Fakir of Ava

Isaiah Harris Hughes (25 December 1813 — 24 May 1891), better known as the Fakir of Ava, was a 19th century stage magician, the teacher of Harry Kellar.

Hughes was born in Essex, but moved to the United States and became an illusionist. He would wear dark makeup, exotic clothing, and claim to come from Ava in Burma. He billed himself as "The Fakir of Ava, Chief of Staff of Conjurors to His Sublime Greatness the Nanka of Aristaphae". He performed standard European magic tricks, but attempted to bill them as great Oriental feats. He later gave up his costume and performed in formal evening dress.

In 1857, Hughes came up with the idea of a "gift show", a gimmick that was later used by many magicians in the 19th century. In his gift shows, Hughes would, in addition to performing magic, give away door prizes. The gifts were inexpensive trinkets such as second-hand watches or brass jewelry. Nonetheless, the concept excited audiences and was highly profitable because of the large crowds it drew — "I quickly put South again and coined money," said Hughes later.

When Harry Kellar, later known as the "Dean of American Magicians", was a youth, he saw Hughes perform, and immediately decided that he wanted to be a magician himself. He became Hughes' assistant, and thus began his career as a traveling stage magician.

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