Tag: Magicians

Join Inside Magic’s Online Directory

Inside Magic Image of a Magic Show

Inside Magic has been online since 1992 or 1996 depending on what you mean by online.  We began as a monthly newsletter sent to subscribers obtained through Boys Life classifieds and converted to CompuServe,  Genii (the GE electronic service – not the magazine) and then the Internet. 

We advertised through Yahoo at a cost of $140.00 (1990s dollars) and later advertised through the new and unproven Google search service.  Much less cost but at the start, many less clicks. 

There were months when the clicks were three or five.  But it was cheap so we kept with it.  We advertised on magic websites – there were very few back in the early days but Meir Yedid was a dependable site.   People trusted him, they trusted his opinion on magic and enjoyed his very honest description of magic for sale or for viewing. 

They still do.  

In the old days, Inside Magic had a news side and a catalog side.  We would never review tricks we sold – because that seemed improper. 

Eventually the catalog side faded from existence.  We sold the bulk of our remaining inventory on eBay and Amazon and focused on the news and reviews side of the website.  We liked that.  Selling magic is a tough business.  The margins are tight, there are so many sites now selling effects, and we are softies.  We can’t stand to disappoint people.  We did what no sane magic seller does, we gave refunds – even if the trick came back beat up and without instructions.  It just seemed fair.

Bright we are not.  We love magic and want to do nothing that could or possibly could interfere with an individual’s enjoyment of this great art.  That doesn’t make us ethical or smart – just us.  Similarly we would never interview or review a performer or trick/act we didn’t like.  We want to be positive always.  Maybe we didn’t like the trick or the act or the performer but that didn’t mean it/he/she/they weren’t great in the eyes of others. 

Additionally,  there are so many young performers and their first crack at getting publicity is through a review.  How terrible for the first review to be negative or mean.  We got our first review in a newspaper and it was horrible.  The trauma on a 12-year-old’s psyche is so significant.  We got later, more positive reviews but the first one stung and made getting back  on stage difficult.

All of this is coming to a point.

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Documentary Spotlights Magician Colony’s Disappearance

Years ago we wrote of a special Indian community where magicians and puppeteers flourished. The story captured our hearts and evoked a tremendous number of comments from Inside Magic readers.  We wondered what happened to the colony of formerly itinerant performers over the last decade.

We were happy to learn the story attracted the interest of documentary cinematographers who will soon release their project titled, Tomorrow We Disappear.

Part of the funding came via crowd sourcing on Kickstarter and the pledges quickly exceeded their goal of $40,000.00.  As of November 13, 2011, pledges exceeded $64,000.00.

The producers offered unique gifts to those who pledged funds.  $5.00 merited a high-five or chest bump, $10.00 got a magic ring from one of the performers in the film, and for $1,200 you would receive a custom made puppet from one of India’s foremost puppeteers.

Producer Jim Goldblum joined with Adam Weber, Joshua Cogan and Will Basanta to bring the story out of the vanishing slums and to western audiences.

The documentary tells the story of the Kathputli colony’s unique history and apparent imminent destruction. In the late 1950s, Kathputli became home for “traditionally itinerant performers — puppeteers, acrobats, magicians and fire-breathers.”

They settled in what was then a remote area bordering New Delhi.  The land – described as New Delhi’s “tinsel slum” – recently became the chosen site for the city’s first-ever skyscraper, The Raheja Phoenix.  The community belonged to one of society’s lower castes and it was not surprising the government chose to have them “resettled” to accommodate the building.

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Crossroads in Columbia – The Hardys in South Carolina

From the upcoming 16-Part PBS Series, The Hardys in America. Teachers may request the classroom guide to help students better understand the series.

Introduction to The Hardys in South Carolina

South Carolina has a special place in the Hardy Family’s history. It was nice  to be back in the state responsible for many of the more important incidents and eras in America’s First Family of Psychic Entertainment. We were in Columbia, the state’s capitol for the South Carolina Association of Magicians convention and had a great time.

But our experience could not compare to those of our three relatives in the same town. Uncle Tubby, Aunt Melanie, and Aunt Sixtus came to Columbia for different reasons but all left profoundly affected by their stay.

Tubby Hardy – Little Big Man

Tubby was actually the ironic and hurtful nickname for our uncle Todd Hardy given to him by Tom Hardy Sr. to ridicule his unfortunate life-experience. He entered the Hardy business of magic after a career riding and then handicapping horses.

Jockeys, in his era, were expected to “make weight” for each race by being at least ten pounds lighter than the lowest weight allowance on the circuit. In 1959, the Chicago – Louisville – Lexington circuit required the riders to be no more than 93 pounds so that with their tack and fancy silks, riders added no more than 103 pounds to the back of the horses.

Tubby was able to make weight for his first two seasons. He was a gifted rider. He broke his maiden and lost his bug status at the end of his first year. Those are good things. Breaking one’s maiden means he won his first race. Losing his bug meant he was no longer considered an apprentice jock.

Coming off bug status made him less attractive to owners and trainers who were willing to hire the apprentice designated in racing forms with an asterisk (or a “bug”) by their name.

Bug riders were allowed extra weight allowances and could often enter a race with ten to fifteen pounds less than any horse in the field. This weight benefit was often crucial in the non-sprint events.

Once a rider lost his bug, he was forced to compete against the other jocks directly.

Tubby entered the 1959 season at Arlington Race Course outside of Chicago weighing exactly 93 pounds. He was able to pick up some mounts from kindly trainers but had little success with the less-than-promising horses. In 1958, his winnings topped $22,000 and made him the highest-earning bug rider on the circuit. In the first three months of 1959’s season, he struggled to make ends meet with just two rides in the money — and one coming because of a disqualification of the two horses well ahead of him.

He began to gain weight half-way through the season and by the time the circuit moved south to Louisville, he was just less than 140 pounds.

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