Category Archives: Musings

What’s Your Show About?

I find that most inquiries rarely ask this of magicians, because apparently we are generic.

But my show is about .. many things. What things, you ask? Well … here’s an example.

When John Lennon was told in August of 1977 that Elvis was dead, he reportedly said: ‘Elvis died when he went in the army.’ Lennon looked at Elvis and thought, ‘Man. What happened? They invented the word ‘cool’ for you. You scared the shit out of all those sons of bitches. Then you turned into one of them. Fucking beach movies. Fucking TV specials with fucking Frank Sinatra.’

Lennon made his bones: worked and made art and got successful. He earned the right to ask Elvis face to face at Graceland in 1964: ‘Why don’t you do rock ‘n’ roll anymore?’ (Which came out a good deal more polite than it was intended.) Elvis hemmed and looked around and came up with a lame answer: ‘Well, if I found a rock ‘n’ roll song I liked, I’d record it in a minute.’ Lennon told him, ‘When you do, we’ll buy your records again.’

I don’t think Elvis ever recovered.

But! Lennon knew he screwed up as well. The minute they fluffed up his hair and told him to be a cute little Beatle and keep smiling and don’t wear a toilet seat around your neck on stage and be nice to the press … actually that wasn’t when he blew it. When he said ‘yes’ to all that bullshit. That’s when he blew it.

There isn’t enough money in the fucking world.

Everything about my branding and look and style has meaning to me. Every trick or story that i include or excise from the act. Every bit of my heart that I paste on my sleeve daily.

That’s part of what my show is about.

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Mark Me

The Monday Night Tease Adventure, Part Two.

One of the first things I decided was to present ‘The Naked Truth’ with a slightly new twist. Yes, i still wanted it to focus on self-esteem and giving up hateful words, but I also wanted to add in fear. The world has become a very scary place, and it’s so easy to listen to all the doom in the air and just despair of everything. So i was going to also ask them to write their fears on my skin. To let them go for a short time.

In truth, once I settled on this scary idea, I didn’t think too much about it. I trusted in my ability and focused on centering myself.

So I prepped, and practiced the magic I would open with, looked at flights and budgets and … and then everything changed. Quickly.

One afternoon in late August i got a text from Lili: “You busy?” So I gave her a call. “What’s Up?”

“Well … due to stuff I’m not going into right now, the show will be closing two weeks. i just gave the club owner two weeks notice and … the last show will be September 4th. Just wanted you to know.”

We talked and I tried to be supportive and the friend she needed right then. She wasn’t showing it, but I knew she was frantic, sad, and upset about this news. She said she was going to try to call some people in and give it the best she could. When we hung up, all I could think of was … I wonder if she still wants me in this and was being polite, because: She knows i have one of MY shows booked that night and airfare is going be outrageous this close to date and whatever else. On my hand, i wasn’t going to presume I still had a space. But I looked up flights, anyway. I did math (yeah, it was that serious.) and sent a note to the owner of the club I had booked in Charlotte. I called her back … and to my delight, she did still want me for the final spot of the final show. She offered weak protest about me cancelling my gig, but I could tell she was happy.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been underestimating my strengths, lately? The honor of this was not missed.

I kept the secret, for the most part. Lili dropped a few subtle hints over social media, and a few people understood. The event was going to sell out, regardless. The only person i really let anything slip to was my friend, Andrea. I let her know I’d be in town for the MNT show and, if she was interested, it might be a good idea to catch this show. I even offered her my comp, but she insisted on supporting the show and buying her own. So I told her the secret, but she had already guessed before my confirmation. Truthfully, it was comforting to know I’d have a friend in the audience. Eddie and Lili would be dealing with work and emotions of their own, so I was glad of this addition. Coming down from ‘The Naked Truth’ is rough, so friendship and care is coveted. She was able to get one of the last standing room tickets, so thank the universe for small blessings.

Megan was concerned that Monique might show up, or try to get in touch, but that honestly didn’t concern me. That boat has sailed.

I made little posters for FB, I kept my anxiety in check, made my travel plans, and I meditated over the event. I wanted to make a good statement, i wanted to be there for my friend’s last huzzah with her baby, I wanted to bask in an awesome show, but most of all, I wanted to entertain Them. Give Them my heart.

To Be Continued …

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… or Not to Be?

The Monday Night Tease Adventure, Part One.

Have you met my friend, Lili?  We met five years ago at the Magic Castle, when i gave her an elf boot. She was with her boyfriend, Eddie. It’s hard to tell a story about Lili without mentioning Eddie, because they have the kind of loving, amazing relationship I want to have when I don’t grow up. And while it may sound funny, this story is about Lili and her show. Lili, her show and me. One of the … nah, screw that … the single biggest honor a friend has ever bestowed on me.

Lili is raw talent and relentless truth. She loves to bring laughter to an audience, in a multitude of different styles. She’s an inspiration, she’s a no-nonsense confidant, and she’s a friend.

A really large door closed for Lili last Monday, September 4th: After 14 years and hundreds of shows, Monday Night Tease at the Three Clubs in Hollywood came to an end. This was Lili’s show, her heart and soul for many of those years. It started, basically, about a month ago, when Lili called.

“I’m going to shut it down”, she said “Enough is really enough. Maybe January or February, we’ll have a big blowout last show, bring back in some acts that I love and really go out of style.”  What could I say? I was really stunned. This was her baby, her job. “What will you do?”
“I don’t know!”, she replied, laughing kind of hysterically, “I just know that it’s time. Close this door and maybe bust out some windows.”

I grabbed my calendar. Looked at the dates at the beginning of the year. “I don’t want to throw my ego around,” I said, “but I would really like to be a part of that, if it’s possible. You don’t even have to put me on stage, I just want to be there for the last show.”

“I know that I want you on the stage, and I know what I want you to do. I’m thinking that the last show needs ‘The Naked Truth’. It says what i want to say. I want to tell you that I haven’t made any final decisions, but that’s not even true. I know that I want it to be done; I’m just really terrified to do it”

I was as comforting as I could be, but my head was in a whirlwind. Some things just seem so solid, but the last couple of years has shown me what that means and what it’s worth. I was flailing for the right things to say, but really, I thnk just being an ear was all she needed.

And we talked. I know we talked for two hours or more that time. I was sitting on my back porch looking out as the sun went down on my side of the country. Maybe this was the universe pulling all the puzzle pieces a little closer together.

So, okay. Monday Night Tease is going away. She’s not passing it off anybody else because, in her words: it’s her baby, she doesn’t want to watch someone else run it. That’s so valid. The two have become synonymous. I’m not concerned about her next steps, though i know she is. I know Lily well enough to know that she’s got strengths and talents and drive and she will absolutely find the next thing and make it her own.

For now I’m left with: I’m going to be in the last show of Monday Night Tease. Getting Nekkid and offering my skin as a canvas for a very important event. Forgive me for the direction going to take on this right now, but the blog is in fact, all about me. I know there will be lots of stories from different perspectives about this, but this one is mine. The fact that I was asked to be in the last show of this tradition give me a huge burst of self-esteem. Lately I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve been underestimating myself. I’ve let other people, people that purport to love me, make me feel bad about myself. And on purpose, in order to keep me under some semblance of control. Discovering this made me sick, but here was at least a partial remedy, and a huge one. I am valued by my friend, who isn’t hiring me just because we’re friends, but because my act moves her. I must be worth something.

I’ve worked very hard to get here. Not just learning card tricks and magic, but learning the actual work behind the show. My act, my show moves people. It saves lives. I say that a lot, because sometimes I have to try to convince myself, but I’ve got letters and deep, intimate conversations where random strangers told me time and time again that what I’m doing has immense value in peoples lives. And so it seems it was with Lili. She’s been at this for a very long time and she knows quality, She knows potential, this was not just a fluke, or a favor for a friend. She would tell me straight up if I was not worthy of being in this show. So once she asked, I jumped at the chance. This was sincerely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Of course I agreed to keep it a secret until she decided to announce it herself. It’s her show, it’s her announcement. I gave her as much encouragement as I could, told her that I loved her, and I was right behind her whatever she decided. We said goodbye and hung up.

Shortly thereafter, I went and made some tea, came back to the back porch and watched the stars come out. If the show was going out, if my friend’s show was closing, indeed I was going to do my part to make sure that it was going to go out with joy and style.

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Self Blocking

I consulted friends on this and we all agree: there’s a story I want to tell, and it’s the truth, but it has potential to drive an even bigger wedge between me and my estranged children. They are all adults, and responsible for how they react to things, but fear has me stagnant.

I’m going to relate the entire story of the closing of Monday Night Tease from my perspective, and in doing so i must include a certain story, because it’s powerful and relevant and can help other people over their own hurdles. And it hurts me, still. I’m going to tell it. I just don’t usually struggle this hard with the keyboard.

Why am I afraid? I was accused of cheating (among many other things), it was read into the record in court that I had ‘multiple affairs in multiple cities with multiple women’ and it was presented without evidence, because it isn’t true. I was cornered by a friend during a wake and repeatedly pressured: “You can tell me. You cheated, didn’t you? It’s okay, I won’t say anything. Seriously. Seriously. C’mon, tell me, I’m your friend. Are you telling the truth? Really? Really? C’mon …” relentlessly until I had to forcibly remove myself. He would not accept my “No, I never cheated.”
No one from my former church family reached out to me. Not to get my side, not to comfort me, not even to say “I believe you’re guilty, but I care about you anyway. How can I help?” Not. One. No, they all believed the lies and rumors and I lost them.

Part of me fears the loss could happen again, but …

Shit. I’m a writer.

Damn the Torpedoes. Full Speed Ahead.

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Irony, a few days ago.

Fellow Magic Dude: “I don’t understand the trend with fidget spinners.”

Me: “Oh? What do you mean?

FMD: “It’s just silly and trivial. Childish, even. It doesn’t serve any purpose at all.”

Me, watching him absentmindedly cut and shuffle a deck of cards, which he’s been doing for the last 10 minutes or so: “Yeah, it’s a mystery …”

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Grieve, She Said

“Everyone I love lives somewhere else
And I have time to look at myself ” ~ Marillion

I sat on her professional (not ridiculous) couch and talked about divorce and isolation and friends being weary of the same old sad song. “It’s okay.” she said, “You have a right to grieve in whatever sense you need. Being told ‘It will pass’ is simply too simplistic. You are in a very painful place and it’s okay to hurt. There are healthy ways to hurt.”

The gift in this is the time alone. the time to really quest deep into the long-unexplored recesses. Pull out my essence and value it for exactly what it is.

“So what if they think you are self serving and odd? You have spent most of your life trying to please someone else. Your parents, your family. Look for ways to please you. You cracked under trying to maintain your mask. Take it off and burn it – there’s a really good soul underneath. Not everyone is going to like it, but live for what you think is right, not what they tell you will be right for them.”

I keep seeing glimmers of the man I really am.

Art from pain, right? Christ, I need a genuine hug.

Grateful for the process. Grateful for the time to study. Grateful … just grateful.

More later.

h

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Weird Kid

For a season in high school, I wore a cape. I didn’t imagine myself a superhero or any such … I donned a floor length black cape with crimson red lining. I had purchased said cape from Morris Costumes, to use at Rocky Horror. It had residence in the trunk of my B610, and one morning I just decided to slip it on and … pretend it was the most normal thing in the world.

The oddest thing: most everyone accepted it without question. “Just seemed like something you would do.” was  the thing I heard later. Lots of my friends wanted hugs, wanted to be wrapped up inside my cape for a moment. Escape the pressure … be silly and whimsical, for a moment, for a season.

For a season in high school, I wore a scarlet letter. I read the book and had a heated debate with a teacher about gender roles and acceptable behavior. I didn’t know the term ‘slut shaming’ in 1982, but the concept was really clear. So I sewed a big red ‘A’ on my jacket and refused to take it off, even when threatened by administration. It caused a stir, but the point got through.  Almost earned me a small vacation. Almost.

I do card tricks now, and sometimes i push an envelope that constantly dares me to push it. This Labor Day I’ll be doing such a thing.

I want to be a safe place. I want to be a shield when a shield is needed and a pillow when a head is weary. I’m walking toward peace, and I’m plucking little bits of joy along the way.

I wasn’t sure where this was going to go, and I’m not sure how to end it.

Be weird. Get a cape.

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