Letters to the editor are published on an infrequent basis due to the infrequent receipt of correspondence we receive requiring a response. We think the issues regarding our weight, loss of hair, inability to speak without a noticeable slur after five in the afternoon have been well-debated and do not warrant further exploration in this semi-public forum. The tens of readers of Inside Magic have spoken and we have listened. They want letters to the editor that are about substantive issues of the day in the world of magic. And so, we turn now to those letters received in the very recent past.
You were in West Hollywood, before that in Mystic Hollow, Michigan and now you say you are in a town called Mystic Hollow, California. Is it possible that you are making this all up or are you in some kind of witness protection program for magicians? Also, is Mac King’s name short for something?
— A concerned reader
Thank you for your close attention to our peripatetic nature and concern for our alleged involvement in bringing down one of the biggest cartels in fanning powder and roughing liquid black market history. We do not consider ourselves to be heroes; although that title has been bandied about where things are normally bandied. Despite the offer of witness protection from the federal and state authorities, we elected to remain in the public eye. Now that those who perpetrated the horrible acts that resulted from poorly constituted fanning powder or inconsistently mixed roughing fluid have been locked up, we can again emerge to accept the accolades normally accorded folks of our ilk. Of course, that was about ten years ago and we’re still waiting. In fact, we’re starting to think the accolades are not going to come other than some random bandying in the bandy parlors that still exist (virtual and otherwise).
To be honest, we are beginning to doubt the praise for our heroism will ever arrive at the front door of our double-wide here in Mystic Hollow, California. We have more information we are willing to share about Magician’s Wax being illegally imported from farms that abuse the poor magicians from whom the cultivated ear wax is extracted. Tales of generic Q-Tips and over-farming will leave juries in abject horror but will remain in our vaults until we can be assured that the nation’s law enforcement officials will be ready to take on this anathema.
As for Mac King’s name, we think that’s his name. Maybe Mac is short for something or a nickname. Like how people call Santa Claus, “Santa” but it was “St. Nicholas.”
How much does it cost to get into magic?
— Earnest Questioner
The best thing about Magic is that it costs nothing to start. You can do magic with cards, coins, toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, other peoples’ cards, coins or tubes. We heard a story of a magician who started with literally nothing and ended up with a full evening show by learning the magic he could do with borrowed items and doing them well. He was tipped for his work, saved his money and bought props; eventually hired an assistant (and later married her) and found an agent to book him into shows around the Midwest. True, his agent ended up marrying his assistant and left him destitute but he still had his skills. We heard from him last week. He worked his way back up and will be doing shows again.
So Magic costs nothing but time and perhaps your livelihood and personal happiness (but that is a worse case scenario) and it is something you will always have with you. In many ways it is like riding a bike. You never forget the skills you learned. The ability to perform sleights of hand or how to engage and entertain an audience remain forever. And unlike riding a bike, you don’t need a bike. People will lend you a bike to watch you do tricks with their bike and pay you money for the pleasure of watching you do things with their property. Harry Houdini once said – in quote we are now making up – “Magic is the one art that rewards the artist’s practice and preparation by making his work invisible.”
What is your favorite Magic-film to watch?
— D. Dugger
We love the movie Houdini starring Tony Curtis. It was the film that really got us hooked on the Houdini myth and later Houdini history. We weren’t disillusioned to learn that the film took liberties with the true story but more intrigued about the man that lived a life so large that films would be made about him.
It is interesting that you qualified your question by asking our favorite film “to watch.” We have several favorite magic films that we do not like to watch. We like to look at the posters, read about them on IMDB and dream about what they could have been. Most of the recent magician-oriented films fit that bill. The posters and promotion looked so wonderful that we just knew a great movie could be made. It was a pity in almost every case that the producers, writers and directors did not agree with us and decided to make movies that seemed to stray from the magic theme that made them enticing.
We also like movies based on the life of Topo Gigio; focusing on his time after his success on the Ed Sullivan show. He went on to open two nightclubs in Miami (one is still standing) and had an infamous running feud with former boxing great Jake LaMotta – although they were very good friends in real life. Many people still don’t know that he was a great inventor and developed a way of making more predictable kidney dialysis protocols. He received a patent in 1974 for his work on the modern milling of whole grain. He was a prolific writer and many credit him for the Harry Potter story idea first penned for a literary quarterly published by the University of Mississippi.