Apple Shots #6: The Magic of Wisconsin at Appleton Wisconsin's Houdini Days, 2004
Magic is part of Appleton's rich heritage, largely because it was the boyhood home of Harry Houdini, whose name lives on here in many forms and places. In 2004, Appleton drew in world-class magicians for a Houdini Days magic festival, Sept. 2-5. It was incredible. I discuss the event further on my page about my hobby of amateur magic. During the event, Appleton had loads of free street magic with a spectacular evening show at the Performing Arts Center. It was virtually all G-rated, family-friendly, and thoroughly entertaining. That's Appleton style.
While there were many big names here, the main draw for many people was Jeff McBride, one of the most artistic and impressive performers you will ever see. Jeff brings many fields together in his magic - mime, music, dance, Japanese theater, and brilliant creativity and artistry. After his performance at the PAC, the crowd went wilder than I've seen in that setting, with a rousing and noisy standing ovation that brought him back several times and led him to do another amazing encore act. He was touched by the warm reception of the Appleton crowd, and promised that he'll be back. I'm a big McBride fan, especially after spending five hours with him in a "Secret Session Workshop" on Sept. 4 that he provided for about 25 amateur and professional magicians - what an amazing experience that was! He's the best.
Here are some pics taken during the public parts of Houdini Days, mostly from Sept. 4, 2004, in downtown Appleton. These are all copyright 2004 by Jeff Lindsay. Down on the left are links to other Apple Shots pages, such as Apple Shots #4, Apple Shots #9, or Apple Shots #13.
Master magician Jeff McBride performs the Chinese Linking Rings for an outdoor audience near Houdini Plaza on Sept. 4, 2004.
Michael Ammar (at the table) and Nate Nygren (standing behind Michael) teach a free class for young magicians in the Appleton Art Center.
Even local supermodels came out to see Houdini Days (this one is Kendra Lindsay).
Doc Eason, master of close-up magic, performs in a booth on College Avenue.
Michael Finney's dry comedy and magic cracks up another audience. (His Website provides a couple of delightful videos of Finney's routines, if you'd like to see and hear a free sample.)
Jeff McBride begins a colorful production.
Magic superstar and master inventor of illusions, Franz Harary, next to your Webmaster, Jeff Lindsay. I attended a lecture that Franz Harary gave at Houdini Days about his work. Amazing stuff! He's created over 200 large illusions, many of which are used by magicians all over the world, including David Copperfield. Harary performs to huge audiences, mostly outside the United States, and is one of the field's most significant innovators.
Rondini after freeing himself miraculously from padlocked chains.
Bruce Hetzler shows Mayor Timothy Hanna a new hands-on way to cut taxes - or other objects.
One of America's leading young magicians, Joshua Jay, wows the crowd with an effect he developed.
My favorite magician, Jeff McBride, flashes "two" for "two Jeffs." The day before, I spent five hours learning from him in his "Secret Session Workshop" - what a treat! A most interesting and talented human being.
Mayor Timothy Hanna and an automobile suddenly appear out of nowhere (?) in an illusion performed by the two organizers of Houdini Days, Chris Cochrane and Mike Schroeder of the Comedy Magic of Mike and Chris.
Appleton's Bruce Hetzler shows a puzzling effect he developed.
Magic enthusiast Walter Reade of Appleton enjoys a stroll around Appleton's magical epicenter.
A child stands in front of the Metamorphosis sculpture on Houdini Plaza during a quiet moment at Houdini Days.
Danny Magic performs for some passers-by near Houdini plaza. Based in Milwaukee, this fine magician and escape artist added a lot to the 2004 Houdini Days celebration with a great imitation of Harry Houdini.
Boston magician Jon Stetson wows a crowd with his fork. It's a hilarious mind-over-matter routine in which forks bend in the hands of spectators, or in Jon's hands.
Magician Lou Lepore of Menasha takes a break at a colorful vending truck on College Avenue.
Lou Lepore amazes a child with some sleight of hand.
An audience listens to the introduction of mentalist Rex Sikes for a free public performance.
Thirteen-year-old Lee Haushalter of Brillion just made a rabbit appear. His work with doves also won an award that was presented at Houdini Days.
What's a magic festival without some balloons?