Criss Angel Tears into UFC Competitor

Paige VanZantMagician and Las Vegas Star Criss Angel tore asunder UFC strawweight fighter Paige VanZant as part of his upcoming October 12th television special.

We are not being metaphorical or figurative.  The images of the physical tearing of this petite powerhouse is startling and not appropriate for those with a faint constitution.  How intense are the images? A UFC website cautions its readers “WARNING: It gets a little graphic, but hey, it’s all fake, right?”  This from a site that must assume its readers are used to a full-color display of gore and body fluid.  We watched the tease video because we felt obliged to protect the sensitive eye(s) our loyal reader – we’re working on rebuilding our audience numbers.  We should not have been eating baked ziti at the time, though.  Perhaps it was the warm, flat red Kool-Aid or the bumpy ride over city streets, but our sensitive stomach did not react well to the imagery; neither did the Uber driver to what she saw in the back seat and the back of the seats of her otherwise spotless and odorless Prius.

Ms. VanZant has apparently done well in the UFC (like “KFC” but with people instead of poultry, we think) and is said to have a devastating kick attack.  Nonetheless, she weighs just 115 pounds and stands just under five foot four inches tall.  We can tell you from the video that she has a very flat stomach, straight spine and some sort of anemia in her abdomen.  She is brave and tough and has proven her ability by fighting competitors in the UFC as well as the perhaps more formidable Dancing with the Stars.

Criss Angel’s Trick’d Up will appear on A&E at 9:00 pm on Wednesday, October 12th.  We are told he will perform 30 illusions and will be joined by celebrity guests (in addition to Ms. VanZant) including: Gary Oldman, Paris Jackson, comedian Andrew Dice Clay, “Blackish” star Miles Brown, Latino pop superstar Belinda, DJ Steve Aoki, and UFC stars Frank Mir, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture.

You can check out the teaser video showing the vivisection of Ms. VanZant here.  It is very graphic and not suited for young people (under 30), older people (35 and up) or folks eating baked ziti in the back of a Prius.

Magicians are Cognitive Artists

Inside Magic Image of Salvador DaliAt the very same institution where Houdini was fatally punched in the gut, McGill University in Montreal, psychologists and neuroscientists are trying to learn more about their respective fields by studying how magicians fool people.

We read about the investigations into psychology and magic in a recent issue of The Atlantic.

Jay Olson is one of the researchers working on what a recent issue of the journal of The Frontiers of Psychology call “neuromagic.” In an article “The Psychology of Magic, the Magic of Psychology,” Mr. Olson reported on a fascinating study where subjects were shown the same trick over and over until they figured it out.  We now have scientific data to support the maxim that a magician should never perform the same effect twice.

Mr. Olson studied the psychology of forcing.  To his credit, Mr. Olson refused to disclose the secret of the forcing technique he used.  He was able to successfully force a card on a subject 98 percent of the time – and 91 percent of the time, the subject felt the choice was entirely free.  The study authors wrote, that magic “can provide new methods to study the feeling of free will.”

Perhaps more importantly, some curious magicians might hope, the study can teach an effective forcing technique that works 98 percent of the time and leaves nine out of ten participants ready to swear the choice was entirely free.

Again, Mr. Olson refused to disclose his secret method.

We urge you to visit the study’s website to learn more about the work done and the areas of investigation.  It really is a fascinating read.  Like painters are masters of perceptual illusions, the study notes, “magicians are the cognitive artists.”

Check out additional articles in the field here.

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.