What got you into magic?

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

Postby Dennis » 05/29/03 04:33 PM

How did you become infected by "The Magic Bug"?

I know we all have great memories of magic at an early age -
So, I thought it might be interesting to read about them.
Especially if some of the more well known members would care to share.
So what do you guys say?

I'll start...

It was the late sixties; a very boring day for a nine year old. I was playing in our attic - having found a box of old magazines that belonged to my dad, mostly old Hot Rod, car mags, and some Popular Mechanics, but as young children are want to do I dug until I found GOLD!

It wasn't very large, and seemed to be made of pulp paper, on the cover at the very top it said HOUSE OF A THOUSAND MYSTERIES and on the bottom VICK LAWSTON. Somewhere in between it mentioned
something about MAGIC. When I started reading it, I was totally captivated by the descriptions and the artwork - then the epiphany...

WHAT IF I COULD DO THESE THINGS!!

So began the search, in the sixties magic and info about magic was very scarce.
The next few months were spent reading that catalog and dreaming.

It's funny; even then I was drawn to Close-Up Magic realizing that if I had those boxes and tubes I COULD DO magic but I wouldn't BE MAGIC. However if I could Float that match or make that water stay in that bottle then I would BE A MAGICIAN!

When he found out I was getting into magic my dad had a small surprise for me. One evening he came into my bedroom carrying a small booklet by Rufus Steel 50 CARD TRICKS YOU CAN DO. He taught me one trick I think it was called The Chick Trick(?). I can't remember the effect.

The next stop(thanks mom) was our local library. The children's section had nothing about magic. It was only after sneaking into the adult racks that I found it -

Walter Gibson's THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF CARD MAGIC!

For the next couple of years this would be my Bible.

This was the start. I hope this was an interesting read and that it prompts others
To write up their story. If anyone cares I could write the next chapter (G).

It would be about Wonderama, Slydini, Harry Lorayne, Going to TANNEN'S,Meeting John Scarne, and a cameo appearance by Maxs friend Phil, ETC.
Thanks for reading!
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Postby Steve V » 05/29/03 08:02 PM

My dad took us to see Blackstone Jr. at my school, I was about 9 at the time. We sat in the front row and I watched him do the haunted doll house and produce baby chicks from under cups and gave them to kids. I was hooked. Only problem was I only had an old book on stage illusion and the movie Houdini to go by so my dad got mad when I tried to use an auger bit to drill a hole into our kitchen floor (to produce items through the table) and my mom got mad because I filled the bathtub with all the ice we had (okay, it wasn't filled, but you get the picture) and laid it in ala Tony Curtis so I could bet use to the cold for my underwater escapes that never came to pass. I didn't get to a magic shop until a few years later when I went to one in San Francisco and got a set of linking rings.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 05/30/03 09:49 AM

Doug Henning doing the Anderson newspaper tear on TV, and the beer commercial with John Scarne's hands doing a pressure fan and a two-card transposition....
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Postby Guest » 05/30/03 04:20 PM

Amazing how the age of NINE seems to be the common age to get taken up with magic...regardless if it is a passing interest for a month, or a life long calling.
For me, my brother had an obnoxious friend named
Steve, who was the "Eddie Haskell" of the neighborhood. He came over to our house with a copy of a catalog from "Top Hat Magic Company",(Evanston, Ill.) He was more interested in the "gags", but I was fascinated/swept up, in seeing what seemed to be the secrets of the universe, contained in that catalog, and they were for sale! I showed the items that I NEEDED to start my career, to my mother, who pointed out I could only spend, what I had in my savings.($3.00) and no, her son could not consider the gags/joke items in the back of the catalog, that the awful Steve would. I bought a set of 5" linking rings, the spirit silk that untied itself, and very important, a BOOK to study a number of tricks.(Will Dexter's "101 Tricks you can do") Later my grandmother brought 2 books from the (well used by her) library, "Houdini on Magic", and The Amateur Magicians Handbook", which I renewed and renewed, lest anyone also be able to read them. My mother and grandmother said one of the things they liked about my being into magic, was that it got me reading and reading more...about magic...as time went on, they vainly tried to get me realize the benefits of reading something other than magic-related books.("If you would only start "Huck Finn" or "Call of the Wild",.....!"
As time went on, I would run into my grandmother's room, she would dutifully put down her sewing and watch my latest feat. She would say, "You're getting to be pretty good...you should have seen that "Willard the Wizard", (she did in Chickasha, Oklahoma) now he was something!"
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Postby AMCabral » 06/05/03 09:00 AM

When I was a lad, probably about 5 or so, I caught the bug. Can't be certain, but I could trace it to one of two things:
1) Doug Henning (who was everywhere in the late '70s, early '80's)
2) The street magicians who used to abound around Boston, especially on the Common.

Blackstone magic sets and all that followed. I remember being wholly obsessed with billiard ball manipulation, albeit on a very basic level.
Fell off somewhere around 10 or 11, and got back to it around age 22-23, whenever World's Greatest Magic II first aired. Jeff McBride and especially Rene Lavand are responsible for the current extent to which I'm throwing my life away with a deck of cards in my hands.

-Tony
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Postby AMCabral » 06/05/03 09:03 AM

Although...
I have a horrid, nagging supressed memeory in the back of my head that I might have seen David Blaine's first special before I saw Lavand, but the one that stuck in my brain was definitely Lavand.

Oh, and Jamy Ian Swiss's stuff on PBS's Art of Magic. All that hit me about the same time.

-Tony
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Postby Ian Richards » 06/05/03 09:19 AM

Kite flying.

About five years ago a friend asked if I would provide kite flying as the entertainment for her daughters upcoming birthday party. I thought that learning a rope trick for this event would be appropriate. The kite flying birthday party never happened but I have been an avid student of magic ever since then.
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Postby Guest » 06/05/03 12:17 PM

Yes, it does seem that nine years old must be a magic year because when I was nine I saw my first magic show. I had already been given a magic set and a pulp magic book. My parents asked me if I wanted to go to a large theater in my home town and see a magic show. Of course I said yes and I remember thinking this man mut have a large magic set. He did, and I still have the program, the package he pitched and I ca remember very well the show. Why this is so amazing is that it was 54 years ago and the magician was Harry Blackstone,Sr !!!! Mike
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/05/03 10:08 PM

When 15 or 16 I got a job as an apprentice in a sign shop. The guy I worked under, Bill Anderson, originally from Minnesota, did magic tricks during lunch time breaks. This really intrigued me, so I looked in the phone book to try to findn a place to learn some magic so I could "get back at him."

Magic Ltd., Lloyd E. Jones, had an ad in the phone book, and I found he just lived a few blocks away. He dealt in mostly books out of his house.

That was the beginning. Also, Byron Walker was a class mate of mine and he got hooked too and we did a few shows together.

Now Byron owns what was the Jones library, and is world known for the great collection.

I entered a PCAM contest and everybody that I knew said I was a cinch winner.

I didn't win. And got so mad I quit doing magic for awhile.

Then when the Korean war broke out and I was drafted (at age 18) I started to perform for the officer's clubs and other army facilities in California.

When it was time to ship to Korea, the C.O. had taken a liking to me and my shows and switched my orders to go to Germany instead of Korea.

Magic probably saved my life.

After the army I re-entered a PCAM and won the Grand Prix, then the S.A.M. National convention and won FIRST PLACE there for my stage act.

I entered one other competition, this time for close up and won that.

Then I did 11 years as the producer of all the shows and lectures for the IBM conventions, did several TV Specials in Japan, etc. etc.

Wrote for Genii for years. Lectured from Japan to France and back.

Did a TERRIBLE show in Leicester England and vowed I would never be caught not ready again. Don't try new stuff in a major show.

Favorite performers include Fred Kaps, Ken Brooke, Jay Marshall, Roy Benson, Senator Crandall, Gaetan Bloom, Mike Close, Blackstone Sr., Tomsoni, Norm Nielsen, Steve Valentine, Topper Martyn, Terry Seabrooke, Paul Daniels, Veronin, Vladimir Danalin, Chad Long, David Williamson, Tamariz, Micheal Weber and Gazzo.

Best sleight of hand artist I ever saw? Persi Diaconis.
Stay tooned.
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Postby IanB » 06/06/03 04:24 AM

Hmmm, I've had three distinct entry points into magic.

The first in the mid-late 70's - seeing a magic programme on TV in the Uk with Messrs Seabrooke & Daniels. Cue dodgy magic sets and eventually (thank god) finding a copy of Harry Lorayne's Magic book in our local small-town library.

But then came girls, beer, etc.

Second was more unexpected and happened in the mid 90's. It was seeing a young finance lecturer tame a baying crowd of "mature" students on an MBA course with some fine close-up work. And the crowd really was baying - two previous lectures from the senior Prof had completely confused them, they were in rebellious overload - but 5 minutes of close-up from the young stand-in had them on his side and willing to calm down enough to learn. (Take a bow Harry Cataquet)

Then came wife, kids, more beer, etc.

Finally, in the late 90's - discovering Meir Yedid's MyMagic site and making my first real magic purchases (for some reason I was drawn to the Kaufman tapes and Shinkoh's twisting arm illusion - perhaps some torture connection?!?)

This time, despite wife, kids & beer I've stuck with it.

Ian
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Postby Guest » 06/06/03 07:59 AM

When I was younger I was involved in an afterschool program designed to keep impressionable youth out of trouble in the big city. My mom was active in it, being both a teacher with the school that sponsored it and a local actress, and so I was active in it as well. It included all manner of activities from year to year, including theatre and on one particular year, magic. I hate to admit that I don't remember the man's name who worked with us kids, and don't really remember much of what we learned.

I do remember being absolutely floored by the 'Shanghai Shackle,' so much so that I put together my pennies and purchased it from Magic Inc. I remember the texture of their catalogs, filled with all this amazing stuff that I couldn't believe existed. I remember my father giving me an Okito and a set of shiny half dollars, and I remember putting on shows for the family get togethers. I remember my parents taking me for dinner at Schulien's a couple of times and being enamored with the stuff I saw there, and I remember seeing Penn and Teller at the Chicago theatre and being knocked dead.

At some point I fell off the wagon, and while I still loved watching magic I hadn't been interested in doing it. It's only recently that I've picked up the cards and coins again and started to give a study. My wife is already quite tired of 'c'mere and watch this,' and 'pick a card.'

-Tim
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Postby Chris Bailey » 06/06/03 08:47 AM

I liked magic as a kid but the only book I had was Duninger's and I didn't have elephants and a stage. I wonder what would have happened if my grandmother would have given me a book on close up then...

Anyway, when I was in my late 20s I was up north visiting my girlfriends grandparents during the holidays. Her grandfather had a book that used to sell in places like Barnes and Nobles. It had one trick each from a bunch of famous magicians. One trick was the salt shaker through the table effect. I was immediately taken in by the use of misdirection. Later in the trip when we were in San Francisco I stumbled onto a magic shop and they sold me Tarbell #1. And that was that. Shortly after I started hanging out at Hollywood Magic in Orange County and became friends with Greg Wilson and a bit later Johnny Ace Palmer.
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Postby Guest » 06/06/03 02:01 PM

My first experience with magic was also at age eight or nine! It was at the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. A sideshow magician made my head disappear! I'll never forget the experience because I was in on the secret. That started it all...
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Postby Jon Elion » 06/06/03 04:11 PM

Originally posted by Dennis Mahoney:
How did you become infected by "The Magic Bug"?
For me, it was junior high school, mid-1960's, and a copy of the Memoirs of Robert-Houdin that did it for me. Read it cover to cover (twice), then proceeded to read every other magic title in the library. A short hop from there to the Saturday jaunts to Tannen's and Reuben's (was it Reuben's back then? I think not...).

It was fun to recently re-read the Robert-Houdin memoirs, and I am now in the middle of Fechner's amazing 2-volume set on Robert-Houdin.

What was old is new again!
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Postby Michael Kamen » 06/06/03 05:42 PM

Originally posted by Jon Elion:
Originally posted by Dennis Mahoney:
[b] How did you become infected by "The Magic Bug"?
For me, it was junior high school, mid-1960's, and a copy of the Memoirs of Robert-Houdin that did it for me. Read it cover to cover (twice), then proceeded to read every other magic title in the library. A short hop from there to the Saturday jaunts to Tannen's and Reuben's (was it Reuben's back then? I think not...).

It was fun to recently re-read the Robert-Houdin memoirs, and I am now in the middle of Fechner's amazing 2-volume set on Robert-Houdin.

What was old is new again! [/b]
Hi Jon,

It was the 42nd Street Cafeteria at that time. I think Tannen's only moved and the old building at 120 W. 42 was only demolished in the late 60's. I was there every Saturday for years. We must have at least crossed paths. Were you an F.A.M.E. member?

Michael
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Postby Jon Elion » 06/06/03 09:39 PM

No, Michael, never a F.A.M.E. member. Maybe we did indeed cross paths. I was the pimply-faced snot-nosed know-it-all kid (hhhmmm... that doesn't narrow it down AT ALL now, does it?!). Glad to report that the face has cleared, the nose has stopped running, and I don't know NEARLY as much as I used to!
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Postby Michael Kamen » 06/07/03 09:41 AM

Yeah I have it narrowed down to a dozen or 6 kids now :) . I was one of the ones with braces that just would not go away, the braces that is. The braces are gone now but my nose still runs. Glad to make your acquaintance again.

Originally posted by Jon Elion:
No, Michael, never a F.A.M.E. member. Maybe we did indeed cross paths. I was the pimply-faced snot-nosed know-it-all kid (hhhmmm... that doesn't narrow it down AT ALL now, does it?!). Glad to report that the face has cleared, the nose has stopped running, and I don't know NEARLY as much as I used to!
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Postby Michael Kamen » 06/07/03 12:52 PM

My dad was into mentalism and could do some good card magic and billiard ball manipulation. He taught me to palm a card and do the classic pass with a miniature pack of cards when I was 5 (I am still working on both). Around the same time I received a Royal Magic Set for my birthday, and from then on was doing magic shows for the other kids in the neighborhood, at school, etc. Dad brought me on a trip to Tannen's for the first time when I was 7, where I went home with an Invisible Deck, my first store-bought trick (at least the first one I did not lift from my dad's collection). I found my Dad's magic stuff which he kept in a couple of cigar boxes, and spirited most of it away for my own use (thumb tip, flash paper, chicago balls, other odds and ends). He had a couple of books that influenced me early on including Anneman's PME, Corinda's 13 Steps, and Hilliards Card Magic (the Torah portion of Greater Magic) whose photos of Cardini knocked me out. Started going to Tannen's nearly every Saturday from about age 9 or 10. Was strongly influenced by a couple of great demonstrators there including John Benzais (whose dismissal from Tannen's and subsequent untimely death shattered me several years later), and later Buddy Caban (a very talented guy whom I have lost touch with completely - he used to share an apartment with Frank Garcia). I recall my dad taking me and a magical friend I went to school with to the S.A.M. annual show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Niel Foster, Senator Crandall, and Milbourne Christopher all performed there. It was a total blast. The intermission was as riveting as the show itself, as most of the audience, magicians, in the plush lobby showed each other their latest close up stuff. Fireballs flew back and forth like seagulls at the beach, and it is a wonder the place did not go up in flames. But it did not, fortunately, and I consider myself quite lucky to have had that experience. Attended the show several years running, but it was never that good again. Probably the theater management put the cabash on the flash paper use (cigarettes took years longer to be banned), but I was too young to appreciate the wisdom of that decision. Got involved in F.A.M.E. (great club) through a good friend Ed Kelley who was a total magic nut and later became a lock smith. Met Jeff Sheridan there (or maybe we met at Tannen's I cannot recall). We became close friends long before he started doing street magic (when he started doing it, NOBODY ELSE IN NYC WAS DOING IT) -- he got the idea from watching street musicians, violinists, saxophonists, etc., and just thought why not -- hard to get work as a magician in those days anyway. When he started doing that, we were in our best friends stage. Jeff's mother by the way is a wonderful woman whose generosity (and Jeff's) in sharing their modest home in The Bronx virtually saved my life at one point, but that is another story. I started drifting away from magic around 1967, year after year becoming less interested in performing although it seems once magic is in your blood that is that in a manner of speaking. Took it up again in the mid 80's for a few years while living in Sydney and dabbled with performing again but rediscovered that I really only liked to do magic for lay people after being begged profoundly and profusely for a long period of time (if I felt like it); also attended a magic convention there, (met Ben Harris which was great fun and probably before he was as well known in the U.S. as he is now -- he was obviously a most dynamic fellow even then). Renewed my interest (that means actively practicing) for the 3rd time barely a year and a half ago. Still not interested in performing but who knows, even that may change.
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Postby John McDonald » 06/07/03 01:09 PM

In the UK every Saturday night for about ten years Paul Daniels had a weekly show. I loved it. I remember watching the Paul Curry classic "Out of this world" that was performed for Churchill during the war in the cabinet bunker in London. Paul told the story and did the trick there. I was hooked, intellectually and emotionally.

Every week, special guests also were shown - truly the greats of magic.

My mum and dad saw my interest and bought me a couple of magic books and a magic set. I learned a couple of sleights and tricks and was hooked.
Best John
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Postby Guest » 06/07/03 02:51 PM

Television plus a live show hooked me...

I saw a short magic show, sort of a teaser, at my school, to try to get us out to an evening show at our local high school. I was seven, about to turn eight in a few days, but I couldn't get anyone else to go to the night show with me. Since we lived only 1 block from the high school, my mother said that they would drop me off and I could walk back home immediately after the show. Hey, small town America was very friendly in 1959, and we rarely even locked doors on the houses!

I remember very little of the show now, except for these three things:

1. running gag: emptying a lota bowl into another bowl between effects
2. the two boxes and wooden rabbits set (is that Hippity Hop Rabbits?)
3. his big finish: vanishing a live pony up in the air above the stage.

I was on the front row, and I saw part of the modus operandi falling into place due to my angle looking upward. On my way home, I figured out the pony vanish, and I was hooked.

I watched Mark Wilson's MAGIC LAND OF ALLAKAZAM every Saturday for 5 years in the early 1960's.

I found FUN WITH MAGIC and MORE FUN WITH MAGIC in the library, and was performing backyard shows the next summer (still 8). I got catalogs from Vic Lawston's HOUSE OF SECRETS, TOP HAT MAGIC in Evanston IL, and MAGIC INC in Chicago, and was off and running. My mother bought me my first bl/wh wand for that summer show; it is 42 years old now and still in use in my kid shows (I think it looks even better now that it has some scars from long usage).

Got my Miracle Ball (a Zombie clone using a styrofoam ball) and a set of 5" Linking Rings when I was a junior in high school in 1968; still have them, too. Found Elliott's BEST IN MAGIC and CLASSIC SECRETS in my public library's adult section, and fell in love with Bowl & Sponges, and by association, with sleight-of-hand, and misdirection. Discovered Dover's magical reprint series in 1969.

Found Hay's AMATEUR MAGICIAN's HANDBOOK in paperback when I was in college in the early '70's, and it strengthened a weakening interest during those hectic university years.

Picked up the occasional book and kept magic as a hobby until about 5 years ago, when I discovered internet magic sites: Conjuror, MagicTalk, and used books on Bibliofind. Then, my interest really soared, as I had "someone" with whom to share my interest for the first time in 40 years as a hobbyist. Genii Forum, Magic Cafe, and Kevin James forum are now parts of my magical life, too. The internet led me to a regular writing gig for Ring 76 way out in San Diego (I live in Tennessee). Michael Ammar was nice enough to invite my writing onto his site (click on TIPS, and scroll down to FAQ for Beginners). Two books of my original material in progress are taking me to the next level.

My thanks go to everyone who has befriended me, and to Mark Wilson, and to that touring magician who sparked my imagination. I am deeply indebted for a lifetime of hobby happiness.

Jon
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Postby Guest » 06/11/03 04:06 PM

The bloody French Drop got me into magic.

My cousin Marco would do this sleight over and over. To an eight year old this WAS magic. Although Marco wasn't a magician, he still refused to expose the "secret". So, I did the go to the library and seek treasure trip and a whole universe opened to me.

Watching the immortal Slydini on the Dick Cavett show sealed my doom forever!!
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Postby Guest » 06/12/03 09:41 AM

Speaking of the French Drop. My grandmother in Oklahoma had a hot pepper plant on her patio and she would take these lil' peppers and she would pop 'em into her mouth and chew and chew then swallow. I, not knowing she was doing a French Drop (she didn't know that it was one) and not really eating them, took a pepper and ate one. That was the hottest and most painful pepper experience I ever had....she then showed me what she did and it was many years later that I learned it was called the French Drop.
Steve V
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Postby Guest » 06/12/03 09:54 AM

Steve,

GREAT anecdote! Thanks for the needed chuckle - albeit at the expense of your tastebuds. Your grandma sounds like she was a wonderful influence.

Regards,
Vlad
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Postby Guest » 06/12/03 05:40 PM

It is the French (Freedom) drop that is about to get me out of magic...I just can't do it right ;) . What got me into magic...a magic camp. It was a 7 day camp, at the very beginning, they gave you 7 marbles which you put in your mouth...each morning you spit one out. At the end of the 7th day you lost all your marbles and became a magician! OK, so it ain't true...but it makes for a better story than how I actually got into magic!

Mike
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Postby Steve V » 06/12/03 11:38 PM

Mike, I like you, you seem like a nice fella. I'm gonna help you with your Freedom Drop. When you are holding the coin or other small object, have your thumb TOWARD your body and your fingers AWAY from your body. Took me awhile to learn that but it really helped me.
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Postby Dennis » 06/13/03 10:17 AM

Come on Mike fess up...
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Postby Guest » 06/14/03 03:35 PM

These stories are fascinating and fun to read! I wish I had gotten started in magic at such a young age as seven or nine.

I actually first becamed interested in magic at the age of 20, it was 1988. I was in Atlanta, GA on a business trip. As I was roaming around a shopping mall which I believe was in a Marriott hotel, I came across this antique-shop-like store.

The crowd was laughing and cheering so my curiosity got the best of me. After making my way through the crowd, I ended up at the front counter with a magician looking at me with that "fresh meat" look on his face. I remember the trick he did on me, Scotch & Soda. When I went to give him the English penny and saw that it turned into an American quarter I freaked!

I instantly purchased it and was taken to a back room for the modus operandi. The next day I went back and purchased a mechanical rising card trick. Those two tricks were put through a lot of mileage once I returned back home!

After a while I lost my props and forgot about magic only to rediscover it in my mid-twenties after my boss did a card trick for me and fooled me badly. That was when I discovered Tannen's Magic Shop over on W. 32nd St. Every red cent I owned went in that shop, mostly gaffed items as I had no idea what sleight of hand was.

Three years later I had lost interest again. In '99 or 2000 I saw Guy Hollingworth perform his Waiving Aces on TV and that was it! I've been bitten for good ever since.

By the way, does anyone know the name of the magic shop in the Marriott hotel in Atlanta, GA?

Roberto
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Postby Guest » 06/14/03 05:40 PM

Roberto, I believe it must have been a Magic Masters location. They specialize in quick sales and high markups, though they do sell well made products, mostly to convention/travel trade... that's where Rocky the Raccoon came from! --Asrah
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Postby Guest » 06/19/03 06:41 PM

Asrah,
Yes you are right! Magic Masters sounds very familiar. I remember this name because of the little color catalog I was given. And yes, I do remember seeing a demonstration of Rocky the Racoon while I was there. Is this place still around? Ah, the memories...

Roberto
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Postby Dennis » 07/10/03 12:11 PM

What? No more takers?
I think it's interesting to see how people got their start.
I'd like to read more stories!
what do you say...
Mr. Kaufman,
Mr. Racherbaumer,
Mr. Maven,
Mr. Close(we know you're out there ;) ),
and anyone else.
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Postby Guest » 07/14/03 08:38 PM

I've only been doing magic since this past November, but here's how it happend.

I had just moved to Chicago from North Carolina. I left seventeen years of memories and people and that left me feeling like I had nothing to focus on, to treat my mind to. So one cold, snowy evening I'm drinking coffee in a Barnes & Noble and browsing the bargain books and I come across "Trick With Cards" for like two bucks. I bought it, took it to a seat in the cafe, ran across the street to a dollar store, bought two decks of cards, came back, sat down and spent the next three hours in absolute heaven.

I had no idea that this secret world could play with my head like this. I was trying whatever sleights the book said to try. I was palming and false cutting with the glee of an eight year-old(I'm 30, how sad is that!).

Four venti caramel machiattos later I was approached by this small herd of college kids. One girl moos, "Show me a card trick." (Don't you just love when they command you to perform!) So I fan it, she picks one, shows her cohorts, I crimp the key card on the bottom, cut her card into the deck and bring it to the top, then do this flippy thing that lands the chosen card on the table. They freak out. I couldn't believe the reaction. I was a three hour old novice, all because BArnes & Noble hasa bargain section and I had two clams. One of the college guys says, "How many years have you had to study this?" and I said, "Well... it's not like you can learn this in an afternoon." Ah, my first moment of magical smugness.

Now, I'm hooked. Granted, I know I'm still the new guy... but they don't need to know that! :)
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Postby Guest » 07/15/03 12:53 AM

I don't remember how I started. I do remember cutting and restoring ropes, making 3 different lenths of rope the same length, grossing my mom out by sticking needles (not really) through my arm etc... I was privilaged to come over for dinner one evening to find my mother watching a videotape of me and my brother. I've no idea where it came from (we never owned a video camera), but there was my brother, aged 5, banging out a tune on a toy organ while he introduced the amazing Mr. Amazing, and out I came, aged 9, and changed one of my dad's old hankerchiefs into a ping pong ball. how embarassing. Wonderfull!

J

I envy you mr. O'brien. The begining is the most magical. Hanging on to that enthusiasm is the real trick.
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Postby Guest » 08/21/03 11:11 AM

This post really brought back memories. Hope you don't mind my story, I will try to keep it short.

I recieved a magic set, I was about 4 or 5 years old, very shy, also to young to be in first grade,lol. Anyway I asked my teacher if I could show the class a magic trick. I performed a trick with a key that came off a string, while being held by assistants, under the cover of a hanky. Of course I read every magic book I could find in the library, and always got a magic set.
But I never really got the bug until I was a teen ager,and I got a mail order catalog from some shop in Deland,FL. anyone remember that shop?
I can still remember the smell of the catalog, then of course came Tannens Catalogs, wow. It was a long time before I discovered Abbotts.
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Postby Guest » 08/24/03 02:21 PM

The nuns (specifically Sister Faith Marie, at the Immaculate Conception School), a grumpy old man in a novelty shop (Art Lyle, long retired Vaudevillian), and the fear that my Mom would give me hell for spending my lunch money of a copy of "Card Tricks" by Howard Thurston (Wehman Brothers paperback, fifty cents at the time)...
The details of those three things coming together to set me on the road to magic are a short essay, and I may someday write it, but the Catholic Church has enough on its' plate right now, without my adding to it!

Best, PSC
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Postby James Nelson » 08/26/03 05:48 AM

At age six, my daughter seen a David Copperfield Special on television and was very determined to learn magic. So of course I started helping her pursue her dream. We started with a Marshall Brodien magic set, then Magic Works, which was about the only local magic available. The following year a magic shop opened in our city. We met a number of magicians who traveled from all around to shop at the store. The one magician who pitched tricks on Saturdays would show me his card work, which was excellent. I began to study card work and his help influenced me greatly. In high school my daughter began working in the shop part time. Early last year the store sadly closed due to tough economic times. I was a late starter. I miss the store and my friends, but my daughter and I continue to study magic.
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Postby Guest » 09/13/03 11:53 AM

How did you become infected by "The Magic Bug"?
During WWII, when I was 4, my mother contracted appendicitis. I was taken to my grandparents house while she was hospitalized and my father gave me a book, "Peter Rabbit The Magician", to help keep me entertained. Each page had a different trick attached to it and they fascinated me, even though I was too young to really understand them. I remember on one page there was a cardboard knife with a two slots in it to hold a cardboard carrot. If you performed a paddle move with the knife you could make the carrot jump from one slot to another. A few years later, at that magic age of 9, I was browsing in the adult section of the public library and discovered Prof. Hoffman's Later Magic and Henry Hay's Amateur Magicians Handbook. That Christmas I received a small paperback of Blackstone's Secrets of Magic. I immediately cut up a sponge and learned to do the "two in the hand, one in the pocket" routine. Later that year (1948) my father took me to see Blackstone Sr. We had seats on the aisle in the third row and I gave Blackstone my handkerchief to make dance! My father volunteered, along with a bunch of other men, to go on stage and tie Blackstone up. As he was tying the knots he asked Blackstone if I could meet him after the show. Blackstone agreed, and after the show I went backstage where a met a much smaller and older person than I expected to see. He was sitting in his undershirt and complaining to my father that this was his last tour and he was only doing it because he had lost all his money in the stock market. I showed him my coin vanish and he signed my program "Col. Harry Blackstone". When we left he told me NOT to become a magician. I followed his advice. But it hasn't kept me from a lifelong love of all things magical. (I recently found a copy of Peter Rabbit The Magician on eBay!)
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/10/03 03:38 AM

For my Mom:

I know that this thread is about what got us into magic, but if I may, I would like to talk about the person who helped keep me in magic; my Mom.

When I was but a wee lad, my Mom worked the late shift and slept during the day. I was too young to be allowed outside while she slept--though occasionally she would wake up long enough to have me run out to the Helms Bakery truck to buy us each a fudge brownie--so, besides Sheriff John and Hobo Kelley on the TV, my company became playing cards. Mom taught me how to shuffle and play solitaire (Klondike). After she would get up, we'd play Crazy Eights or Fish. She taught me Cribbage while I was still in kindergarten (which probably explains why I was so good at math as a kid: nowadays I need a calculator for everything) and I knew the rudimentary rules of draw poker by the time I was eight.

Though exposed at a younger age (I saw a magic show when I was six), my real interest in magic began when I was about nine-years old. My only source material, however, was the handful of books at the local county library (none at my school library) and a Svengali Deck, actually purchased by my older brother but which found its way to me. (By the way, it was blue backed and the gaff was the Jack of Spades. It's amazing, sometimes, the things we can remember.)

Mom had a contact at the Santa Ana (California) City Library and she asked what magic books they had there. It turned out that they had several copies of Magician's Magic by Paul Curry and she could buy a copy at the staggering price of $3. Included in this book (which I still have, though its condition is less than perfect) is "Out of This World." Imagine a 10-year old running around performing one of the greatest card tricks of all time? That was me! Thanks to my Mom.

A few years later, after selling our house, we were living in a hotel bungalow waiting for the delivery of our new home: a 46-foot sailboat. I was one seriously depressed teenager: I had been uprooted from a big house, hometown and friends that I loved. My Mom wasn't 100% crazy about the idea of living on a boat either, but it was my Dad's dream; so she gave up her house, and the life she was used to, for him and his dream. It was the summer of 1974 and I was doing nothing but moping around the hotel. One day Mom came home from work and dropped a small stack of magic catalogs on my bed. "Look through those and see what you might want to get," she said. "We're going to this magic shop on Saturday." Up to that day the only magic shops I'd ever been in were the Disneyland shops (in those days there was one in Snow White's Castle as well as the one on Main Street).

Saturday came and off we went to Bently's Trading Post on 4th Street in Santa Ana. It was a narrow but deep shop. A pawnshop was on one side and the magic shop on the other (the left as you walked in). Bently was a very old man with long white hair and matching beard. He didn't do much; he had a couple of young guys working the counter, but I remember him quite vividly. When one of his employees would ask a question, he would simply give a quick, knowing, usually affirmative nod; winking with both eyes. As I looked around at all the wonders (with my now dog-eared catalogs in hand) I asked my Mom how much I could spend. "Here's the check I made out to the shop," she said handing me the check. "Keep it under that." It was made out to Bently's, dated and signed by my Mom, but otherwise blank. Even a 14 year-old knows what a "blank check" is.

I didn't go completely crazy, I knew we didn't have a money tree, but I spent $163 that day. That was a lot of magic in 1974. A Square Circle, a Lota Bowl, Card Frame, a few books (but not enough, my only regret from that day) and a ton of other stuff: Some of which I still have.

The moping teenager was gone and "Dusty's Magic Show" was taking shape! By the time we moved onto the boat the following October (my Mom, Dad, brother, three cats and me), magic was the only thing that interested me. School certainly held little interest. In my senior year, and because of a less than stellar attendance record, my American Government teacher (who was an admitted socialist) hauled me into a parent teacher conference because, he said, I was in danger of failing a required class for graduation. My Mom--God bless her--told the teacher that I was probably going to be a professional magician anyway and that his version of American Government was not what she (a Democrat) would expect to see taught in a public school and what did his boss think of his curriculum? Amazingly, I received a C in a class I was supposedly going to fail without ever changing my work habits. These included card fans, coin rolls and political arguments with the teacher (by this time I was actually quite interested in politics and was a registered Republican--I turned 18 while still in high school because of my December birth date): acing the final helped, I'm sure.

During those high school years, my Mom would continue to subsidize my habit. I acquired more books through her library contact and had also discovered Genii magazine, MYI (Magical Youths International), Tannens and (once I could drive) Hollywood Magic in Costa Mesa. Every Christmas I could expect a "big" item. Because my birthday fell close to Christmas it was always justified to my brother that it was a "birthday and Christmas combined gift." I still remember opening the box that contained my "Sucker Die Box" (that was the first Christmas on the boat--the same year as the first trip to Bently's); it actually took my breath away I was so excited. Another gift one year was the complete Tarbell Course (my Grandma was in on that one too). Mom paid for my annual subscription to Genii, my dues to MYI and she also paid for my first several conventions: registration, room and money for "stuff." Even as an adult she would "loan" me a little cash (for "stuff" only) when I would head off for a convention and she knew that things were a little fiscally tight in my household.

Most of this was, obviously, nonverbal encouragement, but I appreciated it then and even more so now. A few months ago I reminded her just how much she has meant to me and my magic. I never became a professional, but my wife and I did give her the granddaughter she so desperately wanted (and later a grandson) and I had to support them: she understood that. But I still feel like I owe her. Perhaps there's still time for me to fulfill her dream. However, if it does happen, she will not be there to see it. I lost my Mom last night after a long, courageous battle with lung cancer: A fight she really didn't want to fight. We lost my Dad in 1997 and she was never quite the same; she wanted to be with him, but she fought for us. Even though we told her from the beginning that we would support whatever decision she made, she knew we wanted her to fight. It was yet another selfless act from someone who sacrificed everything for her family and never asked for anything in return; except for maybe a fudge brownie now and again.

Saturday, the last time I saw her awake, I fed her some chocolate pie. She seemed to enjoy it well enough, but I wished it had been a fudge brownie. She loved fudge brownies.

Thanks for everything Mom. I love you,

Dustin
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Postby Frank Yuen » 10/10/03 06:23 AM

What a wonderful tribute, Dustin. I am so sorry for your loss and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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Postby luigimar » 10/10/03 01:14 PM

I agree with Frank about this being a great tribute to your Mom. I feel sorry for your loss and I pray for you, as I do for my Dad, who is also fighting a kidney disease since 1997 and was removed from hemodialisis and back to dialisis a month ago. In 1985 after failing a test to enter college, he encouraged me to find a job while I could try to enter college again, and guess what? The job I found was at a friend's Magic Shop! Small shop but still Magic. I worked there for a year and then they had to close the shop because my friend had to move temporarily to another city and he never opened the shop again.

My Dad is not really into magic, and whenever I do magic for him, he's trying to see how I did it or wants to see the cards or whatever I'm using to find out about the secret. He doesn't tell me but I feel his support in everything I do.

I hope he lives long enough to see my child when he/she is born (my wife is 2 months pregnant, we've lost 3 babies already, but this one has given us no problems at all). And I also hope my baby is a he (he wants a grandson really badly, he already has a granddaughter), and that he likes magic so my father gets to be fooled by yet another magician in the family (of course, I hope the baby likes magic).

And now back to Dustin.

Hey Dustin, why don't you tell us how you would fool your Mom with your Magic? What kind of effects did she like? Did she have a favorite trick she would ask you to perform, no matter how many times she had seen it before? Tell us more about this or other things you remember regarding your Mom and Magic.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/10/03 07:13 PM

Thanks to Frank, Luigimar and everyone who has emailed me on the passing of my Mom: My family and I appreciate it very much.

Answering Luigimars question is easy: Card tricks. My mom loved cards, so card tricks were her thing. (And they say women dont like card tricks; hah!) But it always had to be something new, there were no real favorites; just whatever was new, and then the games would start. Cribbage was her favorite, and, if I may say, she and my brother are the only people who could beat me on a consistent basis: clearly she didnt teach me everything!

Thanks again everyone,

Dustin

PS: Luigimar - Best wishes to you and your family. I pray for the best for you.
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