Saturday, December 28, 2019
I was just looking over at Feedspot.com and found out that this blog is in the top 20 among all magic blogs. They first notified me a couple years ago that I had made it into the top 75. Very quickly, the site had moved to the top 50. It's now in the top 20, and it's possible it was higher than that at one point, but I've not been posting as often, so that can change the outcomes. By the way, the podcast is ranked #4 on their podcast listings and I'm confident I can hit the top spot before too long.
The good news for this blog is, I'll be posting more often here at the blog. One of the first things I'm going to do is take the Feature Transcripts from the podcast and put them here on the blog. This way I can add photos, and links and other things that I cannot do when I'm just chatting on the podcast. And I can give a list of my research references.
You'll notice the previous article on the site is on Karl Germain. This is the first transcript from the podcast that I've added here. I've been able to include some photos as well as links. I did have a little bit of editing to do to make the article work on the blog, but that's to be expected.
You may also have noticed a new header on the site. This is to keep my Magic Detective Branding in check. There will be more changes in the coming weeks. And I expect to put more content on here that will not be used in the podcasts.
By the way, if you don't already do so, please consider following me on Instagram, at https://www.instagram.com/themagicdetective/
And on Facebook at, https://www.facebook.com/themagicdetective/
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Back in May of 2018, I took part in a documentary segment about the time Houdini testified before Congress. This segment was for the French TV Channel ARTE. The segment finally aired TODAY, November 21st, 2018. It's all in French, so if you don't speak French, you won't understand a word, lol. But it's a pretty good segment and I hope you enjoy it. Below is the french version.
By the way, during the actual event in 1926, Houdini presented the Spirit Slates to the Congressman, and then exposed it to them. He said, "My oath prevents me from exposing magic secrets, but I have no problem exposing the secrets of mediums". I did a quick demonstration of the Spirit Slates during my segment, though unlike Houdini, I did not expose it!
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The book above, The Secret History of Magic, just arrived in the mail yesterday. This book is by Peter Lamont and Jim Steinmeyer. I wish this was a book review but I've not finished the book yet. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but I must admit that I LOVE The cover! They took a Servais Le Roy poster and deleted the background so it's against a layer of white, with the books title. Wow does it look good.
As for the content. Some interesting chapter titles: Origin Myths, False Accusations, Disenchantment, Second Sight, Separate Spheres, The Confessions, The UnMasking, The Golden Age, Variety, Thought Transmissions, Before Your Eyes, The Real Secrets of Magic.
I can tell by some of the chapter titles who may be the 'stars' of those chapters. But again, this is no review of the book. To get a copy yourself, go to https://www.amazon.com/Secret-History-Magic-Story-Deceptive/dp/0143130633/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531919580&sr=8-1&keywords=the+secret+history+of+magic
I'll have a review of the book at a later date!
Thursday, June 14, 2018
We have a winner for the June Magic History Contest. The question was:
"What magician had a nickname on the West Coast and a nickname on the East Coast which were spelled the same but pronounced differently?"
And the answer was Dai Vernon, some pronounced it 'Day', others pronounced it "Die". The winner has been notified and once I get his address, I'll be dropping his magic history prize in the mail!
The Magic History Contest will be taking a couple months off, however it will resume again in September 2018. Thank you to everyone who has participated!
Next up is a new Houdini article. For me it's one that I wrote months ago, but forgot to post, lol. I'll get it posted this weekend.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
We're back with another Magic History Contest! This one is fairly easy. At least easy for those who have been involved in magic for a while. Good luck!
Question of the Month:
"What magician had a nickname on the West Coast and a nickname on the East Coast which were spelled the same but pronounced differently?"
- Only 1 entry per person
- To enter: Send me an email, with the subject heading 'June Magic History Contest' to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please include your full name in the email.
- You must live in the continental United States
- I'm going to pick a random name from among all the correct entries to get the winner!
- No purchase necessary.
- Contest Ends Friday June 16th, 2018
Saturday, April 28, 2018
I have recently added flyers for my Magic History Lectures. I have two more to add, but have not yet finished the graphics. The two attached flyers are for a Houdini lecture and a Maro Lecture. I've given both of these lectures several times and they are quite good, if I do say so myself.
You can read about the lectures on the flyers. I will say, the one major addition to the Houdini lecture that I didn't have the previous times I presented it, is the power point presentation. The Maro lecture has always had the power point presentation.
These are great for historical groups, magic clubs, magic history groups, and really any association, library, or group looking to have a different sort of talk, that is both educational and entertaining. Click the links above to go the different lecture pages to find out more!
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
UPDATE: So I've already got a winner, and there are scores of other entries that are correct. But as you can see below, I said, "I will randomly choose a second person to win a prize as well". The contest remains open for another week, so ENTER! You've got nothing to loose, you might just be the second prize winner. Also, in case you're wondering, there will be a May contest too.
Last October, during Houdini Month, I had several contests with some pretty cool prizes (if I do say so myself). I once had a contest back in 2012, that was so hard, no one got all the questions right. I was just looking over the list of questions, and even I couldn't get them all today, lol.
But I love this idea of a Contest, so this month, I'm doing an April Magic History Contest. One question. The winner gets an actual piece of magic history. It's a brochure used by a famous magician, but I won't say who, quite yet. Here is the question:
Many magicians have used devils or demons on their advertising. Which Houdini poster featured devils?
- Only 1 entry per person
- To enter: Send me an email, with the subject heading 'April Magic History Contest' to email@example.com
- Please include your full name in the email.
- You must live in the continental United States
- The 1st email I receive that has the correct answer is the winner! If I get a bunch of emails with correct answers, I will randomly choose a second person to win a prize as well.
- No purchase necessary.
- Contest Ends April 30th, 2018
The winner was William V from Havertown PA. He's already received his prize.
SECOND PRIZE: A smaller Virgil & Julie Brochure (not pictured)
The winner was drawn from the remaining entries and the prize goes to Kevin A. of Indio California.
Congrats to both winners. And thanks everyone for playing. Next month, ANOTHER Magic History Contest.
Monday, April 16, 2018
The registration is now open for the New England Magic Collectors Association Conference, known as The Yankee Gathering. I attended this event two years ago and had so much fun! This is for the magic history folk, and it's filled with great lectures, lots of exhibits, wonderful people, and even stage shows at night. There is a rumor that yours truly will even be performing this year! If you'd like to register, please go to: http://nemca.com/wp/yg-xvii-registration/
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Looks like there is a new magic history book on the horizon. This is by Derek Tait. You might recall his name from his most recent work, The Great Houdini: His British Tours. I've yet to finish my article, so watch for an upcoming review of that book. But Derek, now has another great book, this time covering the illusionists and magic acts that appeared in the music halls of Great Britain.
From the Amazon.com site, "This book includes the stories of some of the best illusionists as well as specialty acts such as Datas and The Human Fly. Some are still well-known names today, while others will be unheard of by many. Marvel at the feats and lives of the Davenport Brothers, the Great Raymond, David Devant, Carl Hertz and Harry Kellar. Relive the tragedies such as the deaths on stage of Chung Ling Soo and the Great Lafayette."I for one love these types of books. It was books, just like these that kept me going as a young kid in magic. I would devour these books on magic history. I didn't have easy access to magic shops years ago, so the local book store was my go-to place. Thankfully, I found quite a few books there. I soon discovered, as I met other magicians, that I knew a lot more about magic history than the average magician. Of course, these were mostly amateurs. Though I recall stumping a few pros along the way too, come to think of it.
At any rate, the book is called The Great Illusionists, and will come out July 3rd, 2018. You can pre-order a copy of the book now on Amazon.com
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
2017 is almost finished. I'm going to take a few moments and feature the highlights from my blog and mention some other Magic Detective highlights as well.
First, I must confess to thinking that I was a bit slower on getting out articles this year than previous years. But after looking over last years numbers I was pleasantly surprised. 2016 saw 43 articles. 2017 saw a whopping 65 articles! For the record, I didn't look back any further because I know that some years I was a magic history fiend and spent more time blogging than working, lol.
If I'm going in chronological order, the first big event for The Magic Detective was the TEDx Talk in
A TED Talk might be the highlight of anyone's day, but not the Magic Detective. Nope. My assistant
Henry Ridgely Evans. It was no small feat and frankly dangerous. It was raining and the terrain made it very slippery. But we eventually found the grave! You can read about our trek on the link.
Houdini Takes DC and again, I was joined by fellow magic historian Ken Trombly. Ken has an incredible Houdini collection, posters, photos, playbills, it's truly remarkable. Ken spoke first for about 40 minutes. Then I was supposed to follow with a Houdini style magic show. However, I changed things on a dime. There were so many areas of information to fill in from Ken's talk, that I began speaking about Houdini and sharing additional stories. Then along the way I shared some routines. For example, Ken had displayed Houdini's King of Cards Poster, so I started my presentation with a Card Trick right out of Houdini's notes. Later, when I got into Houdini's Handcuff escapes, I demonstrated a handcuff escape. Near the end I spoke about two people who were influential in Houdini's life, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Cooke. I then demonstrated a Rope Escape that Harry Cooke presented before Lincoln himself. The attendees loved it!
One of my favorite articles of 2017 was an Expose of Houdini's Card Act. I wish I had done this research before the AtlasObscura event the previous month, because I might have presented Houdini's Card act there. But as it was, I was not totally aware of what his act consisted of. There were tidbits of info all over in books, articles and such. I gathered them, and did additional research and put out a great piece.
And though this is somewhat out of order, another favorite article for 2017 was about Houdini at The Wintergarten. There are times when the research gets so consuming that I actually feel like I've been to these places. Most of the research on the Wintergarten didn't even make it into the article. The reason was because most of the research was about the venue, how it came about, what eventually happened to it, and the circumstances in Germany during the time all this took place. When I finally finished this article, for weeks after, I had this feeling as if I had truly been to Germany and experienced this entire event in history. Like I said, consuming.
The King Breakers, The Ghost Houses, Houdini in Baltimore (my home town), Queen Victoria's Dress, and The Escape Revelation, which I had to sit on for YEARS before I was allowed to reveal it. I had a HUGE spike in readership in October because of Houdini month, though not as big as the first Houdini Month back in 2014.
The most difficult moment for The Magic Detective this year was having to report on the death of my friend Steve Baker. It was also the most read article of the year, and deservedly so. Steve was a great entertainer and a controversial figure in entertainment. He had a stellar career up to a point and then things went awry. He always intended to make a come-back, but despite his best efforts it was never to be. His health deteriorated near the end and as he said to me many times, "If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself." A lesson to us all.
If I'm going to be honest, the biggest Houdini Event of the year, was not on my blog. It was over on John Cox's blog, WildAboutHoudini.com when he covered his visit to Houdini's home in NYC. Reading that article was memorizing, and the only thing that could have made it better, would have been to be there. But my performing schedule would not allow it so I missed out (and have regretted it every day since).
What is in store for 2018. Oh man, if I could only tell you? Big things ahead for magic history and for The Magic Detective. I'll tip you off early in 2018 as to some of the big things, so keep watching, keep reading, and please feel free to leave comments any time!
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Coming in Just 2 Days, The Return of The Magic Detective Blog! I've written a number of articles that I've been saving. The first article will have a Houdini connection. I also have an article about Russia's greatest illusionist, and a brief article about Kalanag. They won't all appear on Sept 1, but you'll be seeing articles more often after that date. There's a lot more in store, so keep watching! Only 2 Days to Go!
Sunday, August 28, 2016
On September 1st, the Magic Detective RETURNS with new articles, new content, an updated look (ok, more historical look). It's been a tough few months, as I'm sure you could tell from my last post. In that time, I've watched as other friends and associates have had to endure the trials of going through the death of a loved one, just as I did. I've had to sit back and be a spectator to the deaths of some iconic members of our magic family. 2016 has not been a good year. But, I'm determined to make it better! So September 1st, I'll put up my first blog article since April. I did post a brief article in June just to let every one know why I had vanished. But the true articles stopped back in April. Now, I'm ready to get in my time machine and travel to the past to enjoy more Magic History!!!!
Sunday, May 10, 2015
This is a link to a very interesting article on 10 Legendary Magicians You've Probably Never Heard About. It's a strikingly good list to be honest. I can't help but wonder if the writer has some knowledge of magic history. No sources are listed where he got the information. And sadly, there some bad choices for photos. The Robert Heller photo is NOT Robert Heller the magician. The DeKolta photo is also a stock image, not the real magician. But other than that, it's an interesting choice of people. I'm personally glad that Robert Heller made the list. I'm also kind of saddened that Doug Henning, Howard Thurston and Harry Kellar made the list. They deserve to be on the list, don't get me wrong, but the fact that they are not remembered by the public today is unfortunate.
I'm curious what your list might have been? I probably would have swapped Pinetti for Hofzinser, and combined Adelaide with Alexander Herrmann so that I could include Signor Blitz. I really don't think I would have put Doug Henning on the list though because he is too modern and I do think despite the fact he is not a major celebrity, a lot of people today still know of him. So that would have left one spot......hmmmm Blackstone? No, that name still is remembered thanks to his son. Probably, Dante.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
I must say, it's a really enjoyable history on Victorian Magic. There are a number of things in here that I was not familiar with. The book opens with a chapter on The Great Wizard of the North, John Henry Anderson. The chapter also discusses a lesser known competitor and some of the battles they had together.
Another chapter that I really enjoyed was on Pepper's Ghost and Pepper's Metampsychosis illusions. Fascinating chapter on optical principles once used in the theatre. It was doubly interesting because I was reading it on Christmas Eve just after having watched Charles Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' on TV. One of the things that is mentioned in the chapter is how the Pepper Optical Principles were used to create the illusion of real ghosts in plays of the Christmas Carol back in the 1800s! The author also gives a fairly good explanation of the Blue Room, probably the most thorough I've ever read (not counting Jim Steinmeyer's book on this exact topic)
The chapter on Robert Houdin was good. It's from a slightly different perspective. It's written from the eyes and of the Londoners who witnessed Houdin's performances in England. Apparently, when Robert-Houdin first began to perform in London he spoke no English. The crowds were not happy with this and according to the book, his solution was to inquire to the audience as to the english name of each item he presented. It became more interactive and the audiences warmed up to him.
The chapter on the Davenport Brothers was also interesting. The brothers were extremely popular in America, but in England they often met with resistance and even hostility. I must add that at this moment the Spirit Cabinet holds an extra amount of interest to me because of the recent presentation by Mike Caveney of Charles Carter's Spirit Cabinet at the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. I was unfamiliar with the routine he presented and it sure opens my eyes to new ideas for this ancient but still wonderful effect. In addition, the Davenport Brothers leads into J.N. Maskelyne, who I always assumed was already famous at this point in time, but that was not the case. His confrontation with the Davenports actually helped to make a name for himself.
And for the first time that I can recall reading in print, is an explanation on how the famous Egyptian Hall began. Fascinating stuff to say the least.
It's interesting to see the types of entertainment that Victorian audiences appreciated. I was familiar with a great deal of information in this book, yet in every chapter I discovered some new piece of history that I did not know. All in all it's a fine book. I have only seen them for sale on eBay, but they seem to pop up fairly often.
This article was copied from my other blog http://carnegiemagic.blogspot.com/2013/12/victorian-magic-book.html
Thursday, October 3, 2013
WELCOME & THANKS!!!My friend Adele alerted me earlier tonight that this blog was mentioned in an email from Stevens Magic. And sure enough, in my email box was an email from Mark Stevens asking for permission to include my site in their email. As far as Stevens Magic goes, they are a class act. I've always had positive dealings with them and really appreciate their dedication to the art of magic and I'm honored they included me in their email newsletter.
If you are new to my blog, I might suggest you try this link
which lists some of the more popular articles. You can also scroll along the right side and find articles listed by topic.
The blog usually gets updated several times a week, but I've been out of town on a family matter and just returned today. So hopefully, once things get settled, you'll see some brand new articles on magic history! Until then, there are certainly a lot of articles you can view from the past!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
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.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Mike Caveney* is a magical performer, talented comedian and one of the foremost scholars on magic history alive today. If you've ever seen Mike perform you know his material is hilarious and the magic is rock solid. Mike is also the publisher and occasionally writer of some of the finest magic history books of the last 40 years. A sampling of titles include: Walter Jeans-Illusioneer, Devant's Delightful Delusions, P.T. Selbit-Magical Innovator, Buatier DeKolta-Genius of Illusion, Carter the Great, Servais LeRoy-Monarch of Mystery and many other titles. Mike is also one of the producers of the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. And now, for the first time, Mike Caveney is revealing ALL, and then some.
In my opinion, that volume alone is priceless. But Mike has taken this project even further by adding a second volume called "The Conference Illusions". This book details the various illusions from the Golden Age of Magic that Mike brought back to life during the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. For many of us who have never had the good fortune to have attended the conference, this will be a detailed look into the history of the routines and all the work and research that went into recreating them. Some of the illusions Mike presented at the conference include: Dante's Sawing a Lady in Half, Selbit's Bricks, Carter's Million Dollar Mystery, The OH! Chair and many others. The information in this book will be invaluable to the magic historian.
Mike Caveney Wonders is 456 pages, The Conference Illusions is 256 pages and 900 photographs between the two volumes. Often in projects like this, there are two versions a regular version and a deluxe version. With this project there is ONLY a deluxe version which makes them even more special. Please note, this is not a review of the books. But judging by the quality of his previous publications, you can expect nothing short of two fantastic books.
You can pre-order the book from Mike's website right now! This link will take you directly to the page for the book http://mcmagicwords.com/books_mike_caveney_wonders.html
The books will make their debut at the upcoming MAGIC LIVE Convention in Las Vegas and the the orders for books will be shipped out after that.
*Most of us are well familiar with Mike Caveney. But I have a lot of readers who are new to magic history, so I like to give them as many details as I can. IF you are new to Mike, you're in for a real treat!
(above photos are courtesy of Mike Caveney)
Friday, May 3, 2013
Remember that GIANT magic book that Taschen printed a couple years ago that cost $200? The book was so large, you had to have a special desk just to hold it. In fact, one enterprising individual, Lupe Nielson, is building the very desk that is on the cover of the magazine! By the way, Lupe also sells these tables on her website. These tables are of the highest quality and will be a piece of furniture you'll cherish for ages. Plus, one of the few tables that can hold that giant book!
Well, Taschen is putting out another edition, a slightly more manageable copy at 9.9 inches by 15 inches, hardcover in a slipcase, 544 pages, for $69.99. The great news is, it's supposed to be available sometime this month (May 2013).
This was a must have in it's giant size, so I would say it's a super must have in it's slightly smaller size. To order a copy direct from Taschen, go to http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/popculture/all/44810/facts.magic_1400s1950s.htm
Monday, October 22, 2012
|Deadly Punch??? Read comments at the end of article*|
Houdini, along with the group headed to his dressing room, the time is a little after 11 a.m.. According to the Silverman biography, the dressing room at the Princess Theatre was about 8ft by 10ft. Houdini reclined on a couch in the back of the room while Smiley in Price sat in chairs a few feet from Houdini. Smiley was there to do another sketch of Houdini.
A few moments later there was a knock on the dressing room door and Julia Sawyer got up to answer the door and she let Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead into the room. He briskly walked over to Houdini and returned a book that he had borrowed. Houdini introduced Whitehead to the other boys, so it was more than just a first time meeting for them, which many of the older Houdini biographies make it sound like. Whitehead had met Houdini before. In fact, he met him several times before.
The Don Bell book about Whitehead says that Whitehead called on Houdini at his hotel on two occasions and mentions borrowing the latest copy of Scientific American. In this meeting, Whitehead is returning a book. When Whitehead entered he took over the conversation, irritating Smiley. Whitehead asked him about the miracles of the Bible and Houdini chose not to discuss that, but added that the stunts he did would certainly look like miracles in biblical days. Whitehead then asked if it was true that Houdini could withstand a punch to the stomach without feeling any pain. Now here is something I had missed before, Houdini tried to change the subject and pointed to his strong arms and shoulders. He even went so far as to let the students feel his arm muscles. When Whitehead again asked if Houdini could take a punch, Houdini again shifted focus to his arms.
My one question is, when did Houdini ever use punching him as a bragging point? 'Ladies & Gentleman, not only am I the greatest escape artist in the world, but you can punch me and I will feel nothing!' Really??? I don't think so. But regardless, Houdini agreed he could take the punch. Apparently Whitehead misunderstood this as an invitation to throw some punches. Houdini was still reclining when the barrage of punches flew. As I pointed out in the episode, it was not a single punch either. Whitehead hit Houdini numerous times before Price pulled him off.
There were only 4 people in that room when the incident took place. Houdini, Smiley, Price and Whitehead. The students all gave a deposition as to what they remembered. It was not viewed as a criminal act and Whitehead was never arrested.
A few minutes after the punches, Smiley finished his sketch of Houdini, and he signed it and gave it to the magician. When Houdini saw the sketch he mentioned to Smiley, "you made me look a little tired in the picture....the truth is I don't feel so well". I think if we look back at what had been taking place; Houdini had been nursing a broken ankle, he was under enormous amounts of stress over the million dollars worth of lawsuits, he was receiving death threats, he was not getting much sleep at all, and now he just got hit with a barrage of punches to the stomach. I also can't help but wonder if back in Providence R.I. just a short time before when Bess got food poisoning, if perhaps Houdini had also contracted a small case of that as well. I'm guessing of course. But we know he did not look well and here he admits to not feeling well either.
The students left around noon and Houdini prepared for the show. He still had a show that night to do and the Saturday performances before they were to leave for Detroit.
J. Gordon Whitehead after this point almost vanishes from history. Author Don Bell spent 20 years digging up information on Whitehead and discovered he lived the life of a recluse. If he were alive to see the name of the book Bell wrote, "The Man Who Killed Houdini" I imagine he would be glad he never went out in public. But is it fair to say he killed Houdini? I understand it makes an exciting story and certainly very intriguing. But according to Bell, Whitehead met with Houdini at least two times following the October 22 incident in the dressing room. So if he really had murder on the mind, you'd think Whitehead would have finished him off. I think it's very likely that someone would have attempted to kill Houdini and possibly succeeded, but his own stubborness about not going to the hospital and attending to his health issues really was his undoing.
Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead died of malnutrition in 1954. He is buried in an unmarked grave. I have a photo of the plot of grass where he is buried over at my DeadConjurers blog. It's interesting to me that of the almost 50 graves pictured on the site, the one that is most viewed is actually Whiteheads. The number of views even dwarfs that of Houdini's grave.
*The photo at the top of the page is actually a staged photo with Houdini and the fellow with the boxing gloves on is Jack Dempsey. I thought it made a pretty good picture to add to this particular article which is really about a deadly punch, but I also wanted to point out the photo is NOT from the actual event on Oct 22.
|This is all thats left of the Princess Theatre today.|
This episode is coming out a little early because I wanted it to try and follow the important events of Houdini's life as they unfold.
Don't forget to check out the 'Additional Information' on Episide 4 either later tonight or tomorrow. Until then, enjoy Episode 4!