Penn & Teller will appear on Broadway this summer at the Marquis Theatre, from July 7 through August 16. The duo will perform selections from their Las Vegas show and other pieces from their repertoire. Tickets will be sold beginning April 16. According to Variety they last appeared in New York in 2000 for a run at the Beacon Theatre and appeared previously on Broadway in 1987 and 1991.
David Blaine surprisingly botched a trick in front of a large audience at The New York Public Library Monday night. Yet, what most of the spectators will probably best remember was his brilliant performance just a few minutes before that when he quickly diffused a dramatic protest that erupted in the lecture hall. His intervention in the incident was an unexpected yet striking demonstration of the presence of mind and low-key yet confident way of interacting with spectators that has helped make him a hugely influential figure in magic and popular culture.
Blaine appeared as part of the Library’s Live from the NYPL series of conversations and lectures, held in the Stephen A. Schwarzman building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. At the start of the event Paul Holdengraber, the Director of the series, showed a picture of Blaine on the 100 foot pillar, behind the Library, in Bryant Park, where he stood for 35 hours in one of his endurance stunts (Blaine said that he was supposed to be there for 36 hours except he arrived late). The magician talked about seeing hallucinations in the park’s trees and also remembered seeing a group of his ex-girlfriends all gathered together watching him from below.
From there the interview covered a wide range of territory, starting with Blaine’s affection for his mother who raised him as a single parent in Brooklyn. He recalled how she responded in intense awe at his magic, from the time he showed her the first simple mathematical card trick that he learned from a library book. Blaine also talked about discovering Houdini in the Library. “What I liked about what he was doing is that you could very easily tell from the pictures that he was doing things that were real. So it wasn’t an illusion or a magic trick…It was clearly real, and physical and dangerous.
When asked which magician he would like to have a chance to meet and what he would like to ask him, Blaine said that it would definitely be Houdini. “I’d ask him what his main distractions are. He was a work-a-holic. I’d ask him what he wishes he did differently. I’d ask him what his vices are, what his temptations are, what his training schedule is, what he ate. I’d ask if he wanted to learn how to hold his breath much longer. I could teach him. I’d ask him a million things.” Later in the evening, Blaine said about Houdini “when I was a kid I didn’t have a father figure at all, so there was a guy I could look up to. He was doing things that were real and strange and mysterious and difficult. And it kind of allowed me to dream that I could do things in my own way.“
Throughout the conversation there were numerous anecdotes that illustrated how Blaine’s conception of magic developed. Holdengraber asked him about an incident many years ago in which Blaine was arrested for turnstile jumping and taken to jail.
“I was doing a party for Diane von Furstenberg the night before and while I was doing magic all these Upper Park Avenue types were like running around screaming,” Blaine explained. "And as a magician, that’s my excitement, aside from the technical part of it I like to watch people’s reaction.
“The next night, after being in this amazing place and getting these great reactions, I’m in the central booking line and it’s all thugs. . . .You get some of the most hardened guys because they’re between Rikers and here and there so it’s pretty scary. It’s pretty serious. Some of the biggest guys were on the floor playing Spades, so I grabbed the cards from the floor. I said ‘hold on let me just show you one thing.’ It’s one of those situations where you’re about to get your face knocked in or you can deliver. So I start doing magic with cards and immediately they start erupting.” Blaine explained that the commotion attracted the attention of the police at the jail. “Now the cops are in the cell and everybody’s going crazy, and I’m like ‘man this is the show.’ Because I was thinking this shows that even if you’re Upper Park Avenue or you’re here, you can find the best side of all people through magic, and that was kind of the seed of the idea for my first TV special.
About halfway through the evening two women seated toward the front of the audience began yelling at the stage. “Hey David how about some real magic? Why don’t you make the books reappear in the library?” The two protestors then stood and began chanting “bring the books back, bring the books back.”
“I have an idea, can you guys come up on stage for a second,” Blaine asked.
“Yes, we would be honored to,” one of the women replied.
Blaine asked the women if they would be interested in participating in a magic trick. He then involved them in a somewhat elaborate cards across routine. Although the protestors raised their issue again from stage once or twice, they soon became compelled by Blaine’s performance and their involvement in the trick stripped away the assaultiveness of their protest, diffusing the interruption. Although one of the women questioned whether they would be thrown out of the Library, they were told by Hodlengraber they were welcome to stay and they returned to the audience for the rest of the event (The women claim that the Library has been removing books from both its 42nd Street building and from neighborhood branches. The City’s three library systems have been met with protests over a variety of issues over the last two years, which have been covered extensively elsewhere.)
After steering that incident to a graceful conclusion Blaine then immediately shifted into a trick in which he guided the entire audience through a chain of mental word choices. At the start of the evening Holdengraber introduced Blaine by mentioning the names of several chemical elements which he said Blaine had chosen as words to describe himself. When Blaine was ready to reveal his prediction of the word that should have come to the mind of each audience member, he brought up the element names on a screen and explained that the first letter of each chemical spelled a word, “Indigo.”
The room was silent as the audience struggled to understand the effect. Blaine quickly realized his mistake. “I forgot to ask you to think of a color on the third one. My bad! I left out the most important part.”
Further on in the evening Blaine was asked about failure. “I don’t really see failure. I just see it as another step. Every time you fail I think you get better and better and better, so failure is really good—although it’s better when it doesn’t happen in front of a big room of people. . . .I think failure is almost like the best thing that somebody could have happen to them as long as you don’t look at it as like o.k., I failed, and it’s over.’”
In the hour before the lecture Blaine and a group of invited guests were taken on a tour through the Library building that included a stop at the Berg Collection Reading Room where two curators showed treasures relating to such figures as Houdini, Marlon Brando, Jack Kerouac, Dickens and E. E. Cummings.
The audience at the program included numerous members of the local magic community. Blaine’s friend and mentor Bill Kalush, Executive Director of the Conjuring Arts Research Center, was on hand as was Larry “Ratso” Sloman, the author who collaborated with Blaine on his book Mysterious Stranger and has written books with Mike Tyson and Howard Stern.
At the end of the lecture Blaine spoke about his interest in Miguel Cervantes, the Spanish author of Don Quixote, who he said he felt had influenced the notable Spanish magicians. It was the difficult, gritty life of Cervantes that Blaine found so amazing. Cervanates endured a multitude of physical and psychological slights, from paralyzing war injuries to five years as a slave, before writing one of the world’s classic works of literature.
“As a kid I was always able to endure,” Blaine said earlier in the event. “I could always push myself through difficult things easily. As a kid I was born with my feet turned in. And I was alone a lot because I had a single mother and Brooklyn in the late 70s it was a pretty, you know it’s not like it is now. You could get mugged, beat up, and if your feet were turned in, it doesn’t help.”
Endurance has defined much of Blaine’s work and provided its drama. Now he has endured for nearly twenty years as this generation’s most influential magician. His appearance at the Library provided a surprising degree of insight into some of the factors that have defined his success and his magic.
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Upcoming New York Area Magic Shows
A Taste of Magic
Saturday, March 21 at Gossip Restaurant, 733 Ninth Avenue
Saturday, March 28 at Docks Oyster Bar, 633 Third Avenue
A Taste of Magic includes dinner plus performances of close-up magic before the meal and between courses. For more information: atasteofmagicnyc.com
Chamber Magic, featuring Steve Cohen
Friday, March 17 at 7 and 9 p.m., Saturday, March 18 at 2, 7 and 9 p.m.
Friday, March 24 at 7 and 9 p.m., Saturday, March 25 at 2, 7 and 9 p.m.
The Waldorf Towers, 100 East 50th Street.
For more information: www.chambermagic.com, or 866-811-4111.
Magic at Coney, hosted by Gary Dreifus
Sunday, March 22, featuring Thomas Solomon, Torkova, and Carl Mercurio
Sunday, March 29, featuring Lee Allen Barrett, Omar Olusion, King Henry
Applebee's Bar & Grill, 1217 Surf Avenue (all ages).
Magic Mania, presented by Rich Marotta
Sunday, March 22, 8:30 p.m., featuring Don Swekoski, Will Fern, Rich Marotta
The West End, 955 West End Avenue at 107th Street.
For information: www.magicmania.net, box office: 800-838-3006
Monday Night Magic
Monday March 16 at 8 p.m.; featuring Marcus Monroe, Risto Leppanen, and John Lenahan (headliner); Master of Ceremonies: David Corsaro. Intermission close-up performers:
Mike Patrick, Eric Brown, Michael Chaut
Monday, March 23 at 8 p.m.; featuring Alexander Boyce, Peter Kougasian, Chris Capehart (headliner); Master of Ceremonies: Harrison Greenbaum. Intermission close-up performers: Eric Jones, Richard Cohn
Players Theatre, 125 MacDougal Street. For information: mondaynightmagic.com/MainMenu.html, 718-575-1349
Sam Eaton's The Quantum Eye
Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 28 at 5 p.m.
Theatre 80, 80 Saint Mark's Place
Got a show? Please send info to: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Blaine will appear March 16 in a public program at The New York Public Library. The magician will open the Spring season of the Library's Live from the NYPL series in an interview with the series's director, Paul Holdengraber. The event will be held in the Celeste Bartos Forum in the Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Previously the Library hosted magician Ricky Jay who appeared as part of Live from the NYPL in April 2014.
Blaine was affiliated with the Library in 2006 when he served as a spokesperson for the statewide summer reading program, and he has spoken about the importance of libraries in his development as a magician. "My Mom was on her own and had to work several jobs, so I came here and read about Houdini and other magicians," Blaine said about his early use of the Brooklyn Public Library. "In this library, I got lost in the world of books and developed a love for magic."
Tickets for Blaine's appearance are $25 and go on sale Friday, February 20 at noon (Library members can buy in advance). They can be purchased at www.showclix.com/event/3928455/pre-sale.
James Randi stopped in at Fantasma Magic Wednesday during a visit to New York for the opening of the movie An Honest Liar, a documentary about his career as a debunker of faith healers, fortune-tellers and psychics. Randi was met at the entrance to Fantasma by the shop's proprietor Roger Dreyer, who gave Randi a guided tour of the items in the store's Houdini Museum. Like Houdini, Randi's career as a performer was focused on escape artistry and he further followed in Houdini's footsteps by later dedicating himself to exposing frauds who made claims of having paranormal abilities.
An Honest Liar opens Friday, March 6 in New York and Los Angeles, before moving to additional cities nationally later in the month. While in New York Randi will participate in Q & A sessions on March 6, 7 and 8 at some of the movie's showings at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema.
All of a sudden it's an unexpectedly busy night on the magic scene tonight. Fantasma Magic just sent out an announcement that James Randi will appear in their shop tonight at 6:30 p.m. as part of the promotion for the film An Honest Liar! The biographical movie about Randi opens tomorrow in New York and in Los Angeles. Here it will be playing at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, where Randi will appear for Q & A sessions at screenings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check here for more details. Fantasma Magic is located at 421 Seventh Avenue on the 3rd floor.
A few blocks away from Fantasma Chris Mayhew will lecture at Simple Studios in an event presented by the Magnets magic group. Mayhew is an inventive, skilled and very funny magician from Toronto. He'll be presenting new twists on classic plots like Triumph, Ambitious Card, Anniversary Waltz, and Colour Change in Spectator’s Hand. Simple Studios is at 134 West 29th Street on the Second Floor. The lecture is open to any interested magicians and attendees are asked to "pay what they can."
A Blog About New York's Magic Scene
Interviews With Magicans
Denny Haney • Scott Alexander & Puck
David and Leeman
Simon Painter (Producer)
David Roth on Ricky Jay
Interviews by Herb for Parent Assembly 1 Channel