Magic History Conference

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 11/13/05 11:58 PM

Was wondering if anyone would be able to share how it was, what went on, the highlights, and so on for those of us that were unable to attend.

It would be greatly appreciated. :)
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/14/05 10:36 AM

You might be able to acquire a program (beautifully done) form www.jimsteinmeyer.com or, or... read all about it with photos and great descriptions in a soon to be printed GENII MAGAZINE.

(RK: Fixed Pete's link!)
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Postby Michael Edwards » 11/14/05 04:53 PM

I was hoping that Dustin would put fingers to keyboard, but I guess he's too busy studying his Conjurers' Monthly...so I'll start. I'll leave it to others to fill in the blanks, add comments and assessments, and provide a deeper analysis of the proceedings. This overview is just to give you a general sense of the events and activities.

The Conference -- the ninth of these biannual gatherings -- was again held at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in North Hollywood. The hotel is now so closely associated with the Conference it is hard not to think of it as a participant.

The sessions began Thursday evening with five presenters: Jim Steinmeyer discussing two "footnotes" to his book on Chung Ling Soo: the fate of Dot Robinson and his take on the much repeated story of how Thurston fooled Herrmann with his rising cards; Todd Karr on Nate Leipzig, Roy Benson, and Fred Keating; Mike Caveney on Del Adelphia, the Cowboy Magician; David Charvet on Jack Gwynne and the Temple of Benares; and John Gaughan on Percy Selbit's Mighty Cheese.

The following morning participants had an opportunity to lift and at least scuffle with John's reproduction of the Cheese (if not actually wrestle it). The previous evening Mike Caveney remarked that the Cheese probably didn't have too much entertainment value and that we remember it largely as a result of the wonderful and whimsical 3-sheet poster of the effect...but after watching some of my colleagues grapple with the Cheese Friday morning, I can see how it could add a rather humorous turn to a variety bill.

The program reconvened Friday afternoon with talks that included Chris Woodward on Tommy Cooper; Mark Cannon on Harry Cooke; Tim Moore on the Karl Germaine Lock Trick; Bill Pack on "Discovering Magic City;" and Peter Lamont on Daniel Douglas Home (with a few side comments on one reviewer's view of his book on this subject).

That evening Patrick Page chatted about a British variety artist or two and about the Davenport Crypt; Richard Stokes rather vehemently tried to set the record straight on Jasper Maskelyne's wartime exploits; Chris Power provided a bit of an interlude on the British Museum; and former CIA director John Mclaughlin discussed how magic has played a role in his career and its relevance to the field of foreign intelligence.

On Saturday morning, participants gathered in small groups to see performances of Palingenesia, Dr. Lynn's illusion of murder as an illusion.

That afternoon, psychologist Richard Wiseman revealed some very early "film" of sleight of hand, predating the David Devant pictures most think of as the earliest examples of a magician on film; Karl Johnson discussed elements from his book on Dai Vernon quest to find Alan Kennedy and the center deal; and Bob Read took participants on his lengthy search for Arthur Watson. A very long afternoon was brought to a delightful conclusion by Mr. Mysto...though I suspect that participants would have stayed even longer just to look further at the wonderful apparatus from John Gaughan's collection that served as the stage setting for Mr. Mysto's performance!

The Conference closed Saturday evening with entertainment by Patrick Page, John Carney sharing some of his "A Lesson with Fawcett Ross," Mike Caveney demonstrating the Egg Bag (no, not the one of which you are thinking...a more traditional approach from which two dozen eggs and a chicken were produced); John Gaughan demonstrating the remarkable Maskelyne/Kellar automaton Psycho; and Mark Kalin & Jinger with some classic billiard ball manipulation, Devant's Window of the Haunted House, and closing with Alan Wakeling's wonderful Sawing.

Between sessions, one could spend some time in the Exhibit Room, which housed Psycho, Thayer's Flyto Illusion, a range of Nicola posters, two Gwynne illusions, and have his/her photograph taken as a three-headed person. Oh yes, the two dealers' rooms maintained a steady flow of guests as well.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/15/05 02:04 AM

Busy-busy indeed...but I couldn't have done it better myself Michael, thanks!

Genii will be publishing the details.

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Postby Guest » 11/15/05 09:39 AM

Also on Saturday night was John Carney doing Hofzinser's Rose Mirror, It was wonderful :-)
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Postby Matthew Field » 11/15/05 10:22 AM

Michael -- First rate reportage! Many thanks.

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Postby Pete Biro » 11/15/05 11:31 AM

Empty message, see next post (senior moment)!
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/15/05 11:32 AM

Except for a few brief visits to chat and lunch, I did see...

On Saturday morning, participants gathered in small groups to see performances of Palingenesia, Dr. Lynn's illusion of murder as an illusion.

This was a truly amazing effect. Imagine at the turn of the century where you brought someone out of the audience and chopped off a hand, an arm a leg, and finally the head...

This was beautifully constructed by Craig Dickens and performed by actors (that also are fine magicians) Neal Patrick Harris and Jonathan Levit.

This was so amazing... you could walk right up within feet of it and see a man standing there with his head missing and NOT HAVE A CLUE.

It was good fortune for me (and Genii readers) that Jim Steinmeyer let me right in, up close and photograph all the performance aspectes of this amazing illusion.

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Postby Tabman » 11/15/05 12:58 PM

Originally posted by Michael Edwards:
-- was again held at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in North Hollywood.
Seems like the Beverly Garland was a Howard Johnson Hotel years ago when we used to come out to play at The Palamino Club in West H'wood. We always stayed there. Great hotel.

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Postby JohnCox » 11/15/05 05:45 PM

Oh, man! How did I not know about this? I live 10 mins from the Beverly Garland. :(

Is there a mailing list I can sign up for so I don't miss the next one?

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Postby Pete Biro » 11/15/05 06:07 PM

It is by invitation... you need to contact the organizers. You have two years before the next one.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/17/05 02:06 PM

While I have a moment or two between meetings, I thought I would just mention some of my thoughts and highlights about this years conference.

First, as Ive said in the past, if there is only one magic event that Im allowed to attend, this is the one Id pick. This is not to say that other events are not good, its just that the LA Conference on Magic History is the one event that brings everything I love about magic together in one place. The producers do a phenomenal job. With most events, by the last day, I am ready to go home. With this event, I want more. Clearly they have found the perfect amount of time to dedicate to a magic get-together because, like all great entertainments, you are left wanting more, not glad that its finally over. Kudos and thanks to Mike Caveney, Jim Steinmeyer, John Gaughan, and Frankie Glass!

Besides the whole event itself, the biggest highlight for me was seeing the friends and acquaintancesold and newthat I have made over the years. From cartographers to photographers; scholars to actors; dealers to performers: I am so lucky in this regard. My only regret is that there is not enough time to spend with everyone.

All of the speakers were great, so by pointing out my favorites does not in any way mean that I didnt enjoy the others. Its just that there were several that covered subjects most interesting to me or that were particularly entertaining to me.

John Gaughans recreation of Selbits Mighty Cheese was a trip. Even though you know how its done, its still interestingand yes; entertainingto see it, especially when it seems to have a life of its own.

The clips of Tommy Cooper during Chris Woodwards talk were great. Dr. Timothy Moores talk on (and performance of) Germains Spirit Lock was a great delight for me (Germain is one of my guys). Later, Dr. Moore allowed me to hold the one-of-kind piece of apparatus as well.

Several have made a big deal about Peter Lamonts comments about the Jamy Swiss review of his book, but, while funny, it wasnt the funniest part of his talk. I still giggle when I think about him paraphrasing the gospels: I was in tears. (In regard to Jamy, who was just two rows behind me, he had just as good a laugh as everyone else at his expense).

Chris Power, who emerged long enough from his dungeon to give a talk on the British Museum, was another one of those from the British contingent at this years event whose humor I particularly enjoyed (Ive always loved the deadpan delivery of British humor).

Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Levits performance of Palingenesia was spectacular! I really enjoy these reenactments of old entertainments such as this that the conference puts on. I know that an unbelievable amount of time and resources goes into these once in a lifetime performances, so I soak em up as much as possible. I put myself in a mindset of being completely unaware of optics and other well-known principles and just allow myself to be amazed. Jim Steinmeyer (designer) and Craig Dickens (builder) are to be congratulated as well on this incredible illusion.

Mr. Mysto (John Carney) attempting to perform with every piece of antique apparatus he acquired (borrowed from the John Gaughan collection) was a hoot! But even with all this amazing old apparatus surrounding him, my favorite moment was when Mysto went over his list in order to make sure he didnt miss anything; a wonderful touch!

Speaking of Carney, his performance of Hofzinsers Rose Mirror on Saturday evening was wonderful (as was his entire turn). Carney will be performing his show in Hollywood again in December. If you are in the LA area, be sure to see it! Hopefully he will be adding the Mirror to the program.

Mike Caveneys performance of the Egg Bag, where he produces two-dozen or so eggs from a cloth bag, had me scratching my head a few times. And Kalin and Jinger are, to me, two of the most talented and inspiring performers in magic today. What a great way to close a great event!

As usual, the dealers rooms were a hub of activity (though the air conditioning seemed to be lacking somewhat) and I picked up a few treasures. Tops on the list was a first edition of Greater Magic signed by Jean Hugard. This was part of Max Holdens original allocation of books which he sold upon its release. Offering editions signed by Hugard was Holdens marketing ploy to get magicians to buy the book from his shops instead of his competitors. I also acquired a nice first edition Hatton & Plate, but I waited too long and missed out on a nice copy of Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena to Dr. Albo of all people! (Cmon; he must already have a copy!) Much to my wifes pleasure, I did arrive home with money still in my wallet: a miracle!

I was sorry to not see George Daily this year, who was under the weather and couldnt make it. (I hope youre feeling better George! I hope to see you in April!) I also missed seeing Michael Weber who was not in attendance this year. Perhaps hes still looking for his special copy of Extraordinary Exhibitions.

While I mentioned that it was great seeing so many great people, there are a few I would like to mention in particular. It was great seeing Michael Albright again. It seems the only time I get to see him is at this event, so that makes it that much more special to me. Its always nice to see Norm and Lupe Nielsen, who have become my personal interior decorators of late. Seeing Mark Kalin and Jinger is always a great pleasure for me. They are wonderful people as well as wonderful performers. And finally, to Bill Bowers, whose kindness and generosity is beyond compare. I have no idea how I could ever repay such gestures, except to give you my everlasting admiration and respect.

Thanks!
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Postby magicam » 11/17/05 05:55 PM

Michael and Dustin,

Thank you for the narratives. Filled in a few gaps for things I couldn't attend.

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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/17/05 08:02 PM

Originally posted by DustinStinett:
Neil Patrick Harris . . .performance of Palingenesia was spectacular!
Harris just happened to be interviewed on Fresh Aire on Public Radio tonight, but didn't mention this credit.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/17/05 11:34 PM

It would be a tough one to put on a resum!

"Played guy who slices a 'volunteer' (Levit) to bits; uses 'Palingenesia technology' to regenerate him whole again; gets stabbed to death in the end by 'volunteer'..."

Ewwwwwww.
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Postby Guest » 11/25/05 11:39 AM

Any chance someone could email me the address for the conference? I threw away my confirmation letter and it isn't in the program. I'd like to drop them a note of appreciation for another terrific weekend. Thanks!
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/25/05 12:40 PM

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Postby Guest » 11/25/05 03:14 PM

Thanks, Pete. But I've roamed all over the site and there isn't a mailing address - just email and fax. But thanks for trying!!
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