Sylvester the Jester

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Sylvester the Jester, 2006

Daniel Sylvester Battagline, also known as Sylvester The Jester (born 1961), is an American magician, best known for playing a cartoon character who comes to life. He has had hundreds of stage and television appearances, including NBC’s "World's Wildest Magic," ABC’s "Champions of Magic III", Jerry Lewis's Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and The Discovery Channel’s "More Science of Magic." He has performed in multiple Las Vegas shows including opening for The Amazing Johnathan, and appearing at Caesar’s Magical Empire. He also produces a series of magic products, and has been credited with creating the illustrations for various magic publications, such as the cover for The Amazing Johnathan's Every Trick in the Book, and the poster for John Carney's "Mr. Mysto" act. In 1996, he also created a prop for the television show, "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." He has been featured on the cover of several magic and culture-related magazines, such as the September 1998 issue of Magic.[1]

Biography[edit]

1985, "Reverse Gravity" trick

Battagline was born in Youngstown, Ohio, one of three children to Pat Battagline, a plumber, and Merrie Lou Clark, a homemaker. He grew up in the small town of Berlin Center, Ohio, attending Western Reserve High School, where he began experimenting with magic at the age of 15, after seeing a televised performance by Doug Henning. He later went on to Youngstown State University, where he studied Fine Art and Theater Arts, before relocating to Los Angeles, where he joined the prestigious Magic Castle community, and performed for the next seven years. He was best known during this time for a unique sleight of hand move known as "The Sylvester Pitch." During the 1990s, he created the "Ten Foot Pole" effect which remains popular, most recently as the topic of a 2008 TED Conference presentation about unique inventions. He was also mentored by Larry Jennings and Dai Vernon, who referred to Battagline as "a genius".[2]

Sylvester's portrait of Larry Jennings and Dai Vernon, 1989

Battagline's "Sylvester the Jester" character began to emerge in the early 1990s, and over the next several years, he began to tour internationally in over 30 countries. He was also a key performer and creative consultant in the year-long production of "Las Vegas Magic Express" in Seoul, Korea, which was produced by Kevin James.

Currently, he lives in Bellflower, California and continues to perform close-up, parlor and stage magic. He also functions as a consultant for other magicians and participates regularly in Magic Castle activities.

Awards[edit]

"Steam from the Ears" effect, 2002
  • Baguette d’Or (Golden Wand), 1998, Monte Carlo Magic Stars, awarded by Princess Stéphanie of Monaco [1]
  • Kid's Choice, 1998, Junior Jury's Grand Prix, Monte Carlo Magic Stars
  • Festival Favorite, 1998, International del Humor, Bogotá, Colombia
  • Gold Medal Champion, 1995, Pacific Coast Association of Magicians (PCAM), Santa Clara, California
  • Appreciation Award (50th Anniversary Special), 1996, International Brotherhood of Magicians
  • The S.C.A.M. Annual Comedy Magic Award, 2007, South Carolina Association of Magicians

Notable nominations[edit]

The Magic Castle’s Academy of Magical Arts, Los Angeles, California:

  • Lecturer of the Year: 2002, 2009
  • Parlour Performer of the Year: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Comedy Magician of the Year: 2003
  • Stage Magician of the Year: 1998, 1999

List of works[edit]

DVDs/Videos[edit]

  • Sylvester Pitch ‘98, 2007, Creative Enterprise/Hotrix, DVD
  • Sylvester The Jester Performance, 2006, DVD
  • Suspended Dimension (The Jacketless Topit), 2001, Kevin James’ Imagination Unlimited, DVD
  • Sylvester Pitch ‘98, 1998, Creative Enterprise/Hotrix, VHS

Lecture Notes[edit]

  • Sylvester The Jester's Creativity Lecture Notes, 2008
  • Sylvester Pitch Lecture Notes, 1993
  • Hurtling the Moon, Creative Strategy Lecture Notes, 1995

Inventions[edit]

Sylvester the Jester has created numerous magic effects and gags, for his own act as well as for other performers. Effects performed in his act are self-fabricated, original designs intended to imitate classic American cartoons. His inventions include:

• Sound Vest, 1989
• Ten Foot Pole, 1989
• Smoke From The Ears, 1994
• Steam From The Ears, 1993
• Suspended Dimension,(suspender topit) 1992
• Bottomless Hat, 1995
• Bug Eyes, 1995
• Binocular Face, 1996
• Filed Away, 1993
• Sly Swivel Shift, 1989
• Hole Through The Body Effect, 1995
• Fly Paper Effect, 1995
• Makin’ Sparks, 1994
• Barefoot Lean, 1997
• Coin Through The Face, 1978
• Sylvester pitch, 1978
• Nine Coin Vanish, 1977
• Exploding Head Effect, 1994
• Porta-Sledge, 1980
• Pulsing Pinky, 1994
• Hideous Grin, 1991
• Stretchy Tongue, 1991
• Anvil From Hat, 1989

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Battagline has been criticized for his style, including his exaggerated cartoon-like movements, and provocative humor.[3]

References[edit]

1994
  1. ^ Pictures of magazine covers
  2. ^ Genii magazine, October 1988
  3. ^ Magic magazine, September 1998 cover story

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Performance video at youtube.com
  • "Creating Success", podcast interview by Mitchell Anthony
  • Drake, Simon. "Visit #2: Sylvester the Jester," Bizarre Magazine, 2009
  • Imodei, Ivan. "The Plant" story, Magic's Most Amazing Stories; A Collection of Incredible Stories from World Famous Magicians, 2009.
  • Wolf, Michael. "Not Just a Weirdo", Magicana magazine, 2003
  • Booth, John. Chapter 4: "Sylvester: The Self-Mayhem Principle" [2]Extending Magic Beyond Credibility, (Linking Ring reprint, August 1999)
  • Booth, John. "Sylvester The Surreal Jester", Linking Ring magazine, August 1999
  • Levy, Mark. "The Jester is Sylvester!", Magic Magazine, September 1998
  • Pogue, David. Magic For Dummies, 1998
  • Booth, John. "Memoirs of a Magician’s Ghost", Linking Ring, August 1999
  • Giorgio, Tony. Genii magazine, October 1993
  • Brown, Judy. L.A. Weekly, April 13, 1995
  • Weber, Ken. "A Personal Entertainment Highlight: Sylvester the Jester," Maximum Entertainment[3], 2002