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.

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Russian Magician, Magu Takes on India

Alex Magu the MagicianSharing a sentiment of many magicians, Alexander Magu, tells the Indian newspaper The Pioneer that if it weren’t for  magic, he would be working on Russian Railroads.

He saw a trick at the age of 17 and became hooked.  Now he is performing around the globe and will be in India for a series of shows.  It is his second tour in India.

“It isn’t a profession very highly preferred or chosen. It’s all about ideas, imagination and a story-telling capacity to hold the audience,” he told The Pioneer. The initial years were a struggle for Magu whose parents were reluctant about his career choice. Had it not been for magic, he would “have been working in the Russian Railways.”

He credits Derren Brown, David Blaine and “of course, David Copperfield” as inspiration.  He loves his work in our beloved art.  He gets to travel and “explore the human mind and its numerous possibilities. The beauty of the human mind is that no matter how fearless it might condition itself to be, it is as fearful, unbelievable yet believable. It’s amazing how certain things can amaze the mind.”

His show includes mind-reading, telekinesis, levitation and gravitational illusions and the article is clear that he is performing “illusions” and not “magic.” “An illusionist might leave your eyes wide open and make your jaw drop but a magician can make miracles happen. That’s magic.”

He will be performing in the beautifully appointed Upstage, Roseate House, Aerocity every night at 9 pm from today through November 25th.

Check out the full article in The Pioneer here.

Visit his expertly constructed website here.

List of the Richest Magicians in the World

Inside Magic Image of Ed Mishell DrawingWho is the richest magician in the world?

We won’t give away the secret but the compilation at The Silver List surprised us.  And we are not easily surprised.  We figured for sure we could correctly identify all persons on the list but we were wrong.  We beat ourselves up when we make a mistake so this was crushing for us.

You can check out the list here.

We thought for sure there would be some mention of Inside Magic editor-in-chief and magician person Tim Quinlan but nary a comment.  We don’t like to brag but between the ad revenue for Inside Magic and our professional appearances, we’re rolling in the dough – plus we’re making a lot of money.  But we spend it on dough to roll in and we like a high-quality dough, not some Pillsbury fake dough that doesn’t give the comfort one expects when one is rolling.  We were going to put up a YouTube video  of us rolling but a woman beat us and she does a much better rolling that we could ever hope to accomplish.

You can see just one of her many dough rolling episodes here. The video shows her rolling in baked dough but she does real, unbaked dough as well.  We cannot compete.

Similarly, we are unable to keep up with the magicians who make millions of dollars every year for performing their magic.  We admire them but don’t envy them.  Envy is or should be one of the deadly sins and does not leave the person feeling the sense of envy in a good place.  It is like when you have a fight with your Uber driver about whether we should worry about fluoride or chem trails and he/she dumps you in a bad neighborhood.  That’s a physical bad place to be but as a metaphor it works.  Envy leaves you wondering what happened to the last few hours and why you can’t remember why you even worried about the success of others.

Check out  the list and see if you agree with the rankings.  But do it with an open mind and heart.  Embrace the success of others and the willingness of others to work very hard at what we all do.

We do find some pleasure (guilty, no doubt) that Inside Magic arch-nemesis Tony Spain is not listed.  He claims millions  per year from his itinerant magic travels around the world, but apparently he didn’t make the list.

Magician and Teacher Jay Sankey Rocks

 

This will seem like more like an endorsement than Magic News.  And it is an endorsement but not paid or even asked for by Jay Sankey.

Mr. Sankey has released, by our last count, a billion or more effects on the market and has very effective email and Twitter campaigns.  It could be that he also is in Instasnap, Facegroup or the other sites the kids use to share important selfies and ponderings about their selfies but we don’t have accounts on those services because we are very old – at least over 24 – and so are, as the kids say, “not down with them.”

We could have written this endorsement and fanboy tract at any time but we were struck by the beauty of a force taught for free by Mr. Sankey last night.  You can see it for yourself here.  We had never considered the very simple move taught but will now use it frequently.

The force taught is like most of the things offered by Mr. Sankey: easy to perform, effective and highly commercial.  We know he lectures like no other from our personal attendance at several of his teaching sessions over the years.  His prices are fair; maybe even a little low for the volume of effects and moves you receive.  His instructions are clear; even we can understand and use them with relatively little practice time.  Keep in mind that it took us 30 years to learn how to effectively perform a push-off second deal and we still cannot perform a pressure fan – much to our embarrassment and shame amongst the professionals with whom we associate.

If you haven’t heard of Mr. Sankey, it could be that you are new to magic or don’t have friends in magic or have never used the internet to look up “magic.”  That doesn’t make you a bad person – there may be other things that could be the basis for such an accusation about your character.  Perhaps you cut in line, make questionably shaped balloon animals for your own private enjoyment, or copy DVDs purchased by others.  But we assume readers of Inside Magic are good people.  The kind who would never do such things.  We also assume readers of Inside Magic understand we often stray from our main topic and do not have our text properly reviewed by a team of editors to remove such strayings.  For instance, we don’t even thing “strayings” is a word but our editor quit over a wage dispute.  She wanted to be paid for her work and would not accept our promise to pay when we sold the insidemagic.com domain.

Anyway, back to Mr. Sankey.  We have attended lectures where he spent extra time to help the slow among the audience – primarily us – to learn his effects even though the tricks were not ones he was selling.  He just did it because … well, we don’t know why.  Perhaps he likes to teach magic.  As a community, magicians are fortunate that this is his motive.  He does it well and often.

You can check out his site here.  You can learn the force we mentioned by going here.

Mr. Sankey didn’t ask us to write this and certainly didn’t pay us – otherwise we would still have our editor.

Jay Sankey is an official Inside Magic Favorite.

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.

Our Magic Confession

Inside Magic Image of Avid Readers of Panther PrideMagicians, as a whole, are prideful.  We worry about our image, practice sleights to perfect them before presenting, write and rehearse patter, and of course comb our little remaining hair and clip or appropriately decorate our nails.

So our admission is hard to make.  We are shaking at the keyboard as we type – likely attributable to the unsteady shocks in the Los Angeles Metro Bus – but still we’re shaking so that means something.

The person reading this post next to us on the bus – and that is very nosey and they should be looking forward and not correcting our prose – says we should just get to it and stop being so dramatic.  Further, he says it doesn’t look like we remembered to take pains to improve our image before leaving for work today and why would a famous magician be riding a bus along Santa Monica Boulevard instead of traveling by limo or at least Uber?

We hope he gets off soon.

Okay, here’s the admission: we cannot do a perfect pressure fan.  We can do all sorts of fans but not a proper pressure fan.  There, it is out in the open now.  You can judge us.  Our fellow rider said if he knew what a “pressure fan” was he would judge us.  He is laughing now.  Probably at his own joke or maybe he is laughing at us.

We have been trying to do a proper pressure fan since we were twelve-years-old.  We can do a one-handed shuffle with either hand and lifts that would impress anyone except they’re so good they can’t be detected.  The fellow rider has stopped reading and is now eating Fritos very loudly.

We’ve read the technique, we’ve watched young children do perfect pressure fans with cards bigger than their cherubic faces.  We fail.

He is now drinking something from what looks to be an adult sippy cup but because he hasn’t opened to top properly, it is making a thunk-pop noise with every suck of liquid.  We wish he would go back to the Fritos but fear this will be a constant part of the ride for a while.  He’ll eat the Fritos, loudly, get thirsty, drink from the sippy cup and then back to the Fritos.

At The Magic Castle we watch with envy as magicians perform their wonderfully practiced routines but become irrationally jealous, insecure and diminished when they perform a pressure fan with such a smooth handling that it appears the cards perfectly align about their fingers with ease.  If only, we say silently, we had such skills.

We have thought of asking the more talented members at The Magic Castle, to teach us how to do a perfect pressure fan but we feel so much shame for not knowing at this point in our career.  We feel we are an impostor, a fraud; in an art that relishes impostors and frauds — so there is that philosophical, logic puzzle to work through.

He is back reading and corrected our characterization of his chocolate milk container as a “sippy cup” and does not think it should be our concern about his eating and drinking habits.

Perhaps that is the key.  Maybe we should not jealously covet the skills of other magicians, accept that we are at this time, unable to do a pressure fan and even though we haven’t for the last 90-years, we may one day develop the skill.  Just as we should not be concerned about others’ drinking and eating routines, we should be focused on what we can do and not what others are doing.

Our fellow rider has pulled the stop cord and is gathering his full meal and drink to depart.  He read the last part of this post and disagrees.  “You shouldn’t care what other folks are eating and drinking but you should at least know how to do a pressure fan if you’re going to call yourself a magician.”

We are pierced.

Our seatmate has left the bus now and we have a vacant seat next to us.  It is time to close the computer before we encounter another critic/editor for our long ride.