Tag: Harry Potter

Harry Potter – First American-Born Magician

Inside Magic Image of Harry Potter PosterHenry Louis Gates, Jr. has a great essay on The Root this morning about one of the first American-born magicians.

Harry Potter was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts around 1783 just after the Revolutionary War on the plantation of the slave owner Sir Charles Henry Frankland.  The slave owner may have been Mr. Potter’s father.

When he was just ten-years-old, Mr. Potter sailed to England as a cabin boy, met a Scottish magician and ventriloquist named John Rannie, and performed with him across Europe.

He returned to America in 1800 with Mr. Rannie and worked with a circus performing in both the North and South.  Mr. Potter was able to travel safely in the South because, in his assistant’s role, he was seen as Mr. Rannie’s servant.  By 1806, the duo settled in Boston and Mr. Rannie retired about five years later.

Mr. Potter continued in show business and advertised his performances as “An Evening’s Brush to Sweep Dull Care Away.”

According to Professor Gates, Mr. Potter’s shows were met with great commercial success.  He earned as much as $250.00 a show.  Professor Gates points out that in today’s money, that would be more than $3,000 a show.  Actually, $250.00 a show is pretty good money in our book even today.

Check out Dr. Gates’ full essay here.  He even gives a shout out to Inside Magic Favorite and Society of American Magicians President Kenrick “Ice” McDonald.

We wonder if this history influenced  J. K. Rowling’s selection of “Harry Potter” as the titular name for her young-adult novels.  Dr. Gates does not mention this coincidence but one does wonder.

Magicians vs. Witches in Potter Publicity Wake

Harry Potter fever is spreading through our land once again.  Like all contagions, it preys on the weak, infirm, young, and vulnerable.  Unlike other plagues, though, its coming gives victims substantial advance notice.

Some take heed and prepare for the inevitable comparisons between magicians in real-life versus punk kid wizards in movies.

The Wiccan and Witch side of the Magic spectrum seem bugged by it all.  Professional Magicians — the opposite flank — are filled with energy and ready to give reporters an interesting story at the drop of a fez.
The New York Daily News met its trite quota with a fluff piece on how witches and magicians differ in general and specifically when it comes to Harry Potter and his every growing infection of our population.

The reporter introduces us to Wiccan high priestess Adele Basil, 67.  Priestess Basil teaches witchcraft at her Staten Island store, Mystical Wonders.  Like judo, her students need to study for about a year before they get their first significant rank.  If all goes well, the witches in training are bestowed the title “white witches.”

Priestess Basil likened “magic” to he power of positive thinking — but with herbs, roots and potions.

“Magic is a belief that we can do whatever we set our mind to.”  They use wooden wands to “focus” their energy.

One too cool for school witch went on the record as unimpressed with Harry Potter and the kids.

Kathy Latham, 26,  is described as a “blond hipster witch.”  She told the reporter she’s unimpressed with the Potter phenomenon.  “Harry Potter borrows a few things from magic,” Latham said. “It’s just entertainment.

Contrast the way too serious practitioners of witchcraft with semi-pro and professional magicians just looking for a hook and some buzz.

(That was actually the first song we wrote with Jimi Hendrix, Hook and Buzz made it to 24 on The Billboard Chart but the modern culture refused to adopt the words as their own and give them slang meaning.  Jimi said one night, “It’s not cool to force words into places they’re not wanted.”  Of course, his term “cool” became a big hit.  Today all we have is our memories, a very slight residual payment for the song and a garage full of  “Hook n Buzz”  t-shirts, albums, black-light posters, and lava lamps).

Continue reading “Magicians vs. Witches in Potter Publicity Wake”