Magician David Blaine’s Newest Special Scares Us

Image of David Blaine Shooting HimselfMagician David Blaine’s latest special was indeed special.

We avoid venturing into controversial waters like Trump v. Clinton, Brexit, Paper v. Plastic, or roughing fluid versus spray.  So, it would make sense that we would avoid jumping into the metaphorical above-ground pool of debate surrounding the issues related to Mr. Blaine’s latest special.  There is nothing to be gained by our belly-flop into the tepid, three-foot deep waters of that construct.  And like the real, temporary, plastic and poorly constructed entertainment device that typifies most above-ground pools, the debate will likely lead to heartbreak, a soaked lawn, unsightly bruising and possible e-coli infection.

Nonetheless, we feel obligated to say something.

Inside Magic places the safety of magicians and their audiences above almost all – except for profit from questionable “dating” website advertisements that make up our monthly cash-flow.  We were concerned by Mr. Blaine’s demonstration of the Bullet Catch trick and his regurgitation of frogs.

We were concerned for his own safety, obviously.  Catching a 22 caliber bullet in your mouth is dangerous – even if you are surrounded by technical and medical experts.  But we were even more concerned by the thought of viewers who either couldn’t or didn’t read his disclaimer, attempting to perform the same effect sans preparation, safety teams or sobriety.

Depending on the count and who is counting, a dozen or more well-practiced magicians have died performing the illusion of the Bullet Catch.  We do not know if there is a way of counting how many magician or lay folks have died or been injured attempting to do the real thing.  If it is a number greater than or equal to one, it is too many for us.

We fully agree that Mr. Blaine cannot be held responsible for the actions of the unprepared audience member who tries to duplicate or better his stunt.  But still, why put the idea in the heads of the very small percentage of our global community who have access to a gun, a mouth guard and video camera?

It made for great television and we were on the edge of our seats – our cat has a hairball issue and we refuse to sit back fully in any chair in the mobile home unless there is sufficient light to see that the coast is clear.  Even though we were watching a recorded event being replayed through our TiVo, we were still anxious.

We thought the show was produced with aplomb and slick as all get-out.  Even though there was a great reliance on camera and editing, it still entertained us to the point that the mobile home now smells of burnt microwave popcorn because we could not leave our TV set – and we don’t even have a microwave or popcorn.

Mr. Blaine told Australian reporters that his performance was to counter “America’s dangerous obsession with guns.”  He said he hoped “the risky feat might ‘demotivate’ his countrymen to think twice about turning weapons on each other.”

He wanted to bring the reality of gun violence home.  “I’d like this to be something for people, when they watch it, they really experience how dangerous and how scary it actually is and maybe in some strange way it would demotivate people from firing guns on other people,” Mr. Blaine said, adding with a laugh, “hopefully, they won’t think I’m invincible and just shoot me when I’m not ready.”

As for bringing frogs up from his stomach, we suppose that is not as big a risk for copy-cat performers.  It was an interesting effect and not one yet available on the internet magic stores.  If folks try to duplicate or outdo Mr. Blaine by swallowing amphibians and puking them up into rich people’s champagne flutes, we probably don’t mind. PETA may have concerns for the frogs and the rich people might not want their fine goblets converted into aquariums but those are two constituencies that fail to read Inside Magic that regularly; so we don’t mind offending them.

We wish Mr. Blaine continued success but hope his viewers heed his warnings and intended message – a gun fired into your mouth can kill you.

Mark Panner Fills In for Us

Inside Magic Image of Frustrated MagicianWe have been very busy at our daytime job.

That has kept us from the spacious office suite here on Santa Monica Boulevard where this humble magic news outlet makes its home in West Hollywood, California.

It is good to be busy but bad to be neglecting of the tens of people who read Inside Magic religiously – and by “religiously” we mean by candlelight, copious amounts of incense and chanting.

We have asked one of the least qualified but most available magic writers (so it averages out) to take over for the next few days or until readership drops below the web equivalent of anemic.

Readers of Inside Magic may remember Mr. Panner for his contributions in the past to this and other magic websites. You can read his horrible review of Inside Magic Favorite magician Bob Sheets here.

He is related to us through a complicated story of inter-marriage and bad life-choices but we offer him space here only as a matter of convenience for us, not because it is in the interest of marital bliss.

Mr. Panner has published several books on magic, all self-published and, as we understand it, still unread. He has claimed to have invented several of the greatest effects in our art including:

The Balls and Cups (his take on the classic “The Cups and Balls”), Card to Walet (intentionally misspelled in an effort to avoid litigation and scorn by the creators of “Card to Wallet”), Torn Newspaper (the review in Magic Magazine noted that it was a fine effect but lacked the ending audiences have come to expect from similar routines like “The Torn and Restored Newspaper”), and the now disregarded Paint Ball Catching Trick.

The Paint Ball Catching Trick was marketed as a safe alternative to the deadly Bullet Catch. In the litigation that followed the meager sales of the effect, we learned that while the trick did not risk being shot in the face with a real bullet, the content of the particular brand of paint balls sold with the trick contained enough lead to shave years off the life of even a casual performer and “condemned his or her progeny to a dramatically higher risk of mental disability.”

Mr. Panner decided re-market the effect with instructions discouraging the “chewing of the paintball or rolling it around in the mouth for an extended period of time.”

You can still find the original version with the now discredited instructions on eBay.

Mr. Panner complained to the magic community that he was being undersold by “cheap, Chinese imports.” The magic community apparently did not care.

Mr. Panner has performed shows for hundreds of paying customers and clients throughout the Midwest – but never for the same client twice. He says this practice is due to his “constant, driving forced (sic) to keep things fresh.” He also points out that the Better Business Bureau rating is “probably wrong because people only complaint (sic) and never say good things to the BBB.”

For the record, he denies ripping off Criss Angel’s Believe with his own, limited tour of “Bee Leave.” Also for the record, Criss Angel denies caring at all about Mr. Panner’s two hour illusion show featuring the magician dressed in a costume described by a reporter for the Urbana, Illinois daily as “cross between Criss Angel and a effeminate bumble bee.”

Mr. Panner’s contributions will begin later today (or possibly tomorrow) and, as is our practice, will be unedited. Mr. Panner describes the process as “keeping it real, raw.” We describe it as “being lazy, real lazy.”

We should be back in the office with renewed energy and new stories in the next week or so.

It is entirely likely we will be back sooner if Mr. Panner performs as predicted.

Biting Cold Delays Bullet Catch Performance

Inside Magic Image: Rob DrummondThe frigid cold has descended on the tiny hamlet of Ann Arbor, Michigan keeping kids home from school and delaying delivery of the equipment Rob Drummond thereby postponing his first show last night.

We mentioned the performance on these faded virtual pages earlier in the week and read more about the man and his show.  We’re still nervous about it.

The show traces the history and mythology surrounding the trick that Harry Houdini would not perform and ends with an audience member shooting Mr. Drummond in the face.

Apparently some magicians have complained about his exposure of the effect and we understand their concern.  It is not just the disclosure of a well-kept secret that bothers us but also providing instruction (no matter how sketchy) to audiences could lead to failed attempts to duplicate the trick.

That’s fine if you expose the Foo Can or Square Circle; if something goes horribly wrong, you get water on your stage or look like a dope.  If you think you know how to do the bullet catch and are wrong – even a little bit wrong – you will die.

“I am attracted to mysteries,” Mr. Drummond told a reporter.  “And I want to understand about what makes people work, about the human connection.”

Guns draw attention.

“And audiences need more to be drawn in these days.  But amazingly, when the gun comes out in the room, the atmosphere changes every time.  Why do joining rings when you can get someone to shoot you?”

Good point, sort of.

“You can never be truly comfortable having a gun pointed at you.”

Nor should you ever be comfortable in that situation.

Bullet Catch – The Drama

Bullet Catch By Rob DrummondWe received word from our friend and incredible magician John Luka that BULLET CATCH, written, performed, and co-directed by Rob Drummond will fight the frigid climes of Ann Arbor, Michigan with shows nightly beginning Tuesday, January 7th at 7:30 and wrapping up on Saturday with two shows on Saturday.  All shows will be in the beautiful Arthur Miller Theatre on the University of Michigan campus.
Mr. Drummond is not, to our knowledge, a magician but his show explores the history of the infamous trick and the lives lost in its performance.  He will apparently perform the effect as part of his presentation.
This is not a trick with which to trifle, in our humble opinion.  There are many who have tried and succeeded but statistically, it is one of the most dangerous effects a magician can perform.
A recent study published by the Magician’s Safety Organization found that more people have died performing The Bullet Catch (16 dead – bullet piercing essential artery or cranium) than Hippity Hop Rabbits (3 dead, 27 seriously injured – angry crowd) or Finger Chopper (0 dead, 982 severe lacerations).
The safest effect to perform is either Silk Fountain (0 deaths and 0 injuries) or Glorpy (0 deaths and 2 minor injuries – impalement).
If you are in South Eastern Michigan this week, you should check out the show.  We would love to learn more about it and why / how Mr. Drummond came up with this idea.

Letters to Editor: Republishing Magic Stories

It is a policy of Inside Magic to respond to letters to the editor related to inaccuracies or clarification from time to time or as required by a court order.

If you have a question or comment for the editorial staff of Inside Magic, please send it to us at editors@insidemagic.com.

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Inside Magic Image of Attractive Reader Showing Shock at Finding Republished Magic StoriesDear Tim:

I read Inside Magic every day except for when you have repeats. Why do you repeat articles from a long time ago when if I wanted to read them, I could just look them up on your site? Are you trying to fool people by pretending it is new news?

K. Maloney, Orem, UT

Dear “K”:

Although you may read Inside Magic daily, there are many behind the Iron Curtain who are denied this privilege.

When our internet signal is not blocked by the censors along the East – West Germany border, we push through as many of the articles we can fit. Yes, this means some of the articles will appear to be revised versions of previously published works, but rest assured we are doing this only to promote freedom and individual property rights around this world. Although the Kremlin may haughtily impugn this site’s motives or discount the important news we bring to the repressed and imprisoned masses in the Soviet Blocked countries, until we are forced at gun point to salute a commie flag, we’ll keep up our often solitary fight to free our brothers and sisters squirming for liberty beneath Stalin’s huge, filthy thumb.

Also, we never just republish for the sake of republishing. We also update the information contained within the story so that it provides a unique retrospective telescope into the past with zest of the future we call present day.

For instance, we did republish the article about Chung Ling Soo being killed in the UK when his bullet catch trick failed. That article was originally published in the March 25, 1918 edition of Inside Magic. We did republish a version of it during on December 8, 1941 but only because it was a slow news day. And yes, it was republished 12 times during the 1960s and 1970s, twice in the 1980s, 15 times in the 1990s, only once from 2000 to 2010, and of course the latest republication not too long ago.

Continue reading Letters to Editor: Republishing Magic Stories