Category Archives: “Magic Tom” Auburn

Remembering Magic Tom Auburn

It was at least 7 years ago, but probably more, that Réjean Pagé came into our shop to talk about a project he was working on and asked if we would help him. We had known  Réjean  a long time and  we said  we would be happy to help him. He wanted to make a website for Magic Tom Auburn who many of us remember. He couldn’t get the info from the TV stations that Tom worked for and so we called Tom’s son, Byron. Byron asked if we trusted Réjean and how long we had known him, etc, and we said he was a sincere guy who was serious about this endeavour. We arranged a meeting and Byron and his sister came up to the shop with a big box of photos and posters  etc, and presented it to Réjean. It was a touching meeting and left all of us in an emotional state. If you check the website you will see that Réjean did a good job.

The other day a gentleman, unknown to us, came into the shop. He, too, wanted to keep Tom Auburn’s name and memory alive. He’s a writer and he is passionate about history and about Magic Tom and he is writing an article (on real paper) which will appear in the Quebec Heritage News, which is an English language Quebec  Magazine. His name is Rohinton Ghandhi,  Ro, for short,(and actually related to Ghandi) and there is an article written by him in the Fall 2013 issue about  “Rediscovering Paradise: The Inimitable Rufus Rockhead” entitled the House That Rockhead Built. To jazz fans in Montreal, I don’t have to say anymore. It’s quite a read.

Ro has already collected a considerable amount of data and is interested in Tom’s early life or any other part for that matter, and would love to know if any of you have photos or stories about him or knew him back when… If you do you can write about them in the comments at the bottom of the page or you can email him directly at rghandhi@sympatico.ca. It would be much appreciated. Let’s all do our part in keeping the Magic of Tom alive.

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Boom Years for Restaurant Magicians Part 2

Last week I wrote a blog on boom years for Montreal magicians and asked for anyone with more info to write in. Here’s the reply from Jonathan Levey who has offered some solid advice to those interested in trying that venue. Here is what he has to say…

“Great article on the Boom Years, Evy.

I will have to thank Mark for mentioning a few of the restaurants I worked and you for posting this info.
If you have the chance, kindly consider adding a few more restaurants that I worked during the Boom years.

Those were the days when Jim Sisti’s infamous The Magic Menu (which actually started out in newsletter format!) served as vital inspiration and gave us practical tips and information on how to actually find and secure the venues on a long-term basis. As well, The Magic Menu provided us with precious tips and insights into how to negotiate our contracts and more effective ways to perform table-to-table magic within the (often) tight physical constraints of the dining room areas. In addition to Sisti’s Magic Menu (of which our own beloved David Acer was a regular contributor) other books which inspired and taught us were: Kirk Charles “Standing up Surrounded”, Paul Diamonds “it Takes Guts Dammt!”, and Charles Greene III “Restaurant Magic” (audio tape!), as well as Michael Ammar’s Negotiating Fees (also on audio tape at the time).

These great resources provided me with the insight and encouragement needed to secure and perform at the following restaurant-type establishments for most of the 1990′s, for a minimum of 6 months and on average for 1-2 years+: Le Lutetia (inside the Hotel de la Montagne), Thursdays, Moby Dicks, The Atlantic Pavilion, Jardins D’Hivers (inside the Montreal casino), La Tulipe Noire, Mikes, Nick & Marios, Holiday Inn Pointe Claire, and the Ramada Inn.

Of course, as most of us “old-timers ” know, if it wasn’t for the ground-breaking success of the skilled and charismatic Tom Auburn (aka Magic Tom), securing restaurant work in the city of Montreal would have been a much harder sell.

To those younger magicians seeking to work in a restaurant venue, I believe many of the above books and audio tapes, though admittedly somewhat outdated, will still serve the budding restaurant magician as relevant, informative and inspirational. Perhaps there are new “how to” books on the market these days that will add to your arsenal. A trip to Evy and Phil’s Van Horne Perfect Magic store in Cote-des-Neiges (…or is that Phil and Evy’s store?), will allow you to browse their shelves to find such treasures. One thing for sure is that it’s a great place to start your journey. Because, as Evy and Phil will tell you without pause… “if we don’t have it, we can get it… within days.” …and they mean it too!”

Thanks for sharing and thank you also for the praise for Perfect Magic!

Just so you know, Sisti’s Magic Menu is still available;  Negociating Fees by Michael Ammar and Restaurant Magic By Charles Green as referred to by Jonathan are now in CD format. Since then there are more books and DVD‘s to choose from if you are interested.

If you have info on who did what when and where re restaurants, let me know.

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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, entertaining, Magic, Perfect Magic, Performing, Restaurant Magic, Show buisness

Reaching For A Star and Catching It! That’s Magic!

We’ve known Ted Outerbridge since he was a kid. He had a dream and didn’t let go. He worked hard. He struggled but never gave up. It paid off. Last week in the Gazette, there was an article about him. We were thrilled to see it.  In 1997, before he was famous, he won the Tom Auburn Award at Magic Montreal, the Annual Magic Convention produced by Perfect Magic and Wim Vermeys for 19 years. It was a sign of things to come. I spoke to him and asked him to write about himself and to include what got him to decide to make a career of this and also what tip he could give to up and coming magicians. I’ll publish it when I get it. In the meantime…Ted and Marion…Keep on truckin’!

I have included  photos of Wim Vermeys and Phil Matlin and the Trophy Winners of Magic Montreal 1997 and we have David Acer, sticking his head through the curtains in the back. He was never one to be left out! David was the M.C. of the stage show that year, hilarious as usual!

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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, Magic Conventions, Magie Montreal, Perfect Magic, Show buisness, Ted Outerbridge

“Magic Tom”

Several years ago, maybe ten, Réjean Pagé, magician, friend, and customer of ours asked if I could help him on a project. He wanted to create a website for Magic Tom, to honour and remember him and the impact he had on Quebecers during his lifetime. He had tried to get copies of the weekly TV shows Magic Tom performed but it seems they were not saved nor could he get any information from anyone. We gave Réjean the phone number of Tom’s son and he got in touch with him. Soon after Tom’s son phoned us to ask who this guy Réjean Pagé, is and if he could trust him, etc. We assured him Réjean was a sincere person who would do his best to create a worthy memorial to his father.

A meeting was arranged in our shop and Tom’s son, Byron, daughter, Darleen, Réjean, Phil and I had a meeting that brought tears to all our eyes, and hugs all around. His son had brought a box full of photos and memorabilia, which he gave to Réjean to use for the website. It was a moment to remember. A treasure chest if there ever was one. Réjean did not disappoint.

Five years ago we moved from 4781 Van Horne to 4755 Van Horne to a smaller location, a few Suites down the hall. In the old shop our walls were lined with 8×10 photos but in this shop there is simply no room for them. I took them out of their frames and kept them in envelopes.

When I started writing this blog about 2 months ago, I looked through photos for subject matter and came that envelope and found pictures that Tom has given to us as he felt they should be passed on to someone who cared about magic history. So I will share these photos with you. Enjoy. And if I made a mistake or if you know the name of someone I couldn’t name kindly put it in the comment section below. Thank you and enjoy.

Tom did give us a couple of clues. On the back of one he wrote Tom Auburn and Blackstonetaken backstage at Her Majesty’s Theatre during 2nd World War. Theatre now demolished.

On another was written, Late Danté and Magic Tom during II World War Days at His Majesty’s Theatre and On another Mandrake and Velvet 1956.


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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, Memorablia, Perfect Magic

Seriously Magical

From time to time teenagers come in and buy magic for kids’ parties. They think it’s a great way to earn some extra bucks. Hey! You gotta start somewhere! So they buy a few tricks and they’re off!  Alan Greenberg

Early Greenberg

is one of the many started that way. He was serious about it and made a successful career out of it.

Alan was 8 years old when he first became interested in magic. He was home with the Chicken Pox and saw Tony Curtis in the movie Houdini on TV and that was it for him. He got magic books at the library and bought a bag of magic tricks at Henry Gordon’s on Queen Mary Road in Montreal  (before Perfect Magic was born) for a dollar which was a lot of money then for him, but he was on his way. He started getting paid for shows when he was 14 years old and his parents drove him to his gigs and back. He’s been teaching magic in elementary schools since 1984; he does corporate shows, parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, fundraisers, etc.

If you’re just starting in magic and you are serious, there are a few things I would recommend.

From left, Mark Wilson, Evy and Phil

One would be Complete Course in Magic. It’s a book by Mark Wilson. It covers just about everything from close-up to stage illusions. Being a book, there is no personality to the tricks. You have to find your own personality and put your own twist on everything. You’re not copying someone’s style or jokes…you have to be creative and you have to be yourself. You are unique and if you just tap into your own personality it will come through and you’ll make the trick yours.

Harry Lorayne with Evy Matlin - late 70's.

I don’t have anything against DVD’s. They’re wonderful teaching tools, but its tempting to just copy the performer, word for word, action for action. The name of the game is Entertainment First George Schindler did a DVD on this and it can’t be stressed enough. You can be the best sleight of hand magician in the world but if it’s not entertaining, forget it! It takes time and effort to put an act together.

For an idea of what is involved Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe and 26 other guys is a good start. Foundations: The Art of Staging Magic by Eberhard Riese is another one. Eugene Burger’s Mastering The Art of Magic is marvelous!

"Magic Tom" Auburn, Eugene Buger and Phil

Eugene lectured for Perfect Magic a few times and the advice he gave was excellent, not only for magic but for many real life situations where you have to deal with people.

Eugene with Magic Tom

It’s hard to do magic for people! When you’re alone, it works perfectly; in front of an audience, not always. What do you do when things go wrong? How do you choose volunteers? What do you say to them? They may give you answers you’re not expecting. How do you handle it? Fortunately, others who are successful are willing to share their secrets and ideas. They are your teachers so take advantage of their knowledge. Take the plunge. Just make sure there’s water in the pool. It’s safer that way.

Which books or DVD’s made an impact on you or helped you get started? We’d love your comments.

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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, Alan Greenberg, Eugene Burger, Evelyn Matlin, Harry Lorayne, Magic, Magie Montreal, Mark Wilson, Phil Matlin

Grandmas and Grandpas and Magic Part 1.

It’s sometimes hard to connect with kids these days. They’re into video games, DVD’s and other new age stuff. It’s also hard to compete with Spider Man and Dora.What you need is magic! What age is a good age to start?

I started my grandson at 2 ½. He was thrilled with Appearing Flower and knew just when to say tadahGeorge Schindler, the dean of the Society of American Magicians, was so impressed with his performance he sent him a Appearing Bouquet as a gift! He’s 4 ½ now and his eyes still light up every time he sees a magic trick! He performed one for Show and Tell at day care. He told me he showed but he didn’t tell.

My first memory of a grandparent bringing his grandson to the magic shop goes back about 30 years. The boy was about 11 years old, I think, and his grandfather said, “The boy is shy. Do something for him!” It was an order and a plea. I showed him a trick and his face lit up. His grandfather bought him a couple of things. And just where is he today?

Richard Sanders He is a professional magician par excellence and creator of some of the greatest magic effects to hit the market. Go to his home page and click on about us to get his full credentials. He blames me for getting him into this, as I blew him away with the Mental Photo Deck and he claims that’s what did it.  I blame his grandfather.

Photo of Richard Sanders receiving the Tom Auburn Award from Tom Auburn in 1981 at Magie Montreal.

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DRAGGED SCREAMING AND KICKING INTO THE 21ST CENTURY!

It doesn’t seem like 34 years, but that’s when PERFECT MAGIC opened its doors.

Life was simpler then. We thought it was a big deal when we bought an electric typewriter. I can hear some of you asking, “What’s a typewriter?”

Now we have 6 computers; three at home and three in the office. Phil’s okay with them. He convinced me that an iMac would make his work so much easier. I’m still learning how to use the telephones. They were much simpler then too.

For you youngsters who were born with a mouse in your hand, you will have to picture a world without computers, without DVD’s, without Video tapes, Facebook, or Twitter, and all those other gadgets you have attached to your ears. Back then an apple was something you ate, and if you had a mouse you’d get an exterminator.

If you wanted to know what was new in magic, you went to the magic shop or magic conventions, or bought MAGIC MAGAZINE , or the GENII or sent for catalogs, which were made out of paper – period. If you wanted more than a magic trick you bought books and read. If you were really serious you might even join the local branch of an international magic organization, the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) or the Society of American Magicians (SAM) The Canadian Association of Magicians (CAM) and their magazine Northern Peaks wasn’t born yet. Membership to either one entitled you to their monthly magazine which also provided magic tricks, news, etc.

From time to time famous magicians would come to town and give lectures. I remember Dai Vernon lecturing at the Mount Royal Hotel when it was on Peel St.

Phil and Dai Vernon at the Passport to Magic in Toronto

People would come into the store and ask what’s new? We’d demo a trick and if they liked it, fine, if not… on to something else. We knew each customer, what they liked, what they were capable of, and would guide them accordingly.

Those days are over! Now if a customer sees something on YouTube and if it’s not on our website, they email us or phone and ask if we can get it for them. Usually we can. There’s a whole world to choose from. A few weeks ago a customer wanted the book “Handcrafted Card Magic” by Denis Behr. After many phone calls it seemed that the only way to get it was from Denis himself, who lives in Germany. So we did. So instead of us going out and deciding what is great, we let you, the customer, do it. We let you know what’s there, but in end, you’re the boss!.

Sid Lorraine, his wife Rene, Phil, “Magic Tom” Auburn and Carl Cloutier. 

What we did have was Magic Conventions! 19 years Wim Vermeys and Phil Matlin and wives worked year round to make sure you had the best entertainers of the day. David Acer, in About Perfect Magic (see first paragraph above) talks about the first Magie Montréal we held on the Site of Expo 67. Were you there?

From left, Wim Vermeys, Gary Ouellet, Romaine Phil, and Hiawatha

I’ve posted some photos of the early days which may bring back some memories. Enjoy! Can you name all the people? If you have special memories of those days we’d love to hear about it. If you want more photos let me know.

And the winners are ……..

Dealer’s room with Paul Diamond

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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, Carl Cloutier, Dai Vernon, Gary Ouellet, Hiawatha, Magie Montreal, Phil Matlin, Rene Johnson, Romaine, Sid Lorraine, Wim Vermeys