By Mike Rogers
Reflecting on my years in magic I look back upon what I expected to happen vs. what has actually happened. As a kid growing up in a small Wyoming town there were no other magicians. When I finished high school I had probably seen a total of ten magicians, all school assembly magicians. I had never seen a magic shop, though I did have several catalogs from Robbins, Abbotts, Douglas, and HoldenÃs. I devoured every page studying every description several times. For the most part I was extremely disappointed in the products received from mail orders. The tricks never lived up to the advertisement. I had heard of the IBM and SAM, but knew little about either organization. During my last year of high school I discovered Genii magazine through a Popular Science Magazine classified ad. I remember it well. A trial subscription of three issues cost one dollar. That three-issue subscription opened a new world. Prior to that my magical library consisted of two books. Learn Magic by Henry Hay and a paper back book picked up from the local drug store. That was magic for me back then. You get the picture. I have a feeling it was much the same for others throughout the world.
I did shows. Lots of shows. They werenÃt good shows, but I did them. When you are the only live attraction in a small isolated town thereÃs lots of work. I worked every church, grange, civic club, picnic, banquet, and meeting of every kind. I had seen Tony Curtis as Houdini and envisioned myself as advancing on to becoming one of the worldÃs greatest touring magicians. Stars were in my eyes, though I had no idea just how to achieve these lofty goals.
Within a few years, after graduating from High School, I joined the IBM and SAM, and started to attend conventions. I studied, practiced, met other magicians, and followed what could be called a normal route towards being involved in the art of conjuring. So far nothing really unique or different from what many others have also done.
The card pips following this sentence signify the passing of many years
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That was then. What was important then changed drastically. LetÃs jump ahead 40 years and look at how things turned out differently than I had planned. Now in my 61st year IÃm looking towards the end of a rather successful career in magic. That career, however, in no way reflects or duplicates the grand plan I had as a youngster. Obviously I didnÃt become the next Houdini or the next anything for that matter. My membership in magic organizations never went beyond receiving the monthly magazines.
As a kid I dreamed of belonging to a magic club, even becoming president of the thing, yet to date I have never belonged to one. In fact, over the years IÃve often wondered what purpose is served by magic organizations. I have visited many clubs and on three occasions have been presented with a membership card or certificate making me an unwilling member, even though I never actually joined. Moreover, IÃve never attended magic club meetings other than as an occasional guest. I have never hung around with other magicians other than a few close personal friends. IÃve never been one to hang out in magic shops. I do, however, occasionally drop by some shops when the owner happens to be a personal friend. IÃve probably been in less than four magic shops in the past ten years. Making a magic shop my weekend home base has never been something of interest. I do not call magicians when in a town away from home, nor do I meet with them in the evenings. IÃve probably not seen more than a dozen magic lectures. Though IÃm in Las Vegas often I have never seen Sigfried & Roy, Lance Burton, David Copperfield, or any of the other Las Vegas shows. I donÃt go to shows, and I especially donÃt go to magic shows. I seldom attend the shows at magic conventions (IÃm not alone on this one). With the exception of a couple I have not seen, nor do I record, the TV magic specials. As for videotapes, I probably have six, all given to me as gifts.
I have never owned a large illusion, and I donÃt have a room full of magic. I do have lots of back up props for the items I use in the event something becomes lost or broken. Other than replacing an existing prop I havenÃt bought any magic in close to 25 years. My library used to be quite extensive, but in recent years itÃs dwindled considerably. A few years ago I gave most of it away to a close friend needing some support during a troubled time in his life. He was in depression, so to cheer him up sent him a package of books every few days for several weeks. It could be argued that my effort to cure his depression might have contributed to it. That gesture also about wiped out my library. I still own probably 150 books or so, and I can find just about everything in those books in a matter of minutes. IÃve read them all more than once. I havenÃt bought a new book in close to twenty years, though I have received a few as gifts.
So, whatÃs the point? Am I a snob, an elitist, a recluse, a jerk, or an uninformed dunderhead? Perhaps some of each, but I donÃt think so. Naturally I have no way of knowing, but I doubt that my approach to magic is all that different. I simply realized years ago that IÃd never be able to do it all. By the process of elimination I dropped the things that were not high priority for my career. At the same time I intently studied the things that were necessary to succeed. If it can be said that IÃve enjoyed a degree of success in magic a providing factor has to be my ability to eliminate rather than accumulate.
It certainly isnÃt how I planned it, but if allowed a second chance I have no idea what might be different.