This is the sixth installment of The Magic Memories, and it is dedicated to the memory of Dany Ray (1921-1989).
From 1976 to 1983 Dutch entertainer Lou van Burg moderated a TV show titled “Varieté, Varieté” for German TV (ZDF) with numerous artists, among others some of the top magicians of the time. This show has French prestidigitator Dany Ray as guest, and you can see him perform his international cabaret act, with which he toured the best places around the world.
He starts with Miser’s Dream, a routine which is perfectly constructed and paced for the nightclub situation: he begins to music, in 20 seconds establishes himself, the instruments and the effect. Then goes into the audience with just the right amount of interaction and amusing and astonishing coin productions, only to finish back on stage. Just by this routine alone you can recognize that here is a consummate professional at work.
He then does “The Jumping Flower” from Bert Allerton’s The Close-up Magician (USA 1958) as an in-between. If you are a performer, especially of close-up, I can warmly recommend this book which has some outstanding material and advice for any professional. The effect is short and visual. I’ve tried several methods to emulate it, but never got to make it work the way it looks with Dany Ray. I think it is one of the best pieces of its genre and could still be successful today.
The next trick is the infamous “Bra Trick” which today cannot be performed anymore. However, in its time, and in a nightclub, it worked very well. You can see the lady’s spontaneous positive reaction, of course, very much due to Dany Ray’s adorable personality and the fact that the bra has three cups; I’ve never seen this before or after, and it is a brilliant idea that in my opinion takes the sting out of the situation and made it a perfect trick for the time and the place (remember we’re in the Seventies, 50 years ago). Notice the way he brings the lady up on stage and dismisses her elegantly. The vanish of the silk is very efficient and once again shows how Dany Ray superbly married sleight-of-hand to apparatus magic. You can find the vanish in Harold Rice’s Encyclopedia of Silk Magic Volume 1 (p. 290), an extraordinary compendium, not only for material, which is fantastic to say the least, but also for the illustrations and lettering (!) of Francis B. Martineau.
The table for the “Passe Passe Bottles” is the one by Ken Brooke, and I find it hilarious. I bet that sales of that table must have soared to the sky after having seen Dany Ray do it, but probably only very few have used it more than once or twice, if at all, since its performance is very difficult from a presentational point of view. And Dany Ray’s presentation is just masterful: study the management, the before, during and after, with the recall, just brilliant for my taste, that’s situational comedy par excellence. Even if you don’t understand German you should be able to appreciate the routining, timing and presentation of this great classic.
Dany Ray performed his act in several languages, always with his charming French accent. Here he speaks fairly good German, with some very amusing French interjections, and with a split-second timing and outstanding comedic talent. At the same time you can see his great technical skill – this man had chops!
I had the great pleasure of seeing him perform in a nightclub in my hometown of Basel, the “Clara Varieté”, I believe it was a Sunday afternoon show. Later we went for dinner and drinks, along with a few other members of the magic club of Basel, but he spent the whole time with me. I must have been 19 or 20 at that time, a complete unknown, but already very enthusiastically practicing the hard stuff from the Hugard and Ganson books. I remember that he performed Marlo’s “Miracle Aces” for me and of course completely fooled me. He was kind enough to show and explain several more advanced pieces, and I was very impressed by his knowledge and great technical skill. He definitely was an amateur at heart, but an extraordinary professional on stage. I greatly regret that he passed away so early and that I never met him again. I will always remember him.
To enjoy Dany Ray’s cabaret act CLICK HERE.
Have a good week!
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