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 mackingshow.com

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.

Wonderful Magic for Sale – The Chop Cup Era

Inside Magic Image of Innovative BunnyWe are like Magic Archaeologists.

We noticed several phases or times in our career, marked by the tools we used (or hoped to use) in our various acts across the decades.  We have unearthed and will soon be selling wonderful pieces found during our excavation of what scientists have termed the Chop Cup age.

The Chop Cup Age lasted over several years and is found just before our Gimmicked Coin eon and just after our Card College era.  All of these time periods are decades from one of our first temporal settings, The Cane Years.  The Cane Years had canes that vanished, appeared, changed color, lit on fire and danced.  They led to the subsequent period in which canes gave way to candles that also appeared, vanished, changed color but never danced.

We will have links to the eBay sale of some Rings and Things cups, a fine brass Benson Bowl (not technically a Chop Cup but still within the realm) and a wonderful China (as in Chinaware, not the country) Chop Cup using a wooden ball that makes a wonderful “ting” sound when the ball appears under the cup.

They are all beautiful pieces and, sadly, not extensively used.  We even have a load ball for the Chop Cup that fits like a wonderful knitted surprise.

Also, although not technically (or in any way, really) a Chop Cup, we have a set of Brass Three Shells and a set of Perfect Peas that will be offered for sale at the same time.  The set is from The School for Scoundrels and comes with a nice velvet bag and perfectly fitting chop cup.

Thank you in advance for sharing in our bountiful excavation of our magical past.

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.

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!