September 1989. I got a call from Tony Cartwright to go to his house, as he had something very important to tell me. I made the fifteen mile journey to his home in Wentworth, Surrey. He sat me down and he had a very serious look on his face as I waited with baited breath to hear what he had to say. He said, "I have got you the Royal Variety Performance!" I was speechless! But being the facetious little so & so that I am, I replied in a very flippant tone: "That's just a glorified charity show. Can't you get me a show where I get paid?" For a split second, Tony wanted to hit me, but quickly realised that I was joking. "Brilliant, brilliant!" I said. And, it was to be held at the London Palladium before Her Majesty the Queen. Even better!
I met with one of the producers on the Royal Variety Show, a guy named Ian Hamilton, who I had worked with on many previous TV shows. We decided to perform my ventriloquism routine with two celebrities, but we couldn't decide who to use. I went home to think about who would be suitable. I was racking my brain when all of a sudden it came to me: World Heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno and boxing commentator Harry Carpenter! These two celebrities were always associated as a bit of a double act and were very current. I immediately called Ian Hamilton, who also thought that using Frank Bruno and Harry Carpenter would be a great idea.
I insisted that I would not rehearse with Frank and Harry as the spontaneity of the routine would be ruined. So I rehearsed with 'stage hands', and Frank and Harry were informed that they would be selected from the audience on the night. I decided that I was going to do this show in style, so I bought a new suit, hired a stretch limousine for the day, advertised on the back page of The Stage newspaper and cancelled a very lucrative gig in Monte Carlo. I think the Royal Variety Show ended up costing me about £12,000.
The investment was well worth it. The show went like a dream and I was a big hit. My agent was inundated with offers of work, and Wayne Dobson was becoming famous.
After the Royal Variety Show, I was offered a regular appearance on The Joe Longthorne Show. I would appear every week for six weeks doing two spots, one consisting of close-up magic and the other spot was an illusion act, an area of magic that was completely alien to me. However, the producer, Nigel Lythgoe assured me that I would be ok.
It was whilst appearing on these shows that I seemed to upset quite a few magicians, due to the fact that a couple of the illusions (Impaled and Table of Death), were very similar to David Copperfield's presentation of the same tricks. They were, but I was so naive at the time and did what the producer asked. Myself and Russ Stevens (who was working with me as a magical advisor), both agreed that what I was doing was wrong, but I didn't want to upset Nigel Lythgoe - and Russ didn't want to upset me. So I went for it!
Going for it was a bit of a mistake, as David Copperfield telephoned me to have a whinge. I would have listened to him if he hadn't made so many restrictions on what I could and couldn't perform. His list was endless. He proceeded to tell me what his copyright effects were! If what he was saying was true, I would have been left with nothing to perform! 'Bullshit!' I thought. 'Take off your trousers David; I'll hear you far better.'
Performing illusions felt very strange, as I was not a dramatic or serious performer. Russ Stevens and I decided that the most comfortable way for me to perform illusions was for myself to be 'the box jumper' - and the girl assistants would do most of the actual presentation. In this way I didn't have to be at all dramatic and I would just get inside the prop and I wouldn't be seen. This way of doing things seemed to work very well. This series of six shows turned into a second series and a one hour special, which I will get on to in a moment! It also led to an offer of doing my own TV Series, 'A KIND OF MAGIC!'
The one hour special was culled from what was supposed to have been a third series of The Joe Longthorne Show. The TV Company decided that they would do a 'one hour special' instead, and, luckily for me, Tony Cartwright negotiated with the bosses to pay me for the full, cancelled series. They paid me a whacking £31,000 for my three minute appearance in the one hour special.OUTRAGEOUS! However, I didn't complain.
Myself and Nigel Lythgoe, my producer, then went to the USA to meet with various illusion builders to discuss which illusions I would have constructed for my TV show. It was a brilliant position to be in, and I felt priveliged to be flying out to the USA to meet several of my heroes. We met with David Mendoza, John Gaughan and Jim Steinmeyer all of whom were extremely knowledgeable and they supplied me with various props. I was so excited about getting a LEGAL Origami Box! I still think that the Origami Box is, and always will be, one of the classics of magic. I remember Doug Henning fried my brain when he performed this illusion a few years prior to Jim Steinmeyer making it available to the fraternity. DOUG HENNING WAS A GREAT MAGICIAN, a natural! I was so shocked to hear of his untimely death.
Talking of the Origami Box illusion, I was saddened to see many pirate copies being used both here and abroad. Some of the rip-offs were quite well made and were very close to the original. After a little bit of detective work, I found out who was producing them. I confronted the guy, who I knew quite well, but he insisted that he had NOT copied my Origami Box. He denied it by saying that the Origami Box he builds is 2" smaller than mine! That says it all, really. Don't bullshit a bullshitter!
When I returned home, Tony Cartwright called to tell me that I had been offered a week's show at the London Palladium with Dean Martin. Tony explained that the gig was for a whole week and it would be a great showcase for me. I presumed that the fee was terrible, because it hadn't been mentioned until I asked. Yes the fee was terrible, in fact it cost me more than my fee to get my music written for the 32 piece orchestra. I didn't care, I was so excited. I said: "Of course I'll do it!" In fact, I would have paid to appear.
I was closing the first half of the show, and as the week progressed I got better and better. I felt extremely nervous working with Dean Martin, who I remember from when I was a child - he and Jerry Lewis used to make me roar with laughter as I watched their films. Here I was, at the London Palladium working alongside one of life's legends! As I was performing I couldn't help noticing Dean Martin sitting in the wings watching my act. His agent told me that 'Deano' insisted on arriving at the theatre early, so he could watch my performance. I felt really honoured.
On the Wednesday evening of that week, there was a knock on my dressing room door; I opened it to be greeted by Dean Martin's personal assistant, who said that Mr. Martin would like to meet me, if it's ok with me. Lost for words, I spluttered out: "Of course it's ok!" Now I was feeling really nervous. I had met a lot of stars before, but never had I met somebody who was world famous.
That night's show was just a blur, as all I could think about was meeting Dean Martin. I came off stage at the interval and was ushered around to Dean Martin's dressing room, where I was introduced to this great man. "Pleased to meet you Mr. Martin," I said in a very trembling voice. He then told me that he had been watching my act every night, and that I should perform in Las Vegas. He said that he would speak to his agent and tell him all about me. I then had my photograph taken with him, thanked him and left. What a nice man.
He also kept to his word regarding Las Vegas, because his agent was also the agent for Engelbert Humberdinck and Tony Cartwright was Englbert Humperdinck's manager, and so the connection was made!
Three months later I was checking in at the Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, where I was the supporting act for Engelbert Humperdinck. Although I had appeared at a magic convention in Las Vegas in 1985, this was the real deal and I was so excited because I was one of only a few British artistes to perform in Las Vegas, and not many of those had been very successful. Although this was virgin territory for me, I wasn't a star in the UK, so if I failed, it didn't matter too much, as nobody would hear about it!
Opening night, I was in my very luxurious dressing room that had a fully stocked bar, TV, video, leather sofas and separate dressing area with a jacuzzi! I also had my own laundry and wardrobe mistress and my own security guard who would collect me ten minutes before Showtime. If I couldn't work well under these conditions, I didn't deserve to be there!
As much as I tried to be positive about my MS diagnosis, I just couldn't help thinking the worst. 'Here I am in the prime of my life and I have just been given a contract for a wheelchair! If there is a God, he's got a fucking weird sense of humour!' Suddenly, there was a knock on my dressing room door. Standing there was 'Big Jim', my own personal security guard. He'd come to escort me to the stage...As I walked down the corridor I passed various people who all told me to break a leg, (an old theatrical saying that means Good Luck!). I entered the elevator and Big Jim pressed the appropriate button to take us up to the stage. I never spoke a word all the way up, as my mouth was incredibly dry, due to a case of stage fright. I made my way across the massive Hilton stage and waited in the wings for my cue to go on.
The orchestra played a short overture followed by a drum roll, and a very American voice said: "Ladies and Gentleman, the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas is proud to present, from England: Wayne Dobson". It was at that point I felt a tap on my shoulder; I turned to see who it was. It was Engelbert, who said: "Get out there!" So I did, and it was fantastic. I rushed my act, but with experience, I slowed down and became very competent with my performance. In fact Engelbert's fans became my fans as well.
The first time I realised how loyal Engelbert's fans were towards me, was on a flight that I was on from London to Los Angeles. I was on the TWA flight that landed just minutes before the British Airways flight that Engelbert was on, unbeknown to me. Due to a good connection at Heathrow I was upgraded to first class and was seated alongside Queen stars, Brian May and Roger Taylor.
As I was exiting the arrivals section of LAX, I noticed about fifty people all cheering. Thinking they were Queen fans I just carried on walking...but as I got closer to these people, I realised that they were greeting me! They were Engelbert fans and were waiting to greet their hero, but as I arrived just a few minutes before Engelbert, they greeted me. I must admit, I felt a little embarrassed signing autographs - and Brian May and Roger Taylor must have wondered who the hell I was!
I was on my way to Lake Tahoe, so I decided to wait for Engelbert to see if he was on the same flight as me. I soon met Engelbert, and he asked me to join him at his Beverly Hills mansion and we could fly to Lake Tahoe later that evening in his private jet. I went to his house in Beverly Hills - and what a place! It was the actress Jayne Mansfield's old house; I think my house would have fitted into his kitchen!!
We flew to Lake Tahoe in Engelbert's private jet, where I performed a few shows before going back to Las Vegas. Whilst there I won $2300 at roulette. but I lost it all on my return to Las Vegas. Why didn't I quit whilst I was ahead?
I never worked on a Monday, so I always tried to see another show. There were some fantastic shows in town, in fact the best in the world. On this particular Monday, Engelbert asked me to join him at Bally's casino to watch Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr. in concert. We sat in a VIP booth seat and were joined by the singers: Jack Jones and Smokey Robinson. The show was fantastic, and afterwards, Engelbert, Smokey Robinson, Jack Jones and I all went backstage to meet Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Lewis. After my introduction to these great stars, Engelbert very casually asked me to do a trick. Luckily I always carried a deck of cards in my pocket. So there I was, performing 'Ambitious Card' to a room full of legends. I am sure that they wouldn't remember this happening, but it's something that I will never forget. Great memories!
Talking of great memories, I'll not forget the time that I went to see Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas. I arranged for the tickets through my American agent, so that I was guaranteed good seats. Sinatra was absolutely fantastic. When he walks on the stage he is surrounded by an invisible presence that you can only describe as pure magic! Anyway, at the end of the show I asked the waitress for the bill which should have been about $550. However, I only had to sign my signature on the receipt, as it said 'With Compliments of Dean Martin.' I was completely overwhelmed. Obviously my agent had mentioned to Dean Martin that I was attending the hotel - the same hotel where Dean Martin was a regular performer - and he must have remembered me working with him at the London Palladium. I wish I had kept the bill as a souvenir, but I didn't. Never mind.
I spent a total of two years appearing in Las Vegas; not a solid two years. I used to be there for two to three weeks at a time and then fly back to England for a while. Whilst appearing in Las Vegas, I received all sorts of long term contracts to appear in various gambling states such as Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Atlantic City. But I declined all offers, because I had to get back to the UK to start recording my own TV series: A Kind of Magic!
I was so looking forward to starring in my own TV show! Magic was, and still is, my hobby. To be getting paid for something that I would do for free was something that only a few people can boast. My mind was buzzing with the excitement of this wonderful opportunity. I was now officially on cloud nine - and I hadn't even thought about my diagnosis! However, it was only a matter of time before MS reared its ugly head. In the mean time, MS only stood for MAGIC SHOW. I was determined to put everything in to my shows and I knew that it was vital that I had the right people working with me. There would be a lot of pressure to create brilliant routines almost to order.
Before I knew it, I was in the middle of the studio floor at Central Television getting prepared to record my own TV show. Monday to Thursday was spent rehearsing and creating routines along with my magical advisor, Pat Page and my scriptwriter, Charlie Adams. Occasionally my producer Nigel Lythgoe would check on how things were progressing. He was - and still is, one of life's perfectionists, and because I am, at times, it caused a clash of personalities. But we got there in the end.
When I requested a magical advisor for my TV shows, my thoughts immediately went back to when I was sixteen years old, and I remembered Pat Page at Davenports Magic Shop performing the 'Cups and Balls'. His knowledge and experience could not be equalled, and so I was delighted that he agreed to join me. We collaborated on some great ideas, but it was Pat who always came up with a practical method of accomplishing the effect that was required. He would slip into deep thought and eventually offer about three different methods for doing the same trick. Pat is one of magic's few remaining characters. He has a wicked sense of humour and, although a perfectionist, he doesn't take life too seriously. Whenever a discussion gets tense he has a knack of making light of the situation. A great diplomat! Nowadays, I quite often telephone him - sometimes just for a chat, or if I have a magical problem that needs solving he is the first person that I call. He is a mine of information.
I also guarantee that whenever I see him he will fry my brain with his latest creation, and what makes it worse is that he is probably utilising a method that I already know. He is what I term a 'natural magician', who uses natural misdirection. It never looks an effort! In my opinion, Patrick Page is one of the best magicians in the world. Lots of people perform magic, and a few people are magic, and there are even fewer people who have both of these qualities. Pat is one of them, and I am very proud to call him my friend.
It was whilst at Central TV studios that I was sitting having a coffee, reading the local paper and I saw an advert for a Ferrari dealer. I called them and arranged for them to bring a Ferrari to the studios for me to look at. They did, and I loved it. It was £70,000, so I got them to arrange the finance and I made the purchase. This was my first feeling of success. I wasn't being flash, the car just looked so beautiful and I had to have it!
My first TV series was a tremendous success attracting over 11 million viewers every Saturday night. In those days, of course, there were only the major television channels, but to get such a massive audience was still a brilliant achievement and the televison executives were ecstatic. It was difficult for me to comprehend the success of my television series. All my thoughts were on producing a show that I could be proud of. It was very hard work, and there was a lot of pressure involved. But I was full of ethusiasm and I had good people working with me which made the whole thing an enjoyable experience.
The TV company immediately invited me to negotiate a further contract, and it was evident that they were enthusiastic for me to remain with them. Massive viewing figures also meant massive advertising revenue for the television company, so even though they paid me a lot of money, the figures also added up for them with increased revenue. They signed me up for a further two series. This was brilliant news. Two more series ensured that I could look after my team who had worked so hard, but it also meant that I would be needing a massive amount of new magic. This was a challenged that I relished.
On the back of my TV success, I did various live tours and summer shows. There were regular offers coming in to work all over the world, and In fact at one stage I was employing ten staff and touring an artic truck to accommodate all of my equipment. I had developed from a single performer doing a simple magic act, into a successful business! I was earning a lot of money at this time and so I was also enjoying the trappings of success: a nice house with a swimming pool, a Ferrari, two or three luxury holidays every year. Life was very peachy...but not for long.
"My friend's Great Great Grandfather was so unlucky; he got shipwrecked and was picked up by the Titanic!"
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.