Showing posts with label David Copperfield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Copperfield. Show all posts

Thursday, February 29, 2024

February is Over And the Moon Is Still Here: David Copperfield Update!


Last Fall, David Copperfield told the world he would make the Moon Vanish in February 2024. And, February has now come and gone, but the Moon still remains. What gives? Well, according to an article on SPACE.COM, 

" a lot of organizations have said they want to collaborate and make it an even bigger event that could do even more good.

We're going to try to use it to get telescopes in rural schools and indigenous schools around the country, to encourage kids to really look at the sky and dream about their future, and become scientists and engineers. So, because we're trying to make it bigger, we're just moving it a little bit into the future, to make sure we get all those ideas together."

There was another reason for Copperfield being interviewed on, and that is his contribution to the recent Odysseus Lunar Lander. Odysseus recently landed on the Moon, and in it's payload, the archives of David Copperfield's secrets. In addition,  Richard Kaufman's Project Magic book! All of this on nickel plated disc which will last a million years. 

Oh, and if that isn't exciting, this is not the first time David's archives have been sent to the moon. Back in 2019, Israel attempted to send a lander to the moon, which sadly crashed. It too contained a library disc and on it, yep, Copperfield's secrets. Here is an article on that event:

Sadly, it won't even take a million years before the tech to play the disc will be obsolete. That will be about 3 years. Anyway, if you'd like to read the interesting interview with David Copperfield, visit the attached link:

And keep watching here for more news about David's exciting Vanishing Moon Event!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

For David Coppefield It's Always Been About The Moon


On Friday, Oct 27th, the news broke that David Copperfield has plans to make the  MOON  disappear in February 2024. My Facebook feed lit up like a Christmas tree. I've never seen anything like it. I want to delve into this, but first a little history.

You may remember the time, when annual David Copperfield Specials were the highlight of the magic year. Each year promised new magic, new illusions, and often some new spectacular effect. Some years were better than others obviously. But, not one special went by without some stand out piece, sometimes several.

The Statue of Liberty Special was a milestone. Not just being able to make it vanish, but the symbolism that was behind it. If you don't know, there is a story behind this vanish. During the planning stages, David and his manager went to visit famed movie director Frank Capra. They thought he might have a unique take on the presentation of the vanish. And sure enough he did. In the book, Smoke & Mirrors by Rick Marcelli, he shares what happened. Frank Capra heard what Copperfield had in mind, then went into deep thought. A few minutes later, he slammed his hand down on the table! He had it! He told David, "YOU must FAIL at this illusion. You must give it your all, but in the end you must fail. Becuase even the greatest magician of all time cannot make LIBERTY vanish from America!, Capra said. Whoa. Rick Marcelli thought the idea was brilliant. I frankly had goose bumps the first time I read it. David wanted nothing to do with it. He HAD to make the Statue vanish. And in his defense, when you say you're going to do something and then you don't that gives critics an opportunity to eat you alive. I still think it would have been brilliant.

I only bring up this Statue of Liberty though becuase around that time, I had first heard of the Vanishing Moon idea. I believe it was an Andre Kole idea. For the life of me, I cannot locate the quote. I've looked high and low and I know it was written up in a book. But also, David Copperfield did a piece on Oprah, back in the day and he mentioned on her show that his next big thing would be the MOON. 

But if you look even closer, you'll see the Moon crop up often in the world of David Copperfield. In 1992, during the Flying Special, David did one of his interactive tricks. (remember when he was THE ONLY ONLY doing those?) 

His interactive trick dealt with destinations and the final outcome was that you would  end up on the MOON! 

Then there was David's version of the Water Levitation. In the background, a big glowing moon! It perfectly fit the magic happening in front of it.

Fast forward to one of the most unique David Copperfield Specials, the one that was shot in Memphis TN in the round. There was a routine that he talked about the Moon and high tide and low tide. It culminated with the producttion of a glass filled with LIFE! Watch the video below.

At this same time, in David's touring show, he did an interactive routine with the entire audience. Everyone was given a sheet of paper that could be torn into rectangles. One of those rectangles had an image of the moon, I believe all the others were blank. Despite mixing and shuffling, the majority of the audience ended up with the Moon card as their chosen image.

Clearly this fascination with making the moon vanish has stuck with David all these years. I heard that they had created multiple ways to do the effect. One would expect no less from Copperfield. Speculation on the internet, at least some of it leans towards it being like the Statue of Liberty in methodology. I disagree. Many of the mega trick concepts have been exposed on youtube, both magics biggest friend and enemy. I believe the reason we have no seen this trick is David and his team were looking for something that had never been done before. That's my belief at least. And beyond that I'm not going to waste my time trying to think about 'how it was done' before they even do it. I sincerely hope it fools the hell out of me! If it's that strong, I don't want to know!!!

David Copperfield, back in the day was known for this type of thing. In case you're not familiar, here are a few things he did: Levitated a Ferrari On Stage, Made a Lear Jet Vanish while surrounded, Caused The Statue of Liberty to Vanish, Walked Through the Great Wall of China, Made the Orient express train car weightless and then disappear, Made a Large Boat Vanish and Reappear in the Bermuda Triangle, He Flew on stage, not only solo but with a spectator in his arms as well. I'd say the one mis-step was the Tornado of Fire, which was more a David Blaine sort of stunt. There is no need to go that route when you're already KING. 

If I might quote a famous line from a movie, it's from Star Trek the Wrath of Kahn. The dialog is between Spock and Kirk, Spock says, "If I might be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion, commanding a starship is your first best destiny, anything else is a waste of material." I feel this way about David Copperfield, this type of thing, the Moon Vanish, THIS stuff is your first best destiny. It's what we all loved, it's what put you on the map. It's what we expected from you. That isn't say that David Copperfield isn't talented in other areas. OMG, he's brilliant in so many ways, and surrounds himself with super talented people. But lets face it. We've been waiting for this return. It's the most exciting thing in the world of magic that I can think of in ages. 

Remember that expression, "Shoot for The Moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars!"Like NASA in the 1960s , for David Copperfield, it's always been about The Moon. Mark Your Calendars!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Book: David Copperfield's History of Magic


(photos by Homer Liwag, used with permission)

My readers and listeners to my podcast tend to already be magic history fans. Some however are new to magic history, others are just interested in history and they enjoy the stories of magicians. Whichever category you are part of, please pay attention to the next few paragraphs.

I remember listening to the radio on my way to work. A news report came on about a strange collection of magic that was in need of a buyer. It must have been an article in a newspaper that some radio personalities picked up to talk about. At any rate, I remember them saying it was called The Mulholland collection and it was worth 2.3 million dollars or somewhere in that price range. I also remember talking so some friends of mine and trying to figure out just how to come up with 2.3 million dollars to buy this thing, LOL. Needless to say, we didn't come up with the money. Instead, another person did. Encouraged by his friend Mike Caveney, David Copperfield purchased the Mulholland Collection. That alone was pretty exciting news. The most popular magician of the day just purchased the biggest collection of magic known to exist. What exactly was IN the collection was not known to me. I imagine some folks in the magic history world had a good idea, but I was not yet in that group, neither was David, yet. 

Over time, David would purchase numerous collections. Eventually it would become 6 times the size of the original Mulholland Collection. And slowly overtime, this new curator and his crew would create the most amazing museum of magic. The official name is the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts, it is located somewhere in Las Vegas and is not even open to the public. If you were part of the latest Magic History Conference that Bill Smith put together, you had the rare fortune of getting a tour of the museum. (I was not among the lucky participants)

The book, David Copperfield's History of Magic is a journey into David's World of Magic and frankly our world of magic. It's his enormous collection that is lovingly shared in breathtaking photos throughout the book. The photos taken by a magical artist in his own right Homer Liwag. Every single photo is a work of art. In fact, ALL of the photos in this article were taken by Homer and are used with permission (please do not copy them).

The book begins with what I believe are the two most perfect words for a book of this nature. Two simple words, "Magic Matters." As historians we know it. As performers we know it. As fans of magic we know it. And in this crazy world we live in, it's time we let others know and remind those of us who have forgotten, Magic Matters!

There are 28 Chapters in this book and they are basically in chronological order. The first being a chapter about the first english language magic book, Reginald Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft of 1584. I have seen one of these treasured books in person at another historian's collection. I would not even touch the book, knowing of it's age and it's fragile state, I only looked upon it with awe. This marks an ideal way to begin the history of magic. 

Next we have a chapter on Robert-Houdin the Father of Modern Magic. I think he needs a new title, as He was more the Father of 19th Century Magic. The images included in that chapter show the Pastry Chef of the Palais Royale, numerous posters, cornucopias used to produce items in the show, and numerous Houdin Mystery Clocks. The chapter covers a brief history of Robert Houdin and it wonderfully illustrates the importance of Houdin in the history of our art.

I'm not going to cover every chapter, but I do want to mention the next one, which is on Wyman the Wizard. Readers of my blog will know of my interest in this gentleman. In fact, the chapter also covers a magician who I've written about a lot, Harry Cooke. Both of these artists have ties to Abraham Lincoln which is why they appear in the same chapter. Within David Copperfield's collection are the very coins that Wyman the Wizard used to magically pass through the hand of Mr. Lincoln. That might be one of the most incredible pieces in the collection.

Chapter 9 focuses on the Queen of Magic, Adelaide Herrmann. Take a look at this stunning image of her dress. It has a beautiful yet haunting effect to it. You can almost see her standing there in that very dress. Being able to see the actual costumes from these old time performers is to me, more exciting than seeing the various posters. The costumes really bring the artist to life. Playbills, posters, and such are two dimensional records of a performers life and career. But when you have a costume on display its a three dimensional representation of that person. To me it is even better than seeing their props (though I do love that too) but a costume is something they wore, it was in essence a part of them.  

On Sept 7th, 1926, the warehouse where Adelaide Herrmann was storing her show, burned to the ground. All was lost. So the fact that there are still items of hers to view is astonishing! Before I move on, take one more look at that costume. So much more interesting than the costumes worn by magicians today. THAT is the costume of a true superstar of her art.

Chapter 10 is another personal favorite. This time David explores Martinka's Magic Shop. They have created a replica of Martinka's Stage with an ornate proscenium and a huge Herrmann poster that once was displayed in the shop. The photos, like all the photos in the book are impressive. The area is filled with antique Card Stars, and Spirit Dials built by the Martinka Brothers. Included in the display is an illustration of the little theater from way back in the early 1900s. There are even antique theater chairs. One can almost imagine Kellar and Houdini and Frederick Eugene Powell and others gathered around talking shop. 

Chapter 14-HOUDINI. I would imagine that this section of David's museum has been the most photographed. I can recall seeing images of this section many times in the past. And every few years the photos change because the display grows. Looking over the photos in the book, I see some of the hottest items in recent magic auctions. It is no wonder they went to this collection and frankly, it's great to see them all together. As David Copperfield has said in numerous interviews, "If Houdini were alive today, he would see his whole show right here."  That's pretty accurate. At least, the main pieces. Much of the Houdini show has been lost to time. Yet, there are items here that have never been in a collection until now. Houdini's bathtub, straight out of 278, and his bookshelf also from 278. The way the bookshelf has been set up allows a visiter to get a photo recreation of one that Houdini himself took oh so many years ago. 

In the midst of all the authentic Houdini items is a bust of Houdini from Spectral Motions Studio, a testament to the quality of their work. I believe every major Houdini poster is on display. This section of the museum alone is worth millions. IF you are a non-magician and you're reading this chapter on Houdini and viewing the images, there is just no way to walk away without being hugely impressed with this man.

Chapter 23 is called 'Blood on the Curtain'. Of course this is Richiardi Jr.. Here was a gentleman whose style inspired countless 20th Century magicians. I remember reading on Levent's Facebook page about bringing the Richiardi cases to the Copperfield museum and opening them for the first time. According to the chapter, these rare items, props, illusions, costumes and more had been in storage in Brazil since Richiardi died back in 1985. He died young, at only 62. The world was robbed of his artistry and his majesty. But to see it on display here and to read about the life of Aldo Richiardi is a real gift. 

I could go on and on about each chapter of the book, but I am going to stop here. Let me just say that each chapter contains several photos and a fine overview of the life of the performer being discussed. As a magic historian, I would have preferred longer chapters, but this is a book for the public and I believe those chapters are exactly the right length. Also, thankfully, this IS a book for the general public, because of that, it means we are not paying hundreds of dollars for the book. It is worth hundreds of dollars easily. 

Every category of magic is covered in this book: The Manipulators, The Close-up Performer, The Mentalist, The Stage Performer, the Comedy Performer, the Illusionist, the Escape Artist and more. If this were just a history of magic, it would be great to have these various images and stories in one place. But knowing that this is all together in one collection, that makes it all even more special. 

The final chapter of the book is on David Copperfield himself. I'll be honest and tell you that I have not read this chapter.  Is there any way to share his story and  do justice to a man who has done so much for the art of magic? Award Winning TV Specials, cutting edge illusions, brilliant magical presentations, touring shows that sold out more theaters than anyone on the planet, ISLANDS, his own museum and much more. I'm almost afraid to read that last chapter because I don't want the book to end...

And here is the little secret, it won't end. Sure the book will, but not the history of magic. David's place in the history of magic is as a living legend. And as magic continues so does the history. What was live and new today, is part of history tomorrow. In 10 years from now, I'd love to see an updated version of the book with more legendary performers from today. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the co-authors Richard Wiseman and David Britland. Richard is a reader of my blog and has been very generous to me in the past. While reading the chapter on Wyman the Wizard, I recalled the email I received from Richard sharing with me an audio track, of some of the music from Wyman's show, that he had specially made. The narrative throughout the book is wonderful and very cohesive considering there were three amazing authors. And this book would not be the same without the photographic genius of Homer Liwag. His ability to capture the beauty of magic in his photos is beyond compare.  

By the way, there is a Special Edition of the book available through Barnes and Noble which has an additional chapter on Orson Welles. There is also an autographed copy available through TalkShop.Live. I've included all the links you'll need to get your copy(s).

Let me end with this. If you have not ordered a copy of the book, please do so. Do yourself a favor and get this book. Use it to learn about the history of our cherished art. Use it for inspiration. Use it to understand that, as David Copperfield said at the beginning of the book, Magic Matters!

Exclusive Addition:


Autographed Copy:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wednesday Wonders by David Copperfield

Are you on Well, you might want to sign up. David Copperfield announced this week he will be posting photos from his collection every Wednesday in a project he calls #WednesdayWonders. I love this. The screen shot above is from his first announcement of the project. But it wasn't the first photo. Later in the day a photo appeared that showed a cool glimpse of Robert Houdin's Pastry Chef Automaton.

Instagram is owned by Facebook, and it's easy to sign up. It's also easy to follow people on there. David's name on Instagram is d_copperfield. Mine by the way, is carnegiemagic. I would encourage you to follow David to keep up with his #WednesdayWonders project, and please while you're at it follow ME as well. AND ALWAYS be sure to press the 'heart' button on the page to show you LIKE the photo. :)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Few Talks With David Copperfield

On the Facebook page for the Essential Magic Collection, there are 7 video interviews that Luis DeMatos conducts with David Copperfield. Among the topics: Magic Books, Houdini, Chung Ling Soo, Dante, Robert Houdin and more. The interviews are fairly short but wonderful.

In the video that discusses magic books, David Copperfield tips the fact that he is trying to acquire the bookcase that was in Houdini's home at 278. I would imagine that he will eventually end up with it (IF he doesn't already have it). Copperfield also mentions he owns half of the Houdini Collection of magic books, the other half being in the Library of Congress.

As far as collections go, I never get tired of the glimpses inside of David's ever growing collection. And my admiration for Luis DeMatos goes up and up all the time when I see his incredible video projects both magic and now in this documentary style.

To see the videos, follow this link

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Spirit Handkerchief and It's History

There is a wonderful effect in magic that has found it's way into the acts of many performers called The Dancing Handkerchief. Probably the most iconic performer to present the effect was Harry Blackstone Sr., and then later his son Blackstone Jr.. Even David Copperfield made a hit out of this little wonder.  But you might be surprised just how many well known performers and hundreds of lesser knowns performed this effect.

I tried to track down the origins of the mystery, originally known as The Spirit Handkerchief. Magicpedia lists Nevil Maskelyene as the creator. I can find no reference in magic literature to Nevil Maskelyne having been the creator of the trick.
Anna Eva Fay
thought I had the answer but then a second source listed a different name. Originally, I thought that Anna Eva Fay created this mystery. She began her career as a fake spirit medium and this type of effect would have been ideal for her 'Light Seance' segment.

However, here is what I do know. In the 1870s, Anna Eva Fay was in England presenting her seances. She had encountered John Nevil Maskelyne, who was busy exposing all spirit mediums. There is a brief account of their altercation in White Magic by Jasper Maskelyne. Shortly after this Anna Eva Fay returned to America and for a time was thought to be English, though she was actually from Ohio.

So who created the Spirit Dancing Hank? Looks like the winner is Anna Eva Fay*. But I think I know why Maskelyne's name is connected to it. The Dancing Hank was often presented in conjunction with another effect which was sort of a mini-Spirit Cabinet. Two chairs were placed on stage. A sheet of glass was balanced upon the two chairs and then a small cabinet was placed upon the glass. Inside was a bell and a slate. This effect was the creation of Maskelyne.  And it may have been Frederick Eugene Powell who first presented these two together in the United States. This information comes from Magic: A Pictorial History of Conjurers In The Theatre by David Price.

I do know that Harry Kellar began presenting these two effects together in 1894. He called it The
Cassadaga Propaganda. And from several different accounts, his Dancing Hank routine was a big hit. It's hard to say where he got it from, though he may have seen Maskelyne present it as he was known for stealing material from the Maskelyne show.

I found an interesting article in The Linking Ring Vol 40 #8, on a lesser known magician, John Grdina. In the article it says that Grdina taught none other than Harry Blackstone Sr. the Dancing Hank and whenever Blackstone was in Cleveland, he would mention it to his audiences. Grdina, as a youth apparently saw Harry Kellar first present the effect. He later would create some kind of version of his own.

Blackstone Sr. presented the Dancing Hank so well, that he is associated with the effect. His son, Harry Jr. also made a showpiece out of the routine. Others have presented the original version including Harry Willard, John Calvert and Howard Thurston. But no one made as big a mark with it as did Harry Blackstone Sr.. Below is the video of Harry Jr. presenting the hank, exactly as his father before him had presented it. (The person who uploaded the video fast-forwards through a bit of the early section, so just ignore that.)

In the 1950s, along came Ralph Adams. He created a more elaborate version of the Dancing Hank that was different from the Blackstone version. Doug Henning later used the Ralph Adam's version in his shows for many years. Though it was still a piece of cloth becoming animated, it was a different routine from the earlier versions. Below is a shorter version of the Henning routine. Usually, Doug presented it onstage with one of his dancers.

Then in the late 1970s David Copperfield debuted a new take on this classic effect. His version was the creation of Don Wayne and it combined aspects of the original with a sort of animated 'zombie' like effect. The Don Wayne version became all the rage for a number of years. Incidentally, the Don Wayne version may have been an updated version of the Joe Karson version known as Voodoo. One reason I think the Copperfield routine became so iconic was that he created a story based routine or a vignette. The magic was an important aspect of telling the overall story.

And speaking of updating versions, the latest and most advanced version of the effect started with the Don Wayne method and flew out to the stratosphere thanks to magic creator Sean Bogunia. Sean has taken the basic effect, added multiple methods and truly brought the animated handkerchief to life in ways that no one ever thought possible. Because of his innovations, many performers present the Dancing Hank in their shows today.

I'm not certain that anyone has really gotten the notoriety with the effect that the Blackstone's did. Though Sean is sure known as Mr. Hanky these days. This is by far a complete history of the effect but it does give you a good overview of the dancing hank through the years. Others have had innovations along the way as well, like Karrel Fox and Steve Dusheck. And a multitude of performers have presented this great effect. One thing is for certain,  over 100 years later the effect of causing a bit of cloth or handkerchief to come to life and animate and dance is still an amazing and popular illusion.

*Barry Wiley, author of The Indescribable Phenomenon, a biography of Anna Eva Fay, believes that in fact it was Maskelyne who created the Dancing Hank effect. His book is extremely well researched so now I'm leaning towards Maskelyne over Anna Eva Fay.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Floating Ball Illusion History

The Floating Ball was the creation of David P. Abbott. Well, actually, the original version was the creation of Harrison Davies and appeared in the September issue of The Sphinx in 1905. This information was uncovered by Teller and written up in his Prologue to The Floating Ball Illusion Chapter in the House of Mystery-Volume 2 by Teller and Todd Karr and David Abbott. This book, House of Mystery is basically an expanded edition of David P. Abbott's Book of Mysteries. It's a MUST READ for anyone interested in magic history. But within it's pages is contained the full explanation and step by step instructions for the Abbott Floating Ball routine. His routine was unique in that it was a one person version that he only performed in his home, so he had control of all conditions.

David P. Abbott taught the routine to Howard Thurston and Theo Bamberg. Thurston included it in his show and Okito would use the Floating Ball in his own show and develop a routine that set a new standard for the time.

The Thurston version of the Abbott routine was part of his Spirit Cabinet routine. Interestingly, the Thurston routine has a slightly different method to the Abbott version. Thurston routine begins with the ball floating forth from the Spirit Cabinet. It moves and floats about the stage and at one point is hovering above the stage. It's at this point that Thurston walks away from the ball while it is hovering in mid-air. The ball eventually floats back to the cabinet.

Theo Bamberg, known as Okito, used the Abbott version as the starting point but worked to develop his own moves and sequences. In his book, OKITO ON MAGIC, there is a 5 page chapter where Okito discusses the history of his routine. Interestingly, he never divulges his routine but he does divulge that his routine was ten minutes long.

Okito passed his routine onto his son, David, known professionally as FuManchu. In the book, ILLUSION BUILDER TO FU-MANCHU by Robert Olsen, a section on the Floating Ball is included. The chapter is mostly written by Edmund Spreer, who learned the Floating Ball from Okito and even hand made the Floating Ball for David Bamberg. The chapter gives a lot of details to the Fu-Manchu routine, which we can assume was identical or at least very close to his father's routine. The photo to the right is yours truly holding the Spreer made Fu-Manchu Floating Ball and below that the plexiglass box that mysteriously opened on it's own to allow the ball to float out or float back in.

Moving to the later part of the 20th Century we have Doug Henning's Floating Ball routine. The Doug Henning version came from Charles Reynolds who got the routine from a source I won't reveal. Well, it's not that I can't, it's that I have no idea what Gaeton Bloom said on the Luis Dematos Floating Ball DVD! And frankly, I so enjoyed the talk that Luis and Gaeton had about the ball, that I don't wish to spoil it. (You can read more about the DeMatos Floating Ball and DVD below.)  I can say that the Henning version always thrilled me but it seems the actually working of the routine was very different from what I thought it was. Let's just say the routine was 'All Doug'. Now, you take a moment to watch the following video of the The Henning Floating Ball.

That was part 1 of the Henning Floating Ball. Part 2 was something he only included on his TV Special. He would walk over to a large empty box and place the ball inside. Suddenly, the ball would emerge from the top of the box, but this time it was enormous. As it began to float up and down, it would begin to illuminate and the figure of a person could be seen inside. As the ball lowered it split in half revealing actress/dancer Joey Heatherton. This was really two different Floating Balls combined into one routine.

After Doug Henning, the next person to really bring the Floating Ball to the forefront was David Copperfield and Don Wayne, his magic consultant. The Copperfield version of the Floating Ball appeared on one of his early specials and featured the floating of a large disco mirror ball. The method for the Copperfield routine was the idea of Don Wayne. Following the TV special, Don Wayne sold a smaller version of the ball to magicians, along with a booklet on this Don Wayne method. His method, a two person version, opened the door to some amazing moves and sequences with the ball that were previously more difficult to do. The Copperfield routine was probably the most theatrical routine of all the versions combined. Like the Henning routine, Copperfield cleverly mixed different methods into a longer sequence. The Copperfield ball was covered at the end, floated upwards and then vanished as in an asrah levitation. You can enjoy that video now.

Peter Loughran put out a version not that long ago that was the creation of Steven and Michael Pignataro, it was called Voyager and was the first Floating Ball to include a lot of the 'hidden stuff' needed to create the full illusion.  

Next we have the TELLER Floating Ball. I have sadly, never seen the routine in person. I believe he calls his version 'The Red Ball'. The Teller inspiration came from the Abbott routine. Whether or not he uses the Abbott method or has developed something of his own, I really don't know. I'm not even sure the ball floats! From what I've read, it's more along the illusion of it 'coming to life'. But I do know that the 'secret' is told to the audience just before the routine is done and it still retains a very magical quality. Though with Penn and Teller, can you really be sure they've told you the secret????

The last Floating Ball belongs to Luis DeMatos.  The performance of the Floating Ball by Luis DeMatos is as close to real magic as you're likely to ever get. Having worked with the Floating Ball before, I was stunned at what he was able to achieve. I really was not sure what method he was using to accomplish his feat.

Luis has put out a DVD on the Floating Ball and his method as well as a history of the ball. He covers a number of historical things that I do not mention here.   As far as the Luis DeMatos Floating Ball DVD is concerned, I absolutely loved it. I've actually gone back and watched the performance part about a dozen times.

Luis DeMatos is not only selling a DVD but he is also selling his Mirror Ball, complete with DVD and all the necessary items needed to do his routine. I think that the Luis DeMatos version is not only the best routine of it's kind I've ever seen, it is also the biggest advancement in Floating Ball technology since the Don Wayne version. His routine might not be as theatrical as the Copperfield version, but it has a purity and elegance all it's own. For those interested, below is a somewhat edited version of his routine and you can start to get an idea that this is not your father's Floating Ball!
THE FLOATING BALL by Luis de Matos from Essential Magic Collection on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Amazing Interview with David Copperfield

David Copperfield is certainly an icon in the world of magic. In this interview he talks about his inspirations. He also shares some magic history, both of his own and of other magicians. It's a longer interview than usual but it's very informative. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Magician Statues

The recent article I did on Tommy Cooper got me wondering about what other magicians might have statues. So far what I have found is pretty bleak. My criteria for this is for outdoor life-size or larger than life statues. I am not including busts, as there are a number of these around and I plan to cover those in another upcoming article.

Siegfried & Roy
First up we have The Masters of the Impossible, Siegfried & Roy. Their massive bronze statue is outside the The Mirage Casino Hotel in Las Vegas. I believe it was erected in 1993 but I don't know who the artist was who created the work. I also am not sure it's actually a bronze statue or just a fiberglass statue with a bronze finish. I hope it's actually bronze.

Sadly, S&R have been off the strip so long and some only remember them for the accident. But at their peak they were wonderful performers and entertainment icons. I hope their statue remains for many many years to come.

In front of the Maison de la Magie in Blois France is this wonderful statue dedicated to The Father of Modern Magic, Jean Eugene Robert Houdin. He certainly deserves a statue and I'm glad to see that one was erected in his honor. However, I do not know the cost of the statue nor who sculpted it.

The museum behind the statue is said to be the 'house' of Robert Houdin, but I'm not sure that is the case. I don't recall the Houdin house being that large.

One thing is certain, the descendants of Robert-Houdin did donate the house to the town of Blois to be used as a museum to the great French Magician.
Tommy Cooper
Tommy Cooper, the fez wearing British comedy magician has a statue in his honor that stands in his home town of Caerphilly, Wales. Tommy Cooper died while doing a show LIVE on TV in 1984. Like all the performers in this article, he transcended the magic world and was considered an entertainer for the masses. His statue is made of bronze and stands 9ft tall. It was created by sculptor James Done at a cost of £45,000 which was raised by The Tommy Cooper Society in 2008.

Harry Collins
Harry Collins was a magician and spokesman for the Frito Lay Corp. He was also one of the first magicians to inspire Lance Burton and I believe he was also Lance's first magic mentor.

The statue stands over Harry Collins grave in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. The statue appears to be a bronze casting and no idea who the artist was or the cost.

David Copperfield
The latest edition to the statues is one that was recently unveiled in August 2012 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. This bronze statue is dedicated to the 'King of Magic' David Copperfield.

This is the most unusual statue of the group because at first glance it might appear to be a giant bust of the magician. However, the lower part of the statue features sculpted images from some of David's most popular illusions, including Flying, Walking Through The Great Wall of China, Making the Statue of Liberty Vanish, The Lear Jet Vanish and Tornado of Fire.

It sits in front of the the theater where David Copperfield regularly performs in Las Vegas.

The big question I have is, "Where is the Statue of Houdini?" The sad answer to that is, there is NO statue of Houdini. The closest thing we have is his grave with the bust, but by the criteria I set above, that isn't quite enough. Let's face it Houdini deserves a life size statue! I know at one time the SAM led a concerted effort to the get a Houdini Postage Stamp which eventually paid off. Perhaps it's time to work on the creation of a Houdini statue.

There actually is/was a statue dedicated to the memory of Houdini, but it was of his Metamorphosis Trick which at one time was on display in Appleton Wisconsin. That statue is currently in storage while the city finds a new place to display it.

IF you happen to know of a magician statue that I missed, please let me know. I'm looking for more statues, NOT busts. I have a list of magic related busts that I'll be doing soon.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Adelaide Herrmann and the 1926 Fire

Warehouse on 46St NYC
This is a story I had read about in different books over the years, but always in snippets. I never quite knew the whole story and now thanks to the publication of Adelaide Herrmann's Memoirs, I've got more information. But I'm also going back to other sources to pull out the various discussions of the event because other historical figures get involved.

Adelaide Herrmann was the widow of Alexander Herrmann, known as Herrmann The Great. After Alexander died in their traincar in December of 1896, Adelaide decided to take a version of their show out. She chose Alexander's nephew Leon to fill the male role and she sent for him in Europe.
They toured together for three seasons until personality clashes caused them to part ways.

Adelaide had inherited all of the properties from the original Herrmann the Great show and these were stored in a warehouse near 37th St in New York City.  However, Mrs. Herrmann had been notified that the warehouse building that held all her equipment was due to be demolished and she would need to find a new location. The new warehouse was at 611 46th Street NYC.  Along with all the props, costumes, scenery, and illusions were also all of Adelaide's animals that she used during her 'Noah's Ark' routine.

On the morning of September 7th, 1926, an explosion occurred at the warehouse and the building was engulfed in flames. All 200 animals perished in the fire, along with an animal trainer and the majority of the Herrmann props. Apparently, one crate remained unharmed but was later broken into by thieves so nothing remained of the Herrmann legacy.

What caused the fire? The New York Times reported that an alcohol still, or several stills, hidden on the roof of the warehouse had exploded causing the fire.

It would seem that Adelaide Herrmann's show business career was over. However, a number of professional performers came to her aid. Among them was the President of the Society of American Magicians, Harry Houdini, who donated a Noah's Ark Illusion to replace the one that had been destroyed by fire. Harry Blackstone Sr. also helped Mrs. Herrmann by donating equipment. She quickly put together a new act and was up and running by October 1926.

Though the majority of the props owned and used by the Herrmann's had been destroyed in the Sept 7th warehouse fire, some props still remain today in private collections. Among the props that still exist are a Pistol used by Alexander Herrmann to vanish rings and a pair of Rapping Hands, both in the collection of Ray Goulet. Also Ken Klosterman has a center table that belonged to Herrmann, and the magic wand that used by Alexander Herrmann, which once was owned by Houdini, is now in the Copperfield collection. There may be other props scattered among collectors but those are a few I'm aware of.

Below is a photo of the location of the 611 46th Street warehouse. You'll see today it still remains a shell of it's former self. However, at the top of the page is a photo of 609 46th Street,  a warehouse that has been there since 1879 and this is very likely exactly what Adelaide Herrmann's warehouse once looked like. One other note, this location is walking distance from the pier where the USS Intrepid is docked and also where one of the NASA Space Shuttles now sits on display.
Location of Adelaide Herrmann's Warehouse & Fire

Milbourne Christopher, The Illustrated History of Magic
M-U-M Magazine, March 1981, article 'Ladies of the Hall of Fame' by Colette Cozean
Genii Magazine August 2000, article 'Adelaide Herrmann' by James Hamilton
M-U-M Magazine, May 2011, article 'Adelaide Herrmann & The SAM' by Margaret Steele
Frank Dudgeon with Ann Goulet, RAY GOULET Recollections of a Renaissance Man
Adelaide Herrmann & Margaret Steele, Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic, Memoirs

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Bit of David Copperfield History

I found this on Youtube and really enjoyed watching it. Though David Copperfield does own perhaps the largest collection of historical magic, he is also living history.  He accomplished an astonishing amount in his life and I hope this continues for many many years to come. I don't really know what this is from, but it looks like it came from the Copperfield Team. I hope they allow it to remain on Youtube so that more people can appreciate his contributions to the art.