Magicians & Airport Security

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Postby Guest » 02/07/02 02:31 PM

I've been wondering if the new airport security measures, particularly the inspection of checked luggage, has made it difficult or impossible for magicians to carry our normal compliment of props? We like to use unusual items in our performances, things most inspectors would think at least suspicious... anyone having any bad experiences?
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Postby Guest » 02/07/02 03:04 PM

I went through with two coin purses of coins and gaffs, a Jumbo coins, TT, and silks. It was in my laptop bag in a velcro pocket.

The bag had to be searched after going through the x-ray machine. The guy searching searched every compartment EXCEPT the magic pocket.

Then right before I boarded the plane I was patted down and the bag was searched again. Again, they opened up every part of the bag except this velco pocket.

I was kinda glad I did not have to explain what jumbo coins and shells etc. are to security.

I am very curious to hear what other magician's experiences with magic props in carry on luggage.

Dan
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Postby Guest » 02/07/02 04:18 PM

I'm curious also if anyone flies with a "show tech", and how they protect it, and if they have to explain it.
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Postby Brian Marks » 02/07/02 08:22 PM

My bag got searched and they went through my coin purse with a shell. Since they didn't know what it was and it obviously was NOT a threat to the security, they didn't ask.
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/07/02 10:23 PM

Going thru Tokyo they took EVERYTHING out, even un-nested my 9 bottle set.. I FIND YHAT HAVING A WOODEN THIMBLE HANDY IS THE BEST ITEM TO DO A FEW MOVES WITH TO prove' YOU'RE A MAGE.

I may have to fedex my switchblade knife and blank gun ahead...

It is no easier for us travelling pro photographers... lotsa battery chargers and goofy electronic stuff... glad I'm semi retiring and knocking out my weekly flying.
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 06:10 PM

Pre 11th September, I was talking with a fellow magician who snuck lighter fluid through airport security in an aftershave bottle so he wouldn't have to buy a new bottle after every flight.

It reminds me of the troubles that the swiss army knife company were having. They make alot of money selling knives in airports and to overseas travellers at suty free stores. Since 9/11 sales have dropped dramatically. So they now can the knives. Since you can't bring a can opener onto a plane, there is no risk and so people can travel with their swiss army knife!

Everytime I perform at the local casino I have to ask secuirty's permission to take my things in. Normally you are not allowed to take in bags.

I find it amusing that the only person they allow to bring a bag in has it filled with all of the things they don't want in the casino (rigged decks, poker chips etc.)
:D
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 06:11 PM

Pre 11th September, I was talking with a fellow magician who snuck lighter fluid through airport security in an aftershave bottle so he wouldn't have to buy a new bottle after every flight.

It reminds me of the troubles that the swiss army knife company were having. They make alot of money selling knives in airports and to overseas travellers at suty free stores. Since 9/11 sales have dropped dramatically. So they now can the knives. Since you can't bring a can opener onto a plane, there is no risk and so people can travel with their swiss army knife!

Everytime I perform at the local casino I have to ask secuirty's permission to take my things in. Normally you are not allowed to take in bags.

I find it amusing that the only person they allow to bring a bag in has it filled with all of the things they don't want in the casino (rigged decks, poker chips etc.)
:D
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Postby Guest » 02/10/02 12:25 AM

At a post Spetember lecture Chad Long mentioned that his magician's rope was taken away from him after being searched at the security checkpoint. There was fear that the rope could be used to restrain someone.
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Postby Eric Rose » 02/10/02 05:05 AM

I haven't had any problems post-9/11, but I will admit that I stopped carrying my color changing knife set. I always alert a person at the checkpoint that "You'll probably want to search this bag - there's a lot of odd things in it that will show up on your screen. I'm a magician." To date, no one has searched it. In fact, I was at Los Angeles International in November and had my Miller cups, a beautiful Trevor Duffey aluminum wand, about 20 Morgan dollars in a coin tube, and a 24" fast-and-loose chain in my case. I made my obligatory "you'll wanna search it" line and put the bag onto the x-ray. The technician stopped it, reversed it to look again, called two others over, they chattered quietly to each other and one looked at me and said 'magician'. I put on my best cheesy smile and waved and the three of them smiled and waved like I was the celebrity of the week. They passed the bag without even opening it. No wonder they call the Los Angeles airport lax.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/02 06:08 AM

Anyone here know what the rules are regarding flashpaper/cotton and hand-held ignition devices? I've got a custom-modified flint flasher that I leave at home, not least because I'm afraid the sniffer gizmos will detect the flashpaper residue and trigger an airport shutdown.
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/10/02 10:08 AM

Wouldn't it be nice if one could go to a security desk for an "advisory check"? To find out what goes... and what doesn't meet the rules.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/10/02 11:07 AM

Originally posted by Ralph Bonheim:
Anyone here know what the rules are regarding flashpaper/cotton and hand-held ignition devices?


I think FAA rules have always prohibited "explosives", even before Sept. 11. Flashpaper, flash string and flash cotton are full of nitrocellulose, a powerful explosive.

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Postby Areeb Malik » 02/10/02 12:15 PM

I just got asked what type of notepad I was using. (Thought Transmitter) They were ready to rip it apart when I finally gave in and showed the girl how it works. Hey, it's that or the thing would have been destroyed, I would have been detained, questioned for hours...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/10/02 12:49 PM

Areeb, I think any of us would've explained its workings at that point.
Your name sounds like you're of Arab descent. If that's true, have you noticed that you've been treated differently going through security at the airport?
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/10/02 03:07 PM

Last April 2 (note the date) at Salt Lake City airpoet, the security lady asked me to put my bag on an inspection table. No problem I figured... when you carry 40lbs of camera gear, a laptop and all kinds of batteries and chargers, this happens about half the time.Now she doesn't open the bag--it had been x-rayed--and says, You can go, but the bag stays.

HUH!

I asked for a supervisor to explain... she keeps stalling, etc.. my flight is boarding... finally she says, "APRIL FOOL."

I said if I did something like this I'd be arrested, and if this wasn't the last flight out I'd have you arrested.

Argh... I'm too easy on people...

Like the time Tony Georgio knocked me to the floor one night at the Castle (I forgave him because he appeared to have had too much to drink.)

In retrospect I should have made a formal complaint. :mad:
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Postby Guest » 02/11/02 09:20 AM

Hi Pete,

Funny you should say this, I had a friend who missed his flight because of his old Lumedyne batt pack and flash.

The batt pack is pretty weird looking and was drained, so he couldn't "flash on demand". They made him plug it in and charge it to "prove" it was a flash pack.

This was just enough to make him miss his plane.

Now the interesting thing was, he was not mad about it at all. He thought it was great that when they saw something they thought was strange they made a stink about it.

Best,

Dan-


Originally posted by Pete Biro:
It is no easier for us travelling pro photographers... lotsa battery chargers and goofy electronic stuff... glad I'm semi retiring and knocking out my weekly flying.
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Postby Areeb Malik » 02/11/02 10:39 AM

Hi Richard, I am of Indian origin but I definately "fit the profile". I don't think I am treated too differently though from most people because I know everyone is getting questioned regardless of race, origin etc...

This is something we will have to live with until we have bio-metric ID cameras plastered all over the airports. ;)
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Postby Oliver Corpuz » 02/11/02 11:22 AM

I actually had a pleasant experience...

Recently when I was going through Houston Hobby to catch a connecting flight back home to Chicago, I was pulled aside after going through a security check point. My carry on bag was flagged to be searched... aparently because of my jumbo coins. A very cute security gal kindly asked me to step over to a table and allow her to search my carry-on. After swabbing it for explosive residue, she opened one compartment of my backpack, reached in, pulled out a rubber chicken and looked at me, apparently wanting an explanation. After a moment of awkward silence, I whispered in her ear that my flight didn't serve a meal. She started laughing hysterically. She turned my back pack over, and it made a mooing sound. More laughter. She opened up a brown paper bag and a bunch of red sponge balls spilled all over. As she examined them, I told her they'd turn blue if you squeeze hard enough. She tried and after they didn't turn blue, I admited I said that only to get her to play with my balls. Even more laughter. I cracked a joke or did a gag each time she pulled somthing "suspicious" out. By the time she was done searching we were both out of breath from laughing. Even my poor friends accompanying me on that trip were in tears from my antics. That was the most fun I ever had being searched. My only regret is that I didn't have a clatter box with me.

:)
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Postby Guest » 02/11/02 12:11 PM

Reminds me of a true story...

Among the many untraditional aspects of my wedding two and half years ago were the centerpieces at each table--instead of using actual flowers, we had a sculptor friend create artifical flowers out of tangled wire, tin snippings, and random baubles and found objects. They were lovely, and guests could take them home.

The day after the wedding, my aunt Martha -- a sweet, elderly German Jewish woman -- arrived at the airport to return to the west coast. Her tangled-wire centerpiece was packed in her carry-on bag, next to a large salami. The x-ray image created by this combination was alarming enough to alert even the somnolent pre-911 security force at La Guardia Airport. They frisked poor Aunt Martha vigorous and refused to open the bag to confirm her alibi, lest the salami bomb be booby-trapped.

Fortunately, the matter was resolved in time for her to barely make the flight.
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