A magician or illusionist is a person who, with the help of sleight of hand, tricks or special equipment, creates the illusion of objects violating their usual properties. This artist shows tricks, using, among other things, the subconscious delusions of the audience.
The art of possession of an illusion dates back to antiquity, when in this way it was possible to control the people (shamans, priests, leaders) and entertain people (fakirs). Professional artists of this genre appeared in the Middle Ages. Then at the fairs one could see puppeteers, magicians using mechanisms and demonstrating tricks with cards.
Each era had its own magician hero, it is still unclear whether they were wizards, swindlers or talented illusionists. Today, the profession of an illusionist is quite common. These people work on the stage, in the circus, there are special courses that allow them to master this skill, a lot of relevant literature.
Despite the fact that it is becoming easier to expose tricks, people still go to performances to be deceived, and the illusionists themselves are constantly improving their technical arsenal. Sometimes it's even difficult to say where the tricks end, and the real magic begins ...
Harry Houdini. This famous illusionist was born in Budapest on March 24, 1874. The real name of the artist is Eric Weiss. The boy spent his childhood in Wisconsin, the family was poor, which is why Eric managed, at a young age, to work as a newspaper dealer, shoe shiners and even a tie cutter. However, since the age of six, Houdini was given an outlet for illusion and card tricks in general, as well as the circus. Already at the age of 10, Harry began to demonstrate tricks with cards in entertainment establishments, and the young man adopted the pseudonym Houdini at the age of 18 in honor of the French illusionist Robert Houdin. Harry's name came from Harry Kellar. The artist moved from simple tricks to more complex ones. Handcuffs appeared in his arsenal, which laid the foundation for the tricks that gave Houdini worldwide fame. Harry demonstrated the ability to free himself from the shackles. Once, in front of many people, Houdini was suspended in a sack from the eaves of a skyscraper, but managed to free himself. In 1903, the artist was handcuffed to a 30-kilogram ball and thrown into the Thames, but it took him only a few minutes to free himself and triumphantly emerge. Houdini was able to achieve such incredible abilities with the help of incredible flexibility, which was developed through exhausting training since childhood. Harry could bend his limbs at inconceivable angles, they resembled plasticine. Over time, Houdini was joined by his brother Theo. Together they were doing a trick invented in 1864 by John Maskelyn. Theo with his hands tied was inside the box that Harry was standing on. For a few seconds, all this was pulled by the curtain, when it was pulled back, the brothers changed places - inside the box there was already Harry with his hands tied. In 1894, Houdini met the singer and dancer Wilhelmina, who soon became his wife and replaced the artist's brother as an assistant. In 1898, Houdini's career in the States began to wane, the magician decided to go to conquer Europe, which had never seen anything like it. Most of the performances consisted of release tricks. For five years Houdini traveled around Europe, gaining insane popularity. Then it was time to return to America, however, the magician continued to visit the Old World, as his popularity on both sides of the ocean was great. The highlight of most of Houdini's rooms was his ability to free himself from shackles, handcuffs and a straitjacket. The magician emerged from prisons, shipping containers and sacks, coffins and even a metal steam boiler in an unthinkable way. Since 1916, Harry began to shoot feature films, being also their screenwriter. As a result, by 1923 Houdini made 5 films, and over time he received his star of fame in Hollywood. The artist was interested not only in magic and cinema, but also in aviation! It was he who made the first flight over Australia. However, Houdini became not only an unrivaled illusionist, but also a virtuoso debunker. The magician, in collaboration with experts, was able to bring more than a dozen miracle workers, clairvoyants and table-bearers out into the open. For this Houdini attended seances incognito, exposing charlatans. This behavior, by the way, caused the magician to break up with his friend, Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a fan of spiritualism. In 1926, before performing at the university, a young athlete visited the artist's dressing room and asked if it was true that Houdini could endure several punches in the stomach. The magician did not have time to get ready and strain his muscles when the student hit him several times. This provoked a rupture of the appendix, and on October 31, 1926, the great artist died of inflammation of the peritoneum.
Uri Geller was born in Israel on December 20, 1946. Soon the family moved to Cyprus, where the boy graduated from school. Uri never completed his training as an officer, as he was kicked out for sleeping on duty. It was then that Geller decided to start a career as a magician. At the first speeches, Uri declared himself a messenger of the highest intelligence, directed to prevent world cataclysms. However, this did not affect the cunning Jews; it took a talented producer to promote the talent on the world stages, Andrea Puharish became him. In the 70s, Geller's show became insanely popular in both Europe and the United States thanks to the uncomplicated and old trick of bending spoons, borrowed from the illusionist David Berglas. Soon the artist put on a whole series of numbers with stopping and starting the clock, bending a large number of spoons, guessing the pattern in a sealed envelope. In 1976, the magician acquired a Cadillac, which was decorated with 5,000 bent spoons that had previously belonged to various celebrities. During his career, Geller wrote 16 books, and in 2001 even starred in a big movie. Today the magician lives in England, leads a healthy lifestyle and learns languages. In his homeland, Geller was never accepted - when he offered to bring Ariel Sharon out of the coma, the politician's relatives refused. It is curious that in his entire career, Uri was never caught cheating, while his main appearances are on television, where cheating is quite easy. Ever since childhood, Uri and his family noticed some supernatural abilities in the boy, in particular clock control. Geller was most famous for the trick with stopping the clock on London's Big Ben. When an American company asked the magician to stop the famous hands, Uri just waved him off, but stared at the postcard, ordering the clock to stop. As a result, Big Ben really stopped, which surprised the magician himself. Only the sensation, as it turned out, was not documented, but existed exclusively in Geller's memoirs. In addition, the characters and circumstances were constantly changing in this story. It is not surprising that the American Time magazine at one time, based on the opinion of leading illusionists, directly accused Geller of fraud. By the way, professional watchmakers easily explain and repeat the trick with watch repair. The movement is filled with stuck grease, which softens from the warmth of the hands, and the clock starts to run.
David Copperfield was born in New Jersey on September 16, 1956, when the world recognized him as David Seth Kotkin. The magician's parents were Jews, and his grandfather and grandmother emigrated from the USSR at one time. Since childhood, David was distinguished by a phenomenal memory, and for the first time repeated the shown trick at the age of 4. The boy began to show his own tricks professionally at the age of 12 in his hometown, joining the American Society of Magicians at the same time. At the age of 16, David taught the art of illusion at a local university. At the age of 17, the magician took part in the musical "The Magician", then he took the pseudonym "Copperfield" by the name of the hero Dickens. David soon dropped out in search of a job to his liking. At the age of 18, the magician gets on television, where he hosts the "Magic of David Copperfield" program. Gradually, David came up with ideas of more and more grandiose illusions. Copperfield became famous for his grandiose tricks, during which the plane disappeared, and later the audience gasped when they saw the disappearance of the Statue of Liberty. Today, the magician is the most famous artist of this genre in the world, he has demonstrated the ability to fly, passing through the Great Wall of China, escaping from the prison of Alcatraz and an exploding building, falling from Niagara Falls and disappearing from an Orient Express train, freeing from a straitjacket, and surviving in a pole fire. The personal life of the famous artist remains a secret - there were rumors about his romance with models Claudia Schiffer and Ambre Friske, but it was also possible advertising stunts. Today, the David Copperfield show is perhaps one of the most famous in the world of its kind. The magician gives more than 500 concerts a year annually, traveling all over the world. David has his own permanent venue in Las Vegas, but does not perform there often. Today, a show of this magnitude is impossible without the existence of a whole team of professionals. There is even a dance specialist working with Copperfield, not to mention the lighting and assistants. Today, David successfully uses technical means, television and viewers-assistants for deception, and the secrets and exposures of his tricks have long been full of the Internet. For example, the flight is carried out thanks to the thinnest cables, the patent for which is quite famous. And the whole production of the performance, including the location of the "checking" spectators, is carefully planned so that no deception is revealed.
David Blaine was born in New York in 1973, he is the most prominent representative of the young wave of magicians. If Copperfield makes a magnificent and colorful show, then Blaine, whom many now call the brightest illusionist, focuses on the so-called "street magic". The magician's father was Puerto Rican, and his mother was a Russian Jew. The artist's origin is the simplest, because his father fought as a soldier in Vietnam, and his mother taught at school. David began to show his first tricks as a child, sitting behind a shop window and demonstrating tricks with cards. Growing up, Blaine began to gain popularity, finding things hidden among the audience, "animating" the pigeons. The first demonstrations of street magic appeared in 1997, and soon the magician had his own show on ABC. Blaine moved on to more grandiose numbers in 1999. His most famous numbers were: Burial alive in a plastic container (1999), freezing in ice (2000), 35-hour standing on the top of a 22-meter column (2002), imprisonment without food for 44 days in a box above the Thames surface. The capabilities of this person's body are so great that Blaine broke the world record for holding his breath under water, having stayed there for 17 minutes. David's hobby is playing cards, he is known as a strong preference player, and even playing this sport professionally. The image of the magician is quite democratic - cargo pants and a black T-shirt, a black ski cap and black slippers. Blaine claims to have realized the "power" of black after attending voodoo ceremonies in Haiti. The artist is not afraid to risk himself for the sake of the effectiveness of the trick, for example, burial in a container underground for 170 hours cost the artist 8 kilograms, but the show was seen by 80 thousand people! Being inside the iceberg for 62 hours, Blaine could not even move, and his body temperature dropped to 33.7 degrees, which is interpreted by doctors, among other things, as clinical hypothermia with irreversible consequences. Today, David Blaine "registered" in the Guinness Book of Records and is a millionaire, he prepares more and more impressive tricks, despite the criticism of competitors and critics.
One of the earliest known magicians was Nicolas-Philippe Ledru (1731-1807), known as Comus. This man was also a demonstrator physicist, building his illusions on a completely scientific basis. The pseudonym Coma is taken after the Greek god of feasts and festivities, Coma. The magician entertained the royal court, aristocrats and the general public with his tricks. Comus actively traveled with his performances throughout Europe, which gave him great popularity. In Paris itself, the artist was allocated a special hall for demonstrating numerous experiments with light, sound, electricity and magnetism. In addition to quite scientific performances, there were also demonstrations of illusions. So, the audience was shown a woman-robot, performing simple commands, a face with pupils that took the color of the person looking at them, an artificial hand recording the thoughts of other people. The viewers of Comus at various times were Louis XVI, Joseph II, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The artist and scientist was noted, as already noted, not only with tricks. He developed a new system for nautical charts, figured out how to treat epilepsy with electricity. Comus became a professor with the light hand of his patient Louis XV, and Louis XVI gave him an internship at an orphanage. During the Great French Revolution, Comus was imprisoned, but managed to escape execution. As a result, the death of this extraordinary person occurred only in 1807, by this time the magician was already a rather rich man. It is curious that the pseudonym became so popular that at the beginning of the 19th century, the magician Comus II successfully acted in France.
Kio is a whole dynasty of illusionist artists for our country. Its founder was Emil Teodorovich Hirschfeld-Renard (1894-1965). At first, Emil was attracted not by the circus, but by cinema and theater. He even became an actor at the Moscow Theater of Miniatures at the age of 26. But gradually the circus entered the life of a young man - he was an administrator, bereiter, uniformist, until one day he went out to the arena with his tricks. To reach the viewer, a memorable and sonorous pseudonym was needed, once Emil saw the letter "H" fall out of the Kino signboard, and the artist Kio was born. The artist himself humorously proposed such a decoding of his pseudonym - "Kiev Famous Deceiver". The artist's son, Igor, says that the name was born from a Jewish prayer in which the word "tkio" was repeated as a refrain. Emil Teodorovich became famous for being our first illusionist who transferred large equipment to the circus stage. This made it possible for all spectators to observe the numbers, but thereby also increased the complexity of the tricks - after all, now the artist was watched from all sides. Keo eventually got rid of oriental costumes and attributes of mystery, entering the arena in a tailcoat. Emil Teodorovich developed a number of tricks that are still used by many illusionists today. It is no coincidence that in 1960 he received the title of the best magician in the world in England. If in 1932 the artist performed in a turban, joking and communicating with the audience, using clowns and attractive assistants, then in 1947 Kio created a complete revue performance. Kio's sons, Emil and Igor, eventually began performing with their father. The magician's main merit was his demeanor on stage, he slightly sarcastically over his tricks, as if inviting the audience to find a simple solution to them.Keo offered joke tricks, realizing that a technical trick would sooner or later be exposed, but a light humor would always be pleasant. Although Emil earned good money, he did not become a millionaire at all, spending everything on the maintenance of his large family. Moreover, his wife was very fond of luxury. As a result, after the death of the artist, they had to sell the car to create the monument, since the savings book was empty. Emil Teodorovich's book "Tricks and Magicians" has become a useful guide for artists of this genre. The artist's children continued their father's work. Since 1992, Emil Emilievich has been working for six months in Japan, where his own audience has developed, and six months in Russia. Igor worked in the state circus system for 30 years, his short-term romance with Galina Brezhneva is known. And this magician has earned national fame, following the example of his father.
Bartolome Bosco was born in Turin in 1793. His extraordinary talent quickly brought this wandering magician into the ranks and salons of the rich. Bosco was a master of illusion - he decapitated pigeons, swapped their heads, and the birds came to life. At the same time, the black pigeon had a white head, and the white one had a black one. The magician loved adventure, which is why he joined Napoleon's army on the march to Russia. When the victims were robbed by soldiers, Bartholomew would quietly clean their pockets. As a result, Bosco ended up in exile in cold Siberia, where he did not abandon his craft, but constantly improved it. As a result, after the release of the illusionist, viewers of many European capitals were able to see his new tricks. Yes, and Russia Bosco was able to conquer, but with his performances after 30 years. Even Nekrasov dedicated part of his poem "The Talker" to a visiting illusionist:
"I would exhaust ten papers,
What could only describe
What kind of Bosco magic
Knows how to imagine.
He broke whole things
Into little pieces
Inserted the middle white
In crimson shawls
God knows where to throw
And rings and signet rings
And he told so funny
Where will they appear!
Well, in a word, Bosco rubles,
Like a magician and a liar
Lured away from the public
So clever, it's not a pity! "
The death of the artist came in 1863, but his work was continued by his son, who also gained popularity with tricks.
Alessandro Cagliostro (1743-1795) was the most famous mystic and adventurer of his time, his real name, which gave the name to Dumas's novel - Joseph Balsamo. Already from childhood of simple origin, the boy showed a penchant not for science, but for fraud. The future count's career began with the sale of fake miraculous potions and treasure maps. After the death of his aunt, Vincenza Cagliostro, Joseph took her last name, and at the same time awarded himself the title of count. It cost him nothing to increase the size of the diamond, or to remove a crack from the diamond, turn the burlap into silk, and make the iron nail gold. Cagliostro convinced that he knew the secret of the philosopher's stone, and he himself was more than three hundred years old. Traveling constantly, the count reached Russia, where, according to rumors, he tripled the amount of Potemkin's gold. Here the count conducted magic sessions, telling about the possession of the elixir of immortality. As a result, a series of scandals came to the Empress. Catherine ordered to expel Cagliostro from Russia, and she herself wrote and staged the play "The Deceiver" about him, shown in the Hermitage. Surprisingly, even here the count contrived to trick - his autographs about his departure from the country appeared at four different border outposts. However, the thirst for a luxurious life and the dubious tricks that served as the basis for Cagliostro's profit, constantly drove him from place to place. Moreover, the count was actively involved in the political life of Europe. As a result, he was captured in Italy and charged with fraud and witchcraft, ending his days in prison. The story of this illusionist and adventurer is so rich in adventure that it is reflected both in literature and in cinematography, it is enough to recall our legendary film "Formula of Love".
David Werner, nicknamed Dai Vernon, was born in Canada in 1894. The name was changed due to a typo in the newspaper, and Vernon's surname was borrowed from a famous dancer. It is Vernon that many call the most influential magician of the last century. He learned his first trick at the age of 7, claiming that he wasted the first 6 years of his life. The illusionists themselves called Dai "The Professor" and "The Man Who Fooled Houdini." The fact is that Harry Houdini boasted that it is enough to see the trick no more than three times to understand how it is performed. In 1919, Vernon took up the challenge, showing Houdini eight times in a row "The Ambitious Card", but Harry did not understand the secret of doing it. The phrase "He fooled Houdini" was later used by Vernon for his own advertising in the 30s. Any professional magician knew Dai and his tricks, he was able to improve the existing ones and create several of his own, such as "Twisting Aces". Vernon was friends with prominent illusionists of both the old and the new school. It is believed that it was this magician who established the classic rules for this profession. It was he who created the art of Micromagic, doing more for the art of deception than anyone else. Werner traveled extensively, learning all kinds of card tricks. Werner was a real gentleman, charming and modest, everyone loved him. Dai didn't speak ill of people, the only one he spoke relatively poorly of was Harry Houdini. Since 1963, Dai worked at the famous Hollywood "Castle of Magic". Many famous modern magicians learned from Vernon, and in 1965 journalist Richard Buffom recorded a series of interviews with Dai, which became the basis of the book published in 1992. Vernon even saw the release of this work, dying at the age of 98 in California.
Italian magician Pinetti (1750-1800) owes this art to its transfer to the stage of the theater. The illusionist's performances were distinguished by their pomp and sophisticated surroundings, which made it possible to attract a new audience level. In 1784, in London, Pinetti demonstrated the capabilities of the "third" eye, reading closed books and recognizing objects in boxes. The performances were so successful that the magician was invited to the court of George III at Windsor Castle. The show was a resounding success there, with dozens of assistants, exotic animals, complex mechanisms and mirrors participating. The artist's popularity allowed him to tour in Portugal, Germany and Russia. In our country, he died at the age of 50. Pinetti's tricks have always attracted the attention of writers and publicists, who during his lifetime tried to reveal the secrets of tricks, which irritated the master. Pinetti was used to living in the style of his performances - rich, bright, he wore the best clothes, lived in the best houses and used the most expensive carriages. The magician was moderately eccentric, sometimes deliberately attracting the crowd with his antics. So, in front of the crowd, he could break a fresh roll and find there a gold coin, which immediately turned into a token with the initials of the wizard. It is believed that it was Pinetti who laid the features of the modern image of the magician - recognition, courage, artistry and a little pomp. In his experiments, the illusionist used knowledge in physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics and medicine. One of his most famous tricks was the swallow trick. Pinetti took out of the cage a bird that was dying in his arms. Then he let one of the spectators hold the swallow, asking him to breathe on the little body. And, lo and behold, the swallow came to life! The fact is that the magician imperceptibly pressed the bird on the carotid artery, temporarily depriving it of consciousness. Today, many of Pinetti's tricks cannot be explained by logic at all. So, having appeared at the court of Emperor Paul, the magician was late for his seven-hour show for an hour, which caused the indignation of all the courtiers. Imagine their amazement when Pinetti, entering, announced that it was now not eight, but only seven hours. And the hours of all those present miraculously went back an hour. However, at the end of the magician's apology, exactly one minute later, the clock again began to show the correct time. The next day, Pinetti, at the invitation, appeared in Paul's office, although the emperor had previously ordered not to let him in.