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Ricky Jay, the Bottle Conjurer 6 MIN, 52 SEC

Ricky Jay tells the story of the Bottle Conjurer. In London of the mid-18th century, hundreds of spectators filled the Royal Haymarket Theater to see an amazing feat: a man stuffing himself into a quart bottle. Thirty minutes later, they rioted.

Ricky Jay has been captivating audiences around the world for several decades as a sleight of hand artist on stage and television. He's an actor known most known for his work in the films of David Mamet, Boogie Nights and on HBO's Deadwood. He's also a lecturer historian and author of several books about magicians, and unusual performers. This story comes from a series of essays he wrote for KCRW back in 2003 called Jay’s Journal, which later was turned into the book Celebrations of Curious Characters.  His most recent book is Matthias Buchinger: The Greatest German Living


An Italian print of a bottle conjurer from 1820
Image: British Museum

The Secrets of Sycamore School 13 MIN, 58 SEC

Japanese teenagers Aki and Hyuma fly to Los Angeles to learn magic from one of their favorite living magicians, Shoot Ogawa. But when they arrive, they discover that the elite magical institute they’d come to attend was nowhere to be found. In its place: a couple of rooms in a shabby three-story apartment building on Sycamore Street.

Barak Wright is a freelance journalist and media producer based in Southern California. You can hear extended interviews from this story on his website.


Japanese magician Aki Mitsui
Photo courtesy Barak Wright



Japanese magician Hyuma Miyahara
Photo courtesy Barak Wright

Magical Family 7 MIN, 39 SEC

Nate Bargatze's father is a magician, and Nate was always excited to help out as an assistant at his shows. But, as he would later learn, not all magical assistants are created equal, and some are better than others at keeping the mystery alive, and not everyone is invited back for an encore.

Nate Bargatze is a comic who's appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. His one-hour stand-up special, Full Time Magic, was recently broadcast on Comedy Central.


Nate and his father
Courtesy of Nate Bargatze

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