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Special Report: The FBI sting that tore apart a small town

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David Copperfield
Joanie Spina dies at 61; transformed magicians' acts
Joanie Spina dies at 61; transformed magicians' acts

It was a sort of Pygmalion tale, told before an audience that was particularly skeptical of miraculous transformations. But the narrator was Joanie Spina, a renowned consultant to illusionists seeking to sharpen their acts. And the subject at the 2013 Magic Live! gathering in Las Vegas was the very short, very rotund, very nervous Sir Pat Trick, an aspiring Cincinnati magician who had never before been in Vegas — or on an airplane. Despite the 90-foot plastic oxygen tube taped to her nose, the ailing Spina was animated and direct: Sir Pat Trick had sent her an audition video showing a doleful fat man making all the classic mistakes: avoiding eye contact, using bad music, doing...

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