Last night I had a terrible dream about Oculus, that super scary movie about a haunted mirror. I haven’t even seen this movie. I don’t even have the balls to watch the whole trailer when I’m home alone and yet it’s already messing with my head.
When I woke up this morning I realized that a project I’ve been working on for little kid readers about magical realism actually makes much more sense as a really scary story targeted at grown-ups. There’s a very, very fine line separating magic from horror. I actually find the topic of old-timey magicians during the age of vaudeville to be kind of terrifying. Most of the famous guys, Houdini’s competitors, were grifters and tricksters in addition to illusionists, like the super shady Alexander C. who was rumored to have married over 14 ladies, some of them at the same time (wasn’t life grand before computers prevented us from breaking laws)?
These fathers of conjuring and optical tricks have always fascinated me, and their legacy lives on today in our fascination with reality TV mediums.
Said Joseph Dunninger, famous illusionist and friend of Harry Houdini, “There is one primary rule in the fakery of spirit mediumship. That is to concentrate upon persons who have suffered a bereavement.”