In this article, I am going to take a look at some of the top female magicians that have performed in the past or are currently performing.
There is no particular significance in the order they appear.
I have just tried to contrast styles and origins to provide interest.
As yet, we have not had a female magician with the high profiles of David Blaine, David Copperfield, or Criss Angel, but I am sure it will not be too long.
Where possible, I added also YouTube videos with interviews or magic performances.
Best female magicians in the world are:
- Fay Presto
- Rosy Gibb
- Dorothy Dietrich
- Magic Babe Ning
- Eusapia Palladino
- Kristen Johnson
- Frances Willard
- Katherine Mills
- Princess Tenko
- Ariann Black
- Judy Carter
- Clémentine de Vère
- Angela Funovits
- Romany, the Diva of Magic
- Magician Kelly
- Ekaterina Dobrokhotova
- Jessica Jane
- Caroline Ravn
Table of Contents
Fay Presto (Letitia Winter) is a British magician, who is also a member of the Inner Magic Circle.
She was born in May 1948.
Before beginning her magic career in her thirties, she worked as a laboratory assistant.
At an atomic energy research facility.
Born a man she joined the Magic Circle but was later asked to leave when she began to transition as a woman.
Following her transition, she was one of the very first women to join the Magic Circle when they began to accept members in 1991.
She has held a residency at the famous Langan’s Brasserie in London since the very start of her career.
She specializes in close-up magic, and her most famous trick is the bottle through the table trick.
Fay was part of the UK tour of “Champions of Magic” between 2014-2017.
The tour also included Alex McClear, Edward Hisium, and Young & Strange.
She was featured in a 2017 documentary called “Fay Presto, Queen of Close-up.”
See the Documentary:
Rosemary Gibb was an Irish magician born in November 1942 – Died July 1997.
She was one of the first women to join the Magic Circle.
Her professional career began as a clown, and she learned various skills including fire eating, juggling, mime, and conjuring.
She was very involved in helping to set up the British National Children’s theatre, and as her career progressed, she started to work more like a magician.
She developed a new act that was aimed more at adults, instead of her previous children’s act.
As such she toured Asia with the British Council in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
She was awarded the Craig Trophy by the International Brotherhood of Magicians in 1996, dying the following year of cancer.
An American Magician born in October 1931.
Like a magician, she achieved several “firsts”, and in 2006 she was listed by the Columbia Encyclopedia as one of the eight most noted magicians of the twentieth century.
These firsts included the first woman to perform a bullet catch in her mouth (disputed), and the first to hang from burning wire hundreds of feet in the air while escaping from a straitjacket.
Dietrich was frequently referred to as the female Houdini, and even as a teenager, she was called the first lady of magic.
She was an accomplished magician, and there was little that she could not do.
She was a true trailblazer and performed the bullet catch long before Criss Angel or David Blaine.
See the Bullet Catch:
Talma was a British Magician, born Mary Ann Ford in 1861.
She was an acknowledged expert in sleight of hand magic and manipulation.
She was especially known for coin manipulation.
Her association with coins led to her frequently being advertised as the Queen of Coins.
She married a Belgian performer and spent a great deal of time in Belgium with her husband Servais Le Roy, who was first responsible for teaching her magic.
Talma was not perhaps the most well-known magician, but her skills with coins make her worthy of mention.
Magic Babe Ning
Ning Cai was born in October 1982 in Singapore.
As well as her magic career she is a nominated author for the Singapore Literature Prize.
However, she is most well known as Magic Babe Ning, an illusionist, and escapologist.
Much has been made of her stunning looks, and she is given credit for making magic popular in Singapore.
In October 2014 she announced her retirement from Magic in favor of her writing career.
She has published five books altogether.
In 2017 she made a brief return to magic in Mind Magic Mistress.
For many performances, Ning appeared with her manager Sum, and they performed at many important events together.
Watch Magic Babe Ning’s Final Disappearing Act (interview just before she retired):
Born in January 1854 Eusapia Palladino is one of the earlier magicians featured on our list.
In those days magicians would typically claim that the illusions they carried out were as a result of special powers, and Eusapia was no exception.
She claimed powers to talk to the dead and levitate tables through her spirit guide.
However, even though she was revealed as a fake by Harry Houdini himself, he did say that as a trickster, she was very clever.
Most of the performances were actually “investigations”, and she would often be branded as fake, but usually the trickery involved was praised as being very skillful.
So famous were her seances that the series she held in Poland was used as inspiration for at least two movies.
Kristen Johnson began to learn magic when she was a teenager.
Her mother, Sunny Johnson, was a clown and magician and no doubt influenced this.
Kristen helped pay her way through college performing magic tricks.
Kristen and her husband Kevin Ridgeway are both Christians and have specialized in performing at faith-based events.
In 2007 they launched a new touring show called “Breathless” which has played right across the USA.
Johnson performs an escape called the full view water torture cell in which she is chained up in a water tank in full view of the audience.
She averages 2 minutes and 48 seconds underwater in this trick.
Still, on one occasion, she was underwater for 3 minutes and 18 seconds.
On her 599th performance of this trick in a halftime show at a basketball game, she passed out while trying to remove the sealed cover of the tank and had to be revived.
The following week she performed her 600th show.
Below is the recording of the Water torture trick where she nearly died.
Luckily, it has a good ending and she survived.
Born in December 1940, Frances is an American magician (daughter of the magician Harry Willard).
Obviously influenced by her father, she started as an assistant at the age of six.
Once an adult she married a newspaper editor from Texas and had three children.
They divorced, and she went on to marry another magician called Glen Falkenstein.
She performed with her husband, and their most famous trick was one that Frances had performed as a solo act before meeting Glenn.
This trick was called the “Spirit Cabinet.” They were both inducted into the Society of American Magician’s Hall of Fame.
Glenn died in 2010 of Alzheimer’s disease, and Francis is now 79.
Born in 1983 in the UK, Katherine Wills is an English magician and mentalist.
As a teenager, she was inspired by David Blaine.
She used to record his illusions on her television, watching them repeatedly so she could figure out how he did them.
While at University studying psychology, she gave up magic.
Later in 2008 she joined the magic circle and appeared in various TV shows, in October 2014 she became the first British female magician to have her own TV show (Katherine Mills: Mind Games).
She also performed at the BAFTA Awards in 2015.
She now mostly performs at private company events.
Watch a Video of her skills below (It’s quite funny) and her official site is here.
Mariko Itakura was born in Japan in June 1959.
Her stage name is Princess Tenko (formerly Mari Asakaze).
She used to be a pop singer, but she changed direction and now is a magician who specializes in large scale illusions.
A multi-talented individual she is a magician, singer, stage and movie director, videographer, and painter.
She was involved in a lot of controversies after a 1998 visit to North Korea.
She visited again in 2000 and performed for the Korean dictator.
He asked her to remain in North Korea, but she refused. In 2011 she was invited to go to Kim Jong Iis funeral but declined.
In 2007 she performed the “Spike Illusion”, but the trick went wrong, and it resulted in serious injuries.
She tried to carry on after she was released, but after 30 minutes more, she was forced to stop.
She is also the main character in a Japanese cartoon series called Tenko and the Guardians of Magic.
If awards are anything to go by, Ariann Black certainly deserves her spot on this list.
Ariann Black (also known as Arian Black) is a Canadian magician and started magic when she was just five and became professional at the age of 19.
She is based in the Magic capital of the world Las Vegas and has headlined in her own show there. In 2004 she was selected (Female) Magician of the year.
In 2008 and 2009 she was selected (International) Female Magician of the Year. She was also voted (Female) Magician of the Decade.
Ariann has also had TV shows in the UK, Italy, Canada, and France. She also appeared in the series Pawn Stars.
Ariann has built a reputation for mentoring and encouraging other female magicians.
Watch the Video – Arriann Black on Vegas Talent Live:
Judy Carter was born in Los Angeles.
She was actually born with a speech impediment, and her sister was born with serious health issues.
Judy began magic to help make her sister laugh.
The tricks she bought had a script with them, and Judy practiced these and in doing so resolved her speech problem.
Carter began her magic career while still in Elementary school, by performing at birthday parties.
She graduated with a BA in Performing Arts from the University of Southern California.
Around this time after a performance on a local TV show, she was asked for an interview, and when the interviewer asked if as a female performer she suffered discrimination she responded that she was often asked: “to see her bottom deal.”
The TV channel KCET refused to air the interview, and this caused a controversy that was picked up by CBS evening news.
Such wonderful free publicity.
As a result of all the resulting controversy, she was offered the chance to run the TV and Theater department at Harvard School for Boys.
At the beginning of the 1970s, Carter was performing at the Magic Castle in West Hollywood where she received career advice from Ricky Jay and Johnny Thompson, which led her to study sleight of hand with Dai Vernon.
This resulted in her being the first-ever woman to perform at the close-up room at the Magic Castle.
She also has a career as a writer, and among her titles was “Stand-up Comedy: the Book.”
Clémentine de Vère
Born in December 1883 in Belgium, although she was a British citizen she lived in France for much of her earlier years.
She began to get known by her stage name “Ionia – the Enchantress” or the “Goddess of Mystery.“
Her father was a British illusionist called Herbert Shakespeare Gardiner Williams.
Her mother was another magician who performed an oriental magic act under the stage name Okita.
Her father opened magic shops in London, Brussels, and later Paris.
At the age of 15, she eloped with American Circus Star Herman Weedon.
In 1911 Clementine appeared as “Ionia” for the first performance ever at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
The act actually required six tons of luggage and several assistants, but it was a hit, and she later appeared in other European cities.
She suddenly stopped performing as Ionna, despite her success due to the closure of the Folies Bergere of New York.
When it closed, she was unable to find other employment as she was relying on a contract with them.
Iona’s stage career was very short-lived but because of how long ago this was and the large scale show that she produced she is clearly worth a mention as one of the earliest superstars.
Born in July 1987 in Ohio, Funovits was interested in magic from the age of 10 after she saw the show “Breaking the Magician’s Code.”
She began modeling at the age of 11 with Elite Model Management, a well-known agency.
At 16 she won the Pageant, “Miss Teen Cleveland“.
She studied at Northeastern Ohio University, College of Medicine, and graduated as an MD and with a Bachelor of Science.
She appeared on the Primetime TV series called Phenomenon, as the only female mentalist out of ten.
She finished as the first runner up in the contest which was judged by Criss Angel and Uri Geller.
She also appeared in some German Magic Competitions on TV and then featured on a large number of TV shows in the USA and abroad.
See her perform on Pen and Teller A great example of mentalism.
Romany, the Diva of Magic
Romany was born in London to parents who wanted her to pursue a career on the stage.
She attended dance lessons, elocution classes, and stage lessons.
At the age of 22, her parents changed her name to Romany, at her request.
After university, she was selected for a fast track graduate management program with British Telecom.
After she spent four years in this program, she chose to change her career.
She studied both magic and circus skills and started street shows with German street performer Martin Kamman.
Moving on to Las Vegas where she studied magic under Jeff McBride she became a Magic Circle member.
Romany has had a successful career, winning various awards such as the Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year.
A great comment was made by the British magazine “Time”, where she was described as a cross between Bette Midler and Mary Poppins.
She was invited to perform for the British Royal Family and has performed on major ocean liners.
She now works mostly as a Mistress of Ceremonies.
She also appeared on Penn and Teller.
Kelly is a magician from the heart of Europe (Czech Republic) and performed across many European countries.
She was a finalist in the Czech version of America’s Got Talent in 2018.
She is coming from a family of magicians with a long tradition and she firstly stood on stage in 1993 with her parents – she was just 5 years old.
Watch her short performance below.
Ekaterina was born in 1989 in Moscow but moved to Canada (Quebec) later on.
Her specialty is extreme sleight of hands and card flourishing.
We could see her performing all over the world, including New York or Las Vegas.
When she is not performing magic, she cooperates with TOP brands in the fashion and cosmetic industry as a social media consultant.
She is very active on her YouTube channel where you can see her magic performances as well as tutorial videos for basic card sleights and magic tricks reviews.
You can follow her also on Instagram.
Her mother worked as a magician assistant and her father was magic tricks designer.
She had a very close relationship with magic since her childhood so it was a natural decision for her to become a magician as well.
Jessica has experience with performing magic in casinos and circus shows, and she also performed on a cruise ship for two seasons.
Now she has her own show and still performs on a cruise ship.
Caroline is from Sweden and she is actually the most frequently booked magician in Sweden.
She originally studied theology at University but in the end, decided to become a magician.
Her interest in magic started at a very young age, as her grandfather was a magician and taught her first simple magic tricks.
She is also having her own deck of playing cards called “RAVN Playing Cards.”
Learn Magic Tricks!
If you’re interested in magic and in learning new magic tricks, I prepared very detailed lists of the best resources that you can find online.
Most of the resources are completely free, so these lists are worth checking!
In this article, we have gone through a list of female magicians who are both current and were trailblazers in the early days of magic and mentalism.
Magic has always been a male-dominated art form, and in the early days, there were but a few females who managed to make an impact.
Thankfully that is no longer true, and increasingly we are seeing female magicians beginning to take positions of influence in the industry.
I have intentionally tried to find a variety of acts ranging from Fake mediums in the 19th century to current magicians that performs also on YouTube.
They have all performed their magic in different settings and different ages, with every one of them pushing forward the cause of female magicians.