Question about Blackstone Jr.

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hugmagic
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Re: Question about Blackstone Jr.

Postby hugmagic » May 13th, 2012, 10:03 pm

Committee was never perform the same way twice. Harry was a maestro at playing an audience and a committee. He knew how and when to use what lines. This is what most guys miss when trying to perform it.

Not only did I see him perform it many times and in many situations, but a couple of times I had to be the "mark". I hated it but you can really learn a lot by watching a master work up close.

One time he was going to perform at Abbott's. He tried to vary his performances from year to year. He nixed doing committee by saying "I just did it two years ago and they just want to steal all the lines". It is interesting to note that the basic outline to the routine was taught to Harry by Ricky Dunn not his father. But Jr. certainly added to it immensely and made it his own.

Yes, Harry had a temper. He was slow to anger but he did have a temper. But he was in absolute control of the stage and the theater. One never doubted that when he performed. I once saw him fight through a show after a big college football game in Cleveland, Ohio. He was fighting the whole way through the big pre Broadway show. He just was not getting the normal reactions because most of the audience had been partying all day. Then he started into the Light Bulb routine. Initially, it was going the same way. Finaly, he went into the house and told a big mouthed guy to stand up "on your hind feet". When he floated that lightbulb off his hand, the applause errupted and never stopped until the final note of the light bulb music. His ovation at the close of the show (note: light bulb was usually next to closing before the circus number) was immense.

He was a master, a friend, and I miss him terribly.

Richard
Richard Hughes
www.hughesmagic.com

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Brian Morton
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Re: Question about Blackstone Jr.

Postby Brian Morton » May 14th, 2012, 9:07 pm

SteveP wrote:But Harry didn't start out with a big show. He didn't have his father's props as those were sold off years earlier. He was working small venues with the cage, the hanky, the committee and maybe the lightbulb. He worked at The Tropicana in Vegas as one of the acts in between the dance numbers.


When I interviewed Harry backstage in '97 for the article I wrote on Denny Haney (Harry talked Denny into joining the Army during the Vietnam war, because he said Denny would qualify for language school like he did and thus be a non-combatant ... which didn't exactly work out that way for Denny), he told me that he originally didn't have the money for a big show, and so did a lot of parlor shows at Playboy Clubs. He got the money to seed a big show ... because Gay won $37,000 at the blackjack tables.

The night I saw him, he was playing three shows in one evening, the last one being a special show entirely in Mandarin because it was Chinese New Year. I saw the second show (what would have been the 'late' show) and I have to say, the two strongest parts of the evening were the Floating Light Bulb, and The Committee. The first was breathtaking, but the second was where he really won the audience over with his byplay. Yes, he was a little sharp-edged at times, but it being a nighttime weekend audience in New Jersey, they ate it up. I remember at one point he actually looked at the audience and said, "You people don't read much, do you?"

Backstage, he couldn't have been more charming, and I admit that after years of dealing with snotty regular showbiz celebrities as a reporter, Harry made me think that not all famous people were jerks.

brian :cool:

David Charvet
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Re: Question about Blackstone Jr.

Postby David Charvet » June 19th, 2012, 1:11 pm

Having known and worked on shows with Harry (before I ever thought I'd be impersonating him), I must say he was a great personality on stage. And has been said here, he did not suffer fools who tried to take over his show or act. The years of working at Playboy Clubs seasoned him to just about any situation and type of spectator. He was IN CHARGE on stage and rightfully so.

The audience is paying to see a performance. It is up to the performer to give them their money's worth. By it's very nature, "magic" rubs some people the wrong way and they take it as a personal challenge to show-up the magician and prove they know how it's done. Add alcohol to that type of spectator and it makes for a volatile mix that can destroy a performance unless confronted with firmness to put that spectator back in their place - the audience. Harry knew how to do this from experience.

The signature pieces of his act depended upon audience participation (The Committee, Birdcage, and Lightbulb.) When you open yourself up to the audience to help make your show a success, you are opening yourself up to thousands of potential outcomes, based on the personality and cooperation of the volunteer. Harry handled kind and supportive volunteers with genuine kindness and aplomb. Those who were bent on showing him up or trying to destroy an effect for the rest of the audience were treated as they should have been. But nothing fazed him.

I remember working with him on a "MagiCruise" on the S.S. Norway back in 1988. Mike Caveney and I were in the balcony watching him go into the introduction for The Committee. The band is playing the walk-up music and two men start to come up the steps to the stage. They were obviously drunk. Harry spotted them and said "Stop the music! ...Just where do you two gentlemen think you're going?" There was a muffled reply "You asked for volunteers." Harry stared at them and said "I wouldn't let you two [censored] on my stage! ... Music, maestro!" The two men slunk back to their seats. Yes, you could have heard a pin drop at that moment, but everyone realized Harry was IN CHARGE. The rest of the act went without incident. He closed with the Lightbulb and got a standing ovation from the mostly lay audience.

As Harry got older, you could see that "edge" soften a bit as he began to embrace his role as one of magic's ambassadors. He was a total PRO who knew he was there to entertain the audience - and did what it took to do that - right up to the end of his life.

hugmagic
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Re: Question about Blackstone Jr.

Postby hugmagic » June 20th, 2012, 9:03 pm

Well said David. Those of us that knew Harry hearing these recollections brings a smile to our faces.

He was a pro's pro.

Richard
Richard Hughes

www.hughesmagic.com

mikehoudin
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Re: Blackstone Jr.

Postby mikehoudin » June 30th, 2012, 5:03 pm

Hello, i have seen the post about the floating bulb done by harry jr. and i had to comment as well since it is, for me, the best piece of magic i have ever seen... I in fact collect samples of harry`s performance of the bulb and i wonder if anyone here would have any...

Regards, Miguel


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