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Topic: Okita and Iona De Vere
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Sep 13, 2007 08:35PM)
I am always amazed to discover how little I know about magic history. In researching Charles De Vere for my biographies of magic inventors this past week, Mark Damon led me to a site with posters of De Vere's wife and daughter, both famous stage magicians on their own merits.

Julia Ferret De Vere performed as Okita, and was the first occidental magician on record who performed in a Japanese style act. And no, she did not copy her name from Okito. Theo Bamberg was a mere five years old at the time Okita launched her career as a stage magician. It may be that he copied his stage name from her!

Clementine De Vere, their daughter, launched a stage career of her own as the "Iona, the Goddess of Mystery." You'll find links to their posters in Charles De Vere's biography on my site, and the only reason they are not included as separate entries on my site is that I cannot find evidence of magic they invented, and as you know, this mine is a listing of magic inventors. But if anyone is researching women magicians, I urge you to include these two as important to our magical heritage.
Message: Posted by: Autumn Morning Star (Sep 13, 2007 10:31PM)
I have a poster of Ionia the Enchantress on my wall! I did a search and found some lovely posters of her. This is a great link for her posters: http://magicgallery.com/Ionia%20&%20Okita%20images%20page.htm#Enchantress

She was born in 1888 and did not pass on until 1973. Surely someone interviewed her. Does anyone have any additional information? What a lovely woman with such deep haunting eyes. I have often looked at her poster and wished she could tell her story...so I did some research.

I translated this off of a German website: She was born in 1888, the 4th daughter of eight children. She was born in Brussels, Belgium but her family was English. Her family lived in Paris, and she was influenced by many top performing artists who played the Folies Bergère, such as Harry Keller, Servais Le Roy and Herrmann. She married an American circus performer named Herman Wirtheim when she was only 15. She continued to travel and perform her show in Belgium, France, Italy, Egypt and the Congo.

Ionia had a child in 1907, but little is known about this child. In 1909, Ionia helped her father run his magic business in Paris, which he sold after the death of his beloved son Camille. The illusion show her father helped her organize in 1911 was huge and included nine assistants. She appeared in this Egyption-themed show as "Ionia, Goddess of Mystery", touring Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris, and England.

In 1913, she met (and apparantly enchanted) Georgian-Russian Prince Vladimir Eristavi Tchitcherine. In 1914, she did a pantomime number in Vienna as "Ionia the Enchantress", which goes with the lovely poster I have. In 1917, she was divorced from Herman Wirtheim.

She married Prince Vladimir Eristavi-Tchitcherine in 1919 in Paris. Nine years later, in 1928 Ionia divorced him in Austria.

(Trivia: In 1941, Prince Eristavi-Tchitcherine married one of my distant relatives: Lucy Cotton. She divorced him 3 years later and killed herself 4 years later. And they didn't live happily ever after...)

Back to Ionia: She kept the title of "Princess" and lived in Paris much of her life. She also lived in Monaco and she is buried in Paris beside her mother and father.

Reference Links: http://www.magicpromotionclub.ch/Kurzbio%20IJ.htm
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 14, 2007 06:54PM)
Charles Greene did a very good presentation at Collector's in Washington DC. As I recall, she was married into wealth and did magic a very short time.

Message: Posted by: AAMayer (Nov 26, 2007 09:46PM)
Ionia the Enchantress had a son named Frank who was born in 1907. Here is some information on him from the Achiles Website from Cambridge England. Please note that I had met him when I was a teenager and recall he was a true gentleman. As he never appeared to have a "profession" people were a bit skeptical about him and some wondered if he was a spy. He claimed to be a rocket consultant. Ironically there are books written by Thomas Pridjon who reference a rocket scientist name Tchitcherine - perhaps there is a connection. Below is the information on Frank Tchitherine. By the way - he lived in Stamford, CT with his wife later moving to Sylvan Rd North in Westport, CT. I hope this helps you a bit.

The colourful antecedents of
Frank Tchitcherine

Frank Wirtheim Tchitcherine was born in Paris
in 1907. His father, F.H. Wirtheim, had been a
lion tamer, and it is tempting to conjecture that
he was not entirely successful in his profession,
for Frank’s mother, Clementine de Vere, a
‘performer’ subsequently remarried Prince
Vladimir Titcherine. Having been duly adopted
by his royal stepfather, Frank was educated at
Brighton College, before studying at Corpus,
Cambridge, from 1927 to 1929. As well as winning
the 440y in the Varsity Match of 1929, he
had also competed in the same event in 1928.
He competed for Achilles in several major athletics
meetings in the UK and Europe in 1929, and was
part of the combined Oxford and Cambridge team
which travelled to America that summer for matches
against Harvard & Yale (he placed 2nd in the 440y
on 13.7.1929) Princeton & Cornell, and Canadian
His best performance ever was 49.4 (or perhaps 49
4/5) seconds for 440y, winning for Achilles v Berliner
and Deutsche Sports Clubs at Stamford Bridge on
20 May 1929 (see photo – Roger Leigh Wood was
Achilles lost track of Frank Tchitcherine, but we learn
that he was based in Paris till about 1937, married
an Englishwoman from Wimbledon, Sheila Ballingal,
served with the US Army during the 2nd World War,
described himself as a ‘self employed consultant ’
and died in Connecticut in 1984.
Message: Posted by: Autumn Morning Star (Dec 6, 2007 06:56PM)
Thanks for the information on Ionia's son. I wonder if he had any children?

Richard, I have read in many places where Ionia did magic for at least 9 years. Her show reportedly weighed over two tons and employed nine assistants. A show that size is not something you pick up after doing magic "for a short while". (I never thought about my show in weight, but I have a two-ton show that took me many years to put together.)

Ionia only moved away from magic after she married into wealth and royalty.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Dec 7, 2007 08:29PM)
I would contact Charles Greene as he gave a great talk on Ionia at Collector's. Yes, she definitely left magic after she married into royalty.

Message: Posted by: Autumn Morning Star (Dec 9, 2007 11:11PM)
Will do, Richard. Thanks :)

You know, if I married into rich royalty (or won the lottery) I would simply buy a bigger show! I would also buy a theater so I would not have to drag that bigger show around. I would definitely not get out of magic! There is not enough money to make me do that!
Message: Posted by: AAMayer (Jan 4, 2008 08:56PM)
Frank Tchitcherine did not have any children to my knowledge. He predeceased his wife. She was active in charitable causes in Westport. You may wish to google him and see if you find any additional people related to him. Thank you for putting some pieces of the puzzle together on this very intriguing person and his background.
Message: Posted by: Stefan (Feb 23, 2010 10:43PM)
Want to see a great old photo of Ionia, goddess of mystery? She is listed as Elsie De Vere - perhaps Elsie was a nickname or based on a middle name. Anyway she is quite lovely - in my opinon.

Message: Posted by: Marshall Thornside (Mar 2, 2010 04:30PM)
Okito did not take his name from Okita.

Its taken from the city of Tokyo.
Just substitued the "Y" for an "I"

I am not sure if my mother or father told me this,
since my father was very close to Theo.

or if I read this as part of his writings
when learning about the origins of his court
costumes for my own collection.

I do know who Okita is and I believe I've
only ever seen one poster of her. And ironically
not in the poster book from Charles Reynolds.
Message: Posted by: MagicDocent (Sep 9, 2021 01:06PM)
Where did the name Okita come from? How did Theo Bamberg "acquire" the name Okito. In May 1885, Julia Ferrett, mother of Clementine de Vere (Ionia), was in a production of The Great Tay-Kin at Toole’s Theatre in London. The production was a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. Her character was O'Kita. She started using the name as early as April while she was appearing at Covent Gardens.

In 1894, nine years later, French illusionist and magic historian Abel Blanche recounts that Theo Bamberg(age 19) was performing a hand shadow act that same year; however, his ultimate goal was to follow in his family’s tradition of conjuring.  Julia Ferrett, who was in the advanced stages of pregnancy, agreed to have Theo perform in her stead. Though the show’s director was fine with their arrangement, he didn’t want to change the text of the posters that were already plastered around the city, so he proposed changing Julia Ferrett’s stage name, instead of “Okita,” to "Okit(o)" to reflect the gender difference.  That is how, thanks to Julia Ferrett, Theo Bamberg was mantled with the name Okito.

Julia Ferret was using the name Okita nine years before Theo Bamberg started calling himself Okito. In 1894, Julia was thirty eight years old and Theo Bamberg was Nineteen. In 1885, Julia started using the name Okita when Theo would have been ten years old.