One of my heroes in magic is the world-renowned Spanish magician Juan Tamariz. Like the famous Canadian magician Dai Vernon, who came to be known in his later years as "The Professor", he is often referred to simply as "The Maestro". He's one of the field's top thinkers and a uniquely captivating performer. Now in his seventies, he still performs and can still summon reserves of energy that make it appear as though 52% of his blood is caffeine. (Even though he once told me at dinner that he has only had a single cup of coffee in his life.)
Through my work with Magicana, I had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with Juan — metaphorically speaking. In 1992-3, he hosted a program on Spanish television called Chan-tatachán. (As near as I can tell, it's a nonsense word similar to "Abracadabra".) He not only performed himself, but had guests performing magic close-up and on stage, which included some of the most notable performers of the era.
I got to digitize, edit and index about eighteen hours of performances for The Screening Room, a free online video repository of magic performances. The collection was finally published earlier today, ready to be watched and enjoyed:
Unfortunately, most of the content is in Spanish. However, I've found that many of the performers are capable of transcending the language barrier. Though I will admit, that it's only because I know these magicians by reputation that I'm willing to sit through pre-ambles I don't quite understand to get to the magic I fully expect to enjoy.
Having already watched the entire collection, I'll pull out a few favourites that might appeal to an English-speaking audience.
This one is in English. David Williamson is one of America's finest comedy magicians. Here he presents a version of "The Cups and Balls" that had me laughing out loud when I first stumbled across the clip.
This trick is performed silently (admittedly to some rather awkwardly placed Michael Jackson music) so no Spanish required. It combines one of the great classic illusions of balancing an assistant on top of a pole, suspended in midair, along with a strange construction of a newspaper tree. The trick keeps going getting more and more astonishing along the way.
Finally "Mentalism" is more a comedy sketch than a magic trick (although the magic is baffling) featuring Juan and a French magician, Gaëtan Bloom. Bloom is speaking French so if, like me, you took French in school, you understand just enough to know that when he says, "Il sagit d'un tour de mentalisme," that nothing could be further from the truth.