Magic Brethren Pres. Halvdan Resigns

 

Halvdan with the CDs – Better Times

As many of you have already heard, Larry Halvdan has announced he will step down from the Fraternity of Magic Brethren. This was not a surprise to most following his case and his campaign to stay in office.

 

Although Mr. Halvdan has denied the charges brought by his accusers and "rubber stamped" by the Fraternity's Executive Board late last week, it seemed inevitable he would have to resign. We did not take a position on the case. There did not seem to be a need to insert our opinion into a very divisive feud between the old school and the new wave of magicians and magic teachers.

 

Mr. Halvdan's background in magic is lengthy and rich. He worked five years as a demonstrator for Charles Champs' Magic Lane in St. Petersburg, Florida. Before long, he was an assistant manager of the store — at 17-years of age. He gained some reputation in the local magic community for his quick wit and deft sleights before attending Alachua Community College in Gainesville, Florida, on his way to the University of Florida.

 

Mr. Halvdan earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Florida, and First Place prizes at the Florida State Magician's Association and the Hank Lee's Magic Cape Cod Conclave in Stage Magic. He worked school assembly shows, trade events, performed twice at the Magic Castle, and wrote a well-accepted treatise on palming techniques, Magic within Reach.

 

We have elected to republish Mr. Halvdan's resignation speech here not to take sides in the argument but to give this gentleman his opportunity to be heard. There is no reason to continue fighting but it is important to hear what the fighting was about.

 

Delivered March 28, 2005 Pensacola, Florida

 

Thank you for coming. I have asked members of the local press and our few distinguished magic journalists to attend this press conference to announce I will resign effective immediately my position as President of The Fraternity of Magic Brethren. I will simultaneously resign my position of Regional Governor for the Brethren, and will resign from the organization as well.

 

This was a difficult decision for me to make. I believe in fighting for those things that matter. I love magic in all of its forms and at all levels. I have been honored to represent the wonderful members of this organization in events around the world. I will continue to be proud of the position to which the membership elected me six years ago. I had anticipated I would be in this role for four more years before being put out to magic pasture.

 

I want to thank my wife for standing by me through not just this situation but also for the last fifteen years of our marriage. She was and is always a fair and candid counselor. She is an example of what an "Assistant" can be. They are not merely more animated props.

 

Now, let me turn to the issues that caused me to resign. It was clear the Executive Board — or at four of the six members — were going to ask me to step-down before they heard a scrap of evidence or considered any contrary positions.

 

This is unfortunate. The Executive Board…

0

 

Halvdan with the CDs – Better Times

As many of you have already heard, Larry Halvdan has announced he will step down from the Fraternity of Magic Brethren. This was not a surprise to most following his case and his campaign to stay in office.

 

Although Mr. Halvdan has denied the charges brought by his accusers and "rubber stamped" by the Fraternity's Executive Board late last week, it seemed inevitable he would have to resign. We did not take a position on the case. There did not seem to be a need to insert our opinion into a very divisive feud between the old school and the new wave of magicians and magic teachers.

 

Mr. Halvdan's background in magic is lengthy and rich. He worked five years as a demonstrator for Charles Champs' Magic Lane in St. Petersburg, Florida. Before long, he was an assistant manager of the store — at 17-years of age. He gained some reputation in the local magic community for his quick wit and deft sleights before attending Alachua Community College in Gainesville, Florida, on his way to the University of Florida.

 

Mr. Halvdan earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Florida, and First Place prizes at the Florida State Magician's Association and the Hank Lee's Magic Cape Cod Conclave in Stage Magic. He worked school assembly shows, trade events, performed twice at the Magic Castle, and wrote a well-accepted treatise on palming techniques, Magic within Reach.

 

We have elected to republish Mr. Halvdan's resignation speech here not to take sides in the argument but to give this gentleman his opportunity to be heard. There is no reason to continue fighting but it is important to hear what the fighting was about.

 

Delivered March 28, 2005 Pensacola, Florida

 

Thank you for coming. I have asked members of the local press and our few distinguished magic journalists to attend this press conference to announce I will resign effective immediately my position as President of The Fraternity of Magic Brethren. I will simultaneously resign my position of Regional Governor for the Brethren, and will resign from the organization as well.

 

This was a difficult decision for me to make. I believe in fighting for those things that matter. I love magic in all of its forms and at all levels. I have been honored to represent the wonderful members of this organization in events around the world. I will continue to be proud of the position to which the membership elected me six years ago. I had anticipated I would be in this role for four more years before being put out to magic pasture.

 

I want to thank my wife for standing by me through not just this situation but also for the last fifteen years of our marriage. She was and is always a fair and candid counselor. She is an example of what an "Assistant" can be. They are not merely more animated props.

 

Now, let me turn to the issues that caused me to resign. It was clear the Executive Board — or at four of the six members — were going to ask me to step-down before they heard a scrap of evidence or considered any contrary positions.

 

This is unfortunate. The Executive Board owes more to the magic community than that. They should not be captives of the booking and entertainment community or the major magic companies. Regardless of your position on the issues, I believe everyone agrees the Brethren's Executive Board should be independent of bias and interested only in doing what is right for magic.

 

When I was first confronted with the issue that led me down a rocky path to this podium today, I had no idea it would blow-up into the "crisis" we now face. I have always supported the small magician and their needs. We are built on the shoulders of "Birthday Party Magicians" or "Restaurant Magicians." I worked many years performing birthday parties, strolling tables, and performing school assembly shows. Even after I performed for the first time at the Magic Castle in the early 1990's, I returned to Pensacola to do my "real job" as a work-a-day party magician. That was what paid the bills. That will continue to pay the bills after today. I have no illusions that I will be booked for many lectures around the country — at least not right away.

 

Magicians have worked with assistants throughout history. There has never been a concern this relationship could not be managed between the magician and his or her assistant. And it is not a matter of differing genders working together. There are magicians who have employed same-sex assistants and opposite sex assistants without incident. And of course there should be no surprise at that. Taken to the most basic level, magicians and assistants are people. They eat, drink, and, yes, sleep, like the rest of society.

 

There were no rules to be broken in this situation. No one ever thought we would need to have "rules" to address a business and personal relationship between performers — and make no mistake about that. Both assistants and magicians are performers. As I said before and I will repeat, assistants are not props.

 

I mentioned that my lovely wife Darla is an assistant in our show. She is also the lead business manager, the one responsible for getting us paid, the mother for younger members of our traveling cast and crew, and essential to continue our success.

 

A recent poll of magicians showed that 59 percent believed, essentially, that "assistants are not props but have an essential role in the performance." Apparently, the remaining 41 percent of those polled are of the same opinion as the Executive Committee. I suggest they are wrong.

 

But really, this is about procedure and practice of running a major organization. I don't think the "Assistant as Friend" rule was the problem here. I think there are forces in our business that would rather see things return to the way they were as opposed to the way they could be. I mentioned booking agents earlier. I find it disheartening that two of the Executive Committee Board members derive most of their income not from performing magic shows but from booking them. They live off the ten to fifteen percent they can derive from our bookings and that is a fine and good profession. But we must admit that booking agents have a different focus than magicians. That's not bad, that's reality.

 

I have never said the things attributed to me by the Executive Board. I have challenged them on many occasions to prove-up their arguments or even that I said what they claimed I said. They couldn't and that shouldn't be a surprise — I didn't say it. I have always voiced my support for assistants and not against them. I never suggested they were, "misdirection in a lovely human shape" or "better seen and not heard."

 

I will admit that I made the joke attributed to me by Alvin Tolly. It was said in jest but bad taste. It certainly did not reflect my feelings towards women, assistants, or for that matter, shoe salesmen. I realize it was not appropriate; it was, in fact, raunchy. I offended my wife, my daughters, and if my Mother believed any of the bad press — which she does not — she would have been horribly offended.

 

It is ironic the Executive Committee would force this issue at this time in our Organization's history. I do not believe it is our approach to the length of assistants' costumes or the depth of illusion holds that mattered. The Executive Committee decided to find a reason to rid themselves of the pest that kept focus on their activities. Rather than staring at assistants' hem-length, they should have been focusing on the bottom — the bottom line.

 

But I leave the office today with a better understanding of what it takes to run an organization of this size. In any small city, you will have the good, the bad, the village idiots, and the half-wit brethren of the village idiots. Our organization is the size of a small city and we are not immune.

 

Magic has always been special to me. I lived for it and will go on living for it. I will be happy to take-on booking agents, major magic suppliers, and even the self-proclaimed gurus of our business. They are wrong, dead wrong. Years after Houdini's death, his wife and assistant, Bess told reporters, "I never minded being Harry's partner and assistant. I never felt degraded by the outfits I wore, the poses I struck, the business I did. Harry always said I was a full-partner and I believed him."

 

This was a problem created out of whole cloth and not one that working professionals face.

 

I was going to end this conference with a joke but after my bad selection at the YMCA dinner, I think it best if I refrain. I was going to say, "Leave it short" but that could be taken the wrong way.

0

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.