Terrorist Beheaded Magician for Performing Magic

Sad BunnyWhen we read reports on Twitter of a Syrian magician’s beheading at the hands of terrorists, we hoped it was not true.

Unfortunately, it appears the horrible event happened last Wednesday, January 14th.

According to The International Business Times:

“A street magician in Syria beloved by children was beheaded by Islamic State group militants after his performances were deemed to be insulting to God.  The murder of the magician, who was known as ‘Sorcerer,’ was called ‘barbarism and butchery’ by a Syrian activist who knew him but fled to safety in nearby Turkey.”

The Daily Mirror had the original story:

“The magician was a popular man who entertained people with little tricks on the street like making coins or a phone disappear.  He was just called Sorcerer by people, and children loved him. He was doing nothing anti-Islamic, but he paid for it with his life.”

According to the Mirror, the terrorists considered the magician’s tricks anti-Islamic because they were performed through “illusions and falsehood.”  They claimed that their holy scripture forbid the performance of such tricks because it took time better spent by going to a mosque.

Apparently the performer was well-known to the residents of Raqqa, the Syrian city where the terrorist organization is based.  He was taken during a performance and later beheaded in a public square.

We try to keep things light here on Inside Magic.  Usually that is not tough to do.  Today, however, it seems impossible.

The unnamed magician, his family, friends and those whom his magic touched are in our prayers.

Joel Ward: Magician to the Stars Plays the Heartland

Joel WardMagician Joel Ward  will be making his first appearance at Ball State University tomorrow night.  He gave The Daily News an exclusive interview in advance of that appearance in which he traced his start in our wonderful craft and explained “how magic can be the greatest pick-up line.”

The article names Mr. Ward “Magician to the Stars” and it sure sounds like he has an in with the in-crowd.  He is currently in the midst of a college tour and estimates he will perform about a hundred shows in 2015.

Living in Hollywood, I get to perform at some cool places. I perform regularly for celebrities. Recently, I performed a private party for Johnny Depp. That was pretty cool. And I also performed for Katy Perry’s birthday party. That was equally cool. She rented out this private club in Hollywood called the “Magic Castle.” There were tons of celebrities there and I ended up hanging out with John Mayer and Neil Patrick Harris for the night.

He counts David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Penn & Teller and Michael Carbonaro as his past and present influences and encourages folks interested in magic to check out libraries, the internet and societies like The International Brotherhood of Magicians.  But, he adds, “if all of this sounds too hard, you can just buy a magic trick after my show on Wednesday. I sell a cool card trick for $5.”

We have seen Mr. Ward perform and love his energy and imagination.  His show is not to be missed.

Check out the full article here.

Visit Mr. Ward’s website here.

Criss Angel Adds Lunch to His Sold-Out Schedule in Easton

Inside Magic Image of Criss AngelIt is a great publicity person who can sell the story of a magician eating lunch.

Credit goes to the folks behind the scenes for magician Criss Angel who got great copy in The Morning Call from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

We reported earlier that Mr. Angel will perform two shows at Easton’s State Theatre on January 20th and now we learn that he will also eat lunch the day before those two show.

“On the 19th, I’m going to be chilling at Billy’s Downtown Diner in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” Mr. Angel can be heard saying in a video posted on the diner’s website, www.billysdiner.com. “I’m going to chill and have my Mind Freak burger. So have some lunch with me.”

The restaurant will host a daily contest where hopeful diners can answer a trivia question for two passes to the VIP Room.

Lest one think this is a random event, it turns out that Billy’s diner is owned by Billy Kounoupis, Mr. Angel’s cousin.

Mr. Angel has roots in the Easton area.  His late father, John Sarantakos,  attended Easton Area High School, and his grandfather a local restaurant across Easton’s Northampton Street from The State Theatre.

“Easton just has a special place in my heart,” Angel said. “My dad really loved Easton. It has a very special place in my heart because of all the memories we shared in Easton.”

Mr. Angel’s early show (6 p.m.) is sold out and there are but a few seats remaining for the 9:30 p.m. performance.

On a related note, we will be at the 7-11 on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood this Thursday night where fans can join us in a Slurpee® and Big Bite® Hot Dog.  We will be in the parking lot by the Redbox® machine.

Magician Performs Trick to Avoid Speeding Ticket

steven-brundageThere is a difference between street magic and side of the road magic.  Both are good, but one can get you out of traffic tickets.

Magician Steven Brundage was driving home from a holiday party and law enforcement in Scotia, New York clocked him going 42 mph in a 30 mph zone.

He was pulled over and the officer asked the usual questions one expects to hear, “where are you coming from? Do you know how fast you were going? Why do you have a Rubik’s Cube and playing cards on your front seat?”

He explained to the officer that he was a magician and was returning home from a performance.

The officer demanded proof.

“I said absolutely, and asked if I could record it mainly because it’s not every day an officer asks you to perform a trick,” Mr. Brundage said.  “I also asked if I could step out of the car and he said sure. As soon as I took the video, I called my girlfriend and said, ‘I have a viral video.'”

He got out of the ticket and has a new publicity piece.  Mr. Brundage’s video became a big hit on YouTube and Facebook.  He even got a gig on Good Morning America.

Some have suggested the video is not authentic and was staged for publicity purposes.  Regardless, it is a great angle or cool true story.

Inside Magic does not condone speeding or lawless driving habits – even if one hopes to be pulled over for magic-based reasons.

Check out Mr. Brundage’s video here.

Hollywood Press Ga-Ga Over the Illusionists

The IllusionistsOut here in the greater Hollywood environs, just about everyone gets The Wrap delivered throughout the day to their email address.

It is one of the industry news sources, along with The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, relied upon by those in power and those hoping to one day attain power.

The Wrap emails come as entertainment news breaks: a dependable Hollywood star loses funding on his next big movie, a venerable talent agency picks up a new five-star client, a disgruntled writer sues a studio for allegedly ripping off a script idea.  If Congress decided to declare war on Canada, it would not likely be in The Wrap, Hollywood Reporter or Variety unless it affected production on some film project in Toronto.

The big three also publish reviews of plays, movies, live shows and artistic endeavors.  The Hollywood reviewers are usually very knowledgeable and pragmatic in their evaluation of the shows.  They can also be brutal.

We were relieved, then, to read the glowing reviews of The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible in The Wrap.

The producers of that ill-fated “Houdini” musical starring Hugh Jackman can let out a collective sigh of relief that their star decided not to do the show. “The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible” opened Thursday at the Marquis Theatre and there’s no way a tuner based on the life of the world’s most famous illusionist could possibly be any more fun and awe-inspiring than this new magic show on Broadway.

The review describes the performers in glowing terms and with the enthusiasm normally found in a devotee rather than a jaded critic.

“Anyone who’s ever seen newsreels of Houdini performing this feat, or others like it, has wanted to go back in time to experience first-hand the cheesy excitement of seeing a brilliant stunt performer at work risking his life. Here’s your chance.”

The reviewer describes Inside Magic Favorite Dan Sperry’s performance as the most frightening.

The scariest moment in the show, however, involved a woman from out of town who really, really didn’t want to play a game of Russian roulette with the very Goth and genuinely weird Dan Sperry (The Anti-Conjuror). By the way, what is an anti-conjuror? Whatever, in addition to creeping people out, Sperry conjures up a whole menagerie of flying birds from his Count Dracula get-up. Truly amazing.

The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible runs through January 4 on Broadway before embarking on a multi-city tour of the United States.

Read The Wrap’s review here.