Magic Events


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In August 2014 we were invited to take part in Ymedaca, a project by Hester Reeve at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which culminated in the ritual sacrifice by fire of the artist herself.

On the 15th and 16th of July we’re back, this time as part of a Weekend of Wonderful Things to help celebrate the YSP’s 40th anniversary. There’ll be all manner of magical and wonderful things happening. Do pop in, say hello, and participate. It’s going to be fun!

Incidentally, for those who missed Ymedaca, there’s a book of the same title by Hester Reeve (with a few contributions from Magick) published by and available from the YSP.

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We were pleased to welcome Eric Jones to the Lounge recently. Eric is currently touring with his highly-praised new lecture. So we’re even more pleased to announce that we’ve been able to persuade him to fit in an extra date for us: this Sunday 28 May.

For those who’ve been paying no attention to the buzz on the magic scene lately, Eric is an award-winning performer who is highly respected by his peers in the magic community as an author, creator and lecturer.

He will be sharing some of his pet techniques, effects and routines on Sunday evening. Prepare to be astounded by his digital dexterity, as well as the clarity and depth of his explanations and his luxuriant beard.

If you have any interest in close-up, card or coin magic, you must not miss this session. Several magicians who have seen Eric at other venues on his tour will be journeying to Sheffield to learn more from this master magician.

“Truly beautiful close-up… He’s one of the best breathing magicians at the moment in my opinion.” Damian Surr. (Who, as a past and some-time Lounger, knows whereof he speaks.)

The lecture is at 7:30 pm on Sunday 28 May at The Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open at 7:00 pm to all magical connoiseurs and others. The latest electric lighting installed to suit everyone. No dress code. Admission is £5 to Sheffield Circle members, £10 to visiting magicians.

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The answer to the tie-breaker question in the SCM Christmas Quiz was Alexander. Billed as ‘The Man Who Knows’ Alexander’s real name was Claude Alexander Conlin. Born in 1880, he died in 1954.

Conlin did a standard oriental style magic act in the first half of his show, dressed in a turban and robes. But what the audiences flocked to his show for was the second half, a Q&A act where he appeared to divine and answer questions written on folded slips of paper.

He was certainly a con-man, arrested many times for fraud and blackmail, and was reputedly involved in bootlegging, opium dealing, even the white slave trade, and admitted to killing four men. Despite all this he made millions of dollars at the height of his career and numbered Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino among his many show-biz friends.

How unlike the home life of our own dear… (insert name of your favourite tv magician).

His iconic poster is reproduced in the heading of this blog, along with Thurston, Kellar and Houdini, with whom he feuded on several occasions.

I’m sure that by now all my astute readers, and even the less astute one, will have answered most if not all of the questions in this year’s SCM Christmas Quiz. In case you haven’t, here they are:

1. The badge of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians is known as the Scaratika. What two magical symbols does it incorporate?

Answer: A Scarab and a Swastika. To the Ancient Egyptians, the scarab was a symbol of Khepri, a manifestation of the sun god Ra, from an analogy between the beetle’s behaviour of rolling a ball of dung across the ground and Khepri’s task of rolling the sun across the sky. They accordingly held the species to be sacred. The swastika is an ancient Indian religious symbol of peace and continuity. It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and dates back at least 11,000 years.

2. Bess Houdini held annual séances on Halloween for ten years after her husband’s death in 1926. Which secret phrase did her husband Harry promise to use to prove that his ghost was actually trying to contact her?

a) Flowers do not fade.
b) I am Erik.
c) Rosabelle believe.
d) It’s the kiss that holds the key.

Answer: c). “Rosabelle” was a song that Bess used in her original act at Coney Island. Harry Houdini spent much of his later life trying to disprove spiritualism and expose phony mediums. The agreement with his wife was his ultimate means of proving that a return from the dead was impossible. The séances were supposed to continue each year for the rest of her life.

In 1929 a medium reported that the special phrase had been uttered during a séance, but Bess claimed that the news was false – she had been ill during the séance and the secrecy of the phrase could have been compromised. Bess held annual séances for 10 years, and then gave up on waiting and passed responsibility on to magician William B. Gibson.

3. David Wighton was born in London, England in 1868. He is best known for the Mascot Moth illusion in which a woman vanishes into thin air. What is his stage name?

Answer: David Devant. Incidentally,  Devant was the first Honorary President of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians.

4. Who is generally credited as the inventor of the Sawing in Half illusion?

Answer: P. T. Selbit (Percy Thomas Tibbles). A description of the illusion was published by the great French magician Jean Robert-Houdin in 1858, but Robert-Houdin’s idea remained just that, a written description of an effect. Selbit is generally recognised as the first magician to perform such a trick on a public stage, which he did at the Finsbury Park Empire theatre in London on 17 January 1921. In fact, Selbit had previously performed the illusion in December 1920 before a select audience of promoters and theatrical agents at the St. George’s Hall

5. Considered by many to be the father of modern magic, this French magician was originally a watchmaker but later performed throughout Europe during the 1840s and 1850s. The “Light and Heavy Chest” was one of his most famous tricks.

Answer: Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.

6.  What was the stage name of famous British magician Newton Edward Daniels?

Answer: Paul Daniels.

7. These two German magicians were famous for their work with big cats.

Answer: Siegfried & Roy.

8. A magician makes a coin vanish from his or her hands. Which European country is connected with this sleight?

Answer: France (French Drop).

9. Invented by Theo Bamberg some time in the early 1900s, this little container is a classic prop for coin magic.

Answer: Okito Coin Box (Okito was Bamberg’s stage name).

10. The inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians took place on 18 May. But what year?

Answer: 1920.

There was also a tie-breaker question, which we didn’t have to use. It was:

Tie Breaker: Claude Conlin was a mind-reading magician with a disreputable past. He had been married seven, eleven or even fourteen times, depending on who you believe. He was a con man, possibly a murderer and was imprisoned for fraud. Nevertheless, he was probably the highest paid mentalist of his time. What was Conlin’s stage name?

Answer next week.

Last week saw the traditional Christmas party of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians, a social evening for members and their partners. During the ensuing jollity the assembled ‘throng’ enjoyed nibbles, a little magic, and a magic-related quiz. In case you missed it, here’s your chance to compare your score with Luke’s, who won the fairly valuable prize with a confidently grand total of 9-and-a-bit points.

1. The badge of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians is known as the Scaratika. What two magical symbols does it incorporate?

2. Bess Houdini held annual séances on Halloween for ten years after her husband’s death in 1926. Which secret phrase did her husband Harry promise to use to prove that his ghost was actually trying to contact her?

a) Flowers do not fade.
b) I am Erik.
c) Rosabelle believe.
d) It’s the kiss that holds the key.

3. David Wighton was born in London, England in 1868. He is best known for the Mascot Moth illusion in which a woman vanishes into thin air. What is his stage name?

4. Who is generally credited as the inventor of the Sawing in Half illusion?

5. Considered by many to be the father of modern magic, this French magician was originally a watchmaker but later performed throughout Europe during the 1840s and 1850s. The “Light and Heavy Chest” was one of his most famous tricks.

6.  What was the stage name of famous British magician Newton Edward Daniels?

7. These two German magicians were famous for their work with big cats.

8. A magician makes a coin vanish from his or her hands. Which European country is connected with this sleight?

9. Invented by Theo Bamberg some time in the early 1900s, this little container is a classic prop for coin magic.

10. The inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians took place on 18 May. But what year?

Answers follow next week.

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Just back from a great weekend in Whitby at the Doomsday bizarre magick gathering. More information soon. In the meantime, by request, here are a couple of pics of the Friday evening Firewalk. I tried broken glass last year, without ill effect, so firewalking was the obvious next step…

The fire-pit reached a temperature of over 1600 degrees Celsius during the preparation but the embers had cooled to between 600 and 700 degrees for our walk. It certainly felt hot, but we survived without a blister.

Firewalking has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to Iron Age India – c. 1200 BC. It is often used as a rite of passage, as a test of an individual’s strength and courage (or, possibly, foolhardiness?).

Any suggestions for next year?

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