.:Just Another Magic Monday: The Three Magicians (Who Were Secretly Badasses):.
So while I was reading up on some magicians the past week, I was asking myself how tough it must be to be a magician: technical skill, charisma, performing style, these are just some of the ingredients that make a magician great.
But see, all things considered, I don’t really think anyone considered being “badass” as one category for being a great magician, and they’d be right. It’s a criteria that doesn’t really fit, anyways.
After having looked at the magicians then and now, seeing what feats they have accomplished that could count as “badass,” I pretty much have a list of the three magicians who absolutely fit this description. It’s one thing to do a magic trick, it’s another thing to just not give a f**k and still bringing your A-game even when life and limb is at risk.
No, Criss Angel and David Blaine don’t fall under “badass” to me at all. Not even Blaine’s record-breaking performance impresses me, because he required a lot of medical preparation to do his schtick, whereas these three magicians just ended up being badass by default.
I’d have included Seigfried and Roy here had it not been the fact that their career abruptly ended after the tiger-mauling incident. Sure, surviving that takes toughness, but it’s not nearly badass enough.
These three magicians will make you look at the things they do, and make you realize that for all the “fakeness” of magic, they’re pretty unbelievable when s**t gets real.
3. Jonathan Pendragon
Nicolas Cage apparently has a long-lost brother.
A lot of us know and love the Pendragons because they are the masters of the male and female duo act. Sure, they have some insane legal troubles here and there, but we love how good this tandem is when they perform their illusions with amazing grace, speed, and choreography. They’re practically world-famous for their insanely quick rendition of the Metamorphosis illusion.
It’s really quick. Those shots are all animated GIF’s.
Yeah, sure, choreography, leotards, illusions. Nothing too badass about that, right? Sure, until you realize that the speeds the Pendragons have achieved in doing the Metamorphosis switch required years of practice. This could only mean one thing: concussions galore.
That explains why he dresses like that!
Without revealing the method, anytime the switch was done during the illusion, there was always the risk of ramming heads along the way. In fact, in the video where the Pendragons teach how the secret is done, they outright mention that Jonathan has been knocked unconscious during a show in the past, and this wasn’t the first or the last time that quite an injury has happened.
But yeah, a little concussion here and there isn’t what makes Jonathan Pendragon a complete badass: it’s the fact that he had a near-fatal accident in 2006 that involved him falling on an arrow, piercing arteries, his stomach, his liver, and even his heart. Now, any other human being would’ve died right on the spot, but he pretty much ignored mortality for a while, and instead survived the accident and resumed performing a few weeks after the accident. I don’t think mortality and Jonathan have gotten back to speaking terms ever since.
Yeah, I think that qualifies as badass right there.
In fact, it’s criminally badass! Oooohhh.
2. Harry Houdini
On second thought, nothing looks “secret” about this…
Houdini is often one of the first magicians the average person would recognize, along with David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Harry Potter. Nonetheless, Houdini, as an escapologist by profession, had badass hardwired into his DNA by default. There was no question that his escape acts were, in all honesty, dangerous and life-threatening, and having demonstrated the ability to ignore pain, hold his breath underwater long enough to previously hold a world record, and to suspend himself upside-down for extended periods of time during his straitjacket escapes, Houdini’s repertoire by default already qualifies him as badass as can be.
But see, it’s not just the inherent risks involved in Houdini’s act that set him apart from other performers, but more so, it’s his methods that make him just not give a f**k.
Where most of us would use lockpicks to escape from handcuffs and the like, Houdini was famous for dislocating his wrists and shoulders then popping them back into place once he liberates himself from the cuffs or the straitjacket in question.
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of having a joint dislocated, then having it fixed, then you would know how painful those two moments are, and ideally, how much nicer it would be if you could keep those two moments away from each other. Houdini, on the other hand, saw his joints as mere tools that he could dislocate and pop back at a moment’s notice, with little regard for how much that whole process actually hurts.
For a small man like Houdini, he was larger than life because he looked at pain in the face and laughed at it maniacally, and unlike Jonathan Pendragon, he did it on purpose.
1. Jasper Maskelyne
He is vanishing the ink on his picture right now. With magic.
Jasper Maskelyne isn’t badass because of misadventures he may have experienced while doing magic ala Pendragon. Neither was he badass because of the inherent risks of his illusions or methodologies ala Houdini.
Jasper Maskelyne was a badass simply because he used magic to wage war. A British stage magician, Maskelyne spent the second world war aiding British intelligence and operating in subterfuge by using his skills in magic. Because clearly, a man who dresses like a sorcerer, gesticulates wildly, and makes things appear and disappear from thin air would totally not call any attention to himself whatsoever.
This might shock you, but one of these men is actually a magician.
Hint: it’s not the long-haired douchebag in the center, but you knew that already.
Just a list of his feats on his wikipedia entry alone already details a litany of badassitude: he used his skills in magic for camouflage. He created decoys, including one of a German warship. Whether through subterfuge, deception, or outright chutzpah, Jasper Maskelyne managed to play a significant role in the war with his so-called “Magic Gang,” helping keep the Axis powers on their toes because what they see isn’t what they get.
And on the side, he entertains the troops, too. How’s that for multi-tasking?
True, there have been some people who have challenged Maskelyne’s role in the war and the significance of his contributions to the intelligence and counter-intelligence efforts of Britain during World War II, but first of all, if Jasper had the balls to make up all these stories, even write a book or two about his efforts during the war, then that’s pretty badass enough in and by itself. Couple this with the fact that while they contest the significance of his role, nobody contests that he actually had a role during the war, and you get the vibe that yes, there is truth to Maskelyne’s story, and we all feel like underachievers in the face of a splendid magician and wartime hero who lived to tell the tale.