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He was our Shakespeare, our Chaplin, our Picasso... the greatest magician who ever lived. Robert-Houdin's influence and renown has extended far beyond the 65 years of his own life. His fame is such that a recent major movie, The Illusionist, features two effects based on his original routines. When he passed away on June 13, 1871, he left a legacy of great magic, a handful of excellent books, and enough creativity and energy to continue to inspire the entire magic art 200 years after his birth. His life and work is presented here, along with selections from the master's own writings on magic, staging, and other secrets.
The surprise television hit of the summer was America's Got Talent, a competition featuring numerous variety acts [see "Update," September 2006]. Nathan Burton emerged as one of the stars of the show, performing in the opening round, the semi-finals, and on a wildcard show. While he didn't quite make the finals, he was hired to return on the finale, magically producing several of the previous competitors in a lavish opening number. All in all, it was quite an experience.
It's been over 50 years since Hollywood produced a feature film about Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist and daredevil who ever lived. On the surface, this seems remarkable. Houdini's life story is rife with theatrical drama: from his death-defying escapes, to his battle with spirit mediums, to his deathbed promise to return from the grave. So where is the big-budget Harry Houdini feature film?
His punk rock look gets him attention; his magic has gained him awards. Dan Sperry presents a bird act with an attitude and invites his audiences along for the ride. His spiked-hair and heavily made-up punk-rock image isn't meant to make any particular philosophical statement. "It's not about anything except having fun and being me. It is not a mask, but rather a way to create an instant feeling."
This month's six-page "Update" will bring you up-to-the-minute news on Marco Tempest and the exciting tricks he is creating with his camera phone; Jay Sankey and his new magic-themed television program for kids; you'll spend "A Moment With..." Jon Armstrong as he discusses what went wrong at his FISM performance; get a front-row view as Milt Larsen receives his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; hear about the upcoming books on Houdini and Tommy Cooper that will be hitting mainstream bookstores; plus all the latest convention buzz on KIDabra and the Midwest Magic Jubilee.
Marketplace- Reviewed this month:
The Vernon Touch by Dai Vernon
Hole in the Head by Ben Harris
Hustle DVD by Peter Wardell
Disjointed by Joe Russell
Examining the Thumbtip DVD with Alexander de Cova
Nice Cut by Stefan Schutzer
Dominatricks by Tyler Wilson
Harry Houdini: A Magical Life & Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini
All Aboard the Trans-Euro Express by Reed McClintock
Talk About Tricks
Richard Vollmer explains how to win in poker every time (and without a Jonah card) with 242 Deal. Raj Madhok offers a presentation for the classic Piano card trick; J.K. Hartman provides his handling of February's Threesome effect; and Luis Otero, Adam Ryan, and Robert Gunney round out an issue full of practical card magic.
Career Building 101
This month, Tobias talks about communications and marketing. In terms of building a successful business as a magician, the ability to sell your act or show is probably the second most important ability you can develop. And one of the prime axims of marketing is that "it's all marketing." Everywhere your business makes contact with the outside world, you are marketing, because marketing is what ultimately determines your reputation, sales, and success.
Don't Miss The Magic Word!
When spending time with magicians, one is likely to hear the phrase "the magic community." This phrase is often used in a casual way and passes without comment. For many magicians, the existence of the Magic Community is simply taken for granted. David Parr is not so sure.