I have recently been wasting my time interacting with the Magic Cafe. This on-line denizen of card magicians and pedophiles has some interesting characters on it. It's run by my pal Steve Brooks. Steve has been a huge supporter of the Golden Gate Gathering.
In one of my interactions concerning magic and teachers I typed up this vignette. I think it belongs here.
My first teacher was Marvin Lovestedt. Yeah, you've never heard of him. In Ogden Utah, circa 1970, he was the best magician in town. He ran the Fun Shop at Washington and 25th streets. It was your classic, costume/adult gag/magic shop. The very first time I walked in there we bonded like oxygen and hydrogen. He loaned me his copy of [i]Stars of Magic[/i]. He had performed Cutting the Aces and I shit myself blind.
Marvin, truth be told, was and is not a high-level technician. He was a theater major and performed when he did tricks. He turned me on to the real work of the era. There were no great magic books at the Fun Shop, but Marvin turned me on to Loftus Magic and Novelty in Salt Lake. The guy behind the counter there was Earl Nelson. Earl treated me like crap. He, of course, was the best card man to ever escape from the Beehive State. Earl also fleshed out my collection of magic books. He sold me the Vernon card books (Ultimate, Inner, Further etc.), Close-up Card Magic and Garcia's Super Subtle/Million Dollar books.
My mentors were the guys who wrote those books. After Earl skipped town, (I think he was just ahead of the pogroms of '74), it was Marvin and I, holding down the card-guy fort. I did get to work the counter of the Fun Shop. Marvin allowed me to do one non-sales card trick a month for folks who walked in. Between The Fun Shop and MagicWorld in Denver I got to be a half-assed magician.
After some run-ins with the DEA and knocking up a girlfriend, Uncle Sam came a knockin'. The Navy allowed me to escape Utah. They did make me take the knocked-up girl with me though. Wife Uno, is a damned fine card magician btw. She does half a dozen card tricks pretty well!
Magic clubs across the country comprised most of our social life. Luckily I spent eight years in Orlando Florida where I ran into three magicians who did magic for a living. (Jon Armstrong was among the crew. He was the cute tow-headed kid though!) Hank Miller, James Sherrill and Terry Ward worked the local theme parks.
(Joe Conrad has some tribute footage of James on yt)
When I saw these guys do tricks at the local magic club, it was like an entirely different kind of magic. These were professional entertainers and I was shamed and dismayed at my own complete lack of ability. I had done Cutting the Aces since the day Marvin loaned me the book. I saw Terry Ward do that exact, same card trick for the magic club. I still can't find those socks.
Sherrill became a great pal. I met him my first day in Orlando. Paramount Magic was walking distance from the base. (This is 1979 btw. James hadn't gotten his Seaworld gig yet) There was a huge black man behind the counter. We swapped lies and card tricks. He offered to drive to the magic meeting that night. (Man I miss that big black son-of-a-bitch)
Hank Miller who worked King Henry's Feast helped me more than anyone. He has an unyielding and uncompromising approach to magic. He's better than you at card magic. He doesn't come across as arrogant or self-involved. He is better than you at magic though. Eight years of two or three shows a night, seven days a week made him better than you or I will ever be.
He would not allow me to do stuff that sucked. He was abusive and relentless. To this day he will not put up with bad magic. I did my cups and balls for him at the last GGG. He told me where I flashed and noted two awkward tells. He told me frankly, he was disappointed. Hank rocks!
This entry started out on Conjure Nation. It has been mightily edited to get to the PG point. In person I tend to be profane.