Tom Frank Lectures at April 2017 Meeting

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

April 2017  Meeting

 President Craig Schwarz gaveled the meeting to order with over 30 present. The entire meeting was devoted to the Tom Frank Lecture. Tom Frank is the one of the least talked about, but most respected street magician with those who know. He was a student of Cellini . For over 30 years he has been performing and is a favorite at the Magic Castle in California. Tom presented his revered the Cups and Balls and a poetic version of the  Linking Rings. It has been said that classics are classics for a reason. Tom’s presentation and personal touches of the masters like Dai Vernon and the late Daryl kept these classics alive. Tom’s passion was clear. He offered his presentation of the Stripper Deck and then explained how he pitched them for sale on the streets for many years. He has some great coin manipulations and a rare  five coin star. Another one of his innovations was a signed card in a wallet that was continuously seen by the spectator. He even had a great tip on a using a powerful Blue Tooth speaker with music for  his street act.  Tom is on a limited lecture tour and we were thrilled to be a part of his route.

Dennis Phillips

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Frank with his Linking Rings done in poetry!

 

Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

May 2017

 

 

 

 

When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.
(John Ruskin, 1819 – 1900)

I have known a number of strange failed magicians in my five decades of being around this art. Each story is very sad. Each is the story of  lost dreams of making it to the “big time” in magic. This month I will feature two from the 70s and early 80s. Perhaps these examples will explain why my wife, Cindy, is not too warm to all of the people I know who are into magic. We have had sad and tragic encounters with magicians during our 45 years of marriage.

His stage name was his last name, Booker, spelled backwards (“Rekoob”). He called himself “Rekoob the Magnificent”.

Booker was a locksmith in the Southern town where I was employed on local TV in the early 70s. He was one of the best locksmiths in the business with 15 employees, a fleet of step-vans and contracts with all the major businesses, but he had a passion for magic and illusions. His locksmith business provided him with a fabulous income. But the drive to be a touring magician drove him crazy. He sold his profitable business to go into magic “fulltime”. He spent many thousands of dollars trying to get into magic fulltime.

Sadly he was a real Redneck…Horrible Southern twang in his language, high raspy voice, zero originality. He was as they said about the Hapsburg Dynasty in Europe in the late 1800s, “He never learned anything and he never forgot anything!”

Hi major talent was that he could sling the bull to a client and buyer when he was selling a show (“people pass out when I do my Cremation!”) He bugged the Devil out of me, when I lived in his town, wanting to be on my local TV show and have me promote him over the air.

He divorced his first wife. Although she got a sizable portion of the proceeds from his locksmith business, it was probably a good move if he wanted a stage assistant. She looked like Rosanne Barr on a bad hair-day.

He married some really young bone-thin woman. Mack was late 40s; she was in her late 20s. They had 2 kids in a row. She had no figure (But what nature had forgotten, they stuffed with cotton)  and an overbite that would have been an orthodontist’s challenge and joy to fix. She looked like something someone had just dragged out of the Carolina backwoods.

Booker did a few fairs (much like Harry Albacker) and finally ended up losing everything he had in life except his ancient Concord Motor home and a small utility trailer with magic props.

He traveled with his wife and 2 young kids doing Polaroid photos and a little magic (“Your picture with the bunny!). They mostly appeared in the old JM Fields discount stores and K-Marts. The stores just gave him a small space near the entrance and whatever he could clear from the photos was his income. Sometimes 4 photos sold was a good day.

Anyway… he traced me down to Orlando after I moved there in the fall of 1975 (drat you Phil Morris for telling him!)

In December of 1975 he parked his motor home in front of the house I rented on Harmon Avenue in Winter Park. It backed right up to Interstate-4. Car noise was horrible! Vaarrrooom! It was solid 24 hours a day, but it only cost us $250 a month to rent back then.

He and his wife and kids sort of moved onto our lot. Most of the days they would drive over to the old JM Fields at the corner of Lee Road and 17-92 to do magic and photos. The pickings were slim because Orlando was in a housing collapse and local depression in 1975 following the initial Disney build-out and the gas shortages. In the evening they were back in front of my house, with their motor home, for the night.

To this day, Cindy detests “Dinty Moore” stew because at night they would eat with us and every other night we all had stew and rice. I think a few times we had Hamburger Helper with precious little hamburger and lots of off-brand cheese macaroni. (Cindy bought all of this, of course) After a week of running an extension cord and water hose to the motor home, his dump tank filled and he could never figure out a way to tap into my home sewer clean-out plug so he moved on to a campground in Wachulla. He tried dumping a couple of times into my sewer connection, leaving a pool of human feces in my front yard.

Evening conversations were filled with a half pack of Camels and grandiose dreams of big illusion shows and going to Broadway. Promptly at 9PM the Corby’s Whiskey came out. All the frustration would then be liberated and the pent up anger and rage would spill over into an hour tirade about how the world had screwed him and what a great illusionist he was. I vividly recall him sucking on a cigarette that he had stuck in the gap of a front missing tooth. He could smoke almost an entire cigarette with no hands. His props were mostly Abbott’s illusions that he had he picked up from other dreamers whose dreams had faded away into disillusionment.

Mack died a few years later…Phil said it was heart trouble. It may have been. My guess would be that years of drinking had also corroded away his liver and his lungs were worn out from chain smoking. He ended up leaving his Abbott’s Cremation in my driveway because the utility trailer he was towing had sprung a leak and it was ruining his props.

That Cremation was the only prop left where the plywood had not warped. It was the same Cremation Illusion that I used in the 1976 Lake Eola Halloween Show that Dan Stapleton produced!

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

A few months later in early 1976 a young, thin, clean-cut preacher’s-kid, JD, whose father could be described as a rabid, snot-slinging, pulpit pounding , preacher in Kissimmee ,stopped into the shop. At first, JD vaguely reminded me of a short-haired preppy version of Doug Henning. JD was very talented and a creative thinker.

JD was into Gospel magic and his Gospel applications ( message) with the tricks were very good. He worshipped Andre Kole, the traveling Gospel Illusionist, who has traveled for many years  for Campus Crusade for Christ.

JD dreamed of being a Gospel magician-illusionist.

He left shortly after that to go to a Bible College in Kentucky to major in ministry. He got through college but near the end he fell into booze, even though drinking was absolutely forbidden by any of the students. He told me that he had never tasted alcohol in any form until he was away at the Bible School and his senior year. He was off campus and sneaked a drink just to see what it was like. He said he was addicted after one drink. He had finally found something that made him feel good and secure  and silenced all the chattering monkeys in his head. I often wonder if he just transferred his religious addiction into a chemical addiction based on alcohol and sex. Insecure people need something to make them feel secure.

After he graduated, with a degree in Christian Ministry and an internship as a Youth pastor, he could not make enough money to live and was struggling to stay off the sauce, so he soon ended up working as an emcee in topless bars in Northern Kentucky. He returned to Orlando and once in a drunken stupor , he told me that he had a “ministry:” to the people who worked in bars. His rationalization was that “Jesus made wine” and they accused Jesus of being a drunkard and Jesus was also friends with prostitutes!” He followed up each statement by rattling off a list of Bible verses to prove his point. His pious family disowned him for being a sinner , but he stayed in Orlando and worked in my costume shop for a few months at Halloween before going to work as a DJ/Announcer at one of the old South Orange Blossom Trail Topless Dancer Clubs.

Since his church insisted he “get rid of his sins” before they would help him, he had no close connection to any religious group. He thought that all other Christian denominations were evil and apostate except his, but his would not have him!  I tried to get him into AA and for a month or two he attended their meetings. I was the only religious church-going friend that he had. Being from a his rigid denominational background, he could never accept my mainstream Christian approach as being valid. In fact, he used to call me a “sinner” for even associating with him!  I remember him being stinking drunk-as-a-skunk and still trying to convert me over to his denomination.

He booked a few Gospel magic shows in distant churches, with preachers who did not know him well, and kept his dream alive that he would be a big-named Gospel illusionist one day. I hired him and his girlfriend (a biker chick turned topless dancer) a few times on some of my magic road-tours. She frequently confided her own demons to my wife Cindy.

The Flying Carpet Illusion that I own today was a gift from him for picking him up from jail after a DUI arrest.

He permanently lost his driver’s license after a couple more DUIs. He was forced to use the public bus system. He married his biker chick girlfriend when she told him that she was pregnant. Her ex-husband came by and beat the tar out of him when he found out that his ex-wife was expecting. She divorced JD shortly after the baby was born. He emotionally went downhill and died of acute alcohol poisoning at far too young an age…

A short time later, I pulled up into my driveway at my house in Audubon Park and found pieces of old illusions were littering my carport. I knew whose they were but I had no idea how they got there.

His widow had gone back to her ex-husband and they both wanted to get rid of all the memories of JD but for some reason they did not just trash his props so they loaded them all in the back of his mud truck and dumped them in my carport! Maybe it was her final statement to me; maybe it was a gesture of thanks to my wife Cindy and me for helping them, or maybe she just wanted Cindy’s attention. She did call up Cindy a short time later to explain that her baby was not JD’s but her ex-husband’s. She provided explicit details as why that was the fact. She told Cindy that she wanted to set the record straight with the only real friends that JD had who were left on earth. I walked into the kitchen just as that phone call was ending. Cindy turned, clutched me and buried her face in my chest and sobbed like a baby.

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

I am sorry to convey some sad stories of entertainers who I have known. Show business is tough.

I need to  conclude on an “up” note:

Many magicians underestimate the Indian Sword Basket. It is said to be one of the oldest illusions and was ubiquitous in India. Along with the Indian Rope trick is almost approaches magic mythological status. The plot is simple. Boy goes into large wicker basket, several swords are shoved through and removed and then the magician steps into the basket filling it. The boy apparently has vanished. The magician steps out and the boy emerges from the basket unharmed. It is ideally a “street trick” where the audience can see there are no traps under it. My stage version sits on a low platform so the audience can see underneath. I have mostly used it as part of a pirate scene in my illusion show.

Several other good versions and more involved routines that I have seen. Lee Germain & Judi did a comedy version that began with him stepping in the basket and looking lonely so he stepped out and put a blow-up doll wearing a Genii costume inside. The inserted swords deflated it. He looked dejected at holding a now limp doll, so he put in back inside and put the hose of a tire pump in the top hole and pumped the handle to the beat of the music and out came Judi all inflated in the same Genii costume. The bit was not as Freudian it could be viewed as  but there was an bit of sexual subtlety in it. Another good version that I saw was Ferry Forst’s from the Ringling and later Beatty Circus. He put one of his gorgeous daughters inside and at the end his other gorgeous daughter emerged. It got a great response from the crowd. Forst moved like a German Field Marshall in the Kalanag style but commanded the ring and attention in a classy and stately way. With his equally attractive wife, he had his own chorus line. Denny Haney also does a great job with the basket, I loved the girl’s hand coming out of the top hole motioning him to come over. He comes over and swats the “hand” with the sword and knocks it off! (You realize that it is a rubber hand but you and the audience gasp and then laugh that they have been taken in)

Here I am performing my Pirate version of Indian Basket illusion from my 1990 illusion show tour.  I made the basket ( from Celastic) and all the props, as well as the set and costumes in the show.

Brandi (Luana Fasulkey) was my long time assistant(1981-1991).  The photos have been frame captured from my archive DVD of the show.

Dennis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Comments Off on Tom Frank Lectures at April 2017 Meeting

Ring Report March 2017 Meeting and Dennis’ Deliberation

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

March 2017  Meeting

President Craig Schwarz brought our monthly meeting to order. We took a moment to remember the late Jim Zachary who recently passed on. Dan Stapleton did an update on this year’s Magicpalooza , the Florida State Magic Convention. This year called the Close-Up Conference and Competition held May 12th -14th at the Orlando/Maitland Sheraton Hotel

Member Marty Kane, announced the release of his new book, “Card ChiKanery” which is loaded with great card magic. The Bev Bergeron Teach-in was the classic “Coin Through Handkerchief” which can be found in the Bobo book.

Phil Schwartz presented his Magic History Moment #83, a look at his collection of letters between Charles Carter and Floyd Thayer. Carter was a Pennsylvania born illusionist who began touring the U.S. in 1906. He was trained in the legal professor and had an elegant writing style. He bought and later sold to Houdini, the Martinka’s magic business in New York and moved to San Francisco and lived in a grand house.  Carter avoided the competition in America and toured his illusion show overseas on five tours until his death in Bombay, India in 1936. Carter had his illusions built by Floyd Thayer’s company in Los Angeles. Phil is a 40-year long Thayer collector and wrote the Ultimate Thayer, a comprehensive history of Thayer’s magic company. In addition to showing us, the correspondence between Carter and Thayer, Phil also showed an original Carter Egyptian theme poster nicknamed “Carter on a Camel.” It was startling to see the low prices that Carter paid Thayer for illusions back in the 1920s and early 1930s until Phil explained that we must multiply the amount by 17 times due to dollar inflation.

Dan Stapleton led off the meeting show with an effect he learned from the late Stanley Lobenstern. Random dates of spectator anniversaries are added together and Dan had predicted the total. He followed by being able to locate a selected card from a mixed up deck. Greg Solomon did the “Ken’s Mother had 3 Kid’s” riddle, made magical coin changes on the back of his wrist and showed an impressive Cups and Balls effect done in rhyme.   Jimmy Ichinana did a future award-winning effect which took the “Any Card Called For” premise to new heights.

Dennis Phillips showed his “Water from India” props from his stage show. This was a popular “running-gag” in many old illusions shows: A never-ending source of water fills the vase  which is dumped periodically into a large urn. At the conclusion of the show, the urn is turned over and shown empty. P.C. Sorcar  used this, as well as Kalanag and others.

Photo by Craig Schwarz .Dennis Phillips with “Water from India”

water-from-india

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dennis Phillips

Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

April 2017

Den

 

 

 

 

What?  Two months dead and not forgotten yet?  Why, then, there’s hope a great man’s memory may outlive him half a year!”

Act 3, Scene 2– Hamlet.

Sadly we lost another great in magic, Daryl Easton, known professionally as Daryl and born Daryl Martinez. He was based in Las Vegas. He died in a dressing room at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles. He used the title of “The Magician’s Magician”.  I certainly hope that his memory and great work lives on. We all have touches of his work in our routines. His video instructions will be around for a long time.

Articles online say Daryl killed himself accidentally. And he was found in just his underwear. Others said, he was wearing blue jeans and it was a deliberate suicide.  So — do these two statements indicate an actual deliberate suicide, as Jamy Ian Swiss alleges in his eulogy?  We have to ask: Why would a guy elect to hang, or strangle himself, with rope, when there are far easier ways to commit suicide? Guns are easy to get in the United States. An overdose of drugs would be easier and less painful.

So it doesn’t quite make sense in my logic — that the man deliberately ended his life with a rope. It you are in a jail cell and the only method is to braid shredded bedsheets, I can understand hanging, but here I find it implausible as a method. And if he did do it that way, why would he strip down to his shorts before doing so, as the first reports from TMZ indicated? It doesn’t make sense. Other reports say he also had a plastic bag over his head.

My contention, then, is that Swiss has cherry-picked the story as he wants it to be. I realize the counter argument is that I may be trying to read more into the event. Perhaps in this day of “Alternate Facts” I am not cynical of everything I read and don’t know whose version to trust.

Further investigation (if there IS such a complete and exhaustive investigation) may yet  reveal the unpleasant or maybe embarrassing details. His wife said that he suffered from Depression. Was he on medication? Had that been recently changed? Was he in the throes of a bad marriage?  Was he constantly on the edge of starvation through not being able to make a decent living out of magic? Was he facing bankruptcy? What was his over-all mood like in the last day or two before his life ended so abruptly?  Was there a note or any indications he was not  figuring to be alive much longer. Some people preparing to die sell everything they have. And why, if he wanted to end his life, would he choose to do it at the Magic Castle? —And thereby, throw a pall of deep embarrassment and humiliation over such an august and respected institution? Did he secretly hate what magic had done to him?

Was he in poor health? Did he just get news from his doctor that he had cancer or some other terminal disease? Was he suffering from the earliest stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at age 60? We were told that Robin Williams committed suicide from Depression and he found out the medical diagnosis that he suffered from terminal Lewy Body dementia. Early symptoms resemble Parkinson’s disease.

In this country a terminal illness can pretty much bankrupt you, especially of you are a self-employed entertainer. That alone is a terrible guilt . I have known a lot of people, like this, who lost everything and left their families destitute due to medical bills. This happened to my long time magician friend, who now is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. His wife is destitute.  He has just been institutionalized under the Florida Medicaid program which the Florida State Government wants to keep very lean.

Unless one is suffering from extreme never-ending pain, or a deep and incurable psychological illness, or a dreadful terminable physical disease, I could never see suicide as an option. And leaving loved ones behind like that, is hard to fathom. I would probably never have the where-with-all  to kill myself,— for those who do, it seems to me, to be a hurtful way out. The living become the victims with collateral mental and emotional damage.

The initial reports in TMZ, a show business site suggested that he died the same sort of death from the same activity that killed , Kung Fu star, David Carradine .  Carradine was 72 when he died. Daryl was 60, so age does not have to be a limiting factor for such activity. Where did TMZ get their information? Is it just “Fake News” created to get readers and make money?

There are far too many questions in the Daryl death. I think Swiss created more questions than answers by trying to take away the rumors that he found so obnoxious and would never clarify, before all of the facts are in. If, indeed, the true facts will ever come in… Then  again, maybe all this is none of our business. But Daryl meant more to magic than merely a clever performer and creator. He was a respected star among any informed magician.

It was also reported that he had no life insurance and a “Go Fund Me” campaign was started to help his wife with final expenses. So my guess would be that he pretty much died broke, since she said that she intended to keep selling his magic routines.

When I talked with Daryl a few years ago, I asked him what percentage of his livelihood came from magicians and how much from the public purse, he confessed that he made his living on a 50/50 basis: About 50% from the public, and 50% from the magic community (lectures and his dealership). Magicians are cheap and magic is a struggling business now that the Second Golden Eva is over, so maybe he did have a long and hard financial struggle at this point in his career. We may never know.

I have no idea of any of the details. I think that Daryl’s Professional work still stands strong regardless of how he died. I do not know anything about his personal life. In any suicide the psychological path you go down trying to find the root cause leaves you in distress. The Magic Castle location is odd and out of character with someone who loved magic.  Maybe he grew to hate magic?

The life of a professional “fool”… ( magic-variety arts) is anxiety filled.  Few full time professionals end up with any money or happy. I have seen dozens drink themselves to death, grow bitter and die broke and in misery.  “There is a broken heart for every light on Broadway”.

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I always loved the Sands of Egypt trick and recall Doug Henning reintroducing it on national TV in one of his late 1970s specials. Our own Dan Stapleton has a great presentation. Luis de Matos, Jon Pendragon also have great versions.

I recall being at a Kirby Van Birch illusion show in Branson Missouri at the old Wayne Newton Theater and in spite of many illusions, spectacular dancing women, leather. fog and moving lights, the only thing that people talking about when leaving the theater was the “dry sand” trick.

My problem with a family show is that the effect is pretty but it does not relate to the real world experience. Colored sands is not a common experience. Then I saw this clip! The magician put the colored sand in flavored Kool-Aid container. Suddenly the effect had meaning!  I like it. Please no Jim Jones jokes. The punchlines are too long.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azeok7h0RPw  

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Ariann Black had a disastrous performance a few years back on America’s Got Talent. She and her assistants accidently exposed Jim Steinmeyer’s “Interlude” Illusion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SFOU2p8Gq4   (00:57 into the clip)

 

Black has been mystifying people with magic for the last twenty years.  In spite of doing good work, she’s been mostly unsuccessful at imbedding herself into the  top tier in the Vegas magic scene .She has had a slot in the variety show Splash… And now as her age pushes 50, I think that you can see the pattern.  I believe that she does have talent but has not been able to translate it and her good looks into the shinning career she seems to want and possibly deserve.  It is probably that the times and Vegas conditions are just not right.  For all the talent that the late Peter Reveen had, he just never quite succeeded as an illusionist. Both he and Black had their best chance at being top acts in the 80s. Those glory days are gone.

The disaster with Ariann Black and The Interlude probably was worth it because it did get her recognized and disasters are quickly forgotten.. As sarcastic and snotty as Howard Stern and the rest of the AGT panel, they seemed baffled at trying to understand what she was trying to do.

The problem is actually, the Illusion she was trying to present, Jim Steinmeyer’s Interlude.

A clever but not spectacular illusion.  It is where a magician steps into an upright frame and is covered in the middle and a woman crawls through his body.  It is another one of Steinmeyer’s puzzles like about 50% of what he creates. The slightest mistiming or body position and the method is painfully obvious.

No one has greater respect for Jim Steinmeyer than I do. He is the single most prolific creator of illusions in the last quarter of the 20th century and he continues to create. But like most thinkers and inventors, not everything he creates is great. One great illusion he created was the Origami Box, another is Modern Art. It virtually made Harbin’s Zig-Zag obsolete.

P.T. Selbit (P.T. Tibbles) , the genius of the early part of the century, also had a ratio of failures.  I think that like Selbit, many magicians performed his lesser illusions out of respect rather than merit. Both Virgil and Levant abandoned Selbit’s “Mighty Cheese”.  It was a novel idea with a giant two-foot high cheese wheel (cylinder) which could not be turned over by a group of spectators.

The secret was a large internal gyroscope which was spun to high speeds by an external electric motor or bicycle method.  Like all gyroscopes, it resisted any forced movement through its vertical plane of rotation. For all you math geeks, like me, its used Precession. It is is a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body. It can be defined as a change in direction of the rotation axis in which the second Euler angle (nutation) is constant. In physics, there are two types of precession: torque-free and torque-induced. Enough of that!  A gyroscope can be mysterious and I am sure it was more so at the beginning of the 20th century and to Selbit’s audiences.  But just a puzzle is not a good magic trick.

“Interlude” is just not that great of a magic trick. The only way the Interlude sort of works is with a virile male in the box and a gorgeous female passing through such as Charlotte Pendragon and Joanne Spina. Siegfried and Roy added a surprise ending by backing it up to a Million Dollar Mystery mirror tube and producing a black panther out of Roy’s middle.

The illusion always seems to take on  a sexual metaphor. (Not to get too Freudian, here)   It has a tinge of masochism-domination as the guy gets penetrated by the female, For some this must be a male and female fantasy. I will just leave this line of commentary at that point.

“Interlude” works as a throw-away for a big box show when used this way.  Copperfield helped his performance with the remote controlled rotator. The Pendragons were all beef and flash. The boxes were irrelevant except as shock and awe.

One other performance I saw with it had merit. It John Hirakowa ( The guy in Honolulu with the hotel dinner show) http://www.magicofpolynesia.com/

 

 

I seem to recall that his Interlude split in two down the middle! .  It was themed in bamboo with vines and at the end were tiki torches that he held on to as he was sacrificed by an island  shaman to have a slender Hawaiian Goddess pass through his heart.  It clam-shelled open  to let him in and then closed. The plot dominated the trick, as it probably should with this illusion.

But for me and most others to do this effect would come off as kinky… Ah,  the pain of growing old ( and knowing it).  Apparently  Ariann , as she ages, has increasingly become garish in her looks and looked harsh and old on the AGT clip.  She is not aging as well as Heather Locklear, who is also now beginning to look ragged.  Ariann, like Melinda, was very attractive in her youth and still appealing today but in a different way.   I believe she can do well but she needs to take a different direction with her magic and her business model.

Dennis

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Monthly Newsletter | Comments Off on Ring Report March 2017 Meeting and Dennis’ Deliberation

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

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

February 2017  Meeting

 The February meeting was preceded by a board meeting. President Craig Schwarz called the meeting to order. Bev Bergeron explained that our corporate legal structure is now in place for our Ring. Mike Matson was appointed to the board as our new Director at Large. It was determined that it is too late to have a flea market this year so we will begin planning in November for a Flea Market to be held next year.

Our meeting came to order. Twenty nine were present. We had three guests, Cato and Susan Holler, DDS from North Carolina Ring #392 and Ron Vega, who we welcome to the Ring as a new member.

Dan Stapleton gave an update on this year’s Magicpalooza  on May 12-14 which will be the Florida Close-up Conference and Competition.  Details and registration from lynnmf1952@hotmail.com. Dan added that this year there will be a showing of some rare magic film clips.

Bev Bergeron’s monthly teach-in was an impromptu “Burning a Table Napkin”. He pulled a napkin up through his fist and burned a small section. On opening the fist, the burned part was restored.

Phil Schwartz presented Magic History Moment #82. He gave the story of what may be the most Famous Magician in history, “Rhia Rhama Rhoose”. Almost every educated person knows him but not because of his magic fame. He was born in Portsmouth, England in 1812.

He was fascinated with circuses, wax works, ventriloquism, ghosts and magic. He worked as a law clerk and then as a newspaper reporter and married and had 10 children. In his advertising he described his magic somewhat extravagantly and current magicians will recognize the classic effects as a Nest of Boxes, Burned and restored Handkerchief, Pocket watch vanishing and appearing in a loaf of bread and Baking a cake in a hat. This fellow magician is better known as Charles Dickens , famous for his many novels and the classic “A Christmas Carol”. Dickens visited America in 1867 on a lecture tour. He died in 1870.

Dan Stapleton began this month’s Ring Show with Cidentaquin by Howard Anthony Adams using ESP cards and a mental prediction effect by Sammy Smith called Radar Vision.  Cato Holler showed how to instantly tie a Snap Knot into a rope. He learned this from Bill Spooner. Greg Solomon said he was celebrating 49 years of magic and showed  a clever way that an upright plastic strip would bend different ways when held upright. Mark Fitzgerald showed his version of Professor’s Nightmare with an impressive smoke finale. He followed up with  a Ring on Rope. He then did a card selection and reveal effect using an i-Pad and having an audience member read aloud the instructions.  Dennis Phillips concluded by showing a version of Thayer’s Bamboo Table made in his home workshop. He used it with his own variation of Histed’s Square Circle with viewing holes in both square tubes.

Dennis Phillips

Dennis Deliberations … Ring # 170

“The Bev Bergeron Ring”

March 2017

 Den

fides quaerens intellectum

 

 

 

Our “faith” is that magic  as an entertainment art, will survive. I don’t know how and in what form but magical entertainment will always be with us.

It’s no secret: These 7 things are killing magic as we knew it. It remains to be seen what “Magic” will be but we are at the end of an era.

Famous magicians draw large crowds in a few places but the art of illusion is withering at a grass-roots level. Here’s why.

In the last 15 years or so, magic has nearly pulled off the one trick it would rather avoid: vanishing from public view.

At the turn of the 19th century, magicians were among the world’s most popular performers, drawing thousands as they traveled across country.

Despite the efforts of David Blaine, Penn & Teller, Cris Angel and other famous magicians that few people can name off hand, the art has suffered greatly, according Emory Williams Jr., a member of the Society of American Magicians.

Here are the seven factors sawing magic’s popularity in (far more than) half, Williams said:

The Internet. The slayer of everything from print to brick-and-mortar stores is the go-to place for illusions, Williams said. Neighborhood magic stores can’t compete.

  1. The Internet, part 2: It is the medium of choice for those who can’t keep a secret. Hundreds of videos explain how tricks are done, robbing the magic from magic.
  2. Lack of practice. A great act requires hours and hours of practice, a price few young illusionists are willing to pay.
  3. One-hit wonders. Kids will buy a trick, fool their friends and immediately show them how it’s done. “They’re pranksters, not magicians,” Williams said.
  4. Delusional illusions. Famous acts continue to draw crowds, but magic’s popularity starts at the birthday-party level, where poor performances can resonate for years, Williams said. Amateurs trying to make a few bucks on the side turn the art into hokum-pocus.
  5. Pirates.  An inventor can spend years developing an illusion, only to see knock-off versions all over the Web at half the price. Williams blames China as well as customers happy to snag a cheap, if pirated, trick.
  6. Reluctant magicians. Given the failing state of magic, Williams said, experienced magicians prefer to keep their prized illusions to themselves, depriving future generations of the secrets needed to advance the art.

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There’s a “magic” quote that I found recently, that I think is refreshingly astute. It comes off as a bit of a self-evident cliché, read in isolation, but when viewed from the perspective of what I’m about to say here, I think it speaks volumes in just 12 succinct words. First, a preamble: As you know, there has been, lately, a number of neurologists taking magic into account in their studies of the brain, with regards to human cognition and all. And one husband-and-wife team has even written a book on the subject, touting their studies as if they represented some kind of revolutionary new understanding of the workings of the mind/brain complex. They even coined a new word to describe their studies:  “Neuromagic”, as if it was some kind of brand new discipline.  If you put that word into Google, as I did just now, literally dozens of “hits” come up (running for several pages).

But I like Teller’s very succinct and intelligent response to it all:

I’m sure it’s just Teller’s way of saying that there’s really nothing “new” here. Neurological researchers may like to believe they’ve discovered a profoundly great way to tap into the nature of human consciousness and perception (and maybe they have), but magicians have taken it almost for granted for as long as they’ve been practicing their craft.

Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years- Teller

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Criss Angel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5gK2MxGR0M

Angel uses lots of edits but mostly it is the Kevin James’ method of using people with a deformity.

The two stooges have sacral agenesis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caudal_regression_syndrome   

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/photos/man-half-body-10272168/image-10272176

half-manhalf-woman

 

 

 

 

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As a teacher, I came across this video of the ways that students cheat on tests. It contains some great ideas for hiding information a mentalists Question and Answer Act.

http://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=how+to+google+your+way+through+high+school&s_it=video-ans&sfVid=true&videoId=15CC872B7FBDA7B4AF9D15CC872B7FBDA7B4AF9D&v_t=keyword_rollover

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Why I often Cringe at  card tricks………………

The British show host asks actor Chris Pratt if he is really a magician.

“Yes I am!” Pratt replies with a straight face. (He then goes on to brag that he “played a magician” in The Magnificent Seven.) So the host hands Pratt a deck of Bicycle cards and lets him prove it.

Chris begins his sorry-excuse-for-a “card trick”, and he starts out by apologizing that he may goof it up, and that “It only ‘works’ 50% of the time.” That constitutes one lousy beginning, and it’s all downhill from there.  What then follows, is the lamest and longest card trick you’ll ever see!  Pratt’s presentation is pure torture to watch. But the audience and other guests are eating it up.   Pratt calls the effect “Burn ‘Em”.

Then his disastrous efforts are “topped” when he hands the deck out to black rapper “Wil.I.am”, who couldn’t shuffle a deck of cards if his life depended on it. Each time he cuts the deck (about five times) he calls it a “shuffle.”

You’ll be FACE PALMING yourself several times when you watch this train wreck masquerading as magic.

Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy3Mi8rOB3U

Then as if that wasn’t enough … along comes another guy who puts on a YouTube video “explaining” Pratt’s card trick! As if it was worth explaining at all.

If you do this card trick…speed it up.

Dennis

 

 

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