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Contact the spirit of the great Houdini? Skeptics and believers try at SF's Brava Theater on the anniversary of his death: Halloween!
248 backers pledged $15,346 to help bring this project to life.
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$15,346

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Take part in — and support — The Official Houdini Séance 2015: a day of science, history, escapes, and magic ... on Halloween!

"What would be more wonderful to me than to ... converse with my beloved mother?" So wrote the 50-year-old Harry Houdini in A Magician Among the Spirits two years before his own death on Halloween, 1926.

On Halloween of this year, October 31, 2015, The Official Houdini Séance will take place at San Francisco's Brava Theater as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Magician Robert Strong will lead WonderfestBay Area Skeptics, and the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in presenting a day of science, history, escapes, and magic.

The Talent for the Night!
The Talent for the Night!

 Will you help us to fund the following three features of the day?...

  • NIGHTTIME SEANCE ($9,000 total needed): An evening extravaganza with two séances: one conducted by a self-described medium, the other by a master magician — with insights from a panel of talented experts (see participant roster, below).
  • DAYTIME PRESENTATIONS ($9,000 more needed, $18,000 total): An afternoon forum with presentations by magicians, historians, escape artists (re-enacting Houdini's famous jail cell, water-torture cell, and upside-down straightjacket escapes), and leading authorities on: psychology, coincidence, neuroscience, con-artistry, and magical technology/innovation.
  • VIDEO DOCUMENTARY ($7,000 more needed, $25,000 total): A professional video — based on highlights of both daytime & nighttime events — exploring the impact of Houdini as seen through the eyes of modern magicians, scientists, skeptics, and historians. Houdini: Then, Now, and Tomorrow!

Funds raised in excess of $25,000 will make the various events even better by bringing in more great talent and experts. The extra funds will also support Wonderfest, the nonprofit Bay Area Beacon of Science, creator of free science education events, both in-person and online.

Here are the principal components and presenters in the Nighttime Séance:

  • WelcomeRobert Strong, MC/Moderator
  • EscapeBrian Brushwood, Scam School Creator
  • LifeJohn Cox, Houdini Historian
  • Earnest SéanceTerrie Huberman, Psychic Medium (self-described)
  • MindMelina Uncapher, UCSF Neuroscientist
  • DoubtMichael Shermer, Skeptics Society Founder
  • More DoubtJamy Ian Swiss, Magician/Skeptic
  • MagicJustin Willman, Magician
  • Magical SéancePaul Draper, Mentalist

                                                                ***

Houdini felt great sympathy for those who sought psychic connection with the deceased: "I too would have parted gladly with a large share of my earthly possessions for the solace of one word from my loved departed." Yet Houdini's penetrating understanding of magic — and his determination to learn the truth — led him to expose many séance mediums as frauds.

Sidney Radner (second from left) prepares for The Official Houdini Séance in 1992.
Sidney Radner (second from left) prepares for The Official Houdini Séance in 1992.

For every year since Houdini's death, relatives and admirers have tried to make contact with the spirit of the great escape artist. Nowadays, The Official Houdini Séance takes place annually on Halloween, in a different city each year. The Séance is authorized by Tom Boldt and Bill Radner, son of Houdini collector (and protégé of Houndini's brother, Hardeen) Sidney Radner. We in San Francisco now honor an 88-year-old tradition by leveraging the Bay Area's wealth of scientific and technical expertise.

Through The Official Houdini Séance 2015, we may not make contact with the great Houdini. But we will certainly learn much about psychology, history, magic, ... and the balance between skepticism and wonder that makes science such a joy.

Won't you please support us by indulging in these valuable rewards?  –––––>

NOTE: If you wish to buy multiple tickets, please multiply the single-ticket price by the number you wish, and then pledge that amount. For example if you want 4 VIP tickets, then pledge $236 (= 4 x $59) using the VIP ticket reward box (at right), and we will reserve 4 VIP tickets for you.

We are hosting the event at the beautiful and historic Brava Theater in San Francisco.
We are hosting the event at the beautiful and historic Brava Theater in San Francisco.

                                                                ***

Risks and challenges

The single biggest challenge that The Official Houdini Séance faces in 2015 is generating attendance on Halloween, a very popular night for events in the San Francisco Bay Area. We hope that by recruiting top talent, we will create a once-in-a-lifetime event that people will not want to miss.

Also, we have not yet secured a relationship with a company that is developing virtual reality, augmented reality, holography, and other emerging technologies. If you know of such a company, we'd love for you to connect us.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    MORE-THAN-SPIRITUAL SUPPORT
    Support the Séance — and the scientific outlook, in general — with your tax-deductible donation to Wonderfest (a 501c3 nonprofit), and receive formal thanks at both Wonderfest.org and Houdini-Seance.com.

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    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    ACCESS TO SEANCE LIVE-STREAM
    Receive the password to view the Houdini Séance video as it is live-streamed over the Internet. (Or, watch it later.)

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    47 backers
    $

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 19 or more About US$ 19

    2-YR SKEPTICAL INQUIRER Subscription
    (Value: $39.90) <http://www.csicop.org/si>
    Receive 12 bi-monthly print editions of Skeptical Inquirer magazine delivered to your mailbox. Ships only to U.S.

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    Limited 1 backer
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    Pledge US$ 19 or more About US$ 19

    1-YR SKEPTIC MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION
    (Value: $30) <http://www.skeptic.com>
    Receive 4 quarterly print editions of SKEPTIC magazine delivered to your mailbox. Ships only to U.S.

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    Limited 2 backers
    $

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 20 or more About US$ 20

    2 EXPLORATORIUM AFTER DARK TICKETS
    (Value: $30)
    Receive 2 admission tickets for any After Dark evening at the Exploratorium.
    www.exploratorium.edu/visit/calendar/after-dark

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    Limited 2 backers
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    Pledge US$ 29 or more About US$ 29

    1 HOUDINI SEANCE TICKET
    (Value: $39)
    Receive 1 general admission ticket to the Séance, at San Francisco's Brava Theater on October 31, 2015, at 8:00 PM.

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    Limited 41 backers
    $

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 58 or more About US$ 58

    2 HOUDINI SEANCE TICKETS
    (Value: $78)
    Receive 2 general admission tickets to the Séance, at San Francisco's Brava Theater on October 31, 2015, at 8:00 PM.

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    Limited 56 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 59 or more About US$ 59

    1 VIP HOUDINI SEANCE TICKET
    (Value: $69)
    Receive 1 VIP ticket: a better seat and pre-event party with beverages and hors d'oeuvres. Arrive at 7:00 PM.

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    Limited 15 backers
    $

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 69 or more About US$ 69

    ROSTAMI MAGIC APPS (for magicians)
    (Value: $124.97)
    Three amazing magic apps for the iPhone (iOS) from the great mind of Greg Rostami. You get telephoto, RACAAN, and Supa Thump. http://www.rostamimagic.com

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    Limited 1 backer
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    Pledge US$ 75 or more About US$ 75

    CHAMPIONS OF MAGIC LIVE!
    <www.championsofmagiclive.com>
    (Value: $100)
    Receive two orchestra seats for an evening of magic and grand illusion featuring the world's greatest magicians the third Week of July 2016 in San Francisco.

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    Limited 2 backers
    $

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    Pledge US$ 99 or more About US$ 99

    ENTRANCE TO THE MAGIC CASTLE!
    (Value: $120)
    Receive a pass that allows up to 4 people entrance to the world famous Magic Castle in LA. This waives the $30 per person door fee. A dinner purchase by each guest is required. A truly magical night for you and your friends. Pass expires 3/31/16. magiccastle.com

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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 2 backers
    $

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 118 or more About US$ 118

    2 VIP HOUDINI SEANCE TICKETS
    (Value: $138)
    Receive 2 VIP tickets: better seats and pre-event party with beverages and hors d'oeuvres. Arrive at 7:00 PM.

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    Limited 34 backers
    $

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    Pledge US$ 199 or more About US$ 199

    ON-STAGE SEANCE EXPERIENCE
    (Value: priceless!)
    Receive 1 seat at the on-stage table during the Houdini Séance performance.

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    Limited 2 backers
    $

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    Pledge US$ 536 or more About US$ 536

    4 VIP TICKETS + ESCAPE EXPERIENCE
    (Value: $636)
    Receive 4 VIP tickets & party, as above, plus 90 minutes in the Great Houdini Escape Room for up to 10 people (at the Palace of Fine Arts, SF, on the date of your choosing).

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    Limited 2 backers
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    Pledge US$ 20 or more About US$ 20

    2 CAL ACADEMY NIGHTLIFE TICKETS
    (Value: $24)
    Receive 2 admission tickets for any NightLife evening at the California Academy of Sciences. (Note: Wonderfest hosts "Space Mysteries" at NightLife on 10/22/15.)

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    Reward no longer available 12 backers
    $

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    Pledge US$ 75 or more About US$ 75

    PROFESSIONAL DEMO-VIDEO REVIEW
    (Value: unknown)
    The owner of a very successful speakers/entertainment bureau (www.CleanComedians.com) who has looked at over 500 demo videos will consider you for representation and will give you a page of notes about how to make your video more effective for getting booked. This reward is for magicians, comedians, jugglers, etc who would like to do more shows at corporate events.

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    Reward no longer available 3 backers
    $

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    Pledge US$ 175 or more About US$ 175

    VIP MAGIC CASTLE EXPERIENCE!
    (Value $400)
    Receive a pass that allows up to 4 people entrance (includes dinner) to the world famous Magic Castle in LA. This also includes a private VIP tour from the general manager (if not available, a knowledgeable docent) of the Magic Castle. Wow! Pass expires 3/31/16. magiccastle.com

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    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 1 backer
    $

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Funding period

- (52 days)