Del Ray...All I can say is wow.
I had the awesome, humbling pleasure of being asked to open up for Del Ray in 1995 in Youngstown. He was performing his entire stage act for a public banquet show for IBM Ring 2....the IBM Ring that Del always considered "his home" ring, from what I understand -- even tho he lived in Pittsburgh about an hour away.
(I am not certain, but Del might just be from the Youngstown area originally....does anyone out there know...Tom Craven are you out there?)
I was floored that I was going to be appearing on the same stage with a living legend. I will forever remember that night. You see, I grew up in Pittsburgh, and have counted most all of the Pittsburgh magic community as close friends, but all these years... meeting the one and only Del Ray had eluded me. As a kid, I did get to see Del Ray perform his closeup and stage act at the Magi-Fest in the very early 1980's, But he never really associated publically with the magic community...for many reasons, but I would guess mostly that it just wasn't his thing.
Those that do know him well, such as Paul Gertner as mentioned in a previous post, always told me how nice the man was. Stories and tales about Del over the years would always find their way into magic conversations.
Doc Dixon, during his early years as a magic shop demonstrator, used to tell me the stories of Del Ray's visits to the magic shop. Once Del had just driven back to Pittsburgh from a gig in Manhattan, complaining about the crowds, hustle-bustle, and traffic nightmares. Doc says Del quipped, in his unique vocal style remenicent of Jimmy Durante -- "EVERY TIME I WORK NEW YORK I ADD A TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLAR AGGRAVATION FEE!" Hehe, it's little moments like this that formed my vision of the magical legend from my hometown.
And to think the first time I was going to meet him was the night I had to open up for him. Thank god I do a comedy magic act, because no dramatic illusion I could come up with would hold a candle the what was following! It was the most nervous I had ever been before a show, but it went great and I think of that night any time I see the video....of me that is.....Del Ray of course would not allow his act to ever be video taped. He has had problems in the past with pirating of his unique effects.
To my limited knowledge, he comissioned a video made at one point of his act, but he owns it and I do not think he ever released it. I have no idea if he ever plans to release it.
I for one, hope he reconsiders someday. The magic world needs to have a record of one the finest, most theatrical, well-timed, and well-written magic acts ever produced.
Thanks for the magic Del,
Los Angeles, CA (but a Pittsburgher at heart:)