Showing posts with label Michael Stroud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Stroud. Show all posts

Friday, March 8, 2024

Majinga Is Gone But Not Forgotten


On Tuesday, March 5th 2024, my friend Michael Stroud, passed away. Michael was known professionally as Majinga the Magician and was a very popular California based illusionist. I really want to emphasize that word ILLUSIONIST, because many use the moniker, but they don't perform illusions. Michael/Majinga invested in tons of illusions and he used them and performed them!!!

If you never were lucky enough to meet Michael or see him perform, then you really missed out. But there is some good news. He left behind a huge archive of video footage. One of the first things you'll notice about Majinga is that he is not your typical magician. He was in truth, a theatrical magician, and he really believed in the theater part. He didn't wear business suits like so many of today's performers, he wore costumes. He wore hats. He wore masks. Any costume he wore also had many additional little accoutrements. 

He was born in Warrensburg, Missouri, April 29, 1967. His interest in magic began when he was entertained by two German magicians while on board a flight. I asked him once if this was Siegfried and Roy and he was unsure but at the same time said, "it might have been." By age 11, he presented his own magic show. Later, Wayne Rake from the Jokers Wild Magic Shop in Maryland would become Michael's first mentor. 

One of Michael's big claims to fame was his performance of the Bian Lian, Chinese Mask Changing Act. This is a very difficult thing to learn let alone performer. Michael became a master at it. He featured this very act at Chinese Festivals all over the West Coast.

Another more main stream claim to fame was his credit as a co-author of the book, The Klutz Book of Magic, and later, The Rubber Chicken Book, also published by Klutz. 

For years, Michael was known as Magic Mike. But in 1997, he decided to create a new character called Majinga who would by a gypsy-magician like character. He created the show Magique Bazaar along with Fontain Riddle who did all the music for the show.  His performing partner Magic Genii would join the show in 2000. Together, they performed this show, along with nearly a dozen cast members, at the Gaslight Theater in Campbell, California.

Michael never stopped creating new characters, or new takes on performing. His method was to always add elements of theatricality, even to the smallest of effects. Today, almost no one does apparatus magic, yet this was a staple in Michaels shows. 

In 2023, Michael health started to decline suddenly. It was a huge shock to everyone, though he kept his diagnosis rather private. In November he was diagnosed with ALS. 

In the near future, Magic Genii, Michael's performing partner and wife,  is planning on having, not a broken wand ceremony, but instead a Wand Retirement ceremony. I have to admit, I really like the sound of that. It helps to keep Michael/Majinga's memory alive, permanently. He would have loved that!

Please watch this tremendous performance by Majinga and Magic Genii of their  Mask Changing act. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Piece of Doug Henning Memorabilia

Thanks to my friend Michael Stroud, who is a fine magician and also a big fan of Doug Henning and Le Grand David, I now have one of the canes from Doug Henning's Cane Cabinet in my collection. The Cane Cabinet as presented by Doug Henning was called Backstage With A Cane Cabinet and it was the creation of Jim Steinmeyer.

The origins of the trick go back to U.F. Grant and can be found in a number of different magic books including Tarbell.  The U.F. Grant version used Steel Bars and an upright cabinet. Jim's creation was basically the same cabinet with some subtle alterations to the method and with canes rather than steel bars. It was introduced into Doug's show in 1984 according to the book, Spellbound, by John Harrison.

The routine borrowed liberally from Dante's Backstage With The Magician presentation, with a painted backdrop that looked like the audience. The illusion was performed facing that backdrop, so it appeared to the real audience they were getting a view of an illusion that wouldn't normally be seen.

In the course of the illusion, the magician, sneaks out of the cabinet (in full view of the real audience of course) and goes underneath a covered table-like structure. A large quantity of wooden canes are shoved into the now apparently empty box. Once all the canes are in, one of them mysteriously begins to move, the assistants quickly jump in and remove all the canes. At the conclusion of the illusion the magician is found  having vanished underneath the table and is yet again inside the Cane Cabinet. It's a wonderful effect, part penetration, part transposition. Doug later performed this on The Tonight Show w/Johnny Carson.

In October of 2014, Jim Steinmeyer's column in Genii Magazine called CONJURING, featured another take on the cane cabinet, this time called The Petite Illusion. That version doesn't have the 'backstage' feature but does offer another 'sucker' like ending.

To my knowledge the only other person to present The Backstage with a Cane Cabinet was Lance Burton. I remember seeing the illusion featured on one of Lance Burton's TV Special's and I think he also performed it on the Tonight Show, but this time Jay Leno was the host. I am pretty sure I saw him perform it at his fantastic show at the Monte Carlo Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. At the bottom of the page is a video of Lance's Cane Cabinet in action.

The photo above/left shows the cane once owned and used by Doug Henning. I am actually going to have it mounted on a board with a photo of the cane cabinet, but I have to locate a photo of Doug presenting the illusion first. The Cane Cabinet owned by Doug Henning was purchased at the Southern California auction of Doug's props by a magician from Hollister, CA, William Wizard. My friend Michael purchased the illusion from Mr. Wizard at a later date.  Michael held onto the illusion for a while but it's size became an issue for storage so he eventually sold it to an eccentric collector in California. However, Michael kept the canes and now one of those canes is in my collection.

If you enjoyed this, I'll have another Doug Henning article later this month!