Tag Archives: Magicians

Restaurant Magic – Boom Years in Montreal!.

There once was a time, in the 70’s and 80’s and even before and after, that Montreal was a haven for restaurant magicians.  I’d like to name them all, but I don’t know or remember them all. Mark Aronoff, an ex-Montrealer who now lives in Ottawa, helped jog my memory and filled some facts I didn’t know.

I know for sure Magic Tom (Auburn) did walk around magic at the Sheraton downtown for Sunday morning brunch. When George Schindler was in town Phil and I took him to see  Tom and it was a delight. Magic Tom was also a regular at Piazza Tomasso for children’s parties. I remember him  performing at my nephew’s birthday party but I believe that was in the late 60’s. Tom was also a regular every week-end in later years at Grey Rocks in the Laurentians.

Mark filled me in with the following details about himself and some magicians he worked with, etc. I’ll just quote him…

“Hi Evelyn,

Nice speaking with you today. I forgot to give you the name of the restaurant that I worked at before Le Biftheque. That restaurant was Mille Fleurs Restaurant & Reception run by Phil Bloom, it’s gone now but was located at 5011 Buchan Street (near Pare). I did their Sunday Brunch for several months. This is where I met Michael Seltzer, who then hired me for Le Biftheque restaurant for Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Later, while working at Le Biftheque, I met the marketing people for Restaurant La Maison Kam Fung and was hired to do their Saturday and Sunday Dim Sum in the mornings. After a few months I brought in Joey Incollingo to take over one of the days at Kam Fung. I guess we should thank Doug Henning for this resurgence of Magic in the 80’s.

Take Care,

Mark”

Joey  Incollingo was also doing magic at St. Hubert Bar-B-Q. Also filling in for Mark Aronoff at the Biftheque was Mehdi, Ted Outerbridge, and Mike Etcovitch. Later Philip and Henry worked at Le Biftheque as well.  Philip was a ventriloquist but also a magician.

In the conversation that he refers to he said that Aladin had a regular Sunday brunch gig at the Sheraton. He had a small stage show and then did walk around magic. Mehdi had a similar set up at the Ramada.

Jonathan Levey worked at Le Tulip Noir and also at the Hotel de la Montagne.

Ted Outerbridge did table hopping at Wings and Things on Sherbrooke St. W and later at Mother Tucker’s.

Mike Etcovitch and Jack Frank did magic for a restaurant on Decarie, near Piazza Tomasso. (Nifties).

Blair Marshall had a weekly gig at the Delta.

Brian Zembic, the Wiz, did magic for Thursdays and was popular with the night crowd.

Michel Corriveau opened a magic Restaurant on  Blvd St. Laurent and Gary Kurtz and a host of other magicians worked there.

Mehdi, Richard Sanders. Patrick Kuffs, and Jonathan Levy also worked at Bourbon Street.

And how could we possibly forget Ronald MacDonald? He was in every week buying balloons and magic? I included a youtube of a Ronald McDonald but not our Ronald McDonald.

I’m sure this is the tip of the iceberg, and some of it may be wrong…so please feel free to correct me and make additions to the list.

Regarding other Canadian cities, I know in Vancouver that  Tony Eng was a regular at  the Japanese Village; Roy Cottee performed at the Japanese village in Ottawa. Jon Charles performed regularly at a restaurant in  Edmonton. And I know Toronto had magicians performing because we were in a restaurant that had one, who wouldn’t perform at our table because he recognized Phil and was intimidated by performing for another magician. He told us that later when we asked why he didn’t come to our table. Our guests were disappointed.

So if you have information about yourself or any other magician you know that worked in a restaurant, I’d love you to share that information with us.

A big thank you to Mark Aronoff, for his help!

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Filed under Magic, Memorablia, Performing, Restaurant Magic

Father Cyprian

 

Father Cyprian

One of the rewards about being in the magic business is meeting people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet and going to places you wouldn’t ordinarily go to. How would a nice Jewish family in Montreal happen to have a Capuchin -Franciscan monk as a guest at one of their Passover Seders? The very same way that family attended this same Capuchin monk’s 25th Anniversary of his ordination at his seminary in Connecticut. We were friends. We became friends through magic. We meet a lot of people in magic but we don’t always become good friends. We consider Father Cyprian Murray a good friend. We shared a lot of good times together,  a lot of good meals (I still remember that blue cheese salad dressing you recommended) and good wines. But he wasn’t there just for the good times. He helped us when we had personal problems as well. His advice to us was always wise.

We call him Cyp. No disrespect. At an SAM national convention in Tampa we started a movement  to get Father Cyprian to be pope. Twelve CYP for POPE buttons were made and distributed to a select few. These buttons are now collectible if you can get one of us to part with it.

At the above mentioned 25th anniversary celebration Cyp requested that George Schindler be the Master of Ceremonies at the dinner party after the Church service. It seemed to me there were a few hundred people there, monks dressed in their brown robes, family and friends. It was in an auditorium and there was a stage and the floor of the stage was full of presents for Cyp. George got up there and said, Gee, this is just like a Bar Mitzvah. You have a service, you have a meal and you get presents, lots of presents . We only have to wait till we’re 13. You have to wait a little longer. George was at his best and the monks around us were hysterical with laughter.

When Cyp got up to thank George for the tremendous job he did, he also mentioned the fact that he was running for Pope and one of his colleauges at the seminary had asked him why he got George as a manager. Cyp said, “Because I want to be Pope”! so his colleague said, “Yes, but he’s Jewish?” and Cyp said, “But I really want to be Pope”. The monks roared! It was a wonderful celebration and I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was over 25 years ago. We had the good fortune to meet up with Cyp not so long ago at George and Nina Schindler’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and we had a lot of catching up to do.

Fr. Cyprian and Dean George Schindler at Magie Montreal 1990

The Award Presentation. From left - Wim Vermeys, Phil, Richard Sanders, Fr. Cyprian, Mario Choinier, and David Acer

Phil, Fr. Cyprian, and Wim Vermeys

Fr. Cyprian is recognized around the world as an authority on card and close-up magic and often had some explaining to do as he travelled around the world with his collar on, and then having to open his briefcase full of decks of cards for the customs inspectors.  He was the guest of honor at the 11th Annual Convention of Magie Montreal in 1990 produced by Phil Matlin of Perfect Magic and Wim Vermeys. One of the

Front cover of the Magie Montreal 1990 convention.

attendees asked if would would hold a mass  that Sunday morning and he did.

Cyp! Zie gesunt! or as we say Keep Well. Hope it brought back a few wonderful memories.

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

George Schindler – The Dean of The Society Of American Magicians

 

 

Dean George Schindler

Whenever I have a question about anything in magic I ask George. He knows everything. He was one of the first people we met and did business with when we started out about 35 years ago. Phil and I have been friends with Nina and George ever since. We used to make it a point to get together for a week-end every year at a convenient place like Atlantic City or  someplace in New Hampshire or at my son’s home in Port Matlilda, Pennsylvania or at my brother’s farm in Abbottsford,  British Columbia. ( I included photos of the cows  on the farm and that’s me with a broom in my hand as the cows had broken through the electric fence and I was trying to keep them from going on the road while  my brother went to get a pail of oats to lure them back where they belonged.)

Evy keeping the cows at bay.

At the farm. From the left Jim McTier (in the shadow), Nina Schindler, Phil, George Schindler, Len Ellis

Evy's brother's farm in Bristish Columbia

In case we didn’t meet the Schindlers on purpose, believe it or not, we would bump into each other quite by accident on the highway. This happened at least 3 times. Once we were driving and I said “Doesn’t that guy look like George?” Phil looked over and said,”That is George!” We started honking and we both pulled over at the next rest area.

Another time we  stopped somewhere in New Jersey at a gas station. We hardly ever stop at the service areas but Phil was hungry so we stopped for a bite but filled up the car first. Just across from us at the next pump George was getting his car filled up. We all started screaming and George’s gas attendant couldn’t understand what was going on. We just couldn’t believe it! Again! We’ve known each other’s children since they were little. Its been a great relationship. A few years back we went to George and Nina’s 50th wedding anniversary party. We felt honored that we were one of the few magician friends to be invited.

George’s life has been and still is a versatile one in the world of entertainment. He’s been a full time professional magician since 1970. Last week I wrote

about Frank Garcia. George and Frank founded the School for Magicians in New York City in 1973. George did TV commercials and played the magician in Woody Allen’s New York Stories. He has won numerous awards over the years and produced many magic shows. He is proficient in close-up, stage, comedy, ventriloquism, author of many books, including Magic With Cards which he co-authored with Frank Garcia. It was an excellent seller in our shop, by the way. He created several magic effects as well. On top of that he is a magic dealer in New York – Showbiz  Services.

Presentation to the Endowment Fund. From the left - Phil, Stan Tesher, Tony Nielson, George Schindler, Mike Deslauriers, Cynthia Martin,

In 2005 he was named Dean of the American Magicians, by the Society of American Magicians.

When he was President of the SAM (Society of American Magicians), George was presented with $1000.00 cheque for the Magic Endowment Fund of the SAM by the Magic Tom Auburn Montreal Assembly of the SAM at Magie Montreal. Mike Deslauriers was the President and Stan Tesher was Vice-President at the time.

George is well known in Montreal, as he attended and took part in many of our events. We hope to enjoy our friendship for many years to come

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1985 Great year for Magic! Ivano honoured at Magie Montreal!

Sometimes you do something, and quite accidentally it turns into something else altogether. Two weeks ago I wrote about Women in Magic. One of the women was Shelley Carroll. I had several photos of her, but she looked the prettiest to me hanging on the the arm of Ivano, so I used that photo.

The blog wasn’t about Ivano, but if any of you read the comments, there was a touching one from his grandson, who said his grandfather had died when he was 9, but he has wonderful memories of him. The thing that is weird about this is that I already started a blog on the year 1985 which was the year that we dedicated the convention to Ivano, who was our guest of honour that year and who performed at the convention. I was going to mention that in the blog, and continue on with other dealers, as I had started with them in an earlier blog. But the dealers will have to wait. I’m sure Ivano’s grandson will enjoy reading about his grandfather and seeing some photos.

Acton-Vale is a small town in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, Canada, the home of IVANO who wrote a book in 1983 celebrating 50 years as a magician, artist, and photographer.  He became a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) in 1933.

I remember the drive  to the picturesque little town of Acton-Vale to meet him. Jean Prendergast was with us. He was a friend of IVANO’s and made the introductions. Phil asked IVANO to be the guest of honor and to perform at our next Magie Montreal convention. He was delighted by the invitation and we by his acceptance. Phil remembers him showing us his studio and especially some rag paintings. It was an enjoyable afternoon. He gave us a copy of his book which he autographed and drew a little picture of a rabbit. Sweet memories!

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Filed under Magic Conventions, 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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Love Those Wild Horses

Speaking of memories, Rick Bronson’, owner of The Comic Strip, and The House Of  Comedy entered the Stage Magic Competition at a Magic Montréal Convention in 1991. My son Michael was sitting in the audience and Rick managed to get him on stage as a volunteer, although he must have used some strong armed method, as I can’t see Michael going up there voluntarily!

Rick Bronson and Mike Matlin

My youngest daughter Julie, who was about 18 the time was sitting beside me watching the show, and she leaned over to me and said, “Michael is such an idiot to go up there. Wild horses couldn’t drag me on stage.”  As I recall Ricky did a great version of the classic Tricky Bottles and Michael was really a good sport about it and seemed to be enjoying himself up there, in spite of the fact that Ricky made him look a little silly.

The next day, when the Gala Show came on, I think I was sitting with Phil, although he was usually back stage controlling traffic, when the Zucchini Brothers came on. We usually had one act that wasn’t magic but was sort of tied in to the genre, like a ventriloquist, or a mind reading act, and in this case a juggling act that was hilarious.

The Zucchini Brothers were on stage doing their thing, when they said they needed a volunteer. Suddenly the house got dark and two spot lights flashed around the audience and stopped at a person. The Zucchinis marched down into the audience to collect the lucky individual that the spotlight hit (not literally). We couldn’t see who it was from our vantage point, but you can imagine my surprise when I saw Julie, yes the same Julie who couldn’t be dragged by wild horses on stage, on stage. One of the brothers put a straw in her mouth, stood her in the middle of the stage. One went to one side of the stage; the other went to the other side, juggling pins in hand .They told her not to worry, the pins would fly past the end of the straw. They told her to stand straight and not to move. They started juggling pins to each other with her in the middle. Suddenly one stopped and said, “You moved. Penalty!”

He took out a scissors and cut the straw. Every few minutes he stopped to cut it shorter.  Everyone laughed except Julie.

After the show she went over to Phil, fuming. “How dare you tell the Zucchini’s that it was okay to get me as a volunteer?”

Phil said. “I never did any such thing. They never spoke to me about it. “

“Well,” she said, “when he came to get me, I told him I wasn’t going and he said, ”Yes you are. It will be fine. I okayed it with your Dad.” She didn’t want to spoil the show so she went.

By the way, Ricky has since gone   on to be a stand up comedian, is a comedy club owner, had his own TV show. I think it was called The Traveler. (Check out his web site).

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Filed under Magic, Magie Montreal, Ricky Bronson

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