Dean Dill’s Shoppe, in Glendale, California is a must-visit for magicians when they come to Los Angeles or work at the Magic Castle. On any given day you might find somebody in from China, Japan, Germany, England or Sweden. Many regulars like R. Paul Wilson come in and work all day long and late into the night sessioning with other magicians like Michael Weber, John Carney, Tom Frank and your humble correspondent. Not too long ago David Blaine was in, as was Juan Tamariz, Dani DaOrtiz and Cyril all visiting to find out what new things Dean was working on.
Classic Dean Dill – featured on The Johnny Carson Show
Of course magic isn’t the only thing that goes on in Dean’s Shoppe. It’s also a barbershop. Dean is an incredibly good barber. He’s been at it for over 30 years. One of his first early customers was Dai Vernon. In 1989 when he was finished cutting Vernon’s hair Dean swept the bits of his hair up off the floor and put them in an envelope, sealed the envelope and wrote Vernon’s name on the outside along with the date and a list of the other magicians in the Shoppe that day. He has clippings from a large number of very well known magicians.
Dean also gives lessons on magic. One of the most famous people Dean has tutored is Johnny Carson. Many people don’t realize Carson’s hobby was magic, and he actually started out as a magician before he went into radio and then television. One day Carson came into Hollywood Magic to buy a couple of tricks and he met Dean. Dean did a few coin tricks for Carson, and he was very impressed, asking if he would come out to his house in Malibu, and give him lessons. Dean did teach Carson number of coin tricks over the next couple years and ended up performing on the Tonight Show.
FYI: That Ain’t No I-Pad Dean and everyone else is looking at! Photo from Tom Frank Blog
Dean’s current student, and protégé, is a young teenage magician named Griffin Barry, who advanced quite rapidly and was accepted as a junior member at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Griffin moved right up the ranks and has now performed at the Magic Castle receiving high marks. Following his Castle stint he was selected to be on the TV show Superstars of Magic.
How Dean became a barber is interesting. He was in the Navy, and the barber on board the ship was about to retire and leave. So Dean inquired about replacing the barber and got the okay. The only problem was Dean had never cut hair, but he figured he could hang around the ship’s barbershop, watch and learn, which he did. And since then he’s turned into a really good barber. He’s a perfectionist with everything he does.
Dean has created some classic magic tricks. Probably his most famous is Dean’s Box. A real spooky effect using ropes that link themselves inside a mysterious box. You will see this performed all over the world. Probably the most famous is Paul Daniels, in England, who uses it to close his shows. Dean’s Blizzard is one of the strongest card tricks you’ll ever see, and his Explosion. a matrix type coin routine, winds up with the table literally filled with coins that seemingly come from nowhere.
Probably the most important thing about Dean Dill is his ability to see a trick, work with it and improve it tremendously. Whenever I work out a trick or an idea, as soon as I get to a point where I think it might be finished I visit Dean and he starts playing with it, and by the end of the day he’s not only improved it but made it easier to understand, easier to follow for the spectators and easier to do for the performer. Probably the best example was my trick with walnuts, Nutty Surprise, winding up with a production of a huge, heavy steel nut. I was having problems getting this out of my pocket and secretly loading it. Dean came up with the idea of having it on the table all the time at the very beginning of the routine hidden behind a handkerchief. As soon as we started doing it this way we fooled almost every magician that came into watch the trick.
Dean was honored by the Academy of Magical Arts in 2012 when he was presented with a Creative Fellowship by his pal Michael Weber.