Not one to mince words, Penn Jillette had a simple answer when asked for his opinion on Donald Trump in an interview with Vice’s Desus & Mero. 

Penn met the gameshow-host-turned-leader-of-the-free-world during his time on The Celebrity Apprentice. 

I was told… I guess there’s shame in this now, but I was told Donald Trump himself wanted me on. As the season went on, Donald Trump liked me less. I was asked if I would support him for president, and after I calmed down from laughing, I said, “absolutely not.”    

When asked what the current President of the United States is like in person, Penn’s answer was characteristically blunt:

He’s an asshole. You have to remember if he weren’t president we’d be talking about how great he is. Because one thing, to be on television, especially on a reality show, you want to have almost no filter, you want to be capricious, you want to be unpredictable. Those are really good things, that’s what you want. 

But those aren’t the qualities Penn wants in a leader.

The idea to have those same qualities going to a president is insane. You want someone who’s measured.

The short interview also covers Penn’s experience crowdfunding his new movie, Director’s Cut, and what it’s like being really tall. Spoiler: It’s great.  

How’s this for good timing: hot off the announcement that Richard Turner’s life is being turned into a feature film comes a huge Genii Magazine review of the documentary that serves as its inspiration.

The ten-page cover story is a huge, in-depth analysis of Dealt, the documentary of Richard Turner’s life; a life of hardship, tenacity, and a dogged pursuit of perfection. Turner may be legally blind, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the greatest living cardsharps on the planet, and Jon Racherbaumer offers a unique perspective on the film and the magic found within it.

Also within this month’s pages are a story on ProMystic and the evolution of mentalism in the 21st century, correspondence from the 1920s featuring a Death Ray Gun built by the Great Leon, and tons of trick, DVD, and book reviews from a host of magical columnists.

Get instant digital access to this issue, plus an entire 80-year back catalog of Genii, along with the entire run of Magic Magazine, for only $35 a year. Or, you can pick up a physical issue at your favorite local magic establishment.

There’s a duo of great card magicians coming to the Magic Castle this week all the way from Germany. In the Close-Up Gallery, Denis Behr brings some of the magic that’s found its way into his recent instructional DVD set, Magic On Tap:

Pit Hartling is also stopping by the Parlour of Prestidigitation, and his incredible card magic has to be seen to be believed:

Performances take place every evening from April 30 – May 6 unless otherwise noted, and include:

Close-up Gallery

Denis Behr: 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15

John Accardo: 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:30

Tyler Rabbit: 5:00 – 7:00 (Thursday – Sunday)

Parlour of Prestidigitation

Pit Hartling: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15

Henok Negash: 10:15, 11:15, 12:30

Palace of Mystery

Scott & Puck: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Denny Haney: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

W.C. Fields Bar

Robert Ramirez: 7:30 – 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Peller Theatre

Dave Cox: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Bornsteins: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Members Only Friday Lunch

Denis Behr: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00

Saturday & Sunday Brunch

Parlour Kids’ Shows: 11:30a, 12:15, 1:00, 2:15

For more information on what’s in store at the Magic Castle this week, as well as details on how to become a member, be sure to visit the official site for the Academy of Magical Arts.

Last week, you were no-doubt pleased to learn that North and South Korea are postponing World War 3. That announcement came during a chummy summit, which saw leaders, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un, smiling, holding hands and enjoying magic tricks together.

One of the more striking photographs to come from the summit was a shot of the two leaders enjoying themselves during the banquet dinner marking the end of the talks. It turns out the picture was actually a shot of the two leaders reacting to a magic trick performed by an as-of-yet unnamed South Korean magician.

According to interviews with attendees (there were no journalists attending the banquet), the plucky magician started the trick by asking for some money. A South Korean official provided a 50,000 won bill (roughly $50) which the magician promptly turned into a $1 note. During the course of the routine, the magician turned that note into a $10 bill and then a $100 bill, which he then handed to the South Korean president. One South Korean official chimed in with a joke: “No more exports necessary from North Korea. You can create money just like that with a magic!” 

The magician also performed a number of card tricks, including one where a “trump card” was eventually handed to former North Korean intelligence chief, Kim Yong Chol. The trump gag apparently worked in Korean, prompting laughter around the table.

Personally, I’m pleased to be writing about goofy magic tricks instead of the looming spectre of nuclear war. I’m not surprised Kim Jong Un is a fan of magic, given his penchant for making people disappear. 

Dennis Watkins’ Magic Parlour is specifically tailored for a small audience of less than fifty people, and there’s a reason why: magic is much more powerful when you can see it up-close and personal for yourself. In our final video interview with Watkins, he talks about developing a parlour-type show in the heart of downtown Chicago, and why he prefers to perform smaller, more intimate shows nightly than larger shows less frequently.

For the rest of our interview with Dennis Watkins, check out the links below:

Part one: Dennis Watkins on the perks of growing up in a family of magicians

Part two: Chicago magic is all about the up-close and personal touch

Part three: The evolution of the Magic Parlour

And for more from our visit to Chicago, check out our video interviews with Mark Toland and Nick Roy, and our Magic Anywhere special, focusing on the unique, hands-on approach to Chicago-style magic.

In The Illusionists – Live From Broadway, Colin Cloud is billed as “The Deductionist.” A fitting handle given his unique brand of “forensic” mentalism. 

Cloud started his life-long career in deduction at the tender age of 16, when he started studying forensic investigation at Glasgow Caledonian University. Learning how to analyse grisly murder scenes quickly led him to the similarly grim field of stand-up comedy. 

“I realized very quickly that stand-up comedians are great at observing the world and their attention to detail is incredible,” he told Broadway World. “So that led to me getting into stand-up comedy, performing stand-up comedy, and mixing the weird psychological tricks and techniques that I was developing and creating, and before I knew it forensics led to me performing.”

Like a lot of mentalists, Cloud is quick to distance himself from those who claim to be genuinely “psychic.”

“I think I use the skills that fake psychics use but in a very different way, I use it to be very entertaining and reveal things in a fun way rather than trying to deceive people to get them to make life changing decisions,” he explained. “I’m very much aware of how psychics perform and the skills that they use, I like to think that I am just more honest about how I’m using them.”

Cloud is currently writing a show for a European tour starting next year, but admits he enjoys performing for Americans because they’re so emotionally unrestrained.

“I think Americans are much better at showing their emotions,” he explained. “I think here (The U.S) it’s always easier, and when I say easier, I don’t mean that disrespectfully, I mean that it’s more fun, more high energy off the bat rather than in Europe, where people still make you kind of prove yourself.”  

I would be offended by that, but I haven’t felt a genuine emotion since 1995.  

Close-up magic is my personal favorite genre of illusion; while I enjoy the huge set-pieces of stage magic and the mind-bending qualities of mentalism, there’s something about seeing something small but incredible happen only a few feet in front of you. In this episode of the BBC documentary miniseries History of Magic, great magicians like Channing Pollock, Fay Presto, and the late Paul Daniels give their insights into the why’s and how’s of great close-up magic. Spend your lazy Sunday learning about the wonders that can be conjured through simple human dexterity, and if you want more, check out their episode on disappearing magic, too.

“The oldest trick in the book” might be just a familiar turn of phrase to laypeople, but to a magician, the words most likely brings to mind the cups and balls. This old chestnut really is old, and magic teacher and historian Jamy Ian Swiss has delved into the beloved routine in his latest blog post for Magicana.

Swiss knows a little something about this routine. He co-wrote the The Magic of Johnny Thompson with the man himself (also known as The Great Tomsoni), which has several sections on the routine’s variants. He recently released his own instructional video on the bit. And by his own accounting, six of his past Take Two essays have included video of the cups and balls. If you want expertise on the cups and balls, he’s your guy.

The essay includes some of the history and legend surrounding the cups and balls. He’s also dug up several videos of the greats from Paul Daniels to Johnny Thompson putting their spin on the classic. If you have any interest in magic history, or just in finessing your own presentation of the act, this is a must-read.

The Rubik’s Cube is a lot like magic, now I stop to think about it. It’s kind of become a visual shorthand for intelligence. How many times have you seen some Hollywood genius showing off by effortlessly solving one? In reality, solving the cube is quite simple once you’ve learned the routines for moving a given square. It’s a trick. And people are slowly catching on. Solving a Rubik’s cube just isn’t that impressive anymore. 

Solving a cube, having an audience member mark it, and then making it appear inside a tiny jar it couldn’t possibly fit into will still turn a few heads though. Such is the effect of Kieron Johnson’s Isolated, now available on Ellusionist. 

The trick is easy to do, requires no duplicate signatures, and resets in less than half a minute. The tools you need to perform the trick as well as a two hour instructional DVD that covers Isolation and other Cube tricks cost $175. The tools are handmade and stock is limited to just 500 units. 

The Magic Parlour is an intimate evening of mystery and illusion created by Dennis Watkins, specifically designed to cater to only a few dozen individuals at a time. While the show currently resides at the Palmer House in Chicago (the same venue where his House Theatre of Chicago is held), it wasn’t always that way. In the third part of our interview with Watkins, he talks about the evolution of The Magic Parlour, beginning as a fundraiser for the House Theatre, and eventually blossoming into a nightly, can’t-miss event.

For the rest of our interview with Dennis Watkins, check out the links below:

Part one: Dennis Watkins on the perks of growing up in a family of magicians

Part two: Chicago magic is all about the up-close and personal touch

Part four: The power of performing magic for a small audience

And for more from our visit to Chicago, check out our video interviews with Mark Toland and Nick Roy, and our Magic Anywhere special, focusing on the unique, hands-on approach to Chicago-style magic.