Magic and Magicians endure.
Time and Life magazines paid homage to our noble profession’s gathering in Indianapolis this weekend by looking back at the 1947 Society of American Magicians held in Chicago in 1947.
If you follow the link to the Google books page of that original Life Magazine article you can see wonderful images of some of the greats performing for the Life cameras. It could be that Dr. Harlan Tarbell did perform the Balancing an Egg on a Fan While Blindfolded trick as part of his nightclub act. Maybe magicians did do Multiplying Golf Balls in a strip club and drew all eyes from the dancers gyrating on stage to their strained and stretched fingers. But is also just as likely that the convention attendees were doing what magicians do best at convention time – getting good press.
Time and Life’s website gives a link to the SAM 2016 registration page, a 2014 blurb on the ill-fated efforts to exhume Houdini’s remains to test for poisoning and a 1994 essay by Penn Jillette explaining why Vegas was the most logical place for magic to reside. He has some snarky things to say about Siegfried & Roy and Melinda but that was the old, “bad-boys of magic” Penn.
From the post-war era, to the 1970s with Doug Henning’s The Magic Show raking in $60,000.00 each week on Broadway ($307,175.32 in today’s dollars), to David Copperfield’s globe-trotting success, and later David Blaine taking it to the streets with camera in tow, Magic has endured.
In that 1974 Time article reporting on that decade’s fascination in magic and magicians, James Randi said the upsurge in interest is “a sign that our society is still healthy. When people stop being enthralled by a magician who can make a lady vanish, it will mean that the world has lost its most precious possession: its sense of wonder.”
Like the Dude, Magic endures.
Although 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.
You may have already heard but in case you missed it, Illusionist David Copperfield’s Manhattan rooftop swimming pool burst and flooded his penthouse apartment and those in the 30 stories below.
Apparently the pump for his lap pool went on the fritz and pumped water throughout his “four-story, greenhouse-like penthouse.”
It could have been a real tragedy because Mr. Copperfield keeps some of his most valuable artwork and antiques.
What kind of antiques? Our kind of antiques. He has a wonderful collection of vintage arcade pieces from Coney Island. We would like to think that when we get really wealthy, we will have such collectibles in our east coast apartment. We’re not being ironic or even sarcastic. We mean it. We find it depressing when millionaires invest in artwork that we wouldn’t pay to see. We would pay good money to see a collection of vintage arcade pieces from the home of cool carny things, Coney Island. Perhaps that thinking is why we will never be a millionaire.
The water did damage the elevators for a day or so and there was damage to the apartments below all the way down to the basement.
Mr. Copperfield’s attorney told the press, “David was terrified, because he has these rare, vintage Coney Island machines, which are priceless, irreplaceable antiques, including a fortune teller, strength testers, an electric shock machine and shooting galleries. But for some unknown reason — or stroke of luck — these machines were spared by the water. There’s a magic trick called ‘The Bullet Catch,’ where the illusionist catches the bullet in his teeth, and David thinks he really dodged a bullet here.”
Mr. Copperfield was not in New York at the time – he was in Las Vegas, performing at the MGM Resort.
Magician Ariann Black received a great write-up and interview in today’s Westword in advance of her upcoming shows this weekend at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock, Colorado.
Ms. Black is well-known to Vegas audiences and is now taking the craft she began at the age of four to Colorado. She took inspiration from Doug Henning and his non-traditional appearance.
“At four, you don’t realize that there is more than one magic trick out there. I was fascinated with the idea that there was more than one magic trick and you could do all sorts of things. When I was twelve, I saw Doug Henning on television, and prior to that I had been told that girls couldn’t be magicians. But when I saw Doug Henning and I saw him with his look — he didn’t look like that stereotypical magician — I thought, yeah, I can be a magician, too. He really inspired me.”
The road has not been easy and she points out that within our predominantly male ranks, “women are just an oddity.” She has a small group of female magicians with whom she attends conventions and share. Ms. Black is “always on the lookout for female magicians, especially the younger ones, to make sure that they know that kind of behavior (toward them) is not okay, it’s not acceptable and that they need to stand up for who they are and be respected. It doesn’t just happen in magic — it happens everywhere.”
Be sure to check out the full interview for her thoughts on animal acts, David Copperfield, Criss Angel and why magic still works with today’s modern audiences.
Ariann Black performs this Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock. For more information on the shows and to buy tickets, visit the Theatre of Dreams website. Check out Ms. Black’s website here.
Inside Magic Favorites Kevin and Cindy Spencer will bring their incredible show, “Spencers: Theatre of Illusion” to Elgin, Illinois’ beautiful ECC Arts Center Saturday on April 11.
The Theatre of Illusion is an incredible event with high-tech effects, drama, comedy, romance, and suspense. Blending the theatrical elements of a Broadway-style production with the energy of a rock concert, Kevin and Cindy Spencer take audiences on a journey to the impossible. The Spencers won the International Magic Society’s “Magician of the Year Award” in 2009, joining the likes of David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller, and have been described as “modern day Houdinis” by critics.
The Spencers’ production is a unique fusion of magic and illusion, humor and mystery, and persona and personality. With a background in clinical psychology, Kevin likes to say, “I was going to help people’s minds, but now I just mess with them.”
“Theatre of Illusion” stands in stark contrast to the traditional magic show. Kevin Spencer sees it not as a stage full of tricks used to fool people, but as a way to inspire viewers with a sense of wonder. Audience members don’t simply watch the show, but are also invited to participate in the magic. Using magic much like a storyteller uses words, Kevin fuses this family-friendly production with a gamut of emotions. And with the skills of a master showman, he creates a world where nothing is impossible and anything can happen.
Tickets to Spencers: Theatre of Illusion are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets for all performances in the ECC Arts Center are available online at tickets.elgin.edu or at the ECC Arts Center box office. Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To purchase tickets by phone, call 847-622-0300. All major credit cards are accepted.