Magician Photo Spina & Co. 4 photo Montage v.FINE
ITEM: Black and white photo of Magician Tony Spina, a four photo montage.
SIZE: 8 by 10 inches.
CONDITION. Dog ear bend in upper right corner. In Very Fine, almost MINT Condition
He's known David Copperfield since he was a boy and counts among friends: Siegfried and Roy, Dick Cavett and every magician you've ever heard of.
He taught Harvey Keitel and Orson Welles a few tricks. Harry Potter, too (well, the actor who plays him in the movies anyway).
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Tony Spina.
His signature trick
Ever hear of a woman being sawed in thirds? Spina invented that trick in 1960. He removes the middle third and lifts it into the air for all to see. He invites people on stage to put their hands where the torso has been. He even manages to squirt a little fake blood on the saw. "We had a woman pass out at The Waldorf-Astoria, and my agent said, 'No more blood,'" he said.
His first trick
He eyed a penetration frame, which allows a magician to slide a playing card through solid glass. Asking price was $3.50. Spina, 14 at the time, only had $2, but Lou Tannen, owner of a Manhattan magic store, said he could come back with the rest of the money later. Spina still has that trick 62 years later.
His magic store
He rose from stock boy to owner of Louis Tannen Inc., one of the premier magic stores in the world. One of his customers, David Kotkin, started coming in as a 12-year-old boy. Kotkin's mother would drop him off while she went shopping, and the boy would stay for hours, obsessively working out tricks and talking to the magicians. One time, Kotkin insisted on buying a "dancing cane" over Spina's objections because of the trick's difficulty. "He did nothing Sunday but practice and perform the dancing cane," Spina said. "He did that trick better than professionals that had practiced or performed it for 25 years." David Kotkin would later become David Copperfield, and Spina gave him one of his first big breaks, booking him at Brown's Hotel in Sullivan County in 1976.
His magic museum
In the basement of his Swan Lake home, Spina has 400 pictures of famous magicians and actors on his walls, many signed with personal notes. There's Dick Cavett feeding Spina with a fork. David Copperfield levitating him. Muhammad Ali standing in his magic store, signed: "You can't fool me."
What he's learned
"There's an explanation for everything. Sometimes it really looks like a miracle. But it's really simple. Magic is really very, very simple. It's to make people focus on one thing while something else is happening. All magic. ... If I go to a magic show, I don't go to see how a trick is done. I go there for the entertainment value. I disassociate myself from the principles of magic."