Pop Haydn’s Shindig Set for Thursday!

Poster for Pop Haydn's Shindig August 18 2016Inside Magic Favorite Pop Haydn sent along word today that he and and his very talented friends have scheduled a true shindig this week.

We have tired of the incessant faux shindigs foisted upon an unsuspecting public or the half-hearted shindigs with inadequate ratios of shins to digging and so we welcome any bona fide shindig but even more, one from our favorite magical performers and jugglers plus a shindig presented with a steam-punk theme.

Performing with Pop will be Inside Magic Favorite Juggler Lindsay Benner, Bonnie Gordon, Andrew Goldenhersh, Liberty Larsen. Kevin Story, John Eddings and Patrick Culliton.

Pop advises that whilst “the entire family is welcome but some material may be over the heads of children under 12 years old.”

The fete will kick off at 5:00 pm, this Thursday, August 18th in the Caldwell Hall, Faith Presbyterian Church
5000 Colfax Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.

We have it on very good authority that there will be audience participation and involvement and that attendees of the shindig can dress in their favorite steam punk- inspired garb, if desired.

Check out the full details here.  We look forward to seeing everyone there.

Magician Abb Dickson Passes

Image of Abb DicksonWe were sad to hear that Magician Abb Dickson passed away this week.

You can help defray his funeral and burial expenses by donating to the Go Fund Me page established by his friends.

When we were very, very young, we met Mr. Dickson at the Florida State Magician’s Convention in Winter Park, Florida.  He watched us perform in the Close-up contest and shared his thoughts on our act.  He was constructive, helpful and so kind.  We were just 14 years old and overwhelmed by his kindness.

Fast forward about a thousand years to an Abbott’s Magic Get-Together stage contest.  Mr. Dickson was there and again had kind and encouraging words.  He didn’t look as if he had aged a bit.  His warm and friendly persona brought back so many wonderful memories.

Mr. Dickson was an accomplished magician, actor, comedian, teacher and inventor.  But more importantly, he was a great man.  He was a familiar face at magic conventions and exemplified all that is good about our profession.

We heard last week that Mr. Dickson was gravely ill.   We received an email from John Luka, forwarding information from Gary Bartlett.  Mr. Bartlett wrote that doctors were going to amputate one of Mr. Dickson’s legs, but had decided against the surgery.   He was taken off of dialysis and, in Mr. Bartlett’s words, “Once dialysis ends it will only be a matter of days before the body shuts down. It’s now all in the hands of our maker.”

Our Maker called Mr. Dickson home just a day  later.

We heard Mr. Dickson was the victim of unscrupulous business associates that left him impoverished, without savings, magic or possessions.  He died without having the funds to even pay for his funeral.

Mr. Dickson’s friends (magician and non) have organized a Go Fund Me campaign to defray the cost of the funeral and burial.

Perhaps you knew Mr. Dickson or only knew of him as Past International President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.  Or perhaps you knew him as a young fan and years later an older fan like us. Or perhaps you never met or heard of him but want to do something good in memory of someone who did so much for our art and the people who love it.  Visit the Go Fund Me page and consider making a donation.

Magic and Magicians Still Going Strong

Inside Magic Image of The Grim Game PosterMagic and Magicians endure.

Time and Life magazines paid homage to our noble profession’s gathering in Indianapolis this weekend by looking back at the 1947 Society of American Magicians held in Chicago in 1947.

If you follow the link to the Google books page of that original Life Magazine article you can see wonderful images of some of the greats performing for the Life cameras.  It could be that Dr. Harlan Tarbell did perform the Balancing an Egg on a Fan While Blindfolded trick as part of his nightclub act.  Maybe magicians did do Multiplying Golf Balls in a strip club and drew all eyes from the dancers gyrating on stage to their strained and stretched fingers. But is also just as likely that the convention attendees were doing what magicians do best at convention time – getting good press.

Time and Life’s website gives a link to the SAM 2016 registration page, a 2014 blurb on the ill-fated efforts to exhume Houdini’s remains to test for poisoning and a 1994 essay by Penn Jillette explaining why Vegas was the most logical place for magic to reside.  He has some snarky things to say about Siegfried & Roy and Melinda but that was the old, “bad-boys of magic” Penn.

From the post-war era, to the 1970s with Doug Henning’s The Magic Show raking in $60,000.00 each week on Broadway ($307,175.32 in today’s dollars), to David Copperfield’s globe-trotting success, and later David Blaine taking it to the streets with camera in tow, Magic has endured.

In that 1974 Time article reporting on that decade’s fascination in magic and magicians, James Randi  said the upsurge in interest is “a sign that our society is still healthy. When people stop being enthralled by a magician who can make a lady vanish, it will mean that the world has lost its most precious possession: its sense of wonder.”

Like the Dude, Magic endures.

Pop Haydn is a Guilty Pleasure

Pop Haydn - Photo by Billy BaqueWatching Pop Haydn is a guilty pleasure for us.

Unlike eating an entire pint of ice cream whilst binge watching previously unseen How It’s Made episodes, we are not left feeling too guilty or dotted with chocolate stains when we watch the master perform.

Recently we attended a private party at The Magic Castle and saw the incredible Pop Haydn own the crowds gathered in the Peller Theatre for four performances.  We legitimately attended the first show of the evening and then snuck in again for a later show.  It was wonderful.

Pop f/k/a Whit Haydn works a room better than anyone we have ever seen.  He interacts with the audience effortlessly and handles volunteers so well that each outing was like a lesson in advanced magic techniques.

He performed his iconic The Six Card Trick, Color Changing Silk, Mongolian Pop Knot and finished with his world-famous Four Ring Routine.

Magicians know that Pop has been performing these effects for many years but he brought each alive for his enthusiastic lay crowds last night as if it was the first time.  He has a tremendous ability to take what the audience gives him and work it to the further betterment of his routine.  He never drops his character or varies from the spirit of his persona.

We checked with our friends who attended the shows last night and to a one, each thought Pop was absolutely incredible, the highlight of the evening.  That is saying a lot considering they had the entire Magic Castle filled with performers with whom to compare.

If we could have, we would have watched all four of his performances.  Some would say that is obsessive and they would usually be correct but not in this case.  Unlike fattening ice cream, excessive watching of Pop Haydn cannot clog one’s arteries, stain clothing or rot teeth.  It can lead to bewilderment and disorientation but we are willing to take those risks for the benefits received.

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

Photo Credit: Billy Baque

Head Lice Puts a Crimp on Magicians

Head lice is problem for most of us working in the hat exchange underground that is West Hollywood, California.  No one wants to talk about it but it is time to change the silent acquiescence that allows these parasites to take away our fun and profit.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, lice is becoming a serious national problem.  There is a new breed of “super lice,” able to resist modern drug treatments and spread their way from person to person with impunity.

Like most performers, we no longer wear a top hat off-stage.  It used to be, a magician would not be caught dead without a top hat somewhere on his or her person.  We cannot trace this unfortunate trend to head lice – perhaps it is a question of fashion – but head lice is not helping.

[Serious students of magic no doubt recall those immortal words being uttered by Houdini during a challenge escape in Kansas City, Missouri.  A local hat maker dared the great Houdini to be sewn into a huge silk hat and escape within a half hour.  Houdini did the feat in just 15 minutes but was heard to exclaim to his on-stage assistant that the escape was progressing well “but the head lice is not helping.”]

We used to pass our hat at the end of our performance and, often, audience members would become confused and try to wear the hat rather than donate money.  Back in our carefree – and money-free – days, we would don the empty hat and stroll off to the next ward in the hospital to again perform.  We never gave a thought to the dangers of head lice.

After a day of performing, we would go to the local hat exchange pub and do what hat exchangers do.  This was back in Michigan where folks were not so enlightened.  People didn’t exchange hats in Michigan.  Your hat was for your head and that’s it.  Consequently, we had to seek out the hat-x club in a neighboring town to do what we enjoyed with people we would not later admit to knowing.

West Hollywood – like most of California – is much more accepting of hat exchanging.  People seem to accept, understand and embrace those who want to try different hats if for no other reason than it is fun.  We were at a local hat-x, The Fez, just off Santa Monica the other night and noticed a different feel to the room.

Yes, it was just as crowded.  The usual group of lawyers, doctors, day laborers, academics, anemics, anti-emetics and ambulatory specialists were in attendance.  But there was a different sense.  Gone was the joie de vivre that once infused the group.  As we watched re-runs of the 1980s classic children’s television show, Lidsville, we looked around.  No one was exchanging hats.

We offered our fedora to a professional golfer and she started, instinctively, to reach for her fine Titleist snap-back cap but then stopped.  She looked at us carefully and turned away.  We looked down at the newspaper she was clutching in her well-manicured and perfectly calloused hands to see the headline about the “super lice.”

Suddenly our head began to itch.