Monday, May 23, 2011

American Escape Artist

So, the 2011 Society of American Magician's Salute To Magic is now a memory. As I write, I am still sore with bruises on my forearms, wrists and knees. American Escape Artist is a tough show to do and while people tend to think that because escapes are part of magic that it is all theatre, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. While I do take liberties and use magic techniques, when all is said and done, I am still escaping irons, shackles, chains, knives and, in this case, a nuclear water storage tank. These items are real and can, and do, pose injury, even when everything goes according to plan. I will be getting an MRI later this week on my left knee that was injured in the water tank and which of late, is steadily increasing in pain. The tips of my fingers and the insides of my wrists are still painful, but are healing. But, these are the realities of this show and though it might sound like it, I am not complaining. I love the show that I do and love crafting magic and escapes based on the shared experiences of the audience. I would not have it any other way. We began rehearsals off-site more than a month before the show. I introduced several new escapes into the show that evening, including, World Without Oil, Amen which is my performance of a challenge lockable pair of sunglasses, also, I debuted The Tennessee River Water Faucet Torture Test another challenge device which consited of an aquarium that is filled with water and penetrated by 38 cutting instruments. An AC electric winch below is chained to my hands and when the winch is turned on, it slowly pulls me into the tank of knives unless I can escape beforehand. Performaing this in the show, I heard gasps coming from the audience. Another new attraction was the Red Tape Escape which was my rendition of a roped to a chair escape but done with red tape and all the symbolism and metaphor that brings with it. There were handcuff escapes as usual utilizing my Cabinet Obscura and my full view escape from an MTA New York City Subway Revenue Collection Bag. The stage set, which was a rendition of and inspired by my old attic rehearsal studio at my home in Maplewood, New Jersey was designed by George Allison and built the week before out on my driveway. We had priced a local scene shop to do the actual work, but because it was cost prohibitive, we decided to do it ourselves. So George and I spent a week outside measuring, cutting and painting the wood planks that when trucked to the theatre would be assembled on stage to give the appearance of an old attic. We built the set of stairs that I would ascend from below the stage up to the stage in front of the audience, giving the appearance that I was walking into my attic. Part of the platforms of the stage were removed and we crafted a dummy platform to fit over the space in which the stairs would be located. After cutting the wood assembling, and painting, everything was doused in fireproofing material and left to dry. George and I worked four days, eight hours a day out in the sun constructing the set. On Friday, everything was picked up and trucked to the theatre in pieces where it would be assembled on stage. We had eight hour rehearsals on Friday and Saturday with the show beginning on Saturday at 8pm. The set was constructed and assembled on that Friday and while George was supervising the workers on site in this task, I was preparing the magic and escapes so that we could do a run-through of the show that afternoon. Well, as things usually happen, we only had a bare bones run-through of the show late Friday afternoon, before having to leave (theatre rules) by 5pm. On Saturday, we had set a goal of two run throughs and one dress rehearsal even as Paul Hackenmueller and his lighting team worked around us. As Maia and Natalie and I ran lines, George was having the final stages of the set built, Paul was lighting the stage and Adam our stage manager was working closely with George and the technical director Rachael. Our first run through took five hours!!! We then broke for lunch--actually they did--I did not eat and then we did a second run-through and this time it was much faster coming in at 90 minutes. Our audience would consist that evening of many people from the construction field in New York, workers at the World Trade Center Memorial, wounded American soldiers who were guests of Fisher House/Hope for the Warriors and magicians, lots of them.

By this time, it was very close to showtime. We reset the stage and I went to my dressing room for last minute preparations before the premeire of "American Escape Artist."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tickets on Sale--2011 Salute To Magic

Tickets for the the 2011 Salute To Magic will go on sale today. Ticket prices are $50.00 and can be purchased by going to the Society of American Magicians Parent Assembly 1 website at

Seating is reserved and is extremely limited. I do not do too many shows in New York City that are open to the public. Most of my events are for corporate or television and are not open to those not directly involved in the event. If you are in the New York City area on or about Saturday, May 14, 2011, please come down or up (depending on where you are) to see a great show in Manhattan. The theare is the El Teatro Heckscher Theatre and it is located at 1230 5th Avenue at 104th Street.

The official handout was released to the public yesterday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

God Speed

Yesterday, the group that I helped found, Patriotic Performers, USA, was commissioned to work at Fort Detrick, one of the largest Army Bases in the Northeast and a Level 4 Medical research arm of the United States military. My partner and co-founder, Adam Rand an award-winning writer and columnist and I made the four and a half hour trek from Northern New Jersey to Frederick, Maryland.
Here, at this base, a sprawling community and dare I say, "city" in semi-rural Maryland army researchers and scientists work to find cures for cancer in humans, as well as agricultural and crop diseases. The United States Department of Agriculture has a large building on the north side of the campus dedicated to research into farm animal and crop diseases.
Our show began at 12:00 noon sharp and went for one hour. The crowd was very appreciative and enjoyed it very much. With this show, Adam and I have now performed at several military bases/hospitals throughout the Northeast. At various times, we have worked for soldiers about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan or for soldiers who have retuned wounded from these same wars. Most heartbreaking were meeting the soldiers in the "Wounded Warrior Transition Unit" at Fort Dix in New Jersey. All told, these men and women remain some of the greatest groups of young people I have ever met. Doing a show for the military men and women who serve our country is really some of the most rewarding work a performer can get. We do not get paid, but instead donate our time to this most rewarding of performances I have ever done.

When you worked as many nightclubs and tough crowds as I have throughout my career, you sure notice an immediate difference from the moment you cross the threshhold of a military base. So, respectful without the usual bravado of a nightclub audience, these soldiers welcome your prescence there and are immediatelty engaged in what you are doing. I am a firm believer in karma and what these young people are doing in the service of this great country cannot, and should not, go unmentioned or unrewarded. Since the founding of this organization one year ago, we have performed at Fort Dix, Lakehurst Naval Base, McGuire Air Force Base, Fort Detrick Army Base, the United States Marine Base at Quantico, Virginia, and Walter Reed Army Hospital. We are slated to perform at Fort Belvoir on Friday, July 15, 2011.

Patriotic Perfomers, USA is always searching for new performers to join us. You are not obligated to work every gig, infact the whole idea of the troupe is its fluidness. Performers come and go as their schedules befit. You must be willing to give of your time--there is no pay. In the past, we have hired, singers, dancers, and comedians. Many performers work with us only for a short time until a more steady gig may arrive. Others, work for us continuously as their schedules become availible. Adam and I, because we are the founders, attend and perform at every show. Our goal is to bring joy, mystery, and happiness, through artistic expression to those who are fighting for our country.

Below is a picture with two commanders at Fort Detrick yesterday. To the right is a group show with soldiers inside of the "Wounded Warrior Transition Unit" at Fort Dix in New Jersey. As the title of this blog begins, "Godspeed to all those fighting for this great country." Your service does not go un-noticed. God Bless the United States of America.

Friday, February 11, 2011

2011 Salute To Magic

Hi all--so I have some very interesting news as of late. This is the first time I am sharing this, so here goes: The Parent Assembly number 1 of the Society of American Magicians (SAM) Board of Directors based in New York City has selected me as the sole performer for the 2011 Salute To Magic. (Cue: Champagne bottles popping) Apparently, they tell me----this is quite a honor. It is a show that has occurred yearly or thereabouts for more than 102 years. It began soon after the founding of the SAM in 1902 in New York City. Many of the greats of magic have performed or headlined at the Salute over the years among them: Harry Kellar, Harry Houdini, Frederick Eugene Powell, Sam Marguiles, Hardeen, Nate Lepizig, Josseffy, Doug Henning, Topas, Eric DeCamps, Paul Daniels, and most recently, Paul Gertner. Soon, I will be added to that list and sometime in the future, someone else may be writing a blog about THEIR selection and then will mention all of the great magicians of the past who worked it and my name will be included!!! Whooo hooooo.

Anyways, back to Earth. The 2011 Salute To Magic is being held this year at the Teatro Heckscher Theatre in Midtown Manhattan. (See pics above and below.) The exact address is 1230 5th Avenue off of 104th Street. I went to view the house when we were still in the negotiating stages and I must say, it will be one of the best places I have ever worked. The theatre seats 599 people. Most of the sightlines are good except for the front row. (Don't buy tickets to the front row!) I have included some pics of the theatre so you can check it out. The theatre is an old Broadway house directly across the street from Central Park and I believe was built in the 1920s. I will be performing my show, "American Escape Artist" which is a combination of my award-winning escapes coupled with magic. The show will run about 75 minutes and will be
unlike anything the SAM has done before. Many of you have asked but I will not be divulging any parts of the show here--you must come and see it. Tickets are $50.00 and they tell me are selling fast. There is only one show--so if you want to go, better make your reservations.

Seriously, I talk to alot of people on this site that I would characterize as my fans--(at least that is what they tell me, lol) So, now, I need the help of you all. This is your chance to see a great show.

The set design will be created by George Allison, a great friend of mine who has contributed much to my success over the years. Lighting is being engineered and created by Paul Hackenmueller, probably the best in the business. That is as much as I will reveal here. I hope to see you all there.