Wednesday, July 22, 2020
The most recent podcast, Ep 54, was on Fetaque Sanders. In the course of the podcast I mentioned the fact that one of the reasons we know about him is because of what he left behind, posters! He spent a lot of money on advertising his show and it paid off in his life time.
In fact, in later years, he even sold a packet of his advertising materials through the Linking Ring Magazine. Valuable for both collectors and for those who wanted to study what a real pro used to advertise his show.
Every once in a while one of his posters comes up on ebay. My favorite of the Fetaque Sanders posters is the one with the two sets of eyes. This was a common marketing trick among the magicians in the 40-50s. They would put up posters with his face looking normal and then a couple days before showtime, replace this posters with an exact copy, except below his eyes on the poster was a second set of eyeballs. It made you stare at the poster and wonder if something wasn't wrong with your own eyes! Genuis.
This poster below is currently available on ebay. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-Fetaque-Sanders-Magician-Poster/372411155808?hash=item56b56f4560:g:aEgAAOSw51xepfcm
Monday, July 20, 2020
The Magic Detective Podcast is going strong. A month or so ago I finally hit the 10,000 download mark and the hosting company has given me this 'badge' to promote that event. Though, now I'm closer to 12,000 downloads (roughly about 300 short of that).
Since the pandemic, it's been rough going because I've been separated from my library. Yet despite that situation, I still have been able to get out some interesting podcasts. Among them were, Episode 50 on the Hooker Rising Cards and The Men Who Fooled Houdini, sort of a two segment episode. Then #51 was Hereward Carrington, a name that shows up a lot in Houdini biographies but how many people really knew a lot about him? So I did some digging and found him to be quite a fascinating character.
Episode 52 of the podcast was on Nate Leipzig and thankfully I had Dai Vernon's book on Leipzig here with me to rely upon. Askalexander.org was also full of great content on Nate, the gentleman conjurer.
On Episode 53, I thought I was going to get away easy, because I had previously done a blog article on KIO. But there wasn't quite enough info on there for a podcast. I could have done a short podcast, but I've not done one of those this season and am going to try and avoid that. Thankfully, I was able to get a book on KIO as well as rely upon Askalexander.org and a russian friend who helped me through some of the translations (spasibo for that).
Finally, Episode 54 was on Fetaque Sanders (pronounced FEE-TAKE), a wonderful magician of color who was popular in the 1930s-1960s. His story was amazing and inspiring. I loved the fact that he was born right here in Nashville, where I currently am. And he really did it all, from schools and churches to even working on Broadway.
I've not yet begun to work on Episode 55, trying to get a couple other projects done first. IF the pandemic continues the rest of the year, I may add something NEW to the Magic Detective World, but you'll have to wait on that for now.
Speaking of adding something new, I've been doing Zoom Shows for a while now. One of the things I did on my weekend evening shows was to add some stories. The last one I did I told the story of Lafayette and Beauty, I also shared a fictional story of Houdini and Charlie Chaplin which has been a routine in my stage show for almost 20 years. And I included a presentation for the antique Coffee Vase trick. So MY Zoom shows are quite different from what everyone else is doing. Granted, there are elements that are the same, I have a lot of interactive routines as do other performers. I think this is imperative when doing this sort of show. But I like including history into the show. Those are ticketed shows on select weekends. More info can be found at zoommagicshow.com
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Harry Blackstone Jr. was the first big named magician I ever saw. I had just visited Al's Magic Shop a few months earlier and inside the first issue of Genii Magazine I ever bought, was a write-up on Harry's upcoming tour. Sure enough, he was going to be coming to Washington D.C. to the Warner Theatre. I mentioned it to my Dad and didn't hear another word. I must have forgotten. Well, as it turned out, my Dad didn't forget. He got us tickets for third row from the stage. I remember he took us all to a Chinese restaurant in Falls Church, which is now a bank, lol. And then we took the subway to the Warner Theatre.
Blackstone was touring with a huge show which included a live orchestra. Costumes, scenery, magic, big illusions, wow. This show had it all. He opened, as always with the Vanishing Bird Cage. What can you say? It was brilliant magic, perfectly done. He had various themed routines, many elaborate costumes. All the classics were there. The flower routine from his Dad's show. The Dancing Handkerchief, perhaps my favorite of the Blackstone routines. The Buzzsaw, where he cut his wife Gay in half with that super loud saw and you could smell the sawdust from my seat!
Fast forward many years and I find out that there is to be a Blackstone Auction. I ordered the catalog
and prepared for the bidding. This was a few years before Potter and Potter Auctions would be around. I bid on so many things, never really expected to get anything. I came away with a host of costumes worn by various dancers, including one wore by Gay Blackstone. I bid on many illusions, loosing all to other bidders. I bid on Harry's costumes, again, loosing all to other bidders. Then there was this giant book, the Book of Life Illusion. I bid on it. And I won. I never dreamed in a million years to win a real illusion from the show! But sure enough I won it. As it turned out, I paid more for shipping than the book cost me. But it was worth it.
Now, fast forward a few more years and Masters of Illusion is in town. They are playing at the same theatre that I first saw Harry Blackstone Jr. all those many years before. By sheer coincidence, my assistant Denise was doing a review of the show for an online review site and Gay Blackstone came up to talk to her. The three of us began to chat. I told her about seeing her and Harry at that very theatre so many years before. And THEN I said, OMG, AND I OWN the BOOK OF LIFE! She lit up like a christmas tree. Oh what a great conversation we had. She had no idea that Denise and I were also full time magicians. She requested my promo video in case I might be interested in touring with Masters. Sadly, never heard anything back on that, but I'm sure they receive tons of those and mine likely just got lumped in with the bunch. It did not diminish the wonderful time we had with her that day and the memories that came back of seeing Harry Blackstone Jr present his incredible show.
Had he not gotten sick in 1997, he would be 86 today and probably look the same, except with a full head of gray or white hair. He would be magic's elder statesman. And I'm sure he would still be sharing his remarkable mysteries even to this day. I sure do miss Harry Blackstone Jr.. He holds a special place in my life as a magician.
Harry did sadly pass away on May 14th, 1997. But he still lives in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to enjoy his magic!