Dai Vernon described Charlie Miller as one of the best card handlers he had ever encountered. Although the two were a generation apart in age, they began a friendship that would last through their lifetimes. Miller would become a remarkable magical maestro in his own right.
The nature of the variety arts is such that there have always been, and shall always be, unsung heroes. I can tick off a list of performers who had significant impact on me in the course of my life in magic, whose names would mostly be recognized by locals who shared the same geography.
He builds illusions his own particular way, generally with full-scale constructions rather than computer simulations or miniature models. He emphasizes that real-world performance is vastly different than theory on paper or screen, and thus his old world skill set delivers the most modern of solutions for every conceivable variety of need and application. I literally cannot imagine the skills it requires to restore or recreate the automata that fuel Gaughan’s passion, but I am truly wondrous every time I see one of his performances with them.
On the first weekend of January, my partner, Ann Coleman, and I took my twin stepsons, Dexter and Grayson, now 14 years old, to Los Angeles for a three-day adventure, in the concluding days of their winter break before returning to ninth grade. This was the “J-Pa Knows A Guy” road trip (a sort of running family joke about me), that included magic, music, meals and more.
While Vernon’s focus was on sleight-of-hand magic with playing cards and other small objects, his vision was such that it would eventually impact the entirety of performance magic, from its largest stage illusions down the smallest feat performed with a single coin.
Magicana has added a new archive of films of magicians, shot between 1976 and 1981 by Canadian collector Larry Thornton. In this Take Two, I have selected nine newly discovered vintage films, featuring six previous Take Two subjects, with links to the original essays to guide you along the way.
Canasta’s approach was startlingly original and so ahead of its time as to render him the subject of widespread criticism within the magic world by those who didn’t get it—and it would take another half century before they would. This didn’t have much of an impact on Canasta’s success...
When Bill Larsen wrote about him in a cover feature of Genii magazine in 1975, he began with this: “If my readers were asked to name the top ten close-up magicians in the world today, it is quite possible the at the name Jimmy Grippo would not be included. However, this same Jimmy Grippo probably comes close to heading the list (or possibly heads the list) but because he keeps a low profile, many magicians around the country do not know of him.”
"...in addition to being a great performer, Fantasio was an extraordinary and innovative inventor. His original effects with canes and candles, that appeared, disappeared, changed places and changed colors, became among the very best selling items for silent and manipulative stage acts, and influenced countless magicians who strove to follow in the maestro’s steps."
J.C. Wagner was a wonderful magician and a skilled and creative sleight-of-hand performer. Like most professional close-up performers, he was no household name, he wasn’t much known beyond the community of magic. But his life amounted to a stellar conjuring resumé ...