on links to see the photos - there's 40 great shots. Many thanks
to Jan for the great photos, and congratulations to you for having
your thesis subject approved by The Magic Cirlcle of your examination
to advance to the next level...)
left: The Steve Dacri Dan Garrett mustache collection for 2003
we visited the Society of American Magicians National Convention,
the annual gathering that attracts over a thousand magic enthusiasts
to get together and share, laugh, watch, talk buy and sell magic.
The key component is the buy and sell element, believe me. It's
one big Wal-Mart of magic. Some would say the absolute best part
is the meeting of friends, old and new, and the opportunity to
sit and talk with magic lovers, amateur and professional, from
over the world. Here are some of the people we crossed paths with.
registration area, staffed by happy, efficient people. The Riviera
Hotel is about 2 miles from our new home, so Jan suggested we
stop unpacking and nailing pictures and typing on computer keyboards
for a while and go to the convention. We headed down there, illegally
parked in front of the door, (I put the PRESS ID on the dashboard
and walked inside.)
[back to top]
one of the 1,300 magicians we ran into was PNP
George Schindler, my pal from the old days, when
I was hanging with Frank Garcia. George, of course, was the partner
of Frank, helped him get his incredible card books to market,
a fate that raised the bar on good, commercial card magic books
for the magic world. Great to see George, one of the true gentlemen
of the magic world.
Jann Goodsell. We attempted a hug across the huge
counter…that will have to wait. Great to see her, with her
sleeves rolled up, bossing people around and taking drinks away
Terry Seabrooke doing his rehab after his
brush with death in his garage not so long ago. He was hoisting
full goblets of scotch in a slow but steady pace, according to
the doctor’s strict orders. Then Mr.
& Mrs. Dan Garrett were blocking the doorway
into the dealers room as they had spread out all of Dan’s
purchases and added it all up. Our good friend
Craig Dickson, looking all spiffy in his
designer jeans and sneakers, running a tight little ship that
they call the dealers room, complete with a performing stage area,
with curtains, mike and such, for the dealers to continuosly get
up and perform their latest goodies for the crowd…great
idea, why haven’t others done this? The dealer room is the
center of the action, the social and business interactions are
the real pulse of the convention. The room was huge, full of tables
of magic junk, and books and the newest, latest, greatest, used,
new, collector’s pieces…you get the picture. A giant
feeding frenzy of activity, with buyers and sellers caught up
in a kind of hypnotic buzz or action and talk.
ended with a performance of the world famous elevator illusion,
with Hall of Fame member
Ray Goulet and his wife Ann, Jay Marshall and Steve.
[back to top]
Saw our great
friend from New Orleans, PNP
Gary Hughes, counting money and polishing some of
his and Ray Bradbury’s collection of fantastic pieces. Fay
was reading a book upstairs, no doubt conserving her energy for
the slots later.
McBride grabbed me and brought me
into his classy salon of magic, where he conducted his Master
Class and provided a place to “hang”, with insense
and drums and places to sit and talk shop. Jeff and I have known
each other for many decades, beginning back in New York when we
were both still practicing our finger palms and coin sleights.
Great to share some time together, catch up a bit and just laugh…Be
sure to visit Jeff and his Las
Vegas Magic School
Little was in great spirits, despite coming from
a Kansas City convention that apparently was not kind to the dealers
(I heard noise about less than 700 people attended the IBM event,
a far cry from the 1,700 of last year in San Diego, and most of
the dealers told me they were disappointed with the sales.). Bob’s
booth always looks like an explosion in a flea market, but he
always has those interesting little trinkets and one-of-kind goodies,
plus Waltzing Matilda and other classic Bob Little items…he
is on his way to FISM when this is over, as are many of the road-weary
[back to top]
Even my old
Burton showed up to after his last performance to
check out the action.
Then there was the always smiling Meir
Yedid, the wizard who never sleeps. He is on the
internet more than any 10 people on a daily basis, updating MagicTimes,
and his other websites, plus editing videos and mastering DVD’s
and writing books and performing shows, and a little eating and
sleeping thrown in to keep himself alive, Meir and I also go way
back as they say, back in that dreamy time in New York in the
early 70’s, when Ed Mishel and Irv Tannen and Harry Lorayne
and Al Flosso and Frank Garcia and Slydini were everywhere and
part of the group that welcomed us and influenced us.
guru and performer Stan
Allen was polishing his giant MAGIC covers when we
sat and chatted for a while. He just bought a building in town,
on the outskirts of the strip, a huge warehouse to fill with paper
and magazines and good knows what else as the best magazine in
the magic world (nothing even comes remotely close to the quality
and look of MAGIC, thanks to Stan and John and their staff). We
used to often bump into each other at the Magic Castle in the
70’s during my frequent visits, and there’s fellow
publisher and performer Mike Caveney who was also hanging at the
Castle in those early days as well. I haven’t seen Mike
in a long while.
[back to top]
magic mags, said hello to Genii honcho Richard Kaufman, who had
the misfortune of getting the booth directly across from MAGIC.
He says it didn’t really bother him, but when the convention
reopened the following day, his booth was mysteriously moved to
the far end of the convention, so someone was not pleased with
the original layout. Richard does a great job with Genii, it’s
really a very different magazine in so many ways, but in the world
of magic, which is fairly small, when judging the publications
that are inexistence, the general view is that they all have something
to offer, and MAGIC is the leader of the pack. Genii is also a
very different magazine now than it was when Bill was running
things. In some ways better, in other ways, not better. As I did
while there, I urge all magic lovers to subscribe to Genii.
in his usual spot (didn’t you retire Hank? You work harder
now than you did when you and I used to be dealers together at
all the gatherings way back when!) selling and demonstrating and
talking shop. Hank always has good stuff, never any junk, really.
He also finds those clever gems that sell like hotcakes. And he
even sells hotcakes. Makes ‘em in the back himself. Taste
great, less filling than most other dealers, too.
[back to top]
Brown, the new owner of Tannen’s, was looking
mighty sharp as he hustled money and whipped his demonstrators.
I never really had a chance to talk with him for any great length
before, so this was a real treat. He’s only been in the
magic business for a short while (less than a couple of years)
and he admits it. He has immersed himself in the business, and
learned a tremendous amount of useless information about the magic
world. I love that he is trying to re-invent Tannen’s, and
restore it to the glory it once enjoyed.
he will do it, he’s smart, full of energy and determined.
Tannen’s will be one of our sponsors for the show at the
Orleans, and as part of that sponsorship, will run a contest on
their website and in their famed Manhattan showroom, with prizes
ranging from a trip to Vegas to see the show, to actual guest
spots within the show for qualified customers.
Warren Kaps stopped by to say hello, and Jan snapped
shot of the three of us.
tell you more about this next week.
[back to top]
Goshman wandering around looking for defective merchandise
and friendly dealers (the card type, not the magic merchandise
type) and Howie Schwartzman, another pal from a million years
BC, looking just as jovial as ever. And then Duane
Laflin came by to show me his handling
of my 3D Bunnies. Duane
and Mary always have the largest display of beautiful
silks at every convention.
Also at the
dealer room was Michael
Laird with colorful dragons and Chinese fans that
Jan just had to have. Gary Hughes and Ray Bradbury presented their
collector's pieces in their Bradbury
Hughes booth. They are making a special chess set
for Johnny Thomspon, we say the molds for the King and Queen,
which look exactly like Johnny and Pam Thompson...cool.
Hitchcock is years, since we worked side by side
at Caesars Magical Empire for so many years. He is so talented
as both a magician and a swing dancer, although he steps on my
feet a lot so I refuse to dance with him anymore.
Nielsen was there showing off a small portion of
his remarkable poster collection, and Joe
Stevens explained that his photo on the cover of
MAGIC was not enhanced. Mark Stevens, however, secretly informed
us that the photo was touched up "a whole bunch."
[back to top]
This is the
first official day of the convention, that other stuff was just
the prelude, the night before “come and get it while its
hot magic dealer sell-a-thon” . Now, of course, most everyone
has been up for 24 hours. Nobody sleeps in Vegas. And nobody sleeps
at a magic convention. So when a magic convention comes to Las
Vegas, it tends to get ugly.
Not to say that the convention was anything but wonderful. What
I saw was very good, well-organized and well attended. The close-up
rooms could have been better. Always amazes me that the big conventions
can't get it right. Close-Up Magic is a highlight for many, certainly
a very popular aspect. Why can't we have tiered seats, bleachers,
something to provide the audience with the proper experience?
and close-up competition was lively. I have no details, I insist
you go to the SAM website for the winners and reports.
ceremonies were…what can I say? First. That’s what
they were. Jeff did the first lecture, to an overflowing crowd.
A spouse welcome event followed, but I’m not a spouse so
I can’t tell you what happened. Besides, I am not going
to report on everything that happened, someone else will do that.
Someone who was taking notes. Someone who pays attention. I am
not that person. I’m merely rambling on about the people
I saw and remember. Which means after for events after 10 pm,
I pretty much stop giving details.
[back to top]
The Gala Shows
all took place during the afternoon because the hotel refused
to allow the use of their theater at night. They have a long-running
show called “Splash” with naked girls and music, and
they were not about to call it off so the magicians could spread
dove and rabbit poops all over the floor. I sat with Terry Seabrooke
backstage and taught him some moves while he tried to come up
with some material for the show he was emceeing.
More skilled reporters would tell you about each and every act.
I remember Billy McComb…who was so…Billy. Funny, clever
and well-received. So was the rest of the show.
close-up contests and a Stars of Tomorrow show that must have
been great. Tim Ellis and Sue
Ann Webster conducted a late night
Two days without sleep. People begin to sway as they
My pal and fellow Classic Force guy Paul Green did a lecture next,
the Juniors had their stage contest and there’s Ed Rosenthal
(with his sidekick O-TWO) smiling and searching for a good deal
on some piece of magic he can’t possible live without.
Brad Jacobs hosted the popular People’s Choice
Stage Contest, and the dealers continued to bust all sales records.
[back to top]
highlight for me was the always tasteful and well-attended event,
“The Magic Circle Reception”, the final one to be
hosted by illustrious outgoing president and good friend Michael
Bailey. He was in high form, greeting
everyone at the door personally and welcoming everyone, along
with darling wife, Angela, and the hard-working Secretary
Chris Pratt, who looked as dapper as ever, sort of
a James Bond-type, with an ever-present smile. We had a fun chat
and outgoing SAM president Ed Thomas, and got a cool
photo of the two soon-to-be out of work organization heads.
For Michael, and for Ed, this was the final event that they would
be attending as president. Michael presented an effortless accounting
of the past year at The Magic Circle, incuding activities at the
new headquarters, and outlined plans for the upcoming Centenial
Celebration in 2005. As he spoke, we were reminded of why he has
been such an effective example of the high, professional standards
that The Magic Circle represents.
Jan caught Billy
McComb at The Magic Circle reception...talking with
The wine flowed,
the cheese disappeared and the rest of the food wen swiftly as
well. Every time Seabooke put
his drink down, Jann Goodsell would swoop in and
steal it. Then he would turn around and smack me and make me go
get him another. My arm was so sore by the end of the reception.
Dean of American Magicians, Jay Marshall,
who said he never felt better. Billy McComb poured red wine on
his white pants while performing his version of matrix using wine
bottles and cheese. Joe Lefler was trying to sell us on Cleveland
as a great convention city and wondering where I kept my single
malt, as he will be stopping by the world headquarters of magicwebchannel
later in the week. And the incoming president of the IBM, David
Sandy even stopped by to listen to Michael Bailey's
report on The Magic Circle.
[back to top]
Gary and Fay
grabbed me and Dan Garrett, and we grabbed our wives (it was a
big grab-fest), after all the wine was flowing and the air was
heady. We piled into two cars and we took them to our favorite
little restaurant Capazolli’s off the strip, where it was
quiet, food is homemade and always great, and we enjoyed a fun
meal and photo
session, aided by the waiter.
more action in the dealer room and lots of little groups of magicians
showing tricks in every corner and at every bar. We tested the
martinis and headed off to begin the five minute drive back home
for a swim and cigar.
I have a hangover,
I'm heading to the jacuzzi for some relief. Nearly everyone looks
like they just walked off the set for "Day of the Zombies".
A cloud of fanning powder hangs over the dealer room. Nobody talks
except the dealers. Dazed, they just lean over the tables, hand
over the plastic, and collect another bag of stuff. The after
Gala is called: SOULdiers of Sorcery, featuring my pals Goldfinger
and Dove, and that is followed by the Close-Up Show,
more magic tricks bought and sold, and a large amount of card
tricks. "Doesn’t anyone sleep at these things?"
asks a security guard. SIlly man.
[back to top]
seen pockets of magicians, dressed in the same clothes since Sunday,
with bleary eyes and bulging bags of bootie, wandering in a trace-like
state, in and out of rooms and corridors. When they bump into
something, they turn and begin walking in the other direction.
When they get sick of the magic, they wander out to the casino
and start pouring money into the machines for hours, then when
they get hungry they get into a buffet line, then it’s back
to the dealer room to start the cycle all over again.
will be doing a lecture tonight, although I think it’s more
of a performance thing, we shall see. More later...
over. Some people have disappeared already. Others are glued to
the video poker machines, mumbling and staring. It's a good thing
everyone wears a name tag with room numbers on them, otherwise
most people would not know who they were anymore. Today is the
final day of official business for the outgoing president, Ed
Thomas, and he is in great spirits, happy to know
his year was productive for the organization.
Banquest and Closing Ceremony had food and drinks, followed by
the President's Reception, at which our new president, Jay
Gorham did the meet and greet thing while everyone
proceeded to get drunk, even though the booze was not free. At
the IBM, this event features lots of food and free drinks. Someone
Bongo filled up many plates of food and Chris Pratt
and Steve contemplated a real estate investment where a States-side
satellite headquarters for The Magic Circle could be constructed.
Harry Monte was there looking spiffy. He promises
to visit the Orleans Hotel and catch my new show in the fall,
as did many other members. Speaking of my new show, I bumped into
Kalver who invented a great trick I am adding to
my new show at the Orleans (was that considered a blatant plug,
or what?). We had a chance to go over some of the finer points
of this little miracle.
That's the best part of these conventions - you get to meet so
many talented people and share ideas, and you sometimes even make
Right Here...I did a lot of this during the convention...
As the bars
closed, ambulances arrived and to take away the mass of unconscious
magicians. Luckily, they all were staying in the Riviera Hotel,
so they were delivered to their respecive rooms using their name
badges for identification.
were still standing headed bravely to the dealers room and then
on to the casino for that last shot at financial security.
Jan and I
drove away with a few still-walking members on a tour of some
of the after-hours clubs to check out the wildlife that inhabits
this part of the desert.
Final Shot...Jan shows off...
[back to top]