Today’s topics are: Shigeo Takagi Addendum with five rare film clips; Remembering Henk Meesters with film clip.
These are The Magic Memories 85, gone online Sunday, August 14th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.
Several wrote in to point out the misspelling of “Tagaki”: It is, of course, Takagi. Thank you all for caring, and it is now all corrected 🙂
As I’ve mentioned several times, I usually write these Magic Memories in one go on the same Saturday they are posted, and my time only allows for reading through them once. Therefore, if you find any gross errors, please let me know so I can correct them for future readers. Thank you.
Shigeo Takagi Addendum
My dear friend Roland Heuer from Germany, who regularly sends in much valued words of appreciation for these blogs of mine, is married to a charming Japanese lady, Ikuko, also a violinist as Roland, and he asked her to search some Japanese sites for hidden Takagi material.
Eureka! Roland and Ikuko sent in FIVE links to some rare footage where you can see Shigeo Takagi perform in various situations. Several of the routines you will see in the video clips can be found in Kaufman’s book The Amazing Miracles of Shigeo Takagi, some on his instructional videos. There is some great classic magic here.
And here they are, the Takagi videos, for your entertainment pleasure and instruction, and compliment of Roland and Ikuko:
Remembering Henk Meesters
A few years ago I learned about the passing of Henk Meesters, and greatly regretted that we got out of touch.
Henk was a truly gentle person and a very talented performer with great charm and audience appeal. For several years he worked professionally touring Europe and the USA, but then decided for a more steady life and became a restaurant manager in Basel, my hometown. He and Erika married and had one daughter, Bianca.
Originally from Holland, Henk had worked with Richard Ross when they were both very young in Henk Vermeyden’s magic shop.
Henk came to Basel, Switzerland, in the Eighties. I can’t remember how we met, but at some point he came to a few of the local magic club’s meetings, and it’s there that we got to know each other closer.
The magic club scene was not his cup of tea, so, after a few visits he stopped coming to the club, but we had already established a firm friendship, first, because he was probably the most talented of the group, and I the most promising 🙂
Briefly: I asked Henk if he would help me with an act I was going to present in the Magic Castle’s Close-up Room, an engagement I had obtained, I believe, through Max Maven. This was to happen after my first US appearance (!) at the IBM convention in Nashville in 1987, so, two en suite engagements.
Henk was truly experienced in all aspects of professional performing and a great help.
All of this is now too far away, so I don’t recollect details, but one: He suggested that at the end of the act I gave the two ladies assisting a small box of chocolate. I can’t remember exactly what I did, but those chocolates I can! And as proof of their effectiveness and memorability, I found two reviews of my appearances at the IBM convention as well as at the Magic Castle that mention part of the act and the chocolates!
Back to Henk: I remember that everything he touched shined. One of the many things he did so well were the multiplying thimbles using the very nice ones at the time produced by Werry in Germany and which stacked in pairs. He taught me his routine with eight thimbles, and I used it for several years, and then I taught it to Steve Sheraton, whom I coached for two seasons when he performed as a talented youngster in the Basel Youth Circus Basilisk, but that’s another story 🙂 Steve later reproduced and sold similar thimbles with glowing characteristics through his company HOTTRIX (I believe still available).
Another thing Henk excelled in – actually this was his forte – were the Linking Rings, which he taught me in great detail. Even today, I still use several of the beautiful moves he shared with me and which at the time were unpublished. Although he had various routines for the Linking Rings, he became famous in magic circles for his 3-Ring-Routine, which is still commercially available from magic dealers as an illustrated manuscript.
He was one of the first to do a routine reduced to three rings, possibly inspired by his close association with Richard Ross, and his handling of the rings was superb: It was truly a perfect example of the Artist and his Instrument coming together, with a capital “A” and a capital “I”, sheer beauty. And next to Fred Kaps’ handling of the Chinese Sticks (see The Magic Memories 22 of 30th May, 2021), Henk’s touches on the Linking Rings taught me that props really are instruments, provided an artist handles them.
In the photo below, which was taken at International Magic’s shop (still at 89 Clerkenwell Rd, London), you can see from left to right: Ron MacMillan, Bobby Bernard, Tommy Cooper and Hank Meesters.
Henk also helped me with my close-up act I used for my very first appearance at Ron MacMillan’s One Day Convention. Again, I can’t remember details, only that I did a coin routine very much inspired by Fred Kaps’ coin routine with the giant coin finale sold by Ken Brooke (but I had reconstructed it from hear-saying), as well as a personal handling of David Roth’s “Bermuda Triangle”. Paul Arden once said, “Good is better than original”, and although at that time I did not even know about Arden, let alone his sayings, I would say it was the motto I lived by…
One more thing that showed Henk’s humanity: He had arranged with Ron MacMillan, who was a close friend of his, to book me at said convention. He was very proud of this, and I even more so! I can’t remember what the fee was, but as a youngster in my twenties, still at university and not yet a professional, I certainly didn’t care for that, and Henk said all expenses – airfare from Basel and hotel – were taken care of. Wow.
Only later did I find out that there had been a misunderstanding between Henk and Ron: Ron’s budget at that time did not allow for more than the fee, maybe ca. £ 200, and no expenses. But Henk, the gentleman he was, never talked about this and took all expenses upon himself. When I learned about this much later I was so ashamed that I didn’t even dare thanking him for it. Looking back, this is one more thing I deeply regret. He’s no longer with us to forgive me, so I have to forgive myself, one of the hardest things in life…
To see a short video clip of Henk performing his Linking Rings (at 05:55) CLICK HERE.
I wish you all a successful week and look forward to our next magic chat in a week’s time!
All the very best,