From the May 2016 MAGIC Magazine. Reviewed by Michael Claxton
There is as yet no complete and reliable biography. Kalanag’s memoirs were serialized in English in Genii in the 1960s, Val Andrews wrote a fanciful biography in 1987, and Klingsor (who bought the Kalanag show) published a 1993 monograph in French. And now, fresh off the success of The Death Camp Magicians, William Rauscher has compiled a multimedia presentation on the mysterious film-editor turned magician. The first part is a photo album artfully designed to mimic a scrapbook, with 150 images, many in full color. The book is nicely produced on glossy paper.
For Kalanag’s story, readers can listen to a one-hour CD lecture, delivered in Rauscher’s inimitable style, that puts the German illusionist in the context of the war and its aftermath. Most intriguing of all, though, is the DVD that contains over two hours of rare (and quality) footage, including a complete televised show. Even though most of the dialogue is in German, it is engaging to see the genial Kalanag and his glamorous wife Gloria in their prime. Viewers will watch the levitation that John Mulholland called the best he had ever seen, the famed vanish of a Hillman Minx car, Shooting Through a Woman, Kalanag’s lively version of Any Drink Called For, and Gloria’s surprisingly sexy telephone-book memory act. Various commercials, newsreels, and other show footage complete the DVD.
Rauscher doesn’t sugarcoat Helmut Schreiber’s Nazi past — photos of him entertaining the Führer are chilling — but I felt I had a better appreciation for Kalanag as a performer after viewing this well-assembled retrospective.