The world’s greatest stage magician, David Copperfield, had a long run of 17 TV specials before settling down into his permanent residency at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he still performs 15 shows a week. On one of his long-ago TV specials, he debuted a trick that would become a classic in the world of magic, “The Linking Cards,” created by the cleverest guy in the world, Paul Harris. Enjoy this blast from the past.
There are plenty of innovative magicians who have turned their phones from pocket-sized computers into magic tricks. One of the latest efforts to make the impossible happen with a phone is a trick called Starlight from Paul Harris and Chris Perrotta. Harris, in case you didn’t know, is pretty smart about the whole magic thing.
When Starlight goes into action, the beam of light from a phone will reveal two symbols on a playing card, so potentially two letters (say, a viewer’s initials) or a number and a symbol (such as to reveal the card chosen by an audience member).
Magicorthodoxy has a review of the product, and he’s generally into the gimmick. Starlight gets brownie points for being well made and easy to use, but he did express concerns about the device being a bit fragile.
If you’re excited by what Starlight has to offer for your act, you can pick it up from Murphy’s Magic.
Magic has an interesting problem: very few members of the public actually know the origins of many of the tricks that they love. Paul Harris, magician and inventor of many of those tricks, discussed how to solve that problem in a special conversation with Michael Weber at Genii Convention 2017.
“With magic, it’s assumed that the person performing [a trick] is the creator,” Harris says. “The act of highlighting magic as an artform is done through informing the public that there’s a lineage.”
He then gave an analogy, referencing the hit television show, America’s Got Talent. One of the magicians who won the coveted Golden Buzzer performed his trick 100% out of the box—the patter, the method, everything—but his illusion was presented as his own. Meanwhile, singers, actors, and other talented performers specifically mention their influences, who wrote the song they’re about to sing, and so on. While presenting in the trick in this way makes the magicians stand out, it also means that the audience remains disconnected with the larger history of magic.
Harris doesn’t know quite how to solve this problem, but he has a few ideas. Say you go to the Magic Castle, Harris explains, and “at the end of each performance they gave out a little sheet that showed who the magician’s teachers were, who his influences were” like a playbill would at a theatre. Or maybe an act could tell people the trick was, Harris describes, invented by Tony Slydini, who spent years learning the trick, who then taught his student, who spent years learning it, who then taught the current performer—that way the audience knows that the trick has roots spreading through decades of time.
Harris is hopeful that future magicians will figure this out, though. “There’s more being done in magic in the last ten years,” he says, with David Blaine’s live show and the myriad television shows and YouTube channels highlighting the art of magic. Now they just need to connect with the history and show it to the world.