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I’ve posted before about my friend Dan Sperry and his original approach to magic. I recently learned that Dan has just landed a full time show in NYC. Congrats Dan! The new show playing at Times Scare ( yes I spelled that right ) will start soon.
Your idea of a magic show is about to change as you step into the twisted mind of Dan Sperry for an evening of Shock Illusion that you will never forget. Dan Sperry’s live show has been described as “David Copperfield meets Marilyn Manson” on FOX TV and “A Rocky Horror meets magic brand of illusion complete with audience participation and comedy..” by WHERE Magazine.
With over 5 Million views on YouTube, 15 Million live television viewers, and sold out appearances across America with his live tour you can now catch MAGIC SHOW starring Dan Sperry LIVE every night in his own theater at TIMES SCARE. Experience the unimaginable as the urban legend of Bloody Mary is confronted on stage, a nail-biting game of Russian Roulette is played with an audience member, the ancient practice of Voo Doo is encountered and the supernatural is manifested. Dan exceeds the title of “Most Original Magic”, given to him by The World Magic Awards, by using razor blades, buzz saws, broken glass, blunt objects, blood, mutilated babies…and candy to create an whimsically entertaining non-stop roller coaster ride of pure mayhem. No rabbits in hats. No showgirls. No stupid card tricks As you will soon see in the case of Dan Sperry: Magic No Longer Sucks.
Most everyone is familiar with the bad dream that people have about suddenly waking up in school during a test sitting in your underwear. Although I have never had this dream its been in the movies and is part of folklore. The recurring nightmare that magicians and most performers have is that they are either late for a show or unprepared for a show yet are being introduced on stage anyway.
Today I got to live that nightmare. I got an urgent email from a client saying they needed to speak to me right away. The emails subject had the term ” Re:Gala Fundraiser Sept 28th ” in it. That is todays date and I immediately remembered speaking to a client about this show 6 months ago but thought it had been moved to a different date. I called the client in a panic thinking I was wrong and that the show was indeed today and it’d be a last minute rush to get there on time to perform the standard of show I am used to performing.
It turned out the emails title was from the original email they had sent me and the show is indeed NEXT WEEK as I had thought and not today. I suddenly felt the weight of the world off my shoulders as I learned that my ” Magicians Nightmare” wasn’t really happening TODAY.
If you ever find yourself in Las Vegas make sure to look up the Rick Thomas Magic Show. Rick is one of those guys who performs from his heart as he really does love his craft. I’ve been to his Vegas home and its half house, half magic museum. He has a large tiger sanctuary in the back where he keeps and cares for his tigers.
A group of friends and I went to see Ricks show recently during a Vegas trip for a magic convention and all posed with Rick after the show.
Back in 1999 I built the first ever Shriners Haunted Mansion. It was quite small compared to the monster it became. It was located at the Oxbury Mall in London Ontario and was my first attempt of mixing some of my favourite things together. ( Magic and Halloween ).Here is some tv news coverage from that very first year.
Some things in the magic world just don’t make sense. Back in 2005 I was asked to submit and article written on and about the Shriners Haunted Mansion project I had built for the last several years. It was to be featured on the October Issue of Linking Ring Magazine ( a popular magicians magazine ) They wanted to feature the article for the October issues for a Halloween theme. I wrote the article and sent in several photos including one specifically taken to be used as a cover shot. I wasn’t promised the cover but had hoped to get it because the article I wrote was to be the feature article that month. Making the cover is considered an honour in the magic industry. Fellow magician and friend Ryan Joyce is a talented photographer and agreed to take the shot. We were both very happy with how it turned out. We wanted it to look magical and spooky for Halloween. I think we hit the mark.
When the magazine came out it turned out they went with a photo of another performer who had also been featured in that months issue. His article was a 3 page black and white spread compared to my 7 page colour spread so it surprised me to see the editors choice. The other performer was Steve Dacri a well known and popular magician and I immediately emailed him and teased him about STEALING MY COVER. It became a running joke between us for years as every time I met him I’d remind him that he stole the cover from me. At our last meeting I asked Steve if he’d sign the cover for me if I mailed him a copy. His response was… ” Only if you quite bugging me about it!” 😉 Steve passed away from cancer before I was able to have him sign it. He will be missed by many in the magic world.
I got a surprise about a year later when I got a special package in the mail. It was a trophy! It was the Howard Bammon Award from Linking Ring Magazine for ” Best Article of the year” for the story I contributed that earlier October. I was honoured and quite happy about the entire thing.
" Best Article of 2005" Linking Ring Magazine's Howard Bammon Award
If you have ever heard magicians or illusionists ask you to not video tape or photograph their show … it is for a reason. The art of magic is all about fooling your senses and especially about fooling your eyes. Photos and video have the ability to expose the secrets of magic and thus are not welcomed by many magicians. Here is a secret my own camera exposed. This spinning buzz saw attraction at the Shriners Haunted Mansion in London proved to be a lot of fun but had to be retired after two years because some people were simply too afraid to pass through it. The illusion appeared to be large spinning buzz saws with sharp teeth that would come out of the walls at random times and threaten your safety as you walked down the corridor. It was in fact very safe but some visitors were frightened by the look of those giant blades. Here, with the aid of a motion stopping flash you can look closely and see that the blades were really only painted on and the discs were really smoothed edged in case you did get touched by them. When the blades were spinning you eye would not be able to see this and you would instead see only the teeth of the saw blade.
Whats better than 3 magicians hanging out? Well 4 magicians hanging out of course! In the summer of 2010 Walter Blaney came to visit his canadian counterparts in the magic world and a trip to the Greg Frewin Theatre in Niagara Falls had to be on the list. After the show we all hung out and talked ” magic speak” ( a bunch of boring technical magic stuff that non-magicians would find boring ) and also caught up on old times. In this photo from left to right are Magicians Timothy Drake, Greg Frewin, Walter Blaney and Ryan Joyce.
A good time was had by all. Greg always puts on a good show.
Many performers come and go in the magic world but few make such an impact in their art to the level that Walter “Zaney” Blaney has. Walter Blaney is a legend amoung magicians and the inventor of many great magic illusions. I am happy to own some of those illusions and feature them in my magic performances across Canada. Walters most famous illusion would of course be the Ladder Levitation Illusion. I’ve been lucky to have Walter as a close personal friend and mentor for many years and both my career and personal life have benefited from that greatly. This is my very favourite photo of Walter. I have a signed copy of it hanging in my living room.
With Summer now a memory we are entering fall and I am dreading the return of the terrible white stuff. Call it white and fluffy and attach any Christmas memories to it but the fact remains that it’s a magicians nemesis. Many times I’ve come very close to having some serious accidents driving to and from shows on snow covered roads of Ontario in the winter. Such is life in Canada.
Back in 2005 a fundraising show I was hired to do was to take place on a Sunday Morning. I don’t know why they expected people to turn out for a magic show at 10:30 am but the client did and the client is always right so it was ON WITH THE SHOW.
Of course Mother Nature had different plans and dropped a blizzard on us in the early AM hrs blocking most roads for miles. Attendance for that show topped a whopping 25 people who braved the storm. We had seating for 275. Not one of my more happy shows I can tell you that. 😉 But the show DID go on and thats what matters. We still had fun.
After the show I decided to mark the occasion and take a photo that I could look back and laugh at some day. Ryan Joyce was a special guest at that show and posed in this photo with me.
I am often asked WHERE the Haunted Mansion is when it is not assembled and operating during the Halloween season. The truth is I am hiding it in plain site yet many people pass by it all day and never notice it. The Haunted Mansion is stored in 5 semi trailers at a Forest City Storage in London.
As you can see this project was a very large one. The size of it wasn’t the hard part. The fact that it average temperatures I had to build it in were in the 100 F or 38 C range made it a difficult build.
This picture was taken in about 1996. Canadian Icon and figure skater Elvis Stojko agreed to let me levitate him for a publicity shot this was way before Youtube folks ) to be used for an upcoming fundraiser. He was certain a good sport to do so. I have to laugh when I look at the old tux I performed in then. That was before I adopted the more gothic tux that created the Timothy Drake audiences see now.
Elvis Stojko is levitated by Magician Timothy Drake
I like to feature other performers here from time to time and today is not exception. Magician Peter Mennie was one of my first friends in magic when I moved to London. Peter has a vast background in magic and has done more magic shows than anyone else in the city. His shows are not only mystifying but they are very funny as well. His shows run the range from corporate banquet to family shows. His close up magic is in demand across Ontario.
You may have seen him performing his close up table magic at local restaurants in London. As a magician there is nothing I like better than being fooled and this trick of Peters really fooled me. Here is a video from a recent performance on television.
Criss Angel. Now there is a name I am sure you have heard of. Criss Angel became a household name a few years ago from his television show Mindfreak. The amazing magic he APPEARED to do in front of unrehearsed people on the streets of Las Vegas shot him to fame quickly. Criss Angels use of camera tricks to accomplish these amazing feats of magic has been hotly debated among professional magicians in the industry. Some feel camera tricks are simply another tool of magic to fool an audience and others feel its not real performance if you are using cameras to do what skill, misdirection and sleight of hand normally do. Only time will tell.
When the Canadian Association of Magicians held their bi-annual CAM convention Illusionist Ryan Joyce was asked to headline the gala evening theatre show for magicians. Ryans opening illusion required him to start the show with a video so Ryan thought it might be fun to make a video that magicians would get a laugh out of. When you are going to do something that will delight some magicians and upset others you want to be able to share both the blame and the credit with someone and in this case Ryan chose me.. Timothy Drake.
Both Ryan and I are Apple/Mac users and we both enjoyed the now famous MAC vs PC ads on television. If you aren’t familiar with them search ” mac ads” on youtube and you’ll find them. We decided to use that Mac vs Pc format to produce a Criss Angel Spoof ( making fun of the camera tricks, wardrobe, language and fan base ) to introduce Ryans first illusion of the evening. The video you are about to see was scripted, shot and edited in 24 hrs. With only very short notice I hurried down to McCullochs Costume and assembled the closest I could get to Criss Angels wardrobe. I personally think look as much like Alice Cooper in this video as I do Criss Angel but thats another story.
On Sept 14th The Society of American Magicians awarded Illusionist David Copperfield the title of “Magician of the Century” as well as ” King of Magic”. Copperfield needs no introduction to either laymen ( what we magicians call you non-magicians ) or magicians. His pioneering magic and illusion had inspired many of todays magic performers around the world. I recently attended his show in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand and had the honor of meeting him backstage after the show. He proved a most gracious host.
Here is the illusion that inspired me to take the step into performing the Magic arts. I hope it will inspire others as well.
Congratulations David Copperfield….. you have earned it.
“Come to California” they say. “Come to Universal Studios and help us with a special project” they say. “You’ll get to meet Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and get a picture with him” they say.
So I’m thinking…. Gee a photo with Arnold Schwarxenegger..that would make a great promotional photo and I agree. The governor was going to tour a trade show that I had developed an effect for and that would be my chance for the photo. At the very least I’d get a great photo of him watching my special effect do its magic. That would also be good… right?
Well… it came time for Arnold to tour the trade show and security ushered everyone out of the building before the governor entered and exhibitors were NOT allowed in. This lousy photo of Arnold as he was quickly walking past to enter the exhibit hall was all I got.
Friends of mine know I love Tim Burtons work. I had a special project at Universal Studios in Hollywood once and during a break I got to meet one of my favourite Tim Burton Icons… the man himself BeettleJuice.
As luck would have it… we were both having a bad hair day that day. 😉
Yeah…. and I know that I had some nerve to wear a Disney necktie at Universal Studios.
We had a lot of fun with this illusion at London’s annual Western Fair several years ago. I was given the opportunity to perform on the Western Fair Grandstand stage and wanted to do something BIG. I decided to vanish 7 people at once. I chose 7 local celebrities and Audience members were chosen by lottery draw to come on stage and act as audience witnesses.
Here’s a lesson for all travellers who need to borrow a suitcase from someone else. Search it yourself first and make sure its empty. I had a last minute show to fly to and borrowed a small suitcase from a friend as a carry on so I could use my larger bags to pack my show in. When my carry on was X-rayed I was asked to ” step aside” and talk to a security guard. They kept asking me what was in the bag and I kept saying…. ” Nothing but some clothes.” After a little bit of searching they found this cork screw which of course they had to confiscate. I knew the friend who lent me the bad wouldn’t believe me so I snapped a quick photo of it in the inspectors hand. And this is that photo. LOL
A friend of mine took on the massive challenge of posting a magic video on youtube every day for an entire year. He is nuts! There is no other way to say it. Ok… he is nuts and very creative and talented… thats a better way to say it. Its a lot of work and I have been quite impressed at how he keeps it fresh each day. I bumped into him at a recent Magicians Convention in Las Vegas called MAGIC Live. I’ll post more on the convention later but in the meantime enjoy this video of what happened when he met up with magic legend Walter Blaney ( more on him later as well ) and myself at the MAGIC Live convention.
To subscribe and follow Erics project on YouTube you can click here. He has over 6000 subscribers so you won’t be alone. 😉
Now that I am looking at options to bring back the Shriners Haunted Mansion to London for 2012, I decided a good starting point would be to get rid of the outdated website that I built in 2004 and put up something a bit more modern so today I quickly assembled a new one and posted it. Eventually I will add more to it but its not bad for a few hrs work I think. It inlcudes a blog that will update past Haunted Mansion guests on progress of bringing it back for 2012.
…. Illusionist Ryan Joyce says he knows who the Canada’s Got Talent Winner already is! Can Ryan Joyce really know who the winner of Canadas Got Talent really is before auditions even start? If you know Ryan.. you’d say he does.
Well for me it was my largest. I had a special project once that required me to make a full sized Paper Mache SUV. This is not a truck covered in paper but really is a hollow shell. It took about 2 weeks of work, more glue than I ever thought I’d see and even more paper.
One of the most popular attractions at the Shriners Haunted Mansion was the Rotating Tunnel Illusion. It was almost impossible to walk through it without loosing your balance. Here are some photos of it being built along with a video of people trying to walk through it.
The Rotating Tunnel Illusion at the Shriners Haunted Mansion during construction.
A side shot of the mechanism that made the tunnel rotate.
One of the perks of this career choice of mine is the imaginative and creative people you meet. Dan Sperry is one of those people. Dan is one of those guys that cuts his own path in magic. He has worked very hard for every bit of success he has enjoyed and I am sure we will see much more of that success in years to come.
Here is a photo of Me, Dan Sperry, and Ryan Joyce backstage after a show.
Backstage with Dan Sperry
Enjoy this video of Dan Sperry performing a pretty cool illusion like no other.
As we enter the last holiday weekend of summer I am reminded of Canada Day. I performed outdoors in Sarnia and got to hook up with my buddy Ben Burland after the show as he was performing elsewhere in the park. ( check him out at http://www.thebenshow.com )
The Drake visits with Ben Burland after our shows on Canada Day.
I performed the Compressed Illusion as part of this show. I just love the look on my assistants ( Rebecca ) face when she gets compressed to a fraction of her height. She makes this illusion work. Thanks Rebecca!
Last summer I had the honor of meeting Marshall Brodien one of the great legends in magic. Many will remember him as the man who sold a million decks of ” TV MAGIC CARDS” on tv in the 70’s but he did so much more. Look him up if you don’t know more about him.
About the 3rd or 4th year I did the Shriners Haunted Mansion we got a call from some very nice people who owned a junkyard ( or.. auto recycling yard as they call them these days ). They had this very nice car that they thought we might like to have as gift for the Haunted Mansion. They were RIGHT!
Black Beauty as I found her
There was one little problem. The hearse had been junked in the first place because the front end had been burned off. Now that is not a problem for a determined illusionist who has friends who can weld! The junk yard ( er… ah.. auto recycling people ) gave us the front end of a Lincoln to weld onto the back end of our Cadillac. We called the finished product a Clinkon but more affectionately called her Black Beauty. Below you can see the before and after pics.
Two Cars become one.
I can’t find any photos of the car in the Mansion but I do have this one of its driver.