I went back down to LA to photograph my good friend Pop Haydn’s new show “Pop Haydn in the 21st Century ”
Since this show was only days before the Magic Castle awards ceremony The audience was filled with big name magicians and Pop did not disappoint them.
A few days after Pops show, I attended the Magic Castle’s award ceremony.
It was an incredible show with magicians from all over the world performing with Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld) as the MC.
Several of the acts were literally Jaw dropingly good. (I’m well aware dropingly is not a word.)
It was a pretty neat feeling when I realized I had probably just met half of the worlds top one hundred magicians.
The night after the award ceremony Pop, Nancy and myself attended Lilly Von Schtupp’s
Monday Night Tease, a delightful show.
For a burlesque show, it was surprisingly wholesome. The entire crowd seemed to know each other with people moving around from group to group and shouting across the small bar-room, it had a real family atmosphere. The dancers were extremely well received and it felt more like a costume party than a strip club.
Here’s my version of a “B” movie.
As usual I had an incredible time, Pop Haydn is an amazing person and I am truly happy to call him a friend.
Recently my good friend master magician Pop Haydn had a show at the Magicopolis, I tagged along with my Fuji X100 and heres what I got.
It was a great show, I am very glad I attended.
I will also be photographing Pop’s next show and attending the Magic Castles 50th anniversary event at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. Hopefully I will have more exciting photos from these events to share with you.
After having had a bit of success using an old halogen lamp as a bare bulb light source, I decided to see what stepping up to a 12 inch aluminum reflector with a 60 watt bulb would do.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of light I received from the reflector when it was approximately eight feet from my subject.
I would recommend using one of these in a pinch. Its cheap, clips to anything and is way more controllable than just a bare lightbulb.
Since I was down in LA for the holidays I decided to give master magician Whit “Pop” Haydn a call and see if he was up for some more pictures. He graciously consented.
We concentrated on developing the “Pop” character photographically.
Walking around downtown LA, passing look-alike Luke Skywalker’s and Captain America’s, people were complementing Pops attire like he was just a snazzy dresser and not in a costume. I love LA, sometimes.
We had a wonderful New Years Eve at Brian Gilllis’s Redondo Beach Castle. The Amazing Jonathan was the entertainment and it was a memorable experience.
While in LA I also photographed a very well to do party.
Thanks to Pop, I was able to return to the Magic Castle, where I had a fantastic time and obtained this wonderful silhouette cut for me by a Disney animator.
The reason they do this at the Castle is because another well respected magician (Dai Vernon) who held court at the Castle cut silhouettes.
The first photos of the prototype street camera has leaked out of Mottweiler studios.
Heres what Kurt has to say.
The One Minute Camera design process is moving from cardboard mockups to a wooden prototype. As a first attempt, it will no doubt fall short in some ways. But I’m anxious to get some experience with it to see how it might be improved. The wooden prototype is being made of quarter-sawn fir that was salvaged from my 1928 bungalow remodel. Fir would not be a first choice for building a camera but since this particular kind of camera is often cobbled together by an amateur for use in making their own livelihood, they often have a kind of folk art feel about them. So the reclaimed fir seemed appropriate for this first attempt.
I am extremely happy with the progress this project.
This was literally a dream of mine that has started to become a reality.
I’ve always had an interest in magic and since I’m building my street camera I thought it would be nice if I learned a few tricks to do in between photographing people. In looking for magic routines to perform I quickly noticed one performer who constantly impressed me every time I saw him, Pop Haydn. After discovering we lived relatively near each other I decided to contact him and ask if he would like to be featured in my blog, luckily for me he said yes.
Driving to his house, I had no idea what to expect. When Pop opened the door the first thing I saw was a 250,000 volt tesla coil that he had done up in a steampunk style for “The Pop Haydn Post-Modern Medicine Show.” This is the point I realized I was in for an interesting day.
Pop turned out to be just a wonderful person with a charming southern accent and an almost “need” to entertain the people around him. After getting me something to eat, he started telling me about his interest in the magic and history of the late nineteenth century.
Pop has done extensive research into nineteenth century confidence men, mostly focusing on Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith and his band of one hundred con-men in Skagway, Alaska during the 1890′s. Pop has even been to Skagway many times to do research with the original source materials. His goal in doing this was to integrate the techniques of the flim flam man with that of the magician.
After photographing Pop’s Tesla coil, using my Polaroid 110b (because it contains no electronic components for the coil to fry), we left for the Magic Castle. Pop was teaching a class for his “School for Scoundrels” where he instructs magicians on how to integrate con games such as three card monte, the shell game, and the endless chain into their acts.
The Magic Castle is a members only club for magicians, and it is one of the most opulent places I have ever been. The Castle was once a Hollywood mansion built in 1909, but has been extensively renovated with many of the windows and interior details taken from old european buildings and famous movie sets. Pop pointed to a window and told me it came from a 600 years old irish pub, and the hello Dolly bar is the actual bar from the movie “Hello, Dolly.” Besides just dripping in luxury, the Castle seems to be the closest thing I’ve seen to an actual “living museum.” The past there is palpable, walls filled with props from two centuries of performing, photos of current and past masters peer down from oak walls. (Some of those masters have never left, their ashes residing in the frames of their portraits.) All the while magicians share tricks and slights, they talk and laugh. There was a real sense of camaraderie and strangely, for Los Angeles, I had the feeling that the pecking order here was defined by skill and not by any monetary measure.
In the class I attended Pop was discussing the importance of developing a character for your performance as well as general theatrical practices. Many magicians spend thousands of hours developing their magical skills without really thinking about the stagecraft. How to turn, how to bow, how to carry yourself on stage.
After the class Pop gave me a grand tour of the Castle, introducing me to everyone we saw. This was a treat, everybody we met had an obvious respect for Pop and paid me much more attention than I would have otherwise recieved. I cant lie, it was somewhat intoxicating.
Returning to Pop’s house, he made coffee and we talked. He spoke of his time in the Episcopalian seminary and being a street performer in New York. He told me of his times during the civil rights movement and how women should be encouraged to enter the field of magic. He spoke of people he performed with down through the years.
Honestly, this was the most magical part of the evening.
Pop also told me of his time as a carnival barker where he learned sometimes you have to down-sell a pretty good (but not great) act. In this case, Spidora the half woman, half spider. He said it was done with mirrors and was a pretty good effect, but if you tried too hard to sell it to the crowd they would feel gipped. Spidora was something you had to wander in and see for yourself that it was good. Then you would go tell your friends (because how else would they know) and then they would all come see the spider lady. There is some deep wisdom in this.
So how do you down-sell a carnival act, you sound bored about the whole affair.
I would like to thank Pop Haydn for allowing me to both photograph him and to just hang out with him, I can say with a good heart that the time I spent with Pop was the most concentrated fun I’ve had in years.
Pop has a new show coming to Santa Monica in January at the Magicopolis. The show is called “Pop Haydn in the 21st Century” and features fire magic by Sophie Evans, Music by Bonnie Gordon and Dave Bourne with the Medicine Show Band.
Also check out Pop’s website and blog.
As any of you who read my blog knows, I’m building a wooden paper negative camera that was used by itinerant street photographers during the great depression. This particular camera was basically a photobooth operated by a person. So, Ive decided to build an automated photobooth too.
Since I’ve become disillusioned with mediocrity, I’ve contacted an award winning Hollywood special effects technician to build my photobooth. (There are a few benefits to living in Northern California.)
I plan to have several different lighting systems in the booth. I’d like to theme it as sort of a time traveling booth that can simulate the photos produced in photobooth’s from 1930′s, 1970′s and the the 2000′s.
Luckily I already have a lot of the components needed for this project. For the camera I plan to use a Nikon D300 with a 35mm f1.8 and for the printer I have a spare Canon Pixma Pro 9500.
At this point you may be asking, “why?” Well, I guess one answer is that my taste in photo gear has grown so baroque that I know need to have it specially made for me. Another answer would be that a photobooth provides a kind of photo unavailable any other way. I dont normally stick out my tongue when people take my picture, in fact I dont think I’ve ever done that. But in a photobooth, its another story. Since there is no photographer you feel completely unrestrained in how you pose yourself. Its a photo of you, taken by yourself.
I will keep you up to date on the booths progress.