Showing posts with label @carnegiemagic @magicposters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label @carnegiemagic @magicposters. Show all posts

Sunday, May 7, 2017

HOUDINI Takes DC 2017

The ObscuraDay Event called Houdini Takes DC was a huge hit yesterday! They sold out, and I think they might have even over sold, which was fine by me! The event took place at the Tivoli Magic Shop in Washington DC. It's a a beautiful shop, though not really a magic shop. Check out the link if you'd like to learn more about them. They had a nice room for us and to start was Magic Historian and Collector Ken Trombly. Let me say, Ken has an INCREDIBLE collection. The fact he is willing to bring these priceless posters to events is beyond generous. Ken had 4 major posters and some smaller broadsides, as well as a folder filled with postcards and photographs.

Ken gave an overview of Houdini's life by showing the various items he had that
Ken Trombly
related to those periods. The audience sat riveted during his talk. He really delivered a great deal of information, and being able to see the actual posters and other memorabilia was the icing on the cake. I stood in the back trying to keep my big mouth shut and not interrupt. He spoke for a little over 30 minutes and showed some items that would have stunned a seasoned magic collector let alone a room full of history enthusiasts and lay people.

There was a break, for cherry pie ( a favorite of Bess Houdini and they served it at the previous Houdini event here as well).

Then they introduced me. I was supposed to do a show but ended up spending my time doing a mixture of magic and telling stories, some related to Houdini, some related to escapes, some related to associates of Houdini's. For example, I shared the story of Harry Cooke, a mentor of Houdini's and an individual who was present during the Lincoln assassination. I shared a story of a woman who found herself caught up in a haunted house and a seance. And I shared a ton of stories about Houdini. I tried to stay within the area that Ken had set during his talk but elaborated on various stories. I have found when talking about Houdini, I can go on forever, but I had to stay within the 30+ minute format....(I might have gone a little over).

Carnegie about to escape from Handcuffs.
The first piece of magic I presented was a newly discovered Houdini card trick. I say, newly discovered because I was unaware of it, lol. I found it in one of the Walter Gibson books and the trick comes from Houdini's notes. It's a strange sort of transposition trick with a card and it played really well. I followed this with my version of Cards Across, just to fill out the 'Houdini King of Cards' portion of my talk.

Next I moved into his early escapes, handcuff escapes specifically. And I went on to present two escapes, one from a pair of police issue regulation Smith and Wesson cuffs. The other from a pair of ungimmicked Hamburg 8 cuffs.

I wanted to give people a feeling for Houdini beyond just the regular stories, so I threw in the story of Harry Cooke, and how they were associated. I always thought their connection was because they were both escape artists. But I know believe that their connection was, #1 because of Cooke's Anti-spiritualist crusade years before Houdini was born, and #2, Cooke's connection to Abe Lincoln, who was Houdini's boyhood idol.

I shared the story about Cooke being summoned to Washington to demonstrate his ability to free himself from ropes. And here, I took the opportunity to present a rope escape.  I chose to use a technique found in Houdini's book, Magical Rope Ties & Escapes. The technique allows for an almost instantaneous escape from the bonds. In truth, Cooke had been tied up with 100 ft of rope and still escapes in seconds. I had 100 ft of rope on hand, but was saving it for later but ran out of time.

The closing routine was a Spirit Slate routine with a story. A true story? Sort of. Aspects of the story are true, but I do take liberties, it is a show after-all. The story is an emotional one, and I use it to help people understand the deep connection that people have when they see mediums....and also WHY Houdini was so angered by the whole thing because he knew the mediums were fake and playing off the emotions of the grieving.

At the end, I answered a few questions, spoke with numerous people after the program and packed up. All in all, I'd say the day was a HUGE success. I'd like to thank Julie Siegel for her great work AGAIN, and all her fellow Obscura staff. Thank you for inviting me to be part of your event! Also, I'd like to thank Tivoli Magic Shop and 826DC for letting us use their incredible space.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Obscura Day Houdini Escapes DC-Update

Atlas Obscura hosted a fun event yesterday in Washington D.C. that they called Houdini Escapes D.C.. The event showcased Houdini's many visits to D.C.. It was a two hour event that began with a viewing of Ken Trombly's Houdini collection. Ken also spoke for about 45 minutes about Houdini and his collection. Unfortunately, I missed this part, but I have seen parts of Ken's collection in the past and it's incredible!

And thanks to Brian Suddeth, who was present, I can share some photos from Ken's presentation.
As I mentioned, Ken has an incredible Houdini collection. I was blown away by all the posters he had the first time I saw them in his home. At the event he shared some of those posters and  he also shared some smaller photos during his talk. The photo to the right shows Houdini's Metamorphosis poster, his King of Cards Poster, and one of my favs, the Prison Cell and Barrel Mystery Poster. I'm sure Ken gave information about each of the posters.

The next photo from Ken Trombly's talk shows him holding a photo of Houdini and Teddy Roosevelt. This is a classic photo. Long before Photoshop existed, Houdini was altering photos! The actual photo has several people on both sides of Houdini and Roosevelt. But Harry, had them all painted over so it looked like he was the only one standing next to Teddy.

It's ironic that Ken showed that photo, because I had planned to share the story about Houdini meeting Roosevelt on board the SS Imperator and performing for the former president. In fact, I was going to demonstrate the slate trick that Houdini fooled Roosevelt with, but I cut it from the show at the last minute because I didn't want to run long.

After Ken's talk the attendees walked a short distance to Farragut Square Park to watch Carnegie (me) and Denise present a Houdini-like show. Because this was my portion of the program I'll tell you what we had intended and I'll tell you what actually happened. We planned to present the first half of the show AS Harry and Bess. We had our period costumes, we also had the same music Houdini used along with some other musical selections from that era. I was even going to do the Houdini-voice! However, the circumstances didn't really feel right for such a theatrical approach, so on the fly, I changed to more of a historical presentation. I still did all the material just in a slightly different manner. Thankfully, I have a fantastic assistant who knows to expect these types of things when working with me.

Our show began with a quick, silent-to music escape sequence which started with a chain escape, a rope 'thing', and a single handcuff escape. The rope 'thing' is something I created a while ago and is actually part of a longer routine. It begins with a piece of rope about 3 feet long, dropped into a bag. My hands go into the bag and a moment or two later come out with my hands tightly bound! It's a cool moment and gets a nice laugh from the audience because they do not expect it. Next, I move on to the handcuff escape. In this instance a pair of Hamburg 8s were used. Boom, boom, boom, three quick escapes in under two minutes. NOT the way Houdini would have done them, but a nice way to present it for 21st Century audiences.

Next I share a bit about Houdini the King of Cards and presented the classic Cards Across. I chose this effect because it was one that Robert-Houdin presented and Houdini got his start in magic via the book, The Memoirs of Robert-Houdin. I figured it was very likely that Houdini presented this particular trick, even though I don't have definitive proof.

The next segment was the multi-handcuff escape. Truly one of the most painful things I've had to endure. You see, I have a medical condition which has me on blood thinning medication. This medication causes me to bruise easily. From several days of rehearsal, I ended up with multiple bruises up and down both arms. In fact, we had to drop three pair of cuffs because they would no longer fit my wrists due to the swelling. I was still able to get 6 pair of cuffs on along with a pair of thumbscrews.

Once I was all cuffed, I stepped inside my make-shift 'Ghost House', in other words a cloth cabinet, and proceeded to escape. I tossed the individual cuffs over the top of the cabinet after I was free of them. The last piece I removed were the thumbscrews, which I did in the open rather than inside the cloth cabinet.

I followed the multi-cuff escape with my routine which I call Chaplin. It's basically a story about how Houdini met a young Charlie Chaplin in England before Chaplin's rise to fame. In the story, Houdini helps Chaplin earn some money by playing a guessing game of sorts and he is rewarded if he wins. I've presented this hundreds of times and it's always a fun routine, though it is better indoors in a theatre setting.

The last item was a 100 foot rope tie. I got two volunteers out of the audience to help tie me up and well, I proceeded to escape.  The wonderful thing about this escape is, you never know just how people will tie you up. People always go about it differently, sometimes they start with the hands, sometimes, they wrap you up first, it's always interesting to see what choices they take. After about three minutes I was completely tied and it took me about 2 minutes to free myself.

Those two events, Ken Trombly's Houdini collection and my show, probably would have made for a perfect event. But there was one more thing yet to do. We all walked several blocks to the location of the old Keith's Vaudeville Theatre. The location is the corner of 15th and G St.. Today the spot is filled by The Old Ebbit Grill. But in Houdini's day it was Keith's Theatre. January 12, 1922, Houdini presented a hanging straitjacket escape from this location. It was his second straitjacket escape in DC but it's also his most famous due to the iconic photo of him hanging upside down in front of the building with the Treasury building on the far right and the Washington Monument off in the distance.

When we all arrived at the location, I spoke for 10-15 minutes about Houdini's escape and some of his challenge escapes he performed in D.C.. I also brought out an original program from Keith's with Houdini on the cover, along with a vintage postcard of the theatre. I took a few questions following the talk and we wrapped things up right there. Incidentally, if you go into the Old Ebbit Grill, the doors you walk through are the same entrance way that was used for the Keith's Vaudeville theatre. And if you walk to the back seating area you'll be sitting in the area that was the theatre auditorium itself.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Unique Houdini Event in Washington D.C.

On April 16th, Atlas Obscura is sponsoring an event called Houdini Escapes DC. It's a historical look at Houdini's time in Washington, complete with artifacts from the collection of Ken Trombly, a walking tour of some of the sites Houdini himself had visited and then a show/demonstration of some of Houdini's magic by Dean Carnegie (me).

I have written a lot about Houdini's visits to Washington. And I've visited all but one of the sites where some historical event took place. The one that I have not gone to is the 10th Precinct Police Station, which you can read about here. The only reason I've not gone by is it's still a working Police Station and I don't want to just barge in an disturb them. I'll eventually try and make an appointment to see the station and hopefully the cell that Houdini escaped from.

Many of the buildings connected to Houdini are long gone. Keith's Vaudeville Theatre, Chase's
Theatre, The Gayety Theatre, The Rialto have all been torn down and replaced. However, you can still go to the actual locations. The best spot, in my view, is Keith's Vaudeville Theatre which was directly across from the Treasury Building. This is now the location of Old Ebbit's Grill. Back on January 12th 1922, Houdini hung upside down in front of Keith's performing one of his classic straitjacket escapes.  The location of the theatre is very close to the White House. And there is a story of President Woodrow Wilson sneaking into the theatre to catch Houdini's show in the 1920s.

There are many great stories of Houdini's DC visits, many of which will be covered during the walking tour I'm sure. As for my part of the event, the recreation of some of Houdini's magic. I currently am planning on doing some rope escapes, a challenge handcuff escape, an escape from a pair of thumb screws and other escapes. In addition I'm going to 'teach' a member of the audience how to escape from a rope using mind over matter. I'll be doing a little bit of card magic because Houdini began his career as The King of Cards. I'm also planning on finishing the show with an interactive routine involving all the participants. Though the final thing is not something Houdini did, I feel it's a great way to give the attendees a hands-on magical experience and a perfect way to end the day. I've got a few additional surprises that I'm working on as well, but those I'll keep secret until the event.

It's sure to be a fun day. Space is LIMITED, so if you're interested in attending, go to the Atlas Obscura site to get your tickets. Oh, by the way, if you visit their site, you'll notice a photo of ME in the header. Behind me in the photo is a bridge. I don't know if the folks who chose this photo were aware, but that is a bridge that leads into Budapest, the birthplace of Houdini.