It was a wild spirit filled nght!
There are two large black footlockers in our garage amongst the magic muddle: if I ever want to panic my wife I just move them a little closer to being inside the house. The content of these trunks consist of the hardware necessary to present the Nick Lewin Celebrity Séance Show.
Inside the footlockers is a strange assortment of objects; black candles, jumbo tarot cards, glowing objects of all kind, a voodoo doll, lazy tongs of various lengths and about a dozen long black poles with swatches of luminous paint daubed cloth attached to the end. Add a bit of theatrical skill, more than a little nerve and the séance is complete.
Those footlockers contain such a strange collection of items that it is amazing that they could create panic in anyone, especially my wife who after thirty-four years of marriage to me, is acquainted with most of the weirdness in the magic world. However panic they have created over the years!
It would take a curiously deranged person to look at the ragged items in the footlockers and say, “There they are, just as I created them!” That particular deranged man, in this case, would be the one and only Eugene Burger. For these props are my realizations of the ideas in Mr. Burger’s splendid handbook for the Séance giver ‘Spirit Theater.’ If you want to present a séance this is the only book on the subject you need to own.
Given a place of honor in my magic cupboard is a superb set of Dr Q locking spirit slates that Eugene passed on to me to feature in the experiment. He seemed to feel you couldn’t be a spirit medium without owning a set of these nifty gizmos. I suspect he is right because the toughest part in any séance is letting the audience know it is finished. The slates can get the message across, so to speak.
I presented my first séance in 1978 at the Ice House in Pasadena. It was designed to bring back the spirit of Buddy Holly. In those days I didn’t have much to scare the sitters when the lights went out. Curiously enough the crack that suddenly appeared in the lens of the thick horn rimmed glasses, borrowed from the Holly family, got the job done nicely and created a splendid reaction in those present.
In fact the gasp from the audience when the cracked glasses were revealed may even have covered the sigh of relief that my wife Susan and I gave when we realized the damn thing was over! There were times prior to (and during!) the séance when I wished I had been in that plane with Ritchie Vallens, the Big Bopper and Buddy when they left the airport on that stormy night to fly to their next gig.
These magical séances are curious things, they leave you elated, depleted and in no uncertain state of mind that this finally was the final one. However as you get hooked on their dark charms there is no such thing as a final séance; hence my wife’s alarm at any sign that those footlockers are moving back into the house.
I have performed about fifteen séances since that first one in Pasadena when we brought Buddy back from that great gig in the sky. Speaking for myself, which I am eminently qualified to do, my favorite was the Lenny Bruce Séance presented at Bally’s in Las Vegas. It was a grand evening of laughs and chills.