Archive for February, 2011

Magic awards we missed: Facebook fans make their nominations

Friday, February 25th, 2011

When we released our list of award-winning magic movies, we knew we left several good contenders out, and you guys filled in the blanks awesomely. So well that we made a Facebook contest out of it, in fact.

Facebook fans were asked to give their magic awards. They were asked to submit the name of the award, who wins it and why. And we got some great responses.

Most of them, including our winner, involved either “The Illusionist” or “The Shade.” We got some other great magic-related suggestions and a few surprising ones. (“Back to the Future”? “My Cousin Vinny”?) But our winner pointed out a great thought about what a magician should be. Without further ado, here is our winner and some honorable mentions:

Winner: Eric Rodriguez

Best Magician of the Century: Edward Norton, “The Illusionist.”
This is raw talent at it’s best. He shows the psychological aspect of a mentalist, the showmanship of Criss Angel and the adaptation of a magician, if that makes sense. He illustrates the true characteristics of a true magician.
He doesn’t reveal his secret, not even to the inspector. He has everyone believing in his magic, which is what we as magicians of this era should strive for. Instead of performing tricks, we should perform MAGIC for our spectators.

Honorable mentions

Dragias George
Best Supernatural Romantic Thriller: “Death Defying Acts.”

It shows how magic and love can bemuse the mind..”some say love is magic, but sometimes, magic is illusion.”

Frank Jiruska
Funniest Movie to Feature One Magic Trick: “My Cousin Vinny.”
At one point, Billy is about to fire his cousin, and Vinny does a magic trick to prove he is the best man for the job. Seeing Vinny do a magic trick (and blast apart the show of famous magician “Alakazam”) is a highlight of the movie.

Jason Pompeus, Wally Wonka
Best Killer Trick: The Joker’s disappearing pen, “Batman: The Dark Knight.”

Not to be found on any instructional DVD or in the pages of any magic book, the Joker raised the bar for street-proof, geek/shock magic with an impromptu, instantly resetting classic.

Gerardo Sanchez
Best Moment of True Astonishment: “The Prestige.”

When Angier walks away from Tesla’s workshop and found the hats and the cats, this single moment, that split second, when his mind figures out what’s going on, that is whats real magic its about, true astonishment, this is what all us must achieve in our perfomance, the real magic does not happend over a table, happend in the spectator mind.

Christopher Matthew Zvodar
Most Inspirational Carny: Todd Robbins, “American Carney: True Tales from the Circus Sideshow”

Todd is an amazing performer, and truly inspires many, myself included. He performs and stretches the mind of his audience. Causing people to really wonder what is possible. He is not a magician, but a man. A man that takes what people think cannot be done, and shows them that there is more to this world and the human body then initially thought.

Gavan Keamy
Best Blockbusterization of a classic trick: “The A-Team.”

Taking a cup and ball routine, displaying the small scale version, then upping the scale to use people and shipping containers. Add to that the fact the whole thing is one giant piece of misdirection & you have blockbuster magic.

Sean McAvoy
Best Large Scale Misdirection: “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

Pierce Brosnan as Thomas Crown steals a painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then, in a museum-spanning flash mob of men dressed as Magritte’s “The Son of Man”, fools the cops and Renée Russo. Crown uses the misdirect to set off smoke alarms, which cause fire doors to shut over the paintings, only the painting he himself donated in lieu of the stolen one has a frame that’s too large for the doors. The subsequent sprinklers activate and wash off the layers of paint on the donated work to reveal the stolen painting underneath, safely returned. All set to Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman.” Classic.

Jamie Skelton
Most Magical and Inspiring Movie: “Back to the Future.”

I feel that magic shouldn’t just be a simple card trick in a film. Magic is that one impossible moment that we create for our spectators, that stays in their head for years to come … This film shows us that anything is possible, and if we try hard enough, we can accomplish anything and that is what real magic is.

Josh Janousky
Best Film Featuring a Magic Opening: “Shade.”

This film is a film made for magicians by magicians. Directed and written by Magic Castle Member Damian Nieman, Shade has by far one the coolest intros out there. The beginning of the movie is a gambling demo by the best of the best. R. Paul Wilson, Jason England, and Damien Nieman himself execute a variety of color changes, vanishes, mucks, false shuffles, switches, false deals, and more all as the credits are still showing. If that was not enough for you, the film is FILLED with magical references with character names such as Scarne, Vernon, The Professor, Marlo, Jennings, and much, much more!

Joe Moravec
Best Use of Cards as Weapons: Taylor Kitsch, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

In a brief cameo Kitsch plays the infamous Gambit, whose ability to charge explosive amounts of kinetic energy into objects (primarily cards) … and performs a devastating card spring to launch Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) through a brick wall.

Jon R. Lanenga
Best Silent Movie with Magic: “The Man From Beyond.”

Harry Houdini stars in this movie and he performs some of his most famous tricks. It’s an oldie, but a classic!

Daniel Lee
Best Comedic Magic: “Magicians.”

Starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. We need a comedy category and I think this one fits hilariously. Especially with this line, “Do you mind that I chopped my last assistant’s head off?”

Magic Legends: Brilliant inventor remembered more for musical career

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Richard Himber (1900 – 1966) was an American bandleader, composer, violinist, magician and practical joker.

In his youth, he worked his way through Vaudeville and down Tin Pan Alley. Himber finally formed an orchestra of his own, parlaying a gig at New York’s Essex House Hotel into national NBC radio exposure. Among the top notch professionals in its ranks were Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and many other future stars of the music world.

NEAT FACT: Richard Himber wrote the original theme for NBC’s Today Show.

But in our world of magic, Richard Himber is best remembered for inventing many magic tricks including The Himber Wallet, The Himber Ring, and The Himber Milk Pitcher. Watch Richard Himber perform the amazing Water Suspension on the Magic Ranch with Don Alan.

Learn more about Richard Himber by visiting his official MagicPedia Page.

MAGIC LEGENDS is compiled by Lee Asher for Watching professionals only increases the chances of you improving your own magic. It also helps educate you about magic’s rich past. In turn, the art of magic advances. Magic Legends a free resource for you to use, study and benefit from. Read more about Magic Legends here.

Legendary Hand-picked Magic Videos For Your Viewing Pleasure

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Editor’s note: Lee Asher, creator of Thunderbird, the Losing Control and a ton of magic you’ve seen done by many other magicians, will start contributing to the Ellusionist Blog with a fantastic resource: The great performances of days gone by. We can’t wait for Lee to introduce you to these classic performers in Magic Legends, so let’s get started. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you – Lee Asher!

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Do you want to improve your own magic?

I’ve decided that it’s my job to leave quality breadcrumbs for future generations of magicians.

More specifically, as the center for quality magic information on the web, I want to guide you in the best possible direction in order for you to grow as an individual artist. The time has come to connect all of the ideas and take it to a new level. My intention is to inspire you with hand-picked fantastic vintage magic clips here in the Ellusionist Performance HQ Forums and Ellusionst Blog.

Again, I ask you – Do you want to improve your own magic?

Exposing you to high quality magic, from amazing magicians, only increases the chances of that happening. It also helps educate you about magic’s rich past. In turn the art of magic advances, and ultimately, that’s want I want.

Sifting through thousands of magic videos and choosing the purest performances has been a hefty project and a lofty goal, to be sure. Nonetheless, you’re worth ALL of the effort. If you’ve never heard of these magicians or their accomplishments, do yourself a favor and learn about them. You have my word it will make you a better magician, and swiftly assist you in achieving results that you’ve always strived for.

We start with two fantastic clips of Robert Harbin: one of the greatest magicians to ever live. Click here to view the full archive. You’ll find vintage magic videos, a small biography and a link for further information about this Magic Legend. Follow the quality breadcrumb trail…


Lee Asher

PS. Make sure to comment on each video you watch. I look forward to hearing from you.

Award-winning flicks with tricks: Our favorite moments of magic in movies

Monday, February 21st, 2011

It’s Oscar time. This Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will pass out their latest round of golden statues to the most deserving in the movie business. The Oscars celebrate the magic in movies, but sadly, there’s no movies about magic in this year’s list of nominees (except for “The Illusionist” in the animated feature category).

So we have some “Golden Deckies” of our own we’d like to give out. Movies about magic in the style of wizards and fantasy don’t cut the mustard for this list — we looked at instances featuring magicians in the real-world sense of the word. With that in mind, the awards go to: (more…)

Labor of love: Jason Brumbalow talks about making of Artifact coins

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Believe it or not, coins aren’t very easy to make. For magicians, anyway.

Sure, the average coin lover may be content with whatever numismatic nugget they find. At the end of the day, that coin will sit in a little plastic sleeve, maybe with a transparent window, so that it can be looked at without being touched.

Not us. We LOVE coins: The feel, the sound, the glide, the art, the clink in our hand, the ringing in the air, everything. We magicians are a picky lot when it comes to our coinage. Balance, look, size and weight are all important factors to consider. That means when we set out to make magic’s first custom-designed coins, we had to be careful, picky and rigid.

The work paid off. E VP Jason Brumbalow talked about the process of making the Artifact coins into beautiful reality, from how the idea was dreamed up to who was the quality control checker. You’ll hear about the size, weight, price, design and all about what it took to mint these new beauties. And you may hear a couple of teasers of what’s to come. Pay attention…


Artifact coins are now available for $6.99 each, $5.99 each when you buy four or more.