My friend Piet Paulo. Equal parts Southern Gentleman and Hollywood Hipster.

IMG_6001Some of my happiest memories of Los Angeles in the ‘70’s involve driving around Hollywood in the longest, blackest Cadillac I had ever seen. The Cadillac had a fascinating history to it just like the magician who owned it. The man behind the wheel was a master magician called Piet Paulo. Equal parts Southern Gentleman and Hollywood hipster, Piet is my dear friend, confidant and teacher.

When I was a kid I had a Chinese box that looked like a patterned block of wood until you explored it a little further and found the one strip of wood that slid to the side. Once you had moved that first piece then another area was unlocked, then another and so on; eventually you achieved access to the little secret compartment at the centre of the box. Piet reminds me of that box. You have to puzzle with Piet a little and then gradually he unlocks and you get a handle on the next piece of the puzzle.

I first started to get to know Piet in the late seventies when we were in Calgary, Canada taping a magic special. The weather was very cold and we were isolated in our hotel. An adjacent Chinese restaurant the only place to escape to; it gave you plenty of time to talk. One aspect of Piet is his mastery of the metaphysical side of magic. Along with Jeff McBride, Jack Goldfinger and the late Channing Pollack when you sit and discuss magic, science, philosophy or religion with Piet you will learn something. His knowledge is extremely wide and wonderfully eclectic.

I also learned a great deal of priceless tips about the real secrets of presenting and traveling a big magic show from Piet ,we began working together and had a Piet, Dai Vernon, Joe Cassari, andMike Skinnnersimple and incredibly effective partnership. Piet performed the big illusions and I performed the small comedy routines between the big tricks; we closed the show by performing the Mis-Made girl together. It was a fast paced show with plenty of laughs and magic and every time we worked a gig it led to more. What did I learn from Piet? I learned plenty of tiny and practical tips; such as traveling my working shoes inside old socks to avoid them getting scuffled. That may sound insignificant but just look at performer’s shoes at the next magic convention you attend!

I learned some real magical secrets too. Piet taught me his routine for the Broomstick suspension. If you haven’t seen Piet’s handling of the Broomstick’s then find a tape and study it if you have any real interest in illusion. I will state unequivocally that his routine is second only to the late Richiardi and Piet doesn’t need to travel a carpenter with him!  It isn’t just the big tricks that Piet performs; his dove work is immaculate and his manipulation superb and original. Maybe he eventually got sick of seeing me work gigs with just a briefcase because he thought out a comedy act that was unique and really funny. Billy McComb considered his vanishing cabbage routine one of the funniest bits he had ever seen.

There is much more I could tell you about the many lives of Piet Paulo but maybe you will be lucky enough to find the sixty-foot boat he is living on since he retired and then you can hear his stories first hand. You will be amazed because when I say ‘the many lives of Piet Paulo’ I use the words carefully.

Broom

Diana Zimmerman, Channing Pollack, Piet Paulo

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Balls-smoke-tiltshiftBall

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Piet Yvonne

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Piet Paulo and Ron Wilson

 

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Needles

PYD 101 framed

Peter

PietRobot

Piet (1) copy

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~ by Nick Lewin on April 13, 2013.

10 Responses to “My friend Piet Paulo. Equal parts Southern Gentleman and Hollywood Hipster.”

  1. Thanks Nick. I’ve been Piet’s brother in law for 34 years. I enjoyed this bit of history about him that I was unaware of. He’s still quite the showman. His story should be on film.
    Thanks, Bob

  2. The last photo of Piet with the white rabbit was when he first began his magic career at the age of 14…..that was his first paying gig. I know about that, cause I was there. I am his little sister and was his first magic assistant (I was 8 years old).

    Piet was not much interested in school learning growing up……all he cared about was learning how to be a Magician. Nevertheless, despite not liking school, Piet is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, almost to the point of genius. He’s educated himself by being an avid reader. There’s no subject that he doesn’t know something about if you ask.

    He’s a fascinating “character”, a legend before his time, & always has a joke and a quick wit. He will always leave you laughing and is someone that, once you meet him, you will never forget him.

    You can probably say that I’m partial to Piet because he’s my brother, but I don’t care what you think. I love my big brother.

    Yes, his life’s story would make a wonderful movie!

    Moe Eaton
    Sister

  3. I guess it is obvious I’m a big Piet fan! Actually I have some other great photos I could send you……

  4. I LOVED this! The photos are priceless — I especially love the second from last. Also, I can’t believe Piet was the originator of the ol’ shoe-inside-sock. That’s a million-dollar travel tip.

  5. hi is piet still performing in la??

  6. Piet performed a very special gig on Sunday–his first in ten years! He performed at his granddaughter’s 7th birthday party. As always he was a smash……..

  7. Hi..just read your lovely article on Piet…I used to hang out with him and the lovely dark haired young lady at their pad in Hollywood…late 60’s …..early 70’s…a man of wit and generosity…thank you for the article…was thinking about him and looked his name up…Dottie Bortz ( have since changed my name)

  8. Is this the same man who lived in 1937 Vista Del Mar,had a VHS copying business on Sunset and was married to Piero, and had a daughter who would now be in her mid thirties?

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