(Close Window)
Topic: An Inspirational Story, & why Magicians are like family.
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Dec 5, 2002 10:17AM)
I was thumbing through one of my earlier magic books when I came across a story I had previously missed. (Credit to Magic For Dummies by David Pogue.)

Boston, 1995: It was the Society of American Magicians' national Stage Competition. Torkova had entered the contest- It was his very first competition. He had perfected his own special version of The Miser's Dream, in which the magician reaches out with his bare hand and plucks a coin out of the air. He drops it into a bucket and then reaches out again-another coin. The coins begin appearing faster and faster, and with much clinking, the bucket slowly fills up with money. Torkova was performing without patter, accompanied only by his tape of Scott Joplin's familiar ragtime tune, "The Entertainer"; part of the charm of his act was that he caught coins in time to the beat of the music.

Imagine his horror, then, when the theater's sound system croaked in the middle of his routine. The music stopped- and so, for a moment, did the magic. Torkova didn't know what to do, for a split second, he thought he was dead in the water. But the tune to "The Entertainer" is familiar enough; to help the show go on, a couple of Torkova's magician friends in the audience began SINGING the melody.

Torkova, who was inspired by this, smiled and faced the audience. He proceeded to conduct them, encouraging them all to join in. The entire audience joined in, singing along- and Torkova went right back into his routine. A few minutes later, the sound came back on- and Torkova, without missing a beat, finished his performance with the appearance of a huge wad of dollar bills at his fingertips on the final note of the song. The crowd gave him a standing ovation- and he won the competition.

This brought a tear to my eye when I first read it.
Message: Posted by: Mina (Dec 15, 2002 03:10AM)
And it brought a tear to mine as I read it here.

Thank you wonderful story.
Message: Posted by: magician81 (Dec 15, 2002 04:33AM)
United we stand, masked magician watch out for your ***!!!
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Dec 16, 2002 09:09AM)
You're welcome, Mina. :)
Magician81, I think it's safe to say that nobody in the magic community likes or supports the MM. I have a personal agenda against merely handing out methods to laypeople who do not care about becoming magicians. Most of them hate it when the
"secret" is ruined anyway.

Message: Posted by: Dark illusionist (Dec 16, 2002 05:04PM)
Well Jeff McBride had a lot to say about the masked magician at his lecture last summer. I don't remember everything he said but he compared the masked magician to the wizard of oz, it was one of the funniest things I ever heard (well next to the mime with taret syndrom.... actually I didn't hear that, I saw it) email McBride some time if you get a chance you will learn a lot.

Also as far as magician = family. I am a volunteer at a haunted house and we are literally one giant family. The truth is, we fight soooo much but I've been saved from embarasement countless times and I owe a lot to my family in October...
Jonathan :cry:
Message: Posted by: Torkova (Dec 28, 2002 05:17PM)
I've just joined the Café and am moved that you found the story of my sound fiasco at the 1995 SAM convention worthy of posting. As you can imagine, it was quite an emotional experience for me and I've run into a number of folks who were there who were inspired by it. All I could think of up on the stage was what my teacher, Bobby Baxter, had said to me before I left. He said, "If the chandelier falls, keep going!" and am I glad his sage advice stuck with me. I am planning on writing the story up in more detail for an upcoming issue of Genii. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Dec 29, 2002 11:27AM)
WOW, the people you meet here at the Café! Welcome Torkova, I never expected that of all people you would come across this thread. Yes, your story did inspire me quite a bit. It's definitely worth posting, considering all the bashing that's been going on in magic lately. It brought up my spirits after reading so much negative critique of people like David Blaine and even Copperfield to some extent. Congratulations on your win, you deserved it! :wavey:
Message: Posted by: Torkova (Dec 29, 2002 12:53PM)
Hi IceRaven02, thanks for yours and everyone elses warm welcomes to the Café. I very much agree that there is too much magic bashing going on today. Whether it is deserved or not, it is more of a reflection on the one who is doing the bashing. It's negative energy and while I suppose it gives the basher a brief ego boost, the price he/she pays to their own psyche is not worth it. In the performing arts which are driven by ego, it can sometimes be very easy to let jealousy and envy sabotage what we are trying to express. I find it helpful to not think of it as performing so much as sharing what I love with the audience.
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Dec 29, 2002 04:00PM)
I've always thought that to be a successful magician one had to have a certain level of sophistication and respect towards others at all times, whether he's doing magic or not, and no matter whose company he is in. But those that bash don't seem to have attained that level yet. Never mind the damage to the perfomer, what bashing anyone can do to a career can be worse. I've heard horror stories here at the Café and elsewhere about magicians who made fun of someone with a physical disability and didn't know it because the room they were performing in was too dark. The bottom line is they shouldn't have been making fun of someone in the first place! And a lot of magicians don't put anything about themselves into their act. Some say that's the primary reason magic is still a second-class form of entertainment, or art.
Message: Posted by: RandyStewart (Jan 5, 2003 05:50PM)

I had the opportunity to message Torkova just a couple of days ago. A true entertainer - even when the music stops. Thank you for reminding us all of his and other's amazing spirit when it comes to entertaining our hearts.

Sure wish I were there that day. I'd be the loudest singing voice :)

Randy Stewart
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Jan 6, 2003 06:44AM)
You're welcome Randy. :)
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Jul 13, 2003 11:05AM)
Truly inspirational is all I have to say!

And welcome Torkova! Look forward to your posts! :wavey:

Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jul 14, 2003 10:39AM)
Hi Kathryn,

What an awesome story and thanks for sharing it.

I love moments when inexplicably things happen, and people are joined together in something ...well don't know how to explain it really.Yet it leaves people smiling. It seems to have happened that night and Torkova your ability to continue your act shows you're a true pro and the win was deserved. Way to go! :applause:
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Jul 27, 2003 11:32PM)
Ah, you're welcome to all those who said thanks for sharing the story. I'm actually glad I posted it, it seems a story of brotherhood among magicians is needed now more than ever.
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Aug 3, 2003 10:57PM)
I'm probably one of the most cynical people I know. But I have to admit that that story gives even a guy like me hope in the world!

Thanks for putting it out there, Kathryn.
Message: Posted by: indridcold (Nov 17, 2003 09:52PM)
I have been apalled by some magicians storys of being quite rude, when dining out a resteraunts with a magician on the begginer side, and they do flourishes, palm and switch cards to upstage the poor guy, and I so glad that not everyone one is like this.
Message: Posted by: DrDale (Nov 17, 2003 10:15PM)
Great Story
Message: Posted by: Jim Snack (Dec 1, 2003 06:18PM)
Great story. Here's another along the lines of "the show must go on":

Back in the late 1970's I saw a wonderful show at the Village Gate in NYC--The Incredible World of Magic & Illusion starring Richardi. Also on the bill was Fantasios & Carla, a manipulative dove act from Italy. After performing the multiplying candles Fantasios ditched the candles in a tail pocket.

Unbeknownst to Fantasos, the wick was still burning and his tail coat caught on fire! Imagine performing a manipulative dove act, unaware that your coat is on fire behind you. Carla finally got his attention and he calmly snuffed the flame out and went on with the act without batting an eye. The only difficulty occurred whenever he tried to "go south" with a billard ball, or worse yet, a dove! Yet he went on like the pro he was. Afterwards I went backstage to tell him that his performance was very inspiring. And it was.

Incidently, also appearing on the bill was a very funny man, Mr. Bobby Baxter. I'm sure many of the younger members of the Magic Café do not know the man, but he was a true vaudevillian and a frequent guest of Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan back in the early days of television. I believe he may still be alive today, and perhaps Torkova could enlighten us with a little more background about this talented performer.
Message: Posted by: Kathryn Novak (Dec 4, 2003 03:10PM)
Wow, almost a year since I first put up this topic, and it's still going strong! Jim, thank you for the story. I'm glad someone else shared one. :)
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jan 10, 2004 08:42AM)
Say, Torkova, Joplin had a lot of other tunes, many of which I really like. I was wondering if you use any other ragtime in your act?
Message: Posted by: Torkova (Feb 2, 2004 08:29AM)
Yes, I use Joplin's Easy Winners, Solace and Pineapple Rag among others. Great tunes which make me feel happy on stage which helps communicate that feeling to my audiences.

As for Bobby Baxter, he is still around (he'll be 84 this year) performing close-up many nights a week in New York City and still going strong. Back in 1947, I believe, he was on Ed Sullivan and did a great job performing comedy magic. For a good part of his life he performed mostly comedy magic but also developed incredible skill at back palming (having taught Jeff Sheridan) and thimble manipulation among other things. He did tour with Richardi several times, worked on many cruise ships and for private parties. He is also very strong with close-up magic having decided to focus on this in his later years.

He was one of my major influences not only in magic but in my personal life and I owe much of my success to him. Thank you Bobby!