El-Wyn: Spook Show Innovator

How appropriate that magician and spook show innovator El-Wyn (Elwin Charles Peck, 1902-1956) was born during the Halloween season. We have already written about guys like Dr. Silkini and Bill Neff, but the transitional figure who preceded them in the spook show game was El-Wyn, who took some of the seance illusions that Blackstone and Houdini had presented (and which went all the way back to the Davenport Brothers (things like floating objects, spirit cabinets, spirit slate writing, a talking skull, and the appearance of ghosts) and made them part of the trappings of horror movie screenings. He was doing this as early as the late 1920s. Young people flocked to these sorts of shows for around four decades.

By the 60s, television, with its campy horror hosts, had siphoned off audiences. And then in the 1970s, horror itself had changed away from the traditional Goth iconography and towards the quotidian, graphic slasher film, which was all blood and no magic.

But the form is revived from time to time. In fact our old pal Cardone is reviving the concept this season, presenting his House of Ghostly Haunts at Dixon Place this coming October 30. We’ve seen him do earlier versions of this show before, and can guarantee charming and chilling big fun. Get all the details here.