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Help Wanted - Quacks, Mountebanks, Frauds & Flim-Flam Men

The Pasadena Museum of History has asked me to work with them putting together programs in the coming year. One of the ideas we floated was a program devoted to bizarre popular pseudo-science of the early 20th Century.

I, for example, have a schtick as a phrenologist. However, we could certainly use people like a magnetic healer, a patent medicine huckster, a spiritualist, an elctrotherapist, a specialist in "female complaints" or anything else you can think of that would be historically appropriate, interesting and shed light on popular conceptions and misconceptions about science in the early 20th Century. There would even be room for people who want to present valid science and technology of the day.

The mountebanks in question might do solo acts as part of an evening "salon" at a restaurant in Pasadena, and then I hope to put together a larger public event at the museum that brings together as many flim-flam men (or women) as possible in one place.

The presenter should be able present an engaging and amusing "first person" character and be able to carry on in character for at least 30 minutes. Then the performer should be able to drop character and give some historical background and context for the subject.

The performer needs to have presentable historical attire, all their own equipment and must not, I repeat, must not be dull!

In terms of content, the evening solo programs can be somewhat "adult" in content, though not crude. The daytime combined program would need to be family friendly.

There is some money in it, but none of us are getting rich at this.

You may put your proposal below or contact me directly at



Hey Walter (my wife Mary Graff sent this to me). I am a scientist and magician with a strong interest in this subject of pseudoscience, perception, and superstition through the ages. Depending on the timing (I am trying to wrap up my Ph.D. in planetary science at Arizona State right now), I would be interested in performing as a spiritualist with a seance show ... the kind that Houdini was famous for exposing. Sound interesting? Please advise and all best regards, James Ashley