Houdini Magic Shop Owner Aids JFK Investigation

Inside Magic's First LogoGeno Munari, magician and owner of Houdini’s Magic Shop in Las Vegas and, most importantly for us here in Southern California, Disneyland, had a key role in finding historical documents related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Harry Connick, father of performer Harry Connick, Jr. served as district attorney in New Orleans and in that role ordered the destruction of files related to JFK’s assassination.  Apparently the order wasn’t followed and some of the files, 67 boxes in total, remained.  The police officer charged with destroying the documents thought they may have some historical relevance and copied them for safekeeping.

Years or decades later, the files showed up on eBay and Mr. Munari bought them.

Investigation enthusiasts and scholars are delighted the files still exist and are combing the boxes for insight into the assassination, according to the website American Free Press.

As a side note, Inside Magic once uncovered files relating to the attempted theft of a magic trick invented by a rather famous magician who travelled through the United States.

Paw Paw Lawton was a part of the Inside Magic staff back in the day when we distributed this blog through cutting and pasting together a newsletter sent to over 20 subscribers on our list (six were members of our own family or claimed to be related by marriage.  The image above was our first logo.  In the latter case, it turned out that Tony Spain was not properly married to our sister-in-law because he had been married three previous times, to the same woman, and none of those marriages were properly ended by divorce.

Tony has held a grudge against Inside Magic since and once had a website called, Down with Inside Magic and its Terrible Blogging (downwithinsidemagicanditsterribleblogging.io).  That site became inactive after one or two (actually one and a half) blog posts and our recent check of the very tough to remember or type URL shows the site is long gone.

Our sister-in-law was devastated and turned over to Paw a letter in which Tony was about to publish Paw’s Glass and a Half where liquid was poured into a glass from a pitcher and yet was able to hold all of the liquid poured.  Sort of a Multum in Parvo but with the added benefit of no set-up.  The trick was never published by Paw or Tony.  Tony is lazy and never got around to publishing the secret or claiming the trick was his.  Paw thought the secret was too good to share because he kept it in his act until his unfortunate passing in the early 2000s.)

But from that one experience we realized how important pieces of paper could be.  We used to think paper with writing on it was a novelty that would fall out of fashion.  After extensive research, spurred by our sister-in-law’s jilting, we learned that many things were written on paper; such as the Magna Carta, the Constitution of our very country, and shopping lists.  That discovery in the early 1990’s essentially changed our way of thinking.  So imagine how excited we are to learn that a magician, Geno Munari purchased 67 boxes of pieces of paper and audio tapes for any reason, much less the New Orleans’ investigation of the Kennedy assassination.

We are old enough to remember the assassination although our memory is only of the funeral and the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.

We credit our outstanding memory to taking some extract from jellyfish that we learned about on a late-night/early morning infomercial.  We didn’t even know jellyfish had brains much less great memories.  We wonder often what the typical jellyfish remembers.  Perhaps good times as a young jellyfish with its jellyfish mom and dad and its ambitions to be a great jellyfish that other jellyfish will remember in their great memory banks right before they are used to make supplements that we purchase online.  But that’s us.

We wonder about a lot of things, constantly.

We wonder why jellyfish, with their great memories, would put themselves into a position where they could be used for the scientists who derive the extracts.  We wonder if by taking the extracts to help our own memory, we are actually capturing some of the jellyfish memories.  Perhaps that is why we like the ocean so much.  Maybe we are living the hopes and dreams of so many jellyfish.  Or maybe we just like getting wet and having sand in our shoes and walking uncomfortably back to our car to deposit the sand throughout.

We just bought a new/used Nissan Eczema and love it  but it is filled with beach sand and the interior smells of dead fish.  We don’t know why they stopped making it in 1989 but it is a great car with very few seatbelts but it does have a cigar lighter that works so we have that.

Back to our story.  We are delighted to see Mr. Munari’s name associated with this historical event and subsequent investigation that has lasted since the assassination of JFK – more than 15 years have passed since November 22, 1963, maybe more than 15, but at least 15 years.  We’re not good at math.

Check out the full story here.

Visit Mr. Munari’s Houdini Magic Shop here.

Science Channel Greenlights Houdini Series

Flop SweatThe Science Channel is set to carry a docuseries titled Houdini’s Last Secrets.  The series purports to be an expose of Houdini’s effects by looking at the scientific and engineering allegedly utilized in the effects performed by the great magician.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will feature not only engineers and scientists but illusionists to “unravel the mystery around the man who caught a speeding bullet, survived live burial and imprisoned himself inside a water tank, spurring celebrity and conspiracy theories. The show will also look into the late magician’s personal life, through authentic scrapbooks, letters and pictures, to piece together his legacy.”

Each of the episodes will seek to discover the secret behind one of Houdini’s effects.

Said Science Channel General Manager “Harry Houdini is the definition of mind-blowing. He was clearly ahead of his time when it came to using engineering to accomplish his stunts, so much so that his methods continue to be debated by today’s master magicians. It’s no wonder that just the name Houdini still stirs the imagination of people, nearly a century after his death.”

Variety reports that the first effect to be explored / exposed will be the Water Torture Cell escape and the other shows will include stunts that we don’t believe Houdini actually performed such as “burning alive” and “catching a bullet.”  In fact, we are rather sure Houdini did not perform the bullet catch after receiving advice from Kellar.  We defer to John Cox, the Houdini expert, for his recollection.

The best scenario would be that the scientists, illusionists and engineers on the show fail to solve the mysteries and keep the secrets safe but unfortunately, we fear that won’t happen.

The show is set to premiere on the Science Channel on January 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Read The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive on the show here.

Check out John Cox’ Wild About Harry website here.

Magician Sebastian Walton Continues to Impress

Inside Magic Image of Sebastian WaltonYoung magician and sleight of hand specialist Sebastian Walton continues to impress his peers and, perhaps more importantly, his audiences.  When we last caught up with young Sebastian he had just won the Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year.   He was the youngest, at just 20 years of age (we don’t know what 20 years is in metric so we’re using American data).  That was way back in 2016.  We met him and took in his Parlor show at the Magic Castle three times coming off that big win.

He recently returned to the Magic Castle and slayed lay and magic audience members alike.

As Yogi Berra said about pitcher Don Sutton’s perfect game, “this kid is good.”  Almost any praise for Mr. Walton will seem an understatement.  He takes real risks in his performance with effects that could go horribly wrong.  We don’t know why he does it but it is a pleasure to watch someone with real skills in the sleight of hand department work in front of a real crowd.

We’ll continue to do our Sucker Sliding Die Box and Hippity Hop Bunnies even though the effects do not have the same impact on audiences, we feel safe with store-bought, EZ Magic.  We are saving our lunch money for a Milk Pitcher – soon to be introduced into our act.  But that’s just us and that’s the reason we haven’t won any awards from The Magic Circle or even our family members, for that matter.

His act is not just daring, entertaining, and different from anything we had seen, it was truly mystifying.  Mr. Walton is certainly deserving of the praise heaped upon him by our British cousins.

If you don’t believe us, you can read our review of Mr. Walton’s show on Inside Magic here. We wouldn’t lie, twice.

We just learned that a couple of weeks ago he won Yorkshire’s Own Talent.

The latest news from Mr. Walton is that he has a new website up and running.  We also have it on very good authority that he will be returning to the Magic Castle in 2019.  We will be there, front and center, to watch and review for this well established and esteemed magic news website.

Art of Magic Purchased by Vanishing Inc

Inside Magic Image of Innovative BunnyIf you were not a magician familiar with the two business entities, the title to this post would seem strange.  Vanishing Inc. is an Inside Magic favorite and recipient of our weekly paycheck for the past decade it seems.  The Art of Magic previously owned by Dan and Dave Buck is a fantastic company led by two of the true innovators in our craft.  We have tried their shuffles, fans and cuts for years and their products have been top-notch.

We were surprised to learn that Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin purchased Art of Magic lock, stock and barrel from the Buck twins yesterday.  Here is the announcement from Jay and Andi:

Effective immediately, Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin (on behalf of Vanishing Inc) are pleased to announce the purchase of Art of Magic and all its content from Dan and Dave Buck. For years we have admired their work ethic and output, and we’re excited to take over the wonderful enterprise they have created.

We have grown up alongside Dan and Dave Buck and have a tremendous appreciation for both their artistry and the beautiful brand they have built with Art of Magic.

What we admire most from Dan and Dave is their attention to detail. The spirit in which they work is all passion: that’s why everything they release exudes quality and perfection. Their videos are—without question—the finest produced in all of magic. The people they work with are among our  favorite magicians and the content they offer is top, top quality magic worthy of careful study.

We have promised Dan and Dave the same promise we will make to you: that we will continue in this same spirit, and honor the brand and impact they have forged. You can look to www.artofmagic.com in the coming months for new magic that we believe will excite and delight. We will continue relationships with the artists you love, and we’ll continue to deliver the high quality of service you have come to expect from Art of Magic.

You can also expect some exciting brand synergy, incorporating artists and elements from Vanishing Inc into Art of Magic, and introducing the Art of Magic library to our Vanishing Inc community.
It’s an honor to continue to work with Dan and Dave on Art of Magic, and to serve the magicians who love the brand.

We do not know the details of the deal and, to be honest, to a magician and a fan of both companies, the purchase price and business arrangements are not as important as the fact that Art of Magic will be run by Vanishing Inc.  Vanishing Inc. has proven to be a reliable source of new magic and combines great customer service with a keen eye for what magic is worth one’s time and prides itself in bringing only the tried and tested effects to its consumers.  We see this as a win-win for magicians.

Magic, Mystery and Houdini in New Play

The Girl Who Handcuffed HoudiniThe Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini was a comic book from 2017 and is now set to be a multi-level New York play with three different takes on the story.

According to the website ComicBook.com and The Hollywood  Reporter, detective Minky Woodcock, star of Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime’s graphic novel The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini, is starring on the stage of New York City’s Theater 80.  The show opens today and runs until November 10th and according to our theater critic, “sounds really cool.”

Our theater critic has not seen the show yet and our budget (and certain court obligations) will not allow him to travel to New York City to see the presentation.  But Cyrus (our critic goes by only one name – often the same name on consecutive days) likes that there are essentially three different plays in one show.

The show is presented on three different floors of the Theater 80 and audience members get to pick whether they will take on the roles of spiritualists, pragmatists, or the guests of Houdini himself.   The show will present differently according to the role they select.  We don’t know if the producers thought of this but that could actually make audience members want to see the show two more times.   They probably did think of that but in case they didn’t we think it is an unexpected benefit of staging the play from three different perspectives for audiences.

“Minky was created by artist, author, and playwright Cynthia von Buhler. Minky is a private detective in the 1920s with a fondness for rabbits. She debuted in the four-issue miniseries The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini in 2017, which earned critical praise. The hardcover collection of the series released in August.”

According to ComicBook.com, Minky is played by Pearls Daily who was not only the model for the comic book but also named Miss Coney Island in 2018.

Cyrus says another benefit of the show being shown on three different levels is that audience members will want to see the show again and again.  We couldn’t tell if Cyrus was being sarcastic because he knew we said that earlier in this article or if he didn’t read what we wrote and just happened to mention the exact same thing we had mentioned.

We don’t like Cyrus – the name, not the person.  The name is so old-fashioned and hardly in keeping with the personality Cyrus is trying to pull off using the name.  He is going for sort of a Freddie Mercury meets Ryan Gosling image – neither of which fit the name Cyrus.  When he called himself Aunt Bee (a misspelled version of the co-star from The Andy Griffith Show), he adopted a Robert Redford / Paul Newman / Madam Curie air that frankly scared us.

We are glad that week is over.  Plus he didn’t play Robert Redford and Paul Newman from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but used Redford from The Natural and Newman from the logo of the popular salad dressing brand.  Madam Curie was played pretty much as we all remember her, riddled with nuclear radiation and speaking French with a decided wheeze.

Cyrus doesn’t speak French, so that was quite a trick.  Of course, we don’t speak French either so he could have been just making up the words he spoke and wrote.  In which case, we apologize in advance to the actors and director of King Lear about which Aunt Bee wrote a several page critique in French soon to be published here even though there was very little magic performed in the show.

Check out the Theater 80’s website for show times and tickets here.