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Fakir of Oolu

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Fakir of Oolu
BornAlfred Sylvester
October 17 1813
DiedJanuary 30 1886 (age 72)
Fakir of Oolu (1813 - 1886), born Alfred Sylvester in England was most known for presenting the Aerial Suspension illusion as an Indian mystic in turban and full robes, surrounded by a decorative Oriental set.

He also performed as "Hadji Mahommed Salib", but often referred to as more of a lecturer than a magician.

Sylvester began as an assistant to John Henry Pepper at the London Polytechnic, a venue for popular science exhibitions. The most popular of these exhibitions had been Pepper's Ghost. After leaving the Polytechnic, Sylvester presented an 'improvement' of Pepper's Ghost, which came to the notice of the original pantentees, and he had had to make a public apology in The Times.[1]

Sylvester, moved to the United States where he improved the Aerial Suspension illusion, by being able to take away the last pole and worked it up into a complete show. He presented his act under the title of "The Denizen of the Air" and the "Last Link Severed."[2] The act became a sensation at the Egyptian Hall.

Hoffmann credits Sylvester with creating the "Floating Wand" (refuted by Henry Hatton[3]) which he used to introduce his Aerial Suspension illusion. Later Magic.

In 1874, Sylvester created "The Talking Lion," an illusion based on the Sphinx principle and went to Australia with his show. He eventually died in Melbourne.[4]

His son, Alfred Sylvester Jr., who assisted him, also went on to perform as the "Fakir of Oolu" throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as his grandson (also named Aflred).


  1. Rise of the Indian Rope Trick by Peter Lamont, 2004
  2. My Magic Life by David Devant, 1931
  3. Sphinx Vol. 5, No 6 (August 1906)
  4. History of Conjuring and Magic by Henry Ridgely Evans, 1928