Levante Book

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

Postby Guest » 02/26/02 08:55 PM

I just finished reading the book, <b>Levante - His Life, No Illusion</b> and it is great. It seems that so many of these performers trouped around the world (or their own country), carrying some of the most ingenious illusions and routines. This book, along with <b>The Great Leon</b>, both by Caveney's Magic Words, are excellent. It almost convinces me to go out, buy an old truck or bus, and revive the old vaudeville travelling days. I think I would enjoy it very much. Anyone else up for a small tour of the upper Midwest sometime? DonB!

Postby Guest » 02/27/02 10:42 AM

I guess the reason for the decline in the travelling show business is a pure commercial
one, and of course the competion of modern media.....Maybe the nostalgia market...any thoughts...anybody care ?

Postby CHRIS » 02/27/02 11:50 AM

In my opinion the main reason is the appearance of the TV. I will give you a slightly different example. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, the restaurant was the number one place to meet and be entertained. In those times one could make a killing with a good positioned restaurant and a band on weekends.

The street itself was much more a place to meet. Restaurants spilled out into the street (at least where I come from) a.s.o. People used to go out on weekends and evenings.

Once the TV appeared everybody stayed home. This was not just bad for restaurants but for all kind of other entertainment as well.

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Postby Guest » 03/06/02 01:17 PM

Your post reminded me of a radio story I recently heard about rock/pop musicians and bands. According to the story, most of the income these performers earn is not from recordings (the record companies keep most of that money) it is from their tours. So this part of show business is alive and well. I suspect that Copperfield also makes the majority of his money from his live shows (and consession sales at these shows), the television appearances promoting his "brand name" so that people will go see him when he comes to their towns. The costs required to get audiences to turn out in a self-promoted tour for an unknown performer would be extremely high. I've heard of one successful magician couple that tour constantly, but they are booked far in advance by Arts Presenters (the showbiz name for smaller regional performing arts centers and the like). These venues have a regular subscription base so don't need to start from scratch to fill the hall. These magicians travel from venue to venue in their truck which has a sleep compartment in the cab. I apologize for not remembering their names, (does the Becks ring a bell with anyone?) but chances are if an illusionist comes to your local performing arts center, it's them!


Postby Guest » 03/06/02 04:43 PM

How many promoters have been working performers themselves ? I remember listening to steve winwood of the rock music scene explaining how little he was paid in regard to the media hype...How does this stand with the media hype of today ?As Max Malini said If you want money you have to mix with money :)

Postby Guest » 03/20/02 07:28 AM

I found them! It's the Spencers, and there is an interview with them on Ben Harris' website.

As to promoters being performers, on a small scale, it's happening in NYC at Monday Night Magic. Magicians run and promote (and produce) the show. This was also the case years ago with the Magic Townhouse and Mostly Magic in New York (I'm dating myself now). A similar situation also takes place in the party and event business in New York and other large US cities where successful performers are often also agents, booking other variety acts for shows they are doing, and other magicians for events running simultaneously. Many I know make far more booking others than they do in their own fees.

Steve Spill also has a great magic theater show in San Diego called Magicopolis. He both performs and features other magicians in his venue. It's probably the best example off the top of my head. I was also just in Korea doing a tradeshow with my partner Karen, and briefly met a female Korean magician who has her own "magic cafe." We did not get a chance to visit it however, so don't know the exact set-up. She is primarily a stage manipulator, so presumeably it's like a dinner theater.
I don't know how many other magicians she books, but I believe she has a few on the staff.

Any other examples I'm forgetting anyone?

Postby Michael Edwards » 03/20/02 09:53 AM

DonB began this thread with the somewhat wistful notion of trouping a magic show throughout the Midwest. I'm glad he enjoyed Kent's book and other volumes in Mike's Pro-Files series...but the real story that emerges from each of these biographies (and so many others as well) is not the glamor and appeal of the road, but how truly difficult maintaining a touring magic company was (and is) and the kind of love and commitment to the craft a performer must have to keep with it. While some of the hardships faced by performers during the Golden Age of magic have been ameliorated by modern travel and technology, it remains a daunting task. And good publicity isn't the panacea. Consider the challenges faced by the touring company of The World's Greatest Magic despite a major network television connection.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/20/02 05:36 PM

Correction... Steve Spill's "Magicopolous" is in Santa Monica, Calif., not in San Diego. It is along the 3rd Street Promenade.

Not sure how well it is going, have not been by of late... in the past both Rudy Coby and Jeff McBride were feature performers. Bob Sheets was behind the bar, but has moved back to his home in the East.
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Postby Guest » 03/20/02 06:15 PM

Oh for the glamour and glitter of the road.
please excuse my lack of enthusiasm, but I just love my own bed sorry :D

Postby Guest » 03/22/02 04:55 PM

Thanks Pete for correcting my geography - I'm claiming jetlag as an excuse. Michael, good point re: World's Greatest Magic.

Just had a look at The Spencer's own website and their tour schedule for March & April. Looks like touring is still alive. Check it out. http://www.spencersmagic.com/tour.html

Mark ;)

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