Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Dealers

There are dealers and there are  Magic Dealers, like Perfect Magic. A highlight at most magic conventions are the dealers. They come from all over the world. Some conventions have an older crowd. They come to see their old friends,  the shows, the lectures, and browse around in the dealer’s room, but alas, rarely buy. Their shows are set, they don’t want to start learning new tricks so unless something really special comes out, its tough.

Fortunately for us, when we had our conventions in Montreal, we had a young vibrant magic community. Thirty some years ago, Magie Montreal, put on by Phil Matlin and Wim Vermeys,was the first Magic Convention ever held in Montreal. It took place in the Quebec Pavillion on the Expo 67 Site. The dealers made a killing. Local magicians and some from Ottawa and Quebec City had never seen such a variety of magic.  Remember, no internet, no video tapes (What are video tapes?), just paper catalogs.  Here you had people with the props who knew how to demonstrate.

The word got out. After the first year the dealers would kill to get a booth at our convention. Some performers who also had products to sell, used to say we didn’t have to pay them. Just give us a booth.

Many are now retired, but perhaps you’ll enjoy a visit down memory lane. These are some dealers from Magie Montreal 1981. Hank Lee of Hank Lee’s Magic Factory, Arthur Emerson of Emerson amd West, Bruce Calver of Top Hat Magic, Bob Little of Guaranteed Magic, and Tricky Business and I don’t remember his name. Do You? There were probably others but that’s all I could find for that year.

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Filed under Magic, Magie Montreal

The Real Adventure With Jeff McBride

Many years ago, when singer Tom Jones was all the rage, we got a call from Jeff McBride that Tom Jones was going to perform in Montreal at the Place des Arts in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier and he, Jeff, was going to be the opening act. He gave us the date of the performance and was so kind as invite us and said to he would leave 4 complimentary tickets at the box office for us and Romaine and Joan, who we usually went out with on Saturday nights when they lived in Montreal.

So the big night came. We went out for dinner and at about twenty minutes to eight we arrived at the box office to pick up our tickets. Lo and Behold! There were no tickets. We told the girl at the box office that we were invited by Jeff McBride to attend and he would have the tickets here for us. She called the manager and he told us to wait where we were and in 10 minutes he came back and said “Follow Me.”

He took us to an elevator which he opened with his key and escorted us to a lovely box and told us to enjoy the show. We did.

Jeff, by the way, was excellent and got a standing ovation. In a room like that it was really something! Tom was good too.

After the show we went backstage to see Jeff and to thank him for a wonderful evening. When we got there and asked to see Jeff, they told us he left right after his act so we never got to thank him.

This, as I said, happened many years ago. There was no email or cell phones and when we tried to reach him at home he was on the road, so we never got to thank him.

Time passed and one day we bump into him at a convention. He took one look at us and put his two hands to his face and opened his mouth in horror! “I forgot to leave the tickets!”

“It’s okay. Don’t you remember? The manager went to clear it with you.”

” Nobody cleared anything with me. The crew has strict orders that no, one under any circumstances, is to disturb me before a show.”

We guessed the manager made a decision on his own.

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An Adventure With Jeff McBride

Early Jeff McBride

We have known Jeff since he was just starting off – a struggling magician, who as you all know, did very well. Many of you probably met him when he performed at Magie Montreal. He did a 6 month stint at the Queen Elizabeth hotel and many of you went to see his show and got to know him personally.

Every time  magicians went to see his show we would get a visit from them asking for a set of Linking Rings, exactly the same ones that Jeff had. We would point to the set on the wall.

“No, not those. The ones Jeff used.”

“Those are the ones.”

“No, I already have those. You can’t do the things he did with  ordinary rings.”

That was the usual course of the conversation after they saw his show. Then one Saturday afternoon, when we were opened Saturday afternoons, there was a group of magicians hanging out at the shop. Jeff walked in. There was a lot of excitement at his arrival, and when things quieted down Phil said, “Jeff, would you do me a favor? Would you do your ring routine for these guys?”

Sure, said Jeff. Can I borrow those rings ?

So Jeff took the linking rings off the wall where they were hanging and proceeded to do his act in front of the guys who watched intently with their mouths hanging open.

He teaches his ring routines (along with a bunch of other stuff) on McBride Magic On Stage Vol 1. The Commando Act.

Actually, this was not the story I was going to write about Jeff, but my pen takes me places and I just follow! Next time I’ll tell you what I had intended to.

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Superstar Phil

Every magician  and even people just interested in magic thinks that my kids were the luckiest kids in town. After all, how many kids have fathers that own a magic shop? Everyone thought that except my kids, of course! Maybe it was because they had to work in the shop now and then. Whatever the reason “magic shop” were not  positive words in their vocabulary.

So you can imagine their delight when we traveled with three of them across the United States and stopped at every magic shop along the way. We left one of them, my eldest son, at home to mind the shop!

Of course we did other things too, like Trout Haven, Rock City, Caves and Caverns, The Badlands, Jackson Hole in the grand Tetons, White water rafting in Wyoming… with Buffalo Bill Cody’s grandson as our guide…, Rodeos, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National park etc., there was always something. But when we would find a magic shop…”NOT ANOTHER MAGIC SHOP!” was the battle cry. We felt it was a small price for them to pay. We were always welcomed by the shop owners when they heard we were “Perfect Magic”. Some invited us for dinner and one said he had room for our whole family to stay over, but we didn’t accept their kind hospitality. It would have been torture for our kids.

On the way home we stopped at Niagara Falls, which is a real Honky Tonk tourist town with all kinds of attractions besides the Falls, one of them being The Houdini Museum, which sadly has since burned down. We had to see this. The five of us march in. Phil asks for 5 tickets, 2 adults 3 children -“How much?”

“Oh, no sir” said the young ticket seller. “You don’t pay. You and your family are our guests.”

“I beg your pardon? Why is that?” asks Phil.

“Well, you’re Phil Matlin, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Perfect Magic?”

Yes.

“We’re honored to have you here. You don’t pay.”

My kids were sooooo impressed. They looked at Phil with new eyes. Someone recognized him and he was important enough to get in free! We didn’t hear any more complaining after that!

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Filed under Houdini Museum, Perfect Magic, Phil Matlin