Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

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Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Magic Newswire » May 13th, 2009, 7:33 pm

I have just received the sad news that Earl Presto Johnson, infamous street magician and a featured part of my interview with Chris Capehart, passed away on April 16th after suffering a heart attack. From Eric, I learned that he had discovered that Presto was laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetary in Hillside, NJ with no marker.

As I get more info on any efforts to collect the funds needed to add such to his grave site, I will pass it along.

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Kevin Connolly » May 13th, 2009, 11:03 pm

Saw this earlier today on the Cafe. What a shame.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Kevin Connolly » May 13th, 2009, 11:06 pm

Please visit my website.

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Paul Amerson » May 14th, 2009, 12:53 am

Dodd:
I have not heard of Presto Johnson, other than what I read on the Cafe page. Why do you call him "infamous?" He seems to be well spoken of.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 14th, 2009, 2:46 am

I was wondering that myself. Im thinking that Dodd misspoke and simply meant that Presto was obscure. He was, without a doubt (based on what Ive been told by those who knew him) one of the greatest magicians that no one ever heard of.

The news of his passing is sad. The fact that his passing was in said obscurity makes it doubly so.

Dustin

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 14th, 2009, 3:34 am

Presto was certainly not "infamous." Google his name on YouTube and watch his version of Paper Balls over the Head and you'll see that he was a master of our craft.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Matthew Field » May 14th, 2009, 7:01 am

It was my great plesure to have seen Presto perform at Hubert's Flea Circus on 42nd Streetin the 60s, at Monday Night Magic in New York, and at a one-day Magic on Manhattan convention. He was superb.

Jamie Swiss cites Earl as an early influence and source of encouragement. He was one of a kind, a man who performed close up and platform magic under the widest possible kinds of conditions, and always entranced his audience.

Farewell to a wonderful performer and sweet man.

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Darryl Harris » May 14th, 2009, 7:13 am

Everett Earl "Presto" Johnson was not only one of the best you never heard of, he was a kind and generous man who took great joy in his work. The one day convention that featured Presto was the first Magic On Manhattan. Presto taught me a version of The Rising Card that was so easy, but the people who watched him perform it jaws dropped.

I am very sad.

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Magic Newswire » May 14th, 2009, 8:04 am

I love the debates that rage over the misuse of infamous. I did indeed mistype. No slight was intended.

Here is some additional info sent to me via Mike Lee:

The Passing of Earl"PRESTO" Johnson, comes as a huge loss to those of us that new him....Earl was a kind & very quiet man who simply LOVED magic , but on Stage He became PRESTO, who had the hands & Humour of the greatest of Artist.

To see PRESTO work was a truly unforgetable experience, from the Stage of Huberts Museum here in NY to working cruise ships to, Resort hotels Presto did it all & for those of us performers like Frank Brents , Bob Baxter Levent and Jeff Mcbride including myself... We would all agree that those who knew PREST0 would have say that with out a doubt his was one of the Funniest and most unforgetable acts ever ....

Masterful Cigarette manipulation.. one of the Funniest balls over the head routines of all time & a Little dog that had to Pee (loto vase) that Simply killed ! ! !
To see Presto walk out on a stage in short pants was something never to be forgotten.

Im not sure it Earl had any family, but believe that the very least we can do for PRESTO is to put together our energies & the force of the power of Numbers & present a production where the proceedss will be used to purchase a headstome for one of magics truly great artist...its the very least we can do .

Earl "Presto" Johnson ... Rest In Peace

Michael Lee

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby MaxNY » May 14th, 2009, 9:35 am

Presto was King of New York. When I saw him perform, my ego was checked. He was an entertainer that knew his audience, and his show was non-stop fun. And, he had balls...I would never have the nerve to do the electric-chair, but he peformed it regularly. Yesterday was a sad day, but he lived another twenty years after his big heart bypass. Rest in peace...Earl.

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby jgottlob » May 14th, 2009, 11:47 am

When I lived in Pittsburgh I would periodically visit NY. I first met Presto when he was demonstrating for Tannen and we became friendly. The last time that I saw him was when he was working for a sideshow not far from Tannen's. There is some of his show on youtube. Needle through balloon and Slydini's napkins over the head that he brought to a new level. Well worth watching.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Kevin Connolly » May 14th, 2009, 11:52 am

When I worked at Tannen's, Presto was there all the time. My feelings are that everyone loved him. He was a special person.

He used travel around with another guy named Mal. I wonder where he is?
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby John Carney » May 14th, 2009, 12:09 pm

I never met Presto, but long ago, Scotty York showed me Presto's "Classic to Classic" coin switch. It is a great tool and I've used it in lots of things, some that I use even today.

Last year, I looked him up on Youtube and saw him perform, and was very impressed with his touches on the paper balls over the head.....and his charming personality.

I regret that we never met.........everyone speaks very highly of him

To think of all the people that he entertained over the years........

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Matthew Field » May 14th, 2009, 12:53 pm

Kevin Connolly wrote: He used travel around with another guy named Mal. I wonder where he is?


Mal Cross?

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 14th, 2009, 1:05 pm

http://malcross.com/

Performed in NYC since way back when - and frequented Tannen's.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Kevin Connolly » May 14th, 2009, 1:40 pm

That's him. Thanks.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby magicusa » May 15th, 2009, 9:11 am

I think you will find that Presto had thousands of people in magic who loved and respected him. He was one of the kindest most gentle people you would ever meet. He was a generous and talented performer whose kind ways were amazing.

When we owned the Magic Towne House for some 20 years in NYC he had an open invitation at the drop of a hat, to sleep over anytime he was in New York and missed the last bus to New Jersey, or needed to sleep over for a club date the next morning. He was the only one who had this honor and happily he took advantage of it many times. He was great fun to be around. Loved people and kids. We used to hang around Tannens and Central park, and we worked with Chris Capehart, Presto, and Lou Lancaster at Tommy Lairds Wonder show on Broadway. He also headlined one of our conventions.

He often said magic saved his life and he would be dead otherwise. He was from the ghetto, and was placed in reform school as a youngster as I recall.

We worked shows with him and Chris Capehart throughout that era. He loved to hang out at Russ Delmars Magic Shop on 8th Avenue. Others who might give you insight are Criss, and Carl Bajor, possibly David Copperfield.

We are in tears over this sad news.

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Houdini Museum
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Magic Newswire » May 16th, 2009, 8:56 pm

I've been recording audio tributes to Presto with people that I know personally.

I'd like for the magic community to have a chance to say something as well... outside the circle of those that I know.

Please feel free to call the following phone number with your comments, stories and remembrances. I'll receive it as an email and will be putting them up on a memorial website for Presto.

You can call 404.492.6026 or ... if you use Skype... my Skype ID is themagicnewswire

Either way, I'll receive your call in a digital format that I can then post online.

Thanks in advance... I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you that knew, met or were influenced by Presto!

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby magicusa » May 21st, 2009, 7:46 am

For a photo of Presto when he was featured in our Hocus Pocus Magazine Vol 1 issue 2 go to
http://houdini.org/Presto1.jpg

Dick Brooks & Dorothy Dietrich

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby magicusa » May 24th, 2009, 11:58 am

More on Presto, the following is an excerpt from another forum

from

Eric Appel
54 New Brunswick Ave.
Hopelawn, NJ 08861-2241

"Checking what type of stone is allowed, the cost factor for the marker will be around 2 thousand dollars...

The John McNicholas Magician's Roundtable (JMMRT) has decided to enter into this fundraiser by providing one of, IF NOT THE LAST VIDEO taken of Presto doing a lecture for them... in February, 2004, this 69 minute video shows Presto doing many of his signature pieces and just having a lot of fun with fellow magicians...

For every donation of $25.00 or more, you will receive a copy of this DVD. Gene Soucek has donated his time, talents, and monies to cover all but the postage for this endeavor...

THIS WILL ONLY LAST UNTIL THE $2,000 IS REACHED!..
DO NOT MISS THIS CHANCE TO HAVE THIS DVD...

first come first served and they have already started to go...
Send a check to me, Eric Appel @ 54 New Brunswick Ave. Hopelawn, NJ 08861-2241.

Once we get the stone and have it set, we will call for a gathering at the cemetery to hold a broken wand that we will try to get something into the Linking Ring, MUM and any other magazine that wishes to cover it.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out either by PM or Email at EGA53@comcast.net"




Additionally, our own Dorothy Dietrich has offered, should fund raising efforts for a marker for Presto fall short, to donate the remaining balance.

Dick Brooks
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Rene Clement » May 24th, 2009, 1:50 pm

Thanks everyone who left such nice remarks and comments on the Youtube videos I put up on Presto a few years back.
I have now gone back in my library and uploaded Presto's cigarette routine which is a classic as well.
I hope those who never knew him or saw him perform will get to appreciate his talent and showmanship.

Here is the link to the Cigarette routine. The video is over 25 years old. It is the complete routine lasting almost ten minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iguzHFI2qpw

Again, Thank you, Rene

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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 24th, 2009, 2:02 pm

Thanks, Rene, that's great. When Presto used to do that up at Tannen's, he'd get sparks and ash shooting out of his mouth in addition to the smoke.
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Re: Broken Wand: Earl Presto Johnson

Postby Magic Newswire » May 24th, 2009, 8:52 pm

BTW... please contact Michael Chaut at Monday Night Magic regarding donations and such. They are working with Eric Appel and are planning an upcoming show to benefit this cause. Just trying to make sure that no one is working at cross purposes.


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