Magicol No. 199 | January 2024
Hop right into Part II of “The Escapists”; join the conversation about online piracy; discover Las Vegas before it was Sin City; learn more about the new Zauberstadt trilogy of books; enjoy the two reviews of magic history conventions from 2023.
We dive straight in to the second of three parts of our new series, “The Escapists: A Celebration of Daredevils and Escapologists,” a passion project of contributor and researcher Gary Hunt. In our previous instalment, we met gutsy women who faced down the trials and tribulations that come with daring to be different. In Part II, Gary introduces us to a new collection of escapists: Sirronje, Effie Lorraine, The Mysterious Hilda and Princess Tarpeia. These intriguing women continue to inspire with their bold escapes and complete determination to conquer bindings—both metaphorical and physical. Some have theatrical flair, while others have physical advantages, but all four all have terrific stories, and we explore their mysterious characters and even curious careers.
We then leap forward to the present day to face down a growing problem that has infiltrated our beloved art: piracy. Andi Gladwin picks up the conversation and points out the bigger impact that piracy has on magic as an art. Andi is an active performer, international lecturer, a busy creator, and the cofounder of Vanishing Inc.—an online magic hub chock-full with digital downloads, books and magic tricks for sale. Andi and his team have been fighting, alongside many other magic dealers, a drawn-out battle with online piracy. In his article, “The Impact of Piracy,” Andi lays out the ultimate detrimental effect piracy has on magic, which is nothing less than the dismantling of the creative process.
A great example of piracy’s destructive power is outlined in the very next package of articles, which was steered by our great friend, the late Leo Behnke. Only one year ago, Leo released his latest book on Merv Taylor, only to be crushed when he found it had been pirated within weeks of its release. As he describes being thoroughly robbed of the fruits of his hard labor—the Taylor book was an important title in his long list of publications—Leo also walks us through what it takes to publish a book and the blood, sweat and tears that go with. We see why this act of piracy was so personal and so heartbreaking for Leo—a direct example of how piracy crushes creativity. To emphasize and demonstrate the sad reach of piracy, Leo’s friends Byron Walker and Raymond Ricard also add their comments, from their vantage points of a rare book dealer and a collector.
In the end, Leo didn’t even get to see the printed version of his efforts—his last published piece. He died peacefully on November 7, 2023, in Las Vegas, at the age of ninety before this January 2024 issue was published. But Leo was actively part of the editing process and saw the final version. It is exactly as he wished it to be. And now, may he be at rest and at peace.
Balancing the issue, we turn back to stories; and fortunately for us, Lance Rich has a plethora of great ones. In his article, Lance explains how his latest project—a new book, Neon Dreams: The Story of Las Vegas Magic—came to be, alongside an excerpt, “The Mystery Man.” In it, Lance takes us back to the early 1900s, and gives a thumbnail view of what the tiny town of Las Vegas was like, while he investigates the mystery of the identify of the first magician to play there—and, what that distinction means and why is it so important.
Richard Hatch also returns to Magicol, this time writing a lovely overview of the German Zauberstadt book trilogy, published by magician, author and historian Wittus Witt. In his article, Richard takes us on a whirlwind tour of the books, each of which focuses on an interesting and exciting city—Hamburg, Munich and Berlin. Thanks to Richard’s succinct synopsis, we get a rich sampling of the essays and topics included within these wonderfully illustrated pages, and we learn more about each city’s great importance as it relates to the European magic scene, through both contemporary and historical lenses.
And to round out this issue, we reflect back on two terrific conventions held in 2023. The first is a lovely and comprehensive look at the Magic Collectors Expo, which was hosted in Cleveland last spring in May, and reviewed by Michelle Ainsworth. Alongside Michelle’s bird’s-eye view of the jam-packed conference, you will also get a sneak peek at some of the fascinating facets at the newly unveiled Averbook Magic Art Museum and Library. The second review is a wonderful summary of the Ninth European Magic History Conference, which was held last summer in Ghent. Thanks to our convention correspondent Steve Beam, we also get a rich and thorough review of this excellent conference in Belgium, and all of the special events and field trips that the convention team put together.
$40, plus shipping and handling.
Magicol (ISSN 0460-5314) is published by Magicana. Perfect bound (soft cover), digitally printed in color, 5.5” x 8.5” (14 x 21.5 cm), 120 pages.
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