Tag Archives: heart

My Green Grove

September 24, 2017

Festival in the Park is a yearly artisan even in Charlotte. Arts and crafts, live music, and variety acts. For the past twenty years or so I have participated at the ‘Magician’s Stage’ in one capacity or another. I started off in my early magic days, doing two twenty minute spots as part of the local magic club.

The stage has changed locations, management, undergone blistering heat and flash flood. One year the chairs and the stage disappeared under water in less than thirty minutes …

The stage is humble: just a wooden platform with the Festival banner as a back drop. Two floodlights on a metal pole are the entirety of the lighting. No sound system. Our hall is a cathedral of trees. It’s very green. This little grove sits in a small hollow, just off the main path. The sides of the hollow dampen the noise of the crowd and the live bands.

It’s really a magic place, all by itself.

Over the past three days we gave hundreds of audience members pure magic. I stood, bathed in sweat, pouring out my heart to several packed ‘houses’. All through the hot afternoon and into the dark of warm fall nights. They stayed, and they helped, and they gave us ovations and cheers. We danced together.

This was my last year with Festival in the Park. Next fall I will be living across the country. I know I’ll miss it. I know I’ll cherish the memories. I saw some friends I haven’t seen in years. I reconnected with some very precious souls that had been lost to me.

It was magical, it was beautiful.

It was green.

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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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Jokers and Vets

This definitely falls into the ‘I have amazing friends who do magical things’ category.

My friend Donna loves to skydive. She’s a disabled vet who gets her kicks from flying … and teaching others how to fly.  More about this in a second.

When she dives, she carries a playing card with her; a joker with a sticker on the back with instructions on how to contact her. This is the sticker: 19894365_10154714318117113_1161213817_n.png

She releases it during the drop and waits to see if and where they are found. Her team mate drops Aces of Spades. The one time he didn’t he had a malfunction and had to go to his reserve, so now he doesn’t forget.

Donna loves and lives her passion, but there’s more: she reaches out to other disabled vets and teaches them skydiving, too. This naturally poses challenges to some. Double and triple amputees have trained with Donna in order to learn flying. The balance, the alterations to the equipment, everything has to be taken into serious consideration. Worth it? Donna says, “Flying like that is like driving down the road with a trailer that has busted up wheels and you can’t control it. But his face when he first flew stable…

Yeah, absolutely worth it. Donna brings her passion and infuses her students with the joy she gets from diving. Just chatting with her about this gave me chills. What a gift to share with someone. Literally lifting hearts and overcoming adversity.

To be honest, I have written and re-written this blog several times now, and i cannot adequately express how this story makes me feel. With all the separation, pain, and diversity infecting the world right now, here’s a woman who gives great gifts, both seen and unseen, someone who sacrifices time in order to help bridge the gap for veterans. I’m humbled. The best i can offer is to direct your attention to this amazing woman and her team.

And she drops Jokers. I’ve saved up a bunch to send to her, since full decks of jokers can be expensive, and I’d like to call on my fellow magicians and cardmonkeys to do likewise. Save up your jokers and send them directly to: BD Factory Team, 15211 Preston Pass Dr, San Antonio TX 78247

Let’s overwhelm her with gratitude and Jokers.

In her own words, which are far better than mine, here is her more complete story:
Donna Bachler.

Amazing friends, heroes. Doing their part to better the outlook of Veterans, and making the world better daily.

What can you do? Show me …

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Renewal, Part Three: She

Arriving in LA on Sunday night I had dinner with Lili VonSchtupp and Funny Eddie, my best friends. I was so relieved to finally be with them that i must have babbled all night. We had Asian food and went on a pie quest, then I stayed the night at their house and spent the morning in a very long discussion with Lili about a million things. She had to focus on the Hollywood Burlesque Festival that week, so this was really our only chance to catch up. It was awesome, but far too short. I love these people. They are heart and soul to me.

May 22nd – 23rd, 2017

Monday I started my week at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. My … 14th(?) engagement at that amazing establishment. I was greeted with ‘Welcome Home, Mr. Hannibal’ as I was ushered in the front door.

Yeah, welcome home, indeed. The old familiar sights, sounds and smells … here I am, once more. Home, showplace, playground. The happiness in that place, the magic .. I’m rambling. Four shows a night, late close-up. I love my work and I was especially ready after my long weekend at Beyond Brookledge.

Just before my first show, I was asked to help facilitate a proposal. This happens every so often and I was really happy to oblige. I had the couple seated at my table and … you can view the results here: The Proposal.

I stepped out into the main bar area, after. Pretty good crowd, especially for a Monday. There was a young woman called Monique there with some friends. Now, I’ve known Monique for a few years; she enjoys the Castle and she likes the Hannibal show, and so she’s often on my guest list when I’m in Hollywood. We’re casual friends. The group spotted me and said hello, they were in great spirits and really happy to be there. Who wouldn’t be. Monique asked if she could buy me a drink and I told her to surprise me. A few minutes later, the valet brought a tasty beverage back to my dressing room. Nice. Welcome home, right?

I make my living primarily by reading people. Little signs and body language broadcast how the act I’m doing is going over … when it’s time to do a move. So tell me: how did I miss the (now obvious) signs she was sending me?

I got a text from her, asking if I’d like to hang out after I was done for the night. A bite, or maybe a movie at home? I let her know how late I’d be getting out (around 1AM) but if she was still interested, sure.
I thought nothing of it. A friend wants to hang out a bit. Cool.
“Why don’t we meet at your apartment?” she suggested.
I thought nothing of it. My place is close to the Castle, so sure. Cool.
We met at my place and we drank some wine and watched part of ‘Chef’ and talked about … various topics. She touched my knee, my arm. She laughs easily and honestly. Her smile is almost always there, and genuine.
I thought nothing of it. This was pleasant. She’s interesting. Maybe I should ask her back to the Castle later this week, see if she’s interested in me. She’s really pretty and I really like her and maybe I have a chance of … romance? Cool?

Let me stop. Yeah. There’s a happy, affectionate, intelligent woman in my apartment at 2AM, and there because SHE asked ME … and I’m wondering if she MIGHT be interested in me enough to meet up later for a dinner date at work. How can I be SO bright and SO dim at the same time?

Finally, she recognized (thank God, who knows how long I might have remained oblivious) that I just wasn’t getting it, so she told me flat out. “Listen, I think you’re really beautiful, and I’ve been physically attracted to you for a really long time and … I’d like to stay the night, if you’d like that, too. Nothing has to happen, I’d just really like to keep talking and fall asleep together.”

I still came close to not understanding. My brain just didn’t process …
Look, for a few years I’ve been shown by several people I really cared about that I’m just not that physically attractive to them. Verbally, casually … and I get it. My girth does not lend itself to the typical Western social norm of ‘attractiveness’. Plus: I’ve been through some big storms, lately. Sex has been used against me as a weapon and as a punishment. I had completely convinced myself that … in a purely sexual sense, that that part of my life was over.

And she put her hand on my face and she looked into my eyes and I saw real desire. She wasn’t acting. More, she was leaning in to kiss me.
There was a spark I haven’t felt in a very long time, and we were kissing honestly, deeply … and I let myself relax into the moment. That also hasn’t happened in a very long time. She was warm and soft. I could smell her skin, and lightly, her cologne and a vague hint of whiskey. Her kiss tasted of wine and a sweetness I don’t have words for.

She stayed.

She stayed well into the next day, until she had to leave: her family was coming into town, and she had some prior commitments. I watched her ride away and wondered in my betraying brain if I’d ever see her again.

I busied myself about my week. The Castle rocked every night and I was in my element, taking the people on my magical 20 minute journeys. I had a giant of the industry compliment me publicly on how I handled a particularly tough crowd. (Read: drunk) I was loving every minute of it.

I had an extended day with my friend Lindsay, who is nearing her one year wedding anniversary and happier than I’ve seen her in awhile. Lots of conversation, lots of jokes back and forth, lots of catching up. We had dinner at the Castle (with a rainbow of Macarons for dessert!) and watched Murray Sawchuck’s show (dazzling, but I was disappointed he didn’t do his signature CD act) then off I went to work while L enjoyed the rest of the artists.

Wednesday I joined my friend Andrea Marie for food in Hollywood. We eased our way past the colorful people on Hollywood blvd and to our chosen restaurant … which was closed while they shot a show on the street it was on. Welcome to LA. We Ubered (it’s a verb, too) over to Toi and had a splendid Thai dinner among the sights. Seriously, check it out sometime. Again, stories of Faire (AM is a Rennie, too), catching up and an all around great evening. I could get used to this city, you know? Afterward we headed over to the Castle where she met up with some friends and I did my ‘job’.

My LA friends really have a way of bringing my joy to the surface, and I treasure them all.

And Monique, you ask?

We had ourselves a nice, though brief, romance. We talked. We shared. Talking on the phone, texting back and forth. We made plans for part of the weekend, and we hoped for more time together. As it turns out, because of Memorial day, I had an extra day on the apartment, and so we had our first actual date. (May 29th) I took her to 25 degrees for my traditional Orange Whip and truffle fries, then to the final night of the Hollywood Burlesque Festival. Lili had asked me to do a number in the final show, so here we were. My friends: Monique is an absolute delight. She understands my passion for my work and my humor. She literally spreads joy everywhere, and her laugh is never far away. Beautiful, sophisticated, yet not afraid to be vulnerable and honest with me. It was a great date.

For my act, Lili wanted ‘Bookends’ (the elf boot story) I wasn’t sure it was the proper thing to close a burlesque festival, but I trust Lili so of course, that’s what I did. My last act of magic in my whirlwind two weeks in Cali, and it went over huge. Laughter, tears, people’s hearts were moved, and the woman who was there with me was looking on with adoration.

We went back to my place for the final night, and talked into the wee hours, and loved, and held each other.
The next day we soberly said ‘Farewell’ and parted. There’s a whole country between us.

But we communicate every day. And when she knows I’m going through rough experiences, which of course I still am, she calls and gives me her time. She heals my hurts. She posts her affection for me publicly on her social media. She tells her friends about me. She makes art for and about me. She’s still interested, and I finally understood. We don’t (as the saying goes) ‘complete’ each other:

“Two beautiful, whole people. Two people who worship love and sow joy. Two complete people with beautiful scars that fit together … beautifully.”

We are making plans to be together soon, in North Carolina, so she can see Christopher’s hometown. Did I mention she likes Christopher a little better than Hannibal? Seriously. We aren’t labeled: For now we are simply taking it as it comes and patiently enjoying each other. As it should be.

My friends and fans have noticed that I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I’m wearing it proudly, and it’s easing the journey.

So, there you are. Renewal in three parts. My twelve days in California renewed my purpose, my heart, and my motivation.

I feel beautiful, again.

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Always a Reason

It was a slow night at the usual busking spot. Foot traffic was way below normal. The air was hot, wet, and still. Miserable conditions. After two hours I was ready to call it, but I kept thinking, “10 more minutes. I here for some reason.” The feeling was just insistent. Kinda woo? Okay, but I trust my instincts. I even considered moving to a new locale, seeking out a crowd … but no. I’m needed here.

My reason stepped up unexpectedly. He was tall, well dressed, and a little stout. He seemed nervous and hesitant, which didn’t fit his frame or body language. He walked and stood with confidence, but spoke quietly and shy. We were essentially alone in the courtyard. He spoke:

“Look man, I don’t have any money to tip, but my girl just left me and I’m having the saddest day. Can you show me something and maybe make me laugh or … I dunno, forget for a minute?”

Oh. Yes, brother: I can.

So I called on my skill, and presented my heart’s own joy. I woke up with a bunch of it, I guess I knew it would be needed. I did a few tricks that had more humor than astonishment, I amazed. I amused. 

He laughed. Spontaneous and genuine and hard. I didn’t let up; I relenessly plied my craft and gave him a good act. Yeah, here’s my reason for being here. 

When I finished he grinned, big and goofy. Then he opened up.and emptied his thoughts like pouring out a garbage can.

“I was addicted to heroin and Chrystal Meth. So was my girl. I went and got cleaned up, then I helped her. Got her into rehab, gave her encouragement, all that I could. She met someone else while she was inside, and a couple of days ago she told me she was leaving me for him. I mean .. I’m glad she’s clean, and I hope he makes her happy, but …

Look, man: you gave me the first really good feeling I’ve had in a long time. I don’t have any money, but you’re really magic, man. You just .. you’re love. Thank you. I know it’s gonna be okay.”

We hugged. Like old friends. He walked on, down his road.

And here I sit, my back against the elevator shafts, typing this with my thumbs. Foot traffic is picking up. There’s a little breeze, now. The night looks promising, now.

I have a reason for being here. So do You.

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Quest

In the search for who you are it is often the mind and the heart which are conflicted. The desire to accomplish the extraordinary dreams your heart sings to you versus the practical side of taking care of your responsibilities.

When these internal debates begin, remember that there is a third party: your hands. To be more precise: your ability. There are many things my heart would love to do – but I was quite simply born without the ability to do them. There’s no shame in this, but it must be taken into account as one walks the road.

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