Saturday Morning Specials.

davenportsThe more I write about magic the clearer it becomes to me that in many ways it‘s the role of the Magic Store that fascinates me the most. Judging from the responses to my articles it seems that many of my readers also have many of their favorite memories carefully polished and centered on this same topic.  I want to explore this area a little more fully because in the age of Internet shopping it seems to me we are at a crossroads and the honest to God magic shop is in danger of vanishing and if this happens we will have lost something very special

The very first magic shop I spent my pocket money in was a tiny, crowded magic oasis on the Tottenham Court Road in the very heart of London’s West End. It was here I made the mistakes we all make in our early purchases!  Gradually the gentleman behind the counter started to educate my fledgling taste.  The name of my first Saturday morning tutor was Jon Tremaine and he began the lifelong process of finding a trick you can truly make your own.

To my delight I discovered that another magic shop called Davenport’s existed about five minutes walk from the Tottenham Court Road.  This was like trading up from a Honda Civic to a Jaguar; much more space and way better equipped! It was here that Pat Page showed me that it wasn’t just the trick that mattered but what you did with it. To spend a morning watching Pat entertain his Saturday morning regulars was an education all its own. Next I discovered Ken Brooke and his Magic Place. I have written quite extensively about Ken and all I learned from him. Suffice to say it was here I learned the skills that really helped launch me into my career in magic.

Upon arriving in Los Angeles there were two major choices when buying magic: ‘Hollywood Magic’ and Joe Berg’s store and of the two I infinitely preferred to visit Joe’s store, Here there was the additional benefit that if you hung around until Jules Lenier’s break you could accompany him to the coffee shop around the corner on Vine Street and talk magic with him drinking endless cups of black coffee, while Jules ate English muffins smothered in butter and sprinkled with salt.

Needless to say there were many other magic stores that I’ve enjoyed visiting over the years. When I was working in Chicago it was worth an extra day on my Ken Brookeschedule to fit in a visit with Jay Marshall. Jay had a way of quietly passing on information that was as wonderful, quirky and unique as the man himself. I never once left Magic Inc. without at least one cool trick to add to my repertoire.  How I wish I had had a chance to spend my teenage years with Jay as a teacher: would I have traded it for the wisdom and help I received from Billy McComb and Ken Brooke in those same years?  No, but Jay is the only magician I have ever met who could take a trick McComb performed and improve it. ‘Nuff said.

Much of the best fun I have had in the magic world has occurred lounging around magic stores on a Saturday morning with the locals gathered to trade stories and tricks and the proprietor tried to balance making a living and making a magician. There is a very special fellowship about these shops that can never be replaced by ordering on the Internet. Convenient as virtual shopping on the Web is, there must always be room for the real thing. Support your local magic shop or it may disappear into some cosmic Toppit. In the words of Joni Mitchell “You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

~ by Nick Lewin on May 27, 2013.

6 Responses to “Saturday Morning Specials.”

  1. Wow! How many memories you have evoked in this one article, Nick. Especially ‘The Magic Shop’ in Tottenham Court Raod (not a very original name!) and the excellent Davenports – which is still going strong, of course. Mind you, even in those days we used to order magic by post – Supreme Magic in Bideford, Devon, and Silray Magic in Scotland come to mind. Thanks for making me feel very old!

  2. Nice post Nick…

    My very early Saturday mornings were at Charlie’s Magic Shop in the Mission Inn in Riverside, CA. My Mom was great at going shopping there and would drop me off so Charlie could baby sit me for an hour while she walked around.

    He would always show me the multiplying balls. It was real magic, not the tricks I had since I started at 5. This was the real stuff.

    It took months for me to cash in bottles and save stolen quarters to come up with the $8.00 to buy the set. I waited to open the little brown box until I got home, went to my private spot in my room, opened the box and there was 3 red wooden balls and a shell. The instructions were a piece of paper with 4 pictures on it. The first was a hand with one ball in-between the thumb and first finger. The second had to balls, the third had three balls and forth had four balls.

    I realized that this was a trick. Not the real stuff that Charlie was showing me every Saturday morning. Just a trick. Dang. My World as an 8 year old kid collapsed. I cried for a week…

    Welcome to the magic of Saturday mornings with Charlie. Why I became a pro after that is beyond me. I love magic shops. I always seek them out on my travels.

    Thanks Nick for making me cry this morning. Now that I’m in my 60’s and still performing, I pray my magic looks as real as Charlie’s did. It’s been a great life of Saturday morning magic sessions… May they always continue.

    Bro. Paul West

  3. AGREED…. I started out working in a magic shop. Then my favorites to visit:
    Ken Brooke’s, Magic Inc., House of Magic (San Francisco) and Al Flosso’s.

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