Recent Stories:
Wonder Thunder

Episode #1 : Why saw a woman in half? What is the connection between a deck of cards & the calendar. Remote card location.

Episode #2: Espionage, jealousy & murder among magicians. Adam calls his arch nemesis Richard Vegas.

Episode #3:The first aircraft pilot down under was a magician and a live random number challenge via phone.

Episode #4: Bar stunts, Alice Cooper as a magician and magic used in pop concerts.



“The Card Trick” will be presented on May 26, 27 and 28 at the Peller Theatre in the Magic Castle.

It’s a one-act play that’s part conversation, part performance, part showdown, between Harry Houdini and Mina Crandon, aka Margery the Medium, the notorious Boston trickster who almost won the Scientific American Committee award as a genuine psychic. I’d call it “dramatic history.” We don’t actually know if this conversation actually took place, but we do know what happened just before it, and just after it. So I had a chance to indulge in a little speculation, calculating the personalities of Houdini and Margery and what they may have discussed when they were in a room together. 

In many ways they were formidable rivals. Houdini was renown as the incorruptible truth-teller, out to expose the fraud of the séance room. Margery was an amazingly adept and brazen psychic, who managed to hoodwink almost every visitor to her parlor, with a combination of deception and her own personal allure.

In the play, the card trick forms an analogy for how each of these personalities thought about deception. Houdini performs a card trick for Margery, and she offers a trick in exchange. During the course of the demonstrations, their differing philosophies are made clear, and their shaky truce reaches an impasse.

Originally Jim Bentley approached me about the project, as he was assembling a special program as a benefit for the Skirball Museum, currently hosting the Houdini exhibit in Los Angeles. I suggested this one-act play that I’d written several years ago. Jim thought it would be a good project for him — of course, he’s a talented Hollywood actor and has played Houdini an number of times. Jim suggested Janine Anderson for the role of Margery. Janine is well known to magicians through her performances and her work at the Magic Castle, and she’s also a talented actress with a long list of Hollywood credits.

Both actors have a great feeling for the roles. Jim has tapped into Houdini’s tightly-wound, challenging personality. And Janine captures the dissolute, fascinating Margery. A seemingly carefree trickster, there’s no question that Margery managed to conceal her genius for this sort of fraud. It’s also been fun to incorporate an extravagant bit of magic. If you get a chance to see Houdini’s “card trick,” you might be surprised! Typical of the real Houdini, it’s an extravagant optical illusion, drawing upon years of magic history to create a unique effect.

Also appearing as part of the program is Derek Hughes with a special introduction, and Jim Bentley’s recreation of several of Houdini’s effects. On the 28th, the first preview will be a special benefit for the Vernon Fund at the Magic Castle, with a discussion of the play and the historic characters.

Jim Steinmeyer