After Tom’s appear­ance on our show regard­ing magic and his mag­i­cal career we had so many lis­tener ques­tions come flood­ing in that we didnt even get to half of them.  Tom was gra­cious enough to answer the remain­ing ques­tions we’d col­lected by email.  Here are his responses:

 

13 QUESTIONS FOR TOM OGDEN

First, let me thank your lis­ten­ers for tun­ing in to lis­ten to my bab­blings. Their inquiries are really insight­ful, and they run the gamut from ques­tions about the­ory to performance.

What are your thoughts on men­tal­ists? Are they con­sid­ered magicians?

Whether you believe that men­tal­ists have real pow­ers or are doing illu­sions depends upon whether or not you’re a magi­cian. The term “men­tal­ist” is magician’s jar­gon and was cre­ated to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the per­form­ers from actual psy­chics and mind reader. “Men­tal­ism” is a per­for­mance art in which prac­ti­tion­ers, known as “men­tal­ists,” appear to have spe­cial men­tal abil­i­ties, includ­ing var­i­ous forms of mind-reading (such pre­mo­ni­tion, clair­voy­ance, pre­cog­ni­tion, telepa­thy), mind con­trol, and unusual phys­i­cal phe­nom­ena such as psy­choki­ne­sis and telekine­sis. Some also per­form the allied fields of hyp­no­sis or being a spirit medium. But bot­tom line: men­tal­ists are psy­chic entertainers.

Who his­tor­i­cally was your favorite magician?

I hate to name a cliché, but Harry Hou­dini, both as an enter­tainer and a self-promoter, is end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing. Just when you think you’ve heard every story there is about him, you find out a new tid­bit that makes you reeval­u­ate all you know.

Is there any eti­quette in using bought tricks? Do you have to cus­tomize them?

There’s noth­ing wrong with per­form­ing a trick right out of the box, exactly as the instruc­tions are writ­ten and using the sug­gested pat­ter that comes with it. For exam­ple, part-time pro magi­cian Gene Ander­son invented and pub­lished the method for the most pop­u­lar con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of rip­ping a news­pa­per to shreds and restor­ing it. When Doug Hen­ning did the trick on Broad­way in “The Magic Show” in 1974, he per­formed Anderson’s rou­tine word-for-word. As do I today. I’ve seen other pre­sen­ta­tions for the trick: they were dif­fer­ent, but none have bet­tered Gene’s original.

Ide­ally, how­ever, magi­cians should come up with a new “take” on stan­dard effects to make them unique. When an audi­ence hears a singer per­form “Over the Rain­bow,” they want to hear the per­former bring some­thing fresh to the Judy Gar­land classic.

Magi­cians often put their stamp on mar­keted effects with their pat­ter (the words magi­cian say while per­form­ing) or by adding back­ground music. Some change the entire premise of the trick. As an exam­ple, there’s a magi­cians’ stan­dard that uses three dif­fer­ent lengths of rope. The magi­cians then stretches the ropes to become the same length. The trick’s orig­i­nal pat­ter was about a math­e­mat­ics teacher who became obsessed with the geo­met­ric prin­ci­ple that all par­al­lel lines are equal if stretched to infin­ity. The trick was mar­keted under the name “The Professor’s Night­mare.” Although the trick is still sold with that nae, very few (if any) magi­cians still the title as the pre­fer for their routines.

Is “Trick poach­ing” a com­mon thing? Do you have to worry about some­one steal­ing an orig­i­nal trick?

Unfor­tu­nately, yes, theft in magic is a com­mon prac­tice, and there’s very lit­tle that can be done about it. It’s next to impos­si­ble to patent the method of an illu­sion or copy­right its pre­sen­ta­tion, and even if either one is secured, they’re dif­fi­cult (and expen­sive) to defend in a court of law.

A few magi­cians have been suc­cess­ful in this regard. David Cop­per­field intro­duced a new a self-levitation effect over a decade ago that he called “Fly­ing.” Although the trick’s method relied on ear­lier tech­niques, it was orig­i­nal enough that the cre­ator was able to secure a patent. The patent was moot, how­ever, because the trick’s exe­cu­tion required a full stage and major resources to pro­duce. Plus, it put an enor­mous phys­i­cal strain on the per­former. Even if peo­ple wanted to steal the trick, they would prob­a­bly be unable to per­form it.

Teller, the silent half of the duo Penn & Teller, sued a Euro­pean magi­cian in inter­na­tional court over one of Teller’s sig­na­ture tricks. Not only had the other magi­cian begun to per­form Teller’s orig­i­nal rou­tine, he was adver­tis­ing online that he would sell the props to other per­form­ers. After much time and expense, the court ruled in Teller’s favor.

A magi­cian in Thai­land ripped off the entire act of Vegas per­former Jeff McBride move for move. I’ve had two of my own rou­tines lifted over the years.

This type of “acqui­si­tion” has been going on for cen­turies. In the 1870s, French magi­cian Buatier De Kolta invented an arti­fi­cial flower that he would pro­duce onstage by the hun­dreds. Other magi­cians had no idea how he did it—until one day a breeze acci­den­tally blew one of the fflow­ers into the audi­ence. A magi­cian who was at the show scooped up the fake flower and ran with it out of the the­ater. Soon every­one in the magic world knew how the trick was done and was imi­tat­ing it.

More often, magi­cians don’t steal an entire act or rou­tine. They just “adopt” a joke, phrase or patter.

I should men­tion that pil­fer­ing of intel­lec­tual prop­erty is also being done by some magic deal­ers, the folks who man­u­fac­ture and sell magic props. There is a major prob­lem with knock-offs com­ing into the U.S. from coun­tries such as India and espe­cially China. Besides the eth­i­cal and legal issues, the equip­ment is sel­dom as well pro­duced as it is here, but because of labor costs it’s usu­ally much cheaper.

Is some­one like Uri Geller who tricked the peo­ple on pur­pose doing an effect or is he doing a hoax?

Magi­cians use the term “effect” as jar­gon to mean “what the audi­ence thinks hap­pens or what it thinks it sees” (i.e., what “effect” it had on the spec­ta­tor). The word “hoax” isn’t used in magician’s jar­gon at all, so it can mean any­thing from a prac­ti­cal joke to a mali­cious act used to take money unscrupulously.

I won’t enter the Geller debate (which has resulted in major cross law­suits between “debunker” James Randi and “psy­chic” Uri Geller) except to say that every phe­nom­e­non Geller has pro­duced can be achieved by mag­i­cal meth­ods. It’s up to indi­vid­u­als to decide whether Uri has real psy­chic abil­i­ties, whether they are vic­tims of a hoax, or whether they’re just see­ing novel pre­sen­ta­tions to unfa­mil­iar magic tricks being per­formed by a very con­vinc­ing entertainer.

When you go see a magic show, do you find your­self enjoy­ing the show or critiquing?

Gen­er­ally, I do both. Because I’ve been per­form­ing pro­fes­sion­ally for forty years and sel­dom make changes to my basic reper­toire, I sel­dom try to fig­ure out the “method” of tricks (i.e., how they’re done). Instead, I try to watch like a non-magician, to just enjoy the show.

If I’m crit­i­cal, I gen­er­ally find it has noth­ing to do with the tricks. It has to do with act­ing or stage tech­niques: Did the per­former roam back and forth for no rea­son? Were they audi­ble? Were they cour­te­ous to vol­un­teers from the audi­ence? And so on. A magi­cian can always defend why he or she tells a par­tic­u­lar joke, does a par­tic­u­lar trick or places it at a par­tic­u­lar point in the show. There’s sim­ply no excuse for bad showmanship.

Is there one trick you always wanted to do or try that you didn’t because it was too com­pli­cated or dangerous?

Dan­ger has never been an issue, but they’ve been of inter­est to me. I’m a comedic per­former. My show has never been about build­ing ten­sion or pos­si­ble phys­i­cal dan­ger. Even when I per­form pseudo-dangerous effects (such as putting some­one in a guil­lo­tine or stick­ing a sword through an audi­ence member’s throat), no one believes that they could get hurt. Because they can’t.

I will con­fess that there are some tricks I decided not to work on because of their dif­fi­culty. Among these would be pro­duc­ing dozens of play­ing cards from an empty hand. I learned the tech­nique but decided that I didn’t want to ded­i­cate the hun­dreds of hours it would take to per­fect it.

More often I rule out tricks because they are messy (tricks with water), take a lot of time and prepa­ra­tion off stage (own­ing birds or a rab­bit), or tricks with fire. (I’m not wor­ried about fire dan­ger, but licenses are required for its use in many venues.)

What is the most dan­ger­ous trick; and, if so, it really the bul­let catch?

His­tor­i­cally, yes, the bul­let catch is prob­a­bly the trick that has been doc­u­mented as harm­ing the most magi­cians. In fact magician/author/historian Ben Robin­son wrote an entire book about the trick called Twelve Who Died.

Much more mun­dane injuries are paper cuts while open­ing a deck of play­ing cards, snip­ping a fin­ger while try­ing to cut a rope in half, or strain­ing an ankle while jump­ing off a box and yelling “Ta da.”

My son loves illu­sions but he gets frus­trated with most of the magic kits avail­able. Which books or web­sites can he look in to (he’s 10)?

I hate to sound self-serving—but I will be. Both of my instruc­tional magic books are good for begin­ners, young and old. The Com­plete Idiot’s Guide to Magic Tricks is out-of-print but still avail­able online as a used book. (Most of the used books will have the gim­micked cards that came with the book removed. Check before buy­ing it.) My Com­plete Idiot’s Guide to Street Magic has more con­tem­po­rary items and is aimed at a slightly older reader, but many of the tricks are still per­fect for a ten-year old. Magic for Dum­mies is also a great stand-by.

I highly rec­om­mend you take your son to your town’s library. Magic books are found at 798.6 in the Dewey Dec­i­mal sys­tem. As an eleven-year old I lost myself at the library and read every magic book on the shelves. Even though I wound up not doing most of the tricks, learn­ing about them pro­vided a breadth of knowl­edge that’s been invalu­able over the years.

For­give me if I don’t rec­om­mend any web­sites. I per­son­ally dis­ap­prove of most of the so-called instruc­tional videos that are posted online. The magi­cians who post them­selves range dra­mat­i­cally in abil­ity, and most free “how to” videos on YouTube and else­where do lit­tle more than expose the meth­ods with­out hav­ing any instruc­tional value.

What is your opin­ion on the “shock” magi­cians like Criss Angel?

I think there’s room for every style of per­former in every genre of enter­tain­ment. Criss’s wardrobe, groom­ing, music, and choice of effects appeal to a very spe­cific demo­graphic, and he has many ardent followers.

And shock sells. Dan Sperry, whose make-up is a goth/emo mash-up, is cur­rently tour­ing inter­na­tion­ally with a multi-magician show called “The Illu­sion­ists.” Penn Gillette (of Penn & Teller) has been at the Rio in Las Vegas for almost two decades and is known for being bom­bas­tic. And until his retire­ment last year, The Amaz­ing Johnathan was a Vegas fix­ture. He was famous for his loud, caus­tic humor.

What is the biggest thing you’ve made disappear?

My lunch?

I’d have to go back to when I per­form­ing “illu­sions” – magi­cian jar­gon for the “big boxes”– in a tented cir­cus. I raised a girl in a cage high above the cen­ter ring. She pulled up a cur­tain around the cage; I fired a pis­tol; the cur­tain fell, and the girl was gone. I then pointed to a locked steamer trunk in one of the other cir­cus rings. The box was opened, and the same girl popped out, none the worse for wear. The trick was a fea­ture in Howard Thurston’s show in the 1930s and was later sold as the “Girl Cab­i­net Tabouret” by Abbott’s Magic Company.

What is your favorite type of effect to do?

My act is a parade of well-known effects, from the cut-and-restored rope trick to the Link­ing Rings. I pre­fer to work the clas­sics for many rea­sons. First of all, audi­ences have loved them for gen­er­a­tions, and if I can bring some­thing fresh to them it’s as if I rein­vented the trick. I have also been doing those tricks the longest, which means I don’t have to worry that some­thing will go wrong: the tricks will work. Also, by know­ing the tricks like the back of my hand, I’m free to impro­vise com­edy pat­ter and ad-lib with the audience.

What are your thoughts on shows like Penn & Teller’s BS or Magic’s Biggest Secrets Revealed? Does giv­ing away the secrets ruin the illusion?

Your two exam­ples are very dif­fer­ent. Although Penn & Teller became famous by adver­tis­ing them­selves as “the Bad Boys of Magic,” very few of the minor tricks they exposed were of any con­se­quence. In fact, most of the secrets were already well known by laypeo­ple. In the case of their TV show BS, I think Penn & Teller are pro­vid­ing a valu­able ser­vice. They’re using enter­tain­ment to warn peo­ple about frauds and cheats.

Shows like The Masked Magi­cian and Magic’s Biggest Secrets Revealed have caused no per­ma­nent dam­age. Sure, the magi­cians who were per­form­ing those par­tic­u­lar tricks when the shows first aired were a bit miffed, but peo­ple have noto­ri­ously short mem­o­ries. And as Penn & Teller proved, you can fool peo­ple even if they know how the tricks are done. They showed audi­ences how the clas­sic Cups and Balls trick worked by slowly explain­ing it while using clear plas­tic cups. Then they imme­di­ately repeated the trick at reg­u­lar speed AND STILL FOOLED EVERYONE.

Expo­sure of magic tricks has been going on for millennia.

Writ­ing in Automata in the first cen­tury A.D., Horace of Alexan­dria (in Egypt) showed how priests used secret pneu­mat­ics to open the large tem­ple doors – which wor­ship­pers believed was being done by the gods.

In 1584, Regi­nald Scot wrote The Dis­cov­erie of Witch­craft to con­vince read­ers dur­ing the reign of James II in Eng­land that witch­craft didn’t exist. To prove his case, he explained how the most com­mon magic tricks of the day were done. He argued that the peo­ple per­form­ing them weren’t witches. They were merely street magicians.

In the 1920s, Horace Goldin was per­form­ing his ver­sion of Saw­ing a Woman in Half, at the time a brand-new illu­sion. When Camel cig­a­rettes revealed how he did it on the back of their cig­a­rette boxes (as part of a series “It’s fun to be fooled, it’s more fun to know”), Goldin sued – unsuccessfully.

My con­cern isn’t about tele­vi­sion expo­sure. It’s about tele­vi­sion magi­cians who cre­ate tricks that only work on tele­vi­sion. Some of the tricks are done by trick pho­tog­ra­phy, care­ful edit­ing or by using actors who pre­tend to be ordi­nary mem­bers of the audi­ence. Unfor­tu­nately, view­ers at home believe all the tricks they see on TV can be per­formed live, when they can’t.

 

 

Hey Shadow-dwellers!

I have no idea where the last year went. We had so many amaz­ing guests on that the shows just flew by!! 2013 is not shap­ing up to be a weak year either!! Lots of fan­tas­tic guests com­ing your way as soon as we can book them.

Cara and I are also going on the road to a lot of events and con­ven­tions this year to spread the word about the show. If you check the “events” page and hap­pen to be in the area — be sure to say hi! First per­son to find us at a con­ven­tion (not at a booth) — we buy a drink for!

We’ve almost got the On Demand sec­tion back up! I apol­o­gize for the delay. We lost the Para-X On Demand server and then we had host­ing lim­i­ta­tions on our old host­ing site. But now we’ve set­tled in to a new host and the On Demands are slowly going back up. Almost all of your favorite past episodes should be there! Check them out! Down­load them! Enjoy!!

2013 is going to be amaz­ing and we’re glad you’re join­ing us!!
See you in The Shad­ows!
Rebecca

 

Holy Cow did 2012 fly by so fast! We’re com­ing up on our hol­i­day break and this year has been amaz­ing — The Shad­ows has made so many new friends, learned about so many fas­ci­nat­ing places and gone to some great events! It’s been a blur of growth and change. We lost Mark (to his new job), gained Cara and moved to Mon­day nights… just to name a few things that changed!

I think we’ve finally shaken that bru­tal ghost in the machine that plagued our first year of shows! We sur­vived our first anniver­sary and another 6 months after that! We’ve had some major scores with inter­views — Jeff Belanger, Barry Fitzger­ald, The Con­stan­ti­nos, Jason Gowin, Karl Pfeif­fer just to name a few.

2012 has been an amaz­ing ride and 2013 is shap­ing up to be just as amaz­ing. Stay with us as we take this ride and we’ll see YOU in the Shad­ows!
Rebecca

 

This has been a sum­mer to remem­ber… Start­ing in June, I became the co-host of The Shad­ows and boy was I ner­vous!!! I really didn’t know what to expect or how to present myself, as far as I was con­cerned I would just be glad that I could put a sen­tence together and get it out of my mouth with­out mess­ing it up. It has been so enjoy­able, I have learned so many things, met many inter­est­ing peo­ple and its only been a cou­ple of months. It becomes extremely excit­ing to look to the future and what is in store for The Shad­ows fam­ily.… Thanks to Rebecca and Erick for hav­ing faith in me and their con­tin­ued sup­port. Even­tu­ally I will get more com­fort­able with this radio thing…until then I am off to fig­ure out the next blog.…

 

What a great year!!  One that has put so many won­der­ful peo­ple into my life, many of which I met through the Shad­ows Radio.   Loyd Auer­bach, Cal­lea Sher­rill, Debra and Tony Pick­man. Deb­bie and Mark Con­stan­tino, Jeff Belanger, Adven­ture Myths’ Frank and Jon, Danielle Stimp­son, Barry Fitzger­ald and Kat­rina Wei­d­man just to name a few!

One day well over a year ago a good friend of mine, Rebecca, came to me and asked if I would be inter­ested in doing a pod cast on the para­nor­mal with her. Of course I was inter­ested and since we would be putting in all of that work lets go for Para-x. Shortly after­wards the Shad­ows was born from a say­ing Rebecca used on her groups web­site, “See you in the Shad­ows”. We didn’t know how it was going to be received or how long we would be able to do it, but where it is we are both proud of!!

Not long after we started, we needed some pro­duc­tion help and we were lucky enough to have met Eric. I knew then that the Shad­ows team was set and we would be together through this jour­ney.  Since then Rebecca and Eric have become very close and I am excited for them. They are truly two of the great­est peo­ple I know.

Each week I have looked for­ward to see­ing you in the chat room, hear­ing what was on your mind and try­ing to bring in the guests that you most wanted to hear from. As there is never per­fect tim­ing in the world we live and things do change, I now need to focus my atten­tion on other things. This Wednes­day May 30, 2012 will be my last show. The Shad­ows will con­tinue on with Rebecca and a new co-host and I wish them noth­ing but success.

I want to thank each one of our lis­ten­ers; you are the dri­ving force behind the Shad­ows!! To each of our guests we were able to speak with I truly appre­ci­ate you and what you were able to offer to our lis­ten­ers.  I laughed, cried and learned some­thing from each of you. I thank you for that and I will never for­get any of you.

Those old enough to remem­ber the Bea­t­les lyric; “The long and wind­ing road that leads to your door, will never dis­ap­pear”. I will always be there for Rebecca, Eric and who­ever else would like me to. My email will con­tinue to be open here for those wish­ing to con­tact me.  I may not be in front of the mic or in the chat room but I will always be float­ing around in……. The Shadows!

I wish you all love, light and peace

Mark D.

 

 

Hey all!

We’ve been quite busy around here.  The Shad­ows has some AMAZING guests booked out through the sum­mer and in to the fall!  Plus our one year anniver­sary is com­ing up quick and that should be an awe­some event!  Speak­ing of events, did you hear about our event at the Biss­man Build­ing in Mans­field Ohio on Hal­loween?  If not, lis­ten to the show and check the site — more details are com­ing soon!!  Also, Mark and I will be broad­cast­ing live from The Red Mill in Clin­ton, NJ in part­ner­ship with Scream Para­nor­mal this August.  Check out their site for ticket information!

 

Look­ing for­ward to amaz­ing things on Para-X and in The Shadows!

Rebecca

 

Hey Shad­ows peeps!

I was so involved in some seri­ous stuff this last month that I totally neglected you all! I’ve been build­ing a new web­site for one of Mark and my favorite local “haunts” — Fort Mif­flin! After some 90 hours of cod­ing, www.fortmifflin.us is now com­plete! Check it out and let me know what you think! If you knew the mon­stros­ity of a site that they had before, you will under­stand why they went the con­ser­v­a­tive and sim­ple root this time.

We’ve had some amaz­ing inter­views over the last month. Did you catch our awe­some inter­view with Barry Fitzger­ald at the begin­ning of the month? It was def­i­nitely one of our favorites! He was such a cool guy and really easy to talk to. Plus how often do you get to men­tion the Titanic and William Shat­ner in the same sentence??

We have an amaz­ing event that is in the works! Want a hint? It has some­thing to do with our inter­view last week… but many many more details later!!

See you all in the Shad­ows!
(and sorry for the encore show this week — both Mark and I caught the plague or some­thing and were down for the count)
Rebecca

 

First let me say Happy New year to every­one, I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy year filled with pros­per­ity and love.

Now for the upcom­ing year!! We have a lot going on here and we are excited to share it all with you. We will start the year of on Jan­u­ary 4, 2012 by talk­ing to “Pro­fes­sor para­nor­mal” Loyd Auer­bach! Pro­fes­sor Auer­bach has been a pro­fes­sor of para­psy­chol­ogy, author of numer­ous books deal­ing with haunt­ings and ghosts he has also been involved in numer­ous para­nor­mal inves­ti­ga­tions. Not a bad way to start off the year!!

This com­ing year we will be speak­ing with Barry Fitzger­ald, Mark and Deb­bie Con­stan­tino, Jeff Belanger as well as our his­tor­i­cal loca­tions, The Stan­ley Hotel, Burling­ton County Prison Museum Sloss fur­nace, just to name a few.

We have been hard at work­ing try­ing to get to you want you want to hear. If there is some­one or some place you want us to speak with let us know. You are a major por­tion of our show and we want to hear from you!!

Don’t for­get we’ll see you in the Shadows!!

~Mark

Tagged with:
 

I got yelled at again by Rebecca because I don’t blog enough. So here I go…..

We are work­ing on some great shows for you!! We will be sched­uled Loyd Areubach, Barry Fitzger­ald from GHI just to name a few!!!!

We also have some great loca­tions that we will be speak­ing with like the Wha­ley House and the Jenny Wade house!!!

You asked and we are going to deliver. Keep lis­ten­ing and also click on the link in the right col­umn of this page and”like” us on Face­book. There you can eas­ily keep up to date with what we have com­ing up and you can eas­ily tell us what you want to hear.

Don’t for­get, we’ll see you in the Shadows!!!

~Mark

 

Ok ok ok… I took one for the team last night. Not only did Mark sac­ri­fice me by mak­ing me walk through the haunted house at all, but he made me do it ALONE! I was very proud that I made it through with­out any seri­ous curs­ing and screaming…and I didn’t punch any­one! Although hear­ing Mark laugh at me on the phone while I was freak­ing out was … well… let’s just say it put him on the very short list to be smacked. But I sur­vived and lived to laugh about it. And in the end it was totally worth it! The Bates Motel is one of the best haunted attrac­tions around and I was glad to be able to have the chance to expe­ri­ence it on air with you all. And I apol­o­gize in advance for any curses that might have slipped out.

See you all in the Shad­ows! (And not in the haunted house!)
Rebecca