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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Pinetti, the 18th-Century Illusionist and Forerunner of Chris Angel and David Copperfield—Brian Earl from the Illusion Podcast

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Giussepe Pinetti: You might not know the name, but he's considered the guy who made magic into a respected theatrical art form. Before him, it was practiced mostly by buskers on street corners, or at private engagements for the rich, not public theaters. He single-handedly changed the persona of magician from shady trickster to consummate performer

Brian Earl from the Illusion Podcast is here to talk about the granddaddy of all illusionists. He was there 200 years before David Copperfield, Chris Angel, or Penn and Teller.

Here's some fascinating aspects of Pinetti's life that Brian and I discuss:

His career began as a professor of physics in Rome in the 1770s. He performed magic tricks in class to illustrate concepts. His classes were very popularHe eventually began performing in Germany in 1780 as Pinetti, Roman Professor of Mathematics. He would pass off illusions as genuine scientific demonstrationsHe was very successful, selling out theaters across Europe. He started to dress like a general or nobleman onstage with custom tailored suits. Pinetti arrived in Prussia in a coach drawn by 4 horses. This angered Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia, whose carriage had only 2 horses. He ordered Pinetti to leave the cityA lawyer named Henri Decremps published an expose of Pinetti, explaining how his performances were just magic tricks, not demonstrations of little-known scientific principles. Pinetti publicly discredited Decremps by hiring a shabby person off the street to pose as Decremps at a performance and cause a public disturbanceA man named Count de Grisy in Naples had begun performing some of Pinetti's tricks at private parties. Pinetti pretended to mentor deGrisy and encouraged him to perform publicly. Pinetti sabotaged the performance, which the king attended
January 15, 2018
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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