In the book, the Possum Dixon rocker and magician pulls the curtain back on his wild upbringing and coming-of-age story, including everything from an uncle who impersonated an FBI agent to his days as part of the budding music-and-arts scene in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood.
Rob also delves into his struggles with addiction, his recovery and pivot to magic, and his introduction to Hollywood’s Magic Castle.
In addition to being an incredible performer who engages audiences completely, he is an actor on a Delta safety video, on television and in the movies — plus and really nice guy. He has a riveting story to tell.
What a week ahead at the World Famous Magic Castle.
The line-up of performers is usually very strong but the next week will feature some amazing talent in all rooms.
Long-time readers of Inside Magic are no doubt aware of our deep reverence for mentalist Bob Cassidy. If Mr. Cassidy wrote it or said it, we consumed it. We have two copies of his outstanding DVD Mental Miracles.
It is an old habit from our days working with vinyl records as a disc jockey back in the Midwest. We used to buy two of the great records – one to keep in pristine condition and the other to play. We learned later that DVDs do not wear out quite as quickly as old-fashioned long-playing records or VHS tapes. But, just in case, we are ready.
Plus it is a phenomenal DVD with great mentalism and expert teaching. We used two of the effects – with our own twist – to win some contests. By “with our own twist” we mean we did not steal directly from Mr. Cassidy’s performance.
For instance, we were not as smooth or polished in our presentation and we left out the parts that required any dexterity or thinking. We did, however, don glasses and combed our hair like him. We consider our routines more of an homage rather than a deliberate word-for-word theft of his hard work but only because we like to rationalize to avoid shame spirals and excessive but well-founded self-doubt.
Mr. Cassidy will be in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and so will we. We will be seated, staring with the creepy kind of facial expression that one sees in the lovelorn or pathological, hoping against hope that he chooses us as a volunteer. If he does, we’ll report it here.
Following Mr. Cassidy as the late performer in the Parlor is Rafael Benatar.
We attended Mr. Benatar’s lecture on Sunday and were really impressed. He has a great presence and a well-considered approach to performing magic based on his study under Ascano of Spain. His Cups and Balls was a joy to watch. We learned his own cups had been stolen from his dressing room the night before. We were shocked to hear the news. Call us naïve but we couldn’t imagine a magician stealing props from a colleague. Perhaps it was a non-magician? We thought that was the case until we heard that the thief left the electronics and took only the cups.
Mr. Benatar performed in the Close-Up Gallery last week and will be performing his parlor act in the Parlor – which makes perfect sense and likely did not need to be written.
But wait, there is more.
The Magic Castle’s Librarian Bill Goodwin will be appearing in the Close-Up Gallery and this will be our first opportunity to see him in action. His reputation precedes him and he comes fresh off his win as Close-Up Performer of the Year. We cannot wait to see him perform.
And yet there is even more.
In the Palace of Mystery, Rob Zabrecky, Ardan James and Tina Lenert will be performing on the big stage.
Seriously. At what point does the government need to step in and stop the madness? How many great acts can be booked in one week? Has the Magic Castle no respect for those of us with day jobs who need to get up in the morning?
We have started a course of six espressos every four hours to keep alert so that we can enjoy every minute.
We love performing in the Hat and Hare or Gallery downstairs on the weekends (or whenever we can find one or more people willing to take a card, any card) and sometimes we even feel like we did an okay job in the amateur, impromptu showcase. The contrast this week between the accomplished magicians upstairs and our trembling pawing at cards and spectators downstairs may be too great for us to bear. This might be a great week to just watch the masters at work and enjoy.
Fallen Cards is the title of an amazing magic-related film project on Kickstarter worthy of your consideration and funding.
Unlike most films with putative ties to our art, the folks behind the project are either magicians or magic enthusiasts. The plot is great, the actors are all accomplished and some big names from the world of magic are promoting the project.
We have some familiarity with the way movies are made. The movie Michael starring John Travolta went from completed script by Inside Magic Favorites Jim Quinlan and Pete Dexter to its theater debut pretty quickly by Hollywood standards – about 12 years. Film production is apparently a costly, time-consuming and complex process – who knew?
The magic on screen requires the combined talents of writers, directors, actors, set designers, special effects experts, high-priced lawyers, best boys, grips, riggers, wranglers and caterers.
(We do not know what best boys or grips do but they always appear in credits so it must be important and apparently only the really good ones make it to the top of their profession. We worry about their self-esteem issues, however).
While Fallen Cards is a smaller production than Michael, it faces its own costs and logistical hurdles. That’s where you come in. By being a producer of the film, you share in the process and will hopefully bask in the glory.
The team behind Fallen Cards want the magic to be performed rather than generated by computers and special effects folks. That was the key for us.
The film sprung from a comment made during a card session. “What if we created a superhero, but he was a martial arts magician!” That was four years ago. After drafting, revisions, auditions, site scouting and planning, Fallen Cards is ready to go from concept to concrete expression.
While there is more to the movie than a magician performing tricks – apparently non-magicians insist on some sort of plot or structure in their magic movies – the magic will be authentic.
Rich Manley, the project’s creator said he wanted to showcase all types of magic. “There have been many films about magic with actors portraying magicians, but poorly performing the art. We wanted to change that and make sure that our actors were also professional magicians.”
Mr. Manley is joined by his producing partners: the beautiful Kristina Ellery and richly-talented Zachary Kamen. The trio have enlisted the talents of magicians Dan and Dave Buck and Rob Zabrecky to keep the magic real – if that makes sense. We understand Ms. Ellery will also appear in the film as the lovely and beguiling Minx.
Hitfix.com describes young magician Rob Zabrecky as "wraith thin as an Edward Gorey drawing with a piercing stare and an unnerving wide selection of bow-ties, Zabrecky's creepy, witty Odd Man character might best be described as 'a mix of Vincent Price and David Byrne.'"
Flattering, no? We think he looks more like Chess Immortal Bobby Fischer.
Mr. Zabrecky is a multi-talented package with a résumé as the lead singer of Possum Dixon, a 1990's band who recorded three records with Interscope Records (former label of Mystic Hollow resident Eminem).
Just as David Blaine was discovered and encouraged by Leonardo DiCaprio, Mr. Zabrecky found favor of Time magazine's "Coolest Person of 2011," Ryan Gosling.
'I did a show at Brookledge (the site of invitation-only performances for magic aficionados) and he came up to me afterwards and paid me a nice compliment,' recalls Zabrecky. 'And I thought he was a magician, because he said "I really like what you do and it's really inspiring." And all I'm thinking is stay away from my act, buddy. No, you can't do my diminishing cards act and dance.'
Magic Man Zabrecky finally got hip to the identity of his new fan, and agreed to perform magic and tap dancing along with Mr. Gosling's music. The mainstream star helped the "Odd Man" with his appearance for French television and offered Zabrecky advice from the perspective of an actor or director.
"Ryan really looked at my character through an actor's eyes, which was something that hadn't really been done before," says Mr. Zabrecky. "I've gotten a lot of great input from magicians who know some things about theater, with my friend John Lovick (Handsome Jack) being the only guy who could look at my act and tell me theatrically what was wrong with it or what was good about it. But Ryan has no magic background, so for him it was all character."
Mr. Gosling's questions are appropriate for all magicians. "What is this guy doing? Why is he coming out here? Does he just reach for that? What if he reached for it here?"
The "Odd Man" was inspired by a walk in streets of Baltimore made famous by Film Director John Waters He happened upon Kenzo's Yogi Magic Mart in Baltimore whilst touring with Possum Dixon. "The air conditioner was shaking from the outside, so I said, that's where I'm going to cool off."