We have checked the magic catalogs we keep in our vault and under our mattress, and did an extensive search of all on-line magic stores but have failed to find the Restore a Star on a Historic Flag trick. We found several tricks involving flags (Sympathetic Silks with Flag; Unsympathetic Silks with Unsympathetic Flag; Flag through Body; Flag Hat from Paper Tear; Torn and Restored Flag; Burnt and Restored Flag; Washed and Dried Flag to Doves; Washed and Dried Doves to Flag; Cups and Balls (presumably with some flag oriented finale); Appearing Flagstaff; Disappearing Flagstaff; The Town of Flagstaff (this may be an entry from an Arizona specific map but we include it just in case – plus we are paid by the word); Flag through Nose (this is actually a medical procedure documented in a 1920s version of the Journal of the American Medical Association but could be considered magical by some); Restoring Stars to Paper; Restoring Torn Stars (please be very careful when searching for this item and spell “Torn” with precision to avoid unwanted photographic and video results); and a patriotic version of the classic “What’s Next” with stars rather than dots made during the American Bicentennial (we think that was around 1976 but need to verify). Continue reading “David Copperfield to Add Star to Historic Flag”
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
But, because we didn’t go to the festival, we missed it.
This year we missed the Amazing Johnathan documentary. It is currently untitled but we’re guessing the words “Amazing” and “Johnathan” will be in or very near the final title.
As readers of this award winning magic news site know, we have never actually won an award and we never let the truth get in the way of a good headline or story. Readers will also know that we love the Amazing Johnathan and one of our greatest disappointments – other than our failure to play for the Chicago Cubs or even be a batboy for goodness sakes – was missing the performance of this great entertainer at the Magic Castle in what was billed as his last performance ever, anywhere.
Johnathan has a fatal heart issue and literally any show could be his last.
Nonetheless, he continues to work and provide entertainment for thousands. We saw his show in Las Vegas and laughed so hard we split our shirt collar – we always keep it buttoned to prevent body lice from either entering or escaping, depending on the season or our access to showers.
He saw a trick at the age of 17 and became hooked. Now he is performing around the globe and will be in India for a series of shows. It is his second tour in India.
“It isn’t a profession very highly preferred or chosen. It’s all about ideas, imagination and a story-telling capacity to hold the audience,” he told The Pioneer. The initial years were a struggle for Magu whose parents were reluctant about his career choice. Had it not been for magic, he would “have been working in the Russian Railways.”
He credits Derren Brown, David Blaine and “of course, David Copperfield” as inspiration. He loves his work in our beloved art. He gets to travel and “explore the human mind and its numerous possibilities. The beauty of the human mind is that no matter how fearless it might condition itself to be, it is as fearful, unbelievable yet believable. It’s amazing how certain things can amaze the mind.”
His show includes mind-reading, telekinesis, levitation and gravitational illusions and the article is clear that he is performing “illusions” and not “magic.” “An illusionist might leave your eyes wide open and make your jaw drop but a magician can make miracles happen. That’s magic.”
He will be performing in the beautifully appointed Upstage, Roseate House, Aerocity every night at 9 pm from today through November 25th.
Check out the full article in The Pioneer here.
Visit his expertly constructed website here.
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.
Last night (and we’re writing this on our Palm – not the ancient electronic organizer but our own palm – so it is still last night technically) we wondered aloud, “What is the strangest thing David Copperfield has ever packed for a trip?”
We should have kept the question to ourselves and not uttered it aloud. That wasn’t polite to the other campers (we call ourselves “campers” because we’re sly and think that gives us an edge if we are ever taken to the hoosegow by the coppers for setting up a small circus tent in a vacant field near the Ralph’s grocery store over by the Citgo across from the Bumper Bumper auto repair shop).
Nonetheless, we wondered aloud about David Copperfield’s packing for trips and were reminded by one of our fellow campers that David Copperfield was both a fictional character who was fascinated by cake and a magician who has toured the globe. The camper – who will remain nameless because we were never introduced – suggested we be more specific in our wondering.
We knew the David Copperfield about whom we were wondering and so we ignored the camper and went on wondering. We could not wait until the public library opened to have access to the internet and learn the answer to our wondering.
We have seen his show 17 times so far. It is by far one of the best ever. We wouldn’t see something 17 times if it was terrible or even just good. For us to see something more than twice, it has to be great. That’s why we don’t have mirrors.
He caught the magic bug as a young ‘un and was inspired by David Copperfield. Unlike many, his magic love turned to obsession and fascination and he moved on to shows for birthday parties and nursing homes. Mr. Trent’s nickname, The Futurist, comes from his desire to bring the latest tech into his magic performances.
Mr. Trent believes he is more than just a magician – not that being a magician isn’t sufficient – but he strives to be an entertainer; hence the comedy and music in his show.
Says Mr. Trent, “I want them to say it was completely different than they expected a magic show to be. I want them to say they laughed harder than they ever have in a theatre, and I want them to have been emotionally moved by the end.”
Reporters forewarn audiences that one of this personal faves in the show is borrowing an audience member’s cell phone to serve as blender-fodder. “I borrow an audience members phone and put it in a blender onstage. I always enjoy seeing how different people react to that.”
Our guess, the reactions probably have a rather small spectrum from surprise, to concern, to more surprise and concern.
“My goal is to make people forget about the tricks. Will they be fooled? Yes. But I want them to not care about being fooled because they are too busy laughing.”
Why do folks like magic? “It’s the closest thing to being a real life superhero. Magicians are people who make the impossible seemingly possible. It’s like being James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Superman all in one. I certainly want to be that guy.”
You can see Mr. Trent’s show and reading article www.broadwaysd.com for tickets and showtime information.
Check out young Mr. Trent on his tour on Twitter and Facebook @AdamTrent Magic.
We can’t wait for him to sojourn to the Los Angeles area where we will see him and give a full review. In the meantime, we will watch him on his excellent website here: https://www.adamtrent.com/
This week’s episode features Lewis Black and a short discussion about David Copperfield and Doug Henning.
We were listening whilst walking to the busy editorial office of Inside Magic and getting strange looks from the folks we were passing in the street, along the sidewalks, through narrow crevices, around bends and over small mounds of what appeared to be clothing or people wearing clothing but not moving. We are accustomed to being stared at. We chalk it up to our boyish good looks, effervescent charm, efficient use of tartar control toothpaste, naturally curly nose hair and willingness to take adventures in clothing choices.
For instance, today, we wore contrasting animals from the Garanimals collection. We went with a Tiger “Top” and a Giraffe “Lower.” That says “Wild Human” in any language.
We know, crazy, right?!
We thought people were staring because we were laughing so much. We thought maybe they were sharing in our glee and not staring derisively but when one elderly woman was nearly struck by an auto as she tried to scurry across Santa Monica Boulevard to avoid our path, we figured out that the people of West Hollywood just have not seen unadulterated joy. Chances are that if they haven’t seen it enough, they haven’t experienced it either.
So we offered to share our podcast listening experience with those we encountered. We even cleaned the ear bud of the unsightly wax build-up (our own — we think) before trying to stick it into the ears of our fellow pedestrians. We were not aggressive in our ear bud offering and were certainly not, as was written in an “incident” report “trying to stab victims in the head with an implement.”
Long story short, people were staring at us because we apparently accidentally sat in a chocolate cream pie at some point and our Giraffe pants needed dry cleaning stat. We were pretty sure it was chocolate cream pie residue and that certainly explained why we left stains everywhere we sat in the last few days.
Tonight, we return to the Magic Castle with our new routine – freshly choreographed and scripted. We will change our clothes before visiting the amateur rooms downstairs at the Magic Castle. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello. Just don’t stare and point.
Time and Life magazines paid homage to our noble profession’s gathering in Indianapolis this weekend by looking back at the 1947 Society of American Magicians held in Chicago in 1947.
If you follow the link to the Google books page of that original Life Magazine article you can see wonderful images of some of the greats performing for the Life cameras. It could be that Dr. Harlan Tarbell did perform the Balancing an Egg on a Fan While Blindfolded trick as part of his nightclub act. Maybe magicians did do Multiplying Golf Balls in a strip club and drew all eyes from the dancers gyrating on stage to their strained and stretched fingers. But is also just as likely that the convention attendees were doing what magicians do best at convention time – getting good press.
Time and Life’s website gives a link to the SAM 2016 registration page, a 2014 blurb on the ill-fated efforts to exhume Houdini’s remains to test for poisoning and a 1994 essay by Penn Jillette explaining why Vegas was the most logical place for magic to reside. He has some snarky things to say about Siegfried & Roy and Melinda but that was the old, “bad-boys of magic” Penn.
From the post-war era, to the 1970s with Doug Henning’s The Magic Show raking in $60,000.00 each week on Broadway ($307,175.32 in today’s dollars), to David Copperfield’s globe-trotting success, and later David Blaine taking it to the streets with camera in tow, Magic has endured.
In that 1974 Time article reporting on that decade’s fascination in magic and magicians, James Randi said the upsurge in interest is “a sign that our society is still healthy. When people stop being enthralled by a magician who can make a lady vanish, it will mean that the world has lost its most precious possession: its sense of wonder.”
Like the Dude, Magic endures.
Apparently the pump for his lap pool went on the fritz and pumped water throughout his “four-story, greenhouse-like penthouse.”
It could have been a real tragedy because Mr. Copperfield keeps some of his most valuable artwork and antiques.
What kind of antiques? Our kind of antiques. He has a wonderful collection of vintage arcade pieces from Coney Island. We would like to think that when we get really wealthy, we will have such collectibles in our east coast apartment. We’re not being ironic or even sarcastic. We mean it. We find it depressing when millionaires invest in artwork that we wouldn’t pay to see. We would pay good money to see a collection of vintage arcade pieces from the home of cool carny things, Coney Island. Perhaps that thinking is why we will never be a millionaire.
The water did damage the elevators for a day or so and there was damage to the apartments below all the way down to the basement.
Mr. Copperfield’s attorney told the press, “David was terrified, because he has these rare, vintage Coney Island machines, which are priceless, irreplaceable antiques, including a fortune teller, strength testers, an electric shock machine and shooting galleries. But for some unknown reason — or stroke of luck — these machines were spared by the water. There’s a magic trick called ‘The Bullet Catch,’ where the illusionist catches the bullet in his teeth, and David thinks he really dodged a bullet here.”
Mr. Copperfield was not in New York at the time – he was in Las Vegas, performing at the MGM Resort.