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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Symbolism of Moe Pressman's Turban

I previous published an article titled The Symbolism of Moe Pressman's Pirate Hat. There I argued that the movie Dirty Dancing was hinting subliminally that the audience should view Moe as a villain. Moe was a card shark collaborating with his wife Vivian Pressman to trick rich hotel out of their money while gambling in card games.

More Pressman wearing a pirate hat during the talent show.
After I wrote that article, I noticed that Moe appears also in a turban. Moe is working as a magician's assistant and is sawing Baby Houseman in half during her first night at the Kellerman resort hotel.

Moe Pressman wearing a turban and sawing Baby in half.
Moe's turban is an additional subliminal hint that Moe did card tricks when he gambled.


As I explained in another previous article, titled After Johnny was fired, he drove to the Sheldrake, Baby and Johnny practiced to perform their dance during the talent show that would take place on the last night of the hotel's summer season. Once again, Baby would be sawed in half. At the end of the trick, she would emerge whole from the box, and then she and Johnny would dance for the audience.

Baby's performance would be a zillion times better than her sister Lisa's dopey Hawaiian song.

However, because Johnny was fired for stealing money from Moe during a card game, the final dance of Johnny and Baby was performed without the magic trick.


In another previous article, titled Which Lionel Richie song was replaced?, I argued that Baby and Johnny originally were supposed to dance to a Lionel Richie song called "Dancing on the Ceiling", but that song was replaced by the song "Time of My Life" while Dirty Dancing was being filmed.

The original song "Dancing on the Ceiling" has a magical aspect that would have fit with the magic trick.


Below is the first of a series of six videos that demonstrate card-shark tricks.

The fact that Johnny and Baby rehearsed with Moe and the magician to do this combination of a magic trick and a rumba dance indicates that the four characters all knew each other much better than the movie reveals. Johnny's knowledge of Moe's (and the magician's) card-trickery might be a reason why Moe offered Johnny money to go away and give Vivian a dance lesson during a card game. Johnny's knowledge might also have been a factor that raised the suspicion that Johnny stole Moe's money at the end of a card game.

I have suggested a movie that I would call Dirty Scamming and that would feature the Pressmans, the Schumachers and the magician as a spin-off movie of Dirty Dancing. In my movie, Johnny (and maybe Baby too) would suspect or even know that Moe and the magician were cheating the other guests in the card games.


The idea that a magician sawing a woman in half should wear a turban was common in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The following video shows a turban-wearing magician performing such a trick on a 1956 television show.


The idea that magicians performing card tricks should wear turbans is likewise common.


The Quora website answers the question Why do some magicians wear turbans? as follows:
Every magician is at some level an illusionist- they proffer the illusion of mystical powers and you believe that their actions are the result of “magic”. ....

The Victorian fascination with Egyptology, spiritualism, mysticism.. and magic… and the mysterious nature of the “far east” and eastern mysticism… all these backgrounds helped to make wearing a turban a clear sign that the magician wasn’t a skilled trickster but someone with special powers.

In my movie Dirty Scamming, Lisa's dopey hula song and dance during the talent show would be replaced by a couple of mysterious South-Asian dances featuring turbans and other oriental garb. Such dances that were presented by turban-wearing Korla Pandit in hundreds of 15-minute television shows, many of which featured sexy dances, that were broadcast as fillers in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Here is a video about the career of turban-wearing musician Korla Pandit.

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