Steinmeyer, Jim 1958-

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Steinmeyer, Jim 1958-

PERSONAL:

Born 1958, in Chicago, IL; married Frankie Glass (a television producer). Education: Loyola University of Chicago, graduated, 1980.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Los Angeles, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, historian, magic designer, illusion designer, lecturer, and TV producer. Magic designer for Doug Henning, 1981-87. Designer of illusions and special effects for stage productions: Merlin, 1983; Doug Henning and His World, 1984; Beauty and the Beast, 1994; The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1997; The Invisible Man, 1998; revival of Into the Woods, 2002; Armour, 2002, Ricky Jay, On the Stem, 2002; Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way, 2003; and Mary Poppins, 2004. Steinmeyer's effects have been used in shows at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the Folies Bergere in Las Vegas. Developed story and illusions for two featured shows for the cruise line Holland America and the illusions for the premiere ship of the Disney Cruise line, the Disney Magic, 1996-97. His designs have also been used in theme parks, including the EPCOT center and other Walt Disney Company theme parks.

Television producer of programs, including Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, CBS, 1989; The Secret Cabaret, Channel Four (England), 1990; Hidden Secrets of Magic, NBC, 1996; All Star Magic, ABC, 1997; The Story of Magic, A&E Network, 1997; Lance Burton Television Special, 1999; and Magic on the Edge pilot, FOX Family Channel, 1999. Has served as consultant and technical advisor on numerous other television specials and for stars and magicians, including Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Orson Welles, Harry Blackstone, and the Pendragons. Writer and designer of Mark Kalin's Carnival of Wonders review show. Holder of three U.S. patents in the field of illusion apparatus. Lecturer.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Royal Television Society Nomination for Light Entertainment programming, 1990, for The Secret Cabaret; Creative Fellowship by "The Academy of Magical Arts," 1991; Milbourne Christopher award, 1996; S.A.M.H. Adrian Smith Award, for The Magic of Alan Wakeling; Literary Fellowship Award from The Academy of Magical Arts, 2002.

WRITINGS:

Guy Jarrett's 1936 Jarrett Magic and Stagecraft, Technical, Magic (Chicago, IL), 1981, revised edition published as The Complete Jarrett, Magical Publications (Pasadena, CA), 2001.

(With John Gaughan) The Mystery of Psycho, privately printed, 1987.

Device and Illusion: A Book of Routines for Modern Stage Conjurers, Hahne (Burbank, CA), 1991.

The Howard Thurston Illusion Show Work Book, edited by Maurine Christopher, Magical Publications (Pasadena, CA), 1991.

The Howard Thurston Illusion Show Work Book, Volume II, edited by Maurine Christopher, Magical Publications (Pasadena, CA), 1992.

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.

The Glorious Deception: The Double Life of William Robinson, a.k.a. Chung Ling Soo, the ‘Marvelous Chinese Conjurer,’ Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2005.

Art & Artifice: And Other Essays on Illusion, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2006.

Also author of The Magic of Alan Wakeling, Modern Art and Other Mysteries, Impuzzibilities, Artificial Conclusions, Two Lectures on Theatrical Illusions: The Science behind the Ghost Discovering Invisibility, and Antonio Diavolo, A Souvenir of His Performance, all published by Magical Publications. Contributor to periodicals, including Skeptical Inquirer. Contributing editor, Magic magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

Author and magic historian Jim Steinmeyer is a prolific designer of illusions and magic tricks for some of the most prominent performers working today, including Doug Henning, Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield, and Lance Burton. He has created special effects that have been used in stage shows on Broadway and in Las Vegas. Steinmeyer is considered the originator of several of the defining illusions in modern stage magic, noted a biographer on Steinmeyer's home page.

As a writer and researcher in the history of stage magic and performing, Steinmeyer has resurrected a number of classic illusions and technical secrets, many thought lost, in books such as Guy Jarrett's 1936 Jarrett Magic and Stagecraft, Technical and the two volumes of The Howard Thurston Illusion Show Work Book.

Many of Steinmeyer's books focus on the history of magic and the past accomplishments of famous magicians and illusionists. In Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear, Steinmeyer presents "one of the most stupendous, utterly awesome, timely, provocative, totally indispensable, perceptive, and insightful books on the nature and mechanics of how and why we are fooled" by magic and illusion, remarked Edward Summer in the Skeptical Inquirer. He considers the nature of performing magic and notes that the secrets behind most tricks are not all that difficult to discover for a determined researcher or resourceful ten-year-old. The true magic, then, comes from the flawless performance that makes audiences gasp and wonder, from the combination of science and showmanship that makes the illusions work, and from the unspoken but willing collaboration between the magician who deceives and the audience that is eager to be fooled. "No one element can account for the wonder experienced by the paying audience and knowledgeable magician alike," Summer mused. "Those concerned with belief in the supernatural and other debilitating nonsense and also with the inevitable question of ‘how did they do that?’ have the perfect book to recommend or give as a present," commented Summer. "More than that," Summer continued, "it's a model for how almost any arcane topic might be explained in a way that's clear, historically accurate, and as compelling as any procedural mystery novel."

The Glorious Deception: The Double Life of William Robinson, a.k.a. Chung Ling Soo, the ‘Marvelous Chinese Conjurer’ is a biography of the magician Soo, who lived from 1861 to 1918. Soo was not actually an Asian magician; he was an American named William Ellsworth Robinson, whose greatest feat of illusion may well have been his ability to present himself as a Chinese conjurer. Steinmeyer provides a biographical portrait of Robinson as well as other performers and illusions that captivated audiences at the turn of the twentieth century. Dan Harms, writing in the Library Journal, named Steinmeyer's book a "powerful yet nuanced depiction" of the life of Robinson/Soo.

Similarly, Art & Artifice: And Other Essays on Illusion examines a number of famous historical illusions, and the magicians who performed them, in the early days of stage magic. Steinmeyer also looks at the social implications of some of the illusions, such as the impact of the suffragist movement on the classic illusion of sawing a woman in half. He provides detailed notes on each section to facilitate additional research, along with extensive biographical and historical material on his subjects.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2003, Mike Tribby, review of Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear, p. 562.

Entertainment Weekly, Daniel Fierman, review of Hiding the Elephant, p. 135.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of Hiding the Elephant, p. 1167.

Library Journal, September 1, 2005, Dan Harms, review of The Glorious Deception: The Double Life of William Robinson, a.k.a. Chung Ling Soo, the ‘Marvelous Chinese Conjurer,’ p. 154; November 1, 2006, Dan Harms, review of Art & Artifice: And Other Essays on Illusion, p. 88.

Magic Magazine, September, 1996, T.A. Waters, "Jim Steinmeyer: Deviser of Illusions."

New York Times Book Review, August 9, 2005, William Grimes, "A Trickster Right Down to His Name," review of The Glorious Deception.

Publishers Weekly, September 22, 2003, review of Hiding the Elephant, p. 93.

Skeptical Inquirer, September-October, 2004, Edward Summer, review of Hiding the Elephant, p. 58.

ONLINE

Internet Broadway Database,http://www.ibdb.com/ (March 28, 2007), "Jim Steinmeyer."

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (March 28, 2007), "Jim Steinmeyer."

Jim Steinmeyer Home Page,http://www.jimsteinmeyer.com (March 28, 2007).