Menu
Menu

So the video above likely requires some explanation for those of you whose nerdery is limited solely to the magical arts. E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a yearly videogame conference. The main attraction is essentially a series of giant stage presentations in which overworked game creators display legitimate marvels of technology that took hundreds of thousands of collective hours of painstaking work to make, in a foolhardy bid to please a swarm of miserable gremlins on Twitter who will pounce upon any perceived flaw in the presentation as evidence that the product is irredeemable trash garbage that must be hurled into the ocean. As both a Twitter and pedantry enthusiast, it’s my favorite event of the year. Naturally, I think all of this year’s games look terrible. 

But there was an interesting presentation in which Penn Jillette joined Gearbox CEO, Randy Pitchford, (who for disclosure purposes I should mention is the owner of GeniiOnline) to perform a trick or two and talk about their upcoming collaborative project, Penn & Teller VR. While other developers might be trying to push the virtual reality medium forwards with immersive, narrative-driven experiences that speak to the audience on a personal level, Pitchford and Jillette are engaged in a far more noble pursuit: using the technology to scare the crap out of people. Indeed, it seems like Penn & Teller VR: Frankly Unfair, Unkind, Unnecessary & Underhanded, to use its full title, is basically a collection of mini-games designed to lull your victim into a false sense of security before you dump spiders on them or drop them off a (virtual) building.

This isn’t the first time Gearbox has collaborated with Penn & Teller on a VR project. Back in 2017, they released a virtual reality remake of Jillette’s magnum opus, Desert Bus. 

Even if videogames aren’t your thing, the pair still have time to pontificate on the nature of magic and how to translate that into interactive entertainment, which is a genuinely interesting topic. Plus, watching Pitchford and Jillette bounce off each other is always fun.  

A good promotional video doesn’t sell a magician, it sells a mood. This trailer for Mark Haslam’s one-man show, The Secret Class, is – and you’ll have to excuse the pun – a masterclass in nostalgia. From the quick cuts between sepia-toned magic ephemera to Haslam’s effortlessly charming, honeyed diction, the video immediately conveys a kind of intense yearning for a bygone golden age of magic. And that fits perfectly. The show follows a gentle narrative that draws heavily from Haslam’s childhood discovery of magic. To quote his website:

If details are important for magic, they’re even more crucial for a story, and for theirs Mark and Gordon drew on Mark’s experiences growing up in his Lake District village, where birdwatchers up from London nest in the hotels, and where natural vistas celebrated by Wordsworth are visible outside classroom windows.

While The Secret Class is billed as a one-man show, it’s not completely a solo joint. Magic writer, inventor, and former head librarian at The Magic Castle, Gordon Bean, is the show’s co-creator and co-producer. Marcus Dillistone and Andy Street contributed cinematic images and original music, respectively.  

The trailer was shot back in September of last year, during two consecutive evening performances at The Peacock Theatre in Frisco, also known as, “my boss’s house.” Yep, GeniiOnline owner and Gearbox Software CEO, Randy Pitchford, has a fully featured, vaudeville variety theatre in his goddamn house. I suppose technically I helped build it, considering how many of his games I’ve bought over the years.

For the record, while Bean and Pitchford go way back – they met in the late 90’s at The Magic Castle – I wouldn’t be covering The Secret Class if it wasn’t good. 

Haslam and Bean have yet to announce any future dates for the show, but rest assured we’ll let you know when they do. 

For many magicians, their first visit to the Magic Castle is almost a religious experience. It’s a place where illusionists and magic fans can watch some of the best performers in an intimate setting, and perhaps even learn a thing or two from them. For magician and Genii Magazine/GeniiOnline owner Randy Pitchford, his first visit to the Castle was also the same day he auditioned to perform there. In the last part of our seven-part interview with Randy at GeniiCon 2017, he talks about his time at the Magic Castle and what it’s meant to him through the years.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:

Part one: On his start in magic

Part two: On inheriting Genii and bridging the gap between the classical and digital worlds

Part three: On discovering magic in the 21st century: “We have something that’s both worse and better”

Part four: On the two kinds of magicians

Part five: On curating his social media experience

Part six: On the most important thing young magicians have: time

When you try to imagine how much time it takes for an illusionist to perfect the tricks they perform, Randy Pitchford wants you to know that that number you have in your head is nowhere near the actual amount of time they spent. In part six of our seven-part interview at GeniiCon 2017, magician and Genii Magazine/GeniiOnline owner Randy Pitchford gives his advice for young magicians looking to improve their abilities. For him, it comes down to one thing: you have to put in the time.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:

Part one: On his start in magic

Part two: On inheriting Genii and bridging the gap between the classical and digital worlds

Part three: On discovering magic in the 21st century: “We have something that’s both worse and better”

Part four: On the two kinds of magicians

Part five: On curating his social media experience

Part seven: Randy Pitchford’s first time at the Magic Castle

Magician and Genii Magazine/GeniiOnline owner Randy Pitchford is perhaps more widely known for his work in video games, and as such his Twitter experience is… unique. In part five of our seven-part interview with at GeniiCon 2017, Randy dives into how he’s transitioned from using Twitter as strictly a place to broadcast information into using it as a way to engage with video game fans and magicians alike.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:

Part one: On his start in magic

Part two: On inheriting Genii and bridging the gap between the classical and digital worlds

Part three: On discovering magic in the 21st century: “We have something that’s both worse and better”

Part four: On the two kinds of magicians

Part six: On the most important thing young magicians have: time

Part seven: Randy Pitchford’s first time at the Magic Castle

When Randy Pitchford was just getting his start in magic, he quickly learned that there were two kinds of magicians: those who acted as mentors and helped budding performers like himself, and those who prefer to keep their knowledge close to their chests. In part four of our seven-part interview at GeniiCon 2017, Randy talks about learning magic from the greats, hiding his lineage and learning who people really were as a result, and how we need their knowledge more than ever in the digital age.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:

Part one: On his start in magic

Part two: On inheriting Genii and bridging the gap between the classical and digital worlds

Part three: On discovering magic in the 21st century: “We have something that’s both worse and better”

Part five: On curating his social media experience

Part six: On the most important thing young magicians have: time

Part seven: Randy Pitchford’s first time at the Magic Castle

As time marches on, the landscape around us changes. The local magic shops in our towns may disappear, but the internet then acts as a way for people, no matter their age or background, to discover the joy of performing illusions. In part three of our seven-part interview series with magician and Genii Magazine/GeniiOnline owner Randy Pitchford, he talks about how what we have now is both “worse and better”; how the internet is able to provide anyone with the information they need to succeed, but how the sense of community and physicality a brick-and-mortar magic shop provides is difficult to replace in a virtual context.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:

Part one: On his start in magic

Part two: On inheriting Genii and bridging the gap between the classical and digital worlds

Part four: On the two kinds of magicians

Part five: On curating his social media experience

Part six: On the most important thing young magicians have: time

Part seven: Randy Pitchford’s first time at the Magic Castle

With roots in both magic and game development, Randy Pitchford find himself in a unique position—which of course makes him the best person to take over for Genii Magazine and continue its legacy. In part two of our seven-part interview with Randy at GeniiCon 2017, he talks about inheriting the Genii brand, how he hopes to bridge the gap between the classic magic world and the modern, digital age, and how he attempts to find his own way beyond his own family’s magical legacy.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:

Part one: On his start in magic

Part three: On discovering magic in the 21st century: “We have something that’s both worse and better”

Part four: On the two kinds of magicians

Part five: On curating his social media experience

Part six: On the most important thing young magicians have: time

Part seven: Randy Pitchford’s first time at the Magic Castle

Magician and Genii Magazine/GeniiOnline owner Randy Pitchford has been practicing his craft for years, but everyone has to get their start somewhere. In the first part of our seven part interview with Randy, he talks about the beginnings of a life in magic, from his relation to the Great Cardini, to his college days working in a magic shop in Los Angeles and joining the Academy of Magical Arts and performing at the Magic Castle.

For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:  

Part two: On inheriting Genii and bridging the gap between the classical and digital worlds

Part three: On discovering magic in the 21st century: “We have something that’s both worse and better”

Part four: On the two kinds of magicians

Part five: On curating his social media experience

Part six: On the most important thing young magicians have: time

Part seven: Randy Pitchford’s first time at the Magic Castle