Mandrake the Magician
Penn & 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.
The Champions of Magic comes to Hastings’ White Rock Theatre next week, April 12th.
The theatre (apparently the metric spelling of “theater”) is billing the evening as a chance to encounter an “award winning team of liars, swindlers and cheats for a spectacular night of trickery you’ll be trying to work out for a long time to come.”
What a great craft we practice. There are few professions where an audience could be asked to pay to see “liars, swindlers and cheats.” Strangely, we work in two of those crafts: the law and magic. Perhaps it says something about us or perhaps we should avoid introspection because it leads to the spiraling agony of regret and shame. Either way.
The Champions Of Magic features four of our best doing what they do better than any of us.
Three veterans of our art will perform: Luke Jermay is well-known to audiences and magicians on both sides of the Atlantic ocean and was most recently headlining in Las Vegas, was the inspiration for the American television series The Mentalist and consults with Derren Brown to produce some of the most stunning effects seen by modern audiences.
Ali Cook is the star of Sky One’s Secret World Of Magic, Monkey Magic and Dirty Tricks.
Fay Presto, is distinguished member of The Magic Circle, has been personally requested to perform for Queen Elizabeth six times, is a favorite of JK Rowling and appeared on the ITV’s Heroes Of Magic.
They are joined by the 2012 Magic Circle Close-up Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum – billed as one of the world’s top young magicians and has received great praise from Derren Brown.
Promoters promise a combination of elegant classics and cutting edge alternative magic resulting in “a mastery of card manipulation, death defying stunts, sleight of hand and spectacular illusions.”
We wish we had a way of getting to Hastings to attend this amazing collection of amazing talent and can only hope it will be exported to our shores like the other great UK products: fish and chips, The Office, table manners, The Beatles, some seasons of Doctor Who, statistics-based epidemiological public health, the ruler (not the “Ruler”), Benny Hill, English Muffins, Canadian Bacon (indirectly) and the ability to identify non-toxic mushrooms in the wild.
Magician Ev Boothby a/k/a “Mister E Magic” has yet to turn 21 but has already experienced more in his young life than most.
He fell in love with our divine Art at the age six and was devotee of Inside Magic Favorite Tommy Cooper.
Due to family problems, Mr. Boothby spent much of his life transitioning to and from foster families before eventually living with his sister.
“I used magic as a way of coping with things,” he said. “It was hard as I always wanted to be at home with my mum, but you don’t really have a voice at that age.”
He dedicated much of his time in high school studying not his coursework but magic. At the age of 14, Mr. Boothby won a local talent show and later began work performing for kids’ parties and charity events.
Mr. Boothby is now 20-years-old and told the reporter for Eastern Daily Press (UK), “Things weren’t easy. But if there’s something that you like doing, whether it is football, dancing or magic, then I think that, with hard work, anyone can make something of themselves.” The bookings have picked up and he is busy most weekends performing at weddings, kid shows and corporate events.
If that was the end of the story, it would be a good one. A young man faced with a tragic home situation uses magic to find appreciative audiences for his passionate performances.
But Mr. Boothby’s story continues. In his spare time (and we do not know how that is possible with his schedule) the young magician established The West End of Walsham, “an amateur dramatics group whose members range from eight to 80.”
The troupe put together a variety show and will tour in April. Proceeds will benefit Ryan White, a pediatric patient battling neuroblastoma, a virulent form of brain cancer.
Continue reading UK Magician Ev Boothby Impresses the Pros
Reading is one of our favorite things to do. We read constantly. Our job (the real one where we make gobs of cash easily converted into gobs worth of magic tricks and books) is all about reading and during our breaks, we read.
We used our advance skills to learn about the goings on over in the United Kingdom. You may be able to read this faster, it is tough for us to sound out words in a British accent and virtually impossible to focus on not moving our lips as we work through each word plus try to derive meaning. Duncan Trillo’s MagicWeek.co.uk web site is on our weekly must read list. This weekend we learned the British Magical Society awarded the David Berglass Award to Inside Magic Favorite Derren Brown.
The presentation took place during Annual Awards Dinner of the BMS in Coldfield, Birmingham.
Derren Brown is currently touring with a new show “Svengali” and was therefore well-equipped to document the presentation by his own private film crew.
We will have to do some more reading to learn more about his new show, Svengali. It sounds fascinating and is just the type of thing young magicians in this country need to see.
The Svengali Deck has fallen on tough times in the States. Perhaps its ubiquity from the TV Magic Card campaign scorched the earth but if Derren Brown can do an entire two hour evening show with nothing more than a Svengali Deck, that’s proof that the old trick still has some life yet.
We imagine with his big budget, he can use a different deck for each show and decrease the chances of being found out by audience members who see the show more than once.
Read the full article here: MagicWeek – Magic News in the UK – Magic Shop, Magic Tricks, Magic Convention.
Reading Derren Brown reminded us, honestly, of the Biblical Prophet Isaiah.
“What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD.
“I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure.
“When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you?
“Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me.”
We thought of Isaiah not because Mr. Brown’s book is spiritual.
Nope. There are parts and pieces of Mr. Brown’s book that make you feel as if he is decidedly anti-Christian.
He mocks Christianity – or perhaps we misread that which is meant to be serious as sarcastic.
So, if he is not biblically spiritual, he is nonetheless inspiring enough to read and re-read.
Consider the Isaiah-like pronouncement Mr. Brown makes:
“Aaahhh, my loves, and so we come to the end of a wonderful journey: we have
dipped our toelets in the the shimmering pool of secret wonder and
I wonder if this book will affect your performance of magic or mentalism.
Let us roll up our collective sleeve of integrity and reach down deep into
the raw, foetid effluence of dull, unconvincing effects: past the
steaming turds that are billet switches; past the faecal nuggest that
are sealed envelopes and ‘gaps left for a nail writer;’ and deep belowy
that dead otter – that single stinking stool of immense proportions
that is the standard book test, or the ‘sealed predicition.”
In Bob Cassidy’s work, including his extraordinary Mental Miracles DVD, he argues that we should avoid the typical “card trick” or the use of cards to in your own mental miracle.
Like Kierkegaard in the world of (later) non-Christian Existentialists, the point is that once you have an understanding of your world, you are free to do as you need to live as you should for He who you know.
Use cards, Mr. Brown argues, use them if you need to or want to if it has anything to do with the effect you want your audience to feel.
Do not use cards because you are comfortable with them or because you know a neat trick.
Mr. Brown describes an epiphany when he sat at a table and imagined what it would be like to be a typical diner being approached by one of us, a table-hopper.
Continue reading Derren Brown’s Pure Effect – Changed Our Life!