Thursday, May 29, 2008

Carter The Great

Photo courtesy of The Doug Edwards Collection

The magician in the photo is Carter The Great (Charles Joseph Carter 1874-1936). He has just produced his wife Corinne from behind the jumbo cards. Carter is especially known for his elaborate version of Cutting a Lady in Half and Cheating The Gallows. He has traveled on eight world tours.

You can read about Carter in the novel "Carter Beats the Devil" by Glen David Gold.

America in the 1920s was a nation obsessed with magic. Not just the kind performed in theaters and on stages across the country, but the magic of technology, science, and prosperity. Enter Charles Carter -- a.k.a. Carter the Great -- a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini. Fueled by a passion for magic born of desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time.

Carter the Great's thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding audiences. Night after night, in towns across the nation, he performs these masterful feats, bringing his unique brand of magic to those starved for wonder. But nothing in his career has prepared carter for his most outrageous stunt of all, which stars none other than President Warren G. Harding and which could end up costing Carter the reputation he has worked so hard to create.

Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical -- and sometimes dangerous -- world, where illusion is everything.

Here are some discussion questions for you and or a book club when you have finished:

1. In this case, the title of the book came from a real magic poster from the 1920s. There was never a question in the author's mind that the title was exactly what the book needed. How is the title significant to you?

2. We sometimes assume that our favorite characters would be the ones we would most like to meet. Is that true in this case?

3. The author was eager to hide any themes, symbolism, imagery, etc, within a roller coaster kind of plotline, hoping that with enough fun, the reader would hardly notice them. Brushing this misdirection aside, what sort of motifs stood out for you?

4. In a magic trick, the moment of transformation is when we know something miraculous has happened. Which -- if any -- of the central characters experienced similar transformations? Select a passage in the novel that you believe is pivotal to a character's development.

5. The novel is set mostly in San Francisco (of which much has been written) and Oakland, its somewhat impoverished cousin, a place relatively unknown. Are these settings at all evocative for the plot herein? Are you drawn to novels set in a particular time or place? Elaborate.

6. The 1890s-1920s were the so-called "Golden Age" of magic, and this novel makes the case for that era being a special time to be alive. What makes that period so appealing? In what ways does it seem knowing or naïve? Is our world right now experiencing a Golden Age in some other kind of way?

7. If you could change anything in the novel, what would it be and why?

8. Why did you choose this book? Would you recommend it to others?

9. Has this book altered your perspective on life? How?

10. When you finished reading the last page, what were you feeling?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Will Houstoun Lecture: Report

Will Houston from England presented an entertaining lecture focused mainly using cards and coins. He presented some interesting routines using a coin gimmick or two. Will presented a beautiful coin routine utilizing a lit candle very reminiscent of David Roth’s signature routines that was sublime.

Though most of his items used cards or coins, he did present one routine using something everyone has their right pinky. He bent his right little finger 90 degrees to the right then 90 degrees to the left. Then proceeded to explain how to perform it.

He concluded the lecture with a version of Chink a Chink. In conclusion Will Houstoun showed he was indeed worthy of all the accolades he has earned at such a young age.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Karl Eason: "The Great Karlini"

Tannen's Magic Camp, camper Karl Eason, "The Great Karlini", is featured in an article in the May issue of The Linking Ring. He is a 14-year old magician residing in Connecticut. He has performed across the country, competing in competitions in Ohio, Texas, and other states winning various awards.

His close-up ranges from cards, coins, and magic using everyday objects. On stage he is notorious for escaping from straitjackets upside down and suspending audience participants in the air.

Karl is involved in his local magic club's, and performs in their shows annually. He performs at weddings, corporate events, children's birthday parties, and more. Karl has mentored three rising magicians, and is currently working with a young magician on his comedic stage act. His magic comes from dozens of magic books and DVD's that he owns, as well as his local magic clubs. His mentor is past president of the Society of American Magicians Bill Andrews.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Hosted by actor and magician Jonathan Levit VH1's "Celebracadabra!" will transform your favorite celebrities into masters of magic. Carnie Wilson, C. Thomas Howell, actress and comedian Lisa Ann Walter, Chris 'Kid' Reid, Hal Sparks, ANT and the Pussycat Doll's Kimberly Wyatt will get the chance of a lifetime to learn some of the most eye-catching and jaw-dropping tricks from some of the most respected and noteworthy magicians in the world.

In each episode celebs will be taught a different genre of magic from sleight-of-hand and comedy magic to phobia magic and even large-scale illusions. The celebrity cast will not have to master these tricks alone as they will be paired up with renowned magicians including: Asi Wind, Rocco, Silly Billy, Murray, David Regal, Derek Hughes and Simon Lovell. The magicians will do their best to teach the celebs several tricks a week when it usually takes years to master just one.

The competitors face tough crowds and a panel of judges that includes master magicians Max Maven, Jeff McBride and host Jonathan Levit who will determine which celebrities advance to the next round and get a shot at facing off in a battle of ultimate illusions in Vegas for a grand prize of $100,000. Seven wannabe magicians enter the castle but only one can be, "The Best Celebrity Magician".
Jonathan Levit:
It all started with a magic trick at the age of 8 -- Jonathan Levit has been amazing people and making them laugh ever since. Originally from New York, and having lived all over the world, with his roots firmly established in magic, he made the move to Los Angeles in 1997. He had his first shot at acting when he landed a starring role on "The X-Files." From there he co-starred in films such as "Tortilla Heaven," "Unspeakable," "Val Val" and "War of the Worlds II" and hosted tv series Green Wheels, Wired Next Fest and Miracle Hunters. In addition to bringing his first love of magic as host and judge of Celebracadabra, Jonathan can also be seen hosting Green With Envy on the Fine Living network and Paranormal U.S.A. on A&E Biography Channel in 2008. He is a Tannen's Magic Camp graduate.

Murray SawChuck:
Murray has exploded onto the entertainment scene with the charisma, personality, and talent of a natural born star! You can't miss this World Champion Magician with over 24 awards, with his signature electric blonde hair, black framed Armani glasses, and his contagious smile. He is the only one in the world that invented magic with Compact Discs. It was his signature for years before he got into television, comedy and hosting shows. He has done 4 world tours and has made 100's of Television appearances worldwide... As one of the youngest headliners on the Las Vegas strip playing the Frontier, Flamingo, Planet Hollywood, and MGM Grand Hotels... along with being voted Playgirl's Hot Guy of the Month... He is a host on the Vegas Entertainment Network and you have seen him on CBS's Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, Blinde Date, and Comedy Central's 'Reno 911'... "He's the Denise the Menace of Magic!"

Jeff McBride:
You've seen him on A&E's MindFreak, on Star Trek - Deep Space 9 and as a featured performer in magic specials on every major TV network - now "Judge Jeff" is back on VH1's Celebracadabra! Known as a foremost innovator in the world of magic, McBride's unique combination of masks, mime and high-skill dramatic magic has won awards around the world, including being named Magician of the Year by Hollywood's famed Magic Castle. He is the founder of the McBride Magic & Mystery School, based in Las Vegas, and is a regular headliner in casino showrooms, theaters, arts festivals and special events worldwide. His teaching videos have introduced a whole generation of magicians to the joys of skill-based magic, and are consistent best-sellers.

Simon Lovell:
Simon Lovell started learning card effects at the age of four and it became a lifelong passion. After a time as a card cheat and con man he parlayed his skills into that of a highly successful entertainer using both his skills and comedy to enthrall audiences worldwide. He has created many effects, written books, and produced DVDs for other magicians including the popular book "How to Cheat at Everything". He currently resides in NYC performing his long running one-man Off-Broadway show "Strange and Unusual Hobbies."

Derek Hughes:
The New York Times called Derek Hughes "Thoroughly Entertaining!" and Time Out New York honored him with "Critic's Pick" for the off Broadway production of his original one man show Necromance: a Night of Conjuration, at Dixon Place Theater. HBO invited Derek to perform his unique brand of comedy and magic at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen Colorado and his stand up comedy has been featured on the NBC series, Late Friday. Derek worked as a head writer and cast member on MTV's Room 401, produced by Ashton Kutcher's production company Katalyst Films.

David Regal:
David Regal is a writer, performer and magician. Originally from New England, he moved to New York where he joined the main company of Chicago City Limits for over 2000 performances. After moving to Los Angeles, he began writing for television, eventually becoming the showrunner for the classic animated show Rugrats, then segued to writing for the living, where he wrote for numerous sitcoms, including the famous "Canister" episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. An author of books for the magic fraternity, David is a frequent and award-winning performer at Hollywood's Magic Castle, where he was elected to the board of trustees. As of this writing he is nominated for both Close-up Magician of the year and Parlour Magician of the year.

Silly Billy:
Silly Billy (David Kaye) is considered by many in the magic community to be the best in the country at entertaining children with magic. He has been named Best Children's Entertainer in New York by five different New York magazines. In addition, he was profiled in the New Yorker and has appeared on Late Show with David Letterman. His client list includes parents Bruce Springsteen, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, and Eddie Murphy.

Rocco Silano:
Legendary magician Harry Blackstone Jr. described Rocco Silano as "The epitome of real magic". With movie star good looks, Rocco carries with him all of the elements so crucial for "extraordinary magic". Poise, wit, charisma, and a European style of charm that is totally disarming, along with impeccable sleight of hand. This Paterson, NJ native says his magic career really began when he won the Golden Lion Award for stage and close-up magic from Siegfried & Roy at the Las Vegas Desert Seminar in 1986. Rocco is a two-time winner of the coveted Manhattan Association of Cabarets Award, and has been nominated nine times as "Magician of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts (the governing body of the Magic Castle) in four different categories. Rocco is the only American to win awards at two FISM (Federacion Internacional Societes de Magique) World Tournaments, the most prestigious Magic Organization in the World: 1994 in Yokohama, Japan, and "Most Original Act" in 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden. Rocco has literally performed his way around the world for such luminaries as Michael Jackson, Muhammed Ali and Howard Stern. Rocco is also the co-creator of D'lite, the number one selling magic trick in the history of magic.

Max Maven:
Orson Welles wrote that Max Maven has "the most original mind in magic." Fortuitously, he died before he could revise that opinion. The New York Times observed that Max's "category-defying mind-reading show veers into conceptual art." People magazine hailed his "new form of participatory theater." The Los Angeles Times stated that his "improvisational skill is enhanced by a charismatic animal magnetism," whatever that means. Apparently, audiences in over 30 countries agree. His television credits include hosting eight specials in Japan (performing in Japanese), and starring in series in Taiwan, Sweden, Norway, Finland, England and Canada. Behind the scenes, Max has been a consultant for most of the top names in contemporary magic, and an advisor on over 100 television shows. He's published approximately 2,000 articles, tricks and essays, and now he is very tired.

VH1's Celebracadabra: Episode 1
In the premiere episode of VH1's new celeb-reality series, Celebracadabra, we'll meet our seven wanna-be celebrity magicians -- 80s film icon C. Thomas Howell, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, comedian Hal Sparks, singer Carnie Wilson, Celebrity Fit Club host ANT, rapper Chris "Kid" Reid, and actress Lisa Ann Walter.

The celebs will get teamed up with professional magicians who'll coach them for their first challenge - Street Magic. Can these magic newbies perfect their tricks before hitting the streets to perform close-up wonders for unsuspecting crowds?

Six of the seven celebs will move on to the next challenge. Which one will have to disappear? Tune in and find out!