Announcing “LOST MAGIC DECODED” My upcoming TV special

Tune in to watch my TV special, Lost Magic Decoded, premiering on History Channel!

Airdate: October 18th, 9-11pm ET (check local listings)

LOST MAGIC DECODED will both shock and surprise you. If you have been a guest at my weekly show at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in NYC, you have never seen me in anything but a tuxedo.

But here I trade my tailcoat for traveling clothes and venture throughout the states and across Europe to India to hunt down legendary magic tricks. Once I determine whether they are real or fables, I resurrect each one for a modern audience.

For exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes photos, follow the show on Twitter: @lostmagicTV

And visit the Facebook page for even more: https://www.facebook.com/LostMagicDecoded

Here is a synopsis of the show. […]

Read the full post »

Max Malini’s advertising booklet, ca 1926

7-malini-advertising-booklet

As readers of this blog know, I am somewhat infatuated by Max Malini, the extraordinary magician who entertained celebrities, tycoons and aristocrats. I’ve modeled my career on his, and have been tracking down Malini stories for years. Many of these stories are chronicled throughout this blog.

I recently acquired Malini’s advertising booklet at auction (circa 1926) and was delighted for two reasons simultaneously. First, it is an honor to own this historic memorabilia of a prominent magic figure. The booklet is in very good hands.

Second, the text of the booklet has confirmed that Max Malini stayed and performed regularly at the hotel where I’ve presented Chamber Magic for the last decade: the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

In his advertising booklet, he includes laudatory letters from prominent figures, including President Harding. Here is one of the inside pages, containing personal notes from General Pershing and Vice President Charles Dawes […]

Read the full post »

Hand of Fate – Card trick that stumped the great Harry Houdini

By Graeme Wood, THE DAILY
On Feb. 6, 1922, 27-year-old magician Dai Vernon broke this rule before the toughest of audiences: Harry Houdini. The bold gambit was one of the most storied events in the modern history of magic. Houdini, 47, was not only the world’s most famous magician but also its most famous debunker. He bragged he could figure out any illusion he saw three times, and he repeatedly proved second and third demonstrations unnecessary. Houdini had an enviable reputation as a card manipulator, and after diversifying into escape artistry, he had begun a third career exposing so-called “spirit mediums,” conjurers and seers. Some of the conjurers used elaborate setups, but Vernon challenged Houdini with nothing more than a blue-backed deck of Aristocrat playing cards. […]

Read the full post »

The Wand Chooses the Wizard

The magic wand is an ancient conjuring representation of mystery. To the uninitiated, it’s no more than a piece of wood. To me, it is a reminder of the joy and pleasure of an entertainment art that has existed since ancient times.

If you’ve ever dealt a deck of Tarot Cards, you’re familiar with “The Magician” card. It shows a magician pointing up to the heavens with his wand, and down to the ground with his finger. He serves as a human conduit between heaven and earth, his wand serving to draw energy from the universe and to harness it for practical use.

I have a collection of magic wands – some of them quite tricky with built in gadgets – but only one has the distinguished role of my “working” wand. It was custom-made to my specifications by […]

Read the full post »

The Millionaires’ Magician circa 1928? Have I been reincarnated?

I had an uncanny out-of-body experience this week. A gentleman from England sent me his uncle’s scrapbooks from the 1930s and 40s, and they were filled with memorabilia of a famous magician who worked for 18 years at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. The magician’s name? Dr. Sydney Ross PhD.

He entertained aristocrats, dazzled celebrities, and stumped politicians – even several US presidents. For all intents and purposes, he was “The Millionaires’ Magician” of his day, and even worked in the same hotel as me!

Going through his clippings, photos and promotional material felt like I was reading about myself from the future. What a mind-trip!

According to his nephew, Dr Ross jokingly told people that his PhD was in “phinagling.” He must have been very good at it, since he was invited to entertain Franklin D Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House. More on that in a moment. […]

Read the full post »

A Visit to Max Malini’s House in Honolulu

One of my heroes is legendary magician Max Malini. This morning I made a pilgrimage to his house in Honolulu, met the current resident, and was invited onto the property to take photos and stand in the Malini garden. It was, quite simply, a sublime experience.

Together with local magician Curtis Kam, I retraced the steps to many of Malini’s old haunting grounds.

Here’s a photo of us in front of Malini’s house […]

Read the full post »

“Charming” Hermes necktie, Alfred Hitchcock, and the Rope Trick

swami-tie

Here’s a whimsical Hermes necktie that I like. I can’t think of an occasion that I’d actually wear it, but I admire the snake-charmer print for some reason. Also in this post, I review a book, “The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick,” which examines a legendary trick from the subcontinent that has never been verified as fact. One of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock photos is […]

Read the full post »

Think-a-Drink

Just as singers have their favorite songs, magicians have our favorite tricks.

One of my all-time favorites is Think-a-Drink. The proper title of this routine is Any Drink Called For, and has also been known as The Bar Act. I’ve been performing this routine in my shows for the past eight years, but it has existed in various forms for over a century. The trick is so old, it’s new again.

Read the full post »