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Elite user
Knoxville, TN
477 Posts

Profile of tian_ci
Hey guys.
I have no idea if this is the correct place to post this question, but it seemed like the most correct.

Has anyone here ever performed a magic show at a prison before? My college group and I are working on hosting a series of positive uplifting events in the community so I figured magic at jail would be a good place to shed some positive light.

Does anyone here have any ideas about doing magic in prison?

I was thinking of doing a mixture of escapes and normal magic (torn/restored paper, cups and balls, rope magic, TT. etc... while my friend does straight jackets and handcuffs-though escape might not go to well in prison...)

I don't have the event booked yet or anything, but I was just looking for some ideas how to approach this.
Thanks for your help
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Inner circle
Arlington, Virginia
2422 Posts

Profile of rossmacrae
Look for the recent Kathy Griffin "Life on the D List" episode on her show at a prison - you probably won't dare go as far as she goes, but it might be instructive.
Donald Dunphy
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Inner circle
Victoria, BC, Canada
7396 Posts

Profile of Donald Dunphy
Look for Café member Harris. He's mentioned this sort of thing before.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
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Inner circle
Harris Deutsch
8663 Posts

Profile of harris
I would be glad to help. What can and can't be brought in must be followed. Don't think I will just bring it in once and beg forgiveness. I had to get special permission to bring in my strait jacket. Blues on my harps was appreciated.

Inmates where I worked could not carry money. That is when I started using washers...

I call them brain washers. I kept mind clean but I have seen many comics go the other direction. Our deputy warden had a great sense of humor (and I knew it) so I directed some jokes that way. Please ask specific things here or PM.

Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
jay leslie
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Southern California
9492 Posts

Profile of jay leslie
You need to clear the escape part if it involves metal.. They might nix the idea. Rope would probably be alright. There are rules and regulations about what can be taken in there or you might find yourself on the inside looking out.
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Veteran user
375 Posts

Profile of keithmagic
I have done it actually.

The funny thing is, I didn't know it was a prison until I got there!

They told me it was at the Maxi Boys Training Facility. I get there to the address and it is a barbed wire security gate. They looked through the car, took my strait jacket, cuffs, and a few other things I had they saw as a potential risk. Left me with cards and a few other things. It turns out it was not even for the inmates, but the prison guards and their families on "family day".

I'd say easy on the dramatic stuff, heavy on the comedy, and don't get tied up, burn anything, or cut anything and you'll be fine. And as I remember it was a great group anyhow. Just a little odd surrounded by towers with rifleman and barbed wire!

Author of "The Festival Entertainer" The Professional Entertainer's Guide to Booking and Working Outdoor Fairs, Festivals, and Events.
Available at
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Special user
810 Posts

Profile of MrHyde
I've worked plenty of prisons over the last 30 years from min to maximum security.

One of the odd things they confiscate here is fruit, oranges etc can be fermented to make powerful home brew.

One of the scariest was a maximum security female prison. Ever see the movie "The love Vipers of Cell block 9?"

To echo Keiths comments, a few of my shows have been to staff or at the academy.
That is possibly the easiest way to get "in", you may then get the connections to actually work with the inmates. Another option is "family days" where they invite family of inmates in, I've done shows and walkaround in these situations.

But if you ever get asked to do a prison show, jump at the chance. It's an eye opening experience AND looks great in your bio!

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