Some Final Thoughts by Michael Claxton
Women in magic are more visible now than ever before. Since I began publishing my series in The Linking Ring in 2006, female magicians have generated a great deal of interest. Various “Women in Magic” conferences have been held. The documentary film Women in Boxes came out in 2008. Celeste Evans released her autobiography I Can Still See Me in 2011. Margaret Steele discovered and published Adelaide Herrmann’s long-lost memoir in 2012. If you will forgive the shameless plug, my biography of Dell O’Dell called Don’t Fool Yourself appeared in 2014.
In 2016, The Magic Circle in England recognized the twenty-fifth anniversary of admitting its first female members. The tribute featured an all-female show, as well as a panel discussion on the challenges that women in magic still face. Even better, the one-hundred-plus-year-old organization had its first female president from 2021 to 2023. I like what Megan Swann wrote as she signed off her presidential column in the July 2023 issue of The Magic Circular: “Seeing so many girls in our Young Magicians Club also gives me hope for the future of women in magic, as the increased numbers will mean it’s less scary for any new girl joining our community.”
In 2019, Christ and Koben van Herwegen published their biography, Suzy Wandas: The Lady with the Fairy Fingers, and Charles Greene released Ionia: Magician Princess Secrets Unlocked in 2022. In 2021, Vanish magazine featured a cover image of British magician Josephine Lee that is made up of hundreds of photos of her female colleagues. The issue is dedicated to “Female Magicians through the Centuries.”
Back in 2018, Kayla Drescher co-created the Shezam podcast, an engaging series of conversations that confront topics relevant to women in magic. Kayla was recognized for her work with the 2022 Allan Slaight Award Sharing Secrets award. Connie Boyd has compiled over two hundred and fifty videos for her Magical Women YouTube channel, and has also earned well-deserved recognition from the community for her work in highlighting and showcasing female performers, including a Special Fellowship awarded to her by the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) in 2022.
In 2023, Lucy Darling (aka Carisa Hendrix)— the 2019 Allan Slaight Rising Star award recipient and the other co-creator of the Shezam podcast—won the AMA’s Stage Magician of the Year award for the second year in a row, while Juliana Chen was awarded a special Performing Arts Fellowship by the AMA. Another AMA award recipient Tina Lenert was the Guest of Honor at the 2023 SAM National Convention in New Orleans, and Nikola Arkane was recognized as the 2023 Allan Slaight International Rising Star recipient.
Rosemary Reid, a Canadian magician and historian of women in magic has done pioneering work on the career of Madame Konorah. In 2023, she and co-creator Lee Asher released a Kickstarter project called “The Sisterhood” deck of playing cards. It was inspired by the responses to a survey from over two hundred female magicians, and this data informed the design and symbolism of twelve illustrated court cards. These beautiful and compelling images are meant both to spark conversation and report on conversations that are ongoing among women in the field.
The old question “Where are the women in magic?” is much easier to answer now. The leading magic magazines now regularly feature female performers on their covers. Competition for vintage memorabilia of women magicians is increasing—just look at recent auction prices. It is an exciting time. Of course, challenges still remain, and representation is still not what many would like it to be. But the sheer number of visible role models of women who are flourishing in many different branches of magic is inspiring. It has been a great pleasure researching the performers past and present for this series, and I hope my modest efforts have added to this current wave of respect for the contributions women have made to our art.