Questions and Answers

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/30/01 04:23 PM

Originally Posted by Jan Janson:
I think it would be a good idea to have this as a permanent post under Magic History. Among our 500 members there must be a wealth of knowledge to draw upon for anyone with some historical questions. Looking back I can remember two questions I have seen that never were answered (one of which was mine), so let's start with these again:
Michael Albright, Van Nuys, CA started a monthly magazine in 1975 called the CONJURER. It went off to a great start improving issue by issue, but after eight issues it just disappeared. What happened?
One other member asked about CENTIPEDE. CENTIPEDE came out of Las Vegas NV and
during Oct 93 to Oct 95 nine issues were published. Who was the publisher?
Let's see if we can have some answers this time.

I KNOW that some of our members have answers to these questions: let's participate! :)
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Postby malbright » 10/11/01 10:29 PM

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.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 10/11/01 11:17 PM

Michael, that single-volume set sounds like something I'd be interested in.

If you ever do get around to it, please announce it here first! I'll be one of the first in line.

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Postby JBA Janson » 10/12/01 12:11 AM

Dear Michael,

thanks for the great answer! It was such a good start of a future most interesting publication.
Your basic philosophy behind the publication is as valid today as yesterday!
I am a happy owner of a complete file, which I have re-read a few times! I think it would be a great idea if you would republish a complete file so that interested would have easy access to these articles and interviews.
There are so much interesting stuff to read and contemplate and today they are part of our magic history!

with best regards

Jan
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Postby Frank Yuen » 10/12/01 04:19 AM

Michael,

You can add me to the list of potential buyers of a bound collection. I hope you really consider this.

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Postby CHRIS » 10/12/01 06:20 AM

Michael,

the interviews you mentioned would alone make a republication extremely valuable.

If under any circumstances you would think that an electronic version of your magazine would be interesting, feel free to contact me at wasshuber@lybrary.com

I publish magic ebooks and would be highly interested.

Chris....
www.lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.
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Postby Guest » 10/12/01 08:06 AM

I would love to get a copy as well. I am really starting to like the unexpurgated reviews from some of the minds of magic. Not just the dirt, but the praise as well. I am always interested in hearing which guys the great magicians really admired and how many of them were the up and coming guys at the time.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/14/01 01:49 AM

Mr. Albright,

I must tell you that I count among my most prized processions the Vernon issue of Conjuror magazine. It was the "sample" you sent me when I answered your ad in "Boys Life" magazine so many years ago. At the same time I had sent for a sample of another magazine (also from a small ad in Boys Life) named Genii. Alas, Mom would only let me subscribe to one (hey - she was paying the bill!) and I chose Genii - sorry! (Well, I'm not sorry that I chose Genii, I'm sorry I didn't get both!)

However, some years later I acquired six more issues (so it turns out that I'm missing only one) including the issue with the Don Alan transcript, which of course was fascinating reading.

It was a great magazine. You should be very proud of it.

Regards,
Dustin

[ October 14, 2001: Message edited by: Dustin Stinett ]

[ October 23, 2001: Message edited by: Dustin Stinett ]
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Postby Guest » 10/23/01 07:37 AM

Would a re-printing of the Vernon interview on this forum be out of the question? Add me to the list of those who would be interested in a re-printing of the magazine! :)

All the best,

Paul.
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