Piff the Magic Dragon Returns to Roots

Inside Magic Image of Piff the Magic Dragon doing a One-Handed Card SpringStar of television, stage and the Penn & Teller magic contest, Piff the Magic Dragon sent us a nice note this morning.  He is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a special, limited run of shows based on his Breakfast at Piffany’s production.  The show will benefit a worthy charity.

We first read about Piff when he performed at the Fringe Festival several years ago.  He and his magic dog, Mr. Piffles have risen to great heights within the magic world and his return to the Fringe will likely sell out almost immediately.  If you are looking to see great magic performed with profound creativity, you need to see Piff the Magic Dragon.

Piff wrote:

I’m coming back to the Fringe this year. But only for two weeks. Here’s some fancy words about it.

“Direct from Las Vegas, Piff returns to the Fringe with an hour of new tricks, old snacks and sweet, sweet prizes. And yes, he’s bringing the dog too.

Part magic show, part game show, part cry for help, Breakfast at Piffany’s sees Piff split the audience into teams to fight for points and prizes, and along the way witness incredible magic tricks, delicious snacks, surprise special guests and epic thumb wars.

A smash hit on the Las Vegas Strip, Piff has dished up desserts to Shania Twain, sold Hollywood star Brad Garrett a croissant for $1000, and dazzled David Copperfield himself with sleight of paw dragony miracles. Piff and Mr Piffles (the World’s First Magic Performing Chihuahua) fly into Edinburgh for sixteen nights only to give UK audiences a taste of what they’ve been missing.

The evening culminates in the Auction of the Croissant, to benefit Edinburgh charity The Sick Kids Friends Foundation (but don’t tell Piff, he’s planning to buy a fancy new castle). In Las Vegas Piff raised over $15,000 in three months by selling stale pastry treats to minor celebrities. It’s unlikely he’ll repeat that feat in a town where punters balk at a £4 beer, but he’ll give it his best shot.

Strolling Magic Lessons Learned

Inside Magic Image of Innovative BunnyWe performed strolling magic at a wonderful event this weekend.  It was quite the scene – the event, not our performance.  In one of LA’s museums, it was brimming with attractive and important people dressed well with great food and even a red carpet.

Our pockets were packed with three routines’ worth of props.  We had Invisible, Rising, Marked and regular decks in each of our coat pockets.  In our pants pockets we had dental floss for Gypsy Thread.  A Professor’s Nightmare rope set was wedged in our waistband.  A Pen through Bill was in our shirt pocket.  The four of hearts affixed to the back of our beautiful silk tie.  We had a Toppit in place and in it was our Thumb Tip and a black silk for vanishing.  Wedged into our front pocket were our Mogar Color Changing Knives. We were, in the parlance of zookeepers, loaded for bear.

But the contents of our pockets remained in place.  We performed for about 30 small groups and did essentially one effect – Sponge Balls.

We have not performed Sponge Balls in an actual public routine since 1974, during the Close-up Competition at the Florida State Magicians Association Convention in Winter Park, Florida.  We brought the set with us almost as an afterthought.  They do not take up much room, are visible and it can be performed in noisy surroundings.

We approached our first grouping of beautifully attired attendees and asked if they would like to see some magic.  They consented and we reached into our pocket to pull out a deck of cards to perform our standard 42-minute ambitious card routine but our fingers lingered on the Sponge Balls.

It was like we were back in 1974 at the Langford Hotel.  We were once again that young magician performing an endlessly rehearsed routine for judges.  Here and now, the judges were comely women and men with more disposable income than we have earned since 1974 but they were just as receptive.  We did our routine with very little talking and when the balls appeared in the startled volunteer’s beautifully manicured hand, she squealed with shock.

“Do me next,” her companion urged.

We performed the kicker ending for her friend and they reacted in a way we are used to seeing on every YouTube video of a street performer.

The reaction was better than we could have hoped to receive from any of the other items packed about our person.

As the evening rolled on, we performed Sponge Balls repeatedly.  Using the same patter we developed while still an acne-scarred youth, we worked the room.

In our younger days, we would have insisted on performing something different.  We do not know if it is a sign of maturity or laziness but we decided to stick with what was working.  The room was dark and loud so a Book Test would not have worked.  Our delightful patter that accompanies our 90-minute version of The Professor’s Nightmare rope trick would probably not have been heard above the din and may have been a tad too long given the event.

As we drove back to West Hollywood with our top down – plus we had the convertible top down – we thought about the lessons learned.

First, give the audience what it wants.

Second, don’t give the audience what you want unless it is also what they want.

Third, magician’s rope expands when exposed to sweat and can become uncomfortable when wedged in one’s waistband for long periods of time.

It was a magical night.

Suzanne Joins the Lance Burton Teen Seminar Staff

IBM Jacksonville Convention LogoThis just in from the International Brotherhood of Magicians!

Just Announced!   Suzanne will join Shawn Farquhar and Oscar Munoz as a Special Guest Instructor at the 11th Lance Burton Teen Seminar to be held at the I.B.M. 87th Annual Convention in Jacksonville, FL. The Lance Burton Teen Seminar is THE #1 magic seminar for young magicians. Join Eugene Burger, Larry Hass, Suzanne, Shawn Farquhar and Oscar Munoz for a life changing experience.

WAIT – That’s not all!  The I.B.M. Endowment and Development Fund has agreed to fund TWO registrations to Sorcerer’s Safari Magic Camp to be given away to one boy and one girl attending the Lance Burton Teen Seminar.  Sorcerer’s Safari is the premier magic camp in Canada.  Take a look at this video to see some of the fun at the 2014 camp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCDwmelVN20

WAIT –There is still more!  The McBride Magic and Mystery School will be selecting ONE Teen Magician at the Lance Burton Teen Seminar to receive the McBride Magic and Mystery School Faculty Award.  Founded in 1991, the McBride Magic an Mystery School’s goal is to provide a safe, supportive, and inspiring place for magic enthusiasts (both amateur and professional) to work on their magic.  They work with students of all skill levels and interests. At the McBride Magic and Mystery School the unparalleled faculty members are there to answer your questions, help you become a better magician and, most importantly, have fun.  One lucky teen magician will receive the opportunity of a lifetime!

So join us at the 11th Lance Burton Teen Seminar.  If you are between the ages of 13-19 AND registered to attend the I.B.M. Convention in Jacksonville, you can attend the Lance Burton Teen Seminar ABSOLUTELY FREE.  Dates for the Seminar are July 13-15, 2015. To register go to http://www.magician.org/convention/upcoming-convention TODAY!  Jacksonville HERE WE COME!

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.

Why is TV Magic So Unmagical?

Carreras ltd cards spotting the cardEntertainment Weekly writer Brittany Frederick asks why with so much magic on television recently, we are not feeling magical?

She points to the recent spate of shows about our craft such as Criss Angel BeLIEve; Syfy’s Wizard Wars, Close Up Kings, and Troy: Street Magic; The CW’s resurrection of Masters of Illusion and importing of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.   She likes the craft but apparently not the way it is being translated to television sets.  It is tough to disagree with her take.

She points out that Masters of Illusion has been squished from an hour-long show to 30 minutes (including commercials).  The net effect is that “Dean Cain has to go through acts so quickly that you barely have time to let the tricks sink in.”

Ms. Frederick bemoans – again with our wholehearted agreement – the move from logistics of putting on a magic show to the effect in isolation.
“What was so fantastic about Criss Angel BeLIEve when Spike unveiled it in October 2013 was that it was almost about everything but the performance. We got to know Angel a lot better and understand what it was like for him to do these challenging tricks every day. We learned about the history involved with many of his demonstrations. We met his team, and were able to listen in on their discussions about how to make magic happen, whether it was building a prop or finding the perfect location. We saw when things didn’t go according to plan and how they dealt with those situations. These are elements of magic that most TV audiences probably haven’t even thought about.”
Audiences are now taken from appreciating the history of a particular effect and the very real logistical challenges of presenting the trick, to merely asking whether an effect is performed with camera tricks or dodgy editing.

Check out her full article and well-considered opinions here.