Magic on Pawn Stars

Inside Magic Image of the Late Sydney Radner Showing Houdini Cuffs to Elizabeth Dobrska

Murry Sawchuck is more than a great magician and star of the Las Vegas tribe of performers.  He is a television legend — at least to our well-hacked TiVo.

We enjoy watching television — it’s like our special friend.  We watch infomercials, C-SPAN and the Weather Channel exclusively.  If it doesn’t involve getting blown down in a torrential rain, voted down in an unanticipated filibuster or proclaimed to be the best of its kind and available for three easy payments, chances are we have not seen it.

The exception to this rule is anything related to magic.

If the content has anything to do with magic, magicians, illusion, illusionists, escapes, escape artists or Japanese gravure idol Nozomi Sasaki, our specially modified TiVo captures it for us.  Yes, hacking a TiVo is an inexact science and we have wasted gigabytes of space on shows using our key words but in a non-magic way.  (We have a seven hour debate from the Senate on whether Magic Markers should constitute an inhalant for the purpose of federal anti-huffing law.  It was ultimately tabled and that issue remains in limbo.)

But when it catches a show, we are giddy with delight.  Our eyes widen as we see the special on-screen message we hacked, “Oh Mr. Magic, I have something for you to see.”

Fortunately, we never have company and live alone in what is practically a double-wide trailer here on the outskirts of Mystic Hollow, Michigan, so there is little chance we will ever be embarrassed by the message coming on screen and being misinterpreted.  It is our little secret.

(By the way, the International Standards Organization defines a “double-wide” trailer home as being one which 20 feet across and at least 90 feet long.   We got the Magico Rancho at a scratch and dent FEMA auction in between hurricanes for almost nothing.  It was only when we measured to install some lightly used mauve carpeting that we learned it fell short of the width requirement by 2-1/2 feet.

The good news, we had enough extra carpeting for our luxury automobile, “The Mysterny Machine.”  The bad news, we did not qualify for the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of double-wide owners against the manufacturers for some defect or smell or something.

Speaking of lawsuits, we had to change the name of our ride to “The Mysterny Machine” because we were threatened by the production company of a certain cartoon dog, his beatnik owner and their ghost-chasing friends.  We won’t tell you the name of the show but it rhymes with Doobie Scoo.)

But of course we digress.  Of course, we digress from a story about hacking a TiVo so it may have been a welcome change of topic.

The History Channel has a great show called “Pawn Stars” and our TiVo picked up a couple of episodes.  Several episodes included Las Vegas Magician Murray Sawchuk, the shop’s Magic Historian.  Houdini’s Handcuffs. [Internet]. 2013. The History Channel website. Available from: http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/episodes/season-2 [Accessed 12 Mar 2013].

This weekend, we were treated to a special moment of wonder when a customer / seller brought in handcuffs and leg shackles he alleged came from Harry Houdini.
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Sidney Radner Passes – Keeper of Houdini Legend

Inside Magic Image of Sidney Radner and Curator Elizabeth C. Dobrska The New York Times broke the sad news of Sidney Radner’s passing today.  He was 91.

We considered a few people pillars of our Magic Reality.  Sidney Radner, Martin Gardner, Harry Blackstone, Jr., and David Copperfield.  We could not imagine magic without these four fixtures in our worldview of this wonderful art.

Mr. Radner  thoroughly in loved Magic and literally held the key to some of the finest pieces of history from Magic’s Golden Age.

According to his son, William, cancer was the cause of Mr. Radner’s death.

The Times correctly observed Mr. Radner’s unique position in the preservation of magic history.

Mr. Radner is credited in the world of magicians and magic collectors with having preserved some of the most important of Houdini’s props, including the “Chinese Water Torture Cell” (a water tank in which Houdini was lowered upside down, his feet chained) and the oversize “Milk Can” he used in a similar escape stunt.

His collection also included lesser items, but for Houdini buffs equally treasured, like the lock picks Houdini hid from his audiences by swallowing them, then regurgitating them, for escapes; cylinder pulleys, key wrenches, latches, levers and tumblers he used in various tricks; and a set of charred handcuffs from the exhibit that was set up in the theater lobby for his shows, advertised by Houdini as “handcuffs used in Spain on prisoners burning to death in 1600!”

Mr. Radner’s great fortune began when he attended a convention in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1935.  It was there that he met Theo Weiss a/k/a Hardeen; Houdini’s kid brother and an fine escape artist in his own right.


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