Mandrake the Magician

New Hope for Black Art Magic

The Opposite of Vanna White, Sort OfArthur C. Clark’s third law states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Consequently, we search the scientific journals daily for advanced technology we can incorporate into magic tricks.

Dark Matter is a cool concept but until we can use it in a packet trick or our 75 minute-long Ambitious Card routine, it can remain in the realm of the scientists.

Magnetar’s have compressed magnetic fields as strong as 101 Tesla.

How strong is that? How about a cool billion times stronger than anything that can be found or created on this planet.

You could do some incredible coin magic with something like that. Some of our favorite vanishing gimmicks would be greatly enhanced if we could, say, have a steel-core coin get sucked through a wooden table. We checked with some physicists about it and they said it would be unwieldy for use in a close-up magic situation. Actually, they didn’t say that exactly, they just didn’t return our emails – kind of the same thing.

But scientists in the United Kingdom (or “UK” as the cool kids call it on the webs) have announced the innovation that could revolutionize magic forever.

Surrey NanoSystems has developed something called Vantablack® — which sounds like it should be the opposite of Vanna White but isn’t – and claims that it is the darkest black ever created.

According to their press materials, Vantablack is “revolutionary in its ability to be applied to light-weight, temperature-sensitive structures such as aluminium whilst absorbing 99.96% of incident radiation, believed to be the highest-ever recorded.”

By “aluminium” they mean “aluminum” and by “whilst” they mean “while.”  It’s metric we think.

By incident radiation, they mean “light.” We think.

So imagine the possibilities. You could do a black art act in broad daylight. Light would literally (as opposed to figuratively) be absorbed into the stuff and your audience would have no idea how the magic was happening.

Plus, because it is based on nanotube technology, it can provide a strong structure; stronger than a piece of felt taped to a tin can.

It is the well-established policy of Inside Magic to never reveal magic secrets – ever. So we cannot specify just how this product would be used in a black art act or even on some of the props we bought from magic shops in the last year but you likely know exactly what we mean.

Why haven’t more magicians used super black nanotube-based materials before now? Sure, there is the cost factor – a few hundred thousand for a custom made four-inch square of the stuff. But there was the manufacturing hassle as well. As readers know, “the manufacture of `super-black` carbon nanotube-based materials has traditionally required high temperatures, preventing their direct application to sensitive electronics or materials with relatively low melting points. This, along with poor adhesion, prevented their application to critical space and air-borne instrumentation.”


But Surrey NanoSystems hacked its own low-temperature manufacturing process used in silicon fabrication to work on aluminum.

As a result, it is not only just super black it also has “the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material that can be used in high-emissivity applications. It has virtually undetectable levels of outgassing and particle fallout, thus eliminating a key source of contamination in sensitive imaging systems.”

We have been saying for years there should be a way to have high thermal conductivity without detectable levels of “outgassing and particle fallout.” Finally, that day is here.

We wrote to Surrey NanoSystems and asked if it would be practical for most black art applications. We haven’t heard back yet but we will update this article the second we hear. In the meantime, we will be reconsidering all of the tricks we no longer use now that we do not have to worry about outgassing and particle fallout.

John Luka Leaks Line-up for Motor City Close-Up Magic Convention

John Luka's MagicArguably the finest close-up magic convention in the world hosts a great line-up this year.

John Luka was kind enough to give Inside Magic readers a sneak preview of this year’s the Motor City Close-Up Convention.

The Detroit magic shop, Wunderground and Mr. Luka will present the 17th annual iteration of Motor City Close-Up Convention the weekend of November 14-16, 2014 in Woodhaven, Michigan (just outside of Detroit).  Tony Cabral and David Gabbay have already signed on and there are two more performer to be announced.
All events take place at the Best Western Woodhaven Inn ( located at 21700 West Road, Woodhaven, MI 48183. Phone (734) 676-8000.

Be sure to call the hotel for room reservations or hotel information. There is a special room rate of $73 plus tax per diem for the convention. To qualify, when you make your reservations request the Motor City Magic rate.

Those who have attended the convention in the past know that the line-up of performers has always been outstanding. Mr. Luka has brought in some amazing folks in the past, Pop Haydn, Greg Wilson, Max Maven, Gazzo, Jon Armstrong, Rick Merrill, Joshua Jay and so many others.  The format is perfect: three close-up magic shows, four magic lectures, optional workshops and great people and dealers.

For more information go to:

This is a don’t miss type of event.

Special Message to IBM-SAM Members

IBM SAM FISMGreetings to All I.B.M. & S.A.M. Members!

Click the link below for a special message from the Incoming I.B.M. International President – Shawn Farquhar and Incoming S.A.M. National President – Kenrick “Ice” McDonald.

If you haven’t registered yet, don’t wait!  There are some registrations still available, but the registration price increases $100.00 on June 15th.

The Combined Convention offers a unique opportunity for both of our organizations to come together to celebrate and promote our love for magic. As an added feature the 2014 Combined Convention will host the North American FISM Championships to determine who will represent North America at the 2015 FISM Championships in Rimini, Italy.  You can’t see this at any other convention.

So join us for all the fun, excitement and magic in St. Louis this June 30 – July 5, where It’s All About the Magic.  Register today at:


Bill Wells & Mark Weidhaas
Co-Chairs – 2014 I.B.M./S.A.M. Combined Convention

IBM Announces Credit Card for Magicians

magicians credit card

This just in from the IBM Press Office:

The International Brotherhood of Magicians credit card has its own Visa rewards cards with double the points for brand-name magic equipment and events.

The Brotherhood’s Visa Credit Card offers new account holders 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (3% balance transfer fee applies) for the first 6 billing cycles.

the International Brotherhood of Magicians Rewards Visa Card was created just to help support the Endowment and Development Fund.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 0% introductory rate on balance transfers for six months
  • No annual fee
  • You earn one point for every dollar spent on everyday shopping and double points on select I.B.M. purchases like Regalia and Membership Fees
  • World Class rewards program
  • Visa Worldwide acceptance

Depp as Houdini in New Film

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniHoudini as Johnny Depp is how some of the snarky trade journals are setting the story from here in Hollywood that the famed actor is in negotiations to lead The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.

We have gone on record as liking Johnny Depp and disliking almost all snark about anything always. Accordingly we are looking forward to the film based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book.

We are apparently alone among the top Hollywood journalists, though. Writes Screen Crush:

Depp will play the legendary magician in the new film from Dean Parisot, the director of ‘Red 2,’ which features Houdini as not just a magician, but an investigator of the occult — so it’s definitely territory with which Depp is familiar, given that he gets to wear a hat and spend time in the supernatural realm.

We don’t consider such snark to be affirming and supportive of humanity – or even that clever.

Houdini did not wear hats as often as Harry Kellar or Max Malini or even Chung Ling Soo (off stage). We reached out to Lionsgate – the production company – as to whether Mr. Depp is scheduled to wear a hat in more than 40 percent of the scenes. Surprisingly, we have not heard back from their usually very efficient publicity department. We will update this story as soon as we receive word.

Some of the coverage implies the movie will be adding a new dimension to the Houdini myth by portraying him as a debunker of Spiritualism. Students of the great magician’s history know his persistent battle against the nascent occult movement was just as important as his magic and escape work.

We think Mr. Depp will make a fine Houdini and the Kalush / Sloman book is rich with possibilities for great scenes. We are looking forward to the film without regard to the hat issue.

Mr. Depp is set to film sequels to Alice in Wonderland and The Pirates of the Caribbean soon and so it is not clear when he will have time to take on this new project. This scheduling problem led the Screen Crush reporter to ask snarkily, “No idea where this Houdini film will fit into his schedule, but maybe he can pull some free time out of one of his silly hats.”

No one likes a hater or a hat hater.