Many of us about the magical contributions of Harry Houdini or Dai Vernon; we know the famous posters for Charles Joseph Carter or Howard Thurston. But what about the women who have formed the backbone of magic history but always seem to end up in the background? Michigan native Jaina Taylor wants to shine a light on their lives with a free, public lecture in April.

The lecture, called “Those Magical Dames”, will take place on Tuesday, April 17 at 7pm at the North Central Michigan College Student and Community Resource Center gymnasium. Taylor, a graduate from the Chavez Studio of Magic, will discuss, according to the program description:

…six overlooked female magicians, starting with those that paved the way back in the 1800s, trouping shows by steamer ship and trains, then, as time went on, to those performing on modern-day stages. Audiences will get a peek at their trials and triumphs and will witness some of the magic that was performed in their shows. The lecture runs an hour with time for questions.  

Doors open for the lecture at 6pm. While admission is free, you’ll need to secure your spot with a quick email to or a phone call to (231) 348-6600. 

According her profile in The India Times, Suhani Shah is the only female magician in India. I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but she is certainly the most successful. Her career on the stage started at age seven and continues to this day, but she’s also a clinical hypnotherapist, corporate trainer, author and counselor. She’s given several TED talks on the interplay between magic and psychology. One of her videos on Facebook, in which she guesses the names of people’s secret crushes, has garnered over 11 million views.

Shah’s touring abroad required her to be home-schooled, yet despite her hectic schedule, she still excelled in her academic and sporting pursuits:

“I had a diploma in computers before I the age of 10, and have represented the state in swimming championships,” she said. “While I love my science, technology and sport immensely, I would choose the stage every time I had a choice.”

So why magic? “Because everybody chooses everything else,” she answers. That contrarian streak is a huge influence on her work. India’s magicians of old were staunch traditionalists, all glittery capes, gold laced turbans and rabbits in hats. Shah initially imitated those acts – early photos of her feature enough glitter and eyeliner to bring David Bowie back from the dead – but she quickly developed a taste for the less fanciful arena of mentalism.

“Because that is what I have been doing in my shows for a while now,” she explains. “Just you, me and a conversation – no props and I will tell you what you’re thinking.”