Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Sense of Wonder

I have been doing magic for over 30 years. As time goes by "magic" doesn't make you feel the way it did when you first started in the business. Well, I have to admit I felt a sense of wonder again watching the incredible Danny Cole on YouTube. I don't know Danny, but he seems like a very likable and clever guy. Check out his videos. You will feel a sense of wonder (how he did that!).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Siegfried and Roy - Unforgettable

Last night I pulled out a DVD set I have of Siegfried and Roy. I was fortunate enough to have seen them perform many times at the Mirage. Watching the DVDs made me recall what a truly amazing and spectacular show they had. There wasn't a show that could compare to it and I don't think there ever will be. Siegfried and Roy were master showman and they earned their place in the annals of magic as two of of the greatest magicians - ever.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Siegfried after his show several times. He always took time out for his fans and friends in magic. The men, their magic and their show were truly unforgettable. Thanks for the memories.

My wife and I with Siegfried.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Houdini - The Uncommon Photographs

One of the earliest books I bought as a budding magician was Houdini - A Pictorial Life by Milbourne Christopher (1976). It is a wonderful book filled with photographs of the master mystifier. Recently, the book was reissued in a collectors' edition. It is must-have book for anyone that likes Houdini.

I am always amazed how many Houdini photographs are unpublished and those that are unearthed. I recently came across the website of the New York Public Library. They have many uncommon Houdini photographs I had never seen before in a digital gallery.

Magicians should also type in "Herrmann" and they will find several beautiful photographs of Adelaide Herrmann.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gary Darwin: A Las Vegas Institution

I heard that my friend Gary Darwin is in the hospital. Everyone in Vegas knows Gary. He has helped very magician that has ever passed through Sin City and his generosity is unsurpassed.

For many years he worked at the Riviera Hotel as a doorman. He has crossed paths with everyone from Sinatra to Siegfried & Roy. During his downtime he practiced his sleight of hand and came up with many of his own moves.

I met Gary in the late '90s when I was working on my first book, The Art of Deception. I had to include him in the book because he is a great artist in addition to being a talented and skillful magician. I will never forget one visit when he was bringing me to my hotel at 5AM. Just as he pulled up to the hotel his Dodge Dart broke down. Gary finally made it back home and I had some more memories of a wonderful visit to Gary's magic museum.

Darwin (Gary Lee Meador), the self-proclaimed “King of the Thumb Tip,” was born on September 19, 1935, in Denver, Colorado, Gary began a life of magic at the age of six when his grandfather vanished a cigarette in a thumb tip. By the time he was fourteen he was performing close-up magic semi-professionally.

Gary moved to Las Vegas in 1954, when the magic capital of the world was still in its infancy. Darwin was quick to realize that the city held many opportunities for a capable magician and was one of the first to ever perform there. During the 1960s he performed at some of Las Vegas’ grandest hotels, including the Stardust, the Desert Inn and the Thunderbird.

Darwin is a man of many talents and interests. Besides being an artist and author, he is an inventor of over 550 effects, performer and teacher of magic. He was an early mentor of the celebrated magicienne Melinda.

Gary's easygoing personality and wonderful sense of humor win him friends and admirers wherever he goes. In 1968 he founded “Darwin’s Magic Club.” This informal organization, where amateur and professional magicians get together to exchange secrets and stories, meets weekly. 

Darwin has been an avid collector of magic since the mid-sixties and over the years has amassed a substantial library of over 7,000 books on conjuring and the kindred arts. Gary’s library fills over two rooms of his Las Vegas home. He even has magic in his kitchen sink! Many of these books are autographed by the authors, and comprise one of magicdom’s most unique libraries. Darwin also has a large collection of posters, apparatus, and photos. His collection is unsurpassed. If you don't believe me watch the video clip below featuring Lance Burton.

Get well soon, Gary! You're a one of a kind. I look forward to visiting you again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Everybody has one.

Most people have an uncle, cousin, friend or relative who does a few simple tricks or stunts. "Look there's a coin behind your ear!" We all have probably heard that one before. Some of these men of mystery are bumbling idiots, but a few are very competent and knowledgeable.

I had an Uncle Johnny who ate cigarettes and did card tricks. I had another uncle who pulled sausages (Weller) out of my cousins' pockets and changed the color of handkerchiefs. He even gave my a copy of Scarne's Magic Tricks.

I want to be your "Magic Uncle." I have been performing and absorbing everything about the art of magic for over 30 years. My intention is to use this blog to inform, entertain, share, rant and review MAGIC.

Until next time...

By the way, that's Uncle Harry (Blackstone) in the header above. A bit of advice -- DON'T ever lift a rabbit by it's ears!