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Special Presentation: Pretend Radio - Birth of a Con Man, Part 1

This episode of Illusion is a special presentation of Birth of a Con Man, Part 1. The story first appeared on Pretend Radio, hosted by Javier Leiva. Learn more at pretendradio.org. Sources Javier Leiva — Pretend Radio: Birth of a Con Man, Part 1 Music Blue Dot Sessions — Night Light Illusion is written and produced by Brian Earl. Follow Illusion on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and please consider leaving a review. It's a quick and painless...


010: Dinner is Served

In the early 1900s, magician Max Malini was invited to a fancy dinner party in the Philippines. The host tried to play a prank on him, and learned an important life lesson: don't mess with a magician! Sources Ricky Jay — Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women Music Blue Dot Sessions — Turning Chris Zabriskie — The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan Chris Zabriskie — Undercover Vampire Policeman Chris Zabriskie — Prelude No. 16 Illusion is written and produced by Brian Earl....


009: Fairy Tale

In 1917, two girls in the Yorkshire village of Cottingley took photos of themselves and what appeared to be fairies. Three years later, they found themselves the unwitting perpetrators of a widespread hoax and the source of hope and vindication for an entire religious movement. Sources Wikipedia — The Cottingley Fairies James Randi Educational Foundation — The Case of the Cottingley Fairies Music Steve O'Brien — Lullaby No. 1 in B-flat major Chris Zabriskie — Prelude No. 1 in C...


Bonus 002: Gina Tonic

Gina Tonic is a drag performer in New York City. We had a wide ranging discussion covering the history of drag, creating the illusion of gender, and drag as a performing art. You can find more about Gina Tonic at: Twitter: https://twitter.com/ItsGinaTonic Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/itsginatonic/ Special Thanks This special bonus episode is presented in partnership with Backyard Media Company, and with promotional support from Helix and Burrow. Helix offers customized...


008: Pseudoscience

In the 18th century, a Roman professor of mathematics demonstrated the latest scientific discoveries with dazzling demonstrations. There was just one problem: he was really performing magic tricks. Sources Milbourne Christopher — The Illustrated History of Magic, 1996 Music Kevin MacLeod — Mesmerize Chris Zabriskie — There's Probably No Time Kai Engel — Fading Ray's Waltz Illusion is written and produced by Brian Earl. Follow Illusion on Facebook, Twitter, and...


007: The Luminous Pantomimes

In 1892, in a small Parisian theater at the back of a wax museum, inventor Charles-Emil Reynaud presented his "Luminous Pantomimes" and introduced the world to a new art form: the animated cartoon. Sources Wikipedia — "Theatre Optique" Wikipedia — "Charles-Emil Reynaud" Ollie Johnston — The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation, 1995 ABC Television: Walt Disney's Disneyland — "The Story of the Animated Drawing" 1955 Music Dana Boule — Sad French Accordion Dana Boule — Rainy Night...


006: The Queen of Ohio

Cassie Chadwick was a career criminal who conned her way into high society and spent money like she was a Carnegie...which she claimed she was. What happened next was a $20 million swindle that collapsed a bank. This episode also features a guest appearance from Javier Leiva from Pretend Radio, a documentary style podcast telling stories of real people pretending to be someone else. Sources Wikipedia — "Cassie Chadwick" Karen Abbot — "The High Priestess of Fraudulent Finance" via...


005: The Knockers of Rochester

In a remote New York farm town in the nineteenth century, two sisters claimed they could speak with the dead. But what started out as a childish prank ended with the accidental creation of a new religion. Sources Wikpedia — "The Fox Sisters" Karen Abbot — "The Fox Sisters and the Rap on Spiritualism" via Smithsonian, October 30, 2012 Donna Zuckerbrot (director) — Spiritualism: The Fox Sisters, via Gaiam, 2006 Music Bruno Sanfilipo — Piano Textures 3 Kevin MacLeod — Despair and...


Bonus 001: Kayla Drescher

Kayla Drescher has been performing magic since the age of seven, and first performed onstage in her second grade talent show. She is now a professional magician in Los Angeles. She performed a delightful illusion in season 4 of Penn & Teller: Fool Us on the CW. Special Thanks This special bonus episode is presented in partnership with Backyard Media Company, and with promotional support from Helix and Burrow. Helix offers customized mattresses, personalized to your unique preferences and...


004: The Professor and the Tilted Glass

Ghosts have appeared in drama for at least 2,500 years, with many innovations in stagecraft to make them appear more believable -- and spooky. In 1862, Professor John Henry Pepper perfected a new technique that ushered in a new age of special effects. Sources Jim Seinmeyer — Hiding the Elephant, 2004 Mary Luckhurst and Emilie Morin, Eds.— Theater and Ghosts, 2014 Wikpedia — "Pepper's Ghost" J.A. Secord — "Quick and Magical Shaper of Science," from Science, Vol. 297, Issue 5587, pp....


003: Death by Misadventure

London was shocked when Chung Ling Soo, "the marvelous Chinese conjurer," died onstage in a magic trick gone wrong in 1918. Perhaps even more shocking was the truth about who he really was. Sources Jim Seinmeyer — The Glorious Deception, 2006 Milbourne Christopher— The Illustrated History of Magic, 1996 Music Dexter Britain — From Truth Dexter Britain — Time to Run (Finale) Kevin MacLeod — Concentration Illusion is written and produced by Brian Earl. Follow Illusion on Facebook,...


002: The Quest

Magician Dai Vernon chased down gamblers and cardsharps to learn their techniques. So when he heard about a man who could perform a once-thought impossible card sleight, he set out on a quest through the seedy underworld of Kansas City to find him. Sources Faces II Productions — "Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic," 1999 Karl Johnson — "The Magician and the Cardsharp," 2006 Music Kai Engel — Curtains Are Always Drawn Kai Engel — March Chris Zabriskie — Undercover Vampire...


001: Artificial Artificial Intelligence

In 1770, inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen debuted his latest creation before the court of Maria Theresa of Austria. His chess playing automaton caused a stir when it appeared to not only move on its own, but also think and match wits against skilled chess players. Even though it was all an illusion, its effects were profound, far reaching, and long lasting. Sources Ricky Jay — "The Automaton Chess Player, the Invisible Girl, and the Telephone," from Jay's Journal of Anomalies, vol. 4 no. 4,...


000: Introducing: Illusion

Introducing: Illusion. True stories of impossible things, and the people behind them. My name is Brian Earl, and I'm inviting you to join me as I explore the illusions that humans experience through true stories of magicians, grifters, artists, and visionaries. On August 1, Illusion will release its first 3 episodes, with new stories arriving biweekly after that. Find Illusion on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram: search for "illusion podcast." Find show notes, etc. at...