The Box of Astaroth July 29 2015
I was recently asked to create my own interpretation of the classic Astro Ball Cabinet for a private commission and here's the result – The Box of Astaroth!
All of the components are antique and pre 1890. Rather than spending hours ageing wood and distressing metal I spent the valuable time sourcing the parts to create something completely unique and undeniably old.
As well as the standard 'ball to glass' routine I have added a spirit bell. The bell can be substituted for any item that makes a noise such as a music box or tambourine, even whispers or the faint sound of a child singing!
The mechanics of the box mean you can move almost 'anything to anything' so rather than the standard 'ball to glass' you could move a voodoo doll to a box or something a little more eerie. I have used the concept of a pseudopod to give the routine that extra 'creep' factor. For those unfamiliar with a pseudopod they are plaster casts of spirit hands that had materialised during séance.
The idea was simple but effective. The medium was invited to materialise the ectoplasmic hand of the spirit in a bowl of mercolised wax which was placed in the centre of the table. When the séance was complete a cast of the hand could be created in plaster using the wax mould so that investigators could examine this 'hand from nowhere'. These pseudopods could then be sold for 5 guineas a piece to potentially over 130 spirit investigation societies. A nice little earner and side business for the budding medium!
So for my Box of Astaroth routine I invite the child spirit to select a previously signed card from the middle of a deck. I know, card tricks and spirit performance might be a big no-no for some performers but to the public who have never seen something like this it makes perfect sense. You could force a word with Oculus, place a pencil in the box with the hand and then ask the spirit to write the selected word on a card inside the box. When the box has opened the pencil is in the hand and the card has the chosen word written on it. Same method, different execution.
Combining the child pseudopod with the music box you could essentially place the music box next to the hand, close the door, invoke the spirit of a child who plays the music box and on opening the door find that the music box in in the child's hand. A nice twist and not a single red sponge ball in sight! Like all magic, once you have great mechanics the only limit is your imagination.
Since I posted the images and demo video on my Facebook page I have had a multitude of requests for 'The Box of Astaroth' and a waiting list has already started to form! As each box is unique and individually source I will add them to the Lebanon Circle site as they are built and I will offer them to members of the list in order of who joined first. If they don't like that particular design I will offer it to the next person on the list and so on.
If you'd like to join the 'Box of Astaroth' waiting list please contact me here and I will offer the boxes as they become available.
Two Doomsday's in 2016 I hear you say?! May 18 2015
To say Doomsday VI was a huge success would be the understatement of the year however , I left Whitby with a heavy heart...
It was announced (yes, by me) that the event would move to London to make it more accessible for UK and international attendees. Whitby, as you would imagine for a place riddled with vampires and Goths is remote and difficult to get to for most foreign and southern folk. It was a difficult choice and I could sense a clear divide amongst the ranks.
The last person I shook hands with before departing Doomsday was the bizarre mastermind behind one of the most memorable acts you will ever cast your eyes upon – Brian Maxwell and The Travelling Werewolf Show. Now in his 80's he told me that if Doomsday relocated to London it would be too far for him to travel and rightly so. More importantly, the Daddy of Doomsday Roni Shachnaey would unlikely be able to make the long journey south.
During the six hour drive back to Heathrow I discussed the matter with my multinational council and thought long and hard about making Doomsday accessible to everyone, northerners, southerners and of course our overseas friends alike. We addressed the pros and cons of having a Doomsday in London but ultimately we all agreed that Sneaton Castle in Whitby was the true home of the event.
Therefore I am delighted to announce that there will be not one but two Doomsdays in 2016!
Doomsday VII with remain the premier Bizarre and Mystery Entertainment event in the UK and will cover all aspects of macabre magic, freakish sideshow acts and typically anything that might cause you to look away in disbelief! This is as close as you can get to a real Addams Family gathering, and yes we do consider ourselves a family albeit a strange one!
Doomsday VII will be sponsored by Lebanon Circle Prop & Illusion Design
Doomsday by Gaslight will be set in the heart of Jack the Ripper territory in Simon Drake's 200 year old Victorian Mansion. Experience an autumnal gathering of guests and performers from the world of horror, paranormal investigation and cult stage and screen! The weekend kicks off with a tour of the Ripper murder sites, the Elephant Man museum, the Victorian operating theatre as well as other strange and unusual locations around the dark streets of London.
Tickets will go on sale next week. Both Sneaton Castle and Simon Drake's House of Magic have capacity for 120 attendees.
So for now, thank you for being part of Doomsday and see you in 2016...
For now, here are some shots from Doomsday VI, enjoy!
Dr Diablo's Carnival Macabre
Todd Landman 'Mystery Boxes'
Stuart Burrell - World Record Holding Escapologist & Artist
Oskar Hejll - Cabinet of Curiosities – Vampires
Voodoo Mick - The Singing Psychic
Lothar Malmberg - Echoes Seance
Lars Ruth - 'Arcanum Mentis – Secrets of the Mind'
Prof BC - At the Heart of the Tale
Dr Nicolas Grimoire - Tales From The Darker Side
Tracy Wise - Crime Scene Illusion
Brian Maxwell - The Travelling Werewolf Show
Rookman Swindler & Co - Glass Walking (and lying face down!)
Skurot - The Revenge May 08 2015
Skurot was a short production run release from 2013. Production ended due to shipping issues however, the handsome chap could be making a return to Lebanon Circle very soon. Here's a teaser...
Ectometron XI May 08 2015
The Whitby Vampire May 08 2015
Bat-man discovered in Bat-cave!
Disturbing half man, half vampire bat creature discovered beneath Whitby Abbey.
They may be the stuff of horror movies and romantic teen novels, but could this be the most damning evidence of the existence of Vampires?
In the remote North Yorkshire town of Whitby, the setting for Bram Stoker's gothic novel Dracula, a recent discovery may suggest that he took inspiration for his book from something much closer to home than the 15th century Vlad the Impaler.
A disturbing series of images have been released from a Yorkshire University research department showing a humanoid creature possessing elongated limbs, bat-like wings and a part human - part bat head with razor sharp incisors. The 'bat-man' has also been 'staked' through the chest with an iron spike containing a rolled up parchment of the Lord's Prayer in Latin.
Cave appeared overnight
The grotesque remains were discovered in 2011 after a series of storms ravaged the Yorkshire coast. Erosion of the cliffs in a now secret location close to Whitby revealed the entrance to a network of caves leading beneath the ancient Abbey. University spokesperson Professor Edward Forks commented: "The cave literally appeared overnight, as the sea had washed away a large section of cliff face to reveal a small cave entrance. We were only made aware of the cave after Mr. Stephen Meyer brought his disturbing find to the university where he usually brings his fossils for verification." Meyer, a keen fossil hunter, had been scavenging along the coast when he stumbled upon the cave. He entered the 'vampire’s lair' armed with only a torch, chisel and mallet. The scattered remains of wooden barrels indicated that the caves had probably once been used by smugglers; he commented that as he ventured further inside the atmosphere became increasingly dark and brooding. The cave seemed to lead directly to the space beneath Whitby Abbey on the cliff tops. The passage gradually narrowed, leading to a small wooden door with a large crucifix hanging on it. Meyer tried the handle, but the door would not budge. After a swift smash of his hammer, however, the door swung open. In the gloomy alcove his torch illuminated a wooden chest surrounded by a white circle in the centre of the room. The circle was later discovered to be salt, a known method of protection from evil spirits. Meyer recalls a strange inner voice that commanded him to take the box: "I would never normally have disturbed a find of such historical significance, but I felt compelled to take the box; it somehow told me to take it!" Scared and confused, Meyer took the small box from the cave and hurried home.
Forks recalls how Meyer was unusually agitated and 'as white as a ghost' when he brought the box to the university. "When I opened the box, I didn’t quite know what to think,” recalls Forks. Together with the 'man-bat', the men found an ivory rosary, garlic and more salt. "My initial thought was that a smuggler may have locked a small monkey in a box, but that was before I noticed the bat wings, hideously clawed hands and feet and an iron stake protruding from the thorax." Meyer told Forks he had opened the box at home, unaware of its contents. As the lid was lifted a shadowy vapor shot out, causing his cat, Jacob, to hiss incessantly. The animal was too scared to go anywhere near the box. "Mr. Meyer was clearly worried he had unleashed some ancient curse. I tried to calm him by saying curses didn't exist. At the same time, I didn't think vampires did either until a few months ago…”
Remains at least 500 years old
The 'bat-man' has undergone rigorous scientific tests at the university and it has been revealed from blood and tissue analysis that it is of human origin. X-rays show that, although the main skeletal structure is humanoid, the hands and feet are scaly and clawed, a feature often used in the medieval imagery of demons. The head has the same brain cavity dimensions of a human, but the ears and upper and lower jaws are more reminiscent of a mammal such as a dog or bat. Carbon dating suggests the corpse is at least 500 years old and is in remarkably good condition for remains of this age. The blood sucking bat-man has the world's science community baffled and the body is being held at a secret location until further test results can be published. The rolled-up scroll found in the top of the iron stake has been sent to the Vatican's Department of Document Authenticity for verification. The parchment scroll contains the Lord's Prayer in Latin, which is thought to have helped in the slaying of the vampire.
Vampire threat to society!
A local Israeli vampire hunter, Rabbi Shachnaey, now residing in Scarborough, has commented that this find should not be dismissed lightly. Having seen the corpse first hand, Shachnaey concluded that "…the reason we have never seen a creature like this before is that the 'vampire' was staked part way through its transformation from bat to human. In the movies vampires generally explode or dissolve, but in reality this is not the case. Once killed, a real vampiric being will ‘freeze’ and remain that way until the body is disposed of either by burning or burial on holy ground." Rabbi Shachnaey is best known for ridding the remote Israeli town DusKtild’Awn of a vampire infestation back in the early 60's. "It would appear that the monks in Whitby Abbey wanted to preserve the remains and keep them protected on consecrated ground, possibly for research. Whatever their purpose, I am pleased this find has come to light as it proves once and for all that vampires are a real threat to society."
Secret order of monks
Could Bram Stoker have secretly known of the Whitby bat-man and used the vampire as his inspiration for Dracula? Historian David Vanian suggests that, after the destruction of the abbey in 1540 by Henry VIII in the 'Dissolution of the Monasteries', a secret order of monks was assigned to watch over the ruins. Vanian speculates that the secret order could have been formed to protect not the ruins of the abbey, but rather the tomb of the vampire in the caves beneath. During his time in Whitby, Stoker befriended local priest Father Renesmee, who was rumored to have had connections with the secret order and could have passed some of the eerie tale to the novelist.
So could the sleepy fishing town of Whitby really have been plagued by a vampire? This compelling evidence may suggest there is more to the legend than meets the eye. Locals have been assured there is nothing to worry about... at the moment.
Disturbing Discovery in Falcon Nest March 25 2015
Could these shocking images finally be proof of the existence of pixies and fairies?
Hosts of The Mystic Menagerie, a UK based podcast were puzzled when a regular listener sent in a series of images he claims were found in a protected bird of prey next in Cornwall.
The podcast covers topics such as strange stories, folklore and the paranormal. The listener, who wishes to remain anonymous, thought that the hosts would be the ideal recipients of the images and be less likely to ridicule his disturbing discovery.
An initial private message was received via Twitter asking for an e-mail address where the images could be sent and within a few hours the strange photographs landing in the The Mystic Menagerie inbox.
The series of images show a miniature partial human skeleton. The skull, spine and ribs are present although the limbs, lower jaw and pelvis are missing. A five pence piece is also present in the images to give an indication of scale. If these are genuine then this is the smallest humanoid remains ever discovered, but how did they appear in a falcon nest?
The mysterious man who sent in the images works for a birds of prey rescue centre in Cornwall. As well as caring for sick and injured birds part of this gentleman’s job is to monitor nests of protected species for annual breeding numbers as well as preventing eggs from being stolen by collectors. During a routine check he climbed a tall tree to inspect the nest when something amongst the twigs and feathers caught his eye.
The bones were gathered up and placed in a small sample bag and taken back to the rescue centre for closer examination. Cornish folklore is rife with tales of pixies who are said to live on the high moorland areas and having grown up in the locale of Dartmoor the man could only assume that what he had found were the remains of a pixie (or piskie).
The show's host Dan Baines was responsible for the Mummified Fairy Hoax back in 2007 and is also a prop designer so he knows a fake when he sees one however, this one leaves him stumped. Co-host Freddie Valentine has been in regular contact with the owner of the images and the remains and sees no reason why he would create a hoax as he wishes to remain anonymous and will give no indication of where he works or where he found them.
Due to the colour of the skeleton it has been hypothesised that the remains are a number of years old. Falcons return to the same nest year after year so it could be assumed that a few years ago the falcon returned from a hunt with something more interesting than your standard mouse.
Dan and Freddie are currently in discussions to see if they can travel to see the remains in order to certain if they are genuine or not. In the meantime the man has agreed to record a short video of the bones to at least prove the images are not Photoshopped in any way.
This month's podcast covers this intriguing case in greater detail and more information will be posted as and when it becomes available.
Listen to the Podcast here
The Amazing Traveling Feejee Mermaid January 29 2015
When your company creates props for a client base which is 80% overseas, the hard part is not the actual creation of the prop itself but making it durable enough to survive days in transit.
Probably the most sought after prop I build is also my most delicate. The Feejee Mermaid is so delicate that even a short car journey will result in cracks and missing parts. Having a popular prop that can't be shipped anywhere does not make business sense. So, when a client from the US ordered one I took it as a challenge to create a travel proof prop that could be shipped globally and not suffer little if any damage.
It's a conundrum that has taken best part of 3 months of experimentation and head scratching to solve. I've tested materials I never even knew existed and many failed mermaids have found themselves swimming in the studio bin however, the experimentation has finally paid off. So, ladies and gentlemen roll up and gaze upon the hideous traveling Feejee Mermaid!
The mermaid consists of a torso with fixed head, detachable arms, tail section and tail fin. All of this slots together and is mounted on a base. The end user can either glue the sections together for a permanent exhibit so simply slot it together and use it as a prop that can be taken on the road for various performances and exhibits.
At almost a meter long the mermaid will deconstruct into a small box allowing you to take her almost anywhere. If any spines become broken they can be replaced and any chips or knocks can be easily remedied with a quick squirt of Dirty Down and a dab of liquid latex.
The mermaid comes with each section individually wrapped and boxed. These are then packed into a larger box for transit ensuring your mermaid arrives in a state that was previously impossible.
Combined with a few faux whale bone mermaids, a map of Nantucket and other nautical artifacts the Feejee mermaid is just begging for an eerie bizarre performance script and routine. Did I mention that I'm working on that as we speak? 'Sirens' will tell the unfortunate tale of a whales, shipwrecks and cannibalism.
The Amazing Traveling Feejee Mermaid - coming to a stage near you soon!
The Funeral of the Faerie Queen January 22 2015
My last Kickstarter project 'The Derbyshire Mummified Fairy Kit & DVD Workshop' was a huge success and has finally closed and completed. The highest Kickstarter reward tier was a custom fairy made to the backer's specificiation and his inspiration was the funeral of a fairy queen.
The piece depicts a deceased fairy that has been given a ceremonial burial by a child. Surrounded by the child's collection of trinkets, gifts and curious findings the 'Faerie Queen' lies on the forest floor, her dead eyes still open with her hand clutching a glass goblet.
- whether men or worn he could not tell--but he saw that the face of the corpse was that of a beautiful female, smaller than the smallest child's doll. It was, Richard said, "as if it were a dead seraph,"--so very lovely did it appear to him. The body was placed within the altar; and then a large pat of men, with picks and spades, began to dig a little hole close by the sacramental table. Their task being completed, others, with great care, removed the body and placed it in the hole. The entire company crowded around, eager to catch a parting glimpse of that beautiful corpse ere yet it was placed in the earth. As was lowered into the ground they began to tear off the flowers and break their branches of myrtle, crying:
"Our queen is dead! Our queen is dead!"
My next Kickstarter project starts 1st March 2015 so watch this space!
The Mystic Menagerie Podcast Episode 4 December 30 2014
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Freddie and I are proud to announce that the 4th Mystic Menagerie Podcast is now available to download via our site here or iTunes!
The Christmas Fireside Special Part 2!
Join Freddie & Dan at the Mystic Menagerie Mansion where they are joined by Paul Voodini and discuss all thing festive and bizarre!
00:00 – 13:17 – Intro
13:17 – 43:00 – My Bizarre Life
43:16 – 01:18:13 – Weird Christmas Traditions
01:18:13 – 01:45:07 – Creepy Christmas Movie – The Polar Express
01:45:07 – 02:07:56 – Paranormal Corner – Real Santa Sightings
02:07:56 – End - Outro
You can also subscribe and listen to the previous 3 episodes which includes a 1 hour interview with Reece Shearsmith.
Happy Birthday Lebanon Circle! October 02 2014
To mark the 10th anniversary of Lebanon Circle I thought it would good to give the site a revamp and implement a few new features. Although the old site looked suitably macabre it was a pain to maintain and I had numerous emails about the text size, formatting issues between browsers and limited payment options. So, taking all of that feedback on board I've addressed as many issues as possible, re-branded the whole look and feel (while hopefully still keeping that gloomy composure!) and added a fully functional merchant gateway so I now accept any form of payment you care to throw at me!
There are a couple of new releases to celebrate the new grand opening with another sure fire success from Prof BC - 'The Resurrection Cemetery Gate Key' and two Poe inspired releases from Parlour Ghost & E.R. Perkins. Also coming soon from Lebanon Circle is 'Oculus I.T.H (Insert.Theme.Here) - a demonstration of audience psychic ability for multiple topics and genres covering everything from witch trails to modern day serial killers such as the Zodiac.
Originally a one-man business venture the time has also come for Lebanon Circle to share its success and provide a sales and marketing platform for other independent producers. Aimed and the bizarre and mentalist community I'm actively look for innovative magic creators and prop designers to join The Inner Circle. If you are a small independent producer Lebanon Circle is the best choice to showcase your dark talents and secure success without selling your soul to the devil (I've already done that on your behalf!)
Happy Birthday LC - here's to another 10 years!