New York-based magician Joshua Jay was profiled in the New York Times yesterday in an article that looks at his performing career as well as his environment at home, including his collection of magic memorabilia, books, props, and other items. On the Times's web site a video accompanying the article shows Jay performing for tricks to spectators on the High Line and also provides a view of some of the items in his magic collection. The article is connected to the publicity campaign for Jay's latest book, Big Magic for Little Hands: 25 Astounding Illusions for Young Magicians, which is mentioned in the piece. Jay also recently filmed a segment for the "Today" show, scheduled to air January 1.
A bevy of participants in the annual Santa Con revels flowed into Cafe Rustico throughout the day Saturday, mashing up with the magicians who hang out there each week. After following a course through numerous New York City drinking establishments, including the one next door to Rustico, many of the participants arrived at the pizzeria having already experienced perhaps a bit too much magic and wonder for the day. However the gaggle of Santas pictured below seemed genuinely interested in seeing some magic and politely requested a trick from local legend Sol Stone who granted their wish and amazed them. Magic man about town, Rene Clement, captured the scene.
This morning the Today Show aired a nice piece on The Magic Table, the group of magicians who meet weekly for lunch at the Cafe Edison. The piece very aptly captures the spirit of camaraderie that characterizes the group as well as its place in the history of New York's magic scene. Those featured are: George Schindler, Ken Ferst, Rene Clement, Jerry and Lee Oppenheimer, Tom Klem, Michael Chaut, Scott Mero, Herb Scher, and Richie Bossong. Click below to see the piece.
Set your DVRs: The Magic Table, the weekly lunchtime gathering of New York magicians at Cafe Edison, is the subject of a segment scheduled to air tomorrow morning, December 10, on NBC's Today show. Correspondent Jenna Wolfe interviewed the magicians and also witnessed several amazing miracles.The piece had been announced previously, but the latest word is that it will air Wednesday during the 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (EST) hour.
We've just received word also that Steve Brundage a magician and friend from upstate New York will appear tomorrow at 7:45 on Good Morning America, so it will be a melange of magic on the morning shows tomorrow. Steve has gotten some viral visibility for a video which shows how he escaped a speeding ticket by performing his Rubik's cube effects for two police officers.
"The Illusionists" is the first magic show on Broadway since 1996. In this interview for the Magic in New York blog producer Simon Painter talks about what it takes to make magic on the Great White Way.
Two stylized clock faces, surrounded by intricate, classical ornamentation, are the dominant images of Tycoons, the recently-released playing cards developed by Steve Cohen in collaboration with the magic company Theory11. The cards were designed to match the classic style of Chamber Magic, Cohen's popular parlor-scaled magic show which runs each weekend in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. From their lush box, embellished with embossing and gold ink, down to their name, and the chestnut collector's case which is also available, the cards draw inspiration from the "Millionaires' Magician" persona which Cohen embraces. In the following interview, a conversation with Herb Scher, Cohen discusses the development of the cards, the current state of the specialized card market as well as his love of card tricks and news of an interesting future project. But Tycoons at Herbs Magic or Theory11.com.
Could you think back to the beginning of the process of creating these cards and talk about why you wanted to do it and how it all came together?
I’m a fan of vintage looking playing cards. Many of the new custom cards that people are releasing look too new or too modern for my purposes. Because my show at the Waldorf Astoria hotel is a throwback to the Victorian age of magic, I wanted to have cards that would match that style. The only cards that I’d enjoyed using were Bicycle Fan Back cards. Although those cards look great, and they call back the memory of a time gone by, the tuck case has the word “Vintage” written on it and includes a printed advertisement about the vintage back design. In fact, I have it here. It reads, "The Bicycle vintage design series recreates historic Bicycle playing card designs from the last one hundred and twenty years. Start your collection today." It’s like wearing a vintage t-shirt that reads, ‘This is a vintage t-shirt.’
It seems so gratuitous, and doesn’t really provide the actual feel of a vintage item because you know it’s a reproduction. Although I really loved these Bicycle Fan Back cards, the tuck cases didn’t appeal to me at all. I wanted cards that looked great, that felt great, and that matched the venue where I perform -- the Waldorf Astoria. The show is now in its fourteenth year, going into the fifteenth year, and half a million people have come to see the show. It’s really running strong. I wanted to honor the tradition of having a really special evening out for my guests and one way I could do that was by adding something, my contribution, which was to create a new deck of cards.
It’s interesting that you’re talking about it in terms of your show. I’m wondering how closely people are paying attention to what cards you’re using when you’re performing.
The fact is that the artist must pay attention to every detail, and I think the audience picks up on these decisions on a subconscious level. I decide upon so many details that the audience may never be aware of, but these details contribute to the whole of my artistic vision. The audience may not pick up on all of the details, but for me it contributes to the entire package, the entire experience, so I’m living the experience as well as the audience. If I’m using a deck of cards that doesn’t match the style of the show, the audience may not overtly pick up on it, but I would. This ultimately affects my presentation.
Tycoon cards actually have a personal meaning as well. I first became seriously interested in card magic when I saw Juan Tamariz perform at FFFF twenty-five years ago, and at that show he used Fournier brand cards, manufactured in Spain. We licensed the Fournier card faces for use on the Tycoon deck, and so for me personally this deck brings me back to my roots and makes me feel like I’m using the right tool for the job.
It’s not always about the audience’s perception of it. Sometimes you do something for yourself as the artist to make you feel like you’re doing your best possible job. I wanted cards that looked good and felt good. I wanted the tuck case to look like it matched the venue that I’m performing in. These are all things that make me feel like I can do my best job. Once I feel comfortable, the audience can sense that.
Once you decided you wanted these new cards, how did it actually happen?
I’ve been friends with Jonathan Bayme, the president of Theory11, for about five years, and several years back he asked me if I wanted to create a custom deck of cards for my show. At first I really had no interest; I thought there was really no need for it because I had a large stock of Bicycle Fan Backs. Then I started to run low on Fan Backs and thought, rather than buying a new supply of cards, perhaps I should create my own.
So I looked closer at the graphics and imagery that are present in the Waldorf Astoria in New York. I’ve always loved the Art Deco bas relief images found on the walls and along the doorways. I’m at the Waldorf three days every week, sometimes four days a week. Those graphics have a real appeal to me, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to take these motifs and apply them to a deck of cards?’ Every time I walked past certain pillars, sconces or elevator doors, I thought, ‘Hmmm, that would look great on a deck of cards.’ Suddenly the concept started to click and I contacted Jonathan Bayme. I said, ‘You know, I think I want to go ahead and actually make that deck of cards now.’
It took us a year from that moment until the time we had a finished product. Actually even more than that, probably about 18 months, because we worked with a designer, and the designer came back with ideas that needed multiple tweaks. It was not a quick process. This was a very well-thought-out deck. It handles really well. The design suits me really well. I could imagine someone who doesn’t perform in my type of venue might look at these and say that Tycoons are too ornate or don’t really match their own style. That’s fine. Everyone should pick a style that suits them self. This deck really speaks to me. [Interview Continues]
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