Category Archives: Romaine

The Magic Connection

We went to the one day CAMJAM  2 week-ends ago at Niagra Falls and had a great time. Shawn Farquar and Perfect Magic were the only dealers except for the fabulous lecturers. Romaine’s wife Joan said at the end of the day that all the years she has been going to conventions with Romaine, she never went to the lectures as she was not a magician and thought it would be boring for her. After going to the lectures of  Oscar  Munoz from Texas , Michael Dardant from New Orleans, and Vincent Hedan from France, she said “I ‘m sorry I missed the lectures all the years we’ve been going. I never realized how fascinating they were.” (or something to that nature). They had a good turn out and there was a lot of comeraderie. Then in the evening we saw Greg Frewin’s great illusion show at the Greg Frewin Theatre, a feature event in Niagra Falls.

Another event of CamJam was the presentation of the Magician of the Year Award which went to Mike Segal of Sorcerers Safari Magic & Performance Camp, which has been in operation for over 15 years. We met Mike a number of years ago, ten maybe 15, and although he is living in Toronto, his mother is from Montreal, and guess what! She was Phil’s ( yes my husband Phil) first girlfriend. He thinks he was seven at the time. So everytime Phil met Mike, he would ask how his mother was.

After we left Niagra Falls we spent  5 days with Romaine & Joan and then went to Toronto to visit my Aunt and other relatives. At the CamJam Phil told Mike he was going to Toronto on the way home and Mike said to give him a call. Phil told  him he was going to be at the Browser’s Den (a magic shop in Toronto) at noon on Saturday and we could meet there. Then Mike suggested he bring his mother and Phil thought that would be a great idea. The plot thickens!

We got to the Browser’s Den. They weren’t there yet, but I had shopping to do, after all, it is in a shopping center so I left. When I got back Jewish geography was in full swing. I met his first girlfriend, who was very sweet, and we got to talking and this is the magic connection! When one of her brothers was little he got a Magic Kit  at one of his birthday parties and his mother, Mike’s grandmother, went into another room, opened the kit, figured out the tricks and did them for the kids at the party. Phil was one of the kids and it was the first time he saw a magic trick. That was 70 years ago!

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Filed under CAM (Canadian Association of Magicians), CamJam, Magic Conventions, Phil Matlin, Romaine

Knock’em Out Magic

Many years ago, at least 15, maybe more, Romaine and Joan were visiting and so were a brother and sister-in-law of mine and another couple who were friends of my brother and his wife. We were sitting around the dining room table having coffee and cake and someone asked if Romaine would do some magic. He did some card tricks and maybe sponge balls and then he got to the coins. He did coins through the table. My sister-in-law’s friend, who is a very intelligent and sophisticated lady could not believe her eyes. She kept on asking him to do it again and again and practically sat on top of him.

My sister-in-law, at one point said, “For Pete’s sake, it just a magic trick, Enjoy it.” (Her son, my nephew, was into magic at one time so she took it in her stride) But her friend would have none of it. Its impossible she said. At one time she actually went under the table to watch. Romaine said to her, “You know, you’re my first adult to crawl under the table.”

Finally Romaine said to her, as she was really perplexed and could not understand how she, such an educated person could not figure this out, “Listen, I know the table is upsetting you, so let’s forget about the table.” He stood up and and she stood right in front of him and he said, “Look, there are 4 coins in one hand and nothing in the other.” He closed his hands and said “Now watch, a little shake of the hands”, which were nowhere near each other, ” and a magic word, and …voila”  He opened his hands and only three coins were in one hand and one was now in the other. She was flabbergasted. Actually, so was I.  We all enjoyed it, and also enjoyed her utter disbelief in the fact that it could happen two inches from her nose and she couldn’t figure it out. I don’t think she enjoyed it at all.

A few years later we were in the now defunct Brown Derby in the Van Horne Shopping Center with Romaine and Joan and as we walked to our table, who did we pass? My sister-in-law’s friend and her husband sitting at a table and having a bite. They saw us and got all excited and Romaine said to her, “It’s so nice to see you again. Have you been under any tables lately?” We all had a great laugh.

I find myself smiling as I write this.


Filed under Magic, Romaine

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!


Filed under Perfect Magic, Phil Matlin, Romaine

Where Magic Leads Us.

It’s funny how my (abstract) pen has a mind of its own. Last week I wrote about Joan Caesar. I wasn’t going to when I started off. She was going to be mentioned of course but I was going to talk about CAM 2010 and also CAM 2009. I never got there. It was supposed to be a side story that I thought was funny so I’ll try again.

Romaine and his wife Joan usually stay with us when they come to Montreal. They used to live in Montreal but moved to Kitchener about 10 years ago. In 2009 The CAM Convention was held in Montreal so they came to Montreal and stayed with us.

Joan and I went to the gala show, but Romaine and Phil, being magicians, attended everything. The convention banquet was for Sunday lunch. Unbeknownst to Phil and I, but known to Romaine, Phil was going to be presented with the SID LORRAINE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The Sid Lorraine Acievment Award

for his contribution to excellence in Magic In Canada.

Sunday morning Phil came to our breakfast table wearing a golf shirt and sport pants. He looked at Romaine who was dressed up in a white shirt and tie and jacket…the works! Phil looked at him and said, “Are you going to Church or are you going to the convention?”

“The convention.”

“So what are you all dressed up for?”

“Today’s the banquet. You should dress up for the banquet. It’s an occasion.” he said.

“Nah, I like to be comfortable.”

So despite his valiant effort to shame Phil into dressing up it was to no avail.

To make matters worse, at the banquet, after the prize winners were all announced, Phil got up and went to the bathroom, totally oblivious to the fact that the emcee was now presenting him with an award. The organizers, frantic, stalled, and were going to get someone to drag him out when he reappeared.  That was 2009.

Fast foreword to 2010. The CAM Convention was in Kitchener so we stayed with Romaine and Joan. 

Once again, Romaine came to breakfast dressed up. We knew that Romaine was getting a LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, but Romaine and Joan didn’t know, or did he find out somehow?”

“Roman, why are you all dressed up? Phil getting another award?”

“No, no, no. I have to introduce an act so I want to look presentable.”

Fast forward to the banquet. This time Joan and I went to the banquet as well. Each table had a banner of a performing magician and the attendees could sit with the magician of their choice. The four of us, along with others sat with J.C.  at the J.C. Wagner table. Romaine’s name was announced. He went to the podium to receive his award and received a thunderous applause. He told the emcee he would like to say a few words.

He thanked everyone and proceeded to say that he was sitting at the J.C. Wagner table with J.C. Wagner and that they have a lot in common. J.C. is a bar magician and he used to hang around in bars, and he kept the audience laughing until his last sentence when he spoke about the friends he made in magic and he actually broke down and wept and then the whole audience wept.

It was touching and funny. He had hoped to keep it light and comical but you just never know where you’re going to be led!

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Filed under CAM (Canadian Association of Magicians), J.C. Wagner, Joan Caesar, Joan Oleskovich, Magic, Phil Matlin, Romaine

Joan Caesar and CAM 2010

I’ve often referred to Magie Montréal Conventions in my blog, but there is a new kid on the block, the Canadian block, that is. This kid was born to Joan Caesar a number of years back. If determination had a name it would be Joan Caesar.

Joan was first introduced to magic when her son was in kindergarten and a magician wanted to do a magic show for the kids and asked her to be an assistant. She was thirty-something. That sparked her interest.

She had been somewhat into magic after that, but when we got to know her years later, maybe 1996 or 1997, she knew little about magic. I remember sitting in a restaurant with Joan and Phil. Phil was telling her stories about Frank Garcia and Al Goshman, and some of the other greats that we had come to know over the years and she hung onto every word. Joan’s son, Ben Caesar, had won the stage prize for Magie Montreal in 1995, but we didn’t know her then.

So this woman, who knew little at the time about magic decided that Canada should have a magic organization because FISM wouldn’t allow our talented magicians like Carl Cloutier, Greg Frewin and Juliana Chen to name a few, to participate because Canada had no official organization. They had to compete under the auspices of another foreign FISM representative. Although it was wonderful that they were allowed to compete at all, Joan wanted our wonderful magicians to have the opportunity to compete under our nation’s banner.

It was a long process. The organization had to have members and Canada had to be voted in by a group. Joan said that Herb Morrissey helped a great deal as he used to send out flyers and with the flyers he sent word about CAM. That brought in a lot of members. People joined from all over Canada. She told me how excited she was when someone from B.C. joined. From there it grew. It has a magazine and conventions and great conventions at that. So we tip our top hats to Joan Caesar for what she did for magic in Canada and Canadian magicians.

These are a few photos from the CAM Convention 2010. The CAM Convention 2011 will be in B.C.  Shawn Farquhar is organizing it. We’ll be there. We hope you will too. Enjoy the photos.

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Filed under Albert Goshman, Ben Caesar, Bob Sheets, CAM (Canadian Association of Magicians), Carl Cloutier, Charlie Frye, Chris Pilsworth, Frank Garcia, Greg Frewin, Herb Morrissey, Joan Caesar, Juliana Chen, Mike Miller, Phil Matlin, Romaine, Shawn Farqhuar

About Phil

The first time magicians come to Perfect Magic shop they usually ask Phil if he is a performer. He says yes, I’m a ragtime and nostalgia piano player. And he is. He even has two CDs out, Ragtime Magic and Ragtime Daze.

But everyone wants to know if he does magic. He’ll deny it, but he did, when he was younger. If someone wants a magician now, we usually refer them to some of our customers.

Here are some photos of Phil to prove my point.

He always finished his stage show with Multiplying Bottles. That was always an audience pleaser. You can see that it goes back a few years so I don’t remember the whole routine, but it looks like he tied it in with This . He loves the Pom Poms. Phil also has an hour and a half Vaudeville show with Romaine, called Back In Time featuring magic, music, comedy, and ventriloquism.

Top from left to right. Photos 1 -5 are from the Gala show at a Clowns Canada show in Moncton New Brunswick. Photo #6 Was a show at  Courtland Park School For The Montreal assembly of the SAM, produced by Blair Marshall and photos  7 & 8 are from a Campvention show in Blythe Ontario. Over 1000 people attended this show.

Phil also did close up. Here he is performing The Endless Chain. and he has an excellent routine for it in his lecture notes, (yes, he used to lecture as well) and of course his routine is in the instructions. He did card tricks too. Bewildered and Future Foretold Improved also in his lecture notes are ones he always did.

The Endless Chai

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Filed under Magic, Perfect Magic, Phil Matlin, Romaine


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


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