Terrorist Beheaded Magician for Performing Magic

Sad BunnyWhen we read reports on Twitter of a Syrian magician’s beheading at the hands of terrorists, we hoped it was not true.

Unfortunately, it appears the horrible event happened last Wednesday, January 14th.

According to The International Business Times:

“A street magician in Syria beloved by children was beheaded by Islamic State group militants after his performances were deemed to be insulting to God.  The murder of the magician, who was known as ‘Sorcerer,’ was called ‘barbarism and butchery’ by a Syrian activist who knew him but fled to safety in nearby Turkey.”

The Daily Mirror had the original story:

“The magician was a popular man who entertained people with little tricks on the street like making coins or a phone disappear.  He was just called Sorcerer by people, and children loved him. He was doing nothing anti-Islamic, but he paid for it with his life.”

According to the Mirror, the terrorists considered the magician’s tricks anti-Islamic because they were performed through “illusions and falsehood.”  They claimed that their holy scripture forbid the performance of such tricks because it took time better spent by going to a mosque.

Apparently the performer was well-known to the residents of Raqqa, the Syrian city where the terrorist organization is based.  He was taken during a performance and later beheaded in a public square.

We try to keep things light here on Inside Magic.  Usually that is not tough to do.  Today, however, it seems impossible.

The unnamed magician, his family, friends and those whom his magic touched are in our prayers.

Joel Ward: Magician to the Stars Plays the Heartland

Joel WardMagician Joel Ward  will be making his first appearance at Ball State University tomorrow night.  He gave The Daily News an exclusive interview in advance of that appearance in which he traced his start in our wonderful craft and explained “how magic can be the greatest pick-up line.”

The article names Mr. Ward “Magician to the Stars” and it sure sounds like he has an in with the in-crowd.  He is currently in the midst of a college tour and estimates he will perform about a hundred shows in 2015.

Living in Hollywood, I get to perform at some cool places. I perform regularly for celebrities. Recently, I performed a private party for Johnny Depp. That was pretty cool. And I also performed for Katy Perry’s birthday party. That was equally cool. She rented out this private club in Hollywood called the “Magic Castle.” There were tons of celebrities there and I ended up hanging out with John Mayer and Neil Patrick Harris for the night.

He counts David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Penn & Teller and Michael Carbonaro as his past and present influences and encourages folks interested in magic to check out libraries, the internet and societies like The International Brotherhood of Magicians.  But, he adds, “if all of this sounds too hard, you can just buy a magic trick after my show on Wednesday. I sell a cool card trick for $5.”

We have seen Mr. Ward perform and love his energy and imagination.  His show is not to be missed.

Check out the full article here.

Visit Mr. Ward’s website here.

Magic Waters and Confused Animals in Cheltenham

Inside Magic Image of DynamoThe Session is billed as the UK’s only close-up magic convention; it is “a conference for serious close-up magicians.”  This year the two-day fete was held in Cheltenham.

We have never been to Cheltenham but it sounds wonderful.  According to the internet, the town “has no fewer than five festivals, devoted to Literature, Music, Science, Jazz and, perhaps most famously, National Hunt racing.”

We are not sure what category close-up magic would occupy although probably not “National Hunt racing.”

The town was made famous by its spas or the ‘waters.’  Visitors to the waters have included Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, Jane Austen and Lord Byron.  We have heard of each of these people and therefore are very impressed.

We were even more impressed by the line-up of magicians in Cheltenham this weekend.  Promoters listed Juan Tamariz, Asi Wind, Michael Weber, Peter Clifford, Luke Jermay, Andi Gladwin, Joshua Jay, Boris Wild, Roberto Giobbi and Daniel Madison.

But we have it on good authority – YouTube and Twitter – that David Blaine and Dynamo were also in the area.

According to the social media authorities, Derren Brown, Dynamo and Mr. Blaine went to Kukui, a nightclub on Bath Road. Danny Valentine is the manager of that establishment and told local media that the “punters” were stunned by Mr. Blaine’s magic.  “He was really great and did tricks for people in his private booth. He was really nice and polite and let one of the customers play with his pack of cards.”

Just below the article about these icons of magic descending on this historic town was a link to an article that may or may not have been related to this weekend’s celebration: “Walter the dog is confused by his squeaky toy – VIDEO.”

It sounds like there was a lot of surprise and fun confusion happening.  We wish we could have been there.

Read more about the event and Walter’s confusion here.

Criss Angel Adds Lunch to His Sold-Out Schedule in Easton

Inside Magic Image of Criss AngelIt is a great publicity person who can sell the story of a magician eating lunch.

Credit goes to the folks behind the scenes for magician Criss Angel who got great copy in The Morning Call from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

We reported earlier that Mr. Angel will perform two shows at Easton’s State Theatre on January 20th and now we learn that he will also eat lunch the day before those two show.

“On the 19th, I’m going to be chilling at Billy’s Downtown Diner in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” Mr. Angel can be heard saying in a video posted on the diner’s website, www.billysdiner.com. “I’m going to chill and have my Mind Freak burger. So have some lunch with me.”

The restaurant will host a daily contest where hopeful diners can answer a trivia question for two passes to the VIP Room.

Lest one think this is a random event, it turns out that Billy’s diner is owned by Billy Kounoupis, Mr. Angel’s cousin.

Mr. Angel has roots in the Easton area.  His late father, John Sarantakos,  attended Easton Area High School, and his grandfather a local restaurant across Easton’s Northampton Street from The State Theatre.

“Easton just has a special place in my heart,” Angel said. “My dad really loved Easton. It has a very special place in my heart because of all the memories we shared in Easton.”

Mr. Angel’s early show (6 p.m.) is sold out and there are but a few seats remaining for the 9:30 p.m. performance.

On a related note, we will be at the 7-11 on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood this Thursday night where fans can join us in a Slurpee® and Big Bite® Hot Dog.  We will be in the parking lot by the Redbox® machine.

Magician Performs Trick to Avoid Speeding Ticket

steven-brundageThere is a difference between street magic and side of the road magic.  Both are good, but one can get you out of traffic tickets.

Magician Steven Brundage was driving home from a holiday party and law enforcement in Scotia, New York clocked him going 42 mph in a 30 mph zone.

He was pulled over and the officer asked the usual questions one expects to hear, “where are you coming from? Do you know how fast you were going? Why do you have a Rubik’s Cube and playing cards on your front seat?”

He explained to the officer that he was a magician and was returning home from a performance.

The officer demanded proof.

“I said absolutely, and asked if I could record it mainly because it’s not every day an officer asks you to perform a trick,” Mr. Brundage said.  “I also asked if I could step out of the car and he said sure. As soon as I took the video, I called my girlfriend and said, ‘I have a viral video.'”

He got out of the ticket and has a new publicity piece.  Mr. Brundage’s video became a big hit on YouTube and Facebook.  He even got a gig on Good Morning America.

Some have suggested the video is not authentic and was staged for publicity purposes.  Regardless, it is a great angle or cool true story.

Inside Magic does not condone speeding or lawless driving habits – even if one hopes to be pulled over for magic-based reasons.

Check out Mr. Brundage’s video here.