The guy behind the counter was wearing a dress. Okay it wasn’t really a dress it was robe. The counter he was working behind was the first incarnation of The Wizard Magic Shop. Little did I realize that this would be one of the biggest moments in my life. What I like to call magic moments. I touched on this in my first post in this series about My Magic Journey. The Wizard Magic Shop however deserves more then a paragraph in this story so here it is, a personal memory of my version of Camelot.
The Wizard was Sam Kent. One of the most unique people I have ever met. Readers Digest (Yes I am officially old now) would have called Sam “My Most Unforgettable Character”. Sam lives life on his own terms. How many people do you know that have, in the front entrance of their home, an 8′ tall replication of Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still? The Boulder Weekly even wrote an article about Sam and his otherworldly friend in 2008.
The Wizard Magic Shop began as a counter in a Hobby Store on Arapahoe in the east part of Boulder. Eventually Sam was able to secure a stand alone store front on the second floor in the 1100 block. The Wizard was my Mecca! It was a real magic shop. Sam did not sell gags. The main exception was a row of high quality Halloween masks that stared grimly down on those witnessing miracles below. This last totally fit Sam’s personality. I found myself visiting The Wizard at least once sometimes 2 times a week. I was hooked!
Shortly after the shop opened the City of Boulder began construction on a pedestrian mall. Pedestrian malls in downtown locations were the urban trend of the mid to late 19970’s. Only a few of these remain. Two of the most successful are in Colorado. The 16th Street Mall in Denver and of course the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. Pearl Street opened on August 6th, 1977 and was an immediate success.
Aided by the Hippie and college culture of the area, performers started working for the hat on the auto traffic free space provided for them. Eddie was one of the first magicians to work the mall. After working in San Fransisco Eddie was well qualified to help launch what would soon become a trademark of Downtown Boulder. Other performers were Barrett Felker (who I believe worked at The Wizard) and of course Airjazz the juggling team of Jon Held, Peter Davison, and Kezia Tenenbaum (Tonight Show Video). For some reason I never met Barrett but his reputation stands out. There were of course many others.
Eddie taught me some of the most important lessons of my early magic career. Misdirection, Eddie didn’t just talk about how important it was he demonstrated how to do it. Eddie is always inquisitive and eager to learn. He thinks outside the box. “Wouldn’t it be better if we did it this way,” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Eddie say this or something like it. Eddie left Colorado for awhile and relocated in the Washington DC area. There he worked with Steve Spill and Bob Sheets both who he knew from there Aspen days. While in DC they all performed at The Brook Farm Inn of Magic. Eventually Eddie returned to Colorado where we re-connected and became close friends.
Steve Aldrich was yet another of the Wizard Magic Shop alumni. Steve was so far ahead of me magically I always assumed he was older then me. A student of the great Dai Vernon, Steve is one of the best magician in this area. Steve never does anything half rehearsed. His routines are always clean and his magic looks real. In recent years I have been able to work more with Steve. What a treat! The loads in his cups and balls routine are as clean as any I have ever seen. Recently Steve was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Mile High Magicians Society. It was well deserved.
With a unique vision of the world Brent Warren aka Doc Murdock could best be described as a true renaissance man. Brent is interested in everything. His main loves are art, magic and movies particularly classic movies. This last passion is one that many magicians share but Brent, Sam and I are particularly nuts about classic film. Brent’s art has a whimsical side that fits his personality. This also carries over to his magic. Whether it is a burning pizza box, a rat trap on his nose or his skill with a Troublewit Murdock The Magnificent always brings a different sensibility to his show.
I can’t wrap this up without giving a shout out to my friend The Incredible Lamont. I owe Lamont so much, he has been a friend since his days at The Wizard. We Hung out together and he shared his passion for Houdini (more on this in another post). Lamont taught me to do the strait jacket escape. Magic which, as buskers would say, has become my money trick. After The wizard closed Lamont joined Steve Aldrich at one of his magic stores, there he developed beautiful close up magic. His bare handed matrix looks as close to real magic as anything I have ever seen.
Finally, I got my shot at working behind the counter shortly before The Wizard Magic Shop closed its doors. I spent about 2 weeks there. It was a dream come true and my first experience working in a magic store.
I know I missed some people for that I apologize. Frankly, I could write so much more but this is already running longer then I want.
I will leave you with one last thing… THE FOAN FAMILY CIRCUS, Presented by the SSS.
The Wizard Magic Shop: A Personal Memory is part 6 in My Magic Journey series. If you want to catch up here are links to the other posts:
For your information I am now sharing much of what I have learned in a Lecture for Magicians.
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