Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Tip on Performing from Michael Ammar – Superstar!

Michael Ammar and Johnny Carson - Then

Michael Ammar and Johnny Carson - Then

Michael Ammar Superstar - 1995

Phil Matlin, owner of Perfect Magic Shop, first met Michael Ammar when they were both relatively new in magic. It was in Evansville Indiana at an I.B.M. Convention. Michael was still sowing his wild oats. We got to know Michael well over the years. He stayed at our home when he came to Montreal. When we first met his wife Hannah, Michael introduced us as Phil and Evy from Perfect Magic in Montreal, who know me from way back when…. He said we knew that things about him that very few people knew. And she said to us, “I know everything about Michael, don’t worry!” We had a great laugh.

Card Thru Hank - Magie Montreal Lecture

Michael’s magic was always impeccable. When he came out with Easy to Master Card Miracles 1,2 and 3 in VHS  magic dealers

Michael lecturing at Magie Montreal

rejoiced! They were hot and still are but now in DVD form! His teaching methods are clear and exceptional. It’s rare that I  push a product, as I am well aware of the fact that everyone has their own taste and what I like someone else might not, but when someone tells me they like cards I still direct them towards Michael Ammar.

Many of the younger generation never heard of him and they thank me after for introducing them to his DVDs. Of course many more followed, Easy to Master Card Miracles, 4,5,6,7,8 and 9. His book and DVD’s on Cups and Balls are for anyone who really wants to learn them. Then there was Easy to Master Thread Miracles 1,2,3, book The Magic of Michael Ammar and the list goes on. Just click on his link for the complete deal. When we sell his stuff we are confident that the customer will be satisfied, regardless of what it is!

I wrote him the other day to tell him I was writing a blog on him and asked  what hooked him into magic and what advice he would give to an aspiring magician. This was his answer.

Hello Evy,
How nice to hear from you and to hear all’s well with you and Phil….

The first effect that really resonated with me was the one where you seem to rub a coin or small piece of paper into your arm.  Showing it has vanished, you then produce it from your ear or elbow.  The method, as I’m sure you know, is that you accidentally drop the coin and in picking it up, you simply fake putting into your other hand so it can seem to vanish.

I knew several typical card tricks up to that point, but I could tell something different was taking place here.  Not only did this involve acting, but it also involved true sleight-of-hand.

This meant I had to practice a bit to get it right, but I felt so empowered knowing the reaction I was getting was because of something I did; not because they just didn’t know how I had stacked the deck, or whatever.

Having to practice a little to learn that effect made me realize you can get an amazing reaction based purely on your own efforts.  I decided to see what would happen if I put even more effort into something.  Then I began to notice: the more effort I put into learning something, the better and more satisfying the response was.

Up until then I thought you had to be born a magician.  This experience made me realize it was up to me; I could be as good as I decided I’d be; success wasn’t a matter of divine intervention, luck, or whatever.  It was an epiphany; It’s up to me, if it is to be…

If I were to give just one tip to someone regarding magic, it would be to perform as often as possible, then reflect back on the performance to see how much data you can mine from the experience.  I think you learn more from 1 live performance than you can from weeks of just thinking about it.  So perform as often as possible.  There’s an old saying, “Everybody needs someplace to be bad.”  Find someplace that’ll tolerate your evolution, then start to build intelligent experience.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes always,
Michael

 

A typical sellout crowd at a Michael Ammar lecture.

So there you have it. I thought it was wonderful advice and hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

 

Thank you Michael.

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Filed under Evelyn Matlin, Magic Conventions, Magie Montreal, Perfect Magic

The Russians Are Coming! Who doesn’t remember that?

By 1994 Magie Montreal was well established. It was our 15th Annual Magic Convention. We had a great line up for our shows and lectures. Our stars included Mike Close, Kovari, Mark Trimble, Simon Lovell, Juliana Chen , Nathan Burton, Carl Cloutier Jose de La Torre and there was additional excitement because the Russians were coming! Rafael and Elena. They were sensational! Their magic was only surpassed by their personalities. What fun! Shortly after they vanished.  We haven’t heard from or about them since. Have you? Here are some shots of their show.

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Vaudeville? What’s That?

 

Back In Time

You may or may not know this, but Phil Matlin, owner of Perfect Magic is a ragtime piano player. He was always a piano player, that’s how he won my mother’s heart when he was 21 and I was 17, just a few years back, but that’s another story.

He was heavy into music and was musical director for amateur productions such as Oklahoma, Finnian’s Rainbow, Carousel, and the like. This was in the 60’s. In the 1970’s, when he went into the magic business, he met Dick Zimmerman who is a magician as well as a ragtime musician and historian. They discovered this mutual love of music and Dick tried to persuade Phil to call Mimi Blais,  a Montrealer and top  notch ragtime player and entertainer, to ask  her if she would give him lessons in ragtime. He was too shy to call her. But one day when she was playing on stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival , I insisted he go over to her when the show was over just to give her regards from Dick Zimmerman. I twisted his arm. He said something like, “Great show and Hi from Dick Zimmerman.” “Oh, you must be the magician that he is always telling me to call!” And somehow from there they got to speaking about lessons, which she said she didn’t give, but if he was any good she would coach him.

She invited him to her home to strut his stuff so to speak and when he sat down at the piano he was so nervous he couldn’t see the keys. He was playing for Mimi Blais. He hit all the cracks and I’m not sure if he cried but she understood. She said she was going into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and left him alone where he pulled himself together and played. She agreed to coach him, so he learned from the best. She was a tough teacher.

And so began Phil’s career as a ragtime piano player which is a form of music which was popular in the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, before movies and later was played as background music in  silent movies. The home entertainment center in those days, usually consisted of a piano or other musical instrument. If you went out for entertainment you would go to a play, a concert or a vaudeville show. There were approximately 3000 vaudeville theatres in the U.S.A. and Canada during that period. Think Ed Sullivan Show. Every kind of talent performed, singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists, comedians, acrobats, animal acts, you name it.  George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante, Abbott & Costello, Milton Berle, The Andrew Sisters, Adele and Fred Astaire, Josephine Baker, Edgar Bergen, Fanny Brice are only a few that came out of Vaudeville. It was popular in the Roarin” Twenties, the time of flappers. And ragtime was the music of the day. Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, written in the 1800’s  is still a favorite today.

So it was kind of natural that when Phil and Romaine became friends… Who’s Romaine? Don’t worry. That doesn’t bother him. When the Beatles first started out, and Bing Crosby first started out, people asked the same question. Who’s Romaine? Just kidding. Romaine is a world class manipulator, who has performed all over the world. He’s also a comedian and ventriloquist.

So when they came to be friends it was kind of natural that they put their talents together and created a two man show called “Back In Time”. It’s a throw back to the vaudeville days. Music,  Magic, Comedy, Ventriloquism, and a Sing Along. Now that’s Vaudeville!

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Give’em What They Want By Gosh!

Albert Goshman - Publicity photo

In my last blog I wrote about  images  that the word magician conjures up in our mind’s eye. But magicians come in all shapes and sizes.

When Perfect Magic opened in 1977 I heard a lot of talk about Albert Goshman.  He was a baker in Brooklyn, making bagels. I’m sure they weren’t Montreal bagels but that’s another story.

Remember, this was before videos or DVDs. Either you saw the man in person at a lecture or convention or read about him in a magic magazine. His Salt Shaker Routine is legendary. I had  dealt with Albert personally over the phone many times when ordering his famous Sponge Balls, as well as other Magic By Gosh products which are known world over, but I had never met him. He was a living legend. A master of close-up magic.

Albert Goshman with Volunteers Anne Deslauriers (left) and Susan Trott (right)

Same gang

I don’t remember whose convention Phil and I were attending or where  it was held but we were walking though the dealers’ room and Phil said to me, “There’s Albert Goshman!” Not what I expected. I saw a chubby middle aged man asleep in a chair beside his booth, his chin against his chest. I must admit it was a disappointment. But of course when one is sleeping it’s hard to see the twinkle in the eyes,  the charm and sense of humour. And he did have a sense of humour, not to mention a sense of timing. Anyone who phoned him will remember his answering machine. His timing was so great he had you carrying on a conversation with it thinking you were talking to him. I don’t remember exactly but it went something like this,

“Hello.” (pause)

Hi, Albert?”

Hello? (pause)

Is that Albert?

Yeah, Who is this? (pause)

Evy Matlin

Oh, well. I can’t come to the phone right now….I’ll call you back. Leave a number.

It was longer than that but I can’t remember it all. He had you going until he actually said, I can’t come to the phone right now.

Albert was at our annual Magic Convention, Magie Montreal, twice I think.  His name appears on 2 programs but Phil only remembers once and he was at Perfect Magic for a lecture. That we know for sure because I was one of the volunteers for the Salt and Pepper Shaker routine and I, who rarely gets fooled was fooled badly. When he produced that final jumbo coin from under the salt shaker I was in a state of shock.

And then he did a funny thing.

Totally unrelated to his act, he pulled out a deck of cards and as his finale he did a rising card out of  a glass trick. That was the end of his show. Later on in the evening, at home, I asked him why he did that. With all his talent he ended with a store bought trick. Why?  His answer. “Because its such a wonderful effect. I’m usually performing for a lay audience. They’ve never seen anything like it and in years to come they’ll forget all about the Salt Shaker but they’ll never forget that the card they chose rose out of a deck of cards in a glass all by itself. You gotta give them something they’ll remember!”

We took him to the Brown Derby in the Van Horne Shopping center. It was a popular Deli which is no longer there. No one got service when he was there as all the waitresses and waiters were huddled around our table, and some of the customers as well. He was doing the sponge balls over and over and using different methods. They never caught him. Neither did I. When the meal was over the waitress asked him how the food was. “Well, there was a lot of it and some of it was good!”  Anyone who’s eaten there will vouch for that! We sure miss him and cherish the memories!

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Pavel

When someone says “Magician” we conjure up an image of sorts. You might think of one image. I would think Dante, Houdini, Blackstone …..and the like. A little goatee, a top hat…all the regular things associated with magicians. Pavel to me was such an ordinary guy, a good natured brotherly type with no airs about him. If you didn’t know him and someone asked you what they thought he did for a living, I’m sure magician would be last on the list. And yet….he was an extraordinary magician.

He had such a casual air about him and then he’d knock the socks off you. He came to Magie Montreal, the annual Magic Convention produced by Phil Matlin of Perfect Magic and Wim Vermeys of Mephisto Canada in 1991. He was a hit. We were excited to have him. It was the first time I saw him perform and his Walking Knot blew me away. I can’t believe it was 20 years ago. I see it in my mind’s eye as though it were yesterday. Sadly, he died a few weeks ago. We had just contacted him a few weeks before his death and purchased some Walking Knots. He seemed fine. It was a big loss. Going through the photos from Magie Montreal’s past, I came across these and thought you might enjoy them as much as I did.

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Filed under Magic Conventions, Magie Montreal, Perfect Magic, Phil Matlin, Wim Vermeys