the young performer and star of his own television show, Troy. She admits she is frustrated by his skills and her inability to uncover his secrets but she clearly fancies him.
Troy Von Scheibner is the closest thing to a superhero London has. He uses his powers to help others. “I was outside a party with Thandie Newton,” the magician tells me. “She asked for a lighter. I didn’t have one but I made one appear. She kissed me on the cheek and I thought, ‘I’ll never wash my face again’.”
We do not know Thandie Newton but she must be very attractive or famous or both to cause someone to risk acne and general scruffiness from a single, tobacco-smoke infused kiss. For you younger magicians, remember that audiences will judge you on your appearance and hygiene so make good choices and form good habits. Mr. Von Scheibner notes later in the article that he was kidding about not washing. “Presentation is part of the job done so I’ve always made sure I look the part – nails clean, hair done.”
And as for smoking, as someone once said, “cigarettes and kittens are wonderful and safe until you pop one in your mouth and light it on fire.”
Mr. Von Scheibner seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is unlikely to have it turned by the fawning of amorous media types or smoking damsels in distress. He became intrigued with magic after watching David Blaine and clearly enjoys the attention our craft brings him.
At school he was known as “Magic Boy”, and if anyone teased him about it he won’t admit it. “I stopped performing for people at university because when you are known as the magic man everyone wants you to do tricks all the time. Sometimes I just want to chill so I kept it on the low.” Does it impress women? “It does. Girls are like: ‘You must be so good with your hands’. I don’t deny it.”
Ms. Butter ends her article with a purr: “Von Scheibner, I salute you – next time I need a cigarette lighter I will try my hardest to conjure you up.”
Editor’s note: we normally would have an image of Mr. Von Scheibner accompanying this article but were unable to find any available for editorial use.
The Session is billed as the UK’s only close-up magic convention; it is “a conference for serious close-up magicians.” This year the two-day fete was held in Cheltenham.
We have never been to Cheltenham but it sounds wonderful. According to the internet, the town “has no fewer than five festivals, devoted to Literature, Music, Science, Jazz and, perhaps most famously, National Hunt racing.”
We are not sure what category close-up magic would occupy although probably not “National Hunt racing.”
The town was made famous by its spas or the ‘waters.’ Visitors to the waters have included Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, Jane Austen and Lord Byron. We have heard of each of these people and therefore are very impressed.
We were even more impressed by the line-up of magicians in Cheltenham this weekend. Promoters listed Juan Tamariz, Asi Wind, Michael Weber, Peter Clifford, Luke Jermay, Andi Gladwin, Joshua Jay, Boris Wild, Roberto Giobbi and Daniel Madison.
But we have it on good authority – YouTube and Twitter – that David Blaine and Dynamo were also in the area.
According to the social media authorities, Derren Brown, Dynamo and Mr. Blaine went to Kukui, a nightclub on Bath Road. Danny Valentine is the manager of that establishment and told local media that the “punters” were stunned by Mr. Blaine’s magic. “He was really great and did tricks for people in his private booth. He was really nice and polite and let one of the customers play with his pack of cards.”
Just below the article about these icons of magic descending on this historic town was a link to an article that may or may not have been related to this weekend’s celebration: “Walter the dog is confused by his squeaky toy – VIDEO.”
It sounds like there was a lot of surprise and fun confusion happening. We wish we could have been there.
The Mirror Online (UK), looking to build excitement for the launch of the fourth series of Dynamo: Mission Impossible, is asking readers to vote for their favorite TV magician.
You should head over to the site and make your choice from:
Penn & Teller
There is no space for a write-in vote but they do have clips from the nominees – including our inspiration, Tommy Cooper. (Unfortunately, the sound goes out near the end of the clip but it is still a joy to watch).
Click here to link to the poling site. We don’t know if it will allow you to vote more than once but perhaps that is a concern for us Chicago natives. The rest of the world likely never considers stuffing the ballot box.
Penn & Teller are in London and the toast of the town with great press. We read this morning’s Telegraph for a nice interview with the duo. They express their admiration for Derren Brown, “He’s one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. He really puts a lot of intelligence and thought into it. He’s an artist,” said Teller.
They profess only luke-warm enthusiasm for Dynamo, “Teller says that while they admire his skills, ‘we know people like Johnny Thompson who’s 78 – and by comparison with whom [Dynamo’s] skills are somewhat… minimal. Compared with some of the old masters of this stuff.’”
They respect David Copperfield’s incredible work-ethic but bemoan the otherwise dormant magic scene.
“[Copperfield] does really good tricks, and he’s always doing new ones. But there aren’t many [magicians], you know?” Penn says heavily. Yes, there’s Siegfried and Roy, “but since Roy got his head bit off by a tiger, that slows him down somewhat. David Blaine doesn’t really do anything now. Why not? I don’t know. I don’t think he made that much money.”
We note that this is the latest in their 40 years of giving interviews where they fail to mention Inside Magic. Perhaps they are saving their effusive praise for our dogged coverage for a big presser once they return to Las Vegas. Yes, that is most certainly it. After all, tens of readers over the course of twenty years adds up to a statistical probability that they have heard of us.
We are most fascinated by behind the scenes stuff. We love logistics. So, for us, the key nuggets came at the end of the article wherein we learn the two get together on Tuesdays each week to brainstorm new tricks. That is the kind of geeky, inside information that makes us giddy. We would love to be present during one of those sessions. We wouldn’t say a word or even give some sort of indication of our existence – sort of as if we were a fly or insect in the room – we would just listen and relish the moment.
We learned that they have been working on a new effect that sounds pretty interesting. They are looking for a way to perform the Vanishing Elephant but with a live cow dressed as an elephant. We don’t know why that sounds cool but it does. We cannot imagine it is easy to work with cows and note that very few magicians have used cows in their acts in the last twenty years.
We knew of a former husband and wife act (former because they divorced) in which the husband referred to his wife as a cow on stage but that does not count. She didn’t vanish but did get a lawyer. He is doing close-up now and has “returned to ‘real magic’” with just a deck of cards and a few coins.” We suspect his new emphasis on cards and coins had something to do with the results of his divorce settlement.
Penn & Teller, like David Copperfield, seem to be asked the same questions by all interviewers. They do their best to give interesting answers and some reporters follow-up with interesting questions that lead to new information. Not often, though. That is not their fault. The Telegraph article is one of the better interview pieces we have read and worth your consideration.
The first time I meet David Blaine, he is weird. Zoned out, distracted or high on something. It’s a private dinner in an upstairs room at a London hotel and he enters without small talk. Dressed all in black with a black baseball cap, the American illusionist is big, bulky and intimidating.
The article in today’s The Evening Herald profiles magician David Blaine from a distance – at least emotionally. The writer is clearly not one of the millions sold on the concept of David Blaine. He views the performer as an oddity; hence an appropriate topic for a news story, we presume.
Mr. Blaine performs some pretty amazing effects for the reporter but he does not seem overly impressed. The tricks he describes seem great but as the writer notes, “we expect to be astonished.” He does not say if he was astonished though.
Mr. Blaine confesses that despite his reputation as a performer of death-defying stunts, he is “obsessed with magic.”
He considers magic as a grounding center for his peripatetic life. “It’s what drives me. It’s my favorite thing. It’s my saving grace. Like a meditation. I don’t even know what I would do without it.”
We know the feeling. Give us a deck of cards and we are content. Take away our deck of cards or our two silver dollars and the panic comes back.
Mr. Blaine teased his fans with scant information about an upcoming performance.
“There is a very big idea that I am going to do in London for the first time ever,” he says. “It’s a very simple idea, but it will be the best thing I have ever done. The most exciting. I know that it will drive me and I will push myself in a way I never would if it was not in front of me.”
It is scheduled to happen sometime in 2016 and in a football stadium. That’s all we know so far.
We were thinking it would be the world’s longest performance of The Six Card Repeat. That would have a lot of magicians watching for sure and there would be drama as he risked paper cuts and wrist injury. Perhaps it is something different.
Magician and endurance maven David Blaine takes to the air this evening in the United States through ABC television to ask Real or Magic? He is joined in this endeavor by Will Smith, Olivia Wilde, Woody Allen, Stephen Hawking and other celebrities who, we are informed, will react to his tricks.
We like David Blaine and believe he has done much to revitalize our wonderful craft and feel badly that we want him to be different than the way he is. He is not Doug Henning or David Copperfield or Harry Blackstone Jr. but he is very talented and, in his own way, charismatic and captivating.
Still, we miss Doug Henning performing the Water Torture Tank live on national television. We miss David Copperfield’s well produced escapes and illusions performed on tape but with the assurance the home audience was seeing the events unfold in real time without camera tricks. We miss Harry Blackstone Jr. for many, many reasons; not the least of which was his wonderful persona – so serious and light-hearted at the same time and able to convince even the most jaded teenager that he could really perform magic.
But David Blaine is bringing magic to the audience of the times where camera trickery is expected and even celebrated. Attention spans are short and expectations are high. Each generation of magic faces a similar challenge. Jim Steinmeyer’s outstanding book, The Last Greatest Magician in the World tells of Howard Thurston making the transition from vaudeville to the traveling, full-evening show and the ultimate demise of that elaborate show type. We know of Thurston today because he survived and conquered the new formats and met his audience where they sat. They were no longer in vaudeville halls watching one of eight shows in a day’s time. They came to see a full-length show and he had the props and chops to show them what they wanted to see – year after year.
We like David Blaine and wish him the best with his newest take on a classic art. If there is anyone that can again move magic in a new direction, it is David Blaine.
ABC Television is putting their sweeps hope on magician David Blaine this fall. Mr. Blaine’s special “David Blaine: Real or Magic,” is slated for Tuesday, November 19 at 9:30 p.m., Eastern.
As we have come to expect, he will have several A-List celebrities on-hand to be amazed and serve as a defacto committee for viewers at home.
Among the stars will be Jamie Foxx, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Ricky Gervais, Katy Perry, Woody Allen, Robert DeNiro, Kanye West, Harrison Ford, Will Smith and Olivia Wilde.
He will even check in with Stephen Hawking whilst in the UK.
It seems fitting to review some of the stunts from past episodes:
1. He’s been buried alive in New York City for a week
2. Encased inside a six-ton block of ice for three days and nights,
3. Perched atop a 100-foot-tall pillar in Bryant Park for 36 hours without a safety net
4. Ate nothing but nothing and drank only water whilst inside a transparent box in London for 44 days,
5. Spent one week in a sphere-shaped pool at Lincoln Center and almost broke the world record for holding his breath. He ultimately broke the record on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” by not breathing for 17 minutes and 4 seconds.
6. Hung upside down for five days in New York’s Central Park.
7. Stood in the middle of a million volts of electricity for 73 consecutive hours.
We cannot wait to see what he has planned next — especially if it is magic-related.
It is a magic story as old as time. Superstar magicians dominate all other acts in the mythical village of “Las Vegas” and become complacent from their success and guaranteed box office draw.
Young up-and-comer magician (Jim Carrey) looks to challenge the flashy duo, causing a crisis of confidence. The magic partnership breaks up bringing economic devastation to both magicians.
Fortunately, an attractive and loyal assistant (Olivia Wilde) encourages the senior magician to return to basics; to find the love he once held deep in his show-biz heart for magic and for his partnership.
The Hollywood production people sent us a blurb (remember the old days when it was illegal to send blurbs using the U.S. Postal System?) describing the plot line in two pithy paragraphs thusly:
Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt’s growing ego. But lately the duo’s greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they’ve grown to loathe each other.
Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show looks stale. But there’s still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act—both onstage and off—if Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.
We look forward to seeing Jim Carrey as the young buck, Steve Gray. He performs magic from a new paradigm like cutting off his face or not using the bathroom for almost a week. According to one critic, his character is a melange of David Blaine and Criss Angel.
We also understand that David Copperfield appears in the film as himself and has contributed a new illusion to the story.