Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Steampunk Illusionist Returns!

I feel as if it has been a very long time since I stepped on stage as The Steampunk Illusionist. It's actually not been that long, but with the passing of my Father, time seems twisted and unfamiliar. That being said, The Steampunk Illusionist DID return to the stage this week. We had the honor of performing at the Locust Shade Park Amphitheatre in Triangle VA. It's a wonderful venue that holds up to 600 people. The audience is covered as is the stage, but with the hot August days, it can still be a challenge, and it was.

The temperature was in the 80s the day of the show. Though we were doing the smaller version of the
show, there is still a lot involved in the set-up. We planned a rather ambitious show that we felt would be received enthusiastically. Imagine our surprise when we arrived to find we left our closing effect at home. That situation was a crushing moment as we had worked so hard on this new ending to the show.  We had all the other parts to the closer, including new costumes and such, but the one key piece we needed was missing. So, we quickly had to reorganize the order of the show. We chose to close with our signature Traveling Bottle and Glass routine. This effect is a popular one among stage magicians, but almost everyone I have ever seen perform it does the exact same routine. Now, there is nothing wrong with the original routine, but we wanted something a little different. Our routine uses two people and has a lot of extra comedy due to the antics of my assistant Denise.

We had a couple new routines in the show which I was very proud of. One is an effect with several feathered plumes. The plumes magically change color, again and again. I think it may be my new favorite routine. The other new addition was the Silk Pedestal which dates back to the Victorian era and plays very nicely. I believe that I am going to expand on this routine and make it more of a feature.

The show also included my Steampunked Disectolator illusion, where my arm gets cut into three pieces. And we also do a wonderful effect with three borrowed finger rings that appear in a most impossible location. All in all, we presented 12 routines in our 45 minute show.

There are more new routines that will be going into the show soon. One which is based on a real Civil War era spy! 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Escape Act Going Into The Steampunk Illusionist Show

This past weekend, my assistant Denise and I presented a sort of recreation of Houdini's act for the ObscuraDay 2016 event called Houdini Escapes DC. We gave it a sort of modern spin, in that the escapes were done quicker than Houdini might have presented them. But we used music from the era and even one track that Houdini himself used. We had our Victorian garb on and plenty of handcuffs to delight the audiences.

The whole idea of an escape act really comes out of the Victorian era. Some of the first folk to present escapes were the fake mediums/spiritualists. Magicians then took the methods they used and adopted them to the world of magic. The first person to ever present a handcuff escape was a man named Samri Baldwin who was known as The White Mahatma. Harry Kellar the greatest magician in America at the dawn of the 20th Century, was known for his ability to be tied up, free himself and then return to the tied up state. Kellar learned this technique while being employed by the famous Davenport Brothers. Harry Houdini of course took the escape act in directions it had not known by taking on pretty much any sort of restraint available.

The Escape Act is now part of our Steampunk/Victorian show. We will also include the multi-cuff escape which uses 6,7,8, or 9 different handcuffs and a pair of thumbscrews. Escape looks impossible! This is right out of Houdini's act and it's something that is almost never seen today.

In addition, we will feature the escape from 100 feet of rope and one or two of the following: The Steel Straitjacket, The Challenge Belt, The Glass Head Box, Sack Escape, Escape from Old World Stocks, and more. 

We are searching for a 'dangerous' escape to add as well. Right now, the Glass Head Box is probably the most dangerous. This box fits over my head and can either be filled with water or left air-tight. The water fill has been problematic in the past because of the way it has to be filled.

Keep watching for more updates on the escape act!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Steampunk Frankenstein, Sort of.

I just watched the movie Victor Frankenstein, starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. I had been waiting for it to come out and never noticed it at the theatre. To my surprise I found it on iTunes, so I quickly rented it.

Before I tell you my thoughts, I must tell you that after watching the movie I looked up the various reviews of the movie, all of which were bad. I couldn't find any critics that liked the movie and some had some pretty disparaging things to say about it. What did I think?

I rather enjoyed the movie. I thought the 'origin' story was a fun departure from the regular remakes of the same story. It was a bit over the top, but I was not expecting to see an Oscar winner. Rather, I had hoped it would just be good fun, and for the most part it was. Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor and starts out as a hunchbacked clown in the circus who has a fascination with anatomy and medicine. Yeah, a bit far fetched, but I thought it worked with this overall crazy concept. 

James McAvoy, plays Victor Frankenstein, not yet a doctor. He is in medical school, but busy conducting experiments in his off hours. He is more interested in his experiments than the information he gains at school. His house and lab are a steampunk dream. Many cool gadgets and gizmos as well as gears, cogs and wild Victorian contraptions to delight!

If you are a purist and either stick firmly to the Mary Shelly original story or the Boris Karloff movie, then you might not like this movie. But if you're open having some fun, check out Victor Frankenstein. You may just enjoy this new version of a very old story.