Tag Archives: Phil Matlin

Magicians Peforming For Magicians

Many years ago we went to a restaurant in Toronto. We were with other people but it was so long ago I can’t remember if it was our children or our friends, not that the two are mutually exclusive, but I know there were other people at the table. It was a restaurant on Adelaide St. and they had a show called “A Little Nite Magic”. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong.

They had an MC who knew who we were, owner’s of Perfect Magic and the people who put on Magie Montreal every year, (at that time). When he saw us sitting in the audience he visibly gasped but he pulled himself together. The performer who did walk around magic was someone who came to the convention every year. We waited patiently for him to come to our table to do some magic but he never did, although I’m sure he went to every other table. When we finished dinner, Phil went over to him and said ” How come you didn’t do any magic for us?”  His answer. Well, you’re Phil Matlin, aren’t you?”

Another time George Schindler was in town for a show and Phil suggested that they go for brunch at the Sheraton Center downtown, where Magic Tom Auburn did walk around magic every Sunday morning. We knew Tom very well and but this was the first time Tom and George met. Tom knew very well who George Schindler was. He came straight to our table and after the introduction and greetings Tom asked if we would like to see a little magic. I guess this was morning magic as opposed to “nite” magic. We said yes and entertain us he did. He was, as always, very charming and if he was nervous, there was no sign of it. We all thoroughly enjoyed his performance. Of course he didn’t fool us, he didn’t even try, but he sure did entertain us and we greatly appreciated it.

Which brings me to my son Brian, and something he wrote in his blog  this week which I will share with you.

“One of the first times behind the ‘Perfect Magic’ counter at a magic convention I was performing an effect for a customer when two very prominent figures in magic walked up to watch, (Sid Loraine and Frank Garcia).  Suddenly I became a jumble of nerves.  Later Mr. Garcia found me sitting in the lobby and he said to me that I should never be nervous when performing in front of another magician.  “A true magician,” he said,” will always be there to help you. We are after all, a brotherhood.”  I try to remember this bit of wisdom when dealing with people in general.  I’ve got to tell you, I’m not always successful.”

Would you care to share your experiences performing for other magicians? Were you nervous? What was your reaction? When I was a student at McGill, I did a paper on Doctors treating Doctors and Doctors as Patients. I made some fascinating discoveries from those who were willing to share. Maybe we can learn something from this too.

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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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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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Perfect Magic at the Waldorf in New York

Our very first Magic Convention that we went to as Magic Dealers was in 1978. I may be off by a year either way. It was at the Waldorf and it cost $76.00 a night just to park the car, THEN! The Dean of Magic, George Schindler, can correct me if I’m wrong about the date.

It was exciting and we met lots people, some of whom we remain friends with to this day. Some have passed away. Some are still going strong. Each was or still is a legend in magic.

Here are some photos we took then. How many do you know or are you too young?

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Women In Magic

How many full time magicians in the world would you think  are women? According to Dennis Regling’s  article on Bella on line, the answer is about 50. I’m not sure when that article was written but it is a very small percentage.

The tricky word is full time. I know that some  male professional magicians sometimes have a day job as well. So I will define the female magicians as professional magicians as I don’t know if they have other occupations or not. We had a few women magicians at Magie Montreal, the Montreal Magic Convention run by Phil Matlin and Wim Vermeys for 19 years, and they were awesome. (the women as well as the conventions)! I am referring only to women that had their own act, close-up show or lecture.  Not that I am taking anything away from magicians’ assistants or magic teams, most of whom are excellent in their own right, but that will be in another blog. The dates below are approximate.

1981 Frances Marshall, then owner of Magic Inc.  lectured.

Shelley Carroll perform at Magic Montreal twice, in 1985 and  in 1991. Shelley Carroll and Derek Dingle were partners for 25 years. He performed close up and she had a stage act. Unfortunately Derek passed away in 2004. In the 70’s they founded The Magic Agency which is now being run by Shelley.

In 1986 Lucy Smalley performed on our stage. She was a professional manipulator taught by Neil Foster and was the first woman to win Abbott’s Magic Contest. I don’t think she is performing any more.

In 1988 June Horowitz, President of S.A.M.  (Society of American Magicians) who was being honored at Magic Montreal performed close-up.

In 1994 we had 2 women, Juliana Chen and Karla Baumgardner. Karla perfomed another year as well . Both are still performing as far as I know. Karla came into the Magic Shop not long ago. I am embarassed to say I cannot find the photos of Juliana Chen but click on the link. I had many and I can see them in my mind as she did her fabulous card production and card manipulation act and when I find them I will post them. They must be with the photo of Randi and Dr. Joe Schwarcz which is also missing.

In 1997 Lupe from Las Vegas performed close up.

There are others, however, who I know do this full time. They come into the shop, and have been coming in for years. Some of these ladies combine it with clowning and do face-painting. They are very professional and are busy. There are more young girls interested in magic as well, so guys, watch out. Times, they are a changing!

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Filed under Bill Zavis, Juliana Chen, Magic, Magie Montreal, Phil Matlin, Wim Vermeys