Hugh Jackman Will Be Houdini in 2013

Inside Magic Image of  Wonderful Poster Promoting Harry Houdini's Incredible Milk Can Escape - Failure Means a Drowning DeathWe know Broadway like the back of our prosthetic hand.

We still have our two real ones but like having the third for status.  We are so cool when we go to the manicurist shop and all the gals with their lousy one or two soak dish set-ups have to stare with envy.

We used to have a little (and we mean little) shop right in front of one of the big-time theaters.  This was a while ago and the theater went by a different name and we cannot print the name or our website will be thrown out of public libraries, again.  

Our shop was designed to look like a card table with a Navajo blanket covering the top.  We sold us some Cups and Balls, Ball in Vase, Multiplying Billiard Balls, Magic 8-Balls, Bounce/No-Bounce Balls and our knock-off version of the spring and fake fur puppet, Rocky Raccoon.  At the time, the real ones were selling for $17.00 over at Tannens.  We cut out the middle-man, the man who enforced the child labor laws and the “you don’t need to go through Customs” man; but we could not eliminate the “It would be a shame if something were to happen to your cute little store or cute little wife” man.

Broadway was a tough place where guys like us would walk the mean streets with our pants weighed down by coins in our pockets.  All the sales people on the Great White Way jingled.  There was almost no paper money on Broadway then.  The Automat served meals and hot coffee but only if you had exact change.  The restrooms in the nicer establishments cost a dime or a quarter.  Showers were half a dollar and all of the better movie theaters charged per three minutes per $1.00 in coins.  You could always tell a fellow salesperson by the tension on his or her belt, the bumpy, dimpled bulges projecting like a topographical map over their pants legs, and the bar of Ivory Soap in their back pocket. 

Ivory Soap was started right on Broadway and they never forgot their roots.  They went from selling cheap turquoise or silver plated jewelry to becoming one of the largest companies in the world.  If you were from the Broadway Sidewalk Sales Society, you could walk into any store – it didn’t have to be on Broadway – and pick-up one bar of Ivory Soap per month.  Most of the times no one even noticed or cared.  They likely knew about Mr. Ivory’s promise to his fellow merchants and were happy to see his wishes fulfilled.  Sometimes you’d get a new clerk or cashier and we’d have to go through the whole story.  They usually gave in about an hour into our spiel and we’d  walk out cleaner.

Rumor had it that there were folks on the south side of Broadway that worked with their version of the Ivory Soap man.  He was the person who invented orange juice and they could go into any store that sold orange juice (fresh-squeezed only – we guess he didn’t invent the concentrated version) and take one gallon a month. 

So the north side merchants smelled good and the south side guys smelled bad but didn’t have scurvy.  Life is all about trade-offs, though.

Our point was that we cannot wait until Hugh Jackman takes on the role of our hero.  In fact we named other people’s children “Harry” and “Houdini” and “Bess” when we were employed for a week as a temp at the Mystic Hospital for Women and Childrens.  (Yes, we know the “s” is grammatically incorrect and there is not even a word with that spelling but the benefactor of the MHWC was a self-taught Polaroid Land Camera repairman.  He knew everything about every version of that famous camera from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.  He could fix your camera as good as new in no time but he was otherwise unintelligent.  He couldn’t count (except to 60 – the number of seconds to wait before exposing pictures taken with the first film stock) he chewed with his mouth open, he sewed his own clothes – while they were on – and they remained in place for years as a consequence.  Jimmy knew those dang cameras though.  He would lose all the money he made on one repair job when the next customer would get him confused about the amount of change he was owed.  Poor guy.

Even though he was destitute for most of his life, he loved what he did and folks in town loved to have him roam the streets looking for Polaroid Land Cameras in need of repair.  People wonder how he could afford to fund Mystic Hollow Michigan’s largest building and most important medical service when he rarely had a dollar in his usually securely sewed pocket.  Apparently, one of the big celebrities heard of Jimmy’s abilities and brought his camera for repair while he was performing in Chicago.  He couldn’t stay for the hour or so it would take to repair so he asked Jimmy to send it to the Schubert Theater in Chicago when it was ready.

Jimmy was surprised to find two photos stuck in the mechanism.  He wasn’t sure if he should look at the pictures to make sure they weren’t ruined from their cramped position inside the camera for years.  He decided he wouldn’t look because he thought that would invade the celebrity’s personal life.  Instead, he caught a series of trains to the Schubert Theater and tried to drop the pictures off at the box office.  They wouldn’t take them and they directed him to the stage door outside and down the alley.  It was raining pretty heavy and Jimmy put the pictures in his tattered but well-sewn pants.  His pockets were completely sealed from years of stitching practice and probably of the natural glue we all produce through our skin pores if we don’t change clothes or bathe properly. 


Continue reading Hugh Jackman Will Be Houdini in 2013

Teller and Todd Robbins Bring Death to Play Off-Broadway

 

Teller and Todd Robbins Bring the New Show "Play Dead" to Life this FallLet us avoid the debate that often ends conversations between magicians.  One cannot mention Penn & Teller without the fans of Penn or Teller entering into an instant squabble.  

"Oh, Teller never talks, that makes him mysterious," one member of our craft may say.

"Yes, but Penn is so much taller," observes a detailed-oriented pal.  "He can eat food off the heads of many if not most of his average audience member."

"Yes," responds the first magician, "However Teller does talk when he is not performing as the character."

"Okay," concedes the obsessive-compulsive performer. "But Penn remains tall no matter whether he is in character or not.  In that way, he is far more consistent than the flighty Teller.  You know what you get with Penn — a tall magician, juggler with glasses."

"Point well taken," the first magician says in resignation.  "Still, he is mysterious.  His silence makes him mysterious no matter what."

We are big fans of Penn and Teller.  We like them both equally; just as a mother cat would feel about her kittens.   They are special in their own ways. 

One of Teller's specialness is literary.  In fact, he would likely note that "specialness" is not a proper word — that is how literate he is.  Nevertheless, he does more than make words go together in patterns generally accepted by those who decide what proper grammar is.  He makes them go together in such a wonderful way.  He has a gift for writing and we consider his gift to us.  When you read his work, it is as if he is writing to tell you — no one else — something interesting. 

He has written a new Off-Broadway play with Todd Robbins called Play Dead.  Teller is also the director of the play and Todd Robbins performs. 

The play begins its open-ended run on October 21, 2010 and the "official press opening" will be Wednesday, November 10th.

The advance sheets summarize the play thusly:

Teller and Todd Robbins invite Death out to play in PLAY DEAD, a new spirit-shaking Off-Broadway show that explores themes of death, darkness and deception. As the guide for the evening, Todd Robbins draws audiences into an unknown haunted world full of frightful surprises and diabolical laughter. Although very much a theatrical work, it is hardly a typical "play," but rather a dramatic, unnerving thriller – here and now in an "abandoned" theater, illuminated by a single ghostlight – in which audiences test their nerves and face their fears as they are surrounded by ethereal sights, sounds and even touches of the returning dead – all achieved by wry, suspenseful storytelling and uncanny stage illusions.

You can check the full article and prepare for what sounds like a humdinger of a show by visiting Broadway World