It's hard to believe that some 26 years later anyone would remember the little magazine I published called "The Conjurer." How embarrassing! It's mortifying to think that the foibles of your youth stay alive forever to haunt you. Since Jan asked, I'll tell the story as briefly as possible.
Back then, I was very young, rebellious and much too full of opinions. I loved magic but was highly critical of about 95% of it. Amongst other things, I felt that most magic magazines were too "soft", shall we say. So I decided to publish a journal that told it like it was; if an act sucked, we said so and why, no punches pulled. The idea was to be edgy, provocative, interesting and to make a genuine contribution to the advancement of the craft. Not surprisingly, I had no problem getting enthusiastic contributors; I soon found out I wasn't the only one craving change! Jules Lenier was our associate editor and a major source of inspiration and assistance. Later, Frank Garcia joined us a columnist. Perhaps the individual who helped me the most was Bill Larsen, who, amazingly, encouraged me, guided me, gave me tons of advice, taught me how to manage parts of the business, and threw shows my way at the Castle so I could earn some money. He was like a father to me, and in some small way I think he appreciated what I was trying to do, though he feared I might make a lot of enemies.
Well, the magazine started, designed and laid out with spray mount and a ruler--this was of course pre-computer--and I hit the road going to conventions to promote it. Sometimes I'd be in a booth right next to Genii as a full on competitor; nevertheless Bill was still there for me encouraging people to support the magazine. I owe him a lot.
If I might say so, during its brief run I think The Conjurer published some great stuff: A word for word UNEDITED transcription of Don Alan's 1975 lecture (fascinating even more today); a wonderful, candid interview with Charlie Miller--probably the most extensive ever published (though I don't know that for certain); a terrific Triumph effect and interview with my hero and recent Genii cover Earl Nelson; some frank opinion from the brilliant and supportive Jon Racherbaumer; a lengthy, interesting interview and solid effects from Bruce Cervon; and the issue I'm most proud of, our Dai Vernon issue, which contained a long, marvelous interview with the Professor which captured him as he really was--salty, critical, unabashed, uncompromising and a tad cranky. I doubt most readers have ever read Vernon like this. So frank was his discourse, in fact, it nearly led to me being sued by Goshman. Oy. I felt bad about the controversy because I loved Albert, but I wasn't about to abridge the Professor's remarks. One other concept started with that issue but sadly was never fully realized; an exact reproduction--on special stock-- of Faucett Ross' Notebook of Magic, as shown and/or told by Dai Vernon around the year 1932.
So what happened? Sigh. What else? Money. Though we quickly established a very good subscriber base, in those days it simply cost too much to produce. The typesetting alone was about $3,000 an issue (today it would be free), and after a period of time, alas, I just couldn't fund the deficit. If only I waited ten years until Macintosh! Today, it's extremely difficult to find copies of the magazine, particularly the special "last minute" news/editorial inserts that went with certain issues. Unfortunately, about four years ago all the back stock of the magazine was destroyed, making the existing copies all the more scarce.
Sometimes I entertain the notion of reproducing the magazine in a single volume so that the material becomes accessible to anyone who wants it, but maybe it's just better to let the words and effects sleep in the deep underground. In any event, it was a many lifetimes ago and I am to this day shocked when someone remembers. Thanks for asking, Jan.