This is no. 20 of The Magic Memories, gone online SUN, 16th May, at 0:07h.
As you will know, if you follow my publications, I greatly admire Dai Vernon. Like Hofzinser and Robert-Houdin in their time, and Juan Tamariz today, he created a major paradigm shift in the world of magic. I still think that the books Ganson wrote on his magic – the Inner Secrets quadrilogy – are as topical today as they were when they were published in the Sixties of the last century (millenary!) – I discuss a few of Vernon’s tricks in my DVD project Favorites.
I had the good fortune of meeting Vernon on three occasions, the first being in London, in 1979, at one of the legendary One-day Conventions, organized by the late, great Ron MacMillan. At the time the MacMillans (Ron, his wife Teresa, his son Martin, who now runs the shop, and his daughter Georgina) scheduled their unique conventions at the beginning of December, so by going to London you got the whole pre-Xmas hurly-burly as a Bonus. Fully decorated Picadilly Circus, exceptional Portobello Row Market, oh my, that was quite something for a twenty-year-old. And of course you’d stay at least one or two days longer to visit the Magic Circle on Monday evening, where luminaries such as Fred Robinson, Eric Mason, Ali Bongo, David Berglas held court. I have no idea why those people, stars of world-renown, would talk to Young Giobbi, do magic for him and even patiently endure some of his card tricks. I consider myself very lucky for this.
And then of course there was the visit to Ken Brooke’s shop in Soho. A friendly magician I had met at the German Cardworkshop took me there, and I remember the three things I bought on his recommendation: Fred Kaps’s “Working Man’s Wallet” that I’ve used all my performing life to this day, Jerry Andrus’s “Miser’s Miracle” that although a great idea I’ve never used, and Gaetan Bloom’s “Missing Diget” that became part of my FISM prize-winning act in 1991 and inspired the corner switch I’ve been using all my professional life for my “Bill in Lemon” routine. I mention this, because in my life I have only bought very, very few things other than books from a magic shop, a fact that might surprise some. Tamariz, whom I had met in 1978 at a German convention, even took me for a visit at Ken Brooke’s home. Ha, I will never forget that! There were Juan Tamariz doing his “Tamariz Rabbits”, Dick Koornwinder his “Koornwinder Car”, Gaetan Bloom his “3 Card Monte”, and Ken himself performed Fin Jon’s “Esoteric” by placing the deck on the floor of his living room, dancing around it (hilarious!), and then the deck started to split in three movements, only to produce the three previously selected cards. At that time I had no idea how this worked and was utterly amazed, to say the least. But the most astonishing thing to me, in retrospect, was, how the heck I got into that round, as an absolute nobody then. Anyway, these are indelible memories and have become an important part of my life.
To come back to Vernon: The convention took place for many years at the “Empire Rooms” in London’s Tottenham Court Road, how could anyone, who has attended one of these events, forget that! I’ll tell you some other time about when Ron booked me to perform close-up, with Tamariz on my right and Williamson on my left side… However, the real “action” took place the evenings before and after the convention in the Kennedy Hotel, which for some miraculous reason seemed to be able to host all out-of-town visitors, or so it seemed to me. Some kind of “Water from India”, but with magicians from a hotel instead 🙂
I can’t remember how this happened, but suddenly, in the bar, I was sitting at a table with Dai Vernon and Ron Wilson, who had accompanied him. With the innocence and naivité of an enthusiastic youth, I started to do card tricks for Vernon and Wilson! In hindsight I’ve asked myself several times if I had just dreamt that, but no, it really happened. And I know for one particular reason – here is the story: I had done several tricks for them, and then closed with “Aces Faroleros” from Frank Garcia’s Super Subtle Card Miracles. Vernon, as the gentleman he was, made some kind remarks, whereupon I said to him: “Professor, this is a trick by Frank Garcia.” Somehow, at the time, I wasn’t aware of the controversy Garcia’s two books had created in the world of magic. I attribute it to this fact much more than to my abilities that Vernon paused for a moment and frowned, but then jovially exclaimed in a loud voice that made everyone nearby turn around, “Oh, you are much better than Garcia, much better!” I confess I can’t remember whet happened then, nor how the evening continued, but I’ve never forgotten this little vignette in my life.
The photo below was taken at the Magic Castle in 1989, the third and lamentably last time I met Vernon, after a performance of mine in the Close-up Gallery, and you can see The Professor doing the unpublished version of his “Vernon-Giobbi hand-to-hand Palm Transfer”…
More on Vernon
One of my 58 lectures is on the Life & Work of Dai Vernon – some of you might have seen it. I have given that lecture many times, mostly as a 3-hour lecture, but occasionally also as a full-day Masterclass. Once I gave it in Las Vegas as a day-before Workshop to the World Magic Convention. On that occasion Michael Close interviewed me on Vernon and my talk on him, and published it in M-U-M, of which he was the editor. This will be my gift to you of this week. It’s not just bla-bla: If you read it, I believe you will get some very practical advice and ideas you will be able to use. To read the interview CLICK HERE.
I had always wanted to record this lecture, but it only happened at The Session in 2015, when Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay invited me to their event; the day before I did the three-hours-plus lecture for a select group of attendants, and we taped the entire session. Because I’m very happy that my next book is finally out (see below!), I will extend a little extra offer to you: If you still don’t have my Dai Vernon Seminar, you can get it now at 25% off the regular price (only for 007 days). Notet: my publishers at Vanishing Inc. tell me that this physical double-DVD-set is out of print, and they are not planning on reissuing it. It really is a beautiful set with two DVDs that folds out and is housed in an elegant slipcase. I only have about two dozens left, and then they will be gone. There is also a nice black page inside, where I can sign it to your name with a silver-colored Sharpie, but you must request that on the order form, please. To order a set CLICK HERE.
Sharing Secrets Breaking News!
The photo below was taken by my co-publisher Francesco Mugnai from Florence Art Edizioni at the binder’s in Florence, Italy: With me conceiving and writing it, Barbara taking photos and layouting, Francesco and Sylvia consulting and also layouting lots of details, the graphic designer conceiving the cover, Mike Vance and Max Pritchard proof-reading and editing, a company printing, another doing the hardcover, yet another binding all, still another putting the cellophane around and packing it, well, that makes eleven different “companies” producing that one book, and we won’t count those involved in the logistics to get it first to me and then to you. If you want to acknowledge all that work, and at the same time do yourself a favor, you can order it BY CLICKING HERE (at a pre-publication price until May 31st).
And now, my friends, have an excellent week!
As always, with much affection, yours truly,