Tag: Spirit Cabinet

Virgil the Magician – An Unexpected Treat

Virgil and Julie ImageWe discovered, quite unexpectedly, a literal metric ton of information about Virgil the Magician and his partner, the Sweet Heart of Magic, Julie.

Our discovery started like all our internet discoveries.  We were looking for coins to add to our collection — we have a fondness for Silver Dollars minted by the Carson City Mint.  They’re not magic coins and we usually look for the lowest grade, soft coins, for ease in manipulation and difficulty in discerning the difference between coins vanished on one side of the close-up mat and reappeared on the other.  But that’s just us.

So, we’re looking for coins on eBay and finding nothing.  eBay’s algorithm directs us to thing it believes we will like based on our search for coins around the 1900s.  That leads to gift or challenge coins given by performers or military members to one another or to audiences as a memento.  One of those coins happened to be a rather distorted version of a token for the Virgil show.

That lead us to searching Virgil and we hit a divided road in an internet constructed wood: we could chase Virgil the poet or Virgil the magician.  We chose the latter.  As far as we know Virgil the poet was great at writing in dactylic hexameter about the sacking of Troy and visiting Italy.

We saw no mention of him performing even rudimentary magic tricks although we did stumble upon an abstract for a paper about the use of magic in his poetry.   (See, Rand, E. K. “Virgil the Magician.” The Classical Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, 1930, pp. 37–48. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3290464. Accessed 29 Mar. 2021).  His magic seemed to be restricted to sorcery and the ability to predict the future according to the author’s abstract.

We saw no mention of coin routines, Cups-N-Balls or Color-Changing Hanks.  There was a slight mention of what we thought might have been an ancient method of performing Hyrum the Haunted Hank but it turns out we were reading it incorrectly.

But back to Virgil the magician and his assistant, Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic.  We wanted to know more, especially after reading about his world-tours and notes by his contemporaries that he was of the old school of our Art.

He was born in 1900 and passed away in 1989.  While performing one of his early shows, he invited a young lady to the stage to assist in an effect and injured her in the process.

We searched and searched for more information about the trick causing the injury and the extent of the injuries.   Nonetheless, Virgil felt so badly about the injured woman that he visited her often.  They fell in love and she became his life-long partner, the Sweetheart of Magic, Julie.

We were hooked.  We had to know more.


Their posters proclaimed the world-wide acclaim received for their marvelous and astounding shows consisting of a full magic show and then a memory act by Julie and a Spirit Cabinet.

Spirit Cabinets are our secret obsession.  We have been in them as a volunteer and watched them as committee members and audience attendees.  We can’t get enough of them.  If you hint you’ll be doing a Spirit Cabinet, we’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

They bring together the excitement of Spiritualism and the origins of the modern escape act — I believe.  The Kellar Rope Tie was kept top secret and allegedly derived from Kellar’s work with the Davenport Brothers — Spiritualists who were securely tied to wooden benches in a cabinet.  The doors to the cabinet would close and instantly — faster than a Metamorphosis transfer — hellz would be apopin.  Things flying, music playing, slates getting written on and then instantly the doors would open to show the bothers securely tied as they were left at the start of the hullabaloo.

We learned the Kellar Rope-Tie as a young man and realized it was not that easy to pull off secretly and consistently.

So we sought more information about Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic.  They travelled with an enormous amount of equipment.  According to Genii’s MagicPedia, they went from 10 tons of props, drapes, curtains to 33 tons in 1957 when they travelled the world from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, England and Ireland.  Whoo!  That is some travelling.  They continued to tour in the Americas through 1978.

We were fortunate enough to find a video of Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic performing the Spirit Cabinet on the old television show, The Gary More Show in the 1960s.  We have embedded it above to show a truly professional couple perform amazing feats under incredible test conditions.  They truly were of the old and fondly missed school of magic.

We love going down the rabbit hole and find that if we are in a hardware store, a carpet center, Costco or even a bicycle shop, our mind — small as it is — activates its Magic Obsession Gene and we will search out magic of some kind.  Tricks we could create, tricks we know, and objects we just know are worth buying to bring back to the shop and develop into the next miracle.

Whilst on the web, we do the same thing and can spend hours tracking down minute and sometimes conflicting. details about our art.  (For example, there is a debate whether Virgil appeared on Ed Sullivan.  Some web authors say he did — and there is even a brochure with images that were allegedly taken during the performance — but we have read other authors like David Charvet, author of a Virgil biography with help from Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic, who claim he did not perform the Sullivan show because he was concerned stage-hands would learn his secrets during rehearsal.   (*See, Magic Cafe at https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=98821).  If, in fact, he did not perform on the show, that demonstrated incredible devotion to his craft — at the time, The Ed Sullivan Show was must-see television for all America and the launching pad for The Beatles in the U.S.

Our interest is only piqued.  We will continue to search and learn about this man we so fortunately uncovered in our search for soft, silver dollars minted in a factory that came and went during the silver strike days in Nevada.

Jinger’s Homecoming: Magic Duo Appear at Mohegan Sun This Weekend

Inside Magic Image of Kalin & Jinger Prepare for Alan Wakling's Selbeit SawingJinger of Inside Magic Favorite Kalin & Jinger is celebrated in her hometown newspaper today in advance of the duo's shows this weekend at the beautiful Mohegan Sun Casino. 

The couple will perform two shows at the 10,000 seat Sun Arena as stars of the Master of Illusion Live tour. 

Jinger is a favorite daughter of Bridgeport, Connecticut and her parents still reside in the Nutmeg State.  

The lithe and talented performer told the local media, “It's great to perform in front of people you know. It makes it special.”

"Special" is the perfect adjective for Kalin & Jinger's act and career.  We had the distinct honor of sitting next to Jinger as a committee person for their Spirit Cabinet performance.  As you loyal and disloyal readers of Inside Magic are aware, we will never expose the secrets of any magic effect unless it somehow makes us look good, smart or could serve up more internet hits to boost our ad revenue. 

We can say that while being immediately next to Jinger was thrilling and magical in its own right, we were unable to learn their secret.  We assisted in tying charming and beautiful better half of the Kalin & Jinger show and then sat as close as possible to her whilst the curtains closed around us. 

Perhaps we were still unnaturally giddy being so close to someone of such renown and talent, intoxicated by her incredible beauty or startled by the rapid-fire succession of events, but we remain clueless as to how she was able to manifest the loud, chaotic spirit that literally filled the ad hoc cabinet, put a bucket on our disproportionately large skull and pulled up our pant legs all within no more than five to ten seconds.   

You can read our full review of that fateful night here. Inside Magic Review: Mark Kalin & Jinger (November 25, 2006).

Jinger began as a dancer at the age of four and by 15, she was in demand around the United States.  She worked with Disney, Fuji Television and Southern California dinner theaters and bestowed with the a scholarship to the “Young Americans' College of Performing Arts.”

Mark and Jinger became a couple when she filled in as his assistant while performing in Guam. 

If you have not seen the couple perform — and that seems unlikely given their exposure through nationalize televised shows like NBC's “Word's Greatest Magicians”, “Hidden Secrets of Magic,” Fox Family's “Magic on the Edge,” Fox TV's “World Magic Awards” and  “Entertainment Tonight”, CBS and ABC — you need to make the trip to the Sun Arena this weekend or one of their upcoming performances.

They perform true magic. 

Continue reading “Jinger’s Homecoming: Magic Duo Appear at Mohegan Sun This Weekend”

Inside Magic Review: Mark Kalin & Jinger

Inside Magic Image of Kalin & Jinger Performing Spirit CabinetIntroduction:

We were tempted to be witty and clever when reviewing Mark Kalin and Jinger’s show at the Magic Castle.

But the fact that we resisted the easy and innuendo-laden path for the more noble and professional approach does not mean we have matured.  It simply means we are writing this while on public transportation and afraid the person to our right will find it more titillating and deserving of his attention than his less than furtive glances already indicate.

In a word, Mark Kalin and Jinger perform real magic really well.

Sit back, relax, and keep reading: this may be a long review.  It has already taken longer to write and edit than the act itself.

We have separated the review into its constituent parts only to ensure we do not leave anything out.  But Mark Kalin and Jinger’s act is greater than the sum of its parts.  We have never witnessed a tighter 45 minutes of magic ever or anywhere.

The Venue:

In our humble and poorly informed opinion, The Magic Castle’s Palace of Mystery is a tough room to play well.  We have seen big illusions squeezed on to the platform and performers work through their best approximation of a scaled version of their regular stage show.  While traveling illusionists must constantly adjust to the venue du jour, this stage makes for tight fits and, consequently, less than optimal performances.

On the other hand, the Palace of Mystery is perfect for magic-loving audiences.  Every seat is perfect, no obstructions or awkward tier structure to block views.  The sound system is perfect and the lighting is always professionally done.

We have a chance to see the very best in our business from the moral equivalent of a front-row seat — even if that means they must perform in tight quarters.

Mr. Kalin and Jinger are known for their full-scale illusions and we wondered how they would cope with the restrictions posed by The Palace.

In a word, they owned the joint.

We have longed to see their Magic Underground theater in Reno, Nevada.  The couple built the showplace to serve as the perfect forum to perform and watch magic.

They note on their beautiful web site:

Real magic only happens when all the elements are perfect, the setting, the audience, the stage and the pace of the show. Over the years, we’ve had a chance to present our magic in many different settings, but it has only served to convince us of the perfect opportunity, the perfect showplace. We’ve finally found that home at Magic Underground.

We thought there could be no better place to see their show than in the theater they built.  We also worried we would never have a chance to see the couple live unless we traveled to Reno.

The Performers:

Mr. Kalin and Jinger are wonderful to watch — a plus for performers.  We admit our infatuation and schoolboy crush could bias our opinion but it does not. (The crush, by the way is on Jinger — although Mr. Kalin is no slouch).

Mr. Kalin either truly enjoys what he does or he is the best of all possible actors.  His energy-level is high but not contrived or over-the-top.  We saw the second show of the evening and yet he bounded onto the stage as if it was the first — not just of the evening but ever.

Recall the enthusiasm you felt when first performing a new, well-practiced routine for family or close friends? You could not wait to get started and share the reason for your excitement.

Mr. Kalin was that excited.

There was no question he was well-prepared and what we were about to see had been rehearsed, blocked, and practiced; but tonight was different.  This show would be different than any they ever put on.  Mr. Kalin’s body-language and persona said, “all of our practice and development was to prepare for this very show.”

The Production of Jinger

Mr. Kalin’s first illusion ended with the incredible production of Jinger.

Jinger’s appearance was magical on so many levels.

First, we had not previously seen this production and enjoyed the impossible vanish of a tall male assistant, and the appearance of Jinger.  Note this was not a transformation of the assistant into Jinger.  The assistant vanished, the apparatus was freely shown to be empty, and then Jinger appeared.

But the production of a magician’s assistant — even as lovely as Jinger — is not enough to warrant our high praise.  When Mr. Kalin saw Jinger appear, he seemed genuinely delighted, surprised.  He must have known Jinger would appear at the end of the illusion.  After all, that is what rehearsal is for.  But the couple seemed genuinely happy to be reunited on stage for this all important show.

Finally, Jinger’s smile, poise, beauty, and complete ease on stage brought what appeared to be a natural and involuntary smile to Mr. Kalin’s face.  His admiration for her was clearly shared by the audience.

We have seen many husband and wife magic acts. We have seen very few with the natural charisma and ineffable quality to be endearing rather than annoying or cloying. Mr. Kalin and Jinger have wonderful chemistry.  They share what appear to be spontaneous asides and inside jokes as any would any good friends.

Wakeling’s Sawing

The late Alan Wakeling’s version of Sawing a Woman in Half is one of the most amazing effects we have ever witnessed.  We first saw Mr. Kalin and Jinger perform the seemingly impossible illusion on a television special, and then at the last Magic Live convention in Las Vegas.  Jinger is held to a steel surgical table developed by “Dr. Alan Wakeling” during the Civil War.  The straps holding her neck and feet to the very thin steel platform are threaded through holes and held firmly in place by volunteers from the audience.

So let’s review: Jinger lies down on a surgical table. Her neck is bound with a leather collar and attached to a strap (or “leash” according to Mr. Kalin). The strap is passed through a hole in the table and held tightly by a committeeman from the audience.  Is that fair enough? There are no boxes covering any part of her yet and as the volunteer pulls on the strap, Jinger is pulled to the surface of the cold steel table.

At the other end, Jinger’s ankles are fixed within another leather device, the attached strap is threaded through a hole in the table and pulled taut by another volunteer.  In the course of the next five minutes, Jinger’s body is covered by two wooden cabinets no taller than necessary to accommodate her body.  The cabinets’ side-doors are opened immediately after she is covered, the committeemen verify she is within the cabinets and that they have not allowed any slack in their respective straps.

Immediately, Mr. Kalin pushes steel blades through Jinger’s torso and the boxes are separated.  The effect is like nothing we have ever witnessed.

From the first time we saw the couple perform this effect, we were baffled.  We had no idea how the effect could be accomplished and that was fine with us. We like to be fooled and were very happy knowing Mr. Kalin and Jinger were one of the few in the world performing this miracle and that we had a chance to witness it live.

Unfortunately, in perusing our neighborhood bookstore, we found a book exposing the effect’s secret method to anyone browsing the shelves. We will not identify the title of the book or the author.  The author says Mr. Wakeling approved of the exposure.  We do not doubt the author’s representation; we just were disappointed it was in such wide release.

Consequently, when we saw Mr. Kalin and Jinger perform the effect at The Magic Castle, we knew the method.  We were impressed by the incredible skill necessary to accomplish the effect and certainly the showmanship employed in its presentation; but it did not bring the same sense of amazement.  We were no longer mystified; only impressed by Mr. Kalin and Jinger’s abilities.

The Spirit Cabinet

Next to “Dr. Wakeling’s” sawing illusion, The Spirit Cabinet is our all-time favorite effect.  We were looking forward to seeing Mr. Kalin and Jinger perform the effect live but had no idea we would be sitting within the spirit cabinet next to Jinger during a final manifestation of the spirits.

As one of the two volunteers from the audience, we had the honor of tying Jinger’s ankles together and her wrists to each other and through a wooden post.  We have rarely been as nervous.  There was no intent to tie to tightly but we also had no desire to make it too easy.

Mr. Kalin and Jinger perform The Spirit Cabinet superbly; on par with Glenn Falkenstein and Frances Willard — our gold standard.  Ms. Willard and Jinger are authentic, compelling, and sensual figures within the cabinet.

We were delighted but nervous when asked to sit in the cabinet with Jinger.  Fortunately, our eyes were covered with a very effective blindfold before the curtains were closed.  Almost immediately after the curtain could be heard closing, we were aware of spirit activity near us.

Even without a blindfold, we doubt we would have discerned the method for this illusion. When the blindfold was untied, we found a bucket on our head and our pant legs pulled up to past our knees.

We were asked by another audience member if we knew how the spirit demonstration worked.  We told her honestly that we had not a clue.


We did not expect Mr. Kalin and Jinger to disappoint. Chances are, we would have written a positive review even if their performance was average or even better than average.  But we doubt we would have written a review of more than 1200 words.

Mr. Kalin and Jinger performed the finest magic show we have ever seen.  Their dedication, enthusiasm, choice of effects, and unique charisma are just some of the reasons we feel secure making such an unequivocal statement.  How fortunate to see their performance in such a perfect venue.

As we drove back to downtown Los Angeles from Hollywood later that evening, we felt a pain in our jaw from smiling so much.

It hurt but it was a good kind of hurt.

Some pain is worth enduring.  Do not miss Mr. Kalin and Jinger — in fact, affirmatively seek out their next live performance.  Life is so uncertain and there is no sense putting off such a wonderful experience.

Inside Magic Review:  Five out of Five – Our Highest!