Showing posts with label Houdini Festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Houdini Festival. Show all posts

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Houdini Festival and MORE


You no doubt have read about The Houdini Festival on here, several times in the past. That poor festival has suffered some serious setbacks, as have many events over the past few years. The organizer is Wayne Alan, a professional illusionist and he is also a theater owner. He owns the Historic North Theater in Danville, VA. Wayne is an award winning illusionist. In fact, he won the Gold Medal for Illusion at FISM in 1982. But what you may not know about Wayne is he is an avid Houdini fan and has been researching Houdini for 30 years. He is writing a book, that I can tell you will be eye opening, probably controversial at the same time. But you are in for some big surprises. What kind? I can't tell you. I'm sworn to secrecy for the time being.

Let me tell you this. Among the collectibles that Wayne Alan owns, is the floor grate from the hospital room that Houdini died in! Yep, he visited there just prior to that part of the hospital being torn down. He's got some other very cool Houdini stuff, but I'll save that for another day. 

For now, let me just get back to the Houdini Festival. It has been moved to March 2023. Wayne wanted to be sure we were all clear of Covid before he went through with this festival. He already has quite the line-up in store. That's assuming that there are no changes in the coming year. Here are a few names you might be familiar with: Johnathan Pendragon, Dan Harlan, Robert Baxt, and Dale Salwak. Also on the bill is recent FOOL-US Fooler Wes Iseli, and then there is yours truly, ME! I'm sure there will be others added to the bill over the coming months. 

The town of Danville is getting a major upgrade soon and this will likely be a positive boon for the Houdini Festival. At one time, Danville was a bit off the beaten track, but now it's going to be a major travel destination. Hey, and if nothing else, the famed Confederate Civil War Gold is rumored to be buried in Danville, so you could always go hunting for gold, lol! To stay up to date and to register for the festival go to

I am confident that in 2023, the Festival will be a GO!!!

Monday, November 2, 2020

HOUDINI Festival Scheduled for 2021

 A few years ago, I was invited to speak at the First Houdini Festival in Danville Virginia. It was a small event but a lot of fun. I did a lecture on escapes and also another lecture on Houdini. There are some unique things about the organizer of this event. Wayne Alan is a professional magician, but he is also a huge Houdini buff. I believe it was the early 1980s, Wayne duplicated Houdini's Upside Down Straightjacket Escape in front of Keith's Vaudeville Theatre in Washington. But that wasn't all. He also picked up some items from inside the historic theatre before they tore it down. 

Wayne has also been working on a Houdini book for years. He has some information that is very different from things I've heard in the past. I've been privy to a lot of the information and it's eye opening. The amazing thing, much of it comes directly from sources involved in the events of Houdini's life. 

Now fast forward to 2021. Wayne Alan owns the Historic North Theatre in Danville VA. He is planning on holding the next Houdini Festival in Spring of next year. We spoke together at length about the way to do it, and I think Wayne has a clever solution. The Festival will be both Virtual and In-person. Of course, the in person events will be socially distanced (if we still are dealing with Covid at that time).  Below is Wayne's press release. Watch for more updates in the coming weeks.

Houdini Festival Scheduled for 2021
World Champion Illusionist Wayne Alan has announced that “The Houdini Festival" will be held at The Historic North Theatre in Danville, Virginia, on April 8-10, 2021 (April 6 was the date that Houdini celebrated as his birthday.). The Historic North Theatre is a beautifully restored 1947 vaudeville house with 500 seats and a full balcony owned and operated by Wayne Alan. Due to the pandemic the number of in-person attendees are still unknown. Even under the best scenario, there will be a limit of only 313 in-person attendees. Send an email to to be put on our mailing list for updates (put Houdini Festival in subject line). A new website will be up in November. A refundable $50.00 deposit for in-person attendees will give you priority seating. Reservations can be made by calling 434-793-SHOW (7469) or emailing
The goal is to bring together Houdini aficionados, magic collectors, escape artists and magicians. The Friday night show will feature Magic Castle award winners and the Saturday night show will showcase FISM winners. Plus, dealer displays, a viewing of a Houdini movie on the big screen, Houdini memorabilia display and other surprises. Close-up shows will be held in the Balcony Mini-Theatre with beautifully raked seating to provide for an amazing viewing experience. The first 113 in-person registrants will watch the close-up live while the others watch on the big screen in the main theatre. Because of its uniqueness we are hoping to receive national publicity, not only in the magic press but also in the mainstream media.
In Wayne Alan’s research for his upcoming Houdini book, he discovered that Houdini had an affinity for the number 13. Based on numerous cost factors and Houdini’s lucky 13, the rates for the convention will be $169.00 (13x13) for online and $213.00 in person. Individual tickets for certain (non-secret revealing) sessions and shows will be available to the general public. Reservations can be made by calling 434-793-SHOW (7469) or emailing

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Unique Houdini Artifact

Harry Houdini died Oct 31, 1926 at Grace Hospital Room 401. Most magicians today know that Houdini died on Halloween, they might not know the particular details of his death and what followed.

Grace Hospital
Grace Hospital in Detroit MI, opened in 1888 and quickly became a leading hospital in the city. As the years went by, additions were added to the hospital around the original building. Finally, sometime in the 1970s, the original part of the hospital was torn down and replaced.

Enter magician Wayne Alan. He had read about the upcoming demolition in a magic magazine and contacted the hospital administrator. He was able to go to the very room where Houdini died and salvage items from the room. Among the items he collected were two air vents and a piece of door trim. The air vent that was above the bed where Houdini died can be seen at the top of the page. Wayne has a number of unique items that he removed from Room 401 at Grace Hospital just before it was demolished.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

News From the First Annual Houdini Festival in Danville VA

This has been a whirlwind weekend. So many stories, like the car breaking down on the way to Danville and having to turn back to have the car checked out. Long story short, we arrived at the Historic North Theatre in Danville VA shortly after midnight on Friday.

Magician Wayne Alan owns the theatre where the Houdini Festival takes place.  Attached to the theatre is a bed and breakfast which is just amazing. I'm not sure how many rooms there are, but Wayne has turned them into themed rooms. Of the ones I can remember, he has the Marylin Monroe Room, the Sinatra Room, the Tonight Show Room, the Today Show room and there are others I've forgotten. You can access the theatre from the Bed and Breakfast which was great.

First thing, Saturday morning Wayne gave us a tour of the Theatre. Let me say, this place is a real treasure. At one time, Danville VA sported 5 Vaudeville Theatres. Today, the Historic North Theatre is the only one which remains. It was recently refurbished before Wayne purchased it, so it has brand new seats (500 of them) and really a brand new everything. It's an amazing place.

In the basement below the stage, Wayne has put in what he calls Houdini's Haunted House. It's a normal Haunted House with some rather interesting Houdini artifacts scattered throughout. He also keeps several of the side show style illusions down there. It's certainly clever and word was he did a really strong business over the weeks in October because of Halloween. I will write about some of the artifacts in a future blog this week.

In the balcony of the theatre, Wayne Alan has created a sort of mini-theatre and this is where the lectures took place. The first lecturer of the event was Tony Econ. Tony is a fantastic card magician with a truly amazing life story. He was a great guy and did a simply fantastic job with his lecture.

Next up was ME! I was doing my lecture on Houdini and Escapes. To be specific, it's more on escapes and only briefly covers Houdini. The reason is because you can't talk escapes without mentioning Houdini. I talked a bit about the history of escapes and then taught a number of rope escapes, thumb cuff and thumb screw escapes and finally gave them some very clever information on handcuff escapes. I finished by performing an escape called The Strong Box. I was really thrilled with the reaction to my lecture and the response that followed. I'll be presenting this lecture again in the future.

After my lecture we had a surprise guest. But I'm going to hold the information on this wonderful lady because I need to get some photos and more biographical information. So this part of the day is for a future article.

Wayne Alan prepared an interesting talk on Why Houdini Was So Famous. I must say I really
enjoyed this talk. One of the first reasons Wayne sited for Houdini's success is actually almost identical to the first chapter of my book on Houdini (yes, I have a book and no it's not done.)
Wayne gave some really wonderful examples to back up his thoughts on Houdini's success and I'd say he was pretty much right on the money.

At this point in the day, Denise, my assistant, and I had to leave to run some errands so we missed
Carnegie & Wayne Alan
some of the activities in the afternoon. Basically, we had to get to the store to buy a video tape to record the evening Gala Show. Once we returned, the evening was spent preparing for the show, loading in our props and getting on costumes.

I should mention that Wayne Alan acted as M.C.for the Gala Show. He said a few opening words, did a quick routine and then proceeded to introduce the first act. Up first was Tony Econ doing his wonderfully executed Manipulation Act. Tony was great during the day with his lecture and he proved equally strong performing Card Manipulations and Billiard Ball moves with Large Dice.

Next up was Denise and I presenting our Steampunk Illusionist Act. During the course of the act we actually presented one escape routine and closed with my signature story trick about Houdini and Charlie Chaplin.

Wayne wrapped up the last part of the show by presenting the Misers Dream, A clever Shrinking Illusion using someone from the audience and then Floating a Member of the Audience in the Air. The audience loved the show! We got to meet and talk with them in the lobby following the performance.

After the last person exited the theatre, the boring part of showbiz began, which is tearing down the props and loading them in the car. Then stripping off all the costumes and makeup and getting ready to hit the road again. 

Another thing I missed was the Friday evening Close-Up Show in the Mini-Theatre. I forgot to ask Wayne how this part of the event went over, but I'm sure it went fine.

The First Annual Houdini Festival was fun. The number of attendees was less than Wayne would have liked but it just meant that it was more of an intimate gathering. For all who attended, they got a real treat with some bonuses that I have not mentioned. Wayne Alan is already beginning work on The Second Annual Houdini Festival. I know he is looking for lecturers, speakers, performers and of course attendees. Wayne has some Houdini related artifacts that he told me about which would make any Houdini-fan very envious and I'm sure they will show up in future editions of this festival. There are already some really cool things planned for next year so it's going to be something I personally will be looking forward too!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Houdini Festival in Danville VA

This weekend, November 1-2, 2013, Wayne Alan and The North Theatre in Danville VA will be hosting the first annual Houdini Festival. It's going to be a fun time and yours truly will be there on November 2nd lecturing and then later performing.

At 10:30am I will be doing a lecture on Escapes. I'll teach some methods used by Houdini and also some techniques by others. I'll be teaching methods to escape from Ropes and Handcuffs as well as some unusual escape methods.

At 8pm, there will be a Gala Evening Show and I will be doing my Steampunk Magic Act along with some escapes thrown into the mix. If you are in Southern Virginia, or perhaps the Northern part of North Carolina and have an interest in magic and Houdini, please come on out.

Click on the poster above to find out more about the festival!

I will have a full report of the Festival once it's over!