I've been approached by Andre Kole and his attorney regarding my original post here with the request that I modify my statements to reflect what they consider a more truthful rendition of what occurred during his performance at the IBM convention. I should add, at the outset, that I admire Andre Kole's creativity and enjoyed MOST of his performance--he's an old fashioned showman, and it's a pleasant change of pace to watch him instead of the atomic-paced acts of so many young magicians.
My original post, modified with more recent information, follows.
As a witness to this fiasco, I should add that afterward new president of the IBM David Sandy walked up to me and apologized. He said that he had no idea such a thing would take place. (From a letter Andre Kole has written to John Moehring, "I have been told that as a result of my patriotic presentation, the future contracts for performers [at the IBM convention] will state that if they use blue material or even refer to God or religion in a respectful way, they will not get paid.)
Andre Kole brought the show to an absolute dead stop for 9 minutes (not the 25 minutes I originally wrote) in order to perform an effect using a Square Circle in front of the curtain while several illusions were set up behind the curtain. The Square Circle routine involved placing three silks representing the Jews "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego" into the burning Square Circle (which failed to ignite), then reproducing them not burned. While the casual spectator who heard only the first part about Jews being tossed into the fire might have taken this to be anti-semetic, those who didn't tune out or leave would have heard the conclusion at which the three Jews (silks) survived the burning, an event which, according to the speaker, changed King Nebakanezer into a better person (or something along those lines). Andre has written to me, "Some of my closest friends are Jewish and I certainly would never make any anti-Semetic statements. My only reference to any religion was mentioning the admirable courage, convictions, and commitment of the outstanding young Jewish men in my illustration. It is ludicrous to imply anything otherwise."
As far as my earlier statement here that he "carried on about Jesus," Andre Kole has written to me, "No religion was promoted at any time in my presentation apart from my commentary about the bravery of the three Jewish young men ... The only time the name of 'Jesus' was mentioned was in connection with the quotes by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt when I mentioned Jesus' statement condemning hypocrites."
During all of this, the magicians in the theater did nothing, but when Kole started talking about the bad folks who want to remove "In God we Trust" from the dollar bill, etc., there were catcalls from the laymen in the balcony.
Subjecting people to his religious material (which he believes was not a religious presentation, but a "patriotic presentation" that was perfectly in line with the 4th of July period when the convention was taking place) was in the opinion of a number of people who attended, no different, and no less offensive, to people of other religions, or no religion, than what Penn & Teller did to people of religion.
Neither belonged in a magic convention.
I have offered Andre Kole the opportunity to discuss all of this and much more in a Genii cover story.