Posts Tagged ‘magicians’

FOUR POINTS: Great books about actual magicians, not sorcerers

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

It happens to all of us: We go to the bookstore, or shop on the Internet, and look for books about magicians. Our search results disappoint us, though: We get “Harry Potter.” “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman. “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell,” by Susanna Clarke. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.

Those are all great stories, but those are the wrong kind of magicians. We don’t want wizards, sorcerers and the kind of magic that some spell “magick.” We want our kind of magicians, the guys who practice their tails off, who perform for audiences and design miraculous illusions. THESE are our people, the ones who live lives knowing how to size up situations instantly, who go to great lengths in order to study arcane secrets.

The good news: There are many outstanding stories of the magicians you and I know. Some are even written by magicians. Here’s four worth hunting down:

“Carter Beats the Devil,” Glen David Gold

You’ve seen the Carter the Great posters in magic stores, but Glen David Gold brings the great one to life. Centered around the mysterious death of President Warren Harding, Carter is implicated and investigated by the FBI. What follows is a grand historical fiction featuring a number of well-known names, from Francis Marion “Borax” Smith to TV inventor Philo Farnsworth. Houdini and Howard Thurston also make appearances. And Gold’s writing is golden: The escapes he spins for Carter grow more and more impossible with each chapter.

“Magic,” by William Goldman

Known for “The Princess Bride” and “Marathon Man,” Goldman is no stranger to writing Hollywood-worthy stories, and “Magic” is no different (it was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins). After learning sleight of hand while bed-ridden in a hospital, Charles “Corky” Withers sought training by a top pro, but still lacked the courage to jump on stage. After finally summoning the courage to perform at an amateur night, the resulting response triggers a breakdown. That’s when the mannequin starts talking to him, and things spiral from there. Though reviewers don’t think of it as highly as his other works, “Magic” is a dizzying horror story that chills as much as it thrills.

“The Magician’s Assistant,” by Ann Patchett

How about some love for the assistants? Ann Patchett tells the story of Sabine, assistant to the magician Parsifal. The relationship is complicated, however — though her love for him is unrequited, he still marries her shortly before his death. In his death, Sabine discovers a world that he kept hidden from her. Though not as action packed as others on this list, Patchett gets a nod for weaving an interesting tale where an assistant is able to watch her magician grow young.

“Re-Deal,” by Richard Turner

Trust an expert card mechanic to figure out how to get his main character to play poker with Doc Holliday and S.W. Erdnase, and not seem the least bit weird. Turner is well known for his excellent sleight of hand and his specifically-details Bicycle decks. But his fiction story about Matt McCain and his encounter with the angel Miss Guided shows he’s just as creative with a story as he is with a deck of cards.

Bonus point: “The Prestige,” by Christopher Priest

Ever wonder why Christopher Nolan’s movie was so good? He had great source material. The mysteries and double crosses reveal themselves slowly in “The Prestige.” Written as diary entries, the battle between Angier and Borden stays intense and solid, long after it is explored by the magicians’ offspring.

Those are our four — five, actually — picks. What did we miss? What’s your favorite story featuring a magician?

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to

FOUR POINTS: Magicians want cutting edge tech NOW (it’s close)

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Magicians love technology, and it’s even better when we get a hold of new tech before the rest of the public, a la Glen David Gold’s “Carter Beats the Devil” or Christopher Priest’s “The Prestige” (yes, the movie was adapted from the book). And we’ve all seen what Marco Tempest does with things on the cutting edge.

That got us thinking about what tech magicians would like to see. We asked you to think big, and you thought even bigger. Your responses on Facebook and Twitter fell into four general categories. We dived deep and picked the best ideas, then searched the Internet to find out how close that tech is to actually existing.

Smart paper

Some of our favorite ideas involved things on paper that could change, whether it was moving inks or really thin touchscreens.

  • ~ Doug Hunnington: See through paper with special polarized glasses!
  • ~ Zach Werden: A playing card that is actually a super thin touchscreen monitor. The possibilities for gaffs and color changes would be infinite!
  • ~ Cedrick Burcena: I wish I could invent a “touchscreen card” with the same thickness, flexibility and feel as a regular playing card. The screen will also have sort of easily replaceable screen protectors.
  • ~ Kirkland Agaskadodv Butcher: Having playing cards that reflect other playing cards for a short amount of time with heat and pressure. They have a special ink and paper that reflects and captures the image of another playing card underneath it so you can have this playing card the wrong way around on the bottom of the deck and have it reflect that playing card.
  • ~ Ernests Stroinovs: A computer in the size of the card. Same thickness, same flexibility. With a hidden mic and face side being screen. At first, it shows back pattern of a card, but when a spec names a card, it records it and the image of card named instantly appears instead of back pattern.

Almost here? This paper tablet computer was all the rage at the most recent CES show. About the size of a regular sheet of printer paper, the PaperTab is built mainly to work with other similar devices.


One of the 10 theories of magic, performers have developed plenty of ways to levitate things, from rings to themselves. But you thought bigger than that. And smaller.

  • ~ Alustaazu Bitun Gina DhonAhmed: float a water drop
  • ~ Kieran Porter: Dam the top of a waterfall and wait for the water to stop flowing over the edge and then reverse the flow of the waterfall so the river at the bottom is sending the water back to the top.
  • ~ Craig Farquharson: Something to suspend a table cloth and it’s contents so when I yank the table out from under it everything stays. I would lead everyone into thinking its a normal tablecloth trick when it is in fact a reverse table cloth trick
  • ~ Robbie Yeadon: levitation of a chosen object in a room!

Almost here? Sadly, our searches for floating water didn’t pan out. But we were mesmerized by what Brussup does to water under the influence of sine waves.

Energy production

From fire to electricity, many of you wish you had the power of the elements at your command (the powerful ones, anyway — no one wanted to shoot dirt or water out of their fingertips).

  • ~ Michael Mayo: Lightning from my fingertips Raiden style….hands down
  • ~ Lazare Londaridze: Pure fire from nothing
  • ~ Tom Vella-Lott: Liquid that ignites with friction and burns similarly to lighter fluid, but doesn’t dissipate so quickly, so a ‘light your cigarette with my finger’ type effect.
  • ~ Pete Esquivel Jr: I would love to write in mid air with fire
  • ~ Wolfgang Schürz: How would really cold fire work? Perhaps: Invisible with a burning ring might even look like producing fireballs in your hand.

Almost here? We’re not exactly sure, because all we can find are homemade projects and circus acts. A man shooting electricity out of his hands was featured on the TV show “Maximum Exposure.” And this guy in 2009 posted a video of his wrist-mounted flamethrower, and adds some fire to his hadouken. If you’re looking to produce smoke, then let us introduce you to the best smoke system on the market.

Data mining

Plugging into the machine has a lot of magic potential. Several wanted the ability to access the internet in better, more subterfugal ways.

  • ~ Sean Mccarthy: I wish i had the ability to instantly post information gathered during a performance to youtube whilst still performing for the same group. Its one thing to have a prediction on a piece of paper in front of you, but if the spectator could see information that was very personal to that performance on youtube it would be amazing, not to mention they could then show the video to their friends later as a great reminder of the effect.
  • ~ Philip Alexander: Some type of radio which could find the phone number of the person I’m performing to. I would force a card and then tell them to think of their card. I would then trigger the radio and they would get a text message saying what they’re card is.

Almost here? We fully expect our brains to be WiFi capable in a few decades. Until then, Google Glass appears to be the next step in internet devices.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to

Great shows: Top five movies about magicians found on Netflix

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Movies and magic go hand in hand — magicians and directors are kindred spirits. Surprisingly, there’s not many movies ABOUT magic out there that really do it justice. Sure, there’s movies about magicians, but they make many more like “Harry Potter.” For every “The Illusionist,” there’s four “Smokin’ Aces.” And it’s going to take a heck of a movie to beat out “The Prestige” as the best movie about magicians ever.

Fortunately, we found some good ones on Netflix’s streaming service.

These five movies are some of our favorites. They stretch across genres and deal with different facets of magic, from what magic actually is to the importance of listening to your mentors. And there’s some great casting in them, too. Next time you’re ready for a magic movie, look no further. Put these on your instant queue right now:


The Jam Session

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Everywhere you go in magic circles at some point or another you’ll hear magicians utter the word ‘Jam‘ or ‘Session‘. What exactly is a ‘Jam‘ and why do we ‘Session‘?

A ‘Jam Session‘ when talking about magic,  is usually when a group of magicians get together to share ideas or work on new routines. Mostly just to hang out and be around the thing that they love, magic. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by amazing magicians my entire career and the jam sessions I’ve been blessed to be in are nothing short of amazing. It’s almost like being at a convention when ever I hang out. I know that this type of thing doesn’t happen for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that ‘Jam Sessions’ aren’t worth the time.

When I do go to these sessions topics of all types are brought up. Anything from sleights to theory of why you should place an object somewhere.

The sessions go much deeper than just tricks. It’s about improvement all around. I’ve even had discussions as to why a suit jacket should be buttoned or unbuttoned while performing, and even how to comb your hair.

Early in my magic career I thought topics like this were ridiculous and not needed. I believed that attention to such ‘trivial’ detail was nothing more than ‘old’ guys listening to themselves talk. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

As I quickly learned, everyone has something to learn and you can learn something from everyone if you know how to listen. ‘Jam Sessions‘ are a wonderful way for magicians to meet, connect, share ideas and invent new ones. Some of which we use today because the people who we know as ‘Legends‘ did just that. Don’t be afraid to go out and go to magic shops, meet other magicians, and most importantly don’t put others down. Don’t discourage anyone and be open to ideas. You may create the next amazing thing by just listening and working out ‘kinks‘.

The bottom line is for me that I’ve noticed a trend in the magic world lately of hiding ‘secrets‘ from other magicians. There seems to be less ‘comradery‘ in our gild of the magi. Let’s get back the days when we shared and helped each other grow. Start a jam session and help each other out. Share ideas, and most importantly grow together.


Sorcerers Safari 2012 – Unfettered Magic Mayhem

Monday, February 6th, 2012


Sorcerer's Safari


So it’s 2012 and there are so many things happening this year that it’s almost too much to list. However, maybe it’s time to begin making plans for the summer!

We’re proud to announce that Ellusionist is a sponsor of this year’s Sorcerers Safari in Canada!

I recently had the pleasure of talking to the founder of the Sorcerers Safari, Mike Segal. The first thing I will say is that he is VERY passionate about doing this for the youth in the magic community. Throughout the years he’s rounded up some of the biggest names in magic for an experience unlike anything you’ve experienced before. For one week in the summer (August 27-September 2) campers will be immersed in all things magic and fun.

Having a line up like they do it makes me wish I was a kid again just to be able to experience what it’s like to be surrounded by my heroes who are there to help ME in what I’m trying to accomplish!

I’m going to run through some of the things that go on at the camp but for more information please head to their website at


This camp is packed with topics ranging from simple sleight of hand all the way to magic as a business and even magic theory!


This struck a real chord with me as you just can’t get that type of access to people of this calibre at a convention. Let me give you a few of the names that are part of the Sorcerers Safari;

  • Aaron Fisher
  • Lee Asher
  • Shawn Farquhar
  • Greg Frewin
  • Wayne Houchin
  • Eric Leclerc
  • Ben Train

And the list goes on and on….

This year the FISM Champion SOMA will be on the list of guests. Keep in mind that the guests may change but will definitely grow, as time gets closer.

So what does that mean for campers? Well it means an unheard of opportunity to actually spend an entire week not only learning from but also hanging out and just jamming with everyone! Man, I really wish I was a kid again. They even go as far as to assist the parents of campers find accommodations nearby if they’re worried about their little Houdini being too far away!

The point is that this is a WONDERFUL opportunity for you or your children who are aspiring magicians to have access to something that very few people do. If it weren’t for Mike Segal and his dedicated staff, none of this would come to pass.

Registration is easy and more than affordable for the week of unforgettable experiences and life long friendships made. We here at Ellusionist are proud to sponsor and honored to assist someone doing something truly amazing for the magic community!

Later this week I’ll be interviewing Mike Segal and he’ll be talking about the Camp and more. If you have any questions, we would like to help get them answered, leave your questions submitted below and we’ll get the info. Also as more information comes up about the camp we’ll be sure to update you as well. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter. Secrets come from everywhere 😉


-Xavior Spade


For more information please visit the Sorcerers Safari website:

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There will be some amazing things happening this year and some opportunities for all of you to get some cool shizzle!

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