The Foan Family Circus: A Magic Circus

I did not see The Foans, I experienced the Foans. I only saw one performance of the Foan Family Circus but wow what a show. You see most of this occurred during my college days and that kept me away from magic more then normal. To say The Foan Family Circus was a Magic Circus actually is a bit of  a disservice. A Magic Circus it was, but it was also a tongue in cheek, satirical, hilarious program filled with not only magic but juggling, music and a 1970’s sensibility that would be hard to recreate today.

Who were the Foans? At the heart of the show were Sam Kent, Steve Aldrich, Eddie Goldstein, Brent Warren, Cheesman Sparks and Colorado music legend Kathi DE Francis. I talked about many these characters in my last blog Post about The Wizard Magic Shop. At various other times Lamont Ream, artist Lonnie Hanson, George Campbell and Barrett Felker joined in on the fun. I may have missed others for that I apologize.

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The Foans In New York

What is the connection to the Wizard? Well great magic shops create an atmosphere of fun and creativity. In Colorado that was The Wizard Magic Shop. I think this is what attracted me to the shop. It was a form of escape. Eddie Goldstein taught me my first magic lessons and Sam talked me into buying good magic. Sam also told me about The Mile High Magicians Society. I joined at exactly the right time. The legendary Earl Reum was President and the club had a sense of fun. At that time the club met twice a month so there were plenty of opportunities to see magic.

Every year the club performs a show open to the public. The first one I saw was in the Spring on a small stage at Heather Gardens. There were a number of great performances in this show but 2 that were important to me were Eddie and Steve. Steve did an incredible routine with the linking rings. I was working with the rings in my show for AAA but this routine knocked it out of the park. When I asked Sam about the routine he told me it was Dai Vernons Symphony of the Rings and it was in a  booklet I could buy.  Two months perfecting the moves and the routine was added to my show.

From time to time individual performers from The Wizard would appear at meetings. I always looked forward to these performances. They were creative, funny and different. In 1976 The Boulder group was asked to do a full evening of magic for the club and the Foans were born. Billed as a production of the SSS, I asked Sam what SSS stood for. He told me, “It is a society so secret that even we don’t know what it means.” That was good enough for me, so I’ll leave it at that. (I was still in my naive phase).

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A record! The longest chain of linked rings

What a fun night that first show was! Paraphrasing a famous quote, “They won’t remember what you did, they will remember how you made them feel.” I felt great at the end of the night. Two things I do remember, Lamonts card board box escape. It was a running gag Lamont is sealed in a box and through out the evening you could hear sawing, hammering and other appropriate noises from the box. Apparently failing Lamont the box is opened to reveal Lamont with a beautiful girl. Then there was the linking ring challenge 8 magicians all performing their Linking Ring routines ending in the worlds longest chain of linked rings.

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Mid-American Conclave

The magic circus must have been fun for the cast too. Over the next 3 years they began taking it on the road to nightclubs and magic conventions. They appeared 3 times at Joe Stevens Mid-America Magic Conclave in Wichita. This lead to appearances at the SAM convention in New York City, The IBM convention and twice at The Abbotts Get Together in Colon, Michgan. At Abbotts they won the Senator Crandall Trophy for comedy.

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The Foans @ The IBM Convention 1979

Linking Ring magazine reviewed the show where it was reported the Foans received a standing ovation. Dai Vernon even got in on the act writing in his Vernon Touch article in Genii Magazine, “There were a half a dozen extremely clever young chaps from Boulder, Colorado who held the honor of being the ‘big hit’ of the convention… if at any time you learn this group is appearing in your vicinity do not fail to see their unique performance.”

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The Foans

On April 24th, 1976 a show Sam Kent directed once again changed the course of my career. It wasn’t the Foans but it was incredibly important to me… More on that next time.

Thank you Sam Kent for being a friend and providing me with a copy of the Book of Foans. Almost everything in this blog post came from your book.

The Foan Family Circus: A Magic Circus is part 7 in My Magic Journey series. If you want to catch up here are links to the other posts:

Part 1 My Magic Journey, Part 2 Kids Magic, Constructing a Magic Show, Part 3 Kids Magic, Writing the Script, Part 4 Magic Education, Part 5 College Magic: Working the System, Part 6 The Wizard Magic Shop: A Personal Memory

For your information I am now sharing much of what I have learned in a Lecture for Magicians.

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5 thoughts on “The Foan Family Circus: A Magic Circus

  1. Nice to see these superb magicians get another round of applause. Thanks for posting, Dave.

  2. Thanks so much for this memory. It is so fun to see so many names from my life as a designer. I LOVE the Wizard magic shop in Boulder. Sam is the best. Earl Ruem was my hero (He was the magic teacher to my magic teacher, Bruce Spangler, the father and mentor of the famous Steve Spangler). We have been designing the Wizard and the Wizard’s Chest store for 36 years now. The Foan Family Circus was a joy in my life. I only had a small roll, making gimmicks and costume pieces, but what a blast. What an era.

    • Thanks Lonnie as you can tell the Wizard in Boulder was a very special place for me too. I remember the Foans fondly (like the alliteration?) I haven’t been able to see your work at the Wizards Chest but I am anxious to make a visit soon.

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