The Magic History Conference – From the Eye’s of Joe Stevens
As many of you know, and at the risk of sounding authorative, I have been to a lot of magic conventions all over the world in my many years. I love all of them – even when sales weren’t so great, I still enjoyed and continue to enjoy them for one reason – fellowship. I am the type of person that thrives while in the company of others. Put me in a room and ask me to do paper work and you will have a depressed person.
Magic was and continues to be a great tool that enables me to interact with all types of people. Selling magic increased that interaction exponentially… I miss the days when my son Mark and I would attend easily 7-10 conventions a year. I miss very much not being able to travel to Germany to see my good friends in magic – too many to mention here, and of course my dealer friend Harold Voit – Zauberzentrale Munich. It’s been how many years Harold? When I was there, again with my son Mark and you had that wonderful festival in Pullach. It was late fall and winter was closing in. I remember staying at that wonderful little hotel that was so quaint and beautiful. I remember watching the snow fall from that window. And also my dear friend George Proust – Acadamie de Magie in Paris. How many years have passed since you last picked us at at Charles de Gaualle? But I digress.
Recently, I had the privilege to attend one of my favorite venues in the art of magic. The Magic History Conference put on by Ricky Jay, Mike Caveney, John Gaughan and Jim Steinmeyer. While I do have a booth there, and am honored to be invited, you won’t find the latest and most popular new effect at my booth. I get to sort of change hats and bring out another love of magic that I share – that of collectible magic and history.
The Magic History Conference is an amazingly well run and very intimate venue. Its attendance is capped so that it will remain special. The people who attend are those that have a great deal of respect in some fashion regards to their contributions and or involvements in the art of magic – specifically of course “history.”
I enjoyed seeing so many friends, including but not limited to (and forgive me if I forgot to list your name) my dear friend Pete Biro – Phil Swartz – who has the fantastic Thayer Board that provides a wealth of knowledge of magicians worldwide. My friend Gale Molovinsky. I got a chance to see and spend time with Lance Burton – boy have the years passed since I we used to meet twice a year to plan the Desert Magic Seminar (World Magic Seminar), and in particular his relentless donation of his time and energy fostering the youth of magic into the future. Bill McIlhany was also there. Always good to see Mr. Electric, Marvyn Roy, who is working every week performing close up magic! (the true magicain). Bruce Averbook, a long time collector of memorbilia attended as so, so many other collector friends. I had a nice supper with friends, Terry Harris and his classy wife, Sue. Terry has been a long time collector of find apparatus as well as has been Hap Korsen, who has one of the largest collections of rare magic in the country! I had a nice visit with one of the authors of the Del Ray book, Bill Spooner, and watch for some miracles coming from Bill for us next year!
I wanted this to be a brief story – so what I would like to focus on from this point onward is the Saturday night show. I can’t help but think of the phrase Seigfried and Roy used for many years to describe their “Beyond Belief Show!” That applies here and what is truly mind blowing is that these effects, these illusions are not updated with modern technology, computers, or CGI… They are exactly performed as they were performed so many, many years ago – and they are quite truthfully more baffling then that of the most modern illusions in the art.
I wish there was a way that I could somehow make you a believer of what I am writing and surely if I were you, I too would be skeptical of the words. But those that know me – and again – if you’re reading this I’m better that the vast majority of you do – will believe me when I say this is no hype.
It opened with the introduction of the living cast of the famous Doug Henning show that ignited magic in the early 1980’s. The event brought back most all of the performers, actors, singer of that sow on Broadway. MERLIN the musical! Each had their own microphone and stool and script to talk, sing and work from. For one hour, we were entertained, not only by their reacting out the script word for word, but there were screens set around the room that showed clips from the original show that coincided with the actors-actresses on our stage. IF you would have closed your eyes, you would have felt like you were in the Broadway showroom listening to the exact script as before back then. Not having ever seen the play, it was even more enjoyable for me to see it this 30 years later!
Next was Mike Caveney presenting the original Carter Spirit Cabinet! The spirit of Katie King was electrifying! So well presented and what “knocked my socks off” was when the spirit manifested itself under a white transparent shroud with a lovely female head and flew out of the cabinet and over the audience, ala Blackstone’s Floating Light Bulb, and right back into the cabinet!
Jim Steimeyer and Lani Pelino kocked our shoes off, after I put my socks back on, with a presentation of Guy Jarrett’s “Sawing and Egg” Jarrett was a genius, albeit a cantankerous one, but I had never seen such an illusion. Much better than even a Sawing in Two illusion for sure.
To close the Saturday night show, was John Gaughan performing “ASTARTE”, the original flying illusion.
A Victorian vision of the original Benjamin B. Keyes illusion. I’ve seen David Copperfield’s “Flying” illusion, but “ASTARTE” presented as it was, just as magnificent as David’s version! John Gaughan presented an illusion that was unique and distinct,incredible even for today’s audiences! John was assisted by Mystina as the floating lady!