Star of television, stage and the Penn & Teller magic contest, Piff the Magic Dragon sent us a nice note this morning. He is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a special, limited run of shows based on his Breakfast at Piffany’s production. The show will benefit a worthy charity.
We first read about Piff when he performed at the Fringe Festival several years ago. He and his magic dog, Mr. Piffles have risen to great heights within the magic world and his return to the Fringe will likely sell out almost immediately. If you are looking to see great magic performed with profound creativity, you need to see Piff the Magic Dragon.
I’m coming back to the Fringe this year. But only for two weeks. Here’s some fancy words about it.
“Direct from Las Vegas, Piff returns to the Fringe with an hour of new tricks, old snacks and sweet, sweet prizes. And yes, he’s bringing the dog too.
Part magic show, part game show, part cry for help, Breakfast at Piffany’s sees Piff split the audience into teams to fight for points and prizes, and along the way witness incredible magic tricks, delicious snacks, surprise special guests and epic thumb wars.
A smash hit on the Las Vegas Strip, Piff has dished up desserts to Shania Twain, sold Hollywood star Brad Garrett a croissant for $1000, and dazzled David Copperfield himself with sleight of paw dragony miracles. Piff and Mr Piffles (the World’s First Magic Performing Chihuahua) fly into Edinburgh for sixteen nights only to give UK audiences a taste of what they’ve been missing.
The evening culminates in the Auction of the Croissant, to benefit Edinburgh charity The Sick Kids Friends Foundation (but don’t tell Piff, he’s planning to buy a fancy new castle). In Las Vegas Piff raised over $15,000 in three months by selling stale pastry treats to minor celebrities. It’s unlikely he’ll repeat that feat in a town where punters balk at a £4 beer, but he’ll give it his best shot.“
We performed strolling magic at a wonderful event this weekend. It was quite the scene – the event, not our performance. In one of LA’s museums, it was brimming with attractive and important people dressed well with great food and even a red carpet.
Our pockets were packed with three routines’ worth of props. We had Invisible, Rising, Marked and regular decks in each of our coat pockets. In our pants pockets we had dental floss for Gypsy Thread. A Professor’s Nightmare rope set was wedged in our waistband. A Pen through Bill was in our shirt pocket. The four of hearts affixed to the back of our beautiful silk tie. We had a Toppit in place and in it was our Thumb Tip and a black silk for vanishing. Wedged into our front pocket were our Mogar Color Changing Knives. We were, in the parlance of zookeepers, loaded for bear.
But the contents of our pockets remained in place. We performed for about 30 small groups and did essentially one effect – Sponge Balls.
We have not performed Sponge Balls in an actual public routine since 1974, during the Close-up Competition at the Florida State Magicians Association Convention in Winter Park, Florida. We brought the set with us almost as an afterthought. They do not take up much room, are visible and it can be performed in noisy surroundings.
We approached our first grouping of beautifully attired attendees and asked if they would like to see some magic. They consented and we reached into our pocket to pull out a deck of cards to perform our standard 42-minute ambitious card routine but our fingers lingered on the Sponge Balls.
It was like we were back in 1974 at the Langford Hotel. We were once again that young magician performing an endlessly rehearsed routine for judges. Here and now, the judges were comely women and men with more disposable income than we have earned since 1974 but they were just as receptive. We did our routine with very little talking and when the balls appeared in the startled volunteer’s beautifully manicured hand, she squealed with shock.
“Do me next,” her companion urged.
We performed the kicker ending for her friend and they reacted in a way we are used to seeing on every YouTube video of a street performer.
The reaction was better than we could have hoped to receive from any of the other items packed about our person.
As the evening rolled on, we performed Sponge Balls repeatedly. Using the same patter we developed while still an acne-scarred youth, we worked the room.
In our younger days, we would have insisted on performing something different. We do not know if it is a sign of maturity or laziness but we decided to stick with what was working. The room was dark and loud so a Book Test would not have worked. Our delightful patter that accompanies our 90-minute version of The Professor’s Nightmare rope trick would probably not have been heard above the din and may have been a tad too long given the event.
As we drove back to West Hollywood with our top down – plus we had the convertible top down – we thought about the lessons learned.
First, give the audience what it wants.
Second, don’t give the audience what you want unless it is also what they want.
Third, magician’s rope expands when exposed to sweat and can become uncomfortable when wedged in one’s waistband for long periods of time.
It was a magical night.
This just in from the International Brotherhood of Magicians!
Just Announced! Suzanne will join Shawn Farquhar and Oscar Munoz as a Special Guest Instructor at the 11th Lance Burton Teen Seminar to be held at the I.B.M. 87th Annual Convention in Jacksonville, FL. The Lance Burton Teen Seminar is THE #1 magic seminar for young magicians. Join Eugene Burger, Larry Hass, Suzanne, Shawn Farquhar and Oscar Munoz for a life changing experience.
WAIT – That’s not all! The I.B.M. Endowment and Development Fund has agreed to fund TWO registrations to Sorcerer’s Safari Magic Camp to be given away to one boy and one girl attending the Lance Burton Teen Seminar. Sorcerer’s Safari is the premier magic camp in Canada. Take a look at this video to see some of the fun at the 2014 camp.
WAIT –There is still more! The McBride Magic and Mystery School will be selecting ONE Teen Magician at the Lance Burton Teen Seminar to receive the McBride Magic and Mystery School Faculty Award. Founded in 1991, the McBride Magic an Mystery School’s goal is to provide a safe, supportive, and inspiring place for magic enthusiasts (both amateur and professional) to work on their magic. They work with students of all skill levels and interests. At the McBride Magic and Mystery School the unparalleled faculty members are there to answer your questions, help you become a better magician and, most importantly, have fun. One lucky teen magician will receive the opportunity of a lifetime!
So join us at the 11th Lance Burton Teen Seminar. If you are between the ages of 13-19 AND registered to attend the I.B.M. Convention in Jacksonville, you can attend the Lance Burton Teen Seminar ABSOLUTELY FREE. Dates for the Seminar are July 13-15, 2015. To register go to http://www.magician.org/convention/upcoming-convention TODAY! Jacksonville HERE WE COME!
Dean Gunnarson has been an Inside Magic Favorite for decades. He is death-defying and fearless and, soon, a cartoon.
Mr. Gunnarson recently went to Kickstarter to announce plans to launch a comic book, The World’s Most Daring Escape Artist. The book will be a 32-page anthology written by Lovern Kindzierski, author of the acclaimed Shame trilogy. Mr. Kindzierski has written for Marvel, Heavy Metal, Dark Horse and Penny Farthing Press. Renowned British comic book artist, Simon Bisley, will create the artwork and award-winning British artist, Glenn Farby will illustrate the cover.
Mr. Gunnarson is currently starring on the OLN show tamely titled Escape or Die. The show is a fascinating look into the hours of preparation that goes into the escapes staged around the world.
The comic book will include stories behind three of Mr. Gunnarson’s most famous escapes: The Russian Death Tank, The Shark Bait Escape and The Snake Temple.
The campaign is just starting out but looks like it is off to a great start. We hope it gets fully funded and look forward to the book.
What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than to check out the winner in the latest round of Britain’s Got Talent, Sebastian Walton?
(By the way, it is pronounced “MAY-oh.” We were corrected on the bus this morning and what the day commemorates has nothing to do with salad dressing, which explains the pronunciation).
To say we are a super fan of Sebastian Walton would be an understatement but certainly a valid defense to criminal charges of stalking in most jurisdictions. (Not that we stalk him but if we did, we would know he has a Facebook page with his upcoming shows listed here: facebook.com/sebastian.j.walton). He wowed us at The Magic Castle last year with a routine that was deserving of our vote for Parlor Magician of the Year.
Mr. Walton is a young man with big boy magic skills. His Any Card Named effect was killer and had those in the know talking around the bar late into the evening. None of us were sure how he did it. As the evening wore on, none of us were sure if he did it and finally, at the end of the evening, two members of our group were not sure where they lived or how to form coherent sentences. Astounding.
In last night’s qualifying round, Mr. Walton received positive votes from the four judges and moves on to the next level of competition.
We received a link to the authoritative British television website, Telly Mix and read of his awesome performance before some very tough judges.
[Telly means “television” in British. They have different ways of doing things and saying things there. We point that out for our US readers who may have confused the website’s name with the under-appreciated cowboy actress, Telly Mix who performed just feet away from where we now write this enthralling article. Telly’s uncle (by marriage) was Tom Mix, the cowboy star and on whose ranch they later built Fox Studios and later Century City. She was a delightful gal who made the transition from vaudeville to movies easier than most – thanks to her winning smile and uncle’s connections. Her career ended tragically when she was arrested in an after-hours cowboy club in Santa Monica with a frozen bullwhip and $623.00 in cash allegedly taken in a fake piñata scheme. According to police records, she would sell defective piñatas that could not be broken open to unsuspecting consumers. Although charges were later dropped – thanks to her connections – she never made a return to the movies and ended her days working at a Hot Dog on a Stick stand in Bakersfield, California; never rising above the position of assistant manager.]
Simon Cowell even praised the young performer. He does not praise anyone, ever.
Mr. Walton performed a great effect with Amanda Holden’s ring. We do not know Amanda Holden but she seems like a much more likable person than Mr. Cowell and, we think, prettier. Apparently, the scene was cut from the show wherein Mr. Walton borrowed Ms. Holden’s platinum wedding ring (so that means she is married), made it vanish in a flash of flame and found it later in a walnut somehow hidden inside an orange.
We have seen Mr. Walton perform this effect before – twice. We can vouch that it is a different ring each time. For a while, we thought he had just done the old genetically mutated walnut in an orange trick with a fake ring planted with the hybrid fruit. But no. The fact that it is a different ring each time means that he could not have raised the walnut/orange from seed with a ring inside. To quote one of the victims in Telly Mix’ case, “we cannot crack it.”
Ms. Holden confided in Mr. Walton, “How you did it, I actually want to believe in magic.”
At this point, we would have immediately started a cult and enlisted Ms. Holden to be a high priestess or something but Mr. Walton has far more class and plus he was surrounded by cameras and an audience – or as we like to call the scene, a witness-rich environment.
Mr. Cowell told the young miracle worker, “You’re very talented and I don’t know how you did which is the whole point of magic.”
Mr. Walton has a bright future ahead of him. We saw that he has a new website at sebastianwalton.com and were very impressed by its content and substance. He is a star – you read it here first.