The Uniquely Wonderful Bruce Cervon.

bcWhen I first met Bruce Cervon, in the 70’s I found him just a little intimidating. For a start there was his act; which was about as perfect as any close-up I had ever seen. Then there was the classic Cervon cool. He pretty much made Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry look like an awkward high school kid. I was therefore pleased when I was booked to perform with him at a promotional event in a Los Angeles saving and loan bank. It seemed to be a splendid chance to get to know him a little bit.

When I arrived at the gig I was surprised to discover that Bruce was not performing close up magic at the show but was hosting and performing in the stage show. The entire event was produced by Mark Wilson. The opening of the show featured two dancing assistants who flourished silks that turned into canes as they shouted, “Here’s Bruce Cervon” and there he was. 

To my surprise Bruce was a superb stand up performer. Not only did he perform a couple of illusions, but he also floored me with one of the most commercial comedic stand up routines I had ever seen. The effect he performed was a slick blend of the 6 Card Repeat/Cards to Pocket. I consider his hybrid of these two classic tricks to be a gem of contemporary magic.

His performance also featured a variation on the Kaps notes that seemed totally impossible to me– and I had learned the trick from Fred Kaps himself. The changing of the paper to bills was instantaneous and totally impossible. It just blew my mind. To be honest I still have no idea how he did that trick but that’s Bruce Cervon for you, as close to perfection as any magician ever needed to be.  It later re-surfaced in the magic world as an marketed item Extreme Burn—it is still amazing!

During the course of the afternoon Bruce and I began to chat and we discovered that we had a mutual interest in Magic Time!music and our rather extensive record collections. Bruce suggested I drop by one afternoon to explore the gems in his collection. I happily agreed.

I ended up spending quite a few afternoons at Bruce’s home and enjoyed listening to his erudite and entertaining run down of American popular music. One thing the two of us never did was talk about magic. I guess many people lucky enough to spend time with Bruce would dream of coming away with a new double lift. I was overjoyed to leave his home having discovered Mose Allison. The album of Mose that Bruce gave me is still in my collection along with many others I have acquired over the years. 

A few months later I was booked on another ‘Savings & Loan’ show with Bruce but this time we were joined by Scottish master magician Ron Wilson. I told Ron about the mysterious manner in which Bruce could perform the Blank Paper to Dollar Bills without any of the usual folding or covering of the paper. I was determined to discover how it was accomplished this time.

When Bruce performed the trick Ron and I were both watching intently. He fooled us both completely. There were six more shows and Ron and I managed to watch the trick six more times from six different angles and positions. We went up to the second floor of the bank building and watched, we stayed backstage and watched from behind. However by the end of the engagement we were no wiser to Bruce’s methods. 

Much of my previous words are taken from an article I wrote  for my weekly column ‘Meetings With Remarkable Magicians’ in the Magic New Zealand ezine. I usually get a lively email response from my pieces and I always look forward to reading the notes I receive. I often learn a great deal from them. I was particularly pleased at a note I received from Bruce in which he said he always read my pieces and had enjoyed my column about him. Other emails filled my Earthlink inbox and were something of an eye opener to me. 

Magicians from all over the world wanted to share their stories about Bruce. Most of the people writing were not the high flying and famous magicians we see on the covers of magic magazines. These were the magic lovers who fly low enough in the magic world that they escape the radar. In fact some of them flew so low under the fame radar that they probably stopped at traffic lights. 

DVDRSEXTREMEBURN-FULLThese emails had a great deal in common. They were all from true lovers of magic and they all seemed to tell the same story. They came from people who had been truly touched by the sincere way that Bruce had interacted with them. These magical enthusiasts and hobbyists spoke of times when Bruce had taken the time to share his time and knowledge with them. To their amazement this legitimate superstar of magic had gone out of his way to make himself available to them.

Each story was a little different. Sometimes it was when Bruce would sit down and take the time to really teach them a routine or a move. Some people had stories that touched on the other facets of Bruce such as his love of music. Each person had been lifted to a new height by the way Bruce had generously shared his time.

As I read those emails I received I wondered how many other times similar incidents must have occurred. I would guess it was a very large number indeed. Here is someone who truly loved magic and the people who performed it. Cervon not only devoted his time to magic but also to the people who performed it,

Over the years my wife Susan and I were lucky enough to get to know Bruce and Linda Cervon and their daughters Kellee & Marcella a little bit. I never asked Bruce to teach me the ‘work’ on the Kaps Notes. He taught me a lot of other things though such as balancing work and family and not giving short shift to either one; and that is the real ‘real work.’

Bruce also introduced me to Mose Allison and eating a Monte Christo sandwich covered with jelly: for this and more I am very grateful.


~ by Nick Lewin on April 1, 2013.

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