Penn and Teller’s Shadows Trick, with Drama



    Now, FYI — this may not be news to some of you, but it’s new to me!

    Have you ever seen Penn and Teller’s show out in Vegas at the Rio?  It’s probably one of THE best shows these eyes have ever seen, and the show they do on Showtime (aptly called “Bullshit!“) is one of the funniest things on cable tv.  One of the tricks that is done in the show — known worldwide as one of the coolest, most moving, and amazing bits of magic onstage today — is called “Shadows.”  You have to watch this piece real quick, it is truly spectacular — Teller makes cuts on the shadows of a vased flower, and as he cuts at the shadow, the flower falls apart:

    Here, watch this one too, it’s just two minutes, and includes some commentary on the trick:

    That right there is an amazing trick!!  No one but Teller knows how it’s done, which is exactly what Teller wants, as he makes claim to the trick’s creation, back in 1983 or so.  As I was researching this trick to write about it, I came across this other guy, Gerard Bakardy, a musician/magician who claims that he had his trick stolen from Teller in 2012.  This story gets really, really quickly screwy — Bakardy claims that Teller emailed him about the trick and if he could get the rights to the trick exclusively.  When Bakardy refused, he claims, Teller filed a huge suit in a Las Vegas court to get him to back down.  Bakardy had also been making offers to sell the “explanation” to the trick for $3,050…  which would have pretty much ruined this beautiful moment altogether.  It would have at least for me, I mean, if it is something completely hokey and simple, and this guy were to have told the secret, that’s pretty much the end of that trick ever being effective again…

    …and no one wants that, especially when the ticket line is full frequently!  It’s obviously not because of one silly trick, these guys are fucking brilliant.

    Seriously, you cannot make this kind of stuff up — at least not the entire story altogether, this is too good to be written by sane people.  On Bakardy’s website about the entire situation he makes some pretty outrageous claims about the story, including some crazy porn website stuff…  it gets absolutely nutso.  Bakardy also asked for a jury comprised completely of magicians and clowns so that he could have a fair trial.  Granted, just so you know, Bakardy lost the case and Teller won (in 2014), so there’s that.  It does go deeper, I’m literally just grazing the surface.

    Here’s the image file that comprises the text on Gerard Bakardy’s website…  but first, watch this video.  If you can’t stomach it for the entire 8 minutes (you pansy, don’t be a puss) you can click through to about 2:43 where he skips all the “power of belief” stuff — but don’t, just watch the video knowing it’s gonna get weird:

    Ok, now here is the text on Gerard Bakardy’s website, for some reason in image form — most of it, actually:


    Now, I love the shit out of Penn and Teller, they’re on my top five favorite entertainers, ever.  But, if you’re like me and like to see every possible angle to every situation, read through Gerard’s evidence page…  I’m not pointing blame anywhere either, there has obviously been a court that has heard and tried this case, and Teller was granted about $700,000 and damages — here:

    Teller Wins

    From the Hollywood Reporter:

    Teller wanted statutory damages of $150,000 – the maximum under the Copyright Act – but the judge cited the small amount for which Dogge was willing to sell the secret of his illusion as well as a lack of evidence as to whether the Belgian magician actually sold it to anyone. Hence, the judge awarded $15,000 in statutory damages.

    However, Dogge got smacked when it came to Teller’s attorney fees. The plaintiff, represented by a team at Greenberg Traurig, went to great lengths to serve notice on Dogge, including hiring a private investigator and figuring out a way to prove that the defendant had opened an email containing a summons. Teller wanted nearly $1 million in legal fees. Instead, he was awarded about half that, but it’s still quite an astounding amount.

    Further, the judge has now issued an injunction that prohibits Dogge from infringing Teller’s copyright, from trading on Teller’s goodwill and reputation, and from using any word, term, name, symbol or device that would cause consumers to be confused about an association with Teller or Penn & Teller.

    Teller doesn’t get everything he wanted. The judge won’t stop Dogge from selling a prop used in the magic trick. According to the judge, “That purchasers of defendant’s prop might perform plaintiff’s illusion in an infringing manner, requiring plaintiff to bring future enforcement actions against additional defendants is not a concern for this court.”

    So, there’s that.  Everyone made claims, the courts ruled.  If there’s anything more to it, we’ll never know, so let it go.  It’s an interesting story that makes the trick that much cooler, though!

    More info for the readers out there: [freaking awesome site in general, on copyright law]

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