Monday, May 13, 2024

Magic Collector Expo 2024 aboard the Queen Mary

Last week, I attended the Magic Collector Expo aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. What a sensational time I had! Bill Smith once again provided a first-class convention with excellent talks and terrific magic. It was great to see so many friends and the Queen Mary is always a delight to experience.

One highlight for me was spending some quality time with Bill Kalush—a Houdini heavyweight indeed! Also in the ring were Houdini Nuts: Arthur Moses, Joe Notaro, Fred Pittella, Joe Fox, Brian Verkuylen, Mike Strong, and Diego Domingo. I also made a new friend in Chris Goldman who has some wonderful Houdini rarities that he shared with me.

On Thursday, I gave a talk, "Houdini on the High Seas," in which I examined Houdini's ocean voyages and the various ships he sailed on. I covered every journey from the SS Frisia, which the Weiss family took to America in 1878, to Houdini's final crossing aboard the SS Imperator in 1920. One of the reasons I was excited to do this talk was it gave me the excuse to do the research. It was fun to finally nail down these ships (13 total) and find some untold stories. I think it went over really well.

At the end of my talk, I revealed the title and cover of the upcoming diary book, Escaping Obscurity: The Travel Diary of Harry Houdini, 1897-1899. Mike Caveney and I announced the book at the Magic Collector Expo in Cleveland last year, so I thought this was the perfect time and place to do this. I was pleasantly surprised how many people at the Expo asked me about the book. Michael Albright is still working on the design so we don't yet have a release date, but it will be worth the wait. You can get a look at the cover as a member of my Patreon below.

There was a lot to enjoy over the three days. Lance Rich gave an artful presentation, "Neptune's Sorcerers," all about magicians on cruise ships. David Charvet gave an excellent and well-researched talk on "The Golden Age of Magic in Southern California." It included several Houdini mentions and lots of Bess. I really enjoyed Chris Martin's talk on "John Rogers's The Traveling Magician" statue. It was fascinating to learn its history and why it is so celebrated today. Mike Caveney's Egyptian Hall talk and exhibit was first-rate. It was also a treat to see a reunion of The Long Beach Mystics and enjoy their show as the closing night feature.

For a more complete overview of the expo, I will refer you to Joe Notaro's excellent coverage at his site, Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence. Joe had a few outside Houdini adventures (some of which I was part of) so you'll want to enjoy those as well. Scott Wells provided his usual expert daily coverage at The Magic Word Podcast. I had the honor of being interviewed by Scott alongside Lance Burton.

Bill Smith announced that next year's Magic Collector Expo will be held in Las Vegas and will include a tour of David Copperfield's International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts! The number of attendees will be limited and those who attended Long Beach will get priority registration. Keep an eye on the official website.

Here is the list of thanks that I showed at the end of my talk. Thanks again to these folks and everyone who made this an expo to remember!

UPDATE: For my Scholar patrons, I've uploaded a PDF containing select slides from my talk showing all 13 ships I discussed. 


  1. You did a great talk with great research.

  2. Joe wrote up an excellent piece on the Expo!

  3. The great Patrick Culliton caught me in a mistake during my Magic Word interview. I said Houdini attended SAM events while in LA. What he actually attended were LASM (Los Angeles Society of Magicians) events. The LASM would later form into SAM Assembly 22. I had this written wrong in my chronology, but not anymore. Thanks, Patrick!

    1. More great Houdini and Bess info must have passed thru that trip.

  4. Stellar coverage and loads of pics from our friend Lupe at Nielsen Magic.

  5. Thanks brother I will check it out, it was a blast all the way.

  6. Wow what a trip! The Expo was amazing, packed with magicians, collectors, professional speakers,
    Houdini colleagues and add the nostalgia of the ship, fantastic.
    Truly impressed with the whole event.
    A dream come true for me, still cannot stop thinking about it.