Mandrake the Magician

Guest Article: The Kids’ Show Done New

Inside Magic Image for Tony Spain's Seance for Children[It is the policy of Inside Magic to offer its readers new and different views on the art of magic -- even if they are offered by those who have no reputation for honesty or integrity.  Today's submission is an essay on a new and different approach to magic for kids.  Inside Magic does not approve of Tony Spain's thoughts or approach to kids' magic.  In fact, we find them horrible.]


It is a given – and so I’ll write it at the beginning and get it over with – that people are reluctant to accept the new and cling so tightly to the old.  The old is comfortable, fits well with their beliefs (in part because the beliefs have been formed by the comfortable fit with the old pattern) and to leave the comfortable is to risk the unknown.

I think it was John Wilkes Booth that yelled Sic Semper Tyranus as he hit the stage floor after assassinating President Lincoln.  His words are reportedly from some foreign language, maybe Latin – even though people didn’t speak Latin then – and some scholars have translated them to mean, “So Always Goes (or With) Tyrants.”

Phillipe Anjou, the cartoonist and creative mind behind the 1870’s most famous one frame comic, “Li’l Trachea: The Funny Passage Way,” reworked the assassin’s declaration with humor.

The cartoon showed Li’l Trachea jumping from the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theater with a pistol in his ligaments and the ever-present hand-rolled cigarette balancing ever so gently on the top of his tube like head.  Li’l Trachea shouts “Let’s Try Something Different!”

Li’l Trachea’s little friend, Liver Boy is about to jump from the box as well and it looks like he will land right on the proud little trachea.  Li’l Trachea wants to try something different but only we, the audience, can anticipate the fun that will follow shortly.

I traveled down that side road of cartoon history, to make a point.  Even within 10 years of the death of a great public leader, the method of his assassination is lampooned as trite.

So what does this have to do with my innovation in Kid’s Magic?

Only this: I believe I have hit upon a formula that works and works independent of the traditional trappings we associate with the Kid Show or Kid Magic.  I believe it takes a certain kind of personality to perform this method but then again, so does any kid magic.  You have to feel comfortable with the children and make them feel that you are safe and you are there to entertain them for exactly 55 minutes pursuant to your written agreement with their mother, father or legal custodian.

Rather than go into the nuts and bolts right now, I thought I would relate to you my experience this weekend as I tried out my new, novel, approach to Kid’s Magic.

At the age of seven, psychologists tell us, children become aware of mortality generally and their own mortality specifically.  Perhaps a relative has passed away or maybe a family pet or close friend.  Regardless of the trigger, the age of seven, is the time to understand that few will make it out of this life alive.

Most Kid Shows ignore this ground-shaking revelation and allow the Birthday Boy or Girl to reflect silently that their birthday also means they are moving irreversibly along the river of life towards their final day.

The kids are terrified but they cannot verbalize their fear.  By pretending all is sugar and donuts, the entertainer is really just reinforcing their fear.  Every breath used to inflate a balloon is one less breath available to the child.  Blowing out the candles on their cake provides only a harsh reminder that, as Buddha said, they too will vanish from life like the flame from the candle — even a birthday candle.

I say, don’t fight these fears.  Exploit them.  Use them to make this the best birthday ever.

That’s where I came up with my concept for Kiddy Séance.  I will get to the marketing opportunities in a second, but imagine this scene.

Continue reading Guest Article: The Kids’ Show Done New

Magician Tony Spain Might Appear in Vegas, Sometime

Inside Magic Image of Chung Ling Soo Poster from 1918Magician Tony Spain announced he will be appearing in Las Vegas later next month.

He will bring his show of escapes, mentalism and kid show magic to one of the Strip’s show rooms.

He will send more details when he secures the financing for the theater.

He hopes to use the appearance to gain a foothold in the Las Vegas magic scene.

We will update this story as we learn more, probably.


 

Revisions:  This article was revised to reflect the following changes to the original copy.

April 23, 2013 18:23 – Approximately 220 words referencing Mr. Spain’s prior shoplifting convictions and probation violations were deleted at the request of the magician’s agent/lawyer.

April 23, 2013 21:18 – Photo of Mr. Spain and former assistant, Rowina Shultz was removed in response to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request from the Sears Photograph Studio in the Mystic Hollow Mall.  The studio alleged in their takedown notice that they retained the copyright because the magician failed to pay the full amount owed and the image used was actually one of the proofs sent to the customer.

April 23, 2013 01:10 – Additional text – provided by Mr. Spain – was added describing his “skillful combination of the traditional Las Vegas elements of nearly nude showgirls and classic effects audiences will fondly recall from birthday party shows performed by kid show magicians like Hippity Hop Rabbits and Sucker Sliding Die Box.”
Continue reading Magician Tony Spain Might Appear in Vegas, Sometime

Magician Lee Winters Featured

Inside Magic Image of Lee WintersYoung magician Lee Winters sounds like our kind of guy.  He loves magic, is industrious and gives back to his community.  It is entirely fitting that the Danbury News Times would dedicate considerable space to their Q&A with the Connecticut performer.

His professional name is MagicLee and his weapon of choice is a deck of cards.

Mr. Winters fell in love with our wonderful Art about seven years ago and credits the late Bill Andrews and the Stamford Society of Young Magicians with encouraging and mentoring is rapid development.

He practices every day, films his own installments for YouTube and shares our love for Shaun Farquhar’s amazing effect Shape of My Heart.

“Every time I see it, it almost brings me to tears, it’s that amazing.”

Of course there are those in the magic community who will attack this young prodigy for revealing one of the true classics, The Vanishing Card on one of his YouTube videos.  Yes, the secret has been kept from the public since Robert Houdin and known to very few – until now – but we cannot fault him for this blatant breach of magic’s sacred code.

In the course of the videos (see them here and here), he gives precise details in the angle of deflection for the card to be vanished (47 to 48 degrees), the definition of momentum (as well as the correct engineering formula for determining momentum from known velocity measurements) and even the special Natural Linguistic Programming intonation and word choice to present the effect for maximum impact.

We can hear the exposure is good crowd crowing:

“Yeah, but anyone could figure out the trick.  It is wrong to keep secrets from the public.  No one goes on YouTube anymore.  There’s always a trick to it because there is no such thing as magic.  Why shouldn’t all magic be exposed before the trick is done and then the audience would better appreciate the actual performance rather than be surprised and shocked with no real chance to recreate the events causing the surprise?”
Continue reading Magician Lee Winters Featured

Magician Banned: Tweeting ‘Wand’ Pic

Inside Magic Image of Innocent Debutante Receiving Weird Tweet from Tony SpainInept magician Tony Spain’s attempt to “cash in” on the Anthony Weiner scandal backfired.

Tony Spain is by all accounts one of the worst people in magic. He proved deserving of the title last week attempting to make commercial hay out of the Anthony Wiener scandal by “sending a Twitter of his wand.”

Mr. Spain sent a grainy image of a beat-up magic wand as an attachment to his unsolicited direct messages to hundreds important debutantes in 23 different locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Many of the young ladies — having been chastened by the news surrounding Anthony Weiner’s scandal — refused to open the image attachment. As a result, Twitter determined Tony Spain’s messages were “uninvited, obscene material” and violated the Twitter terms of service. The folks at Twitter closed Tony Spain’s account without opening the attached image. Tony yelped and pleaded but Twitter refused to entertain the insolent magi’s petitions.

Tony Spain, being Tony Spain, started an impotent public attack on Twitter. He claimed the nascent Internet social media company was infringing on his “Fifth Amendment rights.”

Disregard for a second that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution has nothing to do with free speech or speech conducted via social media, by making this allegation Mr. Spain’s shared ample proof of his ignorance worldwide.

We assume Mr. Spain wanted to argue that he had certain First Amendment rights guaranteeing him the “Right to Free Speech.” As noted above, this right only protects against actions by the government.  (With the passage of the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights apply to protect against the actions of state and local governments). As readers of Inside Magic know, the Fifth Amendment protects against being forced to incriminate oneself.

We have received perhaps hundreds of copies of Mr. Spain’s Twitter messages from the original recipients and others. The text of the message accompanying the image attachment reads, “Here is a picture of my wand. Look at it. Isn’t it magnificent? It is so magical.”

What Tony Spain hoped to accomplish is unclear. But that is how Tony Spain rolls. Who would open the attachment to a message like this?

Continue reading Magician Banned: Tweeting ‘Wand’ Pic

Letters to Editor: Co-Dependent Magic

When required by court order or self-interest, Inside Magic posts questions from readers and our responses.  If you have a question or comment for Inside Magic, please send it to questions@insidemagic.com.

Dear Mr. Medico:

I want to make money reading Terrets cards and am looking four a good books to red.  What do you sugest?

Mr. Amazing

Dear Mr. Amazing:

Actually, from the salutation “Mr. Medico” and the question about “Terrets cards,” we think you may have intended to ask your question of the webmd.com doctor panel.

The Tourette Syndrome Show hasn’t been performed for years.  The last practitioner of the thankfully dead routine was the amoral and incapable Tony Spain.

And even Tony no longer performs any tricks involving or utilizing the unfortunate neurological syndrome known as Tourette syndrome.

In fact, Tony wrote to his parole officer last year that he no longer performs his profitable but offensive hour-long school assembly show; “showcasing different neurological and psychiatric maladies while entertaining kids and teachers alike with witty asides and magic.”

Apparently the foul mouthed and bad breathed Mr. Spain came to understand the plight of the afflicted or his bookings dried up.  We’re guessing it was the latter.

You can still find YouTube videos with his rendition of FRESH FISH SOLD HERE TODAY foisted upon the frail self-image of a stutterer or Tourette syndrome victim, forced to read into the nicotine streaked microphone whilst facing his or her classmates.

If we are not mistaken, you could buy the whole routine with props and script on Tony’s website for $200.00 a while back.  We don’t know if anyone took him up on this offer but our belief in human nature gives us reason to hope that era in Magic is gone.

========

Dear Insidious Magic:

How come you never publish any of the letters I send to you?

Jeremy


Continue reading Letters to Editor: Co-Dependent Magic