1 March 1957
|Occupation||Magician, illusionist, director, producer, writer|
Simon Drake (born Simon Alexander 1 March 1957) is an English magician based in London. He is best known for the innovative and shocking television series The Secret Cabaret made for Britain's Channel 4.
Born in London, Drake is the son of a GP and both sides of his family were connected to the medical profession for some generations. In an interview included in a recent book about Arthur Brown, Drake was working as a record plugger at Decca Records when he met Arthur Brown:
Arthur's single 'Fire' was the first record I bought at the age of 12. As the years went on I saw Arthur at the Rainbow with Kingdom Come. I was a huge fan...I was promoted to plugger. I took Arthur round for interviews with the radio, and got to know him as a person and he mentored my crossover between the security of a day job and the craft of magic.
He first came to wider attention in Kate Bush's UK live tour in 1979 for which he co-devised visuals and played seven characters. He has a wide and diverse performing history, from Terayama's Tenjo Sajiki theatre in Japan to the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium before Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Drake also performed for Diana, The Princess of Wales at the Hippodrome, London, Prince Andrew at Tokyo Joes Nightclub and the Princess Margaret at The Park Lane Hotel where Sir Frederick Ashton told the young performer, ‘You have more feeling in your dance than a dozen principals of the Royal Ballet put together, but absolutely NO technique! It’s sublime and so refreshing’. Drake had received a scholarship to attend Marcel Marceau’s Academy in Paris but Ashton warned him against the idea urging Drake that he didn’t need to become a clone of Marceau. He advised Nicolas Roeg for the film Castaway, with the tricky task of coaching Oliver Reed in sleight of hand, and was magic advisor to Harvey Keitel on Fairy Tale, A True Story. In two series of the award-nominated The Secret Cabaret for Channel Four, he won an international cult following for his original and shocking presentation of illusions and manipulation routines. He worked alongside magician Pat Page. He has performed and consulted with many stars including: Elton John, Phil Collins, Madness, David Gilmour, Meat Loaf, Steve Miller's Abracadabra, Darryl Hall, Bill Wyman, George Harrison, Julian Lennon, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Katy Perry and Pamela Stephenson. In August 1993 he was seen on American TV in the special Raising Hell, in which he co-starred with Iron Maiden in their final show with Bruce Dickinson on vocals in those years (the singer rejoined the band some years later). The same month Drake performed with Carl Davis and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Drake has met David Copperfield on several occasions, with Copperfield once saying Simon is "the English version of me, but from hell!".
Drake has performed twice as a guest with The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the London Coliseum. He has appeared at festivals and tours in Canada, New Zealand, Europe and in the UK and has had residencies at many London nightclubs as well as a month in cabaret at The Casino in Monte Carlo, Paris and Dubai. He was the magic and effects supervisor to Cameron Mackintosh for the West End production of The Witches of Eastwick and Ducktastic, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
He was a consultant on the South London Theatre's Spring 2007 production of Dr Faustus. He was also a consultant on the production of episode 6 of the fourth series of the BBC television drama Hustle, broadcast in 2007, where he worked with producers and writers to resolve the problem of how to make $5 million in cash be stolen when it appeared to be actually still there. Inventing a complex and elaborate scam, the episodes final positioning in the series was testament to its effectiveness. He was also a magic advisor on the Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.
Feb 2009 Drake travelled across 5 American states on a quest for the strange and very peculiar. He met, interviewed and photographed jesters, jokers, crazed hoarders, automata collectors, strippers, mechanical geniuses, several stars of magic, the inventor of the first computer game and a private astronaut. He said, "It was supposed to be my holiday but turned into damn hard work and about the most fascinating and fun time I have had in years!" Drake's photos and interviews appear in Dennis Publishing's Bizarre Magazine over the next 12 months as 3–5-page features.
House of Magic
In 1996 he opened his own 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) venue, Simon Drake's House of Magic, in a converted Victorian building at an unpublicised location in London.
This performing space specialises in corporate entertainment functions with monthly public performance nights. Shows feature Drake's trademark effects as well as light-hearted amputations and decapitations of senior executives and celebrity guests.
A born performer and incredibly down to earth host, Simon Drake arrives in a cloud of forlorn smoke, set to regale the crowd with floating candles, bloodied knives and the snatching of audience heads. From interludes of subtle burlesque to magical mysticism, Simon Drake had the entire crowd, and myself, hooked. https://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/something-a-little-different-events/simon-drakes-house-of-magic-presents-springtime-surprises/review
A recent visitor said, “For the sheer variety of entertainment Simon Drake’s magic house is hard to beat. Over the course of the night and plenty of drinks we had our fortunes read, played on an old pinball machine, and were suitably bewildered by wandering of close-up magicians. There was a highly amusing tour of the haunted cellar by the master’s butler, part pantomime horror, part magic show and heavy on vampire-based innuendo throughout. Finally, after generous helpings of an excellent buffet, the show began and started, we won’t spoil it for you but rest assured this is proper magic, the kind they used to show on the telly before it all became about plinths, street magic and conning bookies. It’s all as you’d hope from the glamorous assistants to the outrageous costumes and sinister showmanship. Think of it as if you’re visiting a museum, theatre, restaurant, bar and club all in one… what’s more you’ll definitely be talking about this place for weeks to come.“ Great Little Place in London, Jan 2013
In 2015 Simon was awarded 3 awards, including 'The Most Violent Magician in Human History' in a BBC compilation program, 'The Best Male Bottom' against several male models at The House of Harlot Xmas event and the highest accolade possible from The prestigious, historic association, The Magic Circle, that of Honorary life membership of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star, Professional. Making him one of only half a dozen to receive this most coveted award.
- "The Secret Cabaret information". at television production company Open Media. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
- Quinlan, Tim (3 October 2005), "Celebrity Interview: Simon Drake", Inside Magic, retrieved 10 March 2007
- "Interview with Simon Drake", Daily Mirror, Mirror Group Newspapers, 19 February 2000
- The God of Hellfire: The Crazy Life and Times of Arthur Brown by Polly Marshall, SAF Publishing 2005
- "High Band: Kate Bush Live at the Hammersmith Odeon". British Film Institute database. Retrieved 1 April 2007.
- Simon Drake on IMDb
- The show was shot at Pinewood Studios, near London, and broadcast live on American TV. It was later bought by the BBC for transmission in the UK and broadcast but heavily censored. See "Raising Hell". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
- Quinlan, "Celebrity Interview"
- "Hustle". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
- "Simon Drake's House of Magic News". Simon Drake. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- Walker, Mark (November 2006), "Simon Drake's House of Magic", Magic, Stagewrite Publishing, archived from the original on 28 March 2007
- Cover story of January 1992 Magic magazine