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Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 23rd, 2002, 1:21 pm
by Guest
Thats the one Pete,"It's better than digging roads" is a phrase I use to this day on a regular basis.
You must have seen him do his impressions of a pro magician a semi pro and an amateur magicion on they're visit to the studio ?
You would tell the story better than I

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 23rd, 2002, 4:19 pm
by Pete Biro
The Pro, Semi Pro and Amateur was one of the funniest... I have actually INJURED myself doing it... Will save.

Today (I am running out of stuff... should have made this ONE A WEEK)!!! I will just talk about Finn Jon's visits.

Finn was the master of thread work. He would fill a room with threads and nail you badly.

However, the first time I met Finn was at Ken's and Ken asked Finn to show me "Esoteric."

(Haunted pack effect done on floor in brigh light)... Well, when the cards moved I completely went LIMP and fell over backwards, my knees buckled... and thankfully Ken had that nice soft couch in the studio, otherwise I may have really hurt myself.

Finn was working nearby at Raymond's Revue Bar (a high-class strip joint)... anyway we would go into Raymond's back door into Finn's dressing room.

One of the things he did was collect LOOOONG hair from the strippers... he used it for magic. He also told me how he got a FREE trip for his wife on cruise ships.

He would get booked and told them his wife was in the act. (She wasn't) If she wasn't she didn't get to go... so Finn, who did the greatest floating ball I have ever seen, built a small black plastic box with flashing lights and an antanea attached with a big knob.

He told the cruise director that she, in fact, worked out of sight offstage and used that to control the floating ball.

Now that's a magician! :D :genii: :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 24th, 2002, 12:26 am
by Guest
One of the great things about the magic place was the speed that Ken fulfilled his postal orders,usually with a little note attached. His instruction sheets were beyond compare along with his after sales sheets.
I would look forward to his parcels arriving at the barracks and happily read away,practise like crazy and then nonchantly wait for an opportunity to perform. On one such moment I showed a few guys "Esoteric" and didn't get the eyepopping reaction that I was hoping for.Oh well more practise required I thought.
{Cut forward 20 years}

At an Army Reunion.... one of the guys present asks me if I still do the trick with the cards that crawl out of the pack on the floor ?
He told me that little stunt had him scratching his head for the past twenty years !!

When Ken & Frank closed the studio we would retire to whatever pub for a couple of beers and I was always impressed by the people who would call out "Hi" to Ken, shopkeepers,market traders, news vendors & even the roadsweeper got a friendly greeting.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 24th, 2002, 1:43 am
by Q. Kumber
Martin wrote:
"When Ken & Frank closed the studio we would retire to whatever pub for a couple of beers and I was always impressed by the people who would call out "Hi" to Ken, shopkeepers,market traders, news vendors & even the roadsweeper got a friendly greeting."

In his lecture Ken did a funny stumble with an umbrella. He said he used do it every day in the train station. One day, the news vendor called Ken over and said that every morning he looked forward to coming to work, just to see Ken stumble. It made his day.

What a wonderful legacy Ken has left us, particularly the bringing enjoyment to others who have no way of repaying.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 24th, 2002, 1:36 pm
by Guest
Mr Biro mentioned the famous strip club Raymond's Revuebar here.

A little off topic, I suppose but it is not generally known that the famous ownerPaul Raymond started out as a mentalist.

He did want to become impoverished so decided to become a millionaire strip club owner instead.

There is still hope for members of the PEA yet.

Mark Lewis

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 24th, 2002, 8:21 pm
by Pete Biro
Quentin, are you the bloke that Billy is always talking to use about?

What's your take on Ken vs. Billy on the Sucker Silk? :confused:

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 24th, 2002, 9:26 pm
by Paul Green
Hi everyone,

Pete asked me to include some of my favorite Ken Brooke stories. So lets begin at the beginning.

I first became acquainted with Ken Brooke through his advertisements in Genii magazine. The first thing I ever purchased from him was the Nemo Card Rise. I sent off my check (including a few more dollars due to charges for converting American funds and airmail postage). Two weeks later, I received the famous blue aerogram from Ken thanking me for the order. It wasnt just a line or two; it was a fully written letter. Not only did it thank me, but it also included some insight on the trick that I had purchased. It was the first of many letters that crossed the Atlantic.

Two days later, the package arrived. I carefully opened (tore) the package open, saving the stamps for my father. Page after page of instructions. I had never seen such detail. Stand this way; . . . place your hand on the spectators shoulder It took me 3 days just to digest the written text.

For those that purchased the Nemo Rise, you know what happened next. I took out the practice envelope and starting playing with the props. Ken suggested that props be played with over a bed. This allowed the performer to become comfortable handling the props without fear of damaging them if dropped.

I then found a small can (coffee, I think) and began the process of dying the thread. Needless to say, I got purple dye all over myself and the thread. Finished with this task, I began the journey towards performing this great bit of Magic. I rehearsed for days and months. I never felt comfortable, but I continued. I loved the way the envelope rose from the houlette, stopped, and then opened as the final selection rose to an unearthly height. It looked so cool (as I pulled the thread myself)!

I must be honestI never performed the trick for an audience. My buddy, Pete, thinks I am crazy. Was I disappointed? Just a little. What I did gain from this first transaction was the knowledge that I would always learn something from Ken Brooke. I may not use an item, but I will learn something that I can use in another way. Ken Brooke taught me more about Magic than almost anyone I have ever known. I think of Ken every time I perform. I look forward to the time when I will be able to thank him for giving me the performers edge.


Paul Green

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 25th, 2002, 1:39 am
by Q. Kumber
Hi Pete,
I suppose I must be the Quentin that Billy McComb talks about.

I don't know all the details of the "Colour Changing Silk" story, As far as I can remember from what Ken said he had the rights to the Waterman routine and Jack LeDair had the Music Hall rights to that routine.

I know Ken wasn't happy about Billy's routine. I'm not sure why as in Billy's routine the silk finishes half dyed. Plus, as far as I know the Waterman routine was a dealer item.

Harry Stanley wrote for the Magigram in the 1980's and contributed some very interesting articles on his life in showbusiness. Some of these concerned Ken. At the time I was taken aback by Harry's bluntness in talking about Ken. It wasn't all complimentary. I no longer have my Magigrams so I can't direct you to which issues.

There was also some controversy when Supreme Magic (Edwin) published the Ken Brooke Book. Edwin had bought all the rights to Harry Stanley's publications including the GEN magazine. He compiled all of Ken's writings from the time he worked for Stanley and put them in the book, which he was perfectly entitled to do. However Ken wasn't consulted and this led to some bad feeling, voiced by Paul Stone in Abra.

Edwin, like Ken was one of magic's great salesmen and British conventions have never been the same without them.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 25th, 2002, 12:38 pm
by Pete Biro
Green: I thougth you had the cayonnes to do the Nemo rise... tsk tsk... I remember doing it at the Christmas party for billionaire (he wasn't quite a billionare then) Roger Penske.

I had a corporate dude he did biz with hold the deck and he nearly had to have a trip to the LAUNDRY when that envelope rose with the card coming up and out of it.

Dig it out and do it... you will fry the folks.


Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 25th, 2002, 12:39 pm
by Pete Biro
Oh, instead of purple dye... just get a purple marking pen and do four inch sections to camo the thread.

Speaking of "camo"... my fave Steven Wright joke: "I went to a party where everyone wore camo outfits... didn't see anyone." :D :D :D :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 25th, 2002, 12:58 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Considering how influential in the lives of magicians a good magic dealer/demonstrator can be, I think all of us would have loved to have seen Ken Brooke in his prime!

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 25th, 2002, 1:37 pm
by Q. Kumber
I have never seen nor heard Steven Wright, but I understand he is the nephew of the late Chic Murray, a famous comedian in Scotland and a major inspiration of Billy Connolly.

I also understand Steven inherited Chic's material.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 25th, 2002, 9:43 pm
by Guest

I've never heard of Chic Murray, but checking out some of his material, the two comedians do share a love of non sequitur and malapropism.

A great deal of Wright's genius derives from his physical shtick, which is a schumbeling, incessant pacing as if talking to himself, and a deadpan, brain dead delivery.

I've never heard that Wright "inherited" Murray's material; is this something you "heard," or does it have any basis in fact?

--Randy Campbell

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 26th, 2002, 1:21 am
by Q. Kumber
Hi Randy,
Paul Daniels told me the first time he heard Steven Wright he realised he was doing some of Chic Murray's material. He mentioned this to someone who told him that Wright was Murray's nephew and had inherited it.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 26th, 2002, 11:39 am
by Pete Biro
The Pro, the Semi Pro and the Amateur... as seen at Ken Brooke's Magic Place... some time ago...

(I only wish we had video of Ken, as the cold type on your screen will not come anywhere near close to do this routine justice).

Altho it was Ken that we saw do this, he told me that the idea came to him from Charlie Miller.

Anyway, ARF... (oooops slipped into a Seabrooke-ism)...

Anyway... Ken would tell his gathered mates (customes) about how a Pro, a Semi Pro and an Amateur magician come into a magic shop.

"I'll show you," he would say, "First, the Pro."

Ken would go out the door and WAIT... 20-30 seconds (which if you start to count is a long time)... suddenly the door would open very slowly, he (as the Pro) would peer in just through the narrowest the door would open, look back and forth to see who was there... then move back out and shut the door. Not coming it at all.

Ken would then open the door and say, "Now the Semi-Pro."

He would wait.... wait... then all of a sudden the door would burst open and he would charge in all smiles, Mr. Happy... and in a loud voice, "Is Genii Magazine here yet... MY PICTURE'S ON THE COVER."

The Amateur.

Ken would again go out... the usual wait.

Suddenly the door would BURST OPEN... Ken would fly into the room leap toward the demonstration counter, money in both hands, he would fall and the money would fly all over the room and he would say...

"WHAT'S NEW?????????????"

:D :p :D :p :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 28th, 2002, 2:20 pm
by Paul Green
Hi Guys,

Another story from my Ken Brooke file:

One of the unique features of doing business with Ken Brookes Magic Place was his money-back guarantee. If your werent satisfied with any purchased item, you could return it for a full refund.

I purchased a trick called Hup-a-Bit. I think it was the creation of Roy Johnson and Ken. It only cost a few bucks. When I received it, it consisted of a Ball and Tube set, a hand (joy) buzzer, and a single page of instructions. These were items I had already in my case. I had expected more--not the kind of thing I was used to when dealing with Ken. To be honest, I felt very disappointed and decided to return the stuff to Ken. The money I had spent was quickly refunded.

A few weeks later, I was doing a gig and I was preparing to get started. I saw my ball & tube and the joy buzzer. I put them into my pocket and began to perform. Later that evening, I pulled the ball & tube set out and performed the Hub-a-Bit routine. The next day, I sent Ken an apology and the money back! The routine was just fantastic!

I learned a great lesson. Never doubt Ken Brooke. Everything I ever bought from him has been used in my professional performance career. I owe Ken for much of my success.

Respectful regards,


Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 28th, 2002, 2:52 pm
by Joe M. Turner
Originally posted by Paul Green:
Everything I ever bought from him has been used in my professional performance career.
Nemo Card Rise?


Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: December 29th, 2002, 11:40 am
by Guest
I remember on one occasion when Ken came striding out of the back room with a package held up and said,
"Who'll give me a pound for this?" I said,
"I'll have it."
He then took my 1.00, give me the package and said
"Don't open it in front of them,wait until they've all gone home"
I had bought a toy combination safe type lock and in the pub that night Ken gave me a masterclass on using it stuck to the front of my wallet.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 6th, 2003, 11:09 am
by Pete Biro
Don't know if he got it from Ken, but Don Alan used the combination dial on his card to wallet.

He "might" have given it to Ken... anyway, I've used it for years. :rolleyes:

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 8th, 2003, 10:15 am
by John McDonald
Thanks Martin,

I'll try and get a copy of those Pat page tapes.

All the best

John :)

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 8th, 2003, 1:36 pm
by Guest
In 1974, I was busking in Europe, and when I got to London I had a lot of trouble working. The police stopped me every time I set up, whether in Hyde Park, Penny Lane, or any other place I could think to try.

The constable in Hyde Park told me it was an "offense to the Queen" for me to perform in Hyde Park, which I thought was unfair considering that she hadn't even seen the act.

At a visit to Ken's shop, Ken was very gracious and warm. When I told him about my problem, he talked for a long time about busking and buskers and came up with a solution for my difficulty. He said that the only people who were allowed to busk on the streets were disabled vets, and that I should find another performer who was a disabled vet and hook up with him. I could pretend to be his son or something.

At any rate, Ken could not have been more friendly or generous, and his encouragement meant more than anything else.

Later I met Johnny Magoo, an incredible Irishman, who worked as a one-man band in Penny Lane. We became friends and made a lot of money working together on the streets and at the races. As Ken suggested, Johnny would start out the show and draw a crowd with his wacky but well played drums, flute, accordian, horn, bells, triangle, etc., and then he would introduce me as his "son."

I would do my magic act, and then Johnny would pass the hat. Johnny was a great guy, and a class act. He had his own record that he would sell or give away, and his performance had been captured on a street scene in the opening sequence of a Peter Sellers movie.

The money that I made working with Johnny saved my girlfriend and me from serious financial distress, and it was all because of Ken's help and concern.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 9th, 2003, 12:15 pm
by Pete Biro
Whit: You could have had a foot cut off and made more money!!! :D No one to split the take with!!! :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 10th, 2003, 10:56 am
by Guest
First find another one legged guy leg with the same shoe size.
PS Make sure you don't chop off the wrong foot ;)

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 10th, 2003, 4:18 pm
by Pete Biro
Over 2 years ago I had surgery to my right hand. Last February I went in to have the same surgery (a contracture that caused my 3rd finger to curl in and stay there!) on my left hand.

In "pre-op" the nurse said, "Ok, let's get your RIGHT HAND ready."

I said, "NO NO NO... the left hand." She showed me the instructions and it said "right hand."

So, on the operating table, when the Dr. came in (I was still awake) I put my right hand under me and told here, "The LEFT, the LEFT... RIGHT?"

She said, "I know, I did the other one already."

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 11th, 2003, 5:41 am
by Guest
Instead of using the anatomical position perhaps the medico's could use Port and Starboard !!

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 11th, 2003, 6:10 am
by John McDonald
Is that your port or my port? :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 12th, 2003, 8:15 am
by Guest
Another gag Ken "gave" to me was the waterfall shuffle with Niagara finesse.
He came out of his back room doing a waterfall shuffle and told me of the bridge that linked Canada with the USofA.
As he shuffled the cards face out he said,"This is the view you get from Canada,"then shuffling the cards with the backs facing me,"and this is the view you get from America.But the best view is standing over the exact borderline,with one foot in Canada and one foot in America.....then it looks like this......."
By this time all of the cards were in his left hand and on the tag line the deck of cards started to waterfall upwards into his waiting right hand !!

I used that gag for years

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 12th, 2003, 8:30 am
by Guest
Nice to be on the same thread as you Whit.

Walking through Soho with Ken one evening we came across a monte gang working.
Ken advised me to keep walking and gave me the run down on the operation.
Also at his suggestion I started to carry my wallet in my front trouser pocket.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 12th, 2003, 8:42 am
by Guest
Originally posted by Pete Biro:

Speaking of "camo"... my fave Steven Wright joke: "I went to a party where everyone wore camo outfits... didn't see anyone." :D :D :D :D
I once saw some "camo" condoms with the tag line...
"Don't let 'em see you coming" ;)

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 12th, 2003, 8:36 pm
by Guest
I never got to meet Ken Brooke or see him perform but I trusted his judgement implicitly after buying and performing one effect. Here is why...

I worked as a demonstrator for Howard Hale at Magicland in Dallas Texas. This was when I was putting my self through school so money was tight. I only worked on saturdays so it took a long time to save up money. But when I had enough I bought a set of "Multiplying martini" bottles.

Howard had them for a long time in his shop and I thought they would be something different to perform since I had never seen anyone else do them.

Well, I put them into my show and I used them as I beleive Mr. Brooke did as my closer.
They always went over great and from that time forward I tried to find everything I could by and about Mr. Brooke. I'm still trying to track down all of the Ken Brooke series-that is the comb bound books that included one or two effects as well as anecdotes and gags from Mr. Brooke and his friends. The Anthony Brahms book was wonderful as it includes many of the items I had heard of but didn't know much about.

Coincidentaly, I should soon come into posession of a "Nemo Card Rise" --Let's hope I have the (ahem) :D cajones to go a step further than Mr. Green and perform it for the masses. (BTW I love the Jeporday trick on "In the trenches")

Pete Mills

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 14th, 2003, 5:56 am
by Guest
If you get the chance, fish out the April 1983 Genii from your collection. Pete Biro's excellent "The Reel Works" column contains some great Ken Brooke material.

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 14th, 2003, 5:47 pm
by BrendanK
I believe Stevens Magic still sells the comb bound booklets. I certainly obtainedNumbers 1,5,7,9,10 last year.

The Magic box
Dancing, floating cork
Finn John Zombie
Ring and stick
Beam shot

Gems, one and all!

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 15th, 2003, 11:42 am
by Paul Green
Hi everyone;

Here is another story from my Ken Brooke File:

When my wife and I planned our first trip to England, I decided to set some priorities: Meeting Ken Brooke, face-to-face, was one of the top 3. You can read about my trip to Stonehenge in issue #49, of The Magic Menu.

We arrived in England and after recovering from jet lag, we prepared to find Ken Brookes Magic Place. I had the address burned into my headafter all; I had corresponded for years with Ken. 45 Wardour Street, near SoHo. We located the street on our walking map and started off on our adventure.

We trudged up the stairs and entered a small display room. A big, burly Englishman greeted us. His first question was Where are you from? He disappeared into the back room and returned after putting his suit jacket on. He asked us to have a seat on a small couch and then disappeared out the front door only to return moments later with a tray filled with a teapot and cups. Over our tea, Ken and I became even closer friends as we discussed not only Magic but also things centered around our first trip to England.

He told us that we must see the changing of the guards. He was so excited about describing the pomp of the event that I think he would have gone every day himself. He loved England!

I asked him about fish and chip restaurants and specifically about the Kosher chippies. He looked at me and asked, Are you a Yiddisha boy? This was sort of a strange question. Ken told us that as a younger man, he was a Schneider. For those of you that are not Jewish, a Schneider is a tailor. Ken had worked in the garment trade as a tailor. He worked with loads of Jewish people and had vast knowledge of the religion and culture.

When I answered yes, Ken stood up and stated he was going to take us to the best salt beef bar in London. We asked what salt beef was and found that it was corned beef. Ken closed the shop down and took us to Carrolls. For those of us that have grown up eating at Jewish delicatessens, the concept of the corned beef sandwich is one where the meat is thinly sliced and piled high. At Carrolls, we found the English equivalent.

Entering the restaurant, we smelled the familiar scent of corned beef, but that was about all. At Carrolls, they served a sandwich on a kind of white bread, spread with salad cream (closely akin to Miracle Whip), and two stringy and stingy pieces of corned beef. This was the best salt beef bar in London? Ken ordered a latke (potato pancake) for himself. Now for those of us that eat latkesthere is nothing better than the crisply browned treat that is snowy-white inside. A little sour cream and applesaucethe food of the Gods. Ken wanted his underdone! It came to the table swimming in grease and a pasty tan color. He ate it with such relish. My wife and I just sat there staring. They do say that travel broadens the soul. Our tastebuds took a few days to recover.

I loved Ken. He helped to make me a better magician. I just never let him choose the place we would eat!

:D :D :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 16th, 2003, 5:48 pm
by Pete Biro
Just in from WMS in Las Vegas, where Al Cohen was the "honoree."

Al related his first visit to Ken Brooke's.

He says, "I was in the studio and this woman comes in saying, 'I'm not a magician, my husband is and he wants me to buy some tricks. Do you have xxxx?" Ken said, "Yes it's 10 Pounds." The woman said, "My husband said it was 7 Pounds." Ken threw it in the dustbin. (trash can).

Then she asked for another trick and when Ken told her the price she quoted a lower price. Ken tossed that one out.

This repeated two or three more times.

Finally Ken said, "Tell you husband to come in."

"He can't," she said, he's in South Africa."

"Well then GET OUT OF HERE." Ken said. :p

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 16th, 2003, 5:49 pm
by Pete Biro
Mr. Green... :rolleyes: Not being a "Yiddisha boy" I thought the Salt Beef was terrific! :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 16th, 2003, 10:26 pm
by Paul Green
Mr. Biro :D ,

Please allow me to take you to Cantor's on Fairfax or Brent's in Northridge. I can guarantee you that your experience will be "topped".


Mr. Green :D :D :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 17th, 2003, 9:37 am
by Pete Biro
Those two places are junk, compared to the Yiddisher joint on Alvarado street I went to last week... :D :D :D

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 18th, 2003, 11:24 am
by Paul Green
So lunch will be on you!

;) ;) ;)

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 18th, 2003, 9:37 pm
by Pete Biro
If I can find the place... :p Order one Pastrami and one "salt beef" and we split 'em. The pickles are goooooooooooooooood toooooooooooooooo. :p

Re: Ken Brooke

Posted: January 19th, 2003, 10:53 am
by Anthony Brahams
Great to read the postings on Ken Brooke-particularly thank you to Pete B (Hello Pete!).

For those who do not know, there's much that would be of interest in the book I compiled and produced,"Ken Brooke's Magic Place" and this is not a commercial because I have no financial interest. It was published by L&L