Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Culpitt and His Doll's House Illusion & Bathing Beauty Mystery

The latest episode of The Magic Detective Podcast will feature Fred Culpitt. Here is a man who has really been overlooked by the magic world. Yet, he was the creator of one of the top 10 illusions of the 20th Century. That's not just me saying that, in an article titled, "Ten Best Illusions of the 20th Century" by Jim Steinmeyer, he lists the Doll's House as #8. Today, 21st Century, it's hardly seen. And there are a load of poorly made Doll's House Illusions out there. But the better ones are truly marvels. They have the benefit of being a mid-sized illusion, yet can pack a big wallop (in other words, are still quite amazing).

One article I came across mentioned that most magicians are lucky to get 90 seconds out their Doll's House Illusion. This is true. Even I've made that error...if it's really an error. I suppose it's more a choice of presentation. As I've also had a routine that was closer to 4 minutes with the Doll's House. And frankly looking back, the longer routine had more going for it. 

The Fred Culpitt Doll's House routine was a talking routine. In fact, it was a comedy routine. Though I believe most of the jokes from that time period would fall flat today, not because they weren't funny in Culpitt's time, but because I'm not sure people would understand the humor. For example, as he shows the Doll's House, it is filled with furniture, and there are lines about most every piece that comes out of the box. Then he takes the chimney off the roof of the house and he turns to the audience and says, "Anyone want the flu?" It's both a topical joke, because from 1918-1920 the world suffered from the Spanish Flu Pandemic. But it's also relatable because many people at that time knew what a chimney flue was. Today, I'm not sure they'd make the connection, nor truly understand the joke.

By the way, another of Culpitt's great creations was his Bathing Beauty routine. Truly a wonderful routine in it's simplicity. Easy to understand, the nature of the routine causes the audience to anticipate what is coming, and the finish that everyone sees coming, has a twist to it. Unfortunately, this same trick, The Bathing Beauty is terribly politically incorrect by today's standards. I'm sure it would trigger people to yell words of sexism and misogyny. I find that opinion offensive in itself because you have to take into consideration the time period it came out. I'm including a video below of the Bathing Beauty effect done with a slightly less provocative routine. It's presented for historical purposes only. And after that I follow with a quick version of the Doll's House Illusion.

By the way, the prop I'm using was made by Abbott's, I believe. All of the marketed versions of the Bathing Beauty Trick, were different in method to that which Fred Culpitt created. His version, though it appeared pretty much the same, same effect, the method was drastically different.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Happy 75th Birthday Doug Henning!


Today, May 3rd, 2022, would have been Doug Henning's 75th Birthday. Frankly, it's doesn't seem all that long ago when he passed away. But to think he would be 75, wow. 

I can tell you, Doug Henning was the first celebrity whose death really hit me hard. I never knew Doug, never got to meet him. But he was such a part of my magic world, that when he died, it was like that song by Don McLean, American Pie where there lyric is "the day the music died". In our case it was "the day the Magic died." That's how it felt. 

Watching Doug Henning now is nostalgic, and not everything he did holds up. But there are so many lessons that modern performers could learn from....both good and bad. In the good department, his theatricality is wonderful. His showmanship is stellar. His upbeat personality and likeablity is wonderful. He never demeans magic, never speaks poorly of it. Some of the magic happens to him, some of the magic is caused by him. He is more wizard than magician, and he loves what he does.

As much as I loved his TV Specials, there was nothing better than seeing Doug Henning LIVE. The live performances were pure Doug, minus some of the cornier dialog that was found on the TV shows. And the magic, oh man, just killer. Have you seen Doug do the Floating and Rising Cards? It's as close to real magic as you can get. His Metamorphosis presentation is the one every tried to copy, until The Pendragons came along. But even then, his routine is perfect. 

I could go on and on about Doug Henning. But let me stop and simply say, Happy Birthday Doug!!!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Siegfried and Roy Estate Auction In June


The incredible estate of Siegfried and Roy goes on the auction block June 8th and 9th, 2022. The auction house Bonhams will be conducting the auction LIVE in Los Angeles. It appears that the auction is made up of furniture, jewelry, and personal possessions of the two Masters of the Impossible. However, I did note that there are show costumes in the mix. So will there be actual magic related items, books, memorabilia, props, illusions???? That I am not certain.

Here is the link to the auction site: 

In Oct 2003, during a show, and also on his birthday, Roy Horn was attacked by one of his tigers on stage at the MIRAGE Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. Roy's tiger Mantacore, bit Roy in the shoulder and dragged him off the stage. The duo claimed that Roy was having a stroke and the animal sensed Roy's dilemma and dragged him off the stage to safety. Roy did have a stroke, but it's not know if it was before or after the animal bit him. And further, the animals bit severed Roy's spine and caused an incredible amount of bodily damage. This ended the careers of the long lasting show on in Las Vegas. And it confined Roy to a wheel chair for the remainder of his life. He could stand and walk short distances, but with great difficulty. 

On May 8th, 2020, Roy Horn died of complications due to Covid-19.

Siegfried Fischbacher died Jan 13, 2021, only 2 days after revealing to the world that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. He was 81 years old when he passed away.

They were larger than life personalities and this auction is going to feature some breathtaking items for sure. Below is an example of a beautiful wooden carved chair among the auction items.