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Words by Rory Johnston
Photos by Zakary Belamy

If your response to the title of this story is “Who? What? Never heard of him,” the odds are you are not living in the Eastern Hemisphere of planet Earth. On that side of the world, however, there are well over a billion people who have seen this charming performer entertain them with close-up magic. No, that’s not an exaggeration. And that was in just one night.

Liu Chien’s rise to the top has been astounding — one might even say charmed — but this rock star–level sensation is anything but an overnight one, and most certainly not a product of luck. He is, instead, an example of determination, perseverance, focus, originality, and hard work. He’s the template that many young performers will look up to for decades to come — an inspiration for future generations. And he’s just turning 36 years old this month.

 

 




By John F. Polacsek

The Black Tent — a mystery on the midway, long forgotten in the annals of magic and circus alike. Yet, in the 1890s, crowds thronged to witness the fantastical illusions presented beneath the darkened canvas on the Barnum & Bailey lot. As a reporter for Brooklyn Eagle penned in 1889: “The ‘black tent’ was the great center of attraction before and after the [circus] performance. The illusions are the most remarkable ever produced merely by the influence of light and shade so manipulated as to deceive every eye.”

 

 

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By Mark Nelson

The hand may be quicker than the eye, but these hands will remain to be eyed by magic enthusiasts for generations to come. The list of Kari Hendler’s casts of famed fingers is impressive: Billy McComb, Carl Ballantine, Mark Wilson, Norm Nielsen, Channing Pollock, Marvyn Roy, Sylvan, Johnny Thompson, Harry Anderson, John Calvert, Jonathan Pendragon, and more. While she intends to exhibit the hands in the future, Kari really envisions them as a gift to magicians a hundred years from now.

 

 

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By Jamie D. Grant

His free-form performance style allows Richard Sanders to quickly adapt his magic and comedy to any situation — including a show where he lost all his props, which now seems to happen pretty much every time.

 

 

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By Alan Howard

The Skirball Cultural Center in California is now playing host to the first-ever exhibition honoring the contributions to conjuring made by Jewish magicians. “Masters of Illusion” can be seen through the summer, along with an augmented touring exhibit of “Houdini: Art and Magic.”

 

 

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The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, houses a 10,000-seat arena rated by Billboard magazine as the fourth best venue in the world. It regularly hosts top acts including Billy Joel, Elton John, and Bon Jovi. On April 24, 2011, It’s Magic joined that list, and the show’s first east coast appearance in its 54-year history featured an all-star lineup.

 

 

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Magic collectors were abuzz throughout the day on April 20 as the magic auction house of Martinka in New York City held a substantial sale of items from the Milbourne Christopher Collection. Commencing soon after 10 a.m., a total of 274 lots were offered; more than six hours later, Martinka had taken in slightly (if you consider nearly $39,000 to be “slight”) over one million dollars.

 

 

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The Parent Assembly #1 of the Society of American Magicians presented its 102nd Salute to Magic show at the El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio (formerly the Heckscher Theatre). This year, the show was a presentation of Thomas Solomon’s “one-man” show American Escape Artist. The Assembly presented its 2011 Magician of the Year award to Professor Bob Friedhoffer.

 

 

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Le Grand David celebrates its 35th season in Beverly, Massachusetts, and we say farewell to Tabby Crabb, Bill King, and Max Hapner.

 

 

 

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Fourteen products are reviewed this month by Michael Claxton, Peter Duffie, Jason England, Gabe Fajuri, John Lovick, and Francis Menotti:

Red Mirror by Helder Guimarães
Instant Reset Card in Envelope in Wallet by Harry Robson GrandMa Money by Anthony Miller
G.O.D. by Bob Solari
Legacy by Collin Miller & Jamie Badman
A.C.A.A.B. by Boris Wild
Bob’s 3 Shell Boot Camp with Bob Sheets & Glen Morphew
The Maric Glass
Protection: The Sealed Book by Joseph Meyer
The Right Way to Do Wrong by Harry Houdini
The Three Types by Luke Jermay
The Great Lafayette by John Alexander & Christopher Brinson
Powerful Rope Magic by Jeremy Pei
Unspeakable Acts by Jim Magus

 

 




Pit Hartling demonstrates how to predict eight selected cards using just one card. Joe Diamond returns with a pleasant alternative for card-to-impossible location, and Jared Molten also shares a version of a similar plot. Dave Collins’ Double Wide Riffle Shuffle is sure to be a popular submission, as it’s a completely self-working false shuffle.

 

 




Robert Smithson to Al Munroe
The orchestra stopped playing and the audience sat tense in their seats waiting the shot. He turned to the audience with an expressionless face and then gave the signal to fire. The assistants fired and two shots rang out like thunder. Chung Ling Soo cried out in a choked voice, “You have shot me.” He staggered several feet and dropped near the foot lights. The curtains were dropped and the show was over.

 

 

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Instant Coffee
You show two cups, one of which is empty and the other filled with clear hot water. A spectator drops a single coffee bean into the empty cup. When you pour the hot water over the bean, the water now looks, smells, and tastes like freshly brewed coffee — because it is!

 

 

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A Comedy of Styles
Continuing on with the theme of style, this month we take a look at three different comedy magicians — Mark Kornhauser, Charlie Frye, and Dana Daniels — observing the styles that set them apart from one another and pointing out a few things we can learn from each of their performances.

 

 




My Dirty Little Secret
Greg Otto and I were chitchatting some time ago when he let slip a bit of gossip: Greg mentioned that he had worked recently on a cruise ship with a mutual friend.
“How’d he do?” I had to ask.

“Not that well. I couldn’t believe it, but he actually performed the Paper Hat Tear.”

“Greg,” I had to tell him, “I close with the Hat Tear.”

 

 

 

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Magic that Moves
There is a new movement happening on the Internet. It’s drawing people out of their living rooms and away from their televisions. This trend has presented new opportunities to performing artists all over the world. The trend is viral video. For the past few years, Internet video has been an emerging medium with uncertain potential. People might post a humorous video of themselves or someone else doing something crazy, or showing an embarrassing moment caught on camera, and share it with their friends. Today we are seeing many of these videos being passed around and viewed by millions. This movement is empowering people to share what they want and connect with others all over the world.

 

 

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MAGIC, The Magazine For Magicians (ISSN 1062-2845) is published monthly for $54 per year by Stagewrite Publishing, Inc., 6220 Stevenson Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120 USA. Periodical Postage Paid at Las Vegas, NV, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MAGIC - Attn: Circulation Dept., 6220 Stevenson Way, Las Vegas, NV 89120 USA
© 2011 MAGIC Magazine [click to return to cover page]