Magic Heinrich Does the Trick (18)

The other day, my eager apprentice, Heinrich the Magic Hare, mused about the role of holes in magic — black holes, holes in coins, wandering holes on cards, and a lots of other holes (including magic’s biggest a$$holes). He concluded that holes have opened a whole new dimension in magic. I couldn’t disagree.



Magic Heinrich Does the Trick (17)

The other day, my eager apprentice, Heinrich the Magic Hare, studied the guarantee cards of various manufacturers and asked me whether I knew of any majishun or card player who, annoyed by rough edges or asymmetrical cuts, had ever send in a card or a deck for a replacement. I couldn’t think of anybody.


A Long Lost Hofzinser Portrait

I have received questions on the long lost Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser portrait which had been lost over time and which miraculously resurfaced only weeks ago. Until very recently, it had been hanging in a private home in Gmunden for the last 100 years!

The portrait was painted in 1846 by Johann Matthäus Aigner, a well-known portraitist in his time, famous for his delicate style, and displayed for the first time in an art exhibition the following year. Hofzinser was proud to have it on display in his parlor where he held his famous magic soirees.

This great colorful reproduction comes from the full program of the 8th European Magic History Conference 2019 in Vienna, which you can download here. It includes some more information by Hofzinser expert and collector Magic Christian, who also hosted the recent EMHC.

Hofzinser Portrait Aigner

Here you can see Magic Christian, the enthusiastic new owner of the huge painting, proudly revealing it in the opening session of the conference. It was offered to him by a woman who had inherited it, just a few weeks before the EMHC. How very fitting!


You can read my full personal report from the 8th European Magic History Conference 2019 and see some more photos here.


Magic Heinrich Does the Trick (15)

The other day, my eager apprentice, Heinrich the Magic Hare, learned about the interplay of inspiration and transpiration (to quote Thomas Edison): Putting a deck of cards into a bottle looks like an impossible thing, and it takes just a glance to admire it, but “half of eternity” (as we say in German) to get the #%§!% thing in!




An Alternative History of Sponge Ball Magic

In our ongoing quest to enlighten you about the deep foundations and past masters of our beloved art, I am sharing an interesting piece of recent research from Dr. S. Q. Weezey, a distinguished lecturer and magic aficionado at the Applied University of Shwumbol, which is located in the magical Ben-Son Bool valley in Namibia, Africa. So here are some exciting excerpts!


According to these findings, the hitherto history of sponge ball magic surely needs some heavy editing now. New documents squeezed out of old photoshops (or vice versa?) suggest we have to switch some credits quickly for others.

For example, it seems very likely now that the legendary Larry Hooray was not actively involved in the sponge ball craze, even though he had single-handedly invented card magic, book-writing, memory systems, and this darn internet thing. Neither was the often-quoted Whal Eatley, who ran a Chinese Takeaway in New York City and in fact inadvertently (and painfully) invented the armchopper illusion while chop-chopping vegetable day in, day out.

To set the historical record straight, Kred Faps was likely the first professional magician in Europe to apply standard manipulation techniques to sponge balls, as this early press shot below should amply prove. (Although the photo was later reshot by his new manager, a reformed (?) gambler, who pressed Faps to have the sponges replaced with dice.)



In America, Vai Dernon started his career cutting sponge cubes into balls for a nickel at county fairs and inner city street corners. Then he created his famous “Harlequin Act” around the idea of wearing a sponge ball as a red nose (an idea picked up later by clowns all over the world) that repeatedly vanishes and reappears. He was also fond of doing coin tricks (see below) and card effects with sponges (remember “Twisting the Sponges”), and he never tired of preaching “Use your sponge” and “Squeezing is not magic.”



Master illusionist Hug Denning took the sponge ball hype one soft step further when he wrote and directed an entire musical, Spongebound, in the Seventies. Later in his life, he tried to explore the inner peace and healing power of sponge balls (see below) and applied them to transcendental meditation and levitation. He also used them to brush his teeth and occasionally ate them for a low-carb breakfast.



Next in line was young urban hotshot Breff McJide who shook the world of magic with his wild and mythical stage act that combined sponge balls with fire, joss sticks, African drums, and a plastic Samurai sword. He also applied the old art of chapeaugraphy to extra large sponge balls, thus impersonating famous people throughout history and retelling the Old Testament with his fingers (see below) while repeatedly hitting a cymbal with his nose on a dimly lit stage. Later he founded his very own Sponge Mystery School which continues to squeeze money out of students from all over the world.



Artist and scholar Jicky Ray wrestled with his conceptual vision for years before bringing his sensational one man show, “Jicky Ray and His 52 Sponge Assistants” to off-Broadway, which brought him great acclaim. Sadly, his ambitiously started research project on sponge ball magic hustlers at Victorian fairs (see below), in the early oeuvre of Nohann Jepomuk Zofhinser and in the world of gambling was given up for a movie career.



Today’s undisputed master of the trade is Tuan Jamaríz of Spain. Particularly his work on memorized sponge ball magic (see below) still leaves experts and fans baffled and fooled all over the world. For 25 years now he has been working on his two-volume opus magnum, The Spongy Way and The Expert at the Kitchen Sink, the latter one focusing on natural sponge ball tricks performed in the privacy of your home, usually with wet hands. But he also knows some pretty good card tricks.



Unlike other studies, the research paper we are quoting from concludes that Gal Oshman was among the few top magicians in his time who refused to join the globally growing sponge ball craze. Instead, he rather conservatively stuck to performing with coins and cards until his retirement (see below). On a sidenote, he made a fortune by producing and selling rubber saltshakers to magicians (for reasons which still hide in some dark cave of magic history, warranting further research and awaiting discovery).



So there! Next time you perform some sponge ball magic, please squeeze out a little thank you as a tribute to those real giants on whose spongy shoulders we stand, shaking!

Photoshop credit: Zig Zagger Junior


Fundsache: Hoch verehrtes Publikum!


Wenn man zeitgenössische Programmhefte (oder auch Werbematerialien) aufschlägt, schreit einem oft schon in der Begrüßung entgegen, wie UNGLAUBLICH und GROSSARTIG der MEHRFACH AUSGEZEICHNETE und WELTWEIT ERFOLGE FEIERNDE MEISTERMAGIER einfach ist, der in Kürze leibhaftig vor einem stehen soll.

Subtext: Der kunstfremde Pöbel möge sich gefälligst dankbar zeigen, dass der ILLUSIONIST DES NEUEN JAHRTAUSENDS sich heute Abend, nach UMJUBELTEN GASTSPIELEN in Los Wochos und Klein-Paris, in der Stadthalle Bitterfeld überhaupt die Ehre gibt, und das zu Schmutzpreisen!

Wer derartige sprachliche Kraftmeierei für normal und gar sympathisch hält (Hallo an alle MERLIN Preisträgkäufer!), der möge sich als Kontrast vielleicht einmal das nachfolgende Intro aus einem alten Programmheft von Alois Kassner zu Gemüte führen:


Der ebenfalls große Zaubermeister nicht als Ehrfurcht heischender, ferner Halbgott, sondern als (ziemlich) bescheidener und dankbarer Verbündeter des Publikums – so geht’s auch! Sicher auch heute noch.

Tja, früher war eben alles besser, sogar die gute, alte Zeit…

Bildnachweis: Die schöne Lota Vase oben gibt es z.B. bei New Magic Line.

Kleinanzeigen Flimmer


Magic Books versus Conjuring Books…


On The Davenport Collection website which I mentioned and recommended a few days ago, I came across this funny bit in a fine article on “Booksellers, collectors, and rogues” by David Price (the British one) about the fine line between magic books and conjuring books, at least back in the Fifties:


Love it!

I wonder whether similar “magic” code words exist(ed) in other languages as well?


The Horst Vegas Magic Chalk Talk (7): Tricks in Magazines

Horst Vegas, self-proclaimed Senior Boy Wonder of Magic and an unfailing Lota Bowl of Wizzdom, shares another of his tinny-tiny Golden Showbiz Rules & Recommendations:

Most trick descriptions in magic magazines make three kinds of people happy: the authors, for seeing their name in print; the editors, for having filled at least two dreaded pages without much ado; and most readers, for thinking „I could have come up with something better (if only I would)!”

Fun Friday: Recognition for the Bierglas Effect

According to the latest buzz from overseas, card wizard and beer connoisseur Denis Behr has just been inducted into the Magic Beer Hall of Fame in Shaumkron, Illinois!

The press photo(shopped) below shows the inductee silently admiring snapshots from his own masterpiece, the world-famous Bierglas Effect (sadly often misspelled as “Berglas”), while soothing Herbert, the slightly envious rubber-band, inside his left pocket.

Congratulations, Denis, und Prost!

Denis Behr Instagram Pictures (selected, hijacked and recomposed by Zig Zagger)