Ian Adair reporting from Britain……
Hi there! Great to be back reporting on the news from Britain. The great magical news is that Paul Daniels, after 15 solid years of presenting his own television show on BBC, will be hitting our screens (and possibly in the U.S. too!), during July with his new “Secrets” show. The pilot of this was screened several months ago and shown, and was so well accepted that the BBC has taken it further to release a complete series. “Secrets” is the name Paul has given to a nightclub. It’s only a make-believe one, but on screen it does look authentic. Specialty acts appear, as well as Paul presenting his magic. Ali Bongo is joined by friend Ken De Courcy (the latter looking after some of the script lines), as the advisors. The super thing about number 1, is that here we see Paul presenting his “best” magic of the type which made him famous: paper balls over the head, chop cup and the like. Great stuff! Paul told me that he loves the new format and there has been so many people writing in the channel to congratulate everyone on the production. That’s a refreshing change from the days he worked the usual magic show. Here’s hoping the series will have a long run — no matter what magicians say — it’s always a great promotion for magic in general.
The magic calendar over here is as busy as ever. You would have to be a “real” magician to attend everything. There’s almost two or three conventions or events each week, what with conventions, dinners and events. I attended a super convention which attracted some 200 magicians in the holiday resort of Bournemouth. I appeared there for the first time, under the banner of ABRACADIR, my new firm. Needless to say that with 40 years of magical dealing behind me, I’m not really a “new boy” in the game. A very good convention with Ali Bongo as the feature lecturer — boy he has some great stuff, and the audience just lapped it up. Fay Presto is fast becoming a good lecturer, although I didn’t approve of her methods asking magicians “Do you know what a thumb-tip is? Do you know what a folding coin is?” etc. One little lad of 8 years of age put his hand up to acknowledge the fact that he didn’t personally know.
An evening at the Home Counties Magic Society made me drive to their venue in Reading, a complex place to get into. There I had the pleasure of lecturing to 100 or more magicians and the proceedings seemed to go very well. A sad end to the evening, for when I returned to the home of the organizer, Keith Churcher, his house had been burglarized.
D B Award
That’s the name given to the annual David Berglas award. To receive it this year, was none other than Ron Mac Millan, the noted magical dealer, and in particular, organizer of those special International Days of Magic. He was awarded the DB award which in previous years has been presented to magicians such as Bongo, Warlock and John Fisher the TV producer. The event was packed at the venue in Birmingham and President of the Capital Magic Circle, David Berglas told me that the glittering occasion was one of the highlights of the year.
Meanwhile, I was driving again, this time to the city of Portsmouth, the nearby homeland of the late Louis Ganson and Will Ayling, two dear people I miss so much. I had the pleasure of lecturing to a very enthusiastic crowd and then being honored by being awarded the Lewis Ganson Memorial Award, as the magician of the year. The late Ken Brooke received it for the first time, so many years ago, and so did Ali, Paul, Roy Johnson and so many other famous names. Louis of course, was one of the greatest magical authors and tutors of our times and I had the honor of knowing him closely more than 30 years. Will Ayling also assisted Louis and appeared in many hundreds of photographs in the books Louis produced on Vernon, Slydini, Mailini, Ross, and others, mainly from your part of the world. I was at Lewis’s bedside when he pass ed away and Will Ayling unfortunately had a heart attack at the side of the road, while driving down to North Devon, where I live. Sad!
Geller Conning The Viewers Again!
Uri Geller was featured heavily in a new series on television called “Beyond Belief.” Whilst I admire him, I just cannot accept him in anyway. David Berglas tells me that he is a “pleasant and kind person” which I do accept, having known David for 30 years now. But, it is difficult explaining things when members of the lay public ask if the material he does is genuine. Ok, he managed to make thousands of watches and clocks start up again, in the homes of viewers, but just how many didn’t actually start is another matter and has never been discussed. Think I will stick to the stuff discussed in Tony Corinda’s “13 Steps to Mentalism.” Which reminds us “Where are they now?” Where is Tony Corinda and what is he doing? I can tell you he is very much alive and according to information I have been given, is no longer in magic and hasn’t been for quite some time. One thing is for sure — his book will live on, for it has been accepted as the mentalist bible.
The shocking news over here at the moment is that the firm once called the Supreme Magic Company, launched 40 years ago by the great, late Edwin Hooper, no longer exists. I was honored to be a big part of this firm during a 35-year period of my life. At one time the firm employed some 30 people, having its own print department, silk screen department and printing and publishing its own magazines, Magigram, New Pentagram and Alakazam! Over those years I was to become a partner within the firm, this lasting 15 years, and when Edwin retired, the firm was bought over by two businessmen, Paul Dupee and Brian Head, then later by the Lamond family.
The latter family obviously couldn’t manage the firm for it went into liquidation, its name having to be changed to Excalibur promotions. I was unfairly dismissed a year ago. It’s sad times for the company, equal to Abbott’s and Tannen’s, certainly a firm with a huge range of magical products. Edwin was a genius and could think up ideas and write instructions quicker and better than anyone I know. So bitten by the magic bug was he that he just had to open yet another magic dealing firm under the name Edwin’s Magic Arts, this taking place some five years later after retirement. Sadly too, this firm which he left behind, has closed its doors too. The stocks, I am told, have been purchased by a magician and businessman from the city of Liverpool. Both companies have fallen. Luckily, my firm Abracadair Magic Limited is the only new and surviving magical dealing firm in this area.
Looking ahead I am certainly looking forward to joining Manfred Thumm at his Magic Hands convention January 1996 where I will be featured as a lecturer showing some 23 new ideas of mine to the vast crowds he attracts. It’s one of the best and greatest conventions around, and it’s worth attending if you can. Meanwhile Jeff Atkins, the capable secretary and organizer of the famous British Ring Conventions tells me that acts are being booked for the fourth coming one to be held in the seaside resort of Scarborough, which is always a popular venue. We British simply love seeing those U.S. Acts, all superb, except for two I just cannot stand … Penn and Teller. In a recent TV survey where voting took place in front of 20 million viewers, the duo was last on the list when being considered as one of the best comedy series on television. Their marks were so low that it was laughable. Perhaps the duo goes over better in the states, than here. We weren’t impressed at all, although some British magicians would slap me over the fingers for saying that. It really depends what sort of humor you like. Throughout the six-week series made for channel 4, Penn and Teller, for a few cheap smirks from the audience, repeatedly ran down Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee. They did it for no reason at all. I believe they give a bad image for the U.S. folks. Brash, hard, rude and loud! That’s about it.
The recent passing of Francis Haxton has made a void in the world of card magic in particular. Francis was a true gentleman who, together with Peter Warlock, now in his 90th year, served us well with his brand of magic. Francis could always come up with something or other when being asked to contribute for the Linking Ring on a yearly basis and the number of articles he wrote for Peter’s Pentagrams was simply amazing. We often wonder who could take their places.
One man I worked with was the late Johnny Ramsay from Ayr, Scotland. Ayr happened to be a couple of miles down the road from my home town of Kilmarnock and so, as a boy, I used to travel there to see him, even thought he was an old man in those days. I used to visit his old grocery shop (old-fashioned personal service — not like those Supermarkets, etc.) and watch him serve his customers as well as trick them at the same time. So often he would place six fresh laid eggs into a paper bag (before all those fancy containers were in fashion here) only for the customer leaving the shop to find out there were only two inside, the other four had vanished! I still have a set of his lovely custom-made thimbles, silver with a red band around the base with the inscription: John Ramsay — Ayr. I believe he also had the sets made with blue bands, but I have yet to see one.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back with more news and views. Look after yourself. Remember — there’s only one YOU in the world and you are the best ONE. That’s what I keep saying to those young magicians who start up and copy people like Paul Daniels. I say “There’s only ONE Paul D. in the world, and he’s the best one. Be yourself and you may make it!
There’s magic in the air — from MagicIAN ADAIR!