Category Archives: History

Billy McComb’s Vanishing Bird Cage

The late, truly great Billy McComb performing his Slow Motion Vanishing Bird Cage:

Boomtown! Steampunk Saloon May 24-27



Green Wave Presents
Steampunk Saloon and Opulent Temple’s

An arts, education, and musical camp out

Memorial Day Weekend 2013
May 24,25,26,27
20 minutes north of LA
near Vasquez Rocks

$99 tickets available through Kickstarter until May 5th

$150-$200 tickets available via beTIcketing after May 5th.

Presale Link:
BOOMTOWN is an 1880s themed three-day arts, eco-education, and vintage perfomer event in Aqua Dulce, on a private 230 acre meadow, surrounded by hills.

The campout will host science lectures, sustainable living displays and classes, a narrated lunar eclipse viewing, handmade clothing creators, and vintage performers, including magicians and vaudeville acts.

Various attractions during the weekend:

An 1880s Tent. Inside is a 70-year-old bar tender, dressed in steampunk clothes. He serves root beer and lemonade. To the left is the cabinet of curiosities – glittery treasures from all parts of the world. A saber tooth tiger skull, maps to forgotten lands, writing desks, quill pens, brass telescopes.

Pop Hayden from The Magic Castle
will do a historical magic show

New Fangled Opry- Vaudville variety Show

L’unkle’s Boink – A dieselpunk Clown Troupe

Music will include a very special daytime workshop,
followed by a nighttime performance by

The Crystal Method (DJ performance)

Vapor- With his magical illuminated Kinestescope art

Le Sirenes- performance troupe

And many other acoustic and performance acts.

This area will be a 20′ dome next to the Museum of Extraordinary Wonder. The Green Grotto will feature displays of tower gardens, recycling techniques, composting techniques, books on urban gardening, apartment gardening, and many displays. Lecturers will speak of communal village gardens, modern ecological events, sustainable living Q & As, and outreach programs that Green Wave promotes and supports around the globe.

The Opulent Temple creates a playground for connection with the Eternal through music. This stage features a Jules Verne inspired metal pod with small fire effects that serves as the stage for musicians. There will also be other forms of light art and metal sculpture to enjoy.

At the center of the Opulent Temple, community experience is the concept of a “Master Class”. World class musicians who remember their early roots are invited to perform.

These musicians have writen their own music and will give lectures during the day on modern computer composition techniques. At night, they will entertain the dancers with their music. Select people from the daytime lectures will be invited up into the music capsule to watch the performers work their midi controllers and laptops.

MAKERS MARKET – This area features handcrafted 1880s apparel, jewelry, top hats, women’s ballroom gowns, and period props. Every vendor hand makes their own wares. This area creates a community of grass roots vendors. By bringing all of these small buisness creators together and placing them in a marketplace at a festival that features 1880s style fashion, we will be supporting their beautiful art.

The Performers for the Steampunk Saloon:

The Crystal Method (DJ set)
David Starfire
Desert Dwellers (solo set)
Alex Zelenka
Auditory Canvas
DJ Wolfie
Treavor Moontribe

2-Headed Monster-Little Giants
Mark Zabala-Mike Insane-Tropo
Pop Hayden Magic Show-Loomer-Shakti Bliss
The Invisibles-Matt Cole-Fleetwood Smack
Hawk-Jaques the Ripper-BassMechanic
Kat Perry-Jokton-BK Willy-dj Sandbag-Will Levine
Our perfomers for the Opulent Temple:

DJ Dan
DJ Rap

And the residents:
Syd Gris-Tek Freaks – Dutch -Vinkalmann-
-Drew Drop-Dulce Vita-DJ Icon- Brian Peek
Billy Seal-Billy Casazza- Brian Williams
-Mike Butler- Eliki-The Quadrobe – Kimba

and more guests tba.

After years of small gatherings, we have a vision to bring all of these similar groups together and let the steampunk musicians mix with the astronomers, the rocket scientists, and the eco-awareness educators.

We are very excited to bring our steampunk community together. We feel deeply in our hearts that this event will fulfill a greater purpose than just a weekend campout. This weekend will serve to educate, to illuminate, to include people with diverse ideas, and to see the spark of new possibilites for the earth, for fashion, and for music light up in the eyes of our attendees.


Daniel Boone’s Knife-Swallowing Trick

Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone

My dear friend, Kurt Freitag brought me a lovely present while working the Magic Castle this week, a book on Southern Folklore. In it I discovered an interesting selection from a book about the early frontier, telling a tale of Daniel Boone using sleight of hand to get out of trouble:

“Boone, according to James Jall, was once resting in the woods with a small number of his followers, when a large party of Indians came suddenly upon them and halted–neither party having discovered the other until they came in contact. The whites were eating, and the savages, with the ready tact for which they are famous, sat down with perfect composure, and also commenced eating. It was obvious they wished to lull the suspicions of the white men, and seize a favorable opportunity for rushing upon them. Boone affected a careless inattention, but, in an undertone, quietly admonished his men to keep their hands upon their rifles. He then strutted towards the reddies unarmed and leisurely picking the meat from a bone. The Indian leader, who was somewhat similarly employed, arose to meet him.

“Boone saluted him, and then requested to look at the knife with which the Indian was cutting his meat. The chief handed it to him without hesitation, and our pioneer, who, with his other traits, possessed considerable expertness at sleight of hand, deliberately opened his mouth and affected to swallow the long knife, which, at the same instant, he threw adroitly into his sleeve. The Indians were astonished. Boone gulped, rubbed his throat, stroked his body, and then, with apparent satisfaction, pronounced the horrid mouthful to be very good.

“Having enjoyed the surprise of the spectators for a few moments, he made another contortion, and drawing forth the knife, as they supposed, from his body, coolly returned it to the chief. The latter took the point cautiously between his thumb and finger, as if fearful of being contaminated by touching the weapon, and threw it from him into the bushes. The pioneer sauntered back to his party, and the Indians, instantly dispatching their meal, marched off, desiring no further intercourse with a man who could sallow a scalping knife.”

–From Our Western Border, Its Life, Combats, Adventures, Forays, Massacres, Captivities, Scouts, Red Chiefs, Pioneer Women One Hundred Years Ago…carefully written and compiled by Charles McKNight, pp 289-290. Philadelphia: J. C. McCurdy and Co. 1876.

This section quoted in “A Treasury of Southern Folklore,” edited by B. A. Botkin  copyright MCMXLIX

From Wikipedia:

“Daniel Boone (November 2, 1734 [O.S. October 22] – September 26, 1820) was anAmerican pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky, which was then part of Virginia but on the other side of the mountains from the settled areas. Despite some resistance from American Indian tribes such as the Shawnee, in 1775 Boone blazed his Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolinaand Tennessee into Kentucky. There he founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, one of the first American settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 European people migrated to Kentucky/Virginia by following the route marked by Boone.[2]

“Boone was a militia officer during the Revolutionary War (1775–83), which in Kentucky was fought primarily between the American settlers and the British-aidedNative Americans. Boone was captured by Shawnee warriors in 1778, who after a while adopted him into their tribe. Later, he left the Indians and returned to Boonesborough to help defend the European settlements in Kentucky/Virginia.

“Boone was elected to the first of his three terms in the Virginia General Assemblyduring the Revolutionary War, and fought in the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782. Blue Lick was one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War, coming after the main fighting ended in October 1781.”


Talk Like a Pirate Day!

9th Annual Soapy Smith Night Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The 9th Annual Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle, held on July 8, 2012, was a great success! We had 420 attendees, and raised $2,520 for the Vernon Fund!

Thanks, everyone!

For nine years, the Magic Castle has celebrated the famous gunfight on the wharf at Skagway, Alaska on July 8, 1898, when the great Soapy Smith, the King of the Frontier Conmen, and the finest exponent of the Shell Game thet ever lived, was gunned down and his gang of 100 con men who had ruled the entry to the Gold Rush from its inception were arrested or scattered.

At the Magic Castle, we have a wonderful party each year to celebrate the memory of this clever bad man. We turn the place into a Gold Rush era saloon, with antique gambling tables for Chuck a Luck, Faro, Black Jack, and Roulette, along with all sorts of other games like the Shell Game, Three-Card Monte and Fast and Loose. There are prizes for the best dealer and most successful player. We have a costume contest as well. Everyone dresses up in 1890’s attire, and there are prizes for the most authentic, funniest, and sexiest costumes. We have a toast to Soapy’s ghost, and live Old Time music provided by Professor Dave Bourne and the Medicine Show Band.  Chef Anton, the two-time national trick shot champion at pool, presents his incredible demonstration of billiards wizardry. We have a live auction, presided over by professional auctioneer and wonderful magician/vaudevillian, Rob Zabrecky.

It is one of the most fun nights  of the year at the Magic Castle.

Rest in Peace Lonesome George

Lonesome George


Lonesome George, the last survivor of the Galapagos Tortoises that Darwin studied in forming his theory of evolution, died Sunday at 100 years old. Rest in Peace, old fellow. It could have been his mom or dad that Darwin studied.

Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower

Source: Uploaded by user via Pop on Pinterest

Pop keeps abreast of the pulse of what’s going on…

Pop Haydn and Friends


With the campaign season fast approaching, I am doing my best to keep abreast of current affairs, trying to keep a finger on the pulse so to speak…
Events are moving fast with the Greater American Confidence Party, and it looks very likely that I, Pop Haydn, will be the presidential candidate for the Old Weasels.
I will be gathering information and keeping my eye on things as Magill and I travel around preparing for the campaign, meeting people, shaking hands, kissing babies and making promises–lots of promises.
We may be taking a trip to the Mediteranean next to see how things are going there…

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Julie D’Aubigny makes Katniss look like a weak sister…

Female Opera Diva and Fencing Master, Julie D’Aubigny dueling to the death

Julie D’Aubigny, La Maupin was a 17th-century bisexual French opera singer and fencing master who killed or wounded at least ten men in life-or-death duels, performed nightly shows on the biggest and most highly-respected opera stage in the world, and once took the Holy Orders just so that she could sneak into a convent and bang a nun.

She has an incredible and surprising story that is absolutely captivating.


“Julie d’Aubigny was born 1670 to the family of Gaston d’Aubigny, who was a secretary to Louis de Lorraine-Guise, comte d’Armagnac, the Master of the Horse for the king Louis XIV. Her father trained her in dancing, literacy, drawing and fencing, possibly for self-defense. In her teens she became a mistress of the Count d’Armagnac and through him was introduced in the court. The count had her married to Sieur de Maupin of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Soon after the affair ended, her husband received an administrative position in the south of France but she decided to stay in Paris.

The fictional Mademoiselle de Maupin, based on Julie D’Aubigny by Aubrey Beardsley, 1898

“In the following years, d’Aubigny gathered a reputation as a wild woman who hit shopkeepers and fought duels with young aristocrats. She became involved with an assistant fencing master named Serannes. In about 1688, when lieutenant-general of the police Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie tried to apprehend Serannes for killing a man in an illegal duel, the pair fled the city to Marseille.

“In Marseille, d’Aubigny and Serannes gave dueling exhibitions, sang and told stories in inns. When dueling, d’Aubigny dressed in male clothing but did not conceal her sex[clarification needed], which served to increase interest in her. While in Marseille, it is said she joined the music academy of Pierre Gaultier, singing in the theatre under her maiden name.

“Eventually she grew bored of Serannes and became involved with a young lady. When the girl’s parents put her away in a convent in Avignon, d’Aubigny followed, entering the convent as a novice. There she stole a body of a dead nun, placed it in the bed of her lover and set the room afire to cover their escape. Their affair lasted for three months before the young lady returned to her family. D’Aubigny was chargedin absentia—as a male—with kidnappingbody snatchingarson and failing to appear before the tribunal. The sentence was death by fire.

“D’Aubigny left for Paris and again earned her living by singing. Near Poitiers she met an old musician named Marechal, who began to teach her until his alcoholism got worse and he sent her on her way to Paris. Along the way, she continued to earn her living singing dressed as a man.

“In Villeperdue she fought a victorious duel against three squires and drove her blade through the shoulder of one of them. The next day she asked about his health and found out he was Louis-Joseph d’Albert Luynes, son of the Duke of Luynes. The next evening one of his companions came to offer his apologies and she appeared in his room in female clothing. They became lovers.

“After the Count d’Albert recovered and had to return to his unit, d’Aubigny continued to Rouen. There she met Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard, another singer and began a new affair with him. They continued together towards Paris. In Marais she contacted Count d’Armagnac for help against the sentence hanging over her and he convinced the king to nullify it.

“In Paris she began to use the name of Mademoiselle Maupin. The Paris Opéra hired Thévenard in 1690, but initially refused her. She befriended an old singer Bouvard who convinced Jean Nicolas Francin, master of the king’s household, to accept her in the opera. She debuted at the Paris Opéra as Pallas Athena in Cadmus et Hermione by Lully the same year.

“Due to both her beautiful contralto voice and her flamboyance, she became quite popular with the audience. Her relationship with her fellow actors and actresses was tempestuous. From the first she was enamoured with Marie Le Rochois, at the time the Opera’s star. This quickly embroiled her in arguments and even duels with other members of the troupe. She also fell in love with Fanchon Moreau, another singer who was the mistress of the Great Dauphin, and tried to commit suicide when she was rejected.

“On the side, she became a professional duelist. When she fought three noblemen in a court ball around 1693, she fell afoul of the king’s law that forbade duels in Paris. She fled to Brussels to wait for calmer times. According to the legend, she was briefly a mistress of Maximilian EmanuelElector of Bavaria.

“According to documented theatre history she appeared at the Opéra du Quai au Foin from November 1697 to July 1698, after which she returned to the Paris Opera, where she replaced Marie Le Rochois (who had retired), from the end of the year. Until 1705 La Maupin sang in new operas by Pascal CollasseAndré Cardinal Destouches and André Campra. In 1702, André Campra composed the role of Clorinde in Tancrède specifically for her bas-dessus (contralto) range. She later reconciled with her husband and lived with him until his death in 1701 or 1705. She appeared for the last time in La Vénitienne by Michel de La Barre (1705). After she retired from the opera in 1705, she entered a convent in Provence, where she died in 1707.”


%d bloggers like this: