Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Living Gasometer

Erik Jan Hanussen, in an article in Die Andere Welt (October-November 1931 issue), discussed various magical hoaxes, fakes, and tricks he had encountered in his career as a stage magician. Of them, the most baffling to me is the "Living Gasometer" stunt:

One day a young man came to me and showed me an amazing experiment. He placed a big steel siphon supposedly filled with acetylene gas in front of me, attached a tube to it, opened the valves, and apparently pumped his stomach full of flammable gas. He took an ordinary gas hose, which was attached to a bunsen burner, and then he ignited it. The gas - that was supposedly coming out of his stomach - flared up with bright, brilliant flames. The same stunt allowed the young man to cook two fried eggs on a gas stove from the gas, issued from a hose in his mouth; the Wonder-man also ignited a lamp, using ribbed tubing that was several meters long.

I was enraptured and awed by the feat until I was let in on the trick. Before the experiment, the Gas-Man places a sponge that is generously soaked in gasoline in his mouth. The fumes that are produced in the mouth feed the various combustibles. The whole time I wondered why my Living Gasometer was always so silent before his production started; today I don't wonder any more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The Italian pop star Mina started as a rock and roller in 1959 and has recorded virtually every kind of music you can think of in the years since. Virtually unknown in America, she's immensely popular throughout Europe to this day.

According to Wikipedia:

Mina's TV appearances in 1959 presented the first female rocker in Italy. Her loud syncopated singing earned her the nickname "Queen of Screamers". For her wild gestures and body shakes, the publicity labeled her the "Tiger of Cremona". Having turned to light pop tunes, Mina's chart-toppers in West Germany and Japan in 1962–1964 earned her the title of best international artist in those countries. Originally in a surf rock style, her song "Renato" is now a pop standard in Estonia. Mina's more refined sensual manner was introduced in 1960 with Gino Paoli's ballad "Il cielo in una stanza", which charted in the Billboard Hot 100.

Mina's pregnancy and relationship with a married actor caused her to be banned from the public Italian channels in 1963 as her lifestyle did not accord with the dominant catholic and bourgeois morals. After the ban, the Italian broadcasting service RAI continued trying to prohibit her songs which were forthright in dealing with subjects such as religion, smoking, or sex (e.g. the songs "Ta-ra-ta-ta" and "Sacumdì Sacumdà"). To her "bad girl" image, Mina added a sexy appeal and a cool act featuring public smoking, dyed blond hair, and shaved eyebrows.

View: Gorni Kramer medley (1966)

View: "L'Orchestra" with Caterina Valente (1966)

View: "Spinning Wheel" (1972)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lid Lifters, Leisure, and Lopez

We need more Art Theatres, Fun Centers, and Smart Ballrooms.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Amalia Aguilar

Burlesque dancer/actress Amalia Aguilar, circa 1940s. Saith Wikipedia: "remembered for her films of the golden age of Mexican cinema, and called "The Tropical Whirlwind" in some reviews of the time due to her frantic form of dance."

View: Amalia Aguilar in Afro Mood, 1940s