On Sunday, November 4, the day after Ring 211’s 32nd Annual Hocus Pocus Party (see article in a recent issue), The Amazing Corbin presented his “Fair To Foul” lecture to Ring 211 (Grand Rapids, Michigan). The sub title is “The Twisted Transitions of Magic and Magicians in the 19th Century.” He has also published a booklet with the same title. The lecture was a treat to our membership. The Amazing Corbin was one of our headliners of the party and many of time, we will have the headliner present a lecture the following day. We were quite “charmed” from this “Charming Cheat” during his performance at the party. He is known as The Amazing Corbin — The Charming Cheat!
Michael Fisher, known as The Amazing Corbin, is from London, Ontario, Canada. He also is the president of Ring 265 — London Magicians Guild. Read from his poster was also “Secrets Revealed — Miracles Performed.” Also, “Commencing with magic’s humble beginnings at European fairs and markets, travel through the parlours of Victorian high society and finally onto the stages of North America where magician’s often mounted an attack on SPIRITUALISTS and the SUPERNATURAL! During this you will learn magician’s have some secrets they want to share!”
This was a historical presentation explaining how magicians transformed from distrusted street performers (liars, cheats, shady tricksters, thieves, and spiritualists), to consummate performers of skill, and most importantly, to concluding the 1800’s by debunking the foul spiritualists who were known to take advantage of the gullible and those mourning the loss of loved ones. Magicians covered were:
* John Rannie — kicked out of Scotland and America’s first magician being “a jack of all trades” performing magic, ventriloquism, bird calls, and acrobatics. His magic included cups and balls, card to leg of lamb, wooden duck to card, turning a playing card into a cat, and then he revealed his tricks.
* James Rannie — convinced by brother John to come to America and he also did ventriloquism.
* Richard Potter — born in New Hampshire and America’s first Black magician who learned from the Rannie brothers, was very nice, and began to raise the status of the performer in that era.
* Professor Hoffmann — published first book in the English language which explained how to perform magical feats, “Modern Magic” in 1876
* Pinetti — a professor of physics who performed magic tricks in class to illustrate concepts, performed card shot to ceiling, and what is known as the Troublewitt (a folding Venetian blind)
* Feuer Salamander
* Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin — a watchmaker and known for his auto-mans, considered as the father of of the modern style of conjuring, took magic to the theater to attract a higher class of people — rising card from French roulette
* Kate and Maggie Fox — from New York who talked to the dead, were spiritualists, and put on seances.
* Davenport Brothers — spirit cabinet
* John Nevil Maskeylne and George Cooke — debunked Davenport brothers and put on their own improved show, played Egyptian Hall in plays such “Witch, Will, and Watchman”
* and many more including Canadian connections
Within the lecture, The Amazing Corbin performed a cups and balls routine using two cups with the climax being the production of three tennis balls, the Troublewitt, and a spirit demonstration. The demonstration used a tambourine, a bell, and a light bulb. Multiple times, the chosen number on a die was revealed by hearing the ringing of the bell setting all alone in the near distance. The bell must have been haunted! We were on the edge of our seats.
The club enjoyed this so-called historical tour and highly recommends The Amazing Corbin, not just for his magic, but for the history he shares. One may connect with him on Facebook and at www.charmingcheat.ca/. We suggest his book, “From Fair To Foul: The Twisted Transitions of Magic and Magicians in the 19th Century” which not only includes the full script of the lecture but has much more detail and biographies of these great magicians of that era.