Ken Brooke

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 2nd, 2004, 12:20 pm

ken brooke stories

My name is Scott Forman and I am an American that used to live in England. I was young and in 1969 I lived in Hampton in Arden in the Midlands and used to go to London to learn about magic. I went to Harry Stanleys first. I also went to Davenports near the British Museum and used to see Pat and Betty in the old dusty shop. Harrods Department store had a little magic shop upstairs with a funny looking chap with buck teeth but it was weak. Somehow Harry Stanleys shop changed owners and I was not impressed so I looked for something new.

So I saw an ad in Abra Mag and discovered Ken Brooke's. In the heart of Soho on Wardour St. near the famous rock n roll club the Marquee (launchpad of the Who, Stones, Yardbirds, etc. At number 145, on the 1st floor was Kens. Upstairs was Andrew Lloyd Weber. Ken was a serious guy. I was this young American kid who wanted to learn magic. Loved London and the mystery of magic. One Saturday I went into Kens shop and there were a few people there and he did this trick with about 5 cards where he kept switching the cards and pulled about pictures of half nude girls. It was Bruce Cervon's trick.

That was cool.

But my favorite was the spotty dots trick. That wowed me. He taught it to me at about $6 a half hour. And he also taught me the Malini Egg Bag. That trick took me to the finals of the Young Magician of the Year at the Magic Circle. I met David Nixon ...and came 2nd with my best friend Tim Butler from my same school in Solihull. I went to Los Angeles, met Charlie Miller and Dai Vernon on the same day and Charlie Miller took me outside to the parking lot and said "where did you get the Egg Bag, that material is great" I told him Ken Brooke, but the new material was not the same. He was impressed.

Ken kept telling Tim Butler and I not to play the 3 card trick in the street. We saw it on Oxford Street and in Soho. He told us how the hustlers would come into the bars at night after ripping people off and how they would count their money.
It was a rip off.
We watched, we were drawn in but Ken taught us the angles and said you always lose. That was a valuable lesson.

Then he taught me the 3 card trick with 4 cards. What a great experience.

Then I worked later in Times Square in New York and saw more of the three card trick. Always a dealer with at least 2 or 3 planted friends clapping and yelling, putting money down, winning and looking at the crowd, trying to draw them in. You don't see much of it anymore.

Pete, when I read your Ken & Ricky Jay stories i loved it. I loved Ricky Jay in David Mamets movie - House of Games - one of the best movies ever. Keep bringing the Ken Brooke stories on.

Ricky Jay if I ever see you ...I would love to share stories of where you were in your career at the time.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Robert Allen » October 2nd, 2004, 1:23 pm

Originally posted by Quentin Reynolds:

Another gag Ken explained. This worked with a packet of cigarettes where you pushed the inner compartment up, like a tray. He would doctor a brand new packet of ten cigarettes by putting a 5 note inside the pack. The pack would still have it's cellophane wrapper apparently intact.
Walking into a grocery shop Ken would ask for a packet of ten cigarettes of the same brand. He would pay with a higher denomination bill so the shopkeeper would have to use the till to get change. This was the misdirection to switch packs. After he got the change Ken would open the pack, push up the tray and see the 5 note, all while talking to the shopkeeper. Ken would notice with some surprise the note and remark, "I didn't realise they had started that promotion yet," place the note in his pocket and leave. Going into the shop the next day he'd notice the owner had opened all the packs to check them.
Interesting. A similar but somewhat more mean spirited trick is described in John Scarne's autobiography, where he and another magician went into a hole in the wall diner and pulled a dollar coin out of a soft boiled egg, *after* expositing for some time to the cook how important it was that they have *precisely* a three minute egg. The story goes that they later saw the cook cooking and opening egg after egg.

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 22nd, 2004, 7:58 pm

ken brooke did me and tim butler our best favor when he warned us about the 3 card trick players in soho. we were both 14 year old students of his going down to london on the train by our selves walkin down the london streets as innocent kids. ken protected us. we were wide eyed kids watching the hustlers in soho on shaftsbury avenue and wardour in piccadilly circus doing the 3 card trick. we always wanted to gamble. but ken taught us you never win. later in my life i worked in times square in nyc. watched alot of 3 card trick hustling you never win

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 31st, 2004, 11:27 am

I just found my Young Magician of the Year flyer from 1973 from the Magic Circle. I came second and tied with my friend Tim Butler who was also a student of Ken Brookes. I did the Malini Egg Bag with the Handkerchief finish. Tim did the Eyes Have it, which Ken would not sell to me.

On the bill that night was Alan Shaxon and Anne, Ali Bongo was the "Compere" which is an MC and David Nixon presented the trophy.

the address of the Magic Circle was 84 Chenies Mews WC1 in London.

2 years later I entered again and did Dai Vernons Linking Rings as taught to me by Ken...Those rings are so sturdy, the chrome plating is excellent, Ken made sure that they weren't the usual junk sold by magic dealers... I also did Sidewalk Shuffle.Unfortunately I was 16 and very cocky, long blonde hair, and opened my show with a (I forget - help me Pete Biro, either an Al Goshman trick or some other guy from Genii, maybe Dick somebody, where you throw the deck out to an audience member, tell them to pick a card, show it to someone and put it back, "is there any way I could possibly know which card you chose?" they say "No" and you take the whole deck and throw it up in the air behind you and say "Well, let's forget about that trick."

Then I did Sidewalk Shuffle which I can still do with the X's and the Magic Marker. Then the Rings. I did not make the finals that year. I had also moved to Madrid Spain with my father who ran Chrysler there and had to fly in to do the show....was a little disappointed I didnt make it back to the finals but my friend Tim Butler did - and this other kid from our school who did the Nemo Card Rise. At the Blackpool convention in the Spring, I ran into Peter Warlock, who had been a judge at my show....asked him for some advice...he said I was too cocky and confident. I also saw Ken Brooke with his very busy booth, doing the Sidewalk Shuffle, Frank was there, and doing big business. Everyone was flocking to Ken's booth because of his reputation...I had forgotten about Ken's "braces" or in US terms, suspenders...he used those in Sidewalk Shuffle.

The first trick I bought from him was Bruce Cervons card trick. Then it was that trick with the tube and the nut and bolt and washer.

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » November 6th, 2004, 11:51 am

here's another ken brooke ditty.

the conway rope trick...the johnson ring trick..

money refunded if any goods fail to please.

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » December 2nd, 2004, 7:05 pm

does anyone know when ken brooke opened the wardour street shop? what year? and when did it close?

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Max Maven » December 3rd, 2004, 1:45 pm

The Soho shop opened in late 1966.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 3rd, 2004, 2:50 pm

... and closed Dec. 1979 :(
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Bob Farmer » December 3rd, 2004, 4:18 pm

I was a poor grad student at LSE from 1975 to 1976. Unfortunately, I seldom made it to class. I lived around the corner from Ron MacMillan's shop, about 10 minutes from Davenport's, and if I actually headed towards LSE, a short detour brought me to Wardour Street.

I spent a lot of time in Ken's shop, but not much money (since, I didn't have any). CID was one thing I bought and I still have it (great gimmick). He was a marvellous performer.

I was there the day I guy came in and thought it was a REAL magic shop. He wanted a REAL magic wand. When Ken figured out the guy was serious but misguided, he grabbed him by the collar and the back of his pants and threw him out. It was hilarious.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » December 3rd, 2004, 10:13 pm

thank you max and pete. i remember when i moved to england in 1969 the first magic shop i went to was harry stanleys. He sold me Chase the Ace. I loved that store. But he died soon after. The guy who took over didnt really do him service.

I went to Davenports and the shop in Harrods with the guy who had the buck teeth. I cant remember when I found Kens store but the first day I went in he did Dirty Deal...incredible....he probably wouldnt sell it to me.....sold me something else.

But he was such a character. With that Leeds accent calling me "chickie"

Max - thank you.

I am curious how you Max and Pete first went to Kens place. Pete I read that you lived in Germany.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 3rd, 2004, 10:39 pm

I was in Germany (Wurzburg) while in the Army (1st Inf. Div.) in 1952-3 but only performed didn't get to any magic shops other than possibly Stanley's Unique and Davenport's.

I have a terrible memory for dates, but once I started to go to Ken's I got there maybe two trips a year as I was travelling a lot on photo assignments.

When Pat Page was behind the counter at Davenport's I would start there and wind up in the afternoon, 'til closing, with Ken, often going out to dinner after.

A short time before he passed on he took me into the back room and told me "Take one of each instruction sheet out of the files, you should have them."

I wonder if publishing them would be something the magic fraternity would want?
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Q. Kumber
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Q. Kumber » December 4th, 2004, 3:09 am

Originally posted by scott forman:
thank you max and pete. i remember when i moved to england in 1969 the first magic shop i went to was harry stanleys. He sold me Chase the Ace. I loved that store. But he died soon after. The guy who took over didnt really do him service.
Scott, Harry Stanley retired (shortly after I took out a subscription to the GEN)and sold the business to two brothers. The business didn't last too long and I think they sold out to Ron McMillan. Harry Stanley lived for quite a while after and I think only died in the late eighties or early nineties. He also sold the rights to his publications to Edwin of Supreme, which have since reverted back to the Stanley family who have now sold them to Martin Breese.

Harry Stanley wrote a series of reminisces for the Magigram starting in the late seventies or early eighties. Very interesting reading. He did not write about Ken in the same light as he is written about here. Nonetheless the articles make fascinating reading and are an important resource for students of UK dealer magical history.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Edwin Corrie » December 4th, 2004, 6:15 pm

My recollection of those Magigram articles is that they were rather bitter-sounding, but there never seems to have been any other discussion of them that I'm aware of. Harry Stanley's tribute in "Ken Brooke's Magic - The Unique Years" was much more favourable.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 4th, 2004, 7:57 pm

Ken had gone Bankrupt with a shop, I think in Leeds. I think it was the Veroni House of Magic (correct me if I am wrong).

And in England you cannot start another business until you pay all debts back, unlike here in the USA.

So, in order to survive, Ken moved to London and worked for Harry. Harry was very strict with Ken and kept him under his thumb.

Ken worked hard, saved the money and when he finally paid off all his debts, left Stanley.
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Anthony Brahams » December 5th, 2004, 2:26 am

Pete, a complete bound set (or book) of Ken's instructions sounds good but please remember that many (most?) instructions, plus "After-Sales sheets" etc. and more, are in my book "Ken Brooke's Magic Place" (L&L. 1995). Omissions were because the inventor did not want his effects included.
Anthony

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » December 5th, 2004, 1:08 pm

Quentin - my mistake - i've lost a little of the old memory - I thought Harry died. I was just a kid back then......did a lot of business with Supreme - my favorite was their convention in Devon with Billy McComb and Lewis Ganson featured. McComb was awesome - a real pro and full of great tips, dirty jokes and gags. My dad took me down to the convention and loved it. We all got a tour of Supreme's factory with Edwin and I believe Ian Adair. Lewis was more traditional but very good.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » December 5th, 2004, 1:10 pm

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
I was in Germany (Wurzburg) while in the Army (1st Inf. Div.) in 1952-3 but only performed didn't get to any magic shops other than possibly Stanley's Unique and Davenport's.

I have a terrible memory for dates, but once I started to go to Ken's I got there maybe two trips a year as I was travelling a lot on photo assignments.

When Pat Page was behind the counter at Davenport's I would start there and wind up in the afternoon, 'til closing, with Ken, often going out to dinner after.

A short time before he passed on he took me into the back room and told me "Take one of each instruction sheet out of the files, you should have them."

I wonder if publishing them would be something the magic fraternity would want?
Definitely a worthwhile move

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 5th, 2004, 1:35 pm

Anthony: I know your book, and have it, but there are a lot of omissions... but, I didn't realize the reason. I think it was (IS) short sighted of those that said "No." Too bad. Had you been able to include all it would be a great historic record.

Perhaps the time element will come into play and the material is "public domain" and would be something to consider as a Vol. 2 ???

Best to you and the family for the holidays! :genii:
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 5th, 2004, 2:17 pm

Quentin wrote, "Scott, Harry Stanley retired (shortly after I took out a subscription to the GEN)and sold the business to two brothers. The business didn't last too long and I think they sold out to Ron McMillan. Harry Stanley lived for quite a while after and I think only died in the late eighties or early nineties. He also sold the rights to his publications to Edwin of Supreme, which have since reverted back to the Stanley family who have now sold them to Martin Breese."

If that's the case, then how come L&L have been republishing all of Harry Stanley's books?
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Q. Kumber » December 5th, 2004, 2:31 pm

I'm not sure of the intricacies, but here's what I think I know:

IN 1971 or 1972 Harry Stanley did a deal with Edwin at Supreme.
In 1987 Edwin sold out to Brian Head and Paul Dupee. Shortly after Brian Head left and Paul Dupee ran Supreme. He later sold out to Barry Laymond. I beleive Laymond did a restricted deal with L&L.

In the meantime whatever provisions were in the original deal with Edwin weren't happening and the rights reverted to the Stanley family.

The best person to explain this would be Martin Breese. Martin, where are you?

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Bill Wells » December 5th, 2004, 4:46 pm

Anthony and Pete:

One of my disappointments when "Ken Brooke's Magic Place" was published was that certain of the instruction sheets were not included although I understand the reason. However, it would be a great use to at least have a LIST of all the intruction sheets that Ken published. Like Pete, I have many of Ken's instructions and a number that are not in the book, but I don't know what may be missing. Between the two of us, it should be possible to come up with a fairly complete listing.

Thanks - Bill
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 6th, 2004, 9:16 am

You first.

Have you "Laying the Foundation Stone"???

I just remembered that I may still have a spreadsheet list (it was on an old computer that died, but it may be in a back up somewhere).

Will look.
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Pete Biro
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 6th, 2004, 9:23 am

I found the file but it is an old DOS format and I can't get Windows XP to open it. ARGH :mad: :mad: :mad:
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Ian Kendall » December 6th, 2004, 11:01 am

Send it to me and I'll convert it for you...

Take care, Ian

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 6th, 2004, 1:30 pm

I am re-writing it, and just taking a break. I have up to 50 so far and there are many many more. Will even try to include the prices. Am doing it in MS Excel.
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Anthony Brahams » December 6th, 2004, 3:03 pm

Pete, thanks for good wishes, ours to you!

There is a book being produced here in the UK (not by me) of Ken's instructions. I have just remebered as I helped with some sheets the compiler did not have. I will ask if it is confidential and report further here.
Anthony

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » December 6th, 2004, 4:32 pm

I have just finished entering all the data and have 140 different Ken Brooke instructions. A few from Unique and Veroni...hah... only two I think from each, like coins thru table and cups and balls.

There is more, I just remembered another. Oh boy.
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Bill Wells
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Bill Wells » December 6th, 2004, 8:28 pm

Pete -

OK ... I will start listing mine.

"Foundation stone..." Geeze...was I that obvious.

Bill
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Dale Shrimpton » December 13th, 2004, 5:14 am

An adition to this is that Magic Books by post took on the supreme stock when they finaly closed.
You can still order many of the titles from them.
Some, ( Fabians Histed book being a good example), are still first editions, dating back to the 1930's, since Supreme took on many of the Goodliffe publications, and re- dust jacketed them.

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » December 13th, 2004, 7:04 pm

Hiya.

We run a little bar out here in Mallorca Spain.

I am Proud and Honoured that Barry Stevenson is a regular customer of ours. Barry was a big friend of Ken's, and Inventor of several of his effects.

Barry is fairly new to computing, but I will try to get him on here.

Cheers

Andy

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » January 29th, 2005, 1:25 pm

I am loving these stories...
As a side note Denny and lee's has about 4 copys of "Its better then digging roads", Its cool to sit back and listen to him in the shop. I wish I could have met him.

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » January 29th, 2005, 1:30 pm

Sorry that previous post was in answer to someones post on page 2. I had not read this far.

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 7th, 2005, 7:10 pm

More Ken Brooke stories please...Hello Pete..Hello guys

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Pete Biro
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » October 7th, 2005, 10:11 pm

Ken was most proud of his home stereo system, Bang and Olofson (SP?) and his recipe for Yorkshire Pudding... to have him do a meal for you at his place was a great treat.
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Q. Kumber
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Q. Kumber » October 8th, 2005, 1:49 am

Bunny Neill put in a lot of work on the Nemo Jumbo Rising Cards sold by Ken. I missed Bunny's Dublin performance thirty years ago but heard rave reports from local magicians who caught him.

Later I heard that Bunny retired to Jamaica. So I was surprised to see that he was billed to appear at the Nottingham Guild of Magicians show a few weeks ago.

It turns out that Bunny returned from Jamaica in 1991 and is now living in Nottingham.

Not wanting to miss out a second time I made the 200 mile round trip. Most impressive of all was his razor blades.

He walks on stage and silently shows a dowel in a base. Along the wooden dowel are twelve razor blades which he shows to be sharp and one by one places them onto his tongue and into his mouth. Spectators get the opportunity to place them also. Having ingested them he immediately starts to speak and goes on with his act.

For the finish he breaks off some thread from a spool, places it in his mouth and immediately produces the threaded blades. I estimated there were at least 150, spreading right across the stage. It looked terrific.

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Bill Wells » October 8th, 2005, 6:56 am

I can vouch for Pete's message regarding Ken and his recipe for Yorkshire Pudding. In 1970, I had stopped in London after just having been in Paris. I had purchased a copper pan in Paris (they weren't as popular in the USA then as they are now) and when I mentioned having to lug this heavy pan around to Ken, nothing would do but that he had to give me his Yorkshire "Pud" recipe and very carefully explain to me how to execute every step in the recipe.
Bill Wells

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 8th, 2005, 11:24 pm

thanks guys. Pete - back then Bang and Olofsun was very cutting edge and cool. Now they have stores on Broadway in NYC and IPOD speakers.
I just wonder if you speak with Tim Rice or Andrew LLoyd Weber today, what would they say about Ken?

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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Pete Biro » October 9th, 2005, 11:00 pm

Aha... you remember, their office was one flight up from "The Magic Place" and we shared the Loo.
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Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 10th, 2005, 1:25 am

OK guys, please let me just correct one thing.. :)
It's:

Bang & Olufsen

I like their stuff too...and I've tremendously enjoyed visiting Kens Place in Wardour Street -unfortunately only twice..
Fortunately though, I meet KB at several conventions in Europe also, he was a h*ll of a guy!

Guest

Re: Ken Brooke

Postby Guest » October 13th, 2005, 8:35 pm

what did you want to correct?


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