Inside Magic Letters to the Editor

Topo GigioLetters to the editor are published on an infrequent basis due to the infrequent receipt of correspondence we receive requiring a response.  We think the issues regarding our weight, loss of hair, inability to speak without a noticeable slur after five in the afternoon have been well-debated and do not warrant further exploration in this semi-public forum.  The tens of readers of Inside Magic have spoken and we have listened.  They want letters to the editor that are about substantive issues of the day in the world of magic.  And so, we turn now to those letters received in the very recent past.

Dear Tim:

You were in West Hollywood, before that in Mystic Hollow, Michigan and now you say you are in a town called Mystic Hollow, California.  Is it possible that you are making this all up or are you in some kind of witness protection program for magicians?  Also, is Mac King’s name short for something?

— A concerned reader

Dear Concerned:

Thank you for your close attention to our peripatetic nature and concern for our alleged involvement in bringing down one of the biggest cartels in fanning powder and roughing liquid black market history.  We do not consider ourselves to be heroes; although that title has been bandied about where things are normally bandied.  Despite the offer of witness protection from the federal and state authorities, we elected to remain in the public eye.  Now that those who perpetrated the horrible acts that resulted from poorly constituted fanning powder or inconsistently mixed roughing fluid have been locked up, we can again emerge to accept the accolades normally accorded folks of our ilk.  Of course, that was about ten years ago and we’re still waiting.  In fact, we’re starting to think the accolades are not going to come other than some random bandying in the bandy parlors that still exist (virtual and otherwise).

To be honest, we are beginning to doubt the praise for our heroism will ever arrive at the front door of our double-wide here in Mystic Hollow, California.  We have more information we are willing to share about Magician’s Wax being illegally imported from farms that abuse the poor magicians from whom the cultivated ear wax is extracted.  Tales of generic Q-Tips and over-farming will leave juries in abject horror but will remain in our vaults until we can be assured that the nation’s law enforcement officials will be ready to take on this anathema.

As for Mac King’s name, we think that’s his name.  Maybe Mac is short for something or a nickname.  Like how people call Santa Claus, “Santa” but it was “St. Nicholas.”

 

Dear Timmy:

How much does it cost to get into magic?

—  Earnest Questioner

 

Dear Ernie:

The best thing about Magic is that it costs nothing to start.  You can do magic with cards, coins, toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, other peoples’ cards, coins or tubes.  We heard a story of a magician who started with literally nothing and ended up with a full evening show by learning the magic he could do with borrowed items and doing them well.  He was tipped for his work, saved his money and bought props; eventually hired an assistant (and later married her) and found an agent to book him into shows around the Midwest. True, his agent ended up marrying his assistant and left him destitute but he still had his skills.  We heard from him last week.  He worked his way back up and will be doing shows again.

So Magic costs nothing but time and perhaps your livelihood and personal happiness (but that is a worse case scenario) and it is something you will always have with you.  In many ways it is like riding a bike.  You never forget the skills you learned.  The ability to perform sleights of hand or how to engage and entertain an audience remain forever.  And unlike riding a bike, you don’t need a bike.  People will lend you a bike to watch you do tricks with their bike and pay you money for the pleasure of watching you do things with their property.  Harry Houdini once said – in quote we are now making up – “Magic is the one art that rewards the artist’s practice and preparation by making his work invisible.”

 

Dear Tim:

What is your favorite Magic-film to watch?

—  D. Dugger

Dear Addy:

We love the movie Houdini starring Tony Curtis.  It was the film that really got us hooked on the Houdini myth and later Houdini history.  We weren’t disillusioned to learn that the film took liberties with the true story but more intrigued about the man that lived a life so large that films would be made about him.

It is interesting that you qualified your question by asking our favorite film “to watch.”  We have several favorite magic films that we do not like to watch.  We like to look at the posters, read about them on IMDB and dream about what they could have been.  Most of the recent magician-oriented films fit that bill.  The posters and promotion looked so wonderful that we just knew a great movie could be made.  It was a pity in almost every case that the producers, writers and directors did not agree with us and decided to make movies that seemed to stray from the magic theme that made them enticing.

We also like movies based on the life of Topo Gigio; focusing on his time after his success on the Ed Sullivan show.  He went on to open two nightclubs in Miami (one is still standing) and had an infamous running feud with former boxing great Jake LaMotta – although they were very good friends in real life.  Many people still don’t know that he was a great inventor and developed a way of making more predictable kidney dialysis protocols.  He received a patent in 1974 for his work on the modern milling of whole grain.  He was a prolific writer and many credit him for the Harry Potter story idea first penned for a literary quarterly published by the University of Mississippi.

Jeff Busby Collection of Magician’s Insider Tips and Vintage Magic Due for Auction

Amazing Kellar PosterThe Jeff Busby Collection is coming up for auction on August 19th, via Potter & Potter Auctions Inc. Gathered throughout his career as a publisher of highly regarded magic related newsletters, props, and booklets, the collection is the stuff of underground legend, including personal memorabilia of acclaimed magicians to historic posters, ephemera and unique props. The late Jeff Busby (1954-2014) was hooked on magic since the age of seven, working both as a security consultant to numerous casinos in California and Nevada, teaching how to detect cheating methods, and running an international mail order business for professional magicians all over the world. An eccentric character who was seen by some as controversial, his insider knowledge of the magic community was unparalleled. The sale is hosted on eBay’s Live Auctions platform, making it a truly global event that reaches eBay’s 171 million active buyers in real time.

One of the auction’s highlights include “Csuri Notes”, the original typewritten transcriptions of Frank Csuri’s famous notebooks (circa 1960s) collecting the unpublished and published magic effects of Dai Vernon, Paul Fox, Charlie Miller, Faucett Ross, Bill Woodfield, and Dr. Jacob Daley. Spanning over 3,000 pages of text and hand-drawn illustrations, the notebooks  feature a handwritten inscription to Busby. After emigrating from Hungary as a child, Frank Csuri (1911-1994) was a successful nightclub magician as a young man before becoming an engineer, however his life’s work was deciphering and transcribing the methods – many of them unpublished – of magic’s legendary “inner circle” from the 50s-60s. The text includes Csuri’s transcription of “The Vernon Touch” columns from Genii Magazine as well as handwritten pages by Dai Vernon (1894–1992), correcting Csuri’s transcription. A separate lot contains Frank Csuri’s two volume set of original typescript The Magic of Dai Vernon including original pencil sketch portraits of Dai Vernon himself.

The available lots include a compilation of over 400 pages of carefully preserved original correspondence from the 50s-60s between slight of hand masters Ross Bertram (1912-1992) and Faucett Ross (1900-1987). The set contains detailed sketches and lengthy discussions about the methods for various techniques with dice, cards, crooked gambling, demonstrations of shell games, table props and impromptu tricks, referencing the work of contemporary magicians, including Charlie Miller, Frank Garcia, Gene Gordon, Loring Campbell, Eddie McLaughlin, Msgr. Foy, Roger Klause, Herb Zarrow, Bill Gusias, Jay Marshall, and others. It is accompanied by related ephemera such as hand-annotated instructions, original photographs, and promotional materials.

Original posters within the sale include a 1894 color lithograph from Cincinnati of the iconic Harry (Heinrich) Keller (1849–1922) as “Kellar the Great Magician”, introducing the whispering devils that would be copied endlessly afterward; a 1912 poster from Hamburg depicting Servais LeRoy (1865-1953) performing the famous Asrah levitation; a 1920’s poster of Edwin Brush (1873-1967) conjuring objects through the Hindu Basket trick; a 1933 Kansas City advertisement of the great mentalist Mel-Roy (Wilbert Wills Holly) (1888-1966); and an early (ca 1910) poster advertising the magic act of Belgian magician and manipulator Suzy Wandas (1896-1986), who worked with her family in European music halls before settling in Detroit. The later is inscribed and signed by Suzy Wandas herself.

Unique props within the sale include a wooden Mental Miracle Table (ca 1990) – one of fewer than ten manufactured – notable for its inlaid checkerboard top and concealed method for reading messages from the person seated across the table from the mentalist. Other props for sale include a set of 1945 Chick Cup Steel Toolin designed by inventor Paul Fox (1898-1976) and an Automated Sefalaljia or miniature spirit cabinet devised by Stewart James (1908- 1996) in which bells ring, knots untie themselves, balls roll as if pushed by invisible hands (fortunately for amateur magicians, an instruction booklet is included).

Houdini Signed SAM Membership CardIn addition to a 1926 Society of American Magicians (S.A.M.) Membership Card signed by then S.A.M. president Harry Houdini (1874-1926), the auction also includes rare conjuring books from 1950s, 60s, 70s, such as number 164 from a strictly limited edition of 500 of the Magic of Robert Harbin and volumes 1-6 of Edward Marlo’s seminal magazine (1976-88) – most of which are numbered, signed, and inscribed by Marlo. Edward Marlo (1913-1991) was a prestidigitator who specialized in card magic. Also included, number 55 from the restricted first edition of The Dai Vernon Book of Magic (1957). Bound in pebbled maroon leather with a gilt stamped spine, pictorial jacket, marbled endsheets and a tipped-in gilt leaf interior page, the book is numbered, inscribed, and signed by Vernon to Warner Brothers’ producer Felix Greenfield (1917-1974) on the flyleaf. Also featured, the 20’s-30s notebooks of Al Baker (1874-1951) and Eugene Bulson (1894-1954), including many of Baker’s best-known effects, such as The Pack that Cuts Itself, Vanishing Lead Pencil, The Bakerscope, Al Baker’s Master Addition Slate, tricks with a hook coin, the Telephone Book Test, and the Erectile Dollar Bill.

The scope and quality of works in the collection are truly exceptional – with something for historians of magic, professional practitioners, and amateurs alike. That the a collection of this caliber is available to a global audience via eBay Live Auctions is a bit of magic itself, so check out the lots before they all “vanish”.

To join the bidding or learn more about specific lots, visit: http://www.ebay.com/clt/collectibles-live-events/sleight-of-hand-the-jeff-busby-collection-610069

About the author – Juan Rosa writes about pop culture and comics. His dreams of being a magician culminated in mastering the Fisher Price Magic Show Toy® as a child, but he has never stopped wanting to understand the workings behind the curtain.

Morgan & West Present Magic for Kids at the Fringe Fest

Inside Magic Image of Morgan & West MagiciansWe are always delighted to receive news about Inside Magic Favorite Magicians. Morgan & West impressed the cheese out of us when we saw their tightly constructed act at the Magic Castle a while back. To be honest, we never really saw them as Kid Performers so we were intrigued to read our email about their entry into this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

If you are going to the festival, do not miss these young men. They are clever, funny and very good magicians. Warning: some of this press release language was written in a different type of English and there are unexpected uses of the letter “u” and curious spellings. Do not let it throw you.

Lee Martin for Gag Reflex Proudly Presents… MORGAN & WEST: MORE MAGIC FOR KIDS! EDINBURGH FRINGE UNDERBELLY COW BARN WEDNESDAY 2ND AUGUST – SUNDAY 27TH AUGUST (NOT 23RD AUGUST) @MorganMagic @WestMagic www.morganandwest.co.uk

Celebrating their 10th anniversary as a duo of deception, time travelling magicians Morgan & West return with their brand new show ‘More Magic For Kids!’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year.

Despite their squabbles about the idea of creating a show for children, Mr West has finally resigned himself to the idea that he now does shows for children, although he’s really not best pleased about it. Mr. Morgan, as ever, is thrilled that people are willing and indeed eager to watch him and his magic tricks.

Join in the fun as Mr. West wants to prove that he’s better than Mr. Morgan, and indeed silly children. No doubt his comeuppance will come as More Magic For Kids! prepares to unload another boxful of bewilderment and impossibility.

What could possibly happen next?

More Magic For Kids! sees our favourite magic duo set out to provide entertainment that is delightful for anyone of almost any age (5+), from any time period, and any level of maturity. The result is a marvellous show that is loved by both adults and children alike and will keep you entertained from beginning to end – the perfect family day out!

Morgan & West have performed their outstanding magic shows across the globe to sell-out crowds during two UK tours, at the Edinburgh Fringe, Perth Fringe World, Adelaide Fringe where they were nominated for ‘Best Family Show’, and Buxton Fringe where they were awarded ‘Best Comedy Show’. They have also appeared on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us (ITV), The Slammer (CBBC) and The Next Great Magician (ITV).

“Superbly crafted” The Stage “Hilarious and good for all ages” Primary Times “Hugely talented” Daily Mirror

LISTINGS INFORMATION: WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST – SUNDAY 27TH AUGUST (NOT 23RD AUGUST)

Ticket prices: Preview: £6.50 Mon-Thurs: £10.50/9.50 Fri-Sun: £11/10 Family ticket price: Mon-Thurs: £36 Fri-Sun: £40 Venue: Underbelly Cow Barn, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG Time: 2nd – 11th – 2.40pm 12th – 25th – 1pm 26th – 27th – 2.40pm

Tickets: http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/whats-on/morgan-west-more-magic-for-kids

Advice: Recommended for children 5 + and families.

Dr. Derek Livingston’s Reflection on Danger of Magic & Science

Inside Magic Image of Dr. Livingston Performing in his Retirement“Our focus is sharp, but our light faded,” so wrote the famous, or perhaps infamous scientist and magician Derek Livingston in 1965. The man commonly associated with the dangers of quack-science or a magician’s claims of super-natural powers, was born on this day in 1936.

Dr. Livingston’s phrase had many possible meanings but all were tied to his confusion of magic and science.

Dr. Livingston’s fame and infamy arise from the same experiments in the late 1950s and 1960s with laser technology (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) as well as his life-long love for magic.

Dr. Livingston worked his way through the distinguished and ivy-draped halls of the country’s finest schools. He was not from a wealthy family or noble ancestry but relied upon the kindness of others for his housing, food and supplies. In 1955, the then Mr. Livingston, took up work at the prestigious Bell
Labs whilst he considered the question of light’s structure. Was light made up of waves or particles?

He supplemented his income by performing magic shows for co-workers and their families in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He was known for his deft sleight-of-hand and charisma. His show was billed as “lasts 20 minutes, more than an hour’s worth of magic, you’ll remember for a lifetime.”

It was an old question. Prior to Sir Isaac Newton’s corpuscular theory, light was thought to be made up of particles. Newton demonstrated his wave theory by showing light could be reflected and refracted with mirrors and prisms.

So great was Newton’s legend that none dared to challenge his theory until early in the 1800s. Light is made up of waves, suggested some scientists. Their proof? When light is split into apparent constituent parts, it can be made to interfere with itself.

Just as waves going in one direction can be “cancelled out” by the same size waves going the opposite direction, light properly cast on itself could cause the lack of light.

Einstein postulated that as later proven by breath mint technology, light can be made up of two things at once. Light is a wave when one is looking to test its wave properties but exhibits particle characteristics when testing for particles.

This postulation gave support for quantum mechanics and our modern understanding of light, particle physics, and even scientific inquiry.

But back to Dr. Livingston. The good doctor studied light and its properties with the single-minded determination of a man possessed. He was particularly excited (pun intended) by the new field of lasers. In 1958, two Bell Labs scientists released a paper demonstrating that it was possible to build a functioning laser. (Physical Review v. 112, issue 6, “Infrared and Optical Masers,” A. L. Schawlow and C. H. Townes, Bell Telephone Laboratories).

Dr. Livingston’s loyalty for Bell Labs was evidenced in his public support for their patent application over the later-vindicated claims of Dr. Gordon Gould of Columbia University. (Dr. Gould challenged Bell Labs’ patent claims. It took 20 years, but he was finally awarded the patent rights for their patent application over the later-vindicated claims of Dr. Gordon  Gould of Columbia University. (Dr. Gould challenged Bell Labs’ patent claims. It took 20 years, but he was finally awarded the patent rights – see article in “MIT Inventor of the Week,” January 1998; List of Dr. Gould’s patents related to the laser from 1975 forward here). He spent his own funds to advertise support for Bell Labs’ position.

But back to the connection with magic.

Dr. Livingston struggled to find a way to incorporate his obsession with the nature of light, love of the new laser technology, and magic. He initially offered a public lecture for civic groups and schools where he discussed the newest laser/maser technology and used magic to enhance the demonstration. A
laser in 1965 weighed over 22 pounds and required an enormous power source.After months of lugging the “portable laser” from lecture to lecture, Dr. Livingston decided to replace the real thing with a light-weight prop and use magic techniques to duplicate the effects of the laser beam.

The lecture was a hit and his aching back recovered from its painful and repeated insult. When demonstrating the real laser, Dr. Livingston would demonstrate its awesome and precise power by igniting paper held by a spectator, lighting a cigarette in the mouth of another spectator (without burning the volunteer’s face or lips), carve the host’s name into plywood, and measure the
distance of any moving object (without harming the object).

Using magic methods, he was able to duplicate these effects but instead of a high-powered laser, he needed only a pen-light encased in a plastic “gun” device. Dr. Livingston never viewed his demonstrations as fraudulent but he also never advised his audience the effects were caused by magic tricks rather than laser science.

There are many articles written about Dr. Livingston’s arrest and conviction following the New York World’s Fair and this essay will not repeat those sordid details here. What has not been covered previously, is the psychological and emotional trauma Dr. Livingston suffered in the days prior to his arrest on the fair grounds.

Dr. Livingston’s understanding of laser technology was capped when he left the research field and entered into entertainment. At the time of his arrest and the alleged “Mass Laser Burns,” Dr. Livingston had no idea how far laser technology had progressed since 1960. He still carried his “laser gun” and magic show, and still carried on his charade of demonstrating the effective power of the space-age technology.

As an adjunct to one of the corporate pavilion set-ups, Dr. Livingston offered 12 demonstrations a day to interested laymen from around the world. It is remarkable he was not challenged by a scientist during the first few months of his appearance at the World’s Fair.

Dr. Livingston’s repertoire had grown from lighting, burning, and measuring things with the “laser gun” to effecting miraculous cures and changing the very essence of items.

Using a slightly modified Dove Pan trick, he was able to light a fire in the pan, extinguish the fire by covering it, and producing a live rabbit from the pan. With the help of a modified Bengal Net trick, he demonstrated the ability of the laser to “vaporize” anything in its beam. The previously produced rabbit was loaded into the net, the beam was fired at the bunny, the net dropped open and the bunny had vanished.

He also used the laser beam to help cut and restore rope, open and immediately and seamlessly fuse steel rings (ala Chinese Linking Rings), bring an apparently dead pigeon and rabbit back to life (using the well-known “animal hypnotism techniques”), and finally to read the thoughts of spectators.

It was this last effect that brought him much attention and ultimately tragedy.

Modern psychics have considered Dr. Livingston’s methods for mind-reading. They uniformly agree the techniques were basic (essentially center-tear and one-ahead) but the presentation was breath-taking.

On July 2nd 1965, Dr. Livingston was confronted with a choice whether to reveal his magic secrets or affirmatively commit fraud. He chose the latter and paid dearly.

The following is taken from reports in the local newspapers of the day as well as police investigation reports:

Dr. Livingston began his demonstration the way he always began. He gave a  short description of the “concentrated and focused” power of laser light beams.

With the flash of a beam from his “laser gun” he started a small fire in the dove pan and produced the rabbit. So far, so good.

In the next portion of the lecture, Dr. Livingston would show the laser’s enormous potential for weapon technology by making the bunny vanish in a puff of vaporized smoke. Witnesses said they could actually smell what they thought was an animal burning. These reports are likely evidence of the power of suggestion. There is nothing to indicate the rabbit was hurt in any manner.

The last portion of the lecture offered spectators a “glimpse into tomorrow’s laser.” It was at this point that the bunny (possibly the same one from the Bengal Net but there is no record of this) and pigeon were “killed” by the beam and then then brought back to life with a different hued beam.

The response to this section was always strong but on this sweltering July day, the reaction was near hysteria. The following from a witness as captured in the police report:

“Then he made the rabbit come alive and the rabbit seemed to be fine and breathing. We were all amazed and started to applaud like we have (sic) just seen a magic trick or a miracle. A lady near me said something I didn’t hear but it was loud enough to hear over the clapping. She pushed through the crowd up to the stage, up front and told him she had some tumor or something he needed to kill with the laser gun. He said he wouldn’t use it for that purpose because it was unethical.”

From another witness, we know the crowd encouraged Dr. Livingston to carry through with the ad-hoc surgery.

“We all yelled, ‘help her!’ And he kept saying ‘No, No!’ Another lady came up and said she had a growth in her that was causing her to bleed and he needed to help her too. He kept saying ‘No, No!’ and was trying to get off the stage towards the fire exit on the right.

“The first lady jumped up to the stage and went to grab the gun from him to shoot it herself, I think. He was fighting her to see who could hold it and was trying to keep it from going off or hurt anyone. But she was real strong and angry and she got the gun away from him and pointed it at her stomach or around there and shot herself with it for a long time ’til he got it back.

“We all smelled the same smell that we smelled when the rabbit got lasered the first time so we thought something went wrong or that she was hurt from it. The lady let go of his arms and fell on the stage and hit her head on the table on the way down. She was knocked out but I didn’t know if she was knocked out from the head hit or the laser beam.”

We do know from press reports that the first woman was unconscious for much of the ensuing activity and did not regain consciousness until she arrived at the medical pavilion a half-hour later. The second woman took advantage of the first woman’s fall to take the laser gun from Dr. Livingston and she too used it on herself. There was a similar odor produced and she fell unconscious to the stage but was quickly revived.

More audience members came forward and stormed the stage demanding they be healed. Dr. Livingston said later he must have been caught up in the hysteria to do what he did next.

As the crowd approached, Dr. Livingston pointed the “laser gun” at the first few spectators and told them to stand back or he would “vaporize them.” The crowd stopped and some jumped off the stage to flee. A few men and women remained but did not progress further. There was an eerie silence as three women and two men faced Dr. Livingston. The doctor and the five audience members were about ten feet apart. The two unconscious women were in a heap between the opposing sides.

Dr. Livingston said in court documents later that the moment felt like “the old west, like the quiet before the shoot-out at the OK Corral.” One of the women took a step forward and Dr. Livingston pointed the gun towards her and “fired.”

The same odor was produced, and the woman dropped to the stage. Dr. Livingston the fired the gun at the remaining four on stage and one-by-one, they fell to the stage amidst the smell of vaporized matter.

Before a second wave of the mob could attack, Dr. Livingston tried to escape through a curtain at the back of the stage but was apprehended by New York police.

Later forensic examination of the “laser gun” proved it was nothing more than the pen-light with a connection to the trigger of a plastic gun body. Experts for both the prosecution and defense agreed the gun could not have injured any of the victims and that their reaction was purely a function of their hysteria.

“It was similar to mass hypnosis. They believed so fervently this gun was real, they fainted from ‘being shot.'”

Dr. Livingston wrote a portion of his attorney’s closing argument; including his now famous defense “Our focus is sharp, but our light faded.” Some wondered if he was making a philosophical point, giving an assessment of his legal defense, or just trying to explain his defense.

Although Dr. Livingston was convicted on seven of the eight counts, those seven charges were misdemeanors relating to fraud in shows or exhibitions. The eight count was essentially a battery charge and the court dismissed the charge after hearing the evidence. Under the law, a battery consists of the “unwanted touching or striking of one person by another, with the intention of bringing about a harmful or offensive contact.” The court ruled the gun could not have caused harm to the victims and there could not have been a battery.

The lawyer in us wonders why the prosecutor did not charge Dr. Livingston with assault rather than or in conjunction with the battery count. Assault does not require a physical touching or striking but only an act that causes a victim to believe he or she will be injured, a threat of physical harm. Perhaps the New York Criminal Code in 1965 included the language found in some versions of assault requiring the attacker to have the physical ability or the means to carry out the threat.

Dr. Livingston served just two months in the city jail for his offenses. His victims recovered from their “laser burns” on the day of the incident. Sadly, the first woman on stage, later died believing she had been cured by the laser beam. She was struck by a streetcar six weeks later while returning from a “celebration of her cure.” The autopsy found no evidence of any tumor within her body.

There is no documentation that a physician ever told her she was dying of a cancerous tumor and some have speculated her belief was unfounded but seemed as real to her as the “laser gun.” There are a few commentators who suggest she did indeed have a tumor and either by miracle or placebo was “cured” by the soft glow of a pen-light.

Dr. Livingston traveled to Europe for a few years after his release and gave a new lecture about the power of suggestion and the danger of charlatans. He returned to the United States in 1972 and gave an updated version of the same lecture for the next five or six years before settling down in Bisbee, Arizona — just south of Tombstone, the site of the shoot-out at the OK Corral — an event he referenced in describing the “laser burn” incident.

Dr. Livingston never married and had no close friends or family. He was a prolific author of magic books and tricks under various pseudonyms. Some of his effects can still be seen in stage shows performed in Las Vegas. Because he did not publish under his real name, few magicians ever linked the inventor of so many unique effects with the events of July 2nd 1965. Dr. Livingston wrote that he had received enough publicity in his life and preferred living outside the limelight.

He ultimately passed away in his sleep on June 11th, 2000.  A slightly corroded penlight was found under his pillow.

People Point and Stare – It’s Magic

Inside Magic Image of Garanimals TagsAlthough not strictly about magic, we do listen to Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast every week.  His humor is not for everyone – like minors, people with normal emotional values, the sensitive among us – but he is funny to us.

This week’s episode features Lewis Black and a short discussion about David Copperfield and Doug Henning.

We were listening whilst walking to the busy editorial office of Inside Magic and getting strange looks from the folks we were passing in the street, along the sidewalks, through narrow crevices, around bends and over small mounds of what appeared to be clothing or people wearing clothing but not moving.  We are accustomed  to being stared at.  We chalk it up to our boyish good looks, effervescent charm, efficient use of tartar control toothpaste, naturally curly nose hair and willingness to take adventures in clothing choices.

For instance, today, we wore contrasting animals from the Garanimals collection.  We went with a Tiger “Top” and a Giraffe “Lower.”  That says “Wild Human” in any language.

We know, crazy, right?!

We thought people were staring because we were laughing so much.  We thought maybe they were sharing in our glee and not staring derisively but when one elderly woman was nearly struck by an auto as she tried to scurry across Santa Monica Boulevard to avoid our path, we figured out that the people of West Hollywood just have not seen unadulterated joy.  Chances are that if they haven’t seen it enough, they haven’t experienced it either.

So we offered to share our podcast listening experience with those we encountered.  We even cleaned the ear bud of the unsightly wax build-up (our own — we think) before trying to stick it into the ears of our fellow pedestrians.  We were not aggressive in our ear bud offering and were certainly not, as was written in an “incident” report “trying to stab victims in the head with an implement.”

Long story short, people were staring at us because we apparently accidentally sat in a chocolate cream pie at some point and our Giraffe pants needed dry cleaning stat.  We were pretty sure it was chocolate cream pie residue and that certainly explained why we left stains everywhere we sat in the last few days.

Tonight, we return to the Magic Castle with our new routine – freshly choreographed and scripted.  We will change our clothes before visiting the amateur rooms downstairs at the Magic Castle.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.  Just don’t stare and point.