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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Ricky Jay's "Assistants" (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

cheesewrestler
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I never got to see "Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants", could anyone who did see it say whether RJ credited Billy O'Connor at any point?
Andrew Immerman
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I'm all but certain that Ricky Jay didn't credit Billy O'Connor in any way. He spoke of Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser, Max Malini, Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, and Allen Kennedy. For his poetry, he credited Francois Vuillaume and William Ernest Henley. Do you feel that Ricky Jay should've credited Billy O'Connor for having a similarly named show? Ricky Jay did replace O'Connor's name with his own! Smile

Andrew
cheesewrestler
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Yes, I do feel that using someone else's catchphrase for something as important as the title of the show calls for a mention of that someone else. Plus, I remember a review that said the show's opener was based on the premise of introducing the "52 assistants". So it was a pretty important part of the show.

The 52 Assistants bit was definitely very much an O'Connor trademark, for example the story about him arriving at a hotel to find they'd actually reserved 27 rooms - one for him & 26 doubles for the "assistants". Probably just a publicity gag, but it shows how strongly the idea was identified with O'Connor.

I'm sorry, but the word "dishonest" comes to mind. If anyone disagrees, I'd certainly be willing to listen.
Tim Cavendish
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Jay's entire show is an homage to conjuring history, from the publicity poster and title through every effect.

Is it your position that Jay's publicity poster needs an explicit credit for echoing Thurston?

Image
Image


Blackstone appropriated that imagery freely as well:

Image


Neither Thurston nor Blackstone (nor Raymond, nor Dante, nor Carter, nor...) included poster text crediting Kellar...

Image


Anyway, it's possible that Jay may have even mentioned O'Connor in the 30 minutes not captured by HBO's 60-minute version of his 90-minute show, or in the program text.
motown
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Let's keep in mind this wasn't a show done just for an audience of magicians.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
– Karl Germain
cheesewrestler
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Quote:
On Aug 9, 2014, Tim Cavendish wrote:
Jay's entire show is an homage to conjuring history, from the publicity poster and title through every effect.

Is it your position that Jay's publicity poster needs an explicit credit for echoing Thurston?

Anyway, it's possible that Jay may have even mentioned O'Connor in the 30 minutes not captured by HBO's 60-minute version of his 90-minute show, or in the program text.

No, there's tons of magic posters, for many different magicians, using imps & devils & such. But using a very specific phrase, a phrase that was strongly identified with one specific performer, is different.

As to whether RJ did in fact credit Billy O'Connor - well, that's what I'm trying to find out.
Quote:
On Aug 9, 2014, motown wrote:
Let's keep in mind this wasn't a show done just for an audience of magicians.


According to all the reviews I've seen, the "patter" (a term I'm sure RJ would hate (and so do I!)) of the show is all about the history & traditions & lore of magic. A few words about O'Connor would certainly have been appropriate.

(By the way, Stuart Cramer's two books about Germain were among the first magic books I ever purchased, years ago. Quite an original magic thinker he was!)
Tim Cavendish
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Quote:
On Aug 9, 2014, cheesewrestler wrote:No, there's tons of magic posters, for many different magicians, using imps & devils & such.


Ignore the Blackstone one and look at the exact placement and poses of the imps in Jay, Thurston and Kellar's posters.

That's exactly as strong an echo as use of "52 Assistants".
cheesewrestler
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Quote:
On Aug 9, 2014, Tim Cavendish wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 9, 2014, cheesewrestler wrote:No, there's tons of magic posters, for many different magicians, using imps & devils & such.


Ignore the Blackstone one and look at the exact placement and poses of the imps in Jay, Thurston and Kellar's posters.

That's exactly as strong an echo as use of "52 Assistants".


Thurston made a big deal of Kellar naming him as "Kellar's Successor". Probably why those two posters are alike.

But the poster thing is a red herring anyway. Kellar and Thurston had dozens (at least) of different posters, as did hundreds of other magicians. Nobody was identified by his poster. Nobody had one poster by which they were identified. And nobody refers to Kellar or Thurston or Jay as "That guy with the imps on his shoulders." Whereas RJ is still using Billy O'Connor's "52 Assistants" line and apparently still implying that it's his own ("Jay's feats with what he sometimes calls his 52 assistants ..." Bob Mondello on NPR April 17 2013).
motown
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Here's his website:
http://rickyjay.com/bio.html

Shoot him an email and see what he says.

Also, can you say for a fact that Billy was the first to refer to a deck of cards as 52 assistants?

For the record, I did see the show in Chicago. I will see if the program mentions anything about Billy.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
– Karl Germain
cheesewrestler
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Quote:
On Aug 9, 2014, motown wrote:
Here's his website:
http://rickyjay.com/bio.html

Shoot him an email and see what he says.

Also, can you say for a fact that Billy was the first to refer to a deck of cards as 52 assistants?


For the record, I did see the show in Chicago. I will see if the program mentions anything about Billy.


The link says: "As Mr Jay is always in pursuit of a scholarly mongoose said to clearly enunciate the words 'Time is - time was - time is past', he is unable to respond to requests. To contact his agents for professional engagements only: Winston Simone Management [telephone number]"

Do I know for a fact that Billy was the first to refer to a deck of cards as 52 assistants? No. I don't claim to be omniscient. All I know is that O'Connor was known by that catchphrase. The phrase "I'm lovin' it" was in use before McDonald's started using it, but if you opened up a hamburger stand and used that as your slogan .........

By the way the "time is [etc]" line is lifted from Robert Greenes's play "Friar Bacon & Friar Bungay" .....
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