July 2017 Meeting packed with performers

Ring Report Ring #170 “The Bev Bergeron Ring” SAM Assembly #99

July 2017  Meeting

 Although it was in the heat of the summer, our July meeting still saw twenty five attendees at the meeting. President Craig Schwarz called the meeting to order and introduced guests Patrick Goldberg, Tom Parkin, Don Carpenter and Nick Coomis. Schwarz then announced the upcoming (annual) Orlando Day of Magic to be held Sept. 9 at the Holiday Inn Resort-Lake Buena Vista. Only $15 for admission and two lectures…quite a deal for the day. Bev Bergeron gave a review of the combined SAM/IBM convention in Louisville and Dan Stapleton plugged the 2018 SAM convention to be right here in O-Town next summer.

Phil Schwartz presented his 86th Magic History Moment on the subject of Magic Restoration. He defined the meanings of restoration vs repair as well as a magic collector’s philosophy of doing each with antique magic apparatus. He showed a photo of a Thayer billiard ball stand that someone repainted in bright green and red. Then he showed the same piece after it had been restored to its original black and gold colors. Phil described the ways to preserve magic ephemera, antiquarian books and how to properly frame magic lithographs. He displayed examples of each with Thayer promotional pieces in 4 mil mylar and other acid-free materials, a 1739 book in an acid-free container and a framed Leon Herrmann window card museum mounted behind UV Plexiglas.

Phil also did master of ceremonies duties for the second half of our meeting. He introduced eleven performers using classic one-liners from Robert Orben, Sid Lorraine, Jimmy Muir and Terry Seabrooke.

 And then it was time for the magic presentations, usually submitted by only a choice few, but this month we had ten performers showing their “chops”. Phil Schwartz was MC with his new/old one- liners, many of which still gain laughs along with a few groans. Ventriloquist Jackie Manna was up first showing a few of her newest additions created by artist and magic engineer, Chance Wolf. Jackie introduced her magician-puppet, “Marvelo” and had fun with her “skunky”. Bev Bergeron performed his sponge ball routine ending with his wonderful impromptu vanishing glass (while standing) with two spectators on his sides!

Nick Coomis, from his weekly performances at Sleuth’s Mystery Theatre, showed the group his Linking Rings-to music with some beautiful moves. Mark Fitzgerald performed a slick card spelling revelation. Greg Solomon commanded his little balloon mouse to jump through a hoop of sharp daggers in meeting his fate, only to be miraculously resurrected appearing in a paper bag. Josh Arroyo performed a very nice routine with acrobatic cards…very smooth.

Tom Parkin must be an inventor in coming up with a digital/video of finding a card, on screen. Dan Stapleton performed the world’s fastest card trick that lasted three minutes. It actually took two seconds but nearly three minutes to get there. Terry Ward is a true professional and cracks up every audience, this time with a fun card trick revelation with the help of a magnifying glass. Really fun. Michael Madsen, from The Great Magic Hall, was very entertaining with his three card trick that contained large holes, looking absolutely impossible. Closing the show was the star of the recent Penn & Teller television show, Jimmy Ichihana, who again, amazed us all with his amazing skills with a deck of cards. Jimmy is truly an up-and-coming star of magic.

Report by -Dan Stapleton (Secretary Dennis Phillips was away on a family trip to Virginia)

 

 

 

 

 

Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

August 2017

 “Hypotheses non fingo “

-Issac Newton-

Massive internet exposure continues and it is good that most lay people do not care:

(I am just reporting the facts and offer no reasoning other than that we live in a “Post-Modern Magic Era”)

https://brightside.me/article/the-fascinating-explanations-behind-six-classic-magic-tricks-41605utm_source=fb_r69f58&utm_campaign=2a68c0ad80ab&utm_medium=cpm

It really is the end of the classic style illusion show of the  Modern Magic era.

The end was brought about by several factors:

*The Internet and instant ubiquitous secrets ,as well as unlimited handheld amusement and shorter attention spans.

*The Mega destination resort where the audience moves and the complex show stays. These killed the smaller amusement attractions.

*The economic and social collapse of small towns and rural areas along with the dissolution of “community” which destroyed the marketing base.

*Competitive Capitalism without regard for local culture and art. Also seen in the end of local non-news TV programming and local radio.

*Complex Theatrical technology which makes everything else obsolete and mundane.

*The only economically viable magic market: Walk around and street magic.

I watched most of this happen during the 1980s to 2000.

In my show markets, of small towns, as local factories, the economic base evaporated , downtowns died and only the regional Walmart survived.

The pace quickened with the 2008 Great Recession and Malls began to die. Middle class and small town America has not reverse the downward trend since the 1980s

In the meantime, more jobs are headed off shore, more social division, more Malls and stores close, there are less stage magic shows….

Sadly for magicians, America may never have great stage magic again.

Perhaps one reason is that most Illusionists perform the same dozen illusions. This seems to be a sad fact. I realize they may not have the ability to pay for creative consultants or cannot  make their own unique illusions.

Spend one hour on YouTube and view videos and you will find this to be true: Same illusions, same choreography, same movements and same presentations

Here are 12 illusions that are too commonly seen in programs of illusionists worldwide:

Origami

Interlude

Packing Crate Sub Trunk

Fire Spiker

Suspended Animation

Fire Cage

Modern Art

Wakeling Sawing

Mini Kub Zag

Chair or Broom Suspension

Snowstorm/ Snow Animator

Floating Table

The last two are not illusions but they are larger stage effects and almost everyone performs them.

So what drives this uniformity?

1) Convenience. It is easier to buy a stock illusion prop rather than to create, prototype and fabricate an original illusion.

2) Illusionists want no risk. They would rather invest in illusions that are proven. Seeing another illusionists success with an illusion makes it easy to feel assured of the same reactions from the audience.

3) Illusionists feel confident with the illusions. Their judgment is compromised because they believe they will succeed with that illusion.

4) More than a handful of illusionists do not care that they are performing the same (and pirated) illusions because they feel their audience reacts well to those illusions

5) Technology has made the world flat and the Internet & YouTube allow media to be shared worldwide at the click of a mouse. Illusions are also more accessible to illusionists from different parts of the world because of the Internet.

Illusionists say: “it is not what you do, but how you do it!” That is true, but only if you do something different. Just because you use a different piece of music or smile instead of act dramatic or add a costume change at the illusion does not warrant enough of a difference.

The people who do matter, educated clients, agents, show bookers , the media know the difference.  If you want to make it to the top, you need to not be the “best” but be “the only” and that means a lot of originality.

**********

My wife keeps telling me about “Chicken Soup for the Soul” articles. Reader’s Digest Warm and Fuzzies, I call them.

I think she subscribes to online “Chicken Soup for the Soul” articles.

I always considered them, as good as they may be, stories that appeal mostly to women. In fact, I’d hazard the guess that if there were only men in the world (hah!) that the multi-million-dollar “Chicken Soup” industry would have been dead in the water from the get-go. Yes, we men are sentimental, but not THAT sentimental!  — Not enough to build an “emotional empire” on it, anyway.  Oprah was built on female appeal.  Nothing wrong with that. I am just taking a realistic look at marketing and audience demographics.

Here is humor for a limited market but it would probably be a loyal one:

“CHICKEN SOUP for the STARVING MAGICIAN”     Byline: For the magician who is having trouble putting FOOD on the table — they’ll always have CHICKEN SOUP!”

Note the byline: So I looked for “Chicken Soup for the MAN’S Soul” — it doesn’t exist!

And just how BIG is this industry? It’s astounding: http://www.amazon.com/Most-Popular-quot-Chicken-Books/lm/R381X3M8XAEUV

I had an old friend years ago who had been a music director on Broadway. At one point, Liberace flew him out to Vegas to interview for being Liberace’s Music Director.   My friend said, Liberace told him, “My secret is that I PLAY TO THE WOMEN! They are where the money is!”

All marketers know this… Copperfield’s biggest demographic was late 20s women with a kid or two. There has never been a successful general public magician or illusionist whose main appeal was not to women.

I am not sure that some of these gender classifications work anymore.  David Blaine and Cris Angel do not seem like Fabio type guys, although Angel has recently glammed up his image. Lance Burton and Copperfield may be the last of a kind.

Most of the magic acts on America’s Got Talent seem more geeky or bizarre than with the sophistication of Channing Pollack, Norm Neilson or Marvin Roy.

Consider that in your career planning.

Dennis Phillips

 

 

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June 2017 Meeting and stories of Dr. Elliott and The Smileys

Ring Report Ring #170 “The Bev Bergeron Ring” SAM Assembly #99

June 2017  Meeting

President Craig Schwarz called the meeting to order with 30 present. Tom Parking was with us again and we welcomed Don Arthur, one of the founding members. Don had a long career as a magician with the Ringling show and wrote, “Illusions in the Round” and worked with Night Club great Tony Marks.

Our Day of Magic, a mini convention is coming up the first week of September.  Craig also showed the logo and T-Shirt design he came up with for the combined IBM-SAM Convention.

Bev Bergeron’s Teach-in featured all the fun you can have with the uncommon Two Dollar bill on waitresses.

Phil Schwartz presented Magic History Moment #85.  He spotlighted Dr. James William Elliott who was called the “Card Wonder of the 19th Century” by The Mahatma.  Born in 1874 he trained at Harvard and became a medical doctor. He preferred magic and worked for Servais LeRoy as Bosco and later for Felix Herrmann.  He left touring to perfect card manipulation and sold secrets to his effects for high prices. In September of 1898, he published a challenge in which any man in the world could dispute his claim to the title “Champion Card Manipulator of the World.” He offered big money prize, a challenge which was never accepted. The 1923 book “Elliott’s Last Legacy” was edited by Houdini three years after Elliott died of kidney disease.  Phil showed a nice original LeRoy Talma Bosco poster and drew a connection between Thayer and Elliott. He also brought and demonstrated the original 1933 Thayer Silk Cabby.

Dennis Phillips opened up the meeting show by showing the props in the Joe and Georgi Smiley Dove Act, Dove Catching, a fall apart box vanish and a paper frames reappearance. Joe and Georgie performed up until 1995  Dan Stapleton did one of his signature effects, Miraskill. Dan has taken the Stewart James card effect to greater heights. Dan apparently can weigh cards and know how many of each color are in the pack. Greg Solomon, ever in the lookout for inexpensive effects showed a clever math effect using cards with numbers and cut outs on them. He was able to know a selected number. Jams Bailey III showed a dollar bill mysteriously penetrating through rubber bands held by a spectator.

John Arroyo had a very polished Okito /Boston Box routine with coins vanishing out of the box and into the box. Jimmy Ichinana , card wiz, shuffled a deck of cards and somehow quickly got his fingers where each kind was in the deck. He then made the kings migrate through the deck and finish on top.

Dennis Phillips

 

 

 

 

Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

July 2017

The Smileys

“Joe, Joe! the birds are out.”

“The birds are out? Well, let’s find them!”

 -Joe and Georgi Smiley introducing their Dove Act with Dove Catching-

 

 

 

In the photo with Kenny and me  is Joe and Georgi Smiley. I was 12 years old.

The above photo was made in July of 1961  at Seaside Park at Virginia Beach, Virginia.  My late brother, Kenneth, is on the left.

In the back ,on stage, you can see The Chinese Chopper, Houdini Pillory and on the floor is the duck cage for “Where do the Ducks Go”

This is a blast from the past!   My adventures from 56 years ago. Relive them with me.

My Dad was in the Navy and stationed at Dam Neck, Virginia and my family lived in Virginia Beach. I went to Linkhorn Park Elementary in Virginia Beach where one classmate was Julie Shepard, the daughter of Alan Shepard, our first man in space.

Langley Air Force Base in Virginia was the astronaut’s headquarters before Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston was built.  The day of Shepard’s flight, she stayed home from school. The whole school watched the short flight on a TV in the cafeteria.

Most weekends I begged my mother to take me to downtown Norfolk to Earl Edwards Magic Shop where I might see Bob McAllister behind the counter. Bob went on to star in Wonderama, the New York based kid’s TV show,. In 1961 he worked for WTAR TV.

Also familiar during those years was Charles “Chuck” Windley who had been at the local Western Theme town “Frontier City”. By 1961 he moved to New York. We magically connected again in the late 60s when Charles lived near me in Bowie, Maryland.

Years earlier, I had seen Harry Blackstone Sr. at the Center Theater in Norfolk. He did a very slimmed down routine and I think  that it he was just an act in a variety show. He was no longer touring the big show.

You can imagine the thrill that I got on hearing that Joe Smiley was bringing his illusion show to Seaside Park for two weeks.

 

In those days, Dudley Cooper owned Seaside Park and Oceanview, both were seaside boardwalks and amusement parks.  Each has an outdoor stage and Cooper would book in variety acts. He also used magician Frank Scalzo.

The Smileys were regulars playing there every year.  Joe and Georgi were from Lewistown, Pennsylvania and Joe’s brother was a circus clown and Joe also worked in little theater and at the local radio station.  He had a very deep mellow voice such as David Seebach, Harry Blackstone and David Chauvet’s. His diction was perfect and elegant.

Many of his props were Abbotts, but he used a Marshall Botania and Plumes. Joe  had made several of the props himself: The Buzz Saw was made  from an A.B. Brill Carnival equipment plan, The Woman from TV (combination mirror and shadow box) was his design as was the Dog House (Tip over box).

He used a P&L bowl of water vanish and a Thayer Houdini Pillory Escape and Devil’s Mailbox.

The day came for Joe to show up on the last week of June and I had to be there. My mother refused to drive me the 3 miles to the beach so I told her I would walk. Mind you this is before cell phones, so she gave me a pocket full of coins. She allowed me to do it because my elementary school was at the half way point but she was not really comfortable with me walking.  I got to the grandstand and Joe had pulled his step van up to the stage to unload props and was nearing completion. I walked up and said, “Wow, All that stuff is in the Abbott’s Catalog!”   He said, “Well young man, I can see you like magic and are probably good at it.” I said, “Yes and I even built a Dagger Head Chest, Square Circle and Chink Cans.” He said, “Very good! Meet Georgi.”  Suddenly he treated me like his Grandson. “Is your Mom or Dad here?”, “No, why don’t you call your Mom and tell her where you are and you met the magician and he gave you a job”. “Make sure you drink lots of water, it is hot outside”. I rode with him to park the van next to his travel trailer in a lot across the street. He had me sit in the back of the van (we used to call them a bread truck) and assemble the Chinese Chopper with all the screws, washers and wing nuts. He emerged in a few minutes from the trailer in a full-evening cutaway Tailcoat suit.  We walked back over to the grandstand. I carried the chopper. Georgi had used the office dressing room and was now in a stylish cocktail dress.

 

 

 

Joe had a reel to reel tape recorder and he explained that he recorded  the tapes at his radio station. He started the pre-show music and the park secretary came over to the side of the stage and took a microphone and did the introduction. “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s show time! The Marvels of Mystery, Joe and Georgi Smiley….”

 

Joe came out and took total command of the stage.  “ Welcome Ladies and Gentleman. This afternoon we are going to make things appear and make things disappear and the boy sitting right over there ( he pointed to a random kid) may disappear just like that (He snapped his fingers).

But let’s get started. I have some amazing  magic. Let me show you!.”  A Walsh cane transformed into a silk and he went into an Abbotts Round-Circle production (method like the Square Circle)  silks appeared and then he did a clever steal and produced two large feather flower bouquets, a long streamer and ended with two giant flag staffs. Next was his Dove routine with Dove Catching, vanishing from a breakaway box and reappear in the paper frames. His first audience participation was 20th Century Silks. Followed by a sucker version of the Twin Die Boxes  and then his Chinese Death board with 3 volunteers. He then went into his finale with the haunted parasol, color changing plumes, blooming bouquet and finally the giant Marshall botania.

Well that did it!  I was at every show that he did for the next two weeks. The following week my Mother and Father invited Joe and Georgie to come to the house for a home cooked spaghetti dinner.  Joe was more than kind to look at all my creations which included a fair number of oatmeal boxes covered with contact paper and painted tin cans.  He also loaded me up with samples of his advertising materials and brochures.

That began my friendship with Joe and the next summer of 1962, he was back for a repeat.

Between knowing Joe and being mentored by Bob McAllister and Troy Strait  and regularly watching The Magic Land of Allakazam  with Mark, Nani and Bev, I had a good start toward my own magic career. A little later in the 60s Charles Windley and I reconnected .

In this photo below I am on stage at Seaside Park at Virginia Beach in July of 1961. I am on the left of the photo with the two 20th century silks in my T-shirt. Joe is vanishing one in his P&L Change Bag.

In the photo behind Joe you can see his Dove Frame production, The Dog House to produce Sir Chumley , the St. Bernard and the TV set that Joe produced Georgi from. The color changing plumes are on top of the TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this photo, Joe is doing his Chinese Death Board (Grandma’s Neckless) with three audience volunteers. The blue draped table  used for his silk production is seen along with The very edge of the top frame of his Buzz Saw (Goldin Style open sawing a woman through)

 

 

Joe with his Abbotts Dove Catching.

“The birds are no longer out”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe died in 1995. Georgi died November 18, 2005 in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.  She was 96 years old.

Georgi sawed through with a visible sawing that Joe made from an A.B. Brill Plan.

 

 

 

 

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Phil Schwartz remembers Maskelyne May 2017 Meeting

Ring Report Ring #170 “The Bev Bergeron Ring” SAM Assembly #99

May 2017  Meeting

 Craig Schwarz  called the May Meeting to order with 28 in attendance. Dan Stapleton gave a wrap up to the recent Magicpalooza 2017, Florida State Close Up  Contest Convention here in Orlando.  The “Day of Magic” Flea Market and lectures is September 9th. Admission is $25.

It will be at the Holiday Inn Resort, 13351 State Road 535, Orlando.  

Bev Bergeron’s Teach-in featured a bag of lapel buttons from a mid-1960s IBM Convention. He was spring cleaning and gave the buttons away during the meeting. He told a humorous story about the button-maker changing the print for “Rabbit in the the Hat” believing that Bev had made a mistake.

Phil Schwartz presented Magic History Moment #84  about John Nevil Maskelyne ( 1839-1917) John was later closely associated with his magic partner ,David Devant.   Born in Cheltenham, England John Nevil Maskelyne was fascinated with automata in his boyhood and became a watchmaker. With a friend George Cooke , he started a magic club that is said to be the origin of England’s Magic Circle.

Repairing a mechanism for a stranger led Maskelyne into understanding the mechanical tricks behind Spiritualism and he developed an act after he learned how the famous Davenport Brothers did their Spirit Cabinet.  Maskelyne and Cooke performed before the British Royalty and began a long engagement at St. James Hall in 1873. He moved to The Egyptian Hall and in 1904 to St. George’s Hall, the year that George Cooke died. The following year he partnered with David Devant and retired in 1911.  Phil also showed a rare poster and some great ephemera.

James F. Bailey  III  began the monthly show by having a person select a famous person and movie and he magically read his mind. Dennis Phillips showed a Chinese Water Bowl production that he made 50 years ago in High School and demonstrated a mind reading effect using the binary card method. He explained the math behind the method.  Jimmy Ichinana presented his card miracles. Selected cards appeared at places requested and magically appeared in his wallet.

Dennis Phillips

 

 

 

 

 

Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

June 2017

“I just put an act together of all self-working tricks. Now when I book a gig, I don’t even have to go”

-Charles Windley-

I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Vines routine at Magicpalooza. After he finished I mentioned that I could see touches of the great Bob Fitch in his act and he agreed and said Bob was a big help in putting together his act.  I have known some fabulous consultants: Johnny Thompson, Paul Osborne, Bob Fitch, Joanie Spina, Don Wayne, Jeff McBride, Eugene Berger, Max Maven and others. Regretfully the current trend in magic is to call yourself or strive for being called a ‘magic consultant’. People who make a living creating tricks for, or advising other magicians. Truthfully there are only so many professional performers to consult for, but MANY claiming to have ‘consulted’.

That is a  false narrative (a lie). The truth is that most are not paid consultants, even though you assume they must be. Naming no names, some have been caught out in their deceit. Selling their lectures as “consultant for Dynamo and Criss Angel” – neither hired them as such. I have known at least 6 “consultants” for David Copperfield. He used their effect and suggestions but never paid them. Jet-setting here and skype session there. The online image draws in admirers who seek to replicate those rewards for themselves. Impressionable young magi tell their parents it’s a guaranteed career path. Dream jobs are real jobs, but there’s an inverted pyramid of interests in the magic business that ensure you are MASSIVELY unlikely to achieve it. Believe me.

The majority express their interests in being a creator. The minority express their interests in being popular performers. There isn’t room for everyone. “More people perform in magic than create” I hear you cry. Correct, but Wedding/Event Magicians don’t require consultants for their acts. They’re responsible for their own output and rarely hire help. The disparity is between the number of people who want to be the kind of performer who would require a consultant, and the number of people who want to be a consultant. This over-abundance creates a ‘race to the bottom’. Let me explain…

Put simply, in business you’re either:

  • The First
  • The Best
  • The Cheapest

When you’re the first you have a monopoly on the industry. When you’re the best, your reputation speaks for itself and you’re called upon by a number of artists for your expertise. When someone decides to be the cheapest, it immediately opens the door for someone to be cheaper. Then someone who’s slightly cheaper. Then someone who is FREE. It is another race to the bottom.

You can’t get cheaper than FREE, and now only ‘the first’ and ‘best’ are the ones likely to make a good living.

So forget consulting, you’re going to make yourself rich by selling magic to the masses of magicians? WRONG. Talk to Steve Duchek , Bev Bergeron or John Cornelius. I’m not looking to squash your dreams. I’m looking to turn them into a certainty by shining a light on the darkest parts of our industry and allowing you to create a realistic action plan. Outliers exist in any field. Some push the envelope and seem to succeed despite the odds, but that chosen few doesn’t represent the majority of amazingly creative people in Magic. Sustainable success for the masses in this industry isn’t found by being a consultant who’s required twice per year, or a creator who has one good release per year. The reality is far more mundane and your career depends on more than luck. (Portions of this came from ideas from England’s Geraint Clarke) http://geraintclarke.com/free-stuff/

******

Every once in a while all of us wand wielders sit through a magic show that is so awful, so revolting and so stomach turning that we leave the performance and want to rush home and burn our equipment.  At best, we have to spend all the drive back home with our spouse explaining how the show wasn’t really all that bad.

One of my most memorable stories was when I lived in the Carolinas in the early 70s.  Back then; a person could make a fair living doing school shows, service club shows, Cub Scout meetings and birthday parties. The hills of Western North Carolina were filled with little mill towns and each town had a company and community spirit.

One such enterprising performer was a bit of a local legend in that area.  For purposes of this story let me call him Luke Porter. That is not his real name but I have every desire to let the dead rest in peace. His wife was Opal.   Luke was a rather rotund character with thinning gray hair on the sides and patches of hair in the middle.   His face was deeply wrinkled and resembled fifty miles of bad road ahead.  He had a pencil thin moustache.  His massive hands looked like they belonged to a plumber. In fact, his whole personage resembled a country plumber and that would be complete with a big potbelly and a belt that allowed it to hang over.   Luke wore a tailcoat outfit that had been homemade by Opal. The store-bought black pants did not match the shade of black on the tailcoat!   The tailcoat had actually been constructed by cutting down a black suit coat and merely tacking on tails made from black cloth. Are you getting the idea that this was not your class act?

Opal was very grandmotherly. Her gown was homemade out of lavender satin and she barely fit into it. It was sleeveless and allowed a generous hanging slab of arm flesh to flop around.  She wore loads of powder that accented her wrinkles and bright red lipstick that was the popular shade in 1954.

Luke had a bit of a speech defect and could not say the sound of “r” very well. He also had a curious shaking in his hands.  He moved like an elephant.  To his credit he did have a warm smile and enjoyed what he was doing even though he was clueless as to how he looked and acted to the audience.

Luke and Opal traveled to shows with their son-in-law, Theodore.   “Theo” was very thin country fellow about 40 years old. He had a receding chin and a bit of an overbite. His eyes were droopy and nose long.  He wore a blue velvet sport coat that was two sizes too big and white pants and shoes and a long paisley necktie.  Theodore was a frustrated Pentecostal evangelist. He had all the hand motions and staccato speech pattern with a deep breath between every 3 words. Theo carried props on and off stage and did his own specialty act in the show. Luke paused the show for a special word about each person’s soul and where they would spend eternity. Evangelist Theodore came out with an easel and some flannel pictures and preached a down home sermon.

The team rode and carried their props in a converted step van, better known to most as a bread truck. It had been painted white and Luke had free hand lettered the name of his show on the side.  It said, “Luke and Opal Magic Shows. The best in magic shows. Call 704- xxxx” (The number ran down hill, as did the whole lettering)

Luke made almost every prop in the show.  He must not have known about such things as sandpaper or a square or putting an undercoat on plywood before he painted.  He made an attempt at creating a fabric backdrop by using plumber’s pipe.  The backdrop fabric had huge gashes in it. After the show I asked him about the gashes and he said, “It allows the wind to go through it so it doesn’t blow over when we do outside shows”.  His stage lighting was a pair of outdoor floodlights mounted on a square of plywood that sat on the flood.

The show opened with a very scratchy instrumental playing on a phonograph record. Luke plodded out and tried to do the gloves to spring flowers. He tossed the gloves into the air and they fell to the floor as he was trying to get the spring flower packet to open.  Bautier DeKolta, the inventor of spring flowers, would have had a stroke watching this. During the course of the evening Luke burned himself doing Grant’s Devil Canister. He dropped the can. The borrowed ring did reappear. He nearly strangled an audience volunteer doing the Grandma’s Neckless rope trick around the boy’s neck. His Square Circle Production finale used silks which had not been ironed since Thomas Edison invention the electric flat iron.

My wife commented on the way home that as low-class as we thought the show was, the audience enjoyed it !   I had to agree. I was laughing during the show for a different reason.  It really does not take a lot to please an audience if they can connect with you. Luke and Opal knew their audience and who am I to criticize them?

***************************

How is life like a magic trick…..?

1) Life is like a Zombie Ball. The problems of the world can seem heavy and burdensome, but with the right attitude/faith they can float away and be light as a feather!

2) Life is like Professor’s Nightmare. Although people may appear to be different, when you look deeper we all are pretty much the same!

3) Life is like a Die Box. Just when you think you got it figured out, you don’t

4) Life is like a double lift. The important things are just below the surface.

5)  Life is like a thumb tip.. You are usually the most effective when no one notices you.

 

Dennis Phillips

 

 

 

 

 

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