146 | David Ben (Illusions: The Art of Magic)

My Summer Lair Chapter #146: Do You Know What The Council For National Policy Is?

This magic moment is brought to you by the AGO: The Art Gallery of Ontario. One of my all time favourite AGO exhibitions was David Bowie Is… back in the fall of 2013: basically Bowie’s work and life and books and clothes and photographs of the sonic illusionist.

Similar to David Bowie Is… Illusions: The Art of Magic on right now is a show business exhibition celebrating the Golden Age of Magic (roughly 1880-1930) featuring more than 55 colourful posters from the Allan Slaight Collection plus photographs, films, documents and cool magic gear like handcuffs and Houndini’s straitjacket. Yes!

Before talking to David Ben I visited the AGO during lunch: that’s right I decided to get all cultured (it happens occasionally…don’t tell anybody or else my street rep will be ruined…).

In the second wing from the entrance there’s a LARGE Harry Houdini poster really simple; really stylish of just his face with some marketing blah blah at the bottom. As I gaze into Harry’s fiery eyes an older woman (fine…a senior) shuffles up behind me and to my left exclaiming: “Oh My!”

Thinking she must be equally mesmerized by Harry Houdini she turns to me: “He’s so handsome! And talented. He is so handsome and talented.”

And that right there is a totally different type of magic. Though he died in 1926 it’s great to see Harry Houdini is still making magic happen in 2020.

What’s amazing about Illusions: The Art of Magic at the AGO is that you get to see real magic as part of your admission! The magic is supplied by the Toronto Magic Company; one of the performing magicians is Jonah Babins…you have to go when he is performing!

Jonah was my guest on My Summer Lair Chapter #118. Jonah is delightful and generous and witty and magical all in that order. Like David Ben he is an avid magic enthusiast; like if you listen to that interview I did with him it concludes with him performing a magic trick; you can follow along at home. Like he prepared that for the podcast. So cool.

Take your time with this exhibition: enjoy it…go through it slowly. The My Summer Lair episode following this is with Joe Posnanski for his outstanding book The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini which you can buy in the AGO’s giftshop.

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David Ben @ WT F

Host & Photography by Sammy Younan

Recorded: Wednesday March 4, 2020 at 1pm (EST) at AGO

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