alexander_gaze

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.

 

This is my latest promotional video. This time for the book Hunted by Nick Stead. I’ve done vampire books promos before (as well as magic-related ones) but this is my first werewolf video… a howling success?

The video was shot by myself and Julie on the moors near Holme Moss. All the music, effects and foley were added later in our Broad Street studio. Voiceover is by the author, Nick Stead.

Hunted is the second book in Nick’s Hybrid series and is available from today, Halloween 2016, from Amazon. Here’s the link.

andi-gladwin

Great news from Craig Frith that we have an extra lecture for the Sheffield Circle’s current lecture series: Andi Gladwin will be presenting his brand new lecture on Wednesday 26 October.

Andi is cofounder, with Joshua Jay, of Vanishing Inc. Magic. He specialises in card magic, and has released two highly regarded instructional DVD sets on areas he is an expert at: the multiple selection and the multiple pushoff. His Master Pushoff DVD received rave reviews in every magic journal.

With over 15 years of performing experience and a wealth of knowledge about the magic industry and history, we are absolutely delighted to have Andi Gladwin join us. Andi’s sleight of hand is second to none and his magic is world class (he was the only UK magician to perform at President Obama’s inauguration in 2013).

“The best magic creates a story,” Andi says, “My aim is for everyone to walk away with a new experience that they will talk about for the rest of their lives.”

The lecture is at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 26 October at The Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open at 7:00 pm with the alacrity born of efficiency and experience.Admission is £5 to Sheffield Circle members, £10 to visiting magicians.

Join us and get ready to have your magic be forever changed.

We’ve another cracking lecture at The Magick Lounge this week. From Las Vegas: Kyle Marlett. Here he is in action:

Today, we’re told it’s hip to be square and Kyle has embraced the “nerd” label and made it a unique, personal hook that appeals to today’s modern audience. Hip to social media, digital content and authenticity, his persona is appealing, entertaining and aspirational. He has redefining what it means to be a “nerd” and creating a unique following of his own.

“Talented, off-beat and charismatic, Kyle Marlett performs mind-blowing illusions with singular flair. From close-up sleights-of-hand to elaborate new twists on classic illusions, Kyle delivers an endearing charm and infectious comedic deadpan whether on the stage, on the street or on camera.”

Kyle’s already appeared on The Tonight Show, Syfy’s Wizard Wars, and as a recurring performer on POP’s upcoming Don’t Blink. Whether performing one-on-one with celebrities, filming an impromptu viral video with the latest Vine star, performing for the camera or for a spontaneously-gathered crowd, Kyle commands audiences with poise and an up-for-anything confidence. He spent years honing his craft behind the scenes in collaboration with the world’s greatest illusionists and magic acts.

He has conceived, designed and implemented some of the most memorable illusions in Las Vegas, on Broadway’s highest-grossing magic show, on London’s West End, in films and on television. Recently, Kyle offered that peak creativity and trademark style in his one-man Las Vegas show where he performed dazzling new tricks and delivered never-seen-before illusions.

The relentless pursuit of astounding magic is his calling card, which means that we’re in for an exciting, entertaining and informative evening!

The lecture is £5 to SCM members and junior magicians and £10 to non members (visiting magicians welcome). It will begin at 7:30 pm on Thursday 22 September at the Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open around 7:00 precisely.

 

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Entertainer and creator, Vincent Hedan developed his own style, creating shows with his original illusions, and performing his magic everywhere in France since 2000. Being fluent in English, he also performed in America, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Italy, Luxembourg and South Korea. A member of 4F since 2011, he won the 1st Prize in Mentalism at the 2008 French Magic Championship.

The first half of this two-hour lecture is about card magic, illustrated by various effects: easy to do, with big impact and maximum involvement of the audience.

The second half puts cards aside and focuses on effects that can be performed either as close-up or stage magic. With original, simple and direct methods, Vincent presents unusual effects. Wine tasting, pseudo memory, and his ultimate Babel book test.

“Vincent creates devilishly clever contemporary material that will fool and entertain even the most cynical audience member. With a keen sense of narrative, premise and plot his material is always intriguing, mysterious and magical. His methods are elegant, sophisticated and multilayered. I believe Vincent will ascend to the very highest levels within magic. Watch, listen and learn all you can from a bright star of the future.” Luke Jermay

Following a proposal and vote at the recent Sheffield Circle AGM, the lecture will be £5 to SCM members and junior magicians and £10 to non members. It will begin at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 15 June (note change of date to suit Mr Hedan’s busy lecture schedule) at The Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open at 7:00 pm with our usual judicious alacrity.

“Brilliant, clever and mind blowing! A very talented French magician. Stunning effects, original methods, killer mentalism…” Boris Wild FISM World Champion 1997