Khi Kan Kruse
Were it not for the very early date of this single known performance, it might not even be worth reporting. On May 22, 1844, a performer calling himself Khi Kan Kruse advertised an appearance at the Bull Inn, Bathurst, due west of Sydney.
As can be seen by the advertisement, Kruse proposed to perform some startling feats on a Tight Rope, and then take his audience on some form of mystical journey “to the Moon in his Ariel Machine”, finishing with a grand display of fireworks. Quite what the aerial trip would have looked like, and whether the passengers he invited to join him would be satisfied, is left to the imagination; perhaps a magic lantern exhibition? Perhaps the “Bull” Inn was an appropriate venue.
It is only by his title, “The Wizard of the North”, that Kruse shows any connection to the world of conjuring.
However, in Britain from 1815, the “Ramo Samee” troupe of Indian jugglers made a considerable impact; and one of the performers was a juggler and magician named Kia Khan Khruse, whose feats included the Bullet Catch, the Needle Trick, Linking Rings and various other magic with cards, handkerchiefs etc. This troupe even inspired the author Charles Dickens to adopt the comic title “Rhia Rhama Rhoos” for his own amateur performances as a conjuror.
Kia Khan Khruse was reputed to have been shot and killed during a performance of the Bullet Catch, but Professor Edwin A. Dawes (1) has located and published playbills which specifically refute that rumour.
Aside from the variations on the name, and the need to constantly check where the letter “H” should appear in the performer’s title, it is clear that this performer is not the same person. It only remains to note that in 1850, a horse named Ki-Kan-Kruse ran in the Adelaide Races, and it is hoped both attractions returned either satisfaction or money to the punters.