David Blaine Opens NY Library Season

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Known for his endurance stunts, many of them televised, David Blaine will open the spring season of LIVE From the New York Public Library. This event will be more on the open-air side of things, unlike a previous outing in which he was buried alive for a week. He will be joined in conversation by Paul Holdengräber, director of this series. At 7 p.m., Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public.
Check out the details here: nypl.org/locations/schwarzman.

Magician Troy Von Scheibner Lauded in UK Press

Inside Magic Image of Avid Readers of Panther PrideAccording to press reports, the entire pop band One Direction asked UK Magician Troy Von Scheibner a very valid question, “What is wrong with you, why have you eaten a balloon?”

We realized as we wrote this sentence that if we failed to mention that Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the teen-fave super-group’s question would likely not have garnered such prominent placement in a major metropolitan daily.  It would be just another group of musicians combined for purposes of hitting the top of the charts and asking questions about the eating habits of young people.  Like when the Beatles famously asked 19-year-old Mobile, Alabama car wash cashier Harriet Williamson, “Why do you only eat the tops of muffins?” or the Asian Touring Edition of Les Miserables inquired of Japanese supermodel Nozomi Sasaki, “Why do you eat so little in the way of green vegetables.”

Hardly news.

But because Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the question reveals that he performed a trick for the loveable lads that make up One Direction.  He did not really eat a balloon – we think.  He just did a trick that gave the impression that a balloon was eaten.

It is a well-respected journalistic technique employed by Susannah Butter, the smitten writer for The London Evening Standard.

Ms. Butter is impressed with the young performer and star of his own television show, Troy.   She admits she is frustrated by his skills and her inability to uncover his secrets but she clearly fancies him.

Troy Von Scheibner is the closest thing to a superhero London has. He uses his powers to help others. “I was outside a party with Thandie Newton,” the magician tells me. “She asked for a lighter. I didn’t have one but I made one appear. She kissed me on the cheek and I thought, ‘I’ll never wash my face again’.”

We do not know Thandie Newton but she must be very attractive or famous or both to cause someone to risk acne and general scruffiness from a single, tobacco-smoke infused kiss.  For you younger magicians, remember that audiences will judge you on your appearance and hygiene so make good choices and form good habits.  Mr. Von Scheibner notes later in the article that he was kidding about not washing. “Presentation is part of the job done so I’ve always made sure I look the part – nails clean, hair done.”

And as for smoking, as someone once said, “cigarettes and kittens are wonderful and safe until you pop one in your mouth and light it on fire.”

Mr. Von Scheibner seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is unlikely to have it turned by the fawning of amorous media types or smoking damsels in distress.  He became intrigued with magic after watching David Blaine and clearly enjoys the attention our craft brings him.

At school he was known as “Magic Boy”, and if anyone teased him about it he won’t admit it. “I stopped performing for people at university because when you are known as the magic man everyone wants you to do tricks all the time. Sometimes I just want to chill so I kept it on the low.” Does it impress women? “It does. Girls are like: ‘You must be so good with your hands’. I don’t deny it.”

Ms. Butter ends her article with a purr: “Von Scheibner, I salute you – next time I need a cigarette lighter I will try my hardest to conjure you up.”

Editor’s note: we normally would have an image of Mr. Von Scheibner accompanying this article but were unable to find any available for editorial use.

Check out the full profile here.

Magic Waters and Confused Animals in Cheltenham

Inside Magic Image of DynamoThe Session is billed as the UK’s only close-up magic convention; it is “a conference for serious close-up magicians.”  This year the two-day fete was held in Cheltenham.

We have never been to Cheltenham but it sounds wonderful.  According to the internet, the town “has no fewer than five festivals, devoted to Literature, Music, Science, Jazz and, perhaps most famously, National Hunt racing.”

We are not sure what category close-up magic would occupy although probably not “National Hunt racing.”

The town was made famous by its spas or the ‘waters.’  Visitors to the waters have included Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, Jane Austen and Lord Byron.  We have heard of each of these people and therefore are very impressed.

We were even more impressed by the line-up of magicians in Cheltenham this weekend.  Promoters listed Juan Tamariz, Asi Wind, Michael Weber, Peter Clifford, Luke Jermay, Andi Gladwin, Joshua Jay, Boris Wild, Roberto Giobbi and Daniel Madison.

But we have it on good authority – YouTube and Twitter – that David Blaine and Dynamo were also in the area.

According to the social media authorities, Derren Brown, Dynamo and Mr. Blaine went to Kukui, a nightclub on Bath Road. Danny Valentine is the manager of that establishment and told local media that the “punters” were stunned by Mr. Blaine’s magic.  “He was really great and did tricks for people in his private booth. He was really nice and polite and let one of the customers play with his pack of cards.”

Just below the article about these icons of magic descending on this historic town was a link to an article that may or may not have been related to this weekend’s celebration: “Walter the dog is confused by his squeaky toy – VIDEO.”

It sounds like there was a lot of surprise and fun confusion happening.  We wish we could have been there.

Read more about the event and Walter’s confusion here.

Mirror Online Asks Readers to Choose Best TV Magician

Inside Magic Image of Tommy CooperThe Mirror Online (UK), looking to build excitement for the launch of the fourth series of Dynamo: Mission Impossible, is asking readers to vote for their favorite TV magician.

You should head over to the site and make your choice from:
Darcy Oake
David Blaine
Derren Brown
David Copperfield
Dynamo
Paul Daniels
Penn & Teller
Tommy Cooper
Troy

There is no space for a write-in vote but they do have clips from the nominees – including our inspiration, Tommy Cooper. (Unfortunately, the sound goes out near the end of the clip but it is still a joy to watch).

Click here to link to the poling site. We don’t know if it will allow you to vote more than once but perhaps that is a concern for us Chicago natives. The rest of the world likely never considers stuffing the ballot box.

Penn & Teller Dish from London

Inside Magic Image of Penn & TellerPenn & Teller are in London and the toast of the town with great press. We read this morning’s Telegraph for a nice interview with the duo. They express their admiration for Derren Brown, “He’s one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. He really puts a lot of intelligence and thought into it. He’s an artist,” said Teller.

They profess only luke-warm enthusiasm for Dynamo, “Teller says that while they admire his skills, ‘we know people like Johnny Thompson who’s 78 – and by comparison with whom [Dynamo’s] skills are somewhat… minimal. Compared with some of the old masters of this stuff.’”

They respect David Copperfield’s incredible work-ethic but bemoan the otherwise dormant magic scene.

“[Copperfield] does really good tricks, and he’s always doing new ones. But there aren’t many [magicians], you know?” Penn says heavily. Yes, there’s Siegfried and Roy, “but since Roy got his head bit off by a tiger, that slows him down somewhat. David Blaine doesn’t really do anything now. Why not? I don’t know. I don’t think he made that much money.”

We note that this is the latest in their 40 years of giving interviews where they fail to mention Inside Magic. Perhaps they are saving their effusive praise for our dogged coverage for a big presser once they return to Las Vegas. Yes, that is most certainly it. After all, tens of readers over the course of twenty years adds up to a statistical probability that they have heard of us.

We are most fascinated by behind the scenes stuff. We love logistics. So, for us, the key nuggets came at the end of the article wherein we learn the two get together on Tuesdays each week to brainstorm new tricks. That is the kind of geeky, inside information that makes us giddy. We would love to be present during one of those sessions. We wouldn’t say a word or even give some sort of indication of our existence – sort of as if we were a fly or insect in the room – we would just listen and relish the moment.

We learned that they have been working on a new effect that sounds pretty interesting. They are looking for a way to perform the Vanishing Elephant but with a live cow dressed as an elephant. We don’t know why that sounds cool but it does. We cannot imagine it is easy to work with cows and note that very few magicians have used cows in their acts in the last twenty years.

We knew of a former husband and wife act (former because they divorced) in which the husband referred to his wife as a cow on stage but that does not count. She didn’t vanish but did get a lawyer. He is doing close-up now and has “returned to ‘real magic’” with just a deck of cards and a few coins.” We suspect his new emphasis on cards and coins had something to do with the results of his divorce settlement.

Penn & Teller, like David Copperfield, seem to be asked the same questions by all interviewers. They do their best to give interesting answers and some reporters follow-up with interesting questions that lead to new information. Not often, though. That is not their fault. The Telegraph article is one of the better interview pieces we have read and worth your consideration.