Monthly Archives: November 2010

HOUDINI, HE WASN’T!

In the early years of Perfect Magic, when we had our shop in the basement of our home on Kent, we had a lot of escape effects on hand. Hand Shackles, Foot Shackles, Neck To Hand Shackles, Handcuffs, Thumbcuffs, Strait Jackets, all kinds of interesting stuff. Zanadu stuff, I think.

The escapes were on the wall opposite the counter on which the cash register sat and where we usually were when there were customers present. We kept the keys to the locks and escapes in the cash register.

One day, back then (1977), Hank Morehouse,  (See photos below), called and said he heard we were opening a magic shop and he would come to Montreal to do a lecture for us if we wanted. We thought it would be a great opportunity to get the magic community together and accepted the offer and rented a lecture room in one of the Montreal hotels and had a terrific time.

The only thing was that we were open on Saturdays then and couldn’t get word out to everyone that we would be closed. My eldest daughter who was about 18 at the time said she would stay in the store while we were at the lecture. Problem solved.

But another problem surfaced. While she was minding the store a customer came in and was interested in the escapes. His back was to her but she could see him handling the different items and she noticed he was there for an unusually long time.

Can I help you? She asked.

He turned he head around but kept his back to her (one of those magic tricks, I guess) and said he tried on something but he couldn’t get out of it.

Oh, don’t worry about that. Come here. We have the keys. He turned around sheepishly with his hands locked together and my daughter opened the cash register for the key. Only there were no keys. There were no cell phones then either and she didn’t know where the lecture was taking place.

She searched high and low, while the poor fellow sweated and finally she found the keys and everyone lived happily ever after. I don’t even remember who it was. If you’re the one…fess up! We’d love to hear your side of it!

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Filed under Hank Moorehouse, Ronna Matlin McKinnon

My First Trick

MY FIRST TRICK

In 1948 when I was 8 years old my father went to New York to visit a friend of his who lived in Long Island. They did some sight-seeing and managed to go to Tannen’s although neither one of them were magicians. I think my father must have said, “What can I bring home for the kids?” and his friend must have suggested magic tricks.

I had never seen a magic trick before. Unlike many kids today, who have the opportunity to see magicians at birthday parties or see them on TV, I don’t even remember having birthday parties and TV had not yet come to Canada.

So when my father performed Nickles to Dimes, it was a big deal! I remember banging that bang ring on the kitchen floor and doing the trick over and over. Go know!

What was your first trick?  How old were you?

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Filed under Evelyn Matlin, Tannen's

Magic Should Be Entertaining

Jean Boucher

Jean Boucher came into the shop a little while ago to stock up on supplies. I found it fascinating to learn that Alan Greenberg got hooked on magic by watching the movie Houdini when he was a kid. When I saw Jean and his beautiful daughter, Alyson,  come into the shop, I wondered what got him hooked. This is his story and he’s sticking to it. Jean was about 9 when he saw a Zombie performed on TV on a circus show. He was awe-struck. When he got a magic kit as a present he threw out the thumb tip as it was too big and he didn’t know what it was for.

He bought a book on Houdini and found a book on back palming in the library

His interest waned during the years but he started playing cards at CEGEP (Quebec’s post secondary school) as he had a 3 hour break without classes. He suddenly remembered his card book and thought he could learn second deals, etc. to “help him win” at cards. He went to the yellow pages and found Le Grand Marcis, who had a little shop on Bienville. He saw all these magic tricks but he didn’t want that, he wanted to learn sleight of hand card magic so he could cheat.

Wim Vermeys, Marcis, and Phil - Magie Montreal

Marcis sold him Derek Dingle’s book on card sleights. The book of course was in English and is not a beginner book to say the least.  Furthermore Jean couldn’t speak English at that time, but he managed. He learned sleight of hand and became interested in magic again.

He didn’t know other magicians but when he attended a magic auction at Marcis’ he saw many people there and they all seemed to know each other but they didn’t know him.

Mac King, Jean Boucher,David Williamson, and Carl Cloutier

What are you doing here? They asked him. He shrugged his shoulders. He came for the auction. Someone gave him a deck of cards and told him to do something; so he did a trick for them. Their jaws dropped open. Where did you learn that? They asked. He pointed to a black book behind the counter. A book?

Jean craved books. He never told me if he cheated at cards or not but he mastered hundreds of card tricks.

Michael Ammar

Then one day he met Michael Ammar who told him he only needed 10 tricks to earn a living. Ten tricks! It blew him away. It was then that he learned about the tricks having to be entertaining.

Since then Jean has been working for 15 years on cruise ships doing 25 cruises a year. Besides this he performs in Casinos, for corporations, etc. He carries a small bag. He’s big on books and entertainment.

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Filed under Alan Greenberg, Books, Carl Cloutier, David Williamson, Mac King, Magic, Magie Montreal, Marcis, Phil Matlin, Wim Vermeys

Magicians here, magicians there, magicians, they are everywhere!

Last Saturday we were invited to our Rabbi’s son’s Bar Mitzvah. Our Rabbi used to live across the street from us so we have known the Bar Mitzvah boy since he was born. For those who are unfamiliar with Jewish customs, when a boy turns 13 he is called up to read from the Torah and officially becomes a man and accepts the responsibilities for his actions, good and bad. All his relatives and friends are there and being the Rabbi’s son it was a special Bar Mitzvah.

After the Saturday morning services there was a sit down luncheon, a beautiful setting and a delicious meal. There were over 600 guests. There were 9 people at our table. One couple we knew from the synagogue. Another couple used to live behind us, our back yards met, over 30 years ago. The wife’s sister was there with her husband and a friend. We chatted away. At one point the sister of my former neighbor said to me,

“I’m trying to place you. I know I know you but I don’t know from where. Do I look familiar to you?”

“Yes, you do. I thought it was because you look like your sister. “

“No. Besides that.”

So we went through schools and the usual possibilities and then it hit her.

“You’re the lady in the magic shop. I go there every so often to buy magic.”

“Now I remember. You buy magic for your grandchildren when you go to visit them.”

“I buy the magic for myself. I don’t give it to the children. I perform for them. They love it.”

My old neighbor, her sister, said she had young grandchildren too. Soon the whole table was coming up to the shop. You just never know when and where you’ll meet up with a magician. Magicians come in all shapes and sizes.

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Filed under Magic, Perfect Magic