Queen Mary Holds Halloween Séance


The Queen Mary is well known as one of the most haunted places in the country. Filled with spirits from the crew that have manned her, the guests who have sailed with her and the visitors who have come to know her as a tourist destination, the Queen Mary has enough tales to fill several books. Now master magician and apparitionist Aiden Sinclair has come to bring some of those tales back from the dead and into the theatre.

“Illusions of the Passed: Legends of the Queen Mary ¬– A Theatrical Séance” opened last month to excited guests and CV Weekly was invited down to see the master magician at work. And although Sinclair is a magician, he takes a different approach to illusion and magic than most modern practitioners.

“When this ship, the RMS Queen Mary, sailed the seas, magic was different than what it is today. When this ship was launched, when it made its first voyage in 1936, magic was real,” Sinclair said to his audience. “There was an illusionist named Howard Thurston, whose name has been lost to history. Everyone remembers Houdini; Thurston? Never heard of him.”

He went on to explain that Thurston was “the magician Houdini wanted to be, the greatest illusionist of an age.”

When Thurston walked onto the stage, he would captivate the audience by telling it he had recently returned from an exotic foreign land having studied at the feet of a yogi or other spiritual master. He was taught the secrets of levitation. He then would bring out a beautiful woman and he would levitate her above the stage.

“People believed it was real. Today, you can visit the greatest illusionists of our day, people like David Copperfield, Penn and Teller and, if you were to leave this room tonight, go to Las Vegas, you would definitely be entertained by their shows,” said Sinclair, “but I don’t think anyone leaves their shows feeling like they encountered reality. That’s how magic has changed. Today, a deck of cards is symbolic of that magic, of trickery, sleight of hand. Ladies and gentlemen, when Howard Thurston performed, nobody asked him ‘How long did it take you to learn that trick?’ People would ask Howard Thurston, ‘When did you realize you had these abilities?’”

This example is indicative of Sinclair’s approach to the magic performed throughout the show. Not only were the individual tricks impressive as part of the show, but they were backed up with historical facts about the ship’s former passengers who now reputedly haunt her halls. He performed in such a way that the audience saw that he was not performing sleight of hand card tricks, he was inviting spirits to interact with the guests on his behalf.

Descriptions of the magic tricks would only serve to spoil the surprise for those who would go see the show but, suffice it to say, they were aptly performed by the many spirits of the ship that Sinclair calls upon. And although the initial reaction is to see these as illusions, gags or other trickery of a master magician, Sinclair’s reminder lingers in the back of the mind, creating a modicum of doubt – maybe this is not an illusion, and the audience is invited in to experience something real.

Fresh off his residency at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado (the hotel from “The Shining”), Aiden Sinclair takes up his new home at the Queen Mary through early next year. Tickets and more info can be found at QueenMary.com/tours/attractions-night/illusions-of-the-passed.