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Dinner is Served

In the early 1900s, magician Max Malini was invited to a fancy dinner party in the Philippines. The host tried to play a prank on him, and learned an important life lesson: don’t mess with a magician!

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Fairy Tale

In 1917, two girls in the Yorkshire village of Cottingley took photos of themselves and what appeared to be fairies. Three years later, they found themselves the unwitting perpetrators of a widespread hoax and the source of hope and vindication for an entire religious movement.

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In Conversation: Gina Tonic

Gina Tonic is a drag performer in New York City. We had a wide ranging discussion covering the history of drag, creating the illusion of gender, and drag as a performing art.

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Pseudoscience

In the 18th century, a Roman professor of mathematics demonstrated the latest scientific discoveries with dazzling demonstrations. There was just one problem: he was really performing magic tricks.

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The Luminous Pantomimes

In 1892, in a small Parisian theater at the back of a wax museum, inventor Charles-Emil Reynaud presented his “Luminous Pantomimes” and introduced the world to a new art form: the animated cartoon.

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The Queen of Ohio

Cassie Chadwick was a career criminal who conned her way into high society and spent money like she was a Carnegie…which she claimed she was. What happened next was a $20 million swindle that collapsed a bank.

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The Knockers of Rochester

In a remote New York farm town in the nineteenth century, two sisters claimed they could speak with the dead. But what started out as a childish prank ended with the accidental creation of a new religion.

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In Conversation: Kayla Drescher

Kayla Drescher has been performing magic since the age of seven, and first performed onstage in her second grade talent show. She is now a professional magician in Los Angeles. She performed a delightful illusion in season 4 of Penn & Teller: Fool Us on the CW.

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The Professor and the Tilted Glass

Ghosts have appeared in drama for at least 2,500 years, with many innovations in stagecraft to make them appear more believable — and spooky. In 1862, Professor John Henry Pepper perfected a new technique that ushered in a new age of special effects.