Magicians are still highly popular entertainers, even in today’s computerized world. The art of magic as practiced by the best magicians still captivates audiences from simple card tricks to elaborate feats of skill.
Who are some of the world’s best magicians? The answer is certainly open for debate as there are a number of magicians who claim the title of being the best in the world, even if it is all for show. What follows are certainly some of the most notable magicians of this century who continue to dazzle and entertain.
Penn and Teller
This duo who are as much comedians as magicians include current social commentary in their acts as well as some spectacular magic tricks as well. A highly successful series on Showtime features their social commentary skills, yet it is there spectacular and sometimes stomach churning effects that grab audience’s attention. Penn is the tall, talkative one who guides the audience through the tricks while Teller is the shorter, silent one that is usually on the receiving end of the illusions.
Perhaps the antithesis of the showy, over the top magicians which seem to dominate the field today, Steven Frayne is the rather thin, low key Dynamo which is certainly a name that also runs counter to his performance style. Eschewing props, assistance and other distractions, Dynamo delivers close-up magic to patrons who are amazed by his talents and skills. Perhaps best known to international audiences through his documentary show, “Dynamo: Magician Impossible”, Frayne conducts straightforward illusions that absolutely dazzle. Whether its swallowing, then pulling jewelry from his stomach, bench pressing an amazing amount of weight or walking on water, the Dynamo is certainly one of the best, if most low-key magicians currently on the scene.
A man who started with simple card tricks and illusions graduated to pulling off spectacular stunts that include spending three days inside six tons of ice, being suspended inside a glass box over the Thames for an amazing 44 days and being buried under a tank of water in New York. For all of his gifts, perhaps the most remarkable remains his simple, yet highly effective “pavement levitation” which appears to defy gravity. A man who started with “Street Magic” has become one of the well know magicians in the world.
A master of the art of pick-pocketing, Robbins has pulled off some spectacular stunts in his two decades of work. Robbins’ most notable encounter was with the Secret Service escorting former President Jimmy Carter where he effectively picked the pocket of the lead agent and brandished Carter’s itinerary. When the agent went for his badge, Robbins had that as well, along with the keys to the car. This New York native is so impressive at the art of deception that he recently worked with the US Defense Department in teaching these techniques. Robbins is certainly a star still on the rise.
Arguably the most famous of all the magicians currently still practicing their craft, David Copperfield is the epitome of the classic magician and illusionist. Handsome, smooth and very crowd friendly, Copperfield became famous with a number of TV specials which have garnered him an astounding 21 Emmys. Named “Magician of the Century” and of the millennium, Copperfield’s most spectacular stunts include walking through the Great Wall of China, escaping from a flaming raft on Niagara Falls and making the Statue of Liberty disappear. His talents and continued determination to top his own stunts are only exceeded by his influence on other magicians.
This former Wall Street accountant may be far more recognizable for his many TV appearances as a supporting actor, rather than as a highly skilled magician. Jay is arguably one of the best card handlers in the world and a deck of cards is generally his only prop. Other notable magicians, including David Blaine, have learned from Jay’s work and emulate his style when performing their card tricks. Perhaps best known as “Eddie Sawyer” who runs the gaming tables at the saloon featured on the HBO hit series, “Deadwood”, Ricky Jay remains one of the best card magicians and teachers in the field.
A master illusionist who may be best known in Japan, thanks to his skill on the internet, Cyril’s videos have spread around the world, making him one of the best known magicians on the planet. Cyril’s tricks include the famous card through the window, a trick he invented himself, along with hamburger in the menu and making his own head fall off of his shoulders. Cyril, who was born in Hollywood, California, began his magic career at the age of 12 and has never looked back since.
Certainly one of the most recognizable and divisive figures in magic today, Criss Angel is a combination of rock ‘n roll imagery, spectacular stunts and all-out gusto. Angel’s “shtick” is spectacular, over the top stunts that include chaining himself to a burning vehicle, suspending himself from a helicopter with fish hooks in his skin and so forth. Angel is perhaps the most unconventional magician of our time and most noted for his highly rated TV show and specials. While Criss Angel is controversial, there is probably no one who has used the mass marketing of television and the internet to a greater extent than him.
“Magic Babe” Ning
One of the few prominent female magicians, “Magic Babe” was inspired at an early age watching David Copperfield perform on TV. Ning is most famous in South East Asia performing a wide range of illusions and excels as an escape artist. Her most famous stunt was arguably the escape from the “Impalement Cage” in 2008 where she managed to undo the locks, handcuffs, shackles and chains to free herself in under 90 seconds before a bed of 13 spikes were to crash down on her. However, she also holds a world record by performing 15 grand illusions in a mere 5 minute’s time. Ning is certainly one of the most famous magicians in the world.