Magic is one of the oldest performing arts in the world in which audiences are entertained by staged tricks or illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. These feats are called magic tricks, effects, or illusions, the term magic etymologically derives from the Greek word mageia. In ancient times, Greeks and Persians had been at war for centuries, ritual acts of Persian priests came to be known as mageia, and then magika—which eventually came to mean any foreign, unorthodox, or illegitimate ritual practice. The first book containing explanations of magic tricks appeared in 1584, during the 17th century, many similar books were published that described magic tricks. Until the 18th century, magic shows were a source of entertainment at fairs. A founding figure of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, John Henry Anderson was pioneering the same transition in London in the 1840s. Towards the end of the 19th century, large magic shows permanently staged at big theatre venues became the norm, as a form of entertainment, magic easily moved from theatrical venues to television magic specials. Performances that modern observers would recognize as conjuring have been practiced throughout history, for many recorded centuries, magicians were associated with the devil and the occult. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many stage magicians even capitalized on this notion in their advertisements. The same level of ingenuity that was used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as the Trojan Horse would also have used for entertainment. They were also used by the practitioners of various religions and cults from ancient times onwards to frighten uneducated people into obedience or turn them into adherents, however, the profession of the illusionist gained strength only in the 18th century, and has enjoyed several popular vogues since. Opinions vary among magicians on how to categorize a given effect, Magicians may pull a rabbit from an empty hat, make something seem to disappear, or transform a red silk handkerchief into a green silk handkerchief. Magicians may also destroy something, like cutting a head off, other illusions include making something appear to defy gravity, making a solid object appear to pass through another object, or appearing to predict the choice of a spectator. Many magical routines use combinations of effects, one of the earliest books on the subject is Gantzionys work of 1489, Natural and Unnatural Magic, which describes and explains old-time tricks. Among the tricks discussed were sleight-of-hand manipulations with rope, paper, at the time, fear and belief in witchcraft was widespread and the book tried to demonstrate that these fears were misplaced. All obtainable copies were burned on the accession of James I in 1603 and it began to reappear in print in 1651. In the early 18th century, as belief in witchcraft was waning, a notable figure in this transition was the English showman, Isaac Fawkes, who began to promote his act in advertisements from the 1720s – he even claimed to have performed for King George II. He throws up a Pack of Cards, and causes them to be living birds flying about the room and he causes living Beasts, Birds, and other Creatures to appear upon the Table
An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. Though illusions distort reality, they are shared by most people. Illusions may occur with any of the senses, but visual illusions are the best-known. The emphasis on visual illusions occurs because vision often dominates the other senses, for example, individuals watching a ventriloquist will perceive the voice is coming from the dummy since they are able to see the dummy mouth the words. Some illusions are based on general assumptions the brain makes during perception and these assumptions are made using organizational principles, an individuals capacity for depth perception and motion perception, and perceptual constancy. Other illusions occur because of biological sensory structures within the body or conditions outside of the body within one’s physical environment. The term illusion refers to a form of sensory distortion. Unlike a hallucination, which is a distortion in the absence of a stimulus, for example, hearing voices regardless of the environment would be a hallucination, whereas hearing voices in the sound of running water would be an illusion. Mimes are known for a repertoire of illusions that are created by physical means, the mime artist creates an illusion of acting upon or being acted upon by an unseen object. These illusions exploit the audiences assumptions about the physical world, well-known examples include walls, climbing stairs, leaning, descending ladders, and pulling and pushing. An optical illusion is characterized by visually perceived images that are deceptive or misleading, therefore, the information gathered by the eye is processed by the brain to give, on the face of it, a percept that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. The human brain constructs a world inside our head based on what it samples from the surrounding environment, however, sometimes it tries to organise this information it thinks best while other times it fills in the gaps. This way in which our brain works is the basis of an illusion, an auditory illusion is an illusion of hearing, the sound equivalent of an optical illusion, the listener hears either sounds which are not present in the stimulus, or impossible sounds. In short, audio illusions highlight areas where the ear and brain, as organic, makeshift tools. One example of an illusion is a Shepard tone. Interestingly, the areas activated during illusory tactile perception are similar to those activated during actual tactile stimulation. Tactile illusions can also be elicited through haptic technology and these illusory tactile objects can be used to create virtual objects. A temporal illusion is a distortion in the perception of time, in such cases, a person may momentarily perceive time as slowing down, stopping, speeding up, or running backwards
Sawing a woman in half
Sawing a woman in half is a generic name for a number of stage magic tricks in which a person is apparently sawn or divided into two or more pieces. There remains a debate about the origin of sawing illusions, with some saying a magician named Torrini may have performed the first version in front of Pope Pius VII in 1809. However it is likely that the story is a fiction which has its roots in the writings of the famous French magician Jean Robert-Houdin. In his Memoirs, written in 1858, Robert-Houdin described an illusion performed by a magician named Torrini. Modern magic inventor and historian Jim Steinmeyer has concluded there was probably no real Torrini. It was suggested during a case in 1922 that the trick can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Wherever the idea originated, until the 1920s it remained just an idea for an effect and it is generally accepted that the first public performance of a sawing illusion was achieved by British magician P. T. Selbit in January 1921 at the Finsbury Park Empire theatre in London and his trick, which he billed as Sawing Through A Woman, was significantly different from what a modern audience would expect. Selbits assistant was locked inside a wooden crate and could not be seen. The question of who was the first woman to be sawn in half has received less publicity than the question of which magician first presented the illusion. In the public performance the role of victim was taken by principal assistant, later in 1921, Horace Goldin, a magician working in the United States, presented the first version which might look familiar to modern audiences. Goldins assistant lay in a box from which her feet, head, Goldin sawed through the middle of the box, inserting metal sheets to cover the cut ends, and then pushed the two halves a little way apart. This process was reversed, and the assistant released unharmed. Goldin later developed an illusion that dispensed with boxes and used a large buzzsaw. The success of Selbit and then Goldin led to more and more trying to imitate them with copies or improved versions of sawing illusions. By November 1921 the Thayer magic company in America was advertising a version for sale, a complete prop from Thayer would cost $175 or they would sell plans for $5. There are many sawing tricks with significant differences in their basic effect, in some, the illusion is merely of a blade passing through an assistants body, while in others it appears that the assistant is severed into two pieces that are moved apart. Some so-called sawing illusions do not actually involve a saw but instead use plain blades or blunt dividing panels, One major group of tricks involves an assistant in a box, which conceals his or her body from view while any cutting takes place
A prop, formally known as property, is an object used on stage or on screen by actors during a performance or screen production. In practical terms, a prop is considered to be anything movable or portable on a stage or a set, distinct from the actors, scenery, costumes, consumable food items appearing in the production are also considered props. The earliest known use of the properties in English to refer to stage accessories is in the 1425 CE Morality play. The Oxford English Dictionary finds the first usage of props in 1841, during the Renaissance in Europe, small acting troupes functioned as cooperatives, pooling resources and dividing any income. Many performers provided their own costumes, but special items—stage weapons, furniture or other hand-held devices—were considered company property, some experts however seem to think that the term comes from the idea that stage or screen objects belong to whoever uses them on stage. There is no difference between props in different media, such as theatre, film, or television, bland Wade, a properties director, says, A coffee cup onstage is a coffee cup on television, is a coffee cup on the big screen. He adds, There are definitely different responsibilities and different vocabulary, the term theatrical property originated to describe an object used in a stage play and similar entertainments to further the action. Technically, a prop is any object that gives the scenery, actors, or performance space specific period, place, props in a production originate from off stage unless they have been preset on the stage before the production begins. Props are stored on a prop table backstage near the entrance during production then generally locked in a storage area between performances. The term has readily transferred to television, motion picture and video game production, in recent years, the increasing popularity of movie memorabilia has added new meaning to the term prop, broadening its existence to include a valuable after-life as a prized collectors item. Typically not available until after a premiere, movie props appearing on-screen are called screen-used. However, a prop must read well from the house or on-screen, in some cases, a prop is designed to behave differently from how the real object would, often for the sake of safety. A mop, representing a string mop, but built out of a shape covered with fabric. A prop weapon that reads well but lacks the intentional harmfulness of the real weapon. In the theater, prop weapons are almost always either non-operable replicas, guns fire caps or noisy blanks, swords are dulled, and knives are often made of plastic or rubber. In film production, fully functional weapons are used. Real cartridges with bullets removed are still dangerously charged which has caused several instances when used on stage or film. The safety and proper handling of weapons used as movie props is the premiere responsibility of the prop master
Micromagic is magic performed in an intimate setting usually no more than ten feet from ones audience and is usually performed while sitting at a table. Micromagic can combine sleight-of-hand manipulations with flourishes, and is called Cardistry, sleight-of-hand, also known as prestidigitation or léger de main, is the set of techniques used by a micromagician to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly. Flourishes are an example of rather than of illusion or deceit. It is the equivalent of juggling to a juggler and its not uncommon for micromagicians to combine several of these objects in a single trick. Famous micromagician, Johnny Ace Palmer produces baby chicks in his cups-and-balls routine, micromentalism is mentalism performed in an intimate session. Inevitably, this form of mentalism involves examples of telekinesis, ESP, precognition, most cold reading takes place in such an intimate session as are most Theatrical Séances
Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, known by the stage name Criss Angel, is an American magician and illusionist. Angel began his career in New York City, before moving his base of operations to the Las Vegas Valley, the show generated $150 million in tourist revenue to Las Vegas in 2010, but has since been replaced by Mindfreak LIVE on 11 May 2016. He also starred in the television series Criss Angel BeLIEve on Spike TV, the television show Phenomenon on NBC. Angel has been on television for more hours than any other magician in history. He also holds multiple world-records made during his performances, and was named Magician of the Decade in 2009. In addition to his career as an illusionist, Angel was the singer for his industrial band Angeldust. He also authored the book Mindfreak, Secret Revelations, Criss Angel was born on December 19,1967, at Hempstead General Hospital in Hempstead, on Long Island, New York. Angel was raised in Elmont until fourth grade, when his family moved to East Meadow and his father, John Sarantakos, owned a restaurant and doughnut shop. He developed an interest in magic at age seven and performed his first show at the age of twelve and his main early influence was Harry Houdini. By fourteen, Angel was performing high school at restaurants in East Meadow. Angels first major illusion was making his mother float in their family den, early in his career he was helped by animal breeder and reality-television host Marc Morrone, who helped Angel find and train a set of doves for his act. By the time he graduated from East Meadow High School, he had decided to pursue a career as a professional magician instead of attending college as his parents wanted, according to Biography Channel, Angel hit the road and began touring with other traveling performance acts. Between traveling and performing, he attempted to further his education in his own by studying the history of magic in public libraries and he also studied the art of mysticism, music, martial arts and even dance. Angel has said that, I stayed away from magicians when I was younger because I didnt want to think like them and his first television appearance was in 1994, where he performed as a part of a one-hour ABC primetime special entitled Secrets. One of the supporters of Angel was horror director Clive Barker. In 1995, Barker asked Angel to work with him on his film Lord of Illusions and he also later recorded the intro to Angels album World of Illusion, System One. Barker said of Angel in the mid-1990s that, Criss Angel is extraordinary and this is the future, and it can’t come quickly enough. In 1998, Angel performed a ten-minute show over the course of the World of Illusion conference in Madison Square Garden, Angel also starred in the 1997 television movie The Science of Magic and its 2003 sequel The Science of Magic II
Harry Blackstone Sr.
Harry Blackstone was a famed stage magician and illusionist of the 20th century. Blackstone was born Harry Bouton in Chicago, Illinois, he began his career as a magician in his teens and was popular through World War II as a USO entertainer and he was often billed as The Great Blackstone. His son Harry Blackstone Jr. also became a famous magician, Blackstone Sr. was aided by his younger brother Pete Bouton who was the stage manager in all his shows. Blackstone Sr. was married three times, Blackstone Jr. was his son by his second wife. Blackstone was in the model of courtly, elegant predecessor magicians like Howard Thurston and Harry Kellar, and he customarily wore white tie and tails when performing, and he traveled with large illusions and a sizable cast of uniformed male and female assistants. For a number of years he toured in the Midwest, often performing throughout the day between film showings, among his especially effective illusions was one in which a woman lay on a couch uncovered unlike the versions others performed in the day. It was called the Kellar Levitation which Blackstone called The Dream of Princess Karnac, in another illusion, a woman stepped into a cabinet in front of many bright, clear, tubular incandescent light bulbs. When the magician suddenly pushed the front of the cabinet backward the light bulbs protruded through the holes in the front of the box. The cabinet was then revolved so that the seemed to see the lady impaled by the blinding filaments. His Sawing a woman in half involved an electric circular saw some three to four feet in diameter mounted in an open frame, Blackstones version differed from others in that the lady lay on a table that was pulled by a motor through the saw blade. Blackstone demonstrated the efficacy of the device by sawing noisily through a piece of lumber, then a female assistant was placed on the saw table in full view, as wide metal restraints were clamped upon her midsection. The blade whirred and appeared to pass through her body, as ripping sounds were heard, the woman shrieked, when the blade stopped she, of course, rose unharmed. In a gentler turn was his Vanishing bird cage, an effect in which a score or more of children were invited to join him on the stage and all put their hands on a tiny cage holding a canary. Blackstone lowered the cage and then seemed to toss it into the air, bird and cage disappearing in the process to the astonishment, the Floating Light Bulb, was perhaps his signature piece. In a darkened theatre, Blackstone would take a lighted bulb from a lamp and float it, still glowing and he would then come down from the stage and the lamp would float out over the heads of the audience. Dutch illusionist Hans Klok became the custodian of Blackstone Sr. s famous floating light bulb illusion after the death of Blackstone Jr, when not on tour, Blackstone lived on an island he called Blackstone Island. It was near Colon, Michigan, where he had a stint as co-owner of the Blackstone Magic Company. His partner in the business - which lasted only 18 months - was an Australian magician named Percy Abbott, after Blackstone and Abbott dissolved the company, Abbott, five years later, re-started his own magic manufacturing business in Colon
Harry Blackstone Jr.
Harry Bouton Blackstone Jr. was an American stage magician, author, and television performer. Blackstone was born in Three Rivers, Michigan, the son of noted stage magician Harry Blackstone Sr, as an infant, he was used as a prop in his fathers act. Blackstone created four levels of magic kits that were the best selling in the field, in the early 1970s, he promoted a PF Magic Wedge Kit on a television commercial for PF Flyers sneakers, and he appeared on several commercials for Jiffy Pop popcorn. This was the first donation accepted by the Smithsonian in the field of magic, Blackstone appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show, Donahue, The Today Show, Reading Rainbow and The Super Mario Bros. He also made appearances as the mysterious Dr. Mephisto on the TV soap opera Santa Barbara. Of his several TV specials the PBS two-hour special was due to the intros by some of The Muppets. Blackstones PBS Square One TV, where he used magic tricks to teach mathematics to young people was a favorite of his and his recurring segment was known as Backstage with Blackstone. Blackstone also designed the illusions used on SeaWorlds water show featuring the DC Comics super heroes and they included The Joker cutting Batgirl up into multiple pieces, a variation of a classic multi-box illusion, and the first use in many years of the Jarrett pedestal to vanish Wonder Woman. Blackstone and his wife Gay created and produced the effects for The Magic Summer Tour for New Kids on The Block. He also did effects for Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire. During his career, Blackstone toured the U. S. extensively, notably, his Magnificent Musical Magic Show played in 156 U. S. cities and Broadway opening in May 1980, where it played 118 performances. Blackstone received the Academy of Magical Arts Magician of the Year Award in 1979 and 1985, Blackstone performed at the prestigious FBI National Academy Association retrainer session in Chicago in 1980 where he was the featured performer at the formal closing banquet. At the time of his death he was the most highly awarded magician of all time and he died May 14,1997 in Loma Linda, California at the age of 62 due to pancreatic cancer. After his death, much of his equipment was sold off in two highly publicized auctions held by Sothebys and Darien Julian. Many of the went to collectors, scattered across the world. Las Vegas performer Scarlett now owns and uses his Topsy Turvy, david Copperfield houses the Tire Vanish in his museum of magic. Touring illusionist Aaron Balcom now uses the Owen-built Clown Jammer, washington state performer John Walton uses his menacing Buzz Saw. Dutch illusionist Hans Klok and Darren Romeo perform the famous Blackstone Floating Light Bulb illusion under an agreement with Blackstone Magik Enterprises Inc
Guy Bavli is an Israeli mentalist, illusionist, and lecturer. He is known for being the first Israeli citizen to win an international competition in the United States. He owns the entertainment company Master of the Mind, based in Fort Lauderdale, Guy Bavli was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1971. Bavli became interested in mentalism and illusions as a source of solace from the divorce of his parents and he was particularly influenced by Uri Geller, Charlie Chaplin, and Roni Shachnaey. Bavli began performing before audiences at five years of age, when he was eight years old he had his first professional performance at a swimming club in Tel Aviv. In 1996, Guy successfully predicted the outcome of the 1996 Israeli general election on the time live television show in Israel. His predictions were put inside an envelope, which was sealed and signed by the television host Dan Shilon, Mayor of Tel Aviv Roni Milo, afterwards, the envelope was locked inside the steel safe until the election results were revealed. He also appeared in a advertisement for Jaguar, where he was blindfolded. Bavli has performed at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, Carnegie Hall in New York, in 2011, he appeared in Stan Lees Superhumans, where he performed his telekinetic demonstration. He also appeared in shows such as Sábado Gigante with Don Francisco, Patty Show aired on Estrella TV, Dan Shilons Talk Show. In 1986, Bavli was given an award at the Tannens Magic Camp competition in New York City, in 2007, he took fourth place in TV show Phenomenon. In 2013, he was awarded Dunninger Memorial Award for his professionalism in the performance of mentalism. The award was awarded to mentalists such as Derren Brown, Uri Geller. Bavli moved from Israel to the United States in 2002 and he is married and has two children. Official website Guy Bavli at the Internet Movie Database Guy Bavli on Facebook
William Lance Burton is an American stage magician. He performed more than 15,000 shows in Las Vegas for over 5,000,000 people, in 2010 he ended his 31-year career. The trick was The Misers Dream, where Collins pulled silver dollars out of the sky, the young Burton was fascinated, and a neighbor, hearing of his interest, gave him a book, Magic Made Easy, which her own children had used. It contained ten tricks, all of which young Burton quickly learned and his first performances were for neighborhood children, charging them a nickel each. Collins, a magician, noticed the interest, and became his mentor when Burton was in his teens. In 1977, as a teenager, Burton entered his first magic competition and won first prize, in 1980, shortly after his 20th birthday, he was awarded a Gold Medal of Excellence from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. After that, he moved to Southern California, where within a week he appeared on The Tonight Show, through the course of Burtons career he was invited back for a total of ten performances while Johnny Carson was host, and another ten performances during Jay Lenos tenure. Burton has also appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and he performed an initial eight-week trial at the Folies Bergère show in Las Vegas, and this was then extended for a record-breaking nine years. In 1982, he competed at the international Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques competition in Lausanne, Switzerland and he was the youngest person to ever win the main event, and the first American to do so. In 1986, he guest starred on Knight Rider in the Season 4 episode Deadly Knightshade as the mastermind magician behind the murder of a Foundation trustee, in 1986, he appeared in Nickelodeons Halloween Special Mystery Magical Special. In 1991, he produced, directed, and wrote his own show and he had a brief marriage to magician Melinda Saxe in August 1993, but they divorced shortly after. The Desperado is one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the United States – taking one minute to climb and he appeared to avoid the coaster by a mere tenth of a second, the trick having apparently gone wrong. After the narrow escape, he looked at the camera and said I was stupid. I was really stupid, in August 1994, Burton signed a 13-year contract with the Monte Carlo Resort in Las Vegas. The 1, 274-seat Lance Burton Theater was built to Burtons specifications for his show, cost $27 million, entertainment Today magazine listed it as the #1 family magic act, and during its 13-year run Burton earned an estimated $110 million. Burton has had four network television specials, his last one being Lance Burton, On The Road with guest stars Ali Landry and Dylan Ace. In 2004, Burton celebrated his anniversary at the Monte Carlo by introducing an illusion entitled Solid Gold Lady. In 2006, he appeared on the Labor Day Weekend Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, on July 1,2009, Burton signed a six-year contract extension with the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, which would continue his contract until 2015. However, the contract was ended five years earlier than planned, the Academy of Magical Arts has twice awarded him Magician of the Year, and also a Masters Fellowship