Pop Haydn is a Guilty Pleasure

Pop Haydn - Photo by Billy BaqueWatching Pop Haydn is a guilty pleasure for us.

Unlike eating an entire pint of ice cream whilst binge watching previously unseen How It’s Made episodes, we are not left feeling too guilty or dotted with chocolate stains when we watch the master perform.

Recently we attended a private party at The Magic Castle and saw the incredible Pop Haydn own the crowds gathered in the Peller Theatre for four performances.  We legitimately attended the first show of the evening and then snuck in again for a later show.  It was wonderful.

Pop f/k/a Whit Haydn works a room better than anyone we have ever seen.  He interacts with the audience effortlessly and handles volunteers so well that each outing was like a lesson in advanced magic techniques.

He performed his iconic The Six Card Trick, Color Changing Silk, Mongolian Pop Knot and finished with his world-famous Four Ring Routine.

Magicians know that Pop has been performing these effects for many years but he brought each alive for his enthusiastic lay crowds last night as if it was the first time.  He has a tremendous ability to take what the audience gives him and work it to the further betterment of his routine.  He never drops his character or varies from the spirit of his persona.

We checked with our friends who attended the shows last night and to a one, each thought Pop was absolutely incredible, the highlight of the evening.  That is saying a lot considering they had the entire Magic Castle filled with performers with whom to compare.

If we could have, we would have watched all four of his performances.  Some would say that is obsessive and they would usually be correct but not in this case.  Unlike fattening ice cream, excessive watching of Pop Haydn cannot clog one’s arteries, stain clothing or rot teeth.  It can lead to bewilderment and disorientation but we are willing to take those risks for the benefits received.

Inside Magic Review: Five Out of Five – Our Highest!

Photo Credit: Billy Baque

Whit “Pop” Haydn’s New Book: A Treasure


Inside Magic Image of Whit Haydn's Newest Book, Stories of a Street PerformerWhit “Pop” Haydn is to Magic what Marconi was to communication. He is a legendary performer with the skills of a ninja and the charm of a religious idol. In a word, we think Mr. Haydn is pretty impressive.

We recently saw his performance for Magnetized Water at The Junkyard in Simi Valley, California (“Simi” is pronounced “see – mee” and not “seh meh” or “Sigh My” as we learned from about five people along the way).

He was in full character as Pop Haydn extolling the virtues of his latest discovery. With illustrated charts and graphs, he explained how Magnetized Water matches up with the body’s own natural polarity. It was a fantastic routine filled with genuine magic and a convincing sales pitch.

Even more exciting, for us, was the well-developed character of Pop himself. He is a treasure from an earlier century who readily admit his inner hustler tendencies but promises to lie only once per show. Once that one lie quota is met, he will shade the truth and perhaps be less than candid but promises to never lie outright. You have to respect an honest con-man.

We met Mr. Haydn aboard a ship decades ago. He was performing for the huddle masses on the luxurious over-sized yacht and even called upon our bride to be his assistant in his famous Four Ring Routine.

We were more excited than she at his choice and her performance. Our beloved eschews the spotlight and despite her elegance on stage, was happy to return to the relative anonymity of our stage-side booth.

“You were on stage with Whit Haydn,” we exclaimed with a mouthful of caviar.

“Who is Whit Haydn? Is he famous?” She asked, dabbing away the delicious roe from our lips, chin and tie.

“He is the man,” we offered proudly.

“Oh, the magician?” She asked.

“Yes. Yes, that is Whit Haydn and you were on stage performing his Four Ring Routine.”

“He seems very nice. Why can’t you do magic like that?”

We admit that she was very young at the time and it was likely the champagne and fluster talking. Nonetheless, she continued to sing his praises throughout the rest of voyage. Despite our natural jealous nature, we could not begrudge her crush-like admiration for Mr. Haydn.

To see Mr. Haydn perform is to forget about magic entirely. We tend to have a critical eye when watching other performers. We are not critical but we do see flaws in sleights that can distract from the overall experience. Mr. Haydn reminded us then – and now – of Dai Vernon or Slydini. Natural without forcing the impression of being natural.


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Copperfield Picks Next “Great Magician”

Inside Magic Image of Paw-Paw Lawton's Instructional DVD Teaches the Magic Trick Glorpy (a/k/a Hyrum the Hilarious Hank)

David Copperfield made the tough choice of successor, sort of, as part of the NBC Today Show’s Magic Mondays.

The finalists, in order of the last letter of their first name: Kayla DrescherJeff Prace and Ben Jackson.

NBC’s publicists claim “hundreds of aspiring magicians sent in videos of themselves performing magic tricks in TODAY’s quest to find the next David Copperfield. Producers teamed up with Copperfield to pick the three best to perform on Monday’s show.”

Ms. Drescher is a magic bartender from Boston and performed “a magic bottle cap trick, swapping Heineken caps with Sam Adams and Bud Light tops right before their eyes.”

Mr. Prace is college student created a stir by producing “a full pack appear from just a single stick.”

Mr. Jackson tore a picture of the show’s hosts and restored same.

Mr. Copperfield chose Ms. Drescher to win the show’s Magic Mondays trophy plus a trip to witness the master magician’s acclaimed Las Vegas show currently at his home in the desert, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

Mr. Copperfield correctly observed, “[t]o have more women doing magic is a great thing.  We’d like to see more of that.”

Congratulations to the finalists and to Ms. Dresher for bringing home the big win.

Mark Panner, the erstwhile Inside Magic stringer, said a NBC producer returned his entry tape with a perfunctory note.  He performed Hippity Hop Rabbits in the 43 minute video.  He was proud that the “turn-it-around” portion of the trick lasted more than a half hour and featured a student audience from Mystic Hollow Elementary School.

“I think a lot of it is political,” Mr. Panner wrote.  “They didn’t want someone on the show who could show up the big star.  They knew I could milk their studio audience with the trick like nobody’s business.  Copperfield’s tricks are all over in a few minutes – that’s why he has to do so many in his shows.  It’s like five minutes and bang, on to the next illusion.”

We do not disagree that Mr. Copperfield performs effects more quickly and of a greater variety than Mr. Panner but do note that some audiences actually prefer more tricks per show rather than less.  Mr. Panner disagrees.

“Copperfield does like six illusions in the first 24 minutes of his Vegas show.  That averages around four or five minutes an illusion.  The audience never really gets a chance to see what’s happening.  Boom, Copperfield appears on stage.  Boom, girls appear out of nowhere and then vanish.  Boom, his motorcycle appears flying over the audience.  Boom, a duck eats a scorpion while Orson Welles talks about cards or something with a license plate with graffiti. 
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From Whit to Magic Babe Ning

Inside Magic Image of Magic Babe NingYesterday, Thanksgiving here in the U.S., we republished our first Inside Magic Celebrity Interview . Whit Haydn was the first of the Inside Magic Favorites and a great start to our on-line journal back in 2003.

Whit Haydn is one of the busiest in our craft and so we were honored that he would take time to help launch Inside Magic.

We have had some great interviews over the last seven years. We doubt professionals in other crafts are so willing to give access to the lesser media outlets; but magicians have almost uniformly been available for interviews, stories, gossip, and denial of gossip.

Coming up on Monday, November 30, we are honored to publish our latest Inside Magic Celebrity Interview with one of the hottest magicians working today.

Magic Babe Ning and J.C.Sum have been featured here and in more reputable journals around the world for their constant push to outdo their previous stunts. We asked Ning if she would consider being the subject of our Inside Magic Celebrity Interview and surprisingly, she said yes. We learned later that she was very sick and no doubt acceded to our plea in feverous delirium.

It is a classy person who sticks by her promises; even if the promises were made under duress. Ning is the definition of classy.

We were surprised by her willingness to answer even our more intrusive questions with enthusiastic sense of candor. We learned about her special connection with magician David Copperfield, her feelings about being a sex symbol, her willingness to try even the most dangerous stunts, and her relationship with J.C. Sum.

Look for the full interview on Monday. This is one you don’t want to miss. In fact, we think we’ll make a point of reading it as well. Plus we like the pictures she sent along – ok, so we are human, sue us.

The Whit Haydn Interview

He was chosen by Caesars Palace to be one of the acts to open the $60 million Magical Empire at the Las Vegas Resort. Whit performs regularly on the most prestigious cruise ships including the Queen Elizabeth II, the Norway and the Westerdam. He has opened for Jerry Seinfeld, Loretta Lynn and Gallagher. He consulted and contributed to the Discovery Channel’s documentary, “Houdini – They Came to See Him Die.”

Whit will also appear in a 30-part series on magic for the Canadian Discovery Channel called “Grand Illusions,” and in the PAX Television series “Masters of Illusion.” Speaking of television and film, he has consulted on David Copperfield’s television specials, was the chief magic consultant for the Norman Jewison film “Bogus,” starring Whoopie Goldberg, Gerard Depardieu and Haley Joel Osment.

You may also have enjoyed and learned from Whit’s lecture notes, videotapes and lectures. He is a featured performer and lecturer at conventions and seminars around the world. In his spare time, Whit teaches a popular ‘masters’ course known as the “School for Scoundrels” for magician members of the Magic Castle. This course concerns the famous street swindles the Shell Game, Three-Card Monte, and the Endless Chain—the subject of Whit’s forthcoming book, Unfair Advantage.

I first met Whit while my wife and I were vacationing on the last voyage of the Queen Odyssey. The ship had just been bought by Seaborn from Royal Cruise Lines and the cruise was the transition to the new company. Seaborn was trying to impress the loyal Royal Cruise Line passengers that the new owners could keep up the fine reputation the ship had earned. They hired Whit as the only non-musical act to appear in the main theater and obviously had great confidence in his abilities to impress the crowd they hoped to retain for future voyages. We attended his show and as luck would have it, my wife was invited to join him on stage to perform the Four Ring Routine.

I have seen Whit perform several times since that cruise and have always been impressed by his very natural approach to handling and sleights. When he holds a deck of cards, he holds it as if he is doing only that. He isn’t holding the deck to set up a bottom palm or a second deal. When he displays a knife in his fantastic “The Intricate Web of Distraction,” and explains the history of the term “pen knife,” he looks and acts as if he is doing only that – not setting up a vanish or a change.

Q: How did you get introduced to magic?

My first real experience with magic was watching a Methodist minister perform at a summer camp when I was very young, maybe seven or eight years old. He did standard magic like the rings, cut and restored rope, etc. At one point, he pushed a silk into a pink cone (Abbott’s Bang-Gone) with a wand. When the cone was popped open, the silk was gone.

The kids yelled that the silk was in the wand. After playing with the hecklers for a few moments, he snapped the wand in half and threw the broken dowel pieces to the audience. I was stunned. I would have given my eyeteeth, which were practically new, to own a magic wand, and he broke it just to show the kids were wrong.

I stayed up all night thinking about magic. I wondered what it would mean if you could do real magic, and also, knowing there was no such thing, tried to figure out how he did the tricks. It was probably the first time in my life that I had such a concentrated session of creative thinking. The next morning I awoke in love with all things magic.


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