Magicians and Tattoos

logobunnyWe’re not judging, just saying.  And remember that we are very shallow.  You could break your fool neck diving into our soul.

As we were growing up in the backlots of circuses and traveling shows throughout this great land, the only folks we saw with tattoos were people with stories.  Their art – usually crudely executed with India ink and a sewing needle hopefully sanitized with a few seconds a top a Zippo lighter – evidenced a special event or devotion to a cause or person.

Consequently, we associated tattoos with folks that had been in a non-mainstream environment; maybe the military (“when I crossed the equator for the first time”), prison (“when I crossed the warden for the first time”) or all-consuming love (“when our paths crossed for the first time”).  We also are old enough to remember seeing the tattoos on survivors of the Holocaust.

Tattoos, for folks of our late age, represented a branding imposed either on or by someone in a life-altering event.   We rarely saw tattoos for tattoos sake.

Then the world changed.  Tattoos are fashionable and hip and expensive.  The technology and sanitization have moved far from India Ink and mom’s sharpest needle to computer-aided design and well-trained crafts persons with shops and Twitter followers and huge revenue streams.

We want to be accepting and embracing of the art embodied in the body of the human canvas and we’re getting better.  We can actually eat a meal served by someone with visible tattoos now.  True, we usually look away as we chew but we do that anyway because of our tendency to drool and collect scraps of food in our facial hair – we don’t have a mustache, goatee or beard but have very bushy eyebrows.

We have a hard time with magicians – our own people – with visible tattoos.  And if we are being honest – and why start now? – we probably would have a hard time with people performing magic if we knew they had a tattoo somewhere on their person.  We are not sure how we would feel about conjoined twins with the performing sibling having no tattoos but the silent twin having visible tattooing.  So far that is a hypothetical thought exercise we like to ponder when we have had too much caffeine or there is a commercial we have seen before or there are no shiny objects moving in our field of vision.  Plus, why is “conjoined twins” not hyphenated?

We know perfectly good people with outstanding magic skills who have had their hands inked as if they had a boxing match with a freshly printed newspaper.  Okay, that analogy did not work but we spent about five minutes trying to think of something clever to make that point and the alternatives were: “as if their hands were made of silly putty and they had just finished reading a comic book,” “as if their hands were made of paper mache from the funny pages,” or “as if they had been sautéed in a light oil and Easter-egg dyes.”  Analogies are hard.  They are harder than something that is usually considered hard by most people.

We have seen magicians perform fantastic feats of magic despite their tattooed state.  They feel no need to explain away the obvious – perhaps because it is not an issue for them or their audience.  That’s when we start to wonder if we are alone in our apparently irrational reaction to something no one else sees?

We wrote a while ago about getting a manicure in keeping with the old adage we just made up, “Dirty Nails, Trick Fails.”  We had good response from fellow magicians online and in person.  Even magicians with hand tattoos agreed that a performer’s hands should be clean and neat.  So maybe it is just us.

We have tried to get over our clear prejudice by seeking out people with tattoos and staring at them intensely; sometimes we will pull food from our pocket and eat whilst staring to test our progress.  We are fortunate to live in West Hollywood where one can find many a tattooed person willing to accept our staring and eating without objection or concern.

We will break down this prejudice somehow.  Just like we overcame our disgust at people who unknowingly use “myself” instead of “me” in sentences or begin each sentence with the word “so.”  We have come to accept folks who smoke e-cigarettes.  In fact the other night we saw a gentleman smoking what looked like an e-cigar.  It was much larger than a cigarette.  When we got closer, though, we saw he was just sucking on a flashlight.  But we were accepting and embraced his healthy alternative to smoking tobacco.

Houdini’s Relationship with Judaism

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniJoshua Spivak has a great article in today’s Jewish Daily Forward, “The True Story of Harry Houdini’s Tefillin.”

While researching a totally unrelated topic by reading through old newspapers, he came across an article about Harry Houdini’s death.  That led him to further research into the newspapers of the time and into an interesting – if occasionally contradictory – depiction of Houdini’s relationship with the Jewish community and his Jewish practices.

One article, collected the perspective of folks who claimed to be former Wisconsin neighbors and friends, claimed that: “They know him as a man devoutly religious, who, wherever his performance brought him, carried his phylacteries and mezuzahs, Jewish creedal symbols, with him…The mezuzahs, strips of parchment with scriptural passages encased in tin, considered effective in warding off evil, he is said to have nailed to the door of the hotel room wherever he lodged for the night, on the true orthodox Jewish fashion. And the phylacteries, little leathern boxes with scriptural parchment recognized as charms, he bound to his forehead and left arm each morning during his prayers, his friends declare.”

Joshua Spivak is a senior fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College in N.Y., and blogs at

Mac King Inspires Kids and Adults

Inside Magic Image of Mac KingInside Magic Favorite Mac King received well-deserved, positive press in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal for his tireless work to promote reading.  This is the fifth year Mac King’s Magical Literacy Tour has visited Las Vegas elementary schools to promote the magic of books.

Beverly Mathis, director of literacy for The Public Education Foundation, praised Mr. King effusively (see how we up our adverb choice when talking about literacy?).

“Mac King is fabulous, and we know how he motivates children to read,” Mathis said. “There’s a little book by Dr. Seuss, and the title is ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’, and just think about that. Children can go anywhere they want, even though they’re right here at Bunker Elementary School. Reading opens up the world.”

Mr. King acknowledges that young audiences can be tough audiences.

“It’s hard doing magic for kindergartners and first-graders, you know?” he said. “They kind of believe it; they believe it’s real.”

“I started doing a few school assemblies when I first started at Harrah’s,” said King, “and I started seeing libraries in Las Vegas and thought, ‘Maybe we can get some more books in there.’  When I was a kid, I checked out a book about magic —Tricks Any Boy Can Do — from my school library, and it literally changed my life.”

Mr. King’s multi-award winning show runs Tuesday through Saturday afternoons at 1pm and 3pm at Harrah’s in Las Vegas.

Each student got a free book, courtesy of a book drive sponsored by local companies and the YMCA of Southern Nevada.

“Some of these kids, it’s the only book they’ve ever owned,” King said. “And that’s just appalling. But, for them, it’s like Christmas.”

Be sure to stop by Mr. King’s website at

Escape Artist Andrew Basso Profiled

Inside Magic Image of Andrew BassoThe Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a great profile piece on Italian escapologist Andrew Basso today.  Mr. Basso is receiving raves for his twist on Houdini’s Water Torture Cell escape performed as his turn in The Illusionists nationwide tour.

How did he get into magic?  To impress mom.

“If you knew my mother, you would say she’s Morticia [Addams],” he said.  “She was very serious, no smiles. But when the circus came, she watched the magician’s act, and laughed out loud. I thought, Aha! He has the power to make my mother laugh. I want to be like him.”

He has worked escapes professionally since 2003 and has brought audiences to the edge of their seats and the limits of their composure town after town during The Illusionists’ tour.

Mr. Basso can hold his breath for about four minutes but aims to be out of the restraints and back to breathing air in two minutes.  He has had a couple of close-calls.

“It was this big opening, Sydney Opera House, and I was pumped — I just couldn’t get my adrenaline down,” he said.  “After 2 minutes and 30 seconds, it was taking longer than normal, and my guys knew that I was in trouble, so they got me out.”

He was also burned when performing an escape on live Italian TV.  He was locked in a wooden coffin rigged with explosives and severely burned over his face and hands.  “I haven’t done that trick again, but I would, but different,” he said. “I learned something from it.”

Be sure to check out his incredible website here.

Check out The Illusionists’ website to get updates on their tour schedule.

Steve Dacri’s Storage to be Cleared

Vintage-antique-oak-library-card-catalog-remington-rand--2We received the following from Marleen Dacri Goddard this weekend.

Hi, I am Steve Dacri’s ex-wife(married circa 1980s-1995) and mother of his son Jesse.

Jesse and I are going to meet in Vegas the week of 3/31 and will be cleaning the storage area of Steve Dacri’s magic and personal belongings that have been left.  There is a vintage antique Oak Library Card Catalog that Steve used to store many tricks in.  I can’t think of a better use or anyone who might want it rather than a fellow magician who would like to keep his/her tricks in each little drawer.  Steve loved this unit as it kept each “trick” with the proper props it required in each drawer.

I don’t know what is left in the storage unit, but if anyone is interested in what I might find, please feel free to email me.

My main purpose is to get Steve’s Ashes out of the storage unit that his last wife left.  Jesse and I will hopefully find a nice place to let his ashes go during our trip.

Any ideas would be great! Coming from the East Coast.  Thanks for reading!