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What Every Magician Should Know

The other day I got a call from an old customer, a good magician I’m told by those who have seen him perform, and he wanted a certain electronic device. We had it in stock. He took a long drive to get to our shop as he wanted it right away and he’s from out of town.

I got a call from him today asking if we had another one in stock. I said yes. He asked if we would try it out to see if it worked. We did and it did. He said his didn’t.

“Strange,” I said. “Did you put a battery in?”

“Of course,” he replied.

“Did you put it in the right way?”

“It says it doesn’t matter which way but I tried both ways and I tried the battery on something else and it works. Will you exchange it if I go down there now?”

“Of course, and I’m so sorry that you have to drive all that way.”

Phil was working at his computer, as usual, but was also listening to my end of the conversation.

“Wait a minute,” he called out. “What kind of battery are you using?”

He told me the name, which I relayed to Phil.

“Tell him to get a Duracell before he drives all the way out here.”

“But my battery works,” my customer insisted.

“Buy a Duracell,” Phil insisted,

“Okay, I’ll go out and buy a Duracell and then I’ll come over and change the item.”

We have some experience after being in this crazy business for over the 40 years.  At one time we carried an electric bottle from Dirk DeGraeve in Belgium. We had the exact same situation.  A customer came back with a bottle he had bought and said it didn’t work. Phil put in one of his Duracell  batteries and it did work. Then we had another trick whereby you put cards, one at a time, into a box. When you tried to put the selected card in the box, it closed by itself and you couldn’t  put it in. Same thing happened there. So we knew about the batteries by then.

Twenty minutes later I get a phone call from this customer.

“I want you to do me a big favour.”

I said, “So it worked with the Duracell huh?”

“Listen, about the favour. When I’m famous and you’re talking to someone and telling them that you knew me when I was a kid, please don’t tell them about the battery. It’s a little embarrassing.”

The moral of the story is when you’re working professionally, don’t save money by buying cheap batteries, if you’re using something that requires batteries.




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The Things We Take For Granted (In Magic)

It always amazes me when I do a simple trick, that requires absolutely no sleight of hand, what a vast amount of other things go into it, to make it entertaining. Eugene BurgerThe late great Eugene Burger was a master of this.

When we do a trick often enough it becomes a part of us without even thinking about it, but once in a while something happens that shows me its so much more than doing a trick.

This came to light the other day when a kid came in to buy a Svengali Deck. Well, he didn’t actually come in to buy that deck, he came in because his cousin worked in an office down the hall and he passed the shop and wanted to know what it was all about, so I showed him the Svengali Deck, which of course blew him away. He was twelve. He had to have that deck. He never did magic before so after he bought it I explained it to him and he said he understood. He also bought the trick with 3 ropes, you know, small, medium and large. He came back the next day and asked for help with the ropes. So we went over it. I then asked him how he was doing with his Svengali Deck. “Oh, I have that one down great.” I said “Show me.” I nearly fainted when he took the cards out of his pocket, not even protected by a box.

“Where’s the box?”

“Oh, I don’t need a box.”

“Of course you do. Those cards will be spoiled in no time, bent corners, torn, and all messed up. Anyhow show me the trick.”

“It’s simple!” he says.

He puts his fist around the cards, covering most of the backs, just the edges, tops and bottoms visible, and with the other hand he flips the cards, doesn’t even ask me to take one, and he flips through them showing me the tops (as his fist is covering most of the deck) and says “See they’re all different.” And then he shows me that they’re all the same.

I said, ” After you get your box, this is what you do.” And I gave his a 15 minute lesson on the Svengali Deck with all the whys and wherefors. He listened attentively and seemed to understand. He thanked me. I told him to practice.

I’ll see how he does next time he comes around, if I didn’t scare him away forever!




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The Why, When, and What of Magic

I got a phone call the other day from a grandmother who wanted to get a magic kit for her granddaughter’s birthday. The 8 year old saw a particular kit and wanted it. Did we have it? No, but we used to carry it and could have it if she really wanted it. However being a grandmother myself and a little experienced in the field of magic, I suggested something else. We do have other kits, but it’s never my first choice, even though I know that many magicians started their life in magic with a magic kit.

This is my thinking. I find the quality of the magic in the kits are not always as good as the quality of the magic we sell individually. The items in the kits are usually a little smaller and not that sturdy.302

Then there’s the promise of 150, 250 tricks or more. Great expectations. You open the box and if there are 10 props you’re lucky. Then there’s a book or a DVD showing you all the things you can do with those props. And yes, some of them are great. But are you really going to learn 150 or more tricks? I don’t think so.

The person who receives the kit will open it, examine all the props, and discover the secret before knowing what the effect is. Take the Ball and Vase. It’s a wonderful classic, but if you know the secret before seeing it performed, you’ll never get that “awe” feeling,  that “how is that possible?” feeling.

What I always did and what I suggested to the grandmother, was to buy a few individual tricks, learn them and do them for her granddaughter. That way the child gets that feeling of wonder. After that she can be exposed to the secret and learn it herself. She will never forget that feeling she had when she first saw it, and when she performs it for others she will know what they feel and that is the true reward of magic.

But there’s even more to it than that. A special bond occurs between the grandparent and the child that the child will never forget and that’s important to the grandparent as well as the child. What child doesn’t remember his favourite uncle that pulled quarters out of his ear?

So these grandparents came up to the shop and bought a bunch of stuff for their grandchild and a Svengali Deck with a book for themselves,  they who had never done a magic trick in their lives. They were completely captivated by the magic and assured me they would be back and were excited about going home and learning the magic!







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The Magic of Magic

When we moved into our condo, over 10 years ago, we had a little chat with the administrator about things we should know about, never having lived in a condo before. One of things we discussed was what to give the superintendent for Christmas. He said everyone gives cash and the same amount. Fair enough.

But now the super has grandchildren of about 3 and 4 years old. I said to Phil. “This year we’re giving magic instead of money.” Phil said, “Give him the cash. Everyone wants cash.”  Our super has never done magic and I said to Phil, “No, I know he would love magic more. He is so crazy about those kids. I could just see him showing them the tricks.” Phil gave up. “Do what you want.” was his unenthusiastic reply.

So I put five tricks in one of those gift bags with tissue paper and a card, etc and in another bag I put my demonstrators of those tricks. I went home and phoned him and asked if he could come up to our place for about 10 minutes. He asked “What tools do I bring? Is anything wrong.?”

“No, no tools, nothing is wrong. Just come up if you can spare 10 minutes.”

He came to the door confused.

“Come in. Take off your coat.” He had just come in from outside. He came in, and took off his coat. I asked him to come into the living room and asked him to sit down, which he did, still confused. I presented him with the fancy bag and said, “This is your Christmas present, but I don’t want you to open it now. I’m going to show you what it is and how to work it.”

I proceeded to show him one trick at a time and showed images (1).jpeghim how they were done. His eyes were popping out of his head. He was as excited as a kid. If I gave him a million dollars I don’t think he could have been more excited.

He thanked me (and the reluctant Phil) over and over.

About 10 minutes later the phone rings. It’s his wife. She said, “I don’t understand. There’s a gift bag here and a card from you, but there’s nothing in the bag except tissue paper and I can’t find my husband.”

It seems he had gone off to practice the tricks privately. Nor could he wait until Christmas. This was a week before Christmas. He came up to see us the next day with a smile from ear to ear. He had done the tricks for his grandkids and was a hit! He taught them how to do it and they were just enthralled inserting the abra-ca-dabra in the appropriate places and all that jazz!

I’m sure if I gave him cash next year he would surely be disappointed. There’s nothing like the magic of magic!


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The Things We Do For Love (of Magic)

Sometimes people do things and you can’t understand why. There seems to be no logic to it, and yet they proceed. If and when you find the reason behind the action,  the action becomes clear. The other day I found out why someone did something and I didn’t even know he did it and it took over 30 years to find out, and it warmed my heart.

Many of you may know Stephane Bourgoin. He’s a magician who first came to Perfect Magic when he was 15. He has been very successful in every aspect in the field of magic. You may have seen him on TV. More that being a great magician in his own right he is a creator of illusions and created illusions for Cirque du Soleil  |  Juste Pour Rire  |  Théâtre du Nouveau Monde  | Les Grands Ballets Canadien  |  Orchestre Métropolitain and soon he will be off to Europe for additional engagements. He also  works with Luc Langevin, another success story. I think Luc was around about 11 years of age when he first came here, and he recently made his greatest production, a son. Congratulations again Luc. I hope you’re getting some sleep by now.

So here’s the story. Before Christmas Stephane came to our shop for  supplies. He was talking to Phil at this point, as I was with another customer so I don’t know how the topic came up,  but I caught a bit of the conversation and later got the whole story. Stephane told us when he graduated from CEGEP, he was accepted by four Universities. He told his father he wanted to go to the Polytechnique  Montréal. His father said, “Why do you want to go there? You can go to any University, you can go to McGill!” and Stephane said he made up some excuse that he told his father and that’s where he went.

He said “Very few people know this but I chose it because it was the closest to Perfect Magic.” His father never found out about that. I told him that now the whole world is going to know about it as I found it so touching.  That’s when we took the photo.







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Put A Little Magic in Christmas

If you want to add anything to your Christmas show, here’s what we have to offer. Since we won’t be here for BOXING DAY we’re giving a 25% special now until we leave on vacation on December 22 on the items listed below.

Even if you have this year’s show planned, think about next year. We only have 1 of most Christmas items left. I put the quantity in Brackets after the item. When it’s gone it’s gone and we will tell you.

You can still get it at the discount price if our supplier has any left, but we can’t garantee you’ll get it before Christmas.   If you want something on the list, order now.

We wish you and your loved ones a happy,  healthy and merry Christmas!

Evy & Phil

A Tony Christmas Show DVD (1)

Christmas Silk 36″Christmas Silk 36″,no writing (1)
Deluxe Santa Stuck in Chimney (1)
Fantasy Green Change Bag (no zipper) (1)

Forgetful Rudolph (1)
Happy Santa Blendo (1)
Lit Candle to Twinkling Christmas Tree (1)
Paper Hat Tears, Santa package of 12(10)
Rudy Reindeer (1)
Santa’s Hat (1)


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It’s Always Something!

AS my son likes to say when I phone him and someone else answers and says to him, “It’s your mother.”, his favourite reply is “If it’s not one thing, its my mother.”

So we are having our “BLACK FRIDAY SALE” this week. In case you didn’t know, go to our website. 30% off DVDs, 20% off books 15% off close-up and more. You can order by phone, on line or in person.

So now is the time that the computer decides to act up. It won’t affect your orders, it just makes our work a little more difficult. Phil is working on it now. As I say, It’s always something.

If you are new and want to subscribe to Perfect Magic, click under my photo where it says Subscribe.

Happy Black Friday week! The sale goes until the 30th of November, which happens to be our Anniversary. Phil and I, G-d willing, will be celebrating our 59th Wedding Anniversary. How time flies when you’re having fun!


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“The Invisible Piano”

There really is no business like show business. In most businesses you have a service or product to offer. The customer takes it or not. Of course there are problems involved, but nothing like showbiz.

So I’d like to share this experience with you. My husband, Phil, as many of you know, is a ragtime piano player. I’m his agent. So I get him shows. You know what that’s like, being a performer.  My first question always is, “Do you have a piano?” If the answer is “yes” I continue. So a few weeks ago we had a show at a lovely senior residence. We actually played there before, but it has been awhile. I should have seen that the signs were auspicious when we couldn’t find his music vest, which he always wears. It was my fault, of course, as I had the audacity to hang it in the closet. Silly me.

“Where’s my vest?”

“In your closet.”

” No, it’s not. Why did you touch it?”

“Because it was lying around.”

“Well, it’s not in my closet.”

I looked, and couldn’t find it either. Maybe I hung it in another closet. We checked all closets. The thought had crossed my mind that maybe he couldn’t play without his music vest, so I went through his closet again and, lo and behold, there is was. It was hidden as there are no sleeves on a vest. Go figure! But all this took time and so we left later than we normally would have. Was there traffic on the Decarie Expressway? Yes there was. So things were a little tense, but at 10 to the hour, we were there and ready.

When we came in someone was sitting and waiting for us. He said he was the emcee and to follow him. We did and went down a hall with large windows on the side which enabled us to see the large crowd seated and awaiting Phil. We go into a large auditorium and a see a large empty space where I know a piano should have been. Phil and I look at each other, puzzled. The emcee introduces Phil and Phil says, “Where’s the piano?”

The emcee looks at Phil and says, “Piano? It’s in the Church.” So I’m thinking, we’re going to take all these people to the Church.

And Phil says, “It’s really hard to play without a piano.”

So the emcee says “We have an electric piano in there,” pointing to a door. He goes to the door but it’s locked. Now he has to find someone who has a key and its Sunday and the regular staff isn’t there.

Finally, they find someone with the key and the emcee and the key person drag out a canvas duffle bag  which they undo and start setting up the piano, when some gentleman cries out.

“The concert is supposed to start at 3:00 o’clock. It’s 5 past 3.

Phil says to him. It’s only 5 minutes late. I think that’s pretty good considering. By this time the piano is standing on the stand. The emcee says, “There you go.” and starts to walk away.

Phil says, “This is an electric piano. It has to be plugged in. Where are the wires and where’s the peddle and bench?”

Oh, and yes, they said they had a sound system, but they did not have a microphone stand. But Phil always brings his own sound system just in case so he had to set that up. The man who complained about the time was not happy.

At last, everything was set plugged in and set to go. Phil played and they sang and a good time was had by all, except maybe the man who complained.  Only in show biz!








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Hooked on Magic and a Phone

So if you had to give up your iphone or magic what would it be? This does not come out of the blue. A young man maybe 17 or 18 came into the shop talking on his phone. He asked if he could look around. I said “Of course.” and he kept on talking, only interrupting the conversation to ask if I had a certain trick. I said yes. He kept on talking on his phone. He asked it I could demo it. I said yes. I got the trick, opened the box, took out the cards and he is still talking on the phone.

“Put down your phone!” I said, not in a sweet way.

“I’m putting you on hold.” he said to whoever, and he put down the phone.

I showed him the trick and blew him away. He got back on the phone. When he was ready to make his purchase he got off the phone.

I said, ” I don’t know how we survived. Believe it or not, until I was 7, and we were a family of 6 people, we didn’t have a phone, not even a wall phone. When there was an emergency we would ring our neigbour’s bell and ask is we could use her phone, which was a wall phone. When we moved to N.D.G. we got a phone, but it had a party line, so we couldn’t use it whenever we wanted. And you, young man, can’t take a breath without it.”

“I know. I love my phone.”





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Celebrities and People

As many of you know, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, head of Chemistry and Society at McGill University, my Alma Mater, has a 2 evening Conference sponsored by Lorne Trottier, every year in Montreal. It’s open to the public and its free. Phil and I have been going since it started. Its entertaining as well as educational. The topics are fascinating. This year Dr. Amir Raz from the department of Psychiatry at McGill and Dr. Marla Shapiro, physician, who many of you must have seen on CTV, were his guest speakers.

Dr. Joe, a customer and a friend, always invited us to the meet and greet before the show, where wine and hors d’ouvres were served. It was full of professors, scientists, scholars, and important people. Of course we’re all important, but these were celebrities. It was here several years ago that we had the pleasure of meeting Julie Payette who is now Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada.

Phil was star-struck when he saw her way back then. Normally shy, he took his courage in hand and went over to her and said, “I just had to meet you. I’m not a doctor or professor or scientist …” and she said, “Don’t tell me what you’re not, tell me what you are.” And Phil said, “I’m Joe Schwarcz’ magic dealer.” “Really? How exciting!” And from there they got into a conversation and we’ve been friends, always happy to see each other and catch up on what each other was doing etc. She was director at the science centre at the Old Port  in Montreal for a while and had magicians there so we had something in common. We usually sat together in reserved seating. Not this year.

We sat in reserved seating but Julie was nowhere in sight until everyone was seated and an announcement was made that Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governer General of Canada was entering and everyone stood up and applauded. It was moving. She had an official escort with her.

When she sat down Dr. Joe went on to the stage and started to introduce Dr. Marla when someone came up to him, whispered a few words and stepped away. He went back to speaking and said “It seems I didn’t have the correct protocol. I’m supposed to introduce the Her Excellency The Right Honorable Julie Payette and she is going to say a few words. He continued with  something like “I never thought about introducing her because she comes here every year and I never introduced her before. Just because she’s an astronaut, and plays in a symphony orchestra, and is a super athlete,” and he went on and on about her achievments, “why would I introduce her?” He got a good laugh. He introduced her and she came up and gave a heartwarming speech which I’m sure everyone enjoyed, and then the speakers were called upon and we had a wonderful evening. We did have a chance to speak to her after. As she says “I’m still Julie”!

Julie Payette 3



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