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Joe Stuthard radio interview

Posted: August 27th, 2018, 10:23 pm
by Kent Blackmore
This 24-minute interview with Canadian-born magician and pitch man, Joe Stuthard, comes from an audio cassette out of the Steve Walker estate. There is no detail regarding the interviewer or date, but judging by the "identification" introduction it was clearly a professional recording, probably for Australian radio, and the references to clubs implies a 1970s era. Having lived in Australia for many years, Joe died in 1992.

Re: Joe Stuthard radio interview

Posted: August 27th, 2018, 10:51 pm
by performer
Thank you for posting this. It means a lot to me. I saw Joe Stuthard work when I was 14 years old. He was incredibly good and I have written a fair bit about him in my svengali book.

Re: Joe Stuthard radio interview

Posted: August 27th, 2018, 11:27 pm
by performer
I listened to the whole thing. First time I have heard his voice for decades. He sounded a lot more softly spoken than when I met him but that was probably because he was much older when the recording was made. He had quite an impact on me. Here is what I wrote about him in "The Lives of a Showman"

However, one exception was a fellow named Joe Stuthard. He was a very fine magician indeed. He was a Canadian who sold these decks all over the world. I shall relate now how I first came across both Stuthard and the Svengali deck.

My first contact with the deck was when I was about thirteen years old. No, I hadn’t bought a deck from a pitchman or a magic shop. I simply came across an abandoned one. It was lying all alone on the ground in a public park. How it got there I’ll never know and where it is now I will also never know. I picked it up and couldn’t understand why there were so many nine of clubs in the deck. And then I fooled myself! I flipped the cards one way and couldn’t see any nine of clubs! I couldn’t understand it and spread through the cards face upwards. I counted twenty-four nine of clubs. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t show up when I flipped the end of the deck! And then I got another shock. When I flipped the deck the other way all I saw were nine of clubs! No other cards at all, just the nine of clubs! I remember playing with the cards for an hour trying to figure it out. I eventually gave up, and only much later did I discover that the nines were shorter than the other cards and that is what made the trick work.

A year later I went on a school trip to the Schoolboys and Girls Exhibition. This was sponsored by the Daily Mail newspaper and took place at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London. There must have been more than a hundred different booths displaying and selling all sorts of items that would be of interest to younger people.

I was interested in magic at the time; in fact I had just started learning it. I was also interested in languages. I distinctly remember carrying a book on Esperanto (of all things) around the exhibition. I gave up the study of Esperanto, but I regret to say that I am still doing magic over fifty years later.

One of the first displays that caught my eye was a fairly large booth set up by the Thomas De La Rue playing card company. There was a magician there surrounded by a crowd. He was doing card tricks with a regular deck, presumably a Thomas De La Rue deck. I remember thinking, in my youthful arrogance, that he wasn’t very good. On reflection, I think he was better than I gave him credit for at the time. Afterwards, I showed him a card trick of my own, and he humoured me with some complimentary remark. He probably thought, “What an awful little brat.” To this day I do not know who the magician was. If he is still alive I just hope he doesn’t read this.

I continued wandering through the exhibition, turned a corner and lo and behold, there was another magician! There was a big sign saying, “JOE STUTHARD-THE CANADIAN FUNATIC.” He had a clock sign with movable hands and another sign saying, “next demonstration at……” He had a very large crowd around him and he was in the middle of a demonstration. And what a demonstration it was! He was absolutely superb. I was stunned watching him and I remember thinking, “I want to be as good as that!” He did the magic mouse trick and it was absolutely unbelievable. It scurried across his hands, and in and out of a glass. I could have sworn it was alive. Then he demonstrated the Svengali deck. It was the greatest performance of card tricks I have ever seen. I have seen many magicians perform card tricks since, including the greatest names in magic, but I have never seen anything to equal what I saw as a fourteen year old kid, standing in a crowd at an exhibition watching a pitchman performing with a trick deck. For two hours I was enthralled.

When there was a lull in the crowd, I plucked up the courage to speak to this (to my mind) master magician. I certainly wasn’t going to go up to him, announce that I too was a magician, and offer to show him a trick like I did to the poor Thomas De La Rue man. Still, I desperately wanted the great Joe Stuthard to know that I was a conjurer. I was too shy to tell him directly so I tried to be subtle. “Do you sell fanning powder?” I asked. This is a special powder that magicians use to make a deck of cards slippery and easier to manipulate. Of course, I knew full well that he didn’t sell the stuff but I wanted him to know that I was a fellow magician. He smiled and said, “No, we only sell the mouse and the cards.” I said, “OK” and walked away having made my point.

I never did buy anything that day, but I knew I had seen a great magician. I never dreamed when I saw him that I would be selling at exhibitions, stores etc; for over forty years.

I wanted to be like Joe Stuthard. I never realised at the time how much I would get my wish.

Re: Joe Stuthard radio interview

Posted: August 27th, 2018, 11:51 pm
by Kent Blackmore
I thought you would enjoy it! I have happy childhood memories of seeing Joe present his classic routines at "Coles" supermarket in the center of Sydney; met him and Mary a few times in Delarno's magic shop.

Re: Joe Stuthard radio interview

Posted: August 28th, 2018, 8:04 am
by performer
He was truly a great magician. I have always thought it was a shame that he is not better known among magicians. Mahdi Gilbert had never even heard of him in this interview:
I talk about him at around the 4.23 mark.

Re: Joe Stuthard radio interview

Posted: September 5th, 2018, 11:26 pm
by performer
I have listened to it again. It has lessons for me that it would not have for anyone else. I wish I had heard it 50 years ago. It would have altered my approach. Too late now of course.

All I really know about Stuthard are things a couple of grafters told me about him. One was by an old timer who used to be a magician. He told me "Magicians will buy anything. If you were to sell gold plated thumb tips they would buy them simply because they were gold plated"!
Cynical remark but true. However, he also told me about Stuthard whom he once knew. This is the gist of what he said.
"Joe had a hilarious act for the variety stage using stooges. A sort of pickpocket thing. However when he went on to night clubs he tried to do a silent sophisticated manipulative act as he felt it was more suitable for the venue but it never took off so he went on to grafting. (pitching),

I also once met a grafter who worked pens. I still remember his spiel when he announced his special offer, "I don't do this because I love or like you. In fact I don't even know you. However, for the first 6 customers that raise their hands in the air or give me a sign that they want one I am authorised by my company......................"

He drove me to London one day after an exhibition up north and told me he had known and worked with Joe Stuthard one Christmas season in a department store. He told me he saw Stuthard sell 40 decks in one demonstration. I didn't believe him and in fact I still don't. The most I have ever sold in one demonstration is a mere 15. I asked him how he knew. He said, "I counted them as he was selling them!"

If this is true I find it incredible. Still, I saw him work and if anyone could do it he could.