I had to make the pilgrimage to Stevens Magic Emporium! – Terry Lasorda
We at Stevens Magic Emporium – always LOVE it when people stop by to say hello to us! Wichita, KS, is a great place to live – the quality of life is fantastic… However, Wichita is no Metropolis… That is why we are consistently humbled by the amount of people that make efforts to stop by our shop. True story, this year we had a customer from Montana drive all the way down to Wichita – solely to meet us and also check out a set of the Jeremey Pei Linking Rings – which he ended up purchasing! The other day Terry Lasorda popped in from Philly! His story really intriqued me because it was exceptionally rich in both his early fellowship with some of the greats, as well as a fascinating performance history including working as the close up magician at The Stardust Casino, at the same time Siegfried and Roy were the headliner. Add the fact that he also worked with Muhammad Ali who also attended some of my fathers (Joe Stevens), Desert Magic Seminar’s back in the days, I encouraged him to put his story together to share with you! I hope you will enjoy it!
In His Own Words – Terry Lasorda
As to myself, I consider myself a lucky practitioner of sleight of hand. Lucky because it has had a positive effect on my life since diving into it some fifty years ago this month. It started as a physical therapy to polio. And, since then initiated a forty six year old great friendship with my best friend in magic (George Hample), helped get me through some challenging times of my life, and has opened doors throughout my life including a year working for and traveling with Muhammad Ali. My short stint doing close-up magic at the Stardust Casino in 1978 was just one of many adventures that I had while working for Muhammad Ali that year. I am mentioned in this TV Guide article link: http://www.trussel.com/hf/tvguide.htm. My contracted responsibilities with Muhammad Ali was to perform as a warm-up act for many of his public appearances at the time and teach him casual magic, which he loved. I travelled around the world for a year with Muhammad Ali starting in 1978.
By far my greatest inspiration in magic is George Hample, the inventor of “Beswitched”, and a master of routining and magic editing for the sake of entertainment. Here is a recent photo of George.
George is an 82 year old recent cancer survivor, who is now again performing his entertaining brand of close-up and stand-up magic. George taught me the importance of originality, scripting, editing and magical routining. George and his wonderful wife, Ruth, live in Philadelphia, PA.
My other great influencer, primarily in my early years, was the late Jack Chanin , who is pictured below on the right.
Jack taught me misdirection, subtlety, sleeving, and magical boldness. In my mind he was the greatest improvisational magician I have ever witnessed.
In 1980 I had the unexpected luck of introducing Muhammad Ali to Dai Vernon at the Magic Castle. It was a very funny and wonderful experience. During that meeting the subject of Jack Chanin came up. Dai Vernon stated to me and Muhammad Ali at that moment that Jack Chanin is a gift to our art. Dai also said, “Jack Chanin is a master of subtlety and magical improvisation.”
George Hample and Jack Chanin taught me the magic that paid for half of my Lehigh University Metallurgical Engineering degree. The other half was paid through scholarship. I was kind of a folk magician in my college years doing coffee houses and clubs up and down the east coast. I was very influenced by Doug Henning’s casual and entertaining presentations of that time, but I would definitely dress up for corporate shows, when they were booked. Here is a recent link to a story told about my experience by the head of the Metallurgy and Material Science department of Lehigh University. It is told in the February 20, 2013, submission in the link. http://research.cc.lehigh.edu/faculty-forum
There are two other people in magic that impress me today. They are Denny Haney and Marc DeSouza. In their own way their efforts are helping to keep the magic community in the east informed, educated and inspired. Also, having two great US proprietors of magic that I have come to know over the years, like Stevens Magic and Denny Magic, helps greatly to that same end.
While I love the art of magic, I make my living as a metallurgical engineer for Air Liquide with two US patents in my name, and I am working on two more. Honestly, if it were not for the visualization skills that were honed through the practice of sleight of hand, these patented ideas would not have seen the light of day. Thus I consider myself a semi-professional magical entertainer. I do my fair share of corporate events, banquets, and private parties every year without advertising. However, my greatest joy from magic comes from donating free shows for worthy causes. I especially love performing for Veterans Hospitals and Homes. It is my way of paying back to the art that I love.
This work also requires a lot of sleight of hand!
I have four wonderful adult children; and, a beautiful, creative and free spirited wife. I am not known by the “magic community” because I have been an underground performer for most of my magical history. I have been blessed in my lifelong magic experience by the people and businesses mentioned above that have kept magic alive in my life and heart; and, their influence also in keeping the magic community inspired, original, relevant, and entertaining.
When we take up this wonderful art of magic, we also take up the awesome responsibility of keeping this art alive, relevant and entertaining. It is the least that we all can do for an art, which has given us so much joy.
I have been gifted beyond my dreams to have worked with some of the greatest people in the art!