Double-Sided Coin Trick Part 1

By Tom Interval

Do you like easy coin tricks? So do I! Today I made a quick video tutorial for my Patreon patrons. It teaches how to take one of those funky two-headed coins and “magically” make it a regular coin! But this is only the first part of a short, easy routine I plan to post in the days ahead. If you’re one of my patrons, then practice this part of the routine first and stay tuned. If you’re not a patron, you can still watch this public version of the video to see the secret move in action. If you want to learn it, please head on over to my Patreon page and sign up.

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Blogcast #9: Harry Haudyni, German Houdini Imitator

By Tom Interval

Three days ago I posted a blog about Harry Haudyni, the German imitator of Harry Houdini. Blogcast #9 elaborates on that a bit and provides a way for you to listen to the original blog instead of having to read it (video below). And on that note, I’ve been posting audio-only versions of the blogcasts on my SoundCloud page. Personally, I think the videos are cool to watch, but sometimes just the audio is easier to listen to. Either way, I hope you enjoy this blogcast about Harry Haudyni.

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Haudyni: A German Houdini Imitator

By Tom Interval

If television existed in the 1920s, and it aired the game show To Tell the Truth, producers could have invited many more than two contestants pretending to be Houdini:

Will the real Harry Houdini please stand up?

(All the contestants stand up.)

Wait. There’s only one real Houdini. Why are all of you standing? Please sit down, Whodini. You, too, Howdini. And who are you fellas? Hoedini? Oudini? Boudini? Houdeen? Hourdene? And ladies? Miss Lincoln Houdini? Miss Udina? Please, have a seat. All of you.

Ich bin der Harry Haudyni!

I’m sorry, I don’t speak German. What was that, sir?

I am the Harry Haudyni!

Haudyni? H-A-U-D-Y-N-I? That’s not how you say or spell Houdini! Listen, sir, I appreciate the German, because Houdini and his family spoke that language, too, but you’re not the real Harry Houdini, either. You’re just another imitator.

That very well may be, but my upside-down straitjacket escape is just as spectacular as Houdini’s!

German Houdini imitator Harry Haudyni

German Houdini imitator Harry Haudyni

Aside from this fictional dialogue, Harry Haudyni was a real person: one of scores of people imitating Houdini during and after the real Houdini’s life. While Houdini despised some of his imitators, he tolerated the rest and sometimes quipped about how many there were: “I’ll wager that if you throw a stone in the air it will fall down and hit some one who has a handcuff key in his pocket and a ‘Handcuff King’ idea in his head,” he wrote in his “Notes from Houdini” column, published in The New York Dramatic Mirror on June 17, 1905.

I don’t know if Haudyni considered himself a handcuff king, but as upside-down straitjacket escapes go, his version was pretty good. How do I know? There’s a 35mm film of him performing the stunt.

Movietone News captured the action at a fair (possibly Wurstmarkt) in Bad Dürkheim, Germany, on September 8, 1929. My fiancée discovered the clip while watching miscellaneous old films on YouTube. Copyrights to the full nine-minute video, which also features scenes of a marching band, a procession of fairgoers, and a swarming midway, belong to the University of South Carolina. The folks at the university’s Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) granted me permission to post the following clip of Haudyni.

After watching the film, I dug a bit deeper but soon discovered there is very little information out there about Haudyni. His real name is a mystery, at least to me, and I came up short trying to find biographical data on him. Even so, there were a few small gemstones.

The September 1942 issue of Genii, p. 17, features a photo of a man identified as Harry Haudyni, with a caption that reads, “Ausbrecherkönig • Entfesselungskünstler | Schönes Modell,” which translates to English as “Breakaway King • Escape Artist | Nice Model.” Above the photo, owned at the time by magician and carny Edward Saint, is the headline, “Hitler Disgruntled Magician?” Below it, the unidentified author jokes about Haudyni’s resemblance to Adolf Hitler:

Is it possible that Hitler’s hate for, and persecution of, members of Houdini’s creed is partly born of Adolph’s failure as an escape artist? Anyhow, the gent in the picture tried to cash in on Houdini’s fame when the latter was playing Germany, back about 1909 or thereabouts. We have been told that Hitler was vitally interested in magic at that time.

Study the features well. Is it Schickelgruber? [sic] And won’t it be swell when the day comes when he cannot escape? Let’s speed the time and buy more War Stamps and Bonds!

One thing about this Genii blurb that stands out, besides the anti-Hitler humor, is that the author claims Haudyni performed as early as “1909 or thereabouts.” The Movietone clip was filmed 20 years later. So, assuming Haudyni was in his 20s or 30s in 1909, he would have been in his 40s or 50s in 1929. Was he really that agile through middle age? I have to wonder because the Haudyni in the Genii photo looks different from the Haudyni in the Movietone film. Is the latter just an aged Haudyni? His hair looks lighter and thinner (possibly gray), and his mustache-free face looks structurally different from the guy pictured in Genii. What do you think?

Fourteen years after the Genii article was published, Haudyni’s name appeared again, this time in a column in Hugard’s Magic Monthly, October 1956, p. 488. The author, Milbourne Christopher, writes the following:

Just today I bought the October issue of a new magazine “True Strange.” In it was an article “The Great Houdini’s Last Escape.” The author is Dr. W. D. Chesney. It is profusely illustrated.A card carrying three photographs, and the name Harry Haudyni is indentified [sic] as “A very young Houdini!—in the good old days— freeing himself of simple basic tricks with chains and ropes.” How Houdini would have roared had he seen this. Haudyni, who is shown with a moustache, was one of his German imitators. Ed Dart once gave me one of Haudyni’s cards and commented how much he resembled Hitler in appearance.

I don’t have the October 1956 issue of True Strange, so if anyone reading this has the article, I’d love to see it or the republished version in Adventure for Men, June 1971. I’d also like to dig up more info about Haudyni and see a copy of the business card Christopher mentioned in Hugard’s. And for the record, Christopher also published a photo of Haudyni—the same one featured in this blog—in his 1976 book Houdini: A Pictorial Life, p. 56. However, there was no additional information about that particular imitator. In any case, I hope you enjoyed this footage. To watch the MIRC video in its entirety, go to





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How to Control a Card the Easy Way

By Tom Interval

I haven’t frequented the local magic clubs for years, but one thing that stands out is how some magicians insisted on doing magic using difficult sleight of hand to achieve the desired effect on the audience. Judging from many videos I’ve seen on YouTube, nothing has really changed since then. But anyone who studies magic for any length of time quickly learns that sometimes the easiest secret methods yield the most entertaining and amazing results. Unfortunately, many magicians ignore this and choose to prioritize difficult methods over practicality and entertainment value.

Not surprisingly, this applies to many card tricks. In the interest of preserving secrets, I won’t get into too much detail about specific sleights, but there is one called the “pass” that allows a magician to “control” a card for whatever purpose he has in mind. The following video includes three relatively easy moves any intermediate magician can learn to accomplish the same thing a pass does without spending literally years to perfect a difficult move. While the full video is only for my Patreon patrons, you can still watch the performance.

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Blogcast #8: Harry Houdini’s Stamford Home

By Tom Interval

In 1904, Harry Houdini purchased a summer home on farmland in Stamford, Connecticut. For some unknown reason, he sold it a year later, and since then, only two other families have owned it. The original house burned down in the 1960s, but a replica was built on the original foundation, and two original wells still grace the property. To learn more, check out Blogcast #8: Harry Houdini’s Stamford Home below or directly on the Interval Magic YouTube channel (@intervalmagic).

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Tom Frank DVDs Reviewed: Cups and Balls, Linking Rings

By Tom Interval

Magician friends, if you haven’t watched Tom Frank‘s instructional DVDs on the Cups and Balls and Linking Rings, I highly recommend doing so. These are the beautiful, practical routines that have put food on his table for decades, and he teaches the moves and theory with clarity and passion. The DVDs are well thought out, professionally produced, and include footage of Tom performing each of the routines for live audiences.

Tom’s Cups and Balls routine incorporates both standard and original moves, and he offers advice and theory that any magician at any skill level would find useful. He also includes some bonus goodies, such as a tour of his Cups and Balls collection, performance footage of his mentors Larry Pringle and Cellini, and a personal anecdote about Dai Vernon he shares to make an insightful point.

The ring routine, dubbed The Legend of the Five Mystic Rings, is Tom’s version of Jack Miller’s five-ring routine mindfully performed to a beautifully written, Edgar Allan Poe-inspired poem. The instruction here is pretty straightforward, but I recommend supplementing it by reading Jack Miller’s Linking Ring Routine, by Bob Novak. It’s a 32-page, profusely photo-illustrated pamphlet you can find used online for under ten bucks.

Before watching either of Tom’s DVDs, having basic working knowledge of magic and its terminology would be helpful, if not required. The DVDs are well worth the price of $25 each (plus $5 shipping/handling). You can purchase them directly from Tom on his website:

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Harry Houdini’s Brother Leo Owned This Connecticut Mansion

By Tom Interval

Are you a Houdini geek? A Connecticut history buff? No? Then the video below probably isn’t for you. It might sound kinda silly, but Houdini enthusiasts like me want to travel back in time to meet the legendary magician and escape artist himself. Of course we can’t do that since we don’t have a time machine, but the next-best thing is to visit in person or virtually different places Houdini has been.

There are a few obvious locations, such as Appleton, Wisconsin, where Houdini, then Ehrich Weiss, first lived when he moved to the United States from Budapest, his birthplace, with his family. And then there’s his home in Harlem, New York, at 278 West 113th Street, or even his summer home in Stamford, Connecticut. I could go on and on.

One of Houdini’s brothers, Leopold Weiss, owned a mansion surrounded by farmland in Ridgefield, Connecticut, about 16 miles north of Houdini’s summer place. Since it’s unlikely I’ll ever see that property, I thought it would be cool to “visit” it on Google Maps via Street View. Although you can see only the front of Leo’s property, with its imposing gate, there’s a great 360-degree photo taken from the mansion’s deck overlooking the pool and surrounding property. According to Connecticut Magazine, Houdini might have practiced some of his underwater escapes in that pool! As to finding out whether or not that claim is true, I’m not holding my breath (pun intended).

The following video shows that 360 photo, and I imagine myself as Houdini himself looking out over the grounds. As I said, you have to be a Houdini geek to appreciate this. Otherwise, the video will probably put you to sleep. Sweet dreams.

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