SickthingsUK: James Randi

James Randi, AKA "The Amazing Randi", was born in 1928 as Randall James Hamilton Zwinge. He was hired by the Coopers to design the special effects for the 'Billion Dollar Babies' tour and joined the Alice Cooper group on both the 'Billion Dollar Babies' and 'Billion Dollar Babies Holiday' tours in 1973. He played the mad dentist in 'Unfinished Sweet' and the executioner during 'I Love the Dead', operating the guillotine, which was based on a "Will Rock" design. He was quite peeved that he wasn't given the chance at being Santa Claus on the holiday tour until someone explained why journalist/author Bob Greene was along on the tour.

An original agreement between Randi and Alive Enterprises was for three illusions, although none of these original ideas were ever used. One was described as a "Buzzsaw Illusion", which presumably involved cutting someone in half. The guillotine was not one of these original illusions.

Since the 1973 tours Randi has become famous for using his expertise to debunk claims of the paranormal, and expose the tricks used by so called psychics to con the gulible out of their money. He offered a $1million prize to anyone who could prove to him that paranormal phenomenon exists. The prize has never been claimed.

In 2014 an excellent biographical film called 'An Honest Liar' was released telling Randi's life story and including interviews with Alice.

Randi retired in 2015 but you can stil find out more about his work and his foundation at www.randi.org.

Randi On Alice

"Yes, that was the "Will Rock" guillotine. That won't mean much to the uninformed, but I'll say it anyway. Great trick. No, I never saw Rock's show. During the Cooper show, we put on Bob Greene (who wrote a whole book about it) mercilessly. He believed everything we let him discover. It was hilarious."

"[Here's] the reason that in 1987, a Canadian citizen living in the USA, I applied to take US citizenship. That was brought about by an earlier unpleasant event. In 1973, I'd been touring with the Alice Cooper "Billion Dollar Babies" show, and while in Niagara Falls, Canada, I discovered something about my country that both disappointed me and brought about my decision to become an American. In mid-show, going backstage to change my costume at the locker-room where we'd been placed at the venue, I found a group of thugs prying open lockers and throwing personal belongings - including my own - in every direction. The destruction was heavy, and I of course objected strongly. I was backed up against a wall - at gunpoint - and told that I had no right to be there. I was escorted out of the building.
No, I couldn't object to the law. That was the law. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) - the equivalent in Canada to the FBI in the USA - were searching the artists' property for evidence of drugs while those artists were supposed to be onstage, and though they found nothing, they destroyed that property and simply left all the trash where they'd thrown it. I was able to get back into the building, unseen by the police, through a side entrance, and I hastened onstage on cue, though not garbed as I should have been. The following day I arose early and went to the local newspaper office. After much shuffling back and forth, I got to see a feature writer and explained what had happened the previous night. The reaction was a surprise: I was clearly informed that the newspaper wanted no trouble with the RCMP, that the story was already written, that the police action was not part of that story, and that I had better treat the situation as a learning experience. I'm a quick learner. I chose to be an American.
(James Randi, www.randi.org, July 2005)