The Magic Castle

 

We devoted last weekend to the Magic Castle; dinner on Friday night and the Swap Meet Saturday morning.

Betty and Paul at The Magic Castle

 Betty and I arrived Friday and had dinner at the Magic Castle with Mark & Nani Wilson to celebrate their birthdays! Joining us were Mark & Nani’s son, Greg Wilson, along with Tim Mannix and Debbie from here at Hocus Pocus who, lucky girl, just happened to be in L.A. last weekend.

 

Debbie, Paul and Tim at The Magic Castle

Time spent with Mark & Nani is always special for Betty and I, but this was Debbie’s first time at the Magic Castle so we did the “grand tour.” What made this tour special is that Mark & Nani Wilson are founding members of the Magic Castle (47 year membership!) and gave us a guided tour with insight and stories for everything and everyone we saw. We visited Invisible Irma and requested songs; had drinks at the bar with the mysteriously rising and falling bar stool; and toured every performance venue in the Castle all the while Nani regaling us with stories of the past 47 years!

Saturday morning I was the first one in line and through the door when the Magic Castle Swap Meet opened. I think I lost my mind…there was so much to see and buy! There were some great hard-to-find collectibles so with Tim Mannix in tow we started scouring the booths, talking to the sellers and acquiring and acquiring and acquiring more. It’s a good thing my friend Steve Dick had a booth because he let us store our purchases behind it…there is no way we could have carried everything around with us or made countless trips out to the truck. Thank you, Steve!!

                                                                                                                          Sorting through our finds behind Steve Dick’s booth

  Not only did I find many great items for the Hocus Pocus website, but I was able to add to my personal collection. I acquired Billy McComb’s pipe and tobacco pouch which I now have in a display case with his hands; AND, I got Harry Blackstone Jr.’s Spirit Hands which were used in his “Who Wears the Whiskers” routine which was the effect he used to close his shows; AND THEN, there is the Sands of India Mixing Urn, very graciously signed by Gay Blackstone, which was used by Gay and Harry Blackstone Jr. when they performed the classic Sands of the Desert routine; PLUS, I received a wonderful gift from Greg Wilson, a Siegfried & Roy Superstars of Magic Crew jacket from a show that never happened! Apparently, the show was dropped during Siegfried and Roy’s transition from the Frontier to the Mirage in Las Vegas. Now it’s a great piece of magic history.

Billy McComb’s hands, pipe, and tobacco pouch

 

 Harry Blackstone Jr.’s Spirit Hands

 Blackstone Sands of India mixing urn

 

Siegried and Roy Superstars of Magic Jacket

Then the challenge arrived: how were we going to get all this stuff home? Luckily, Debbie was in L.A. so she let us use her car which we packed to the gills; there was only room for her in the driver’s seat and then we packed our Jeep, also! I need a much bigger vehicle for the next Swap Meet.

 

Tim(??), Steve Dick and Paul packing Debbie’s car FULL!

Packing the Jeep 

After packing the cars and having lunch, Betty and I made one more stop before heading home. Mark and Nani Wilson invited us to their warehouse or as we like to call it, the store house of the Magic Land of Allakazam. This warehouse represents fifty years of the magic careers of Mark and Nani. No matter how many times I’ve been there, I get that great thrill and excitement every time. Mark, Nani and Greg selected some of their private collectibles that we will be able to offer you on the Hocus Pocus website so keep watch for them, that is unless I change my mind and keep them for myself. 

Then we enjoyed some of the other incredible effects they have in their warehouse. This is the original Allakazam Train, I begged to have it, but Mark and Nani had different ideas about that request. This is a true piece of Allakazam history. Look at all the ATA cases full of illusions on the warehouse shelves.

Nani, Greg, Paul, and Mark

Mark Wilson designed many different attractions that he and Nani used for fairs and trade shows. This robot hand illusion is one of their most clever creations; a pair of disembodied robot hands were caused to come alive and perform a series of tricks, etc. I was excited to be able to get a close up and personal hands on, no pun intended, demonstration by Mark himself, which he described in detail. Thank you once again, Mark and Nani, for a great afternoon.

I’m off now to enjoy the weekend with my family. I wish you all the best for this holiday week.

Until next time,

Paul

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