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Teach Your Children Well: Teller of Penn and Teller magic act sues over trick theft

“Try to understand, try to understand, try, try, try to understand. He’s a magic man.”  Heart

Houdini dazzled by flirting with danger and death.  Penn and Teller play it safer, mixing astonishing tricks with amusing banter and mime.  Penn is the banterer–quick with asides in his gravelly voice.  Teller plays the mute.  No one has heard him speak.  No one ne knows his first name.  No one, that is, except those of us to whom he was “Mr. Raymond Teller” when he taught Latin at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, NJ, during the mid ’70s.  To us, he was quirky, eccentric, cerebral, and fascinating.  We marvelled over his command of his subject as much as his mastery of magic.  He’d routinely mesmerize us with tricks that later became staples of his street act in Philadelphia, then his and Penn’s stage act.  One trick I remember vividly had Teller swallow a handful of sewing needles, then extract them by ingesting a piece of thread and pulling out the threaded needles one by one.  It sure beat calculus.

Now, Teller has sued a Dutch magician who’s threatening to reveal the secrets behind one of Penn and Teller’s signature tricks–cutting the petals off a rose without ever touching them.  The attached article describes the trick and the lawsuit.  Teller of Penn and Teller magic act sues over trick theft. Teller had the foresight nearly twenty years ago to copyright this trick, describing it in detail with words and illustrations.  He just may pull off one of his greatest feats, avoiding copyright pitfalls that have plagued efforts by fellow magicians to protect their original tricks.

Once again, Teller is playing the dual role of magician and teacher.  If his suit succeeds, he’ll have provided the roadmap for other magicians to protect their tricks.   And that would be some rabbit to pull out of his hat.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes.”  Harry Houdini

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