In late November of last year, Professor Duncan Gilbert, also known as Doran George, died suddenly while undergoing consensual “recreational mummification bondage,” at the hands of Hollywood executive and Magic Castle regular, Skip Chasey, also known as Master Skip. The case went unreported until last week, when celebrity crime muckraker, Mark Ebner, discussed the case report on his podcast (Note: The podcast is most definitely not a sensitive discussion of the event, nor a nuanced look at S&M culture).
Chasey’s entry on S&M resource, Leatherpedia, describes him as “a performing member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood,” and Genii Online owner, Randy Pitchford, has informed us that Chasey made an unsuccessful bid to join the Academy of Magical Arts Board of Directors during the last election.
Gilbert’s cause of death was listed simply as, “sudden death during recreational bondage.” The British-born UCLA professor, dancer, and choreographer presumably suffocated after he was wrapped in plastic wrap and gaffer tape in Chasey’s well-equipped “dungeon.” The strange manner of Gilbert’s death, as well as the presence of Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in his system has lead some to suggest his death may have been due to foul play. Both mummification and the recreational use of GHB are not uncommon in the bondage community. No criminal charges were filed in connection with the case.
Chasey currently works for Hollywood agency, William Morris Endeavour, but was previously employed at Imagine Television, where he had a hand in negotiating deals for shows like 24, Arrested Development and Parenthood. He’s been a well-known figure in the world of bondage and sadomasochism for decades. He’s a regular keynote speaker, a former core instructor for the Butchmann’s Experience, and is the co-founder of People of Leather Among You (PLAY). His personal motto is said to be: “Blood may be thicker than water, but leather is thicker than blood.”
It’s with great sorrow that we report the passing of former International Brotherhood of Magicians president, June Horowitz. Current Grand Rapids Ring 211 President, Jeff Brodrick, has confirmed that she died on June 27th. She was 104 years old.
Born June Olive Warsaw in Chicago on September 12th, 1913, Horowitz was a respected magician and committed member of the magic community throughout her life. Her father was a stage magician, and she would often join him on stage before she found her true calling in close-up magic. She was a regular and welcome presence at Abbott’s Get-Together events. A math teacher by trade, she was the first woman to have a star installed on the Magician’s Walk of Fame in Colon, Michigan. Hers is number ten, between Neil Foster and Karl Carl.
In 1987, she became the first woman to serve as president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, a position she held for the traditional period of one year. Even as her age climbed into triple digits, she was still an active member of the Grand Rapids IBM Ring 211, better known as the June Horowitz and John DeVries Magic Club.
Horowitz has been the subject of numerous interviews regarding her life, in and around the magical arts, as well as her experiences in one of the Interlochen Arts Academy’s first camping seasons, but what really caught my eye was this video of her reacting to a trick performed by a young magician.
Everyone here at Genii Online would like to offer our condolences to Horowitz’s family, friends, and fellow magicians of her ring.
The Allan Slaight Awards highlight and reward outstanding achievements in the deceptive arts. Founded in 2008 by amateur magician-cum-media-mogul, Allan Slaight, the foundation has pledged $50,000 a year, over five years, to be awarded to magicians of merit in the form of cold hard cash and engraved iPads. Magic site, Magicana, has been tasked with organizing the awards, and has been announcing a winner every day this week. Now that all the hard work is done, we’re going to swoop in and announce the winners all at once.
The foundations highest honor, this award recognizes a lifetime of exceptional commitment to the magical arts. This year, English biochemist and magician, Dr. Edwin Dawes, joins the likes of Johnny Thompson, Max Maven and Ton Onosaka as an award winner.
Dawes has spent a lifetime recording and studying the history of magic, and is considered by some to be the most prolific writer of magic history alive today. He’s also a skilled magician in his own right.
You can see a profile of Dawes and his accomplishments, as well as his acceptance speech here.
The Sharing Wonder award recognises an outstanding performance of magic by an exceptional artist. Past recipients include Penn & Teller, Darcy Oake and Derek DelGaudio. This year’s award went to Michael Carbonaro, who has spent the last decade and a half entertaining audiences on the stage and on television. Starting with an excellent performance on The Chappelle Show back in 2004, Carbonaro has gone on to carve out an enviable career for himself. His excellent magic/prank show, The Carbonaro Effect, has been running for 68 episodes and is still going strong.
His award comes with $15,000 and an engraved iPad. You can see a profile of Carbonaro and his acceptance speech, here.
The Sharing Secrets awards recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of magic study and research, the kind conducted by previous award winners including Richard Kaufman and John Lovick. This year, the award has been expanded to cover organizations, allowing Cape Town’s College of Magic to cinch the win.
At the foreground of South Africa’s booming magic scene, the College of Magic is a non-profit, public benefit organisation that offers its students the opportunity to study magic in a beautiful Victorian homestead built in 1899. Those students will now hopefully reap the benefits of $10,000 and an engraved iPad. You can see a profile of the college, and an acceptance speech from its faculty, here.
The International Rising Star award is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s an award recognizing an emerging international magic talent. This year, the award goes to American magician Noah Levine.
Levine is a Brooklyn-based magician who specializes in sleight of hand and “unnerving coincidence” tricks. He’s performed at numerous venues around the US, made a number of TV appearances, and performs his show, Magic After Hours, every week at Tannen’s. He’s walking away with $5,000 and an engraved iPad. You can see a profile of Levine and his acceptance speech here.
As Mr. Slaight is a Canadian, it’s only right that one of the awards made in his name goes to a fellow syrup eater. Thus, the Canadian Rising Star award, which recognizes outstanding work by an emerging Canadian magician.
This year the award goes to “magic minimalist,” Nick Wallace. Wallace is a sought-after performer in the corporate gig scene, and has been making waves in the world of theatre with his star turn in STRANGE&UNUSUAL. Previous winners of the award include Mahdi Gilbert, Luc Langevin and Eric Leclerc.
The award also comes with $5,000 and, you guessed it, an engraved iPad. You can see his profile and his thoughts on the award here.
Everybody here at Genii Online would like to congratulate these talented and hardworking magicians on their well-deserved awards.
It’s been a rough week, readers. So how about you sit back, relax, and enjoy some curated magic videos courtesy of your old friends at Genii Online.
Tommy Wind appeared on KSNV News Las Vegas to promote the new season of Masters of Illusion which, if I’m not mistaken, begins airing tonight. For the impatient among you, he starts performing tricks at the 1:45 mark.
Jay Sankey dropped another tutorial, this one is for an awesome trick performed with a deck of cards and a firecracker, making it completely illegal in Canada.
Update: I have just been informed that Jay Sankey is in fact Canadian himself, meaning he is a firebrand magician with no regard for the law.
— Eli Roth (@eliroth) June 28, 2018
Hostel director, Eli Roth, has never been my cup of tea, but his upcoming adaption of children’s horror novel, The House with a Clock in its Walls looks like it might just change my mind. Jack Black is perfectly cast as a goofy magician, and judging by the trailer, the film seems to lay on the classic performance magic shtick really thick. It hits theatres September 21st.
— America's Got Talent (@AGT) June 28, 2018
Fresh from his victory over gravity itself, Mat Franco has returned to our screens to teach magic and shill donuts. Elastic band tricks are a quick and easy way to fill out a close-up routine, or annoy your co-workers at the office. Learn them.
We somehow managed to miss Piff the Magic Dragon auditioning for Game of Thrones last month. Sadly, a dragon his age will get nowhere in Hollywood without a scale lift. The green screen gag is absolute genius, by the by.
Rob Lake made an appearance on America’s Got Talent. I thought the setup was a bit overwrought, but it went down well with the judges and the live audience. Best of luck in the competition, Rob!
Christian Wedoy also made a splash on AGT (it never stops, folks. It. Never. Stops). We’ve seen him perform with this set up before, albeit in a less dramatic setting, but it’s still amazing to see him and his lungs strut their stuff.
Alex Geiser uploaded a slick, no-nonsense coin routine to YouTube.
And there we have it, a cavalcade of magic to keep the blues away. Stay safe out there, readers.
For almost nine years, Erick and Kim Olson have been running Wizardz Magic Theater, a magic show held every Monday at the Seralago Hotel & Suites in Kissimmee, Florida. That nine-year anniversary is something to be proud of; few magic shows (or any show, for that matter) survive that long, and after almost a decade, Wizardz is doing more than surviving—it’s thriving.
Their May 28th show was no exception: the 50-seat theater was sold out, with locals and tourists, magicians and laypeople alike, packed close together to enjoy an hour of magic. Erick and Kim have learned much over the years on how to run a successful show, and their insights are invaluable for anyone interested in starting a recurring magic or variety show of their own—here are a few of their tips for getting started.
Running a show on your own is difficult, if not impossible. One of the keys to Kim and Erick’s success is that they run the theater as a team, with their different backgrounds (Erick is a professional magician and his wife, Kim, is a layperson with experience in sales) helping them better manage all aspects of the show. Partners having different perspectives can be helpful but can also create conflict.
Conflict, however, isn’t a bad thing if both partners are committed to working through their differences in opinion. As Erick explains, “Kim’s got a view of the business end, and I have more of an entertainer’s view, and sometimes those views can clash…but we talk it through. Each one of us says, ‘Let me have a chance to do it this way this week, and we’ll see how it goes.’”
So whoever you choose to work with—whether it’s a performer, a business colleague or a family member—make sure you both agree on how you want to communicate or work through points of disagreement.
Consistency is crucial for building a recurring magic show, especially in the first year. The Olsons hold shows every Monday and rarely cancel. Even monthly shows should happen at the same time (for example, on the third Tuesday of each month). It should be something that regular patrons can rely on, something that they can look forward to, something that becomes a part of their lives.
At Wizardz, the split between magicians and laypeople is roughly 50/50, and Erick makes sure to welcome every person who comes, no matter how familiar they are with magic. “We try to make every new person feel like they’ve been there before,” Erick explains. “Our goal is to make everybody feel that they’ve been part of [the local magic community] for a long time even though it’s their first time at Wizardz.”
Wizardz does well on this front. “It’s really intimate,” says Heather, a California resident who was in Florida on vacation when she attended the May 28th show. “It’s like a throwback to vaudeville in a town full of franchises, overstimulation and commercialism. I loved the ‘insider’ feel of the show; it was like I was part of an exclusive underground club!” Rachel, another tourist from California who also attended the May 28th show, agreed. “Everyone is so welcoming, and it’s a show for everyone—young and old!”
The heart of Wizardz, however, is its core group of regulars who come not only to see magic, but also to catch up with others in the community. “I’ve met, and become friends with, several magicians via Wizardz,” says Robert Benedict, a dedicated magic hobbyist who does a few paid shows a year and has attended almost every Wizardz performance. “Wizardz is a means of keeping in touch with friends—magician or otherwise—with whom I enjoy a common interest.”
But regardless of the mix of your patrons, the important thing is to welcome them and talk to them, not only to make them feel welcome, but to get their feedback so you can continuously provide a show that exceeds their expectations.
Finding a venue that is willing to host a show on the same day each week or month for at least a year is crucial. When looking for the right space, it’s important to consider how it fits into your budget and if it’s in a safe and easy to find area.
In their initial search for space, Erick and Kim made sure to frame their show as something in the Seralago’s interest. “When I pitched my idea to the General Manager [of the Seralago], he said, ‘What is this going to cost me?’”, Erick recounts. “I said it wasn’t going to cost him anything, and he said, ‘Oh, can you start next week?’”
The Olsons’ relationship with the hotel continues to this day, with the Seralago benefiting from an influx of people buying food and drinks, and the Olsons benefiting from having a space that takes little time to set up and also offers on-site storage for the show’s set up materials.
“I learned a lot about marketing. It’s not just open the doors and people will come,” Erick says. “My biggest tip would be to Google what to do in the area your venue is in and see what comes up,” Erick says. “Then make sure your venue is listed on every single thing there is to do. 90% of it is free.” And while specific strategies vary, both Kim and Erick also agree that social media is important in getting people to come to a show. “We’ve had good luck with Facebook ads,” Kim says. These ads are useful because you can target people in your area who might have ‘Liked’ pages that relate to magic.
Equally important to having consistent shows is having a rotating cast of performers. Erick initially wanted to perform each week, but soon realized he needed to take a different approach. “I was getting locals coming back every week,” he explains, “and I didn’t have enough new material for them. Nobody does, really.”
Erick and Kim solved this problem by inviting other magicians to perform, which brought enough variety to the show that people kept coming back. “You should at least have some different acts that locally can rotate so it can be fresh as often as possible,” Erick says. “That keeps your base coming back instead of saying ‘Oh, I’ve seen that guy before.’” The expectation of different acts and performers has been a boon for Wizardz. As Erick explains, regulars “know they can come back and they’re not going to see the same thing for at least six months.”
The quality of the acts is also essential, of course. “Seeing good magic makes me feel like a kid again,” long-time regular Robert explains. “I still get great joy and entertainment when I see magic performed well, and Wizardz has provided me with seeing well-performed magic via some of the top-notch performers they’ve brought in over the last nine years.”
These tips, combined with the willingness to work hard, are crucial to the success of a show. But each show in each town faces unique challenges. To help troubleshoot these challenges, the Olsons offer one-on-one consulting support to help others navigate the specific nuances, variables and challenges that inevitably arise when one builds a show from the ground-up.
The Olsons also point out that hard work is necessary but not sufficient; another requirement for a successful show is that the producers have a passion and love for the art. “We truly believe that if you are in it for the money, your chances of being sustainable are slim,” explains Kim. “If you are doing it for the love of magic and to bring a magical experience to people’s lives, you will have much success.”
And there’s no doubt the Olsons have a deep love of magic—visit the Seralago on any Monday night to see their passion and enthusiasm firsthand. And if you share their love of magic and want to build your local magic community, get in touch with the Olsons—they can help you start a show of your own.
I’ve gotta’ be honest, readers, sleight routines set to music are a really hard sell for me these days. They just seem really dated, and not in a cool, Steve Cohen golden age kind of way. Like in that kind of 80’s, crushed-velvet lounge kind of way. I mean, yeah, if you’re Shin Lim, go nuts, but even he ventures dangerously close to cheese territory sometimes. Also leave Hans Zimmer alone, his music is meant for epic space operas, not your plate spinning routine.
So when I realized South Korean magician, Jeki Yoo’s, recent appearance on Steve involved not just a musical routine, but one involving a Rubik’s cube (don’t get me started), my heart sank. But my obnoxious cynicism was ill placed, because as you can tell from the video above, Yoo’s routine was really good.
Yoo discovered magic after the tragic death of his mother in 2002, and by late 2006, he’d already taken first place at The Busan International Magic Festival. Since then he’s been racking up international awards like a mad man, including an IBM close-up magic award. He also holds a Guinness World Record for quick changing. He managed to change into eight outfits in just 30 seconds. For reference, it took me a minute-and-a-half to put my shoes on this morning. He came to mainstream attention after he reached the judge cuts of America’s Got Talent season 12, and has been doing his thing around the world ever since.
I’ll get my coat.
While we were doing a little digging into Matt Marcy following his fantastic performance on Fool Us earlier this week, we came a short web comedy series he wrote and stared in back in the heady days of 2015. It’s actually really good.
Disillusioned is a no-holds-barred look at the life of a professional magician “struggling to find love, success and respect in an art form that really doesn’t get any.” It was obviously made on a bit of a shoe string budget and the first episode is pretty rough, but for the most part Matt writes and plays the part of a enthusiastic, if slightly obnoxious, jobber magician with a suspicious level of accuracy. It won Best comedy Web Series at something called the Hollyweb New Media Festival a while back, but sadly seems to have languished in YouTube’s bowels ever since, with the last episode getting just over a thousand views.
Which is such a shame because while Marcy has since gone onto bigger and better things, there’s a sharp satirical edge in Disillusioned that really works.
You can see the whole series, here.
— Mat Franco (@MatFrancoMagic) June 27, 2018
Mat Franco has lived on this tiny ball of water and rock for thirty years. During that brief time, he’s developed a reputation as a man of focus and deception. A man who performs. A man of magic. A magician.
He was performing last night. Having spent the last hour demonstrating feats of cunning and dexterity, the America’s Got Talent winner took on his greatest challenge to date: Climbing a short set of stairs. A herculean task indeed.
As you can see from the video above, Franco was faced with three steps, four if you include the stage itself. He started strong, taking the first two steps cleanly with a lithe extension of his right leg that ended with a firmly planted right foot, but his overconfidence came at a cost. His left foot snagged on the first step, shifting his weight perilously forward. There was a sharp intake of breath amongst the crowd as gravity continued its dark work, pulling the magician towards the earth – towards defeat, and a thousand retweets of a hastily edited gif. But that is a fate meant for lesser men. Not Mat Franco. Not the magician, Mat Franco. With the last of his strength he hurled himself forward, gambling his safety and his dignity on one final effort. Like an aeroplane transforms forward momentum to flight, Franco transformed his stumble into a roll fraught with desperate grace. He rolled across his back, legs tucked into an undignified turtle squat until, eventually, he’s once against facing the stage. Finally, he makes it to his knees, arms open like a tiny, magic-performing Atlas grasping the world. He stops a moment for applause, having triumphed not only over the stairs, but over gravity, a fundamental force exerted by the universe itself. He waits for a beat, two. Then, slowly, but with indisputable purpose, Mat Franco rises.
The rest of the show was pretty good too, I’ve heard.
Any parent can tell you that children are preternaturally gifted when it comes to making small objects disappear. Spoiler: It’s up their nose, and yes, you have to go to the emergency room right now. A french airline is looking to channel your child’s natural propensity for lies and theft into a more useful, less dangerous, field, the study of magic.
One of the many entertainment programmes offered to proto-humans onboard Air France flights is a series of magic tutorials that teach them how to use objects found in their “games kit” to perform simple magic tricks. The announcement from Air France doesn’t give any details as to what kind of tricks are available other than to say they were designed by an air steward who moonlights as a magician, but the French do have a notoriously laissez faire attitude towards child safety laws – they let them drink wine and everything – so if little Timmy starts eating razor blades or sawing his sister in half, at least you can be comfortable in the knowledge that he’ll likely end up performing at The Magic Castle one day.
As it is, your kid probably has twenty different electronic devices vying for their attention at all times, but the terrible quality of in-flight wi-fi means a long-haul flight is likely your only chance to break that Fortnite addiction and teach them a thing or two about sleight-of-hand.
Might I suggest you start with a french drop?
In yesterday’s writeup of The Sentimentalists’ successful appearance on Penn & Teller Fool Us, I included a clip of Matt Marcy’s hilarious opening gag from his performance on the show. Now we have the full video, I can unfortunately confirm that the majestic levitating shark does not make an appearance. Instead, Marcy performed a card trick.
A pretty funny card trick, to be fair.
Marcy has been performing as a magician, comedian, emcee, and keynote speaker for two decades now, and has over 3,000 performances under under his belt. The guy has performed at The Magic Castle over a thousand times. He’s done shows for countless high-end corporate clients and literally hundreds of venues around North America. He’s also got a long string of television appearances to his name, including this latest one on Fool Us.