Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CIA’s Lost Magic Manual Resurfaces

From by Noah Shachtman on November 24, 2009 

At the height of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency paid $3,000 to renowned magician John Mulholland to write a manual on misdirection, concealment, and stagecraft. All known copies of the document — and a related paper, on conveying hidden signals — were believed to be destroyed in 1973. But recently, the manuals resurfaced, and have now been published as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.” Topics include working a clandestine partner, slipping a pill into the drink of the unsuspecting, and “surreptitious removal of objects by women.”

This wasn’t the first time a magician worked for a western government. Harry Houdini snooped on the German and the Russian militiaries for Scotland Yard. English illusionist Jasper Maskelyne is reported to created dummy submarines and fake tanks to distract Rommel’s army during World War II. Some reports even credit him with employing flashing lights to “hide” the Suez Canal. 

But Mulholland’s contributions were far different, because they were part of a larger CIA effort, called MK-ULTRA, to control people’s minds. Which lead to the Agency’s infatuation with LSD, as David Hambling recounted here a few weeks ago: 

In the infamous Operation Midnight Climax, unwitting clients at CIA brothels in New York and San Francisco were slipped LSD and then monitored through one-way mirrors to see how they reacted. They even killed an elephant with LSD. Colleagues were also considered fair game for secret testing, to the point where a memo was issued instructing that the punch bowls at office Christmas parties were not to be spiked.

The *Boston Globe has put together a great visual summary of some of Mulholland’s best tricks for the CIA: the shoelace pattern that means “follow me”; the hidden compartment to smuggle in an agent; the best ways to appear dumb and non-threatening. Because there’s no better misdirection than appearing to be a fool.

*Boston Globe Articles

Tinker, tailor, soldier... illusionist?: When the CIA tried its hand at magic

Use your illusion: Among the CIA's many tricks during the Cold War, it turns out, was some actual magic. A now-declassified manual by magician John Mulholland taught American spies the arts of deceit.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Billionaires, Millionaires...and a Magician Team Up for Global Hunger

Magician Steve Cohen to Star in Magic4Mercy Benefit at Action Center to End World Hunger in Battery Park

Billionaires, millionaires, media personalities, and just plain folk will join forces to support the Mercy Corps Action Center to End World Hunger on Tuesday, December 8th at the Magic4Mercy Benefit featuring the world-renowned magician/mind reader/illusionist extraordinaire Steve Cohen. Proceeds from the event, which will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a champagne reception, will benefit the Action Center, opened one year ago at 6 River Terrace in Battery Park in an interactive space.

On December 8th the Action Center will be transformed into a stage for Cohen, whose elegant Chamber Magic show in a private suite in the Waldorf-Astoria Towers suite has delighted more than 250,000 guests over the past 9 years. Woody Allen described his performance as "a religious experience." Called the "Millionaires' Magician" by Forbes magazine and "a heart-stopping act" by The New York Times, Cohen's fans include Warren Buffett, Barry Diller, David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomberg, Jack Welch, Martha Stewart, Stephen Sondheim, Senator Chuck Schumer, and the Queen of Morocco. Cohen is also a former Tannen's Magic camper.

Tickets for the Magic4Mercy Benefit are $125 ($100 is tax deductible) and may be purchased online at here. For more information about the event, call 646-453-8823.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Man Behind the Magic: Carles Ferrandiz

When the Portuguese magician Luis de Matos made an elephant and a Ferrari disappear in front of 12,000 people in a Lisbon sports stadium for the Expo '98, when the Spaniard Mag Lari cut a person in eight pieces in his 2007 show Secrets, and when a magical chest spat fire, smoke and objects during a recent production at the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, Carles Ferrandiz was never far away.

Read the rest of this article by By Kati Krause from the Wall Street Journal here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beyond Belief II

The Spread the Magic Foundation in conjunction with the Robbinsville High School Interact Club, will present Beyond Belief II – a sequel to last year’s sold out evening of magic, illusions, comedy, and more! This year with an amazing lineup of performers, featuring the talents of Jason Bishop, John "BalloonFREAK" Cassidy, two Tannen's Magic campers Chad Juros and Matt Schick, as well as special guest Mac King – direct from his award winning comedy magic show at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

These incredible performers have entertained audiences across the nation, from Las Vegas to the White House lawn! They have been featured on television shows such as The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Today Show, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, and more! Beyond Belief II is appropriate for all ages, so whether you are 5 or 105, you will have a great time!

All proceeds from Beyond Belief II will be donated to the Spread the Magic Foundation, a New Jersey non-profit organization that spreads hope to children battling cancer. Through last year’s ticket sales and generous donations from local businesses, we were able to raise $12,000 for this incredible foundation.

Beyond Belief II will be performed at the Robbinsville High School Performing Arts Center in Robbinsville, New Jersey on January 30th, 2010 at 7:00 PM. Find out more about the talent and tickets here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mario's Magical Creations

Mario's Magical Creations: a vintage-inspired series by Mario Marchese 

New York-based magician and tinkerer Mario Marchese, a.k.a. Mario the Magician, has spent his downtime over the past couple of years crafting beautiful, vintage-inspired close-up magic illusions from found objects and re-purposed materials. Mario's favorite creations, chosen especially with Tannen's Magic loyalists in mind. These are truly works of art, intricate and intriguing. Each item is made-to-order and completely handmade, so you will receive a collector's item that is uniquely yours and one-of-a-kind (design of box or tin will vary).

Take a look at Mario's five new creations Bouncy Ball Mayhem, Corinda's Coin Box, Old Tin Card Rise, Tarot Mind Mystery, Think of a Card Box here!

James Galea Down Under

James Galea is Australia's number one magician. Constant television and radio appearances and his own series for the Nine Network (Urban Magic) have seen James in constant demand not only in his home country but internationally both in the corporate arena and as a headliner world-wide, performing at the Flamingo Las Vegas and Hollywood's legendary Magic Castle.James Galea is vastly different to the stereotypical 'pull a rabbit out of a hat' magician - he breathes new life into the dying art of magic and trades the traditional rigid tuxedo and stiff top hat for a pair of sneakers, jeans and a tee shirt. Energetic and effortlessly cool, James presents the art of magic with a wicked sense of humour disarming audiences with his youthful charm and astonishing them with his talent.

James started learning magic at age 14 from someone he thought was a magician. He later found out that his mentor moonlighted as a professional con man who cheated in high stakes poker games. While his colleagues were learning how to make hankies disappear from old magic books Galea learnt how to deal aces from the bottom of the deck from a professional card shark.

It was in the field of close up magic that James' unique talent was discovered. His charismatic performances soon attracted notice and at just 19 years of age, James was awarded 'Australia's Best Close-Up Magician'.

In 2009 after sell-out seasons Australia-wide of his live show I HATE RABBITS, James took to the stage as an actor starring in LYING CHEATING BASTARD, a play he co-wrote about Australia's most successful conman. The critics were unanimous in their praise for the play and Galea's performance and the show will now tour internationally throughout 2010/2011. Galea is currently in development for several TV shows in the US and Australia.

Take a look at his version of Sam the Bellhop by Bill Malone The 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Magical Nights

Magical Nights: Exclusive Evenings of Unforgettable Wonder

Feinstein's at the Loews Regency, The Nightclub of New York is proud to present "Magical Nights" a total experience of sophisticated amazement combining elegant dining, intimate close-up magic, and exquisitely magical performances on stage.

Start the evening off with a world-class magician performing sleight-of-hand "close-up" magic right at your table. Then be treated to an hour of sophisticated magical entertainment on stage, Park Avenue style. The classiest hotel in New York now presents the classiest magicians in the world!

This show features a rotating cast of performers that includes world-class magicians and mentalists - every "Magical Night" will be an unforgettable experience from start to finish! Doors open at 5:30 PM, the close-up magic kicks off at 6:00 PM and show time on the main stage is at 7:00 PM.

As you know, an evening at Feinstein's at the Loews Regency is a distinct experience from start to finish - featuring terrific food, the most attentive wait staff in town, personalized close-up magic, and fabulous on-stage performances in an intimate cabaret setting - all taking place in a supremely sophisticated "only in New York" environment.

"Magical Nights" is a truly unique reflection of the very best that New York City has to offer!

For information or to buy tickets, please call 212 339-4095 or visit:

(A note on dress: jackets are encouraged for men but not required.)

Headliner Schedule:

Peter Samelson
Matthew Holtzclaw: Emcee, Asi Wind: Close-Up, Michael Chaut: Close-Up

Asi Wind
Dennis Kyriakos: Emcee, David Corsaro: Close-Up, Prakash: Close-Up

Jeff Hobson
Todd Robbins: Emcee, Michael Chaut: Close-Up, David Schwartz: Close-Up

Todd Robbins: Emcee, Jeff Grow: Close-Up, Prakash: Close-Up

Michael Chaut
Todd Robbins: Emcee, David Corsaro: Close-Up, Prakash: Close-Up

Asi Wind 
Todd Robbins: Emcee, Jeff Grow: Close-Up, David Schwartz: Close-Up

Peter Samelson
Matthew Holtzclaw: Emcee, David Corsaro: Close-Up, Prakash: Close-Up

Michael Chaut
Todd Robbins: Emcee, Matthew Holtzclaw: Close-Up, David Schwartz: Close-Up

Jon Stetson
Todd Robbins: Emcee, Michael Chaut: Close-Up, David Corsaro: Close-Up

*All Performers Are Subject To Change

Sundays, Nov 08 thru Dec 27, 2009: 7:00PM