The tireless scholars over at Magicana have managed to add more than 18 hours of footage from Spanish magic and variety show, Chan-tatachán, to their screening room. The footage has already been chopped up and archived, so you can search through it by performer or trick. As you might expect from the title, the show is delivered almost entirely in Spanish, though many of the tricks are silent, or work without verbal cues. As Magicana’s artistic director, David Ben, explains:
Even if, like me, your Spanish is inexistente there is still much to enjoy here. Great performances simply transcend the barrier that can be language. Twenty-five years on, Magicana is pleased to give this material the opportunity to astonish, entertain and inspire a whole new audience.
Chan-tatachán aired in Spain from 1992 through to 1993, and featured the talents of legendary magician, Juan Tamariz-Martel Negrón, better known as Juan Tamariz. A jovial but impeccably skilled card manipulator, Tamariz’s work in close-up magic is a major influence in the history of close-up magic, and his numerous texts on the subject are considered foundational by many. Alongside co-hosts Pedro Reyes and María Olvido Gara, better known as Alaska, Tamariz would perform tricks for celebrity guests, discuss magic, and introduce guest acts.
Luis Piedrahita and Tamariz himself supplied the footage of the show.
As a bonus, while the show aired in the early 90’s, it looks like it was still deep in that 80’s hangover when the show was shot. There is some amazing fashion in these clips, folks.
Spain is one of the best places in the world for magic today. Over the years, the country has produced some incredible talents and developments, particularly for card magic, and Juan Tamariz has been around for all of it. Depending on who you ask, he might even be one of the greatest of all time. The website Jot Down has published a lengthy interview with Tamariz, covering his many decades in magic as well as his ventures in film, books, television, teaching, and even physics.
We’d highly recommend any Spanish speakers to read the conversation in the original language, but Google Translate does a pretty admirable job of grasping the nuances of Tamariz’s thoughts. He’s a generous artist, and admits that he prefers to think of magic as a game rather than as a trick.
“Trick, at least in Spanish, has a pejorative tone. It comes very close in meaning to the word trap,” he said. “Art, on the other hand, has always had that side of deception, which in this case we could also call illusion, because in truth you can not deceive anyone if you say: ‘From this moment, do not trust me.’ The conjurer can never deceive you because he already warns you of who he is and what he is going to do. That’s why magic is not a hoax.”
Tamariz had many mentors and teachers as he honed his craft, but none of them were performing magic in the style that he wanted to see. In the early 70s, nobody was doing what he aspired to do as a magician:
When I entered the world of magic I noticed that there were very few professional magicians. On the one hand, there was the magician…who was dedicated to doing magic only for a while, after working and such, and that, with some exceptions, he focused it more as a [diversion] than as an art; and, on the other, there were those who acted in rooms, very elegantly dressed, in suits and such, and who made short, very musical shows, especially aimed at tourists. There were extraordinary wizards and magicians in those environments, but it was not what I wanted to do. Although I’ve always been a very elegant guy, I was not going to wear the tailcoat. I wanted to go dressed normally, I wanted to do close-up magic, card games, and I wanted to be talking all the time because I can not keep quiet for long.
Read the full, fascinating interview here.
It doesn’t get much more legendary than Juan Tamariz. This five DVD set covers more than two dozen tricks and techniques from Tamariz’s repertoire, including some he’s never published before. The final DVD in the set includes a master class in which he talks about the deaf technique for the first time.