Showing posts with label The Magic Demon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Magic Demon. Show all posts

30 January 2018

Mayce Galoni on "What's so funny?"

The following was sent to me by a reader who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.
Hamilton-born, Vancouver-based 23 year old stand up comic Mayce Galoni was recently the featured guest on Vancouver Co-op Radio's (CFRO) "What's So Funny"? (Live broadcast: Sunday, January 21st, 2018). The very funny and very likable Galoni got his start performing as a strolling restaurant magician while still a very young teenager. A graduate of the Sorcerer's Safari, he transitioned to comedy when he started writing jokes for his magic act.

The podcast of the hour long broadcast will soon be available here: and/or at Check it out!

From What's So Funny?:
Our first guest of 2018 makes his semi-debut tonight. It's the New Faces edition of What's So Funny? tonight. Well, Newish Faces. Standup comic Mayce Galoni isn't even 25 but he's making quite a name for himself, even before he moved here last year from Hamilton. He's actually from a place called "Binbrook" that I don't even think is a real place, so we'll just say Hamilton because that's where he started out.

Read more and listen to podcast.

25 August 2017

[Guest post] Random thoughts about "UNBELIEVABLE! A Magical Experience"

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon. 

"UNBELIEVABLE! A Magical Experience"

Running nightly at 7:30 pm in the Pacific Coliseum at the PNE in Vancouver, BC until September 4th. Free with admission.  [The PNE is closed on Monday, Aug. 28th.]

Random Thoughts For Canada's Magic
by The Magic Demon

It's UNBELIEVABLE... that a whole year has gone by since the first edition of Unbelievable! debuted in 2016.

It's UNBELIEVABLE... how fast the 90 minute coliseum-size magical extravaganza whizzed by.

It's UNBELIEVABLE... again how good it was.

Performance viewed on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017.

Murray Hatfield and Teresa have returned to the annual summer PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) with their second incarnation of Unbelievable! - a  magical phantasmagoria of illusion, pyrotechnics, music and sheer wonder.

Joining them on stage are American magicians Chipper Lowell and Danny Cole and Canada's own Shawn Farquhar - all performing at the top of their games, combining unique energies to synthesize an evening's worth of spectacular visual entertainment.

I don't propose to review the show element by element  but I would like to refer to a few hastily scribbled notes and mention a few memorable highlights.

Murray and Teresa  - first and foremost and as always, magnificent performers, classy and compelling to watch. I love all their often fire-enhanced big box illusions. At one point they featured three big box illusions at once on stage (which must be some kind of world record!) Later they also did a show-stopping, breathtaking up to date version of "Metamorphosis." I've not seen it done in person since Doug Henning and his version for me was the one to beat. I think I can honestly say that they have finally done so. I was also truly impressed by Murray's innovative and suspense-filled variation of an effect familiar to some of us. I won't give away which one -- but when I saw it I marveled at his sheer brilliant audacity for turning such a classic close up effect into a coliseum-sized miracle. Murray, I salute you!

Chipper Lowell. What does one say about such a comedic phenomenon? He quickly won the audience over with his outrageous antics. We were soon laughing at all his seemingly spontaneous frenetic presentations. His very verbal style is ideally suited to such a massive forum (seating 10,000 at full capacity). It is hard to describe -- it's very "over the top" and somewhat "camp" but extremely focused even when it looks like he's made a mistake. (Hint: He doesn't.) It's hard to combine magic and outright comedy. To make it also look so easy and effortless as Lowell does is the mark of a real pro.

Another impressive talent is American Danny Cole. His silent act (done to the pounding beat of contemporary Latin dance music) assisted by his graceful wife, borders on the poetic. His suits change colour, his ties take on a life of their own, coat hangers behave most mysteriously, chairs defy gravity, CDs multiply, appear and disappear. Throughout these visual impossibilities appearing right before our eyes (and magnified by the two huge screens to each side of the stage) Cole remains the epitome of stylish, sophisticated elegance. This is a magician's magician.

For me, perhaps the most enjoyable moments of the evening were courtesy Canada's own Shawn Farquhar. His opening effects performed from the audience directly to the cameras were stunning card manipulations done to cleverly mirror the lyrics of an accompanying song. The audience loved it. But where he really excelled were his interactions with audience members. His version of "Topsy Turvy" bottles was a genuine delight because of his interaction with his audience volunteer. And it was his "Dancing Hankerchief" routine with a cute little five year old girl picked from the audience to assist him that so won everyone's hearts and unconditional appreciation. You could tell his volunteers really liked him and trusted him and the audience picked up on that. It was an invaluable lesson for all performers.

TIP: Bring earplugs unless you want to go partially deaf early in life. The music is loud.

I said it last year and I see no reason not to repeat myself again this year. Good advice is good advice!  If you are in or near Vancouver run (do not walk) to the PNE and see "Unbelievable! A Magical Experience." You will not regret it.

Congratulations to Murray and Teresa for masterminding another outstanding success.


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

03 March 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver: part 7

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


March 3rd, 1923 (Saturday)

Houdini's Final Day in Vancouver
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

Houdini has his final two vaudeville appearances today (a matinee and an evening show) of his seven in total this week at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Reviews have been superb.

His outdoor publicity stunt of hanging upside down and escaping a straitjacket in full view has been major front page news (actually getting more column inches than reviews of his vaudeville show).

What more could one ask?

Well, I had hoped today for an editorial summing up of his impact or at least some kind of "goodbye and thanks Harry" - but neither The Sun nor The Province refer to him at all. (They do, however, both run a final Orpheum Theatre advertisement for his shows).

It's as if they have nothing more to say. (I guess they didn't).

And as if Houdini has no further need for continuing coverage. No doubt he was busy this weekend accepting via telegram another "unique challenge" from the chosen newspaper ally in the next city of his vaudeville tour.

But what I did find, Houdini-related, in The Province on its front page was this curious story:
"Doyle Sure of Ectoplasm"

"Twenty Three Austrian Professors Said to Have Been Convinced"

"Famous Writer Thinks Controversy Should Now Be At End."

What better timing could this have had than the end of Harry's Vancouver visit? I wonder what thoughts raced through his mind as he read this (as I'm sure he must have done).

The story recounts a letter published recently in The New York Times, in which the famous author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and an ardent spiritualist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, tells of a "demonstration of ectoplasm" (which he himself apparently had not actually witnessed) by mediums in front of multiple distinguished Austrian scientists which, in his mind, "puts an end to the whole debate so that anyone who reopens it is inexcusably ignorant or willfully perverse."

Gee. I wonder to whom he might he be referring?

The next paragraph is headed,
"Houdini Is Wrong."

Doyle is quoted as writing:
"We are publicly assured. . . I am sorry to say, by my friend Houdini, that this was all what they called 'bunk' and that [the ectoplasm] was really regurgitated food. . ." [but according to Doyle it could not be as it was often the wrong colour.] "Criticism is most welcome and helpful, but I would beg our opponents to exercise some restraint in it, or they will make the subject and themselves rather ridiculous."

And of course, as we know, Houdini would show no restraint in exposing fraudulent mediums to the end of his days and this public campaign (as well as comments like those expressed above by Doyle) would put an effective end to their trans-Atlantic friendship.


This was to be Houdini's first and only professional visit to Vancouver. Just over three and a half years later he would once more be front page news but for quite a different, unexpected reason. (His death.)

It's been fun reliving day by day Houdini's triumphant appearances in Vancouver during this week in 1923. I wish I could have been there but I guess this was the next best thing.

I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed researching it for you.

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun. The VPL and its staff are awesome!

Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting this fabulous Houdini series at Canada's Magic!

02 March 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver: part 6

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


March 2nd, 1923 (Friday)

Houdini Continues Triumphantly in Vancouver, B. C.
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

Houdini continues to thrill citizens of Canada's west coast "third city" twice daily at the local Orpheum Theatre. Two shows are scheduled today; the final two tomorrow (Saturday).

Reviews have been universally complimentary for this, his first (and only), appearance in the city.

Today's front page Houdini story in The Sun, however, deals with the publicity stunt he performed outside the newspaper's office around 137 West Pender Street at high noon the previous day. The paper had been building it up with great flair and deceptive hyperbole in previous issues.

I'd like to be able to tell you exactly what is on page one of The Sun. I really would.

Unfortunately, to paraphrase Apollo 13 - Houdini, we have a problem.

No front page exists today!

Despite every attempt to locate the front page in both the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) microfilm collection and the official  Vancouver city archives, no extant copy has been found. Perhaps it will turn up elsewhere another day.

However, we can certainly piece together what must have been a triumphant page one headline story about Houdini's upside down straitjacket escape from surviving photographic evidence and from the story as it is continued on an inside page of the paper.

Both the Vancouver Archives and VPL have public domain photographs of the stunt, at least one of which might have appeared on the missing page one. I've also attempted to photograph the same location in 2017. My photo re-creation of the scene as well as original 1923 photos will accompany this post.

As for the feature story, an inside page headline screams, "Houdini Free in 3 Minutes (Continued From Page 1") - so I think we can conclusively rest easy that all went well!

Bess Houdini is referenced for the first (and only) time, "a comely, shy little woman," making her way through "the dense crowd" with traffic "inspector Hood" to talk with Houdini before he began his "perilous attempt."

A theatrical embellishment or was it genuine concern for Harry? He was after all approaching age 49 in just three weeks. Or did she secretly pass to him some hidden device? He'd done this kind of stunt thousands of times but it is impossible to know for sure at this point. "There was. . . anxiety mirrored in Mrs. Houdini's eyes" reports the anonymous scribe, who felt such alarm genuine and who felt that her concern really "amounted to something" quite apart from the free show about to commence.

Harry Houdini preparing to hang upside down from The Sun newspaper building.
W.J. Moore's photo, Vancouver Public Library 70208A.

But events quickly moved forward as Detective Ricci (as announced yesterday) with Traffic Inspector Hood (who appears to have replaced Detective Sinclair, reported yesterday) quickly confined Houdini into the awaiting straitjacket.

The Sun records:
"Strong men lifted him from the truck. In another few seconds he was swinging from his ankles above the heads of the multitude... inch by inch, foot by foot he was hoisted aloft."

Harry Houdini hanging upside down from The Sun newspaper building.
W.J. Moore's photo, Vancouver Public Library 70208.

"Houdini furiously struggled to escape..."
Harry Houdini hanging upside down from The Sun newspaper building.
W.J. Moore's photo, City of Vancouver Archives AM54-S4-: Port N100.

Edited to add this close-up of the above photo Tweeted by the Vancouver Archives:

"Three minutes and twenty nine seconds later he tossed the jacket to the ground"

Houdini was free!
"A cheer arose and swelled into roar" from the crowd.

And what a crowd it was that had assembled.
"Perhaps no greater outdoor crowd ever assembled in Vancouver than the one in front of the Sun office yesterday" boasts the breathless reporter, taking time to praise the Vancouver police force's foresight in arranging details of diverting "motors and other vehicles, which left no room for discussions or even a chance for accident."

I'd love to know what those other (non-motor) vehicles were.  But I'd be afraid to ask police who left "no room for discussions!"

And how did Houdini feel about it?

"It was the greatest outdoor crowd I have ever seen. . . I have never seen a more orderly crowd. . . it was a pleasure to work for them and a double pleasure to have such an enterprising newspaper as The Sun to vouch for my efforts..." Could the paper have asked for a better endorsement for their week long publicity efforts on his behalf? He then went on to thank the local Vancouver police for their help. (Especially "decent and gentlemanly officers as Inspector Hood and Detective Ricci. . .") Harry knew exactly what to say at these occasions having done so many in the past.

The rest of the article describes with some quiet awe all the still photographic and silent film coverage of the event. ("Nothing like it has ever been seen before in Vancouver.")

Cameras from every major news reel service were in evidence. To accommodate the most important of them, The Sun had erected a platform above their illuminated sign. You can see it if you look closely at the photograph of the event. On the ground, thousands of amateur photographers snapped away as Houdini "wiggled and twisted himself out of the straitjacket:"

And so did The Sun feel that Houdini had honoured their "unique challenge?"
"The Sun's challenge. . . melted as the immense crowd faded, not unlike a February snowstorm before a gentle chinook wind."

Uh, I'll assume that as affirmative.

Taking advantage of the new medium, Houdini arranged that footage of his Vancouver straitjacket escape would be projected during that very evening's Orpheum performance (and possibly at all remaining performances). Clearly his fascination for the relatively new medium continued unabated, as the reporter noted

"Houdini himself was an interested spectator. . . he came down from the stage. . . while they were being [projected] on the screen. The film was evidently pleasing to the magician, for at its conclusion, he faced the audience with a smile of satisfaction, exclaiming 'Isn't that a wonderful crowd?'"

I'm sure most of Vancouver felt the same way about him.

A paid Orpheum Theatre advertisement similar to the first also appears in this issue.

What the site of the Houdini escape looks like in 2017. Photo by The Magic Demon.
The actual Vancouver Sun building at this location (137 West Pender Street) was demolished many years ago.

TOMORROW: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Says "Houdini Is Wrong"!

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library, The Vancouver Sun, and the City of  Vancouver Archives.


Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

01 March 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver part 5

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


March 1st, 1923 (Thursday)

Houdini Is In Vancouver, British Columbia!
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

Houdini is major front page news in today's The [Vancouver] Sun.

His local Orpheum Theatre appearances are well underway. His unparalleled sense of publicity is producing impressive results in the local press.

Today's page one story, accompanied by a photo of Harry, takes up well over a quarter of the front page. When is the last time you can recall a magician taking up that much space on page one of a major city newspaper?

The headline:
"Houdini In For Tough Time; Detectives Ricci and Sinclair Bind Him."

In smaller letters:
"Magician Will Have To Wiggle To Get Out Of Jacket for These Two Expert Ropers Promise to Make It Burglar Proof."

Found in the Vancouver Public Library's microfiche of the March 1st, 1923 edition of The Vancouver Sun.

Today is the day (at high noon) that Houdini has agreed to The Sun's "challenge" to escape a straitjacket (they always spell it "straightjacket") while hanging upside down outside of The Sun office building.

But this morning's edition has gone to press long before the noon deadline.

So today they can only report on events leading up to the dramatic public spectacle.

The Sun's reporter, known only by his initials "J. K." has the memorable front page story of the day with his report of meeting up with Houdini the day before (Wednesday). This he did along with Orpheum manager Bill Hart to look over The Sun building on West Pender from where Houdini was to hang outside noon this day.

When they took Houdini to the rooftop of the building, he writes that they "slid through the hatchway like a couple of eels."

But when it was Houdini's turn, the "genius of escape" had "a tough time making the grade." In other words, he had trouble getting through the aforementioned hatchway! One can only imagine Houdini's chagrin. He must have carried it off with his usual calm charm as "J. K." concedes this might have been due to Houdini's "heavy overcoat." But it still leads him to wonder in print if Houdini would also "make the grade" the next day escaping the confines of the straitjacket. (I sometimes wonder if Houdini ever felt too old for such antics. He was just over three weeks away from his 49th birthday). Of course this was all designed to build up and hold the readers' interest.

After examining the building, the three went into The Sun's new "washroom and shower" to "dust ourselves off."

The article goes on to report that the Vancouver Police detectives Ricci and Sinclair promise to make his confinement in the straitjacket the next day "burglar proof."

Vancouver Police Chief James reports that he expects a big crowd to watch the public event. The Sun says that it expects "at least ten thousand."

In response to The Sun's previous exhortation for Houdini to award prizes for the best spectator pictures of his noon "hanging" (as he had graciously done elsewhere) which might be useful "to find out just how he does it", Houdini has agreed that he will give a First Prize of $15, s Second Prize of $10 and a Third Prize of $5. W. J. Moore, staff photographer of The Sun, will judge.

To "up the ante" and reader interest once more, the article concludes, mock-combatively:
"Well, Mr. Houdini, The Sun is ready for you. . . if [we've] made it a little difficult for you to pull your stunt that's The Sun's business." 

Elsewhere in the paper is The Sun's first review of Houdini's premiere evening performance the night before.

Headlined, "Genius of Escape Shows His Prowess; Vaudeville Programme is Pleasing" the anonymous reviewer describes Houdini's Orpheum appearance as "out of the ordinary" and "just a bit different" than Vancouver theatre goers had been used to seeing.

Furthermore, according to the review on an inside page of The Sun, Houdini "amazes, mystifies and really gets on the nerves of his audience - until, of course - he emerges from his cell of torture." Houdini is without question, "the one big feature of the week's entertainment." The review then goes on to list and describe the other performers, the supporting members of Houdini's evening performance.

Of note is a mention of the young comedian Jack Benny, back "again with his violin, also with some new jokes. Some not so new. Still. . . not so bad."

[Note to younger readers: Jack Benny was destined to become a major star in radio and early television and some films. Google him.]

A paid Orpheum Theatre advertisement similar to the first also appears in this issue.

Today is also the first time a reference to Houdini appears in the other major Vancouver newspaper, The Province.

Either because Houdini was favouring The Sun with his exclusive interviews and straitjacket publicity stunt - or else by nature more conservative and thus less likely to engage in such advance publicity - The Province had until now appeared to shun any mention of Houdini's arrival.

They made up for it with a major review on an inside entertainment news page.

"Houdini Headlines Fine Orpheum Bill."
 It was subtitled,
"Seen in Series of Clever Mystifying Turns - Show of High Standard."

The Province's anonymous reviewer describes the show with Houdini as headliner as "undoubtably one of the best of the season."

We get more details of Houdini's  performance. His Water Torture Cell features ("his own invention") as does his version of the Indian Needle trick.

Houdini also appears to have incorporated the latest technology into his act as the reviewer describes what can only be silent film footage of Houdini shown "in a thrilling airplane race and collision." This might have been footage taken many years earlier in Australia where Houdini had made history as the first person in that country to fly - as there is a nebulous reference to "the other side of the Pacific." On the other hand, it sounds much more like footage from one of his more recent adventure serials, "The Grim Game" released in 1919 which featured an accidental actual mid air collision (although with a stunt double pretending to be Houdini). This writer believes it to be the latter.

The review concludes with references to the other acts supporting Houdini on the bill. Jack Benny is given a more positive review than he had had in The Sun, this reviewer noting "for twelve minutes he holds the attention of the audience" with his "original patter," "fine voice" and "engaging natural smile."

TOMORROW: Public Triumph - or - Disaster?

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun.


Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

28 February 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver part 4

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


February 28th, 1923 (Wednesday)

Houdini to Perform in Vancouver

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

Finally! H (for Houdini) - Day, at long last.

Houdini is to appear tonight at the Orpheum Theatre headlining in his first vaudeville appearance ever in Vancouver, British Columbia. It will be followed by a matinee and evening show on each of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Excitement must have been tangible in the city.

But it is too early for newspaper reviews to appear just yet.

Instead, a playfully combative article giving an exciting final burst of advance publicity appears in the lower front page of The Vancouver Sun on this date entitled, "Houdini Defies Police; Ditto Their Hangman."

What makes this article, the fourth, unique is that is is an unsigned editorial personally addressing Houdini in the first person.

It begins,
"Alright, Houdini!"

It goes on to restate the conditions of its "challenge" to have Houdini escape from a straitjacket upside down while hanging outside their office the next day at noon.

I'm not sure how accurate that headline was. His defiance of the police simply would take the form of having them truss him up. As to their "hangman," well, that was a bit of literary hyperbole to be sure. It might not have been strictly accurate but it definitely made you want to read on!

But they were not done. The Sun knew how to "up the ante."

They wrote:
"Just to make it snappy, Mr. Houdini, The Sun expects no less than ten thousand to be outside The Sun office to watch your antics."

In this way, The Sun itself would soon become part of the news it was reporting; it would become part of the Houdini legend.

Then an unexpectedly humorous boast:
"This newspaper has . . .  for its own and your benefit . . . put a couple of new storeys on its building."

I take this as a sly wink to its readers paying close attention. In effect, it's a reminder to them that, hey, this is all good fun! Don't take any of this too seriously! We don't!

It concludes with an exhortation to Houdini to provide a prize for the best snapshot spectators might take of the outdoor event (as he had done elsewhere) "successful or otherwise."

Were they now suggesting his stunt might not be successful? An element of doubt certainly was dropped into the "mix" for the first time. Which was very clever. What better way to entice spectators to come out and see for themselves?

The tone is playfully combative as I said. It was as if they were daring him not to show up - to an event to which he had already agreed (and indeed probably originated). A master stroke of publicity. Having enthusiastically proclaimed his greatness, at this last minute the newspaper was now hinting at his possible fallibility and the fact that - good heavens - he might even renege, the "challenge" they had offered being so great.

What a laugh seen from today's perspective. Houdini and The Sun could not have been better allies.

The Sun concludes:
"You said you would be here at noon Thursday. Well, you keep your end of the bargain and never fear that The Sun won't be there with everything it has promised."

It was positioned almost like a gunslingers shoot out! Who could possibly resist attending it?

A paid Orpheum Theatre advertisement similar to the first also appears in this issue.

TOMORROW: "Houdini in for Tough Time; Detectives Ricci And Sinclair Bind Him."

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.  With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun.


Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

27 February 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver part 3

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


February 27th, 1923 (Tuesday)

Houdini to Perform in Vancouver
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

It is now H (for Houdini) - Day Minus 1.

Houdini appears to be coming from performing in Winnipeg (in what appears to be a cross-Canada tour heading west). No doubt he (and his supporting acts including a young comedian named Jack Benny) will appreciate Vancouver's milder weather having experienced Winnipeg in mid-February.

Window advertisements for a Houdini performance and shows at the Orpheum theatre.
Vancouver Public Library 86870.

The public must have been eagerly awaiting the first appearance ever in Vancouver of this legendary "genius of escape" who's exploits they have read about (and possibly even seen dramatized on the silent screen) without ever a hope of actually seeing him in person.

Until now - during his triumphant "return to vaudeville."

The Vancouver Sun, our primary source for continuing coverage, is doing an incredible job ratcheting up public interest in the Houdini story and in doing so has become very much part of his eternal legend.

In the lower left corner of page one on this date is the headline,
"Sun Planning to Make It Tough Job For Friend Houdini."

It first recapitulates the news about his latest sensational stunt, the water torture cell, which he will perform at the Orpheum.

The report at this point is a bit confusing. That is, it is confusing from our point of view today. It describes the water torture cell as both his "original" as well as "self-constructed" escape stunt but then mentions that Houdini will escape from "the can filled to the brim with water" - which surely sounds more like Houdini's old classic milk can escape?

My guess is the writer of this article, not having ever seen the act, has simply confabulated details of the two different escapes into one. Or that he is sloppily referring to the water torture cell as a can. It is unclear. Not that contemporary audiences of the day would know or care.

Given equal prominence in this third article is a reminder of Houdini's "acceptance" of the challenge purportedly issued by The Sun "to liberate himself from a straight jacket [sic] wrapped about him. . . suspended by the ankles, head downwards, from a beam in front of The Sun office, at a height of at least thirty feet."

The Sun enthusiastically concludes,
"This will probably be one of his greatest efforts. . . a wonderful chance to show his genius. . ."

I know if I were alive at the time and living in Vancouver I'd've already bought multiple performance tickets. And for sure I'd be outside The Sun office on Thursday at high noon to see Houdini escape from his straitjacket confinement.

How about you?

A paid Orpheum Theatre advertisement similar to the first also appears in this issue.

TOMORROW: "Houdini Defies Police; Ditto Their Hangman."

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun.


Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

26 February 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver part 2

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


February 26th, 1923 (Monday)

Houdini to Perform in Vancouver
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

It is now H (for Houdini) - Day, Minus 2.

Excitement is mounting.

The publicity for Houdini's first ever Vancouver, British Columbia vaudeville performance is gearing up.

It is assuming the status of genuine news; coverage of his upcoming visit is indeed carried as front page news in The Vancouver Sun, our primary source for continuing and developing coverage .

A headline on this day (near the bottom of page one) screams in huge letters, "Houdini To Hang Downwards". Then in smaller lettering, "Strapped in Straight Jacket, Will Swing from Sun Building Thursday."

It goes on to state:
"Houdini, genius of escape, has accepted a unique challenge. . . he offers to free himself from a straight jacket wrapped around him by any member or members of the Vancouver police force, and while suspended in mid-air, head downwards, in front of The Vancouver Sun newspaper office on Thursday at noon."

So it would appear that The Sun had chosen to play along with the Houdini legend with its "unique challenge."

Astute readers will, of course, recognize the fact that Houdini would perform a similar free public stunt in almost every major town or city he played in order to generate publicity for his local theatre appearance. He usually did it outside of the local newspaper office to achieve maximum exclusive coverage by same. It was guaranteed to stop traffic and become a newsworthy event all by itself. One can only bow to Houdini's highly developed sense of self-promotion and ponder what wonders of publicity he would have achieved in today's Twitter-verse?

This second article goes on to describe the nature of his confinement in a straitjacket. By enlisting the local police to truss him up, Houdini once more ensured that no "funny business" would mess up his stunt and that it would be enhanced in the public's imagination by his implied challenge to local police to confine him.

A paid Orpheum Theatre advertisement similar to the first also appears in this issue.

TOMORROW: "Planning to Make It Tough Job For Friend Houdini."

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun.


Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

25 February 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver: part 1

Updated February 25th to add:

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


February 25th, 1923 (Sunday)  

Houdini to Perform in Vancouver
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.

Houdini was coming to Vancouver!

Hard to imagine the excitement such news would have generated on the narrow streets of Canada's "third city", Vancouver, British Columbia, back in February of 1923 or some 94 years ago today.

Houdini was then one of the world's most famous entertainers. He had never been to Vancouver before. In an era long long before the internet, before television, with radio in its infancy and silence being the only sound coming from film, vaudeville was still attracting the masses. It may well have been on its "last legs" although its audiences would never have suspected it with a major headliner like Houdini coming at long last to entertain them.

It was still news worthy of reporting.

The first published references extant about Houdini's first (and only) upcoming appearance in Vancouver appears in The Vancouver Sun on this date.

A two column wide by five inch paid advertisement by Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre on an inside page announces, "Attractions Coming. Wednesday Evening. February 28th. Four nights and three matinees. First Appearance Here of 'The Genius of Escape' Houdini (In Person) - Who Will Startle and Amaze."

Found in the Vancouver Public Library's microfiche of the February 25, 1923 edition of The Vancouver Sun.

I would posit that the "In Person" line was to distinguish his live appearance from any filmed appearances or that of any imitators.

A list of accompanying support acts (there are a half dozen or so appearing on the same vaudeville bill) includes a young comedian Jack Benny ("Wit, Music and Patter"). Prices noted: "Matinees: Thursday, Friday, 15 cents to 40 [?] cents. Saturday 15 cents to 55 cents. Nights 25 cents to $1.00."

A similar ad would run every day for the duration of Houdini's three day, four night Orpheum Theatre visit.

The Orpheum Theatre featuring Houdini's appearance in 1923 was an earlier incarnation of same; it is not the structure named the Orpheum Theatre still standing elsewhere today (which was constructed much later in 1927). Houdini's Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver is long gone. It was located where what is now the downtown's Pacific Centre Mall.

A two column wide by six inches photo of Houdini (entitled "Wizard of All Wizards Defies Strongest Shackles") dominates an inside page.

An eight inch deep column accompanying it is headlined "Houdini, Genius, Tops at Orpheum. Noted Master of Escape Will Make Appearance Here Next Wednesday."

It begins:
"Houdini, the marvellous, will make his first big vaudeville appearance in Vancouver next week. Houdini, known as the "Genius of Escape", will thrill and mystify Orpheum audiences beginning next Wednesday."

The article goes on to lavishly praise Houdini by reminding its readers of his numerous accomplishments in the entertainment field. One must wonder how much copy was generated by Houdini's own advance publicity machinery and how much was originated locally, designed to whip up newspaper and theatre ticket sales? 

Houdini was a master of obtaining free publicity for his shows. His antics sold newspapers and they in turn sold theatre tickets. What newspaper would therefore not love him? Especially as the theatre he was to appear in was a major advertiser. And so The Sun was either chosen - or had decided for itself - to become the primary vehicle for promoting and thereby documenting Houdini's once in a lifetime appearance.

This initial article reveals a couple significant facts once we get past the enthusiastic hyperbole.

First, it refers to Houdini's "return to vaudeville". Had Houdini returned happily or reluctantly to headlining such a show? We get no clues. We do know as he matured that he had attempted to master a new, less arduous performance methodology: the capturing of his incredible escape abilities via the brand new medium of silent film. It had not been the overwhelming success for which he had hoped.

Says The Sun:
"It was believed the motion pictures - which showed Houdini thrills, eclipsing anything ever portrayed via the innumerable possibilities of the camera - would reach the acme of his supernatural ability; but he himself says not."

So even Houdini acknowledged that silent film to that date for whatever reason had failed to capture the essence of his charismatic style. And if you've ever seen any of his films you'd know he was understating it. Houdini on film just didn't live up to his potential. His acting was somewhat wooden. He had too much competition on the silver screen to ever become its primary star. So what could Houdini do to make his return to the live vaudeville circuit a memorable triumph? Why, do what he always did best, of course. And that was to come up with a spanking new live performance of a "genuine novelty."

Says The Sun:
"[Houdini] says his latest sensation, liberating himself after being locked in a water torture cell, which he does in full view of the audience, is the most difficult feat he has ever accomplished in his varied and strenuous career."

Houdini comes through yet again! Who could resist seeing him escape something called a "water torture cell?"

Curious that they used the expression "supernatural" when referencing his abilities given his latter day fight against those claiming fraudulent "supernatural" abilities. I will assume in this instance that the writer was just using it as a contemporary superlative and wasn't implying any abilities to communicate with the dead!

Of historical interest, the article then goes on to describe the acts supporting Houdini's "return to vaudeville" which includes a reference to a young comedian named Jack Benny - who "will offer a few moments on his violin. He plays a little, gags a great deal and keeps the audience thoroughly amused."

Found in the Vancouver Public Library's microfiche of the February 25, 1923 edition of The Vancouver Sun.

TOMORROW: "Houdini Accepts A Unique Challenge."

Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun.


Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

29 August 2016

Surrey fire destroys Mandrake the Magician's former house

With thanks to The Magic Demon for sending this news along.

From the CBC:
A Surrey, B.C. home that was destroyed by fire was the former home of Leon Mandrake or 'Mandrake the Magician,' a local performer known around the world for his magic, illusions and stunts.

Leon Mandrake, or "Mandrake the Magician", was a famous entertainer in the vaudeville-era and beyond. He died in Surrey, B.C. in 1993. (CBC Archives)

Mandrake owned the house on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Kindersley Drive before his death in 1993.

Surrey city council considered giving heritage status to the old home — an idea first brought before council in 2008, according to city documents.

Read more.

From the Vancouver Sun:
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The roof collapsed and the extent of the damage will probably challenge inspectors, Woznikoski said.

The one-storey house once belonged to Leon Giglio, better known as Leon Mandrake and then Mandrake the Magician for his feats of hypnotism, mind reading and escapes.

Read more.

26 August 2016

[Guest post] "Unbelievable" Review

A reminder that the show runs at the PNE August 20 – September 5, 2016 (Closed Monday August 22 and 29).

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


"Unbelievable: A magical experience"

A ninety minute large scale magical extravaganza, nightly at 7:30 pm, free with admission to the PNE, Vancouver.

In a word, "Wow".

This is big time illusion-based magic at its best.

Playing to capacity crowds, "Unbelievable" combines fast paced magic with modern rock concert visuals and music to create a memorable evening's entertainment well worth the cost of admission to the PNE.

I loved that they began with pre-show screenings of some of the greats from the past - Sorcar, Cardini, etc - all in glorious b&w - while the audience filed in.

How to review such an awesome celebration of magic and illusion? I can't. It was just too much to absorb. But here are a few thoughts I somehow managed to jot down:

  • American Matt Marcy's understated humour and impressive close up magic (seen on the big screen) should earn him an honorary Canadian citizenship.
  • Marty Putz - undoubtably the hardest working funny man in all of showbusiness. And the most beloved by children of all ages.
  • Juliana Chen's performance - sheer visual poetry. Beautiful, enchanting, mysterious. This is Art.
  • Scott Pepper - definitely the contemporary reincarnation of Houdini's daredevil anything-can-happen spirit.
  • Murray Hatfield and Teresa - the most accomplished, most polished, most energetic all around magical performers.

If you are anywhere near Vancouver this summer run (do not walk) to the PNE and catch "Unbelievable" before it disappears forever as the PNE ends for another summer.

The Magic Demon


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

21 August 2016

[Guest post] "Can A Magician Be Too Skillful?"

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon. 

"Can A Magician Be Too Skillful?" A fan of magic blogs about it

One of my favourite non-magic bloggers has just written an interesting post about magic.

You may agree or disagree with him but he always writes about chosen subjects with wit, insight and a heavy dose of humanity.

Why mention him here? Well, here's a born-and-raised Torontonian (although he's lived and worked in LA for many decades). Guess we can still claim him as one of ours even if he has U.S. papers. He wrote/produced some great comedy television shows (although he is now long retired) - many of which you might remember. And his thoughts on magic (from the POV of a non-magician) are worthy of reflection by all of us.

His question: Can a magician be too skillful?

To read more, check out the always thoughtful blog of Earl Pomerantz and read his post of Monday, August 8th, 2016. You'll find it here:

And who knows? Maybe like me you'll find his blog a very pleasant daily must-read habit. Even when he's not writing about magic.

The Magic Demon


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

18 January 2016

[Guest post] West Coast magic goes "supernatural"

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon. 


Attention fans of magic in the lower mainland surrounding Vancouver, BC!

Camilo The Magician presents his "Supernatural Magic" show for four performances in February 2016. 

Show dates are: Friday February 19th and Saturday February 20th; and Friday February 26th and Saturday February 27th

Show times: 8 pm. Ticket cost: $30 CDN.

Location: The Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston Street in Vancouver.

Tickets can be purchased online, here:

Bogata-born, Victoria BC-resident Camilo Dominguez, better known these days as Camilo the Magician, has been actively pursuing magic and the performing arts since his teens. 

This year, his 8th season of unusual magic performances, Camilo returns to Vancouver with a brand new show, "Supernatural Magic", which will feature his renown sleight of hand as well as original illusions all performed with his trademark sense of humour.

The Vancity Buzz staff interviewed him last year, in advance of his 2015 show. You can find that interview here:

Camilo's website is


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

23 October 2015

[Guest post] Vancouver: Heart of the City Festival

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon. 


There's magic at the upcoming 12th annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival (Oct 28-Nov 8) in Vancouver, BC.


The witty Merlin the Magician will "offer hilarious comedy and amazing magic" at the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre, 920 East Hastings on Friday, October 30th between 4:15pm and 5pm.

This is a free show designed especially for young audiences and families.

According to the festival's program guide, "A magician of many year's standing, Merlin brings fun and fantasy, comedy and delight to his magic".

Also at this year's festival, Downtown Eastside regular Swallow Zhou will "twist wonderful balloon creations" as a special treat new this year at the festival.

Swallow will twice bring her "joyful enthusiasm" and awesome balloon creations to the festival on Friday, October 30th. First, at 3:30pm at the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre (920 East Hastings) and then at 4:30pm at the EWMA Studios, 800 East Hastings.


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

21 August 2014

[Guest post] Kreskin at the CNE

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.  Photos taken during Kreskin's second show at the CNE on Friday, August 15th, 2014.


Kreskin loves Canada. And Canada loves Kreskin. He said he thinks of Canada as his second home. Many Canadians even think of him as one of us. No wonder, we've long been enthralled by his charismatic performances, most memorably those also seen throughout the world during his famous 1970s television series taped in Ottawa and Toronto.

Kreskin's twice daily performances at this year's CNE in Toronto is like attending a master class in audience management. With nothing more than his easily recognized voice and considerable stage presence, Kreskin presents a remarkable demonstration of the "powers of suggestion". He says it is definitely not any kind of hypnosis (which he asserts does not exist anyway). Whatever it is, he held the entire audience (both onstage and offstage) spellbound with his supreme confidence and showmanship honed over a lifetime of such performances.

Here Kreskin's "powers of suggestion" render onstage audience members unable to voluntarily control the movement of their own hands and fingers, much to the amusement of the rest of the audience.

During the show Kreskin stopped to chat with this onstage audience member who, under Kreskin's influence, appeared to be unable to remember his own name.

Here Kreskin's influence causes an onstage audience member to believe the woman beside him has eleven fingers, which he repeatedly miscounted, much to his growing bewilderment.

Kreskin concluded his entertaining performance with an homage to Dunninger: "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't [believe], none will be good enough". Kreskin's shows follow in the tradition of Dunninger's who originated the disclaimer.

Anyone within traveling distance of the CNE should see Kreskin this summer. His act may be old school but he still knocks it out of the park each and every time. At nearly 80 he is an inspiration. Dare I say "amazing"? There is so much to learn from watching him. He's well worth the price of admission.

Also at this year's CNE in Toronto, ventriloquist Michael Harrison presents two shows daily. His laughter-filled act is clever and fast paced and a total audience pleaser.

Here Michael does the talking for both his dummy and also for an audience member in a climax to his act that left his delighted audience wishing for more.

Photo taken during Michael's second CNE show on Friday, August 15th, 2014.

If you plan to attend this summer's CNE in Toronto you should be sure to check out the "Browser's Den of Magic" booth in the Hobby Building. Although primarily designed to create interest among newbies, there's some extra good deals on offer that should be of interest to all.

Here Browser's Den of Magic associate Ahmed entertains an enchanted young fan.

Photo taken at the CNE on Friday, August 15th, 2014.


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

02 November 2013

[Guest post] New Okito Box patter

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.


Exclusively for readers of Canada's Magic
by The Magic Demon

Some time ago I purchased a brass Okito Box from the Browser's Den of Magic in Toronto (although I'm sure Perfect Magic in Montreal carries them too!) If you don't already have one and you are into coin magic, you need one.

What always used to bug me about it was coming up with an explanation for the unusual looking prop. It isn't something you see every day. Inspired by recent events in the UK, I came up with the following story. I hope you will enjoy using it or a variation of it in your act.

I use a large old English penny. You can also use multiple pennies if you wish. You could use this as a module in your coin act or as a stand alone item. I won't go into the mechanics of the trick; use your favourite method. But here's what you can say while demonstrating the effect (in this case, that of making a single coin disappear from a seemingly secure brass case).


"The Royal Family in England never carry cash on them. Do you know why? It used to be a problem for them years ago when they wanted to "spend a penny". Do you know what that means? In England it means to use a public toilet which used to cost a penny in the old days. They cost more today but the expression is still the same.

Now, in the old days they created little gold cases for the Royals to store their precious pennies, in case they needed to spend one. The cases had room for 3 or 4 pennies, more than enough for any Royal on tour. Now the original cases were made of gold or silver but they kept getting stolen or mislaid. So they decided to manufacture a number of them in brass. They still looked elegant but they were less likely to get stolen. I have one of them here, but I won't tell you how I got it. Let's just say the Royals were very absent minded about where they left them.

So they would store their precious pennies in their new brass cases - all safe and sound. But what they could not have foreseen was the unusual effect that the brass casing had on the old fashioned copper pennies. Now some say it is a purely chemical reaction between copper and brass. Others claim it is because Britannia (who is on the the coin) hates being imprisoned in such a tiny space. Well, whatever the reason, you can still see what happens - it's gone!

And that's why the Royals don't keep any money on them to this day. What would be the point? They couldn't even hold on to their pennies!"


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

09 May 2013

[Guest post] Scott McClelland lecture

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.
Sunday, March 24th, 2013

A (belated) guest review by The Magic Demon

Walking into the Browser's Den of Magic in Toronto on that Sunday afternoon you knew - right away - that you were in for an extraordinary (and possibly once in a lifetime) experience.

Scott McClelland had set up a huge backdrop (in front of which he would lecture) that incorporated the old fashioned style of large posters and canvas backdrops that would have been in use in late 19th and early 20th century circus side shows. Added to this were a number of oddly sinister looking ancient props strategically located throughout the staging area. The faded colours, the slightly macabre artwork, and the unsettling choice of subjects all projected an aura of the unusual, of the unexpected, of the distinctly otherworldly.

Which was entirely appropriate given Scott McClelland was there to talk about his thirty plus years performing in the realm of "Bizarre magic".

In appearance some might say that Scott resembles the late great Peter Reveen in his prime, with the magnificent speaking voice of an Orson Welles.

Scott came to the world of Bizarre magic through a family bloodline - his late grandfather had founded and toured with such an act from the 1920s through to the end of the 1960s. However, Scott still had to earn the right to perform his act like anyone else - the old fashioned way - by perseverance and careful honing of his considerable theatrical talents. His lecture shared a large part of that compelling journey, his family history and also his unique insights into creating the Bizarre magic acts that he tours with today.

What exactly is Bizarre magic?

Everyone knows it when they see it but trying to define it in words can prove somewhat of an elusive task. Scott began by diligently offering his thoughts on defining his beloved artform.
  • Bizarre magic is not about puzzles;
  • Bizarre magic creates new, mysterious, alternative worlds;
  • Bizarre magic is visual, and uses seemingly archaic props and materials;
  • Bizarre magic is magic with a strong and well thought out story.

And stories usually have beginnings, middles and ends. So too must Bizarre magic, according to Scott:
  • The beginning - A cultural meaning or "meme" that resonates with an audience that they can relate to, such as a haunting/haunted theme or story;
  • The middle - "The meat" in which you reinforce the chosen cultural premise with further true history (that you have researched and cunningly interwoven into your fictionalized presentation);
  • The ending - Your big pay off, the effect or illusion itself (which must never use props that look like conventional "conjurer's tricks").

So in this brave new (old?) world of Bizarre magic you bend the truth somewhat in the interests of effective storytelling in order to create your new world. And you broaden and deepen its themes and textures with the clever interweaving of actual historical events whenever possible.

Bizarre magic techniques
  • The importance of learning about relevant history is therefore an important tool to the Bizarre magician. If you are to succeed in this demanding field you must be able to talk the talk as well as walk the walk. During your show as well as off stage during interviews or promotional events you need to be able to comment intelligently on your craft and its illustrious history in order to prove that you are not just "pushing boxes about". As an example, Scott talked knowledgeably about the Spiritualist movement which flourished in the 1920s. These facts he could then spin into and link onto aspects of his own act. Audiences could look them up afterwards online on legitimate sites and confirm what he had discussed.
  • Scott briefly outlined methods of aging props and standard magician's devices so that they are more in keeping with the visual themes in Bizarre magic.
  • He also discussed the value of implanting your alternative realities online so that after a show when audience members might want to research your theatrical narrative they could find evidence of its veracity. Lesson: A Bizarre magic show needn't stop simply because the audience has left the theatre.
Following a brief break, Scott proceeded to demonstrate and discuss a number of his favourite effects which illustrated many of his general themes. Several effects Scott had for sale in specially created kits - which seemed to disappear with great rapidity after the show!
Bizarre magic vs. mental magic
Scott was also most responsive to questions from the very attentive crowd. What is the difference between Bizarre magic and mental magic asked one member of the packed out room.
  • Bizarre magic invokes an alternate world with a much more textured, complete backstory that emotionally connects with its audience. Mental magic does not have to do any of this (although perhaps it should).
  • Bizarre magic is by definition more theatrical than most mental magic. It usually involves performing in the guise of a fictional character (as does Scott in his Bizarre and paranormal acts).
  • Of course, like some professional mentalism, much of Bizarre magic is vastly psychological in nature. You want people to believe that what is going on is real, and you want them to experience a genuine "magical moment" that takes them out of their everyday life.

Theatrical training

Scott shared many useful thoughts on a number of important related theatrical issues. He has had considerable training and experience in such matters. For example, on character-building:
  • Find your character. Who is he/she? Is he/she serious or comic?
  • Consider taking acting lessons.
  • Watch your favourite actors more closely on film; how they talk, how they move, how they interact with props.
  • Every move on stage should have a reason; only move when you need to move; every move should be scripted and well rehearsed ahead of time in order to appear completely natural. Scott quoted the legendary Micky Hades as suggesting that you should be able to do your act completely nude! If you can do your act in the nude without looking artificial or goofy, posited Micky, you can do it more easily fully dressed. (I'm sure this is true but somehow I'm not so sure I will avail myself of this advice...)
  • Find an interesting way of talking then script it. And don't waste your breath on unnecessary patter. Edit your script ruthlessly.
  • Believe your character's backstory so that your audience will believe it too. Know the historical facts from which your character is derived as if they were your own true birth facts.
  • Never be afraid to emote, to act, to be emotionally engaging on stage.
  • Find phrases or sentences that will stick with your audience long after they've gone home.
  • Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.
  • Keep it clean, X rated material has no place in magic.
  • Always remember that you are attempting to create memorable magic moments on stage for the audience to take home with them. And by doing so, says Scott, you are helping to bring style and class back to the Art of magic.

Live performance vs. the internet

Many of us fear the death of live magic performance with the advent of the internet age. Scott asserts that we must fight back and take back the rightful place of live performance in the hearts and minds of the general public:
  • You must give an audience a greater experience live than they could ever get virtually online;
  • You must make an audience want to come back to see other live shows that are wholly unlike anything they can get online; and
  • You must remind audiences that we are all entertainers all the time, using any opportunity you can.

Clearly we need some heroic role models in this critical and worthy pursuit. I nominate Scott! But where else do we find such individuals today? It seems a rather daunting task. Scott argues that:
  • We can (and should) all be role models;
  • We can all help audiences regain/rediscover the wonder of/in magic;
  • We can all help make magic something that audiences want to be entertained by;
  • We must all work harder to make magic better; there are too many lazy magicians out there today;
and finally
  • By looking back into the past (vaudeville, etc.) we may well find the way to create an exciting new future in magic.


I have just very briefly scratched the highlights (for me) of Scott's incredible lecture. Part history, part theory, part theatre, and part magic, it was an experience full of memorable magical moments for all of us who attended. Any inaccuracies can be attributed to my futile attempt to write my notes faster and faster to keep up with Scott's powerful insights - and their subsequent growing illegibility.

For many of us this lecture was an introductory course in the Art of Bizarre magic. I hope Scott will follow it up with a more advanced lecture some time in the future.

Try to see Scott live any chance you can. If you are a magic club, book him for a lecture. You will not regret it. Meanwhile, his websites will delight and entertain you:

There are some photos of the event at the Browser's Den of Magic site. Go to their main website and check out Jeff's blog. You'll need to scroll back to late March 2013:

Many thanks to Scott McClelland for sharing the invaluable lessons of a lifetime and for showing us what it takes to be so well regarded (as he is) in his area of specialty.

Thanks as well to his charismatic assistant, Jessica Silver, for her invaluable contributions to the afternoon's festivities. You can follow her relevant posts on The Magic Cafe.

Finally, a big shout out and thank you to Jeff Pinsky, owner of the Browser's Den of Magic, for hosting yet another worthwhile special event that left all its participants feeling inspired and extremely well-entertained.


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

10 February 2013

[Guest post] Bobby Motta dealer demo at Browser's Den

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.

Sunday, Feb. 3rd, 2013
A review by "The Magic Demon"

Even a basic dealer demo with Bobby Motta is an event worth attending.

I'm pretty sure everyone who witnessed Bobby Motta's dealer demo of original professional products at The Browser's Den of Magic in Toronto on Sunday afternoon (February 3rd) all felt the same way too.

Watching Bobby demo and explain his own effects I was struck by two thoughts. (1) Bobby Motta is a naturally laid-back, extremely funny and charismatic performer, and (2) Bobby Motta has an incredibly inventive mind. He is the creator of numerous out-of-the ordinary professional effects in use by names like Penn & Teller, Criss Angel, David Blaine and Derren Brown. Oh yes, this is the man who helps make them all look good.

And according to Browser's Den of Magic owner Jeff Pinsky, Bobby Motta practically grew up in the Browser's Den. Jeff has seen Bobby go from fledgling hobbyist to world class professional mentalist in what seems like only a scant few years.

Bobby later told me he was a bit apprehensive about doing this demo. It was not advertised as a lecture and it was definitely not meant to be a performance. So what was it? It was a roomful of appreciative magic aficionados allowed the privilege of learning first hand how a top rate mind came to create a dozen or so of his most powerful effects and the secrets behind them - all for free. What's not to like? The fact that the majority of us could not afford most of them did not seem to deter Bobby from his entertaining task (although I noted at least a couple working pros afterwards decided to enhance their routines with some of Bobby's higher-end creations as well as a larger number of amateurs happily buying some of his less expensive ones.)

The Demo

Bobby opened with his current much-talked-about commercially available effect, "Blackmail". If you are into mentalism, or would like to be, you can perform miracles with this clever utility device, inspired by but significantly updated from a classic principle once described by Corinda.

He followed with a presentation of "That's Alive". If I tell you it is a revelation effect with a surprise finish that caused his audience spectator to jump you can guess it was judged a big success by the room. And all I will add is that his lovely assistant Amanda made a most welcome guest appearance.

"Taste" involved a young audience member repeatedly choosing different beverages behind Bobby's back without his knowledge and yet... Bobby proved that he somehow knew which drinks had been selected and in what order, again and again and again. This one just blew me away when he performed it and blew me away again after he explained how it works. Ingenious! (And Jeff Pinsky's favourite of the event).

Bobby then presented (but was unable to fully demonstrate) his "Lethal.  A card is chosen, the deck is thrown into the air, a knife is thrown at a spectator wearing a protective board and the knife impales the chosen card right onto the board! It didn't matter that he couldn't fully demo it, the room was again delighted with its explanation - another combination of innovative technology and applied human psychology.

"Shock Treatment" was briefly discussed - it's a classic secret of mentalism/magic that Bobby has brought into more modern times featuring greater portability than in past versions.

Bobby then demonstrated the use of certain exotic electronic flimflammery that those in mentalism will already know about and the rest of you will not get any more information about from me. Suffice it to say that Bobby likes electronics very much.

He ended with his visually strong effect "The End" - what could be more fitting? Unknown letter cards freely chosen by spectators are randomly arranged in a horizontal frame and eventually turned around to reveal they spell - guess what? Beautifully constructed props and a stunning reminder that sometimes the greatest impact of all can be had from basic but unsuspected methods.

Bobby added an encore of his own devising which he calls "Advil." It's something that he says he will never reveal nor sell in which numbers called out at random from the audience somehow turned out to be the exact serial numbers on a audience member's previously chosen and physically isolated five dollar bill. A jaw-dropping conclusion to a most enjoyable afternoon with a most talented performer/inventor.

Many thanks to Bobby Motta of course and to Jeff Pinsky of the Browser's Den for hosting yet another worthwhile special event. I assume some of Bobby's effects can be purchased through Jeff or directly from Bobby himself. Bobby also performs on a regular basis in Toronto and details can be found on his website,

Oh yes, I read later that there was something else going on that afternoon elsewhere. Not that any of us attending seemed to know or care very much. Super Bowl? What was that? Some kind of extra huge load Lota Bowl?


Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!