It is a familiar story to magicians, the incessant physical training and weight maintenance to achieve the perfect body for magic. For actor Jim Carrey, however, the rigors of our art were daunting.
He told People (the magazine, not just a collection of individuals standing near him) his strict diet gave him a great body but “it’s not a happy place to be.”
“It’s not a natural place to live in that kind of shape,” he said. “It looks great. It’s fantastic and gets a lot of attention, but you have to eat, like, antimatter to stay in that kind of shape.”
Indeed, many magicians have found the diet and exercise required to maintain the perfect “magician’s body” just too demanding and have left the profession. Michael Jordan once commented that he had hoped to be a magician but found the constant physical conditioning “just impossible.” “It was like trying to hit a curve ball in triple-A; I just couldn’t do it.”
Magic historians credit Harry Houdini with setting the standard for the “magician’s body.”
“Before Houdini,” said one magic scholar, “magicians looked like the average audience member. Some were in great shape, some were in terrible shape and some looked like they were in great shape but were really in terrible shape. There were none who looked like they were in great shape but were really in terrible shape.”
Houdini’s emphasis on physical conditioning forced him to run several miles a day and perform calisthenics. He ate right and did not smoke. In his youth, he was a competitive runner and circus performer. Those two avocations sculpted his body to near Adonis perfection and set his own personal standard for a lifetime of physically demanding discipline.
It was not commonly known that Harry Kellar could bench press in excess of 200 lbs or that Adelaide Herrmann could perform one-handed push-ups with either arm.
“In those days, most magicians kept their superb bodies under wraps, so to speak. Audiences were not attracted to performers because of their physiques,” one commentator noted. “Only freak show performers removed enough clothing to show anything.”
Today, most magic conventions look like a gathering of Olympic competitors. “Compared with the other performing arts, amateur and professional magicians have far and away the best bodies and physical conditioning.”
Continue reading Jim Carrey on Starving for Magic Physique
When required by court order or circumstances that would somehow improve our stature in the magic community, Inside Magic will issue retractions, corrections and amendments in response to verified complaints by real people who have been offended or injured in some manner by our writing.
The April 1, 2005 "April Fools Edition" of Inside Magic was written as a parody and should not have been taken as literally representing the truth. We assumed most magicians would know it is unsafe to snort fanning powder or make mixed drinks with "magicians' milk." Because of a few kids who were smart enough to sound out the words in that edition but lacked the common sense to not really swallow razor blades, we had to wait until 2012 for the statute of limitations to run and issue this correction.
Despite the apparently real photograph shown in our July 22, 2010 column "Magicians on the Go" we had no evidence the world famous magician pictured was suffering gastric and intestinal distress as the image indicated. We used a trial version of Photoshop to place the magician in a port-a-let with the door apparently blown off by a horrific gas explosion. We thought this was obvious because the magician's hair was still in place in the image and everyone knows he wears a toupee.
Contrary to the thrust of our September 15, 2008 story, "Guess What Disease" the two magicians identified in the article were not suffering any malady and, to the best of our knowledge, are healthy as a horse and a cow respectively. To be fair, we never said they had a specific disease, only that they looked "sick and gross like they swallowed the gross end of decaying pig carcass." That could have been interpreted to mean they looked normal for them or that we were just concerned about their health. To suggest that the story was a method of besmirching their good name is an over-reach.
As far as we know, there is no evidence to suggest Harry Houdini faked his own death to marry a marionette or, for that matter, any type of puppet used by popular entertainers of the day. We were just speculating what he could have done if he wanted to sneak out of his marriage to meet his well-known fetishistic needs. We regret any misunderstanding arising from the August 11, 2011 article, "Houdini Faked His Own Death to Marry a Prop."
In our "Best of Las Vegas" column of December 12, 2004, we inadvertently provided the wrong address for the Magic of Vegas Theatre. Frankly we were surprised it took until last week for anyone to complain about the mix-up and even more surprised that magicians visiting Las Vegas would mistake the establishment at the address given for a theater for performing arts. We also apologize for any part we played in establishing the tradition of appreciative magic fans stuffing dollar bills into the waistbands of close-up performers in Las Vegas and The Magic Castle.
The answer to our 1996 Fourth of July Magic Crossword Puzzle for Clue 22(Down) should have been "bunny." The clue was "what a magician has hidden in his clothing." We regret the error and are frankly troubled by some of the answers proposed by our readers.
Because we did not conduct our own research but printed verbatim the press release we received, the article "Tony Spain Makes Island Nation of Guam Vanish" was incorrect. Guam remained intact and Tony's press release was a total fabrication with no basis in reality. Similarly, the articles, "Tony Spain Cures Warts in New Dinner Show," "Tony Spain Licks Own Elbow," and "Tony Spain Found Not Guilty in Mayonnaise Smuggling Trial" were not properly fact-checked and were all fabrications of Mystic Hollow's own Tony Spain.
David Blaine played to a nearly empty theatre in Holland recently.
The dearth of audience members was intentional, however.
DNA India reports his sponsor, Madonna, rented out the entire movie theater “so that she could enjoy a night out at the movies with her boyfriend Brahim Zaibat.”
Described as Madonna’s “Toyboy” by the media source, Mr. Zaibat is a 24-year-old dancer on tour with the iconic performer.
Mr. Blaine was brought in to entertain the small party of Madonna, her companion, daughter and manager at The Tuschinski cinema in Amsterdam.
DNA India says Mr. Blaine performed his “trademark card tricks.”
We are told that Madonna was wearing “a cardigan, knee length skirt and glasses” and her ensemble could be considered “demure.”
We have attempted to learn more about Mr. Blaine’s “trademark card tricks” but to no avail. Initially, we assumed this was some new effect in which trademarks of various companies or services vanished or transformed visibly whilst in the able control of the magician. This left us without the satisfaction we crave when we encounter something new.
We immediately tore through our books and periodicals collected in the anteroom to the great Hardy Estate’s Southern Annex. We found nothing about “trademark card tricks” in the more recent journals and books.
Knowing Mr. Blaine’s penchant for reviving the classics of the great masters – such as Buried Alive in the spirit of Harry Houdini – we thought “trademark card tricks” maybe a knowing wink to the performance of his predecessors.
Interestingly, it is widely accepted that one of the very first trademark was created by and for the Dutch East Indies Company in Amsterdam around 1601. Perhaps that was why Mr. Blaine performed the “trademark card tricks” whilst in the city.
We were able to find one reference to a trick that sounds similar to the “trademark card trick” in an old Popular Science magazine advertisement from Johnson Smith & Co. The writing is difficult to make out and we have tried to highlight the portion that seems relevant. Our reading of the original (sorry for the poor quality scan) is:
“but none MORE entertaining then (sic) TRADEMARK Cards trick . . . VANISH and REAPPEAR with EASE . . . friends and even GIRLS!”
We will continue looking for additional references and supplement this article as we find them.
But for now, as the Sherlock Holmes commented to Dr. Watson upon learning his toilet seat was stolen – no doubt by Professor Moriarity – “I’m afraid there’s not much to go on.”
John Cox’ website Wild About Harry is a must-stop on our daily gallivant across the digital dusty trails that crisscross the internets.
He feeds at least half our jones with information about Harry Houdini’s continued hold on the imagination of our collective, modern mind.
Today, he filled us to the brim with news about Harry Houdini AND antique watches.
We have admitted our weaknesses often, publicly and consistently to certain objects that hold a fetishistic control over our innards. Two of those “things” that can make us lose track of time, sense of place and dollars we do not have or could hope to ever obtain are antique pens and watches.
Why? We don’t know. No clue. Yes, much of our schooling was accomplished (or at least attempted) while we were traveling with the Li’l Tom Hardy show and the private tutors hired often had peculiar takes on educational methods. And yes, we were affected deeply by one tutor who would hypnotize with the aid of a brilliant gold watch, rewards us with beautiful fountain pens and, when necessary, punish us with the same two items but used differently.
Some (such as the California Child Endangerment Board) might associate our current irrational joy or fear to our prior experiences with watches and pens. We do not think about it that much, however. We just assume it is one of those special little quirks that make us “special.”
Other quirks include:
1. Refusal to drink any hot beverage unless it is placed on a table and sipped through a 24″-26″ plastic straw;
2. Refusal to eat any meat unless purchased from Burger King (or other establishment with a connection to royalty);
3. Fear of spontaneous landslides occurring whilst using a portable toilet;
4. Insistence that all Swiss Cheese have an odd number of holes;
5. Belief that the souls of chicks from eggs we have eaten cause dyspepsia and hearing loss;
Continue reading WILD ABOUT HARRY: Houdini’s watch sells for $25,000
Today’s New York Daily News draws readers into its tabloid fold with the headlines “Snooki tweets photo of baby bump” and Adam Cardone works magic on escapist fare.
If you are interested in the Snooki baby bump story, check out our sister website, Inside Snooki for the latest sonogram images of what she has cooking. Here on Inside Magic, however, we discuss magic and not the kind of magic Snooki works on the MTV show Jersey Shore. We’re talking the kind of magic that makes you feel good and involves some degree of book learnin’.
Mr. Cardone didn’t start off to be a magician. He did recognize his extroverted nature would lead him into fields where his personality would be appreciated and perhaps rewarded. Perhaps he does share something in common with Snooki.
“I’ve been an extrovert in my home life,” he says, “so why be any different in my professional life?”
He studied acting at the very prestigious and very tough to get into Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With his Masters of Fine Arts in hand, he set off to act. Soon, however, he found “straight acting” to be blasé.
So from straight acting to straight jackets, the young man with big dreams and high energy found magic and its sub-discipline of escape artistry.
He will appear in Brooklyn this Saturday at “The Olde Time Coney Island Strongman Spectacular,” a free event on W. 12th St. and the Bowery in Brooklyn.
Inspired by Harry Houdini
, Mr. Cardone will perform the Milk Can Escape. But with a twist.
“If you type ‘milk can escape’ into Google,” Mr. Cardone told the news folks, “it immediately comes up with the secret to the trick. I start my show by telling the audience Houdini’s way.”
His way, according to the Daily News is not an illusion but that the dangers of the escape are genuine. “The straitjacket is real, the locks are real, and the possibility of it all going very wrong is the most real of all.”
Continue reading Failure Means a Drowning Death Redux