LA History Conference attendees, details please!

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LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Travis » November 10th, 2013, 10:55 am

I'm dying to hear some reports from the LA Conference. Anyone there, please share some updates.

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Andrew Pinard
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Andrew Pinard » November 10th, 2013, 1:23 pm

Friend Lupe Nielsen on Facebook and read her updates and view her pictures... She has kept a number of us up to date (and disappointed that we weren't able to be there)...

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 10th, 2013, 1:43 pm

It was a fabulous Conference: the best in years. And the final night's show hit it out of the park. Dustin Stinett will have full coverage in the January Genii.
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby JohnCox » November 10th, 2013, 1:49 pm

I would love to attend one of these someday, but I can't seem to get myself on the invite list (I could have presented some great unseen Houdini material this year). But I was happy to get together with a few of the conventioneers at the Castle. It sounds like it was an exceptional conference this year.
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Daniel Bain
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Daniel Bain » November 10th, 2013, 3:03 pm

The Saturday evening show was superb.

Some of the original cast from the original Broadway Merlin show and others sat on chairs on stage and spoke and sang highlights from show. Was narrated by tv producer/writer Bill Link. Musician David Spear, who had worked with Merlin's composer Elmer Bernstein, conducted and did a great job playing piano as the cast sang their parts.

Musical performance was really good fun and well performed. While Link narrated the story and the cast sang one or more parts, "bootleg" photos and videos from the original show appeared on video screens throughout the theater. Whole thing somehow felt quite intimate--like sitting with a group of famous and talented friends re-enacting the show for us. Was a great start to the evening.

Afterwards, piano was rolled out of the way and stage cleared for performance of three historical stage illusions.

First, Mike Caveney performed the Carter Spirit Cabinet using a vintage Martinka cabinet that was a replica of Kellar's original cabinet. Was really an absolutely brilliant performance. The cabinet was assembled on stage before our eyes. The base of the cabinet was on 4 pedestals on rollers in each corner of the base. The back of the cabinet, made of accordion panels, was installed on the base as were the sides and front doors. Then the top was placed on the cabinet. Caveney had one volunteer watch from the back corner and another from the front to make sure for all of us that there was no hanky panky and that, surely, later manifestations could only be caused by the spirits. A variety of very impressive manifestations ensued both when the cabinet was opened and closed. A chair moved, a tambourine played, items were thrown from the windows in the cabinet, etc. As a climax, a large sheer cloth was shoved into the cabinet and later floated out of the cabinet like a Halloween ghost into the audience before floating back. Caveney humorously pointed out that we cannot now really be sure if one of the ghosts that visited on Halloween was actually a real spirit.

I'm sure many of us have read descriptions of the spirit cabinet and methods (in Mike Caveney's books and elsewhere)--but it was a real joy to see the effect so expertly performed in person. If you do not know the method, nothing was tipped by the performance. It was absolutely brilliant!

Second, Jim Steinmeyer and Lani Pelino presented a reproduction of the "Sawing an Egg" effect from Guy Jarrett's book. The effect is only briefly described in the book and I believe I saw a recall a simple diagram in the book (but am not sure). Steinmeyer successfully reproduced the apparatus to perform for a short stint at the Magic Castle and then at the L.A. conference. The "egg" is an oval shaped cage--with a slot down the center for a sword--that looks, because of the confined space, like some kind of horrendous torture device. A large metal sword was examined by the audience. Pelino curled up into fetal position and the egg was closed around her. Before she was locked in, it seemed impossible for anyone to fit in the small space. Each side of the egg was covered from view and then Steinmeyer cut the sword through the center. Thankfully, Pelino was still in one piece after the covers were removed. Very clever.

Finally, John Gaughan re-enacted the Astarte levitation which was originally developed in the 1880s and 1890s. Motif of the illusion and set was Victorian which added to the fun. In a nutshell, performer stood close to a wall and levitated, flipped upside down, walked in air, etc. with John Gaughan leading the show.

In all, the show was absolutely brilliant and the organizers did a great job reenacting a broadway play and performing some classic illusions.


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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Diego » November 10th, 2013, 5:44 pm


Yes, a wonderful conference and final show, but ASTARTE was a truly magical experience that lifted the audience out of their seats!

For me: Watching Rene Levend, Copperfield's "Flying", The Hooker Rising Cards, and now ASTARTE, will be among those few magical moments that will be relived always in my memory and hopefully again sometime in person in the future.

The Genius of John Gaughan, the performance skills of Mystina, and all those unseen made this a truly memorable magical moment!

Ken Trombly
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Ken Trombly » November 12th, 2013, 11:29 am

Thanks for an excellent write-up!
I agree that the Saturday night illusions were absolutely sensational. Astarte blew me away. And I wonder if Carter and others performed the spirit cabinet in a similar fashion, with the spirit coming out of the cabinet and over the audience. Extraordinary!

I also loved John Gaughan's performance of the Golem illusion, which was a real fooler.
John graciously allowed you to inspect the box later on in the exhibit room. What a wonderful piece of apparatus!

Of the speakers, Patrick Martin hit the ball out of the park with his very entertaining presentation on the life and career of Channing Pollock. Also, Mike Caveney's story of the magician Marquis was delivered in Mike's inimitable style, and was both funny and fascinating. I have a Marquis poster somewhere in a drawer that I was planning to sell, but I now will keep it for posterity. What a character!

Kudos to the organizers of this wonderful conference.

Other personal highlights for me were the obligatory visits to In and Out Burger, as well as Jerry's deli! As to those two, I am glad that I have two years to recover until the next LA Conference!

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Dustin Stinett » November 12th, 2013, 3:28 pm

Wait, wait, wait. I clearly missed something VERY important: There's an In N Out near by?

As for the rest of the Conference, I have to save my words for the article that will appear in the January issue.


John Signa
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby John Signa » November 12th, 2013, 3:49 pm

Ken Trombly wrote:Daniel,
And I wonder if Carter and others performed the spirit cabinet in a similar fashion, with the spirit coming out of the cabinet and over the audience.

Talking with Mike afterwards, the floating ghost was his addition. I believe he said with Carter a "spirit" might step out and walk around the cabinet, but not float out into the audience.

As for In 'n Out, there's one just few miles up Lankershim Blvd.

Lisa Cousins
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Re: LA History Conference attendees, details please!

Postby Lisa Cousins » November 20th, 2013, 2:20 pm

Here is a beautiful passage from the welcoming remarks printed in the Conference program:

"In many ways, every seance begins with feelings of longing and guilt. If we had only paid more attention, if we had engaged in more conversation, if we had cared more about the people around us, we wouldn't be so needy about their supernatural return. We recognize that every seance is a second chance, a desperate attempt to receive a message because, more than likely, we weren't listening the first time.

"Welcome to the Thirteenth Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. For many years we've had the honor of hosting our guests, inviting them to the soft autumn California sunshine and leading them through our unique seances devoted to the art and history of magic. Once again, for one long weekend, we'll have a chance to circle the table, join hands, sing our hymns, and hope for the very best. And this time, we'll be listening. We promise."

Congratulations on a great Conference.

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