Category Archives: Vaudeville and Burlesque

Posts about the history and present day revivals of vaudeville and burlesque.

Kenny Raskin’s wonderful “My Old Friend”


This is from Kenny Raskin, who created this presentation:

“I created my piece (a version, filmed for Danish television, can be viewed on youtube) in 1981. Like any normal performer, I began putting it out there when I was gigging, but also at clown and mime festivals throughout the United States. So the great thing is, if it’s a good piece, people notice you. You get some good press and you build your reputation in the business. You might even get hired by Cirque du Soleil, which is what happened to me.

“The bad thing is, people begin to copy you, and when you are new in your profession, sometimes your authorship gets called into question. That is hurtful… It’s been a long time, and most people that came up in the clown world with me know the true story. I may not have been the first person to do a routine like this, but I didn’t see someone do one and then go out and create my own… My focus these days is more on teaching the craft, so my livelihood is not at issue here. But for those who I know saw my work and used it to create their own version — Tina Lenert, Sasha, Gayle LaJoye, Peter Shub, Jason McPherson — you are welcome…”

Mirin Dajo–the Amazing Human Pincushion


This video is not for the faint of heart. There are graphic images of swords and rapiers being pushed through a human body. It is truly amazing, but could be upsetting for some.

Mirin Dajo was a sideshow and stage performer in the 1940’s. He was by far the most amazing act of his kind that has ever been reported.

He’d stand bare-chested while his assistant would take fencing foils, and one by one, run him through–Dajo never flinched and never showed the slightest pain. He attributed this ability to his yogic training and faith in God.

The curious were invited to watch as closely as they liked, and to examine the blades even while they were stuck through him.

Dajo was invited to a medical center for tests.

Dajo’s assistant stuck a foil into his back–under doctors’ scrutiny, and then pressed it all the way through. The skin pushed outward on his chest and the foil finally broke through.

Dajo seemed well despite the event. With the foil stuck through him, Dajo walked to their X-ray lab, where they took shots verifying the foil did indeed pierce his abdomen all the way through, passing through and among major organs.

Mirin Dajo was born in 1912 as Arnold Gerrit Henskes. The first records of Dajo come from 1947 when he allowed an assistant to plunge a fencing foil right through his body at the Corso Theatre in Zurich.

The foil appeared to have pieced several vital organs, but Dajo was unharmed.

Mirin was forced to undergo many medical tests and to perform his act for baffled doctors. After x-ray tests were conducted, the legitimacy of his abilities was confirmed by the medical community. It could not be explained by any physician.

Mirin Dajo was a very religious man and some media outlets labeled him a “Messiah.”

His sideshow displays were often concluded with a lecture and a message of peace.

During his act he took to being impaled by three hollow skewers. He would then pump water through those skewers to become a human fountain.

On May 26, 1948, Mirin Dajo died from an aortic rupture.

He was not performing at the time, but his death could have resulted from previous acts.

More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin_Dajo

Magic Castle Fire Press Conference


Houdini’s Final Seance


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Halloween is National Magic Day

Film of Houdini’s Funeral:


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Halloween is National Magic Day

Houdini: Can the Dead Speak to the Living?


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Halloween is National Magic Day

Fire at the Magic Castle!


Sophie Evans

The Magic Castle will be closed tonight, Halloween, because of a fire in the attic.

The fire started at 12:35 pm this afternoon, and was put out in just over an hour. No one was hurt, and the fire is out. The Magic Castle is okay with only superficial and water damage to the attic. The Castle will be closed tonight until the damage can be assessed. It will re-0pen as soon as possible.

More information is available here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/10/magic-castle-fire-damage.html

Sophie Evans has been performing all this past week with her amazing fire magic act and fire-eating in the Palace of Mystery–part of our Inferno at the Magic Castle Halloween week theme, and unfortunately will not be able to perform her last shows tonight.

Sophie, of course, denies any involvement in this unfortunate affair, and she looks perfectly innocent to me…

Houdini the movie star:


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Halloween is National Magic Day

Houdini used camera tricks!


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Halloween is National Magic Day

King of Cards!


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)

Halloween is National Magic Day

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