First there were Kellar, Thurston, and Blackstone…
But they are all dead.
There is Silverstone.
August 11, 2012, Tuscany
As many of you know, I have been studying the ancient art of magic since I was eight years old. I regret wasting the first seven years, but well, that’s life. I was bitten by the magic bug after witnessing a performance by the janitor at my elementary school (an excellent magician, by the way) by the name of Mike the Magic Janitor. I now enjoy the privilege of having a similar effect (I hope!) on many children around the world.
I am pleased to announce that I am now beginning year two of a three year process to create a full evening show entitled Silverstone: The New Wonder Show of the Universe. This show will open to the public in 2014, and will pay homage to America’s Master Magicians such as Kellar, Thurston, Blackstone, and Houdini, as well as introduce classical magic to a generation most familiar with the TV magic of Criss Angel. Without question, this is my most ambitious project to date, both in terms of business and the arts, but I believe that I am prepared to tackle it successfully.
In addition to the elegant and comical parlor room tricks which I have developed over the past 20+ years, this show will also include full-scale illusions such as a beautiful but shocking version of the 100-year-old classic, Sawing a Lady in Half! I also intend to recreate The Great Blackstone’s Dancing Handkerchief and Enchanted Garden, Houdini’s Milk Can Escape, Thurston’s Eggs Extraordinary, and many other classic, and rarely-seen-today, illusions, including An Obliging Tea Kettle, Playing Cards and Billiard Balls Manipulated at the Fingertips, Hand Shadows, Witty Paper Folding, and perhaps, most importantly, The Waters of Shangri-La, in which, after being watered, a small flower will grow and bloom into my junior assistant and daughter, Lulu!
BACKGROUND AND PHILOSOPHY
Near the turn of the previous century, Harry Kellar was undisputedly America’s greatest and favorite magician. Perhaps America’s first master magician, Kellar poured drinks from an Inexhaustible Bottle, conjured spirits inside an empty cabinet, and caused a lit lamp to vanish from its perch, but his most remarkable feat was the Levitation of the Princess Karnack.
In 1908, Kellar passed his mantle of America’s Greatest Magician to Howard Thurston. Thurston followed in Kellar’s footsteps but also worked hard to modernize Kellar’s by then considered old-fashioned approach to magic. Titling his performance “The Wonder Show of the Universe” and with his own daughter Jane serving as a loyal assistant, he performed card manipulations at the fingertips, levitated and then vanished Princess Karnack, sawed a lady in half and, in a sign of the times, vanished a new Ford Whippet automobile.
Thurston’s chosen successor was a magician with the stage name of Dante. However, it was one of Thurston’s rivals who ultimately emerged as the magician most favored by the public. After Thurston’s death in 1936, Harry Blackstone became America’s greatest magician and declared himself The World’s Master Magician. Blackstone vanished bird cages at his fingertips, transformed a girl into flowers, caused a borrowed handkerchief to come to life, and levitated an illuminated light bulb over the heads of his audience.
In 1982, Lance Burton competed at the world’s top magic competition, the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (FISM) and won the top award, the”Grande Prix.” The youngest person ever to win that award, Burton was also the first American to do so. Later, in 1991, he wrote, produced, and directed his own show at the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas which ran for five years. He subsequently performed a spectacular new show at the Monte Carlo resort in Las Vegas for an additional 14 years, retiring in 2010. Burton is most remembered for sculpting doves at his fingertips, manipulating fans of cards, swashbuckling magical sword fights, and for his flying Corvette illusion.
Unfortunately, today, the traditional and classical style of stage magic is virtually extinct as a form of popular theater and entertainment. Extreme street magic flourishes on television and over-produced illusion shows rule Las Vegas. It is time, then, for 21st century magic to be re-souled. Howard Thurston said, “You can fool the eyes and minds of the audience, but you cannot fool their hearts.”
And, that, dear readers, is the aim of the upcoming New Wonder Show of the Universe. It has been written that art can only exist when trembles of the future exist within it. In this time of crisis, cultural, as much as economic, nothing trembles of the future more than the past.