Sad News: Brian Gillis Passes

The Great Brian GillisWe are devastated to hear of the passing of Master Magician Brian Gillis.

Mr. Gillis was always so kind and supportive of the Magic Arts and Inside Magic.  He was the consummate performer and could hold a room better than anyone we ever saw.  He was famous for his performances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and among magicians for his high-energy work at The Magic Castle.  His two-person telepathy act with his partner Sisuepahn was not only baffling but so entertaining, we wanted it to continue all night.

One of our greatest honors was being asked by Mr. Gillis if he could squeeze in to perform ahead of our spot in the cellar of The Magic Castle.  We could not stop smiling and nodding as we took a position to the side of the room and watched how magic should be done.  He was simply amazing.

Our prayers are with Mr. Gillis and Sisuepahn and all who have lost so much in his passing.

The Magic Castle’s Founder, Milt Larsen, has written a special tribute to Mr. Gillis here.

Award-Winning Magician Trigg Watson at Checkered Past Winery

Magician Trigg WatsonAward-winning magician Trigg Watson will perform at the urban wine pub at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm on July 14, 2018 and at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm on the newly announced date of August 11, 2018.

Single tickets are $20. VIP tickets are $80 for four and come with reserved seating and one complimentary appetizer for the table. Guests are invited to enjoy Checkered Past Winery’s signature wines, pizza, charcuterie, appetizers, desserts, and more while watching the captivating magic show. Checkered Past Winery owner Sandro DiSanto is passionate about food and celebrating his Sicilian roots. DiSanto is also a devoted supporter of the Texas wine industry, offering many locally produced wines at Checkered Past Winery. Watson often jokes, “The more wine you drink, the better the magic gets!”

Wine and Magic Saturday, July 14, 2018 Saturday, August 11, 2018 Shows at 7 pm and 9:30 pm Checkered Past Winery (1409 S. Lamar, Suite 008, Dallas, TX 75215) Tickets: $20 Ticket URL: www.wineandmagicdallas.com Come for the magic, stay for the wine! Enjoy signature wines and experience an intimate magic show by award-winning Dallas magician Trigg Watson. Brad Lacour said it best for The Dallas Observer: When the show is over, you don’t leave wondering how he performed his illusions but rather like you just caught up with an old friend from out of town. That might be the best trick of them all.

Mr. Watson is a new breed of magician, preferring his iPad to a classic deck of cards. Originally from Australia, Trigg is known for his quick-witted illusions and offbeat humor. He has appeared on POP TV’s hit reality magic show Don’t Blink, Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, and CW’s Masters of Illusion.

Mr. Trigg was named the 2013 Dallas Performing Artist of the Year and 2015 Dallas Magician of the Year. For show dates and more information, visit triggmagic.com. Connect with Trigg Watson Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube About Checkered Past Winery Checkered Past Winery is an urban Dallas wine pub located in the historic South Side building (1409 South Lamar Street Suite 008) featuring Texas wines, locally brewed beer, and some of the best wines from other parts of country and the world. Co-founder, owner, and winemaker Sandro DiSanto is a first generation American coming from an Italian wine background. Both of his grandfathers made wine in Sicily. His brother-in-law Scott Relyea co-founded and designed the Mods and Rockers pub Checkered Past Winery in 2015. Carolynne Chancellor joined them as owner and grows wine grapes in East Texas.

For hours, menus, and more information, visit checkeredpastwinery.com.

Lance Burton Recalls First Time on Tonight Show

Inside Magic Image of Lance Burton, Master MagicianMaster Magician Lance Burton gained national prominence with his appearance on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson in October 1982.  Mr. Carson was a magician of considerable ability who translated his talents into being the king late night television.  But he never forgot his magic roots or lost his enjoyment of our wonderful craft.

We bring this up because we just read that a new set of Tonight Show DVDs are being released by Time-Life.  The collection is called The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series and part of that collection includes Lance Burton’s appearances on the iconic show.

The article promoting the DVDs has a great interview with Lance Burton.  He talks about how he appeared on Tonight just one week after moving to Los Angeles from Kentucky.  He went on to appear on the show 20 times (10 with Johnny Carson and 10 with Jay Leno).

“I grew up in Louisville and was doing magic shows all through school. When I was 20 in 1980, I entered a contest sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, won their Gold Medal contest and as a result was booked for two weeks in L.A. to do what’s known as The Magic Show in a theater there … And I somehow got picked after the talent coordinator came to our preview show on Oct. 28, 1981.

“The next day I’m standing next to the stage manager at “The Tonight Show,” and  I see a hand coming toward me. Instinctively, I turned to shake it and I found I was shaking  Johnny Carson’s hand. He was very nice and complimentary … They rearranged to put me on first, ahead of Dick Cavett. They both had interest in magic, and they talked about magic, and me and my act. It really was the greatest launching pad ever for a career in show business. Johnny worked as a magician as a young man, then did comedy and show hosting …  I realized that when Johnny saw me the first time, he saw himself in this Midwestern kid doing sleight of hand really well. I think that was the basis of our relationship: He saw himself.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without Johnny intervening personally. I can trace 15,000 Vegas shows back to that first ‘Tonight Show.'”

Check out the full interview here.

Illusionist Adam Trent is So Much More!

Image of Adam TrentMagician Adam Trent, known to audiences as “The Futurist” is moving from touring with and Broadway smash THE ILLUSIONISTS to his own tour with his show THE MAGIC OF Adam Trent.  The show is a great mixture of magic, comedy and magic with a family focus.  He brings his show to the beautiful Balboa Theatre in equally lovely San Diego, California this Saturday, March 24th.

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/

Guest Essay: Rip-Off or Research?

Inside Magic Image of Favorite Melvin the MagicianEditor: Mark Panner is filling in for us whilst we work our day job during this busy season.  His essays are not edited or approved by Inside Magic.  In fact, we usually disagree with everything he says and does.

Some call it deliberate theft, others call it inspiration. I call it inspiration because I don’t like all of the negatives that come with the word “theft.”

But I also call it pure gold.

I am talking about using great ideas from other fields to make great hordes of cash in the magic field.

Let’s face it, magicians don’t get paid what they deserve. Some practice hours and hours to perform a trick that takes 30 seconds. If you get paid by the hour, that means all of the practice gets you some money but not much money. We won’t go into the complex math here (but we could if we had to) but say you get $15.00 an hour and you do a trick that takes 30 seconds to do. That means you are only getting a part of the $15.00; like a dollar or something. This is a magic blog not an accounting blog so you can figure it out for yourself later. Take my word for it, though: you are not getting the full $15.00 for all of the work that you put into learning the trick, buying the props or making them after watching how the trick is done thanks to YouTube.

So how do magicians make the money they deserve?

First, don’t buy tricks. As I said, you can learn just about any trick out there on YouTube. Thanks to people looking to make a name for themselves, there are plenty of videos where people expose really good trick and even show you how the props they bought work. It cost them something to buy the original trick but if they are stupid enough to show the world how to make it, that works out fine for the rest of us.

Everybody knows magic tricks cost a lot because of the secret, not the props. So, if you can learn the secret from some teenager on YouTube who is showing off how proud he is to have bought the latest miracle, you don’t need to pay a dime.

Wait Mark, isn’t that stealing?

No. Because I didn’t do the stealing. I just watched a video. The guy who did the video showing how a trick worked bought the trick (or learned it from someone who bought it) and so I am pretty far down the line from anything that even looks like stealing.

Wait Mark, isn’t that taking money from inventors of great tricks?

Again, I am not taking anything from anyone. I am just watching a video. It is a free country and I am allowed to watch videos. If someone wants to show me how to make a trick that would cost $45.00 on some over-priced magic web store, who am I to complain.

Wait Mark, won’t that keep magicians from inventing new tricks?

No and so what if they do? It will teach them to price their tricks right. Charging $45.00 for the latest miracle is too much no matter what the trick is – especially if I can make it with stuff I have around the mobile home or in my company’s supply cabinet.

Plus, most of the times once I learn the secret, I don’t want to do the trick any way so there really is no loss. I just saved $45.00 and avoided the hassle of paying and waiting for the delivery and then finding out it is a stupid method and not for me.

I have always said that magic reviews should tell you exactly how a trick is done so that you can determine for yourself whether you want to buy the trick. I bought a trick two years ago at a convention here in Michigan and the guy said it was easy to do and didn’t really require any sleights.

Well, he lied. To do the trick, you had to force a card and last time I checked, that’s a sleight. If I had known that the only way the trick would work was if I forced the card at the beginning, I could have saved $45.00 and bought something from someone more honest.

Don’t get me wrong, I can do a force. In fact, I can do maybe 15 different forces but why should I if I don’t need to? Just to look cool? The guy demonstrated the trick and the way he described it was like this: a person takes a card and the card ends up in some impossible place. Now I know why he was so vague. He was hiding the secret. If I knew the secret before I bought it, I could have saved my money and bought something useful like really cool decks of cards or food.

Wait Mark, shouldn’t we reward people who work hard to invent magic tricks?

We do. We get them press in the magic magazines and they get to travel around the world doing lectures and selling their “secrets” to magic club members. We had a lecturer at our Mystic Hollow Magic Club last month who said he had been in five states in three weeks and lectured five times before coming to Michigan. I know for a fact that the club paid him over $100.00 plus paid for his hotel room at the La Quinta by the airport and some members of the “executive committee” took him to dinner at Denny’s afterwards.

So the inventor gets to put on a show for about three hours, gets paid $100, free room, free dinner plus he gets to sell his special tricks at super-inflated prices. I watched pretty carefully and he sold about $50.00 worth of lecture notes and gimmicks. So, put that all together and he is taking in $150.00 for a three-hour show. Math is not my strong part but that is close to $50.00 an hour. Is he a brain surgeon or a lawyer? No, but he is charging those kinds of rates. So who is really “stealing” here?

He would keep touring and visiting magic clubs even if he didn’t sell anything because he is getting a free room and free food plus $100.00 a lecture. Sounds like a sweet gig if you ask me. I do table-hopping at the IHOP (I have a whole bunch of jokes about “hopping at the IHOP” – they are really funny) and have never cleared $100.00 from a weekend of work. It is hard for me to feel sorry for someone who gets to travel, stay in nice places, eats free (yes, I get free breakfast at IHOP but that is something I just do, they are not “officially” giving it to me).

I am writing a book (my fifth one this year!) about this secret to learning secrets and I will be selling it on Amazon and eBay. And before you get any ideas, don’t even think about trying to rip me off because I am going to get a copyright on it.

My dad used to say, “It’s a dog eat dog world, Mark. Make sure you’re the dog and not the other dog.”