Talk

The Witch of Lime Street

Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, an Illustrated lecture with David Jaher

The Witch of Lime Street Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, an Illustrated lecture with David Jaher | Events Calendar


Gowanus

Morbid Anatomy Museum | 424 Third Ave.

Admission: $5

*** Copies of the book will be on sale at this event.


Is there life after death? That question has been posed for all of human history, but in the early twentieth century, after millions of lives had been sacrificed on the battlefields of World War I and lost to the Spanish flu epidemic, the search for an answer would reach new heights. As the bereaved desperately sought ways to connect with their dead loved ones, psychics and spirit mediums emerged from the shadows to offer hope and solace. By the 1920s, Spiritualism was as in vogue as jazz; and in 1923, Scientific American magazine launched the era's most ambitious inquiry into the paranormal. Assembling a five-man committee of esteemed experts, the magazine offered a large cash prize to the medium who could demonstrate verifiable psychic phenomena. What ensued is an epic story of mystery and rivalry that screenwriter David Jaher has masterfully brought to life in THE WITCH OF LIME STREET: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

It was famed author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who first brought Mrs. Mina Crandon to the attention of the Scientific American. After the committee of judges had investigated and discredited countless frauds and charlatans, Mrs. Crandon was the first medium whose powers seemed promising. The wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon, "Margery," as she was called, had become something of a rising star after purportedly channeling the ghost of her long-deceased brother. Scientists who participated in her Lime Street séances wrote chilling reports of levitated objects, disembodied voices and sounds, ghostly touches, and diaphanous forms that seemed to emanate from the medium's body. Members of the committee were unable to debunk her phenomena. Only one obstacle stood between Margery and the prize: the fifth judge of the psychic contestnone other than Harry Houdini.

As a master illusionist, there was perhaps no one more qualified to investigate Margery's mystifying effects. For years, Houdini had sought out mediums who could contact his own dearly departed mother, only to find hucksters who employed the types of tricks and techniques that he himself had once presented in his spook acts. Those experiences had made him one of Spiritualism's staunchest critics and set the stage for what would soon become an animated andto this daycontroversial show-down between those who believe and those who do not.

David Jaher received a BA from Brandeis University and an MFA in Film Production from New York University. At NYU, he was the recipient of the WTC Johnson Fellowship for directing. Jaher has been a screenwriter and a professional astrologer. A New York native and resident, this is his first book.