It was that time of year again to go to Blackpool Magicians convention. It only seemed five minutes since I was last there. It was twelve months!
I came back from Blackpool and flew straight to Las Vegas where I was booked to appear at the Desert Magic Seminar. It's a great annual event that boasts all sorts of celebrity magicians in attendance. I had a great show!
Whilst at the airport waiting for the departure of my flight back to England, I bumped into my very good friend Tony Curtis, (the magician, not the actor.) Tony has been my really close friend for a lot of years, in fact he used to chauffer me and be my PA on a lot of my early shows and some of my TV work. Tony has got a very good calming influence on me when I get under pressure; he's great to have around! He was also a great help to me during my divorce, arranging solicitors etc. In fact, I must tell you a funny story that happened when I went with Tony to a kid's show that he was performing.
It was an engagement that Tony had in Maidstone, Kent. He was booked to perform at the Christmas party for the children of the fairground workers. I decided to accompany Tony to see how he would handle these unruly kids.
When we got there we spotted a young boy about nine years old smoking a cigarette and drinking a can of beer. So we knew it was going to be a rough gig. (And it was!) Rather him than me!
Tony started his act by vanishing a silk in the thumb tip, and one of the kids heckled Tony by saying, "It's up your sleeve". Tony replied very politely saying, "No it's not." The kid replied, "It's up your arse then." All the other kids started laughing. Tony battled his way through the next twenty minutes and introduced a Punch and Judy man called Uncle Perky. He started his performance by revealing Mr. Punch at the top of the booth and immediately one of the kids threw his jelly at Mr. Punch, which missed Mr. Punch, but went right into the opening of the booth. Uncle Perky then pushed his head, which was covered in jelly, out of the side of the booth and said, "Uncle Perky is getting annoyed". He then returned to his booth and started again by revealing Mr. Punch. Immediately one of the kids threw their ice cream into the booth. Again Uncle Perky emerged from the both, his head covered in jelly and ice cream and said, "Uncle Perky is getting very annoyed." Just then one of the kids ran down to the radiator that was the anchor point for a piece of rope that was attached to the Punch booth and tied to the radiator, keeping the booth upright. The little bastard then proceeded to untie the rope and gave the booth a nudge causing the whole thing to collapse around Uncle Perky. Uncle Perky just sat on the floor with Mr. Punch on one hand and Judy on the other, jelly and ice cream all over him, and he said, "Uncle Perky is fucking annoyed!"
I shouldn't have laughed but it was very funny. However it put me right off doing kids' shows (not that I have ever done them). I thought I'd leave it to the experts.
Anyway, back to the airport in Las Vegas; he was buying some duty free perfume for someone, and he mentioned the fact that if you purchased a bottle of Cartier perfume, you get a second bottle half price. He asked me if I knew of anybody that I could buy a bottle for. It was at that point I felt very 'single', but for some unknown reason I thought of Marianne. I don't know why. I just did! So I decided to buy a bottle of Cartier perfume.
The day after I arrived home there was a knock at my door. It was Marianne with a moving in present for me. It was a really nice pair of Oriental candles. I then gave her the bottle of perfume I had purchased for her. We then made arrangements for the following week for her to take me shopping to get some household goods. At this point I had no conscious thoughts about any romantic connection. However, I must have subconsciously thought it, otherwise I would not have brought her that perfume.
We went shopping together and afterwards we started seeing each other on a regular basis. One thing led to another and we became romantically involved, in fact we even sneaked off to Barbados where we fell madly in love! I was so happy whilst I was there and the MS, although prevalent, didn't seem to matter. Marianne and I just got on with things and accepted the obstacles MS presented. Marianne felt a little guilty because she was lying to her children of her whereabouts. She had told everybody that she was in Greece with a work colleague. To be honest, I would like to think people would have understood that she was doing something for her own happiness.
All of this was going on while she was still married and living with her (soon to be) 'ex' husband. Eventually Marianne told her husband what was happening, and I thought if he comes around and breaks my legs, it won't make a lot of difference. After a while she moved into my place and our relationship grew stronger. We were so in love, and it was fantastic that my MS, although a hurdle, didn't seem to matter to her. I was so happy!
One night while watching the TV my Mum called me on the telephone and was speaking in a very hysterical tone, and I couldn't understand a word she was saying. Eventually she calmed down and explained that she had got all six numbers on that night's lottery. Once everything had been confirmed, her winnings were just short of a million pounds. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!
My Dad was just retiring from work, so this lottery win allowed them to buy the house of their dreams. My brother and I were also well looked after. In fact I paid off my mortgage, which was a great relief, no more pressure to find that dreaded monthly bill.
Shortly afterwards, Marianne, I, and Marianne's youngest son Julian (Marianne has two sons, Jonathan and Julian, who are such nice, extremely kind and considerate boys) went to Las Vegas and the Magic Castle in Hollywood, where I was appearing in the Palace of Mystery. I had a great week at the Magic Castle, but the highlight of the trip was what happened on the flight on the way there.
We had to disembark the flight in Cincinnati whilst they collected new passengers. Whilst waiting to re-embark, I couldn't help overhearing a conversation behind me. "Hurry Roy, we can get on the aircraft now," were the words spoken in a German accent. I immediately looked behind me and noticed that it was Siegfried and Roy. Siegfried looked at me and came over as he remembered me from appearing at their convention in 1985. After chatting for a while he invited Marianne, Julian and I to see their show at the Mirage Hotel. We went to see them the following night, it was fantastic!!!! We were given the best seats in the theatre, and we were invited backstage after the show, where we had photographs taken with these two megastars of magic. This was an occasion that I will never forget.
Talking of memorable occasions. One time Marianne and I were flying to LA, and just after we had taken off, a stewardess came up to me and said that her boss was on board the aircraft and he would like us to join him in 'First Class'. I very naively asked her the name of her boss, she replied, "Richard". I said, "Richard who?" "Branson," she answered! I couldn't believe it! Anyway to cut a long story short, we moved to first class for the rest of the journey. Richard Branson even sorted out our return flight to travel first class. It was a fantastic trip.
21st February 2002, the Winter Gardens in Blackpool - again. Three thousand magicians from all over the world meet up for what is probably the best and busiest annual convention. Derek Lever, the convention organiser seems to make each year better and better. I don't know how he does it!
I was working in the dealers' hall selling my latest tricks and there was a constant flow of people visiting my stand, and amongst the visitors was the well known comedian Joe Pasquale. I'd met Joe on one occasion previously, but we never really spent a lot of time together, just a brief conversation. This time it was different. Firstly he asked me if I minded him sitting behind my table. Of course not!!! It was a great laugh; he even attracted more people to my booth, as he joked around.
Most of the day was spent with Joe, his son Joe Junior, and my girlfriend Marianne. We struck up a great rapport as we chatted about old times and mutual acquaintances.
After the convention finished, I spoke with Joe on the telephone quite often, and I went to see his live show at a theatre. He was superb and the audience just loved him. He then asked me if I would like to do a couple of shows with him. At first I felt a little reluctant to appear with him, as I didn't want to give him unnecessary hassle with my physical condition, what with being in the wheelchair. He didn't mind me being in the wheelchair, and he assured me that I would be ok. I was so excited, but very nervous. I knew that I could do the job, but I had been in the show business wilderness for about five years, not for the reason that I couldn't perform any more, it was just that I was worried audiences wouldn't accept a disabled performer
How wrong I was!
June, 2002, Tamworth. It was a packed house and it was to be my first show with Joe Pasquale. The plan was for him to do a fifteen minute warm up spot, and then he went into the wings to apparently get his next prop. However it was me, sat on a bar stool covered in a white sheet (actually it was an old shower curtain, but nobody knew, or cared). Joe then removed the sheet and introduced me as a surprise guest. My reception from the audience was quite overwhelming. I then proceeded to perform for about 35 minutes, and loved every second, it was so enjoyable! After the show, Joe insisted that it was such a waste of talent if I did not perform any more. He said that my act was still as good as ever, if not better. The only thing that differed was that I was seated.
I did a few more shows with Joe and he offered me his 2003 tour. I couldn't wait!!! It seemed a long way off, but in the meantime I had other things to do.
In the past, quite a few young magicians have approached me to coach them. I had always been reluctant, for two reasons. Firstly, I am not a great teacher, as I feel that you need an immense amount of patience, a quality that seems to have evaded me when it comes to teaching. And although I think it is extremely important to encourage young talent, I also believe that they must have a certain star quality to begin with. I can then offer them advice based upon my experiences, and point them in the right direction. You can polish a diamond, but you can't polish lead!
Secondly and most importantly, I had never been approached by anybody with what is known as The X factor. However, young Joe Pasquale had this indefinable quality, and I was so looking forward to coaching him.
14 years of age, an immense amount of magical knowledge for one so young, and a natural sense of stage technique and comic timing. Mind you, seeing as he spends a vast amount of time around his father, I shouldn't have been surprised.
The next few months were spent formulating an act for Little Joe, and he would spend a few days a week at my house learning various routines.
So as not to be accused of nepotism, Joe and I both agreed that Little Joe should have his own identity. His stage name became Joe Tracini and we all agreed that he should enter the junior section of the British Magical Championships, to be held in Blackpool, February 2003.
It was a joy teaching young Joe some of my old tried and tested routines. He was like a sponge. Everything I told him was fully absorbed, and I never had to repeat anything. He oozed confidence, but not to the point of being cocky. His stage presence was fantastic. I was so proud of what he had accomplished, and so was his Dad!
February 20th 2003, Little Joe came to my house to let me see his routine that was entering the Championships. He was great and fully prepared. The next morning, Marianne, I and Little Joe made the long drive to Blackpool. The journey went very quickly due to the fact that Little Joe kept us entertained by going through his routine.
He kept saying he didn't feel nervous, but I knew inwardly he was shitting his pants!
When we arrived in Blackpool I decided to take Joe to the Opera House and let him stand upon this massive stage and look out into the auditorium that seated 3500 people. If this didn't make him nervous, nothing would. It did!!!! As he was speaking to me, he couldn't stop stammering.
The next afternoon I set Joe's lighting and music cues. His Dad insisted on staying out of the way, so as not to interfere. Plus he felt that it would probably make Little Joe lose his nerve.
That evening Little Joe was pacing up and down backstage. (I stayed backstage with him to give him some moral support). He looked a million dollars in his shiny grey suit, and his new hairstyle that Marianne had given to him. I think he just wanted to get onto the stage (I was more nervous than he was).
After what seemed like an eternity, Aldo Colombini introduced Joe, and he did his act absolutely word perfect. The tricks, the gags, everything. He was brilliant, and deservedly scooped First Prize. As an added surprise to all of us, he was also awarded the Ken Dodd trophy. Little Joe was on cloud nine and so was BIG Joe, Marianne and I!
The following weekend was the start of the 'tour'; every show was a sell out and an amazing success, both on a professional and personal level.
28th June 2003 - Hastings. The final day of the tour and was an amazing four months. 50,000 spectators, 55 gigs, 10,000 miles and I lost count of the Travel Inn stopovers and Little Chef meals. I have achieved many things in my career, but can honestly say that I have never enjoyed my work as much as I did on that tour. I was working better, feeling better and thanks to Joe Pasquale the job was an absolute pleasure... Today, I am still doing shows with Joe, it's like history repeating itself, only now I have nothing to hide. Oh; I've stopped smoking as well.
The best thing that came from my chance meeting with Joe is that he and I have become best friends.
Following this I also began working more regularly due to a new found confidence. I have been back to Holland to again appear at FISM. It was pretty nerve racking. However my friend Noel Britten, one of magic's best kept secrets and an extremely funny magician, stayed backstage with me and kept me calm, as well as helping me get dressed. Even though I say it myself, I tore the balls out of the audience and at the end of my act all 2500 magicians awarded me with a standing ovation. This made me feel so good. The same happened when I appeared once again at the Desert Seminar in Las Vegas, and also the TAOM in Houston. I am still lecturing at various societies, both here and abroad, I am doing the occasional theatre date with Joe - I love it! What is even better is that Marianne is nearly always with me to share any adulation that I receive, and there is plenty of that! So thanks Joe, I owe you one!
Marianne and I then went on holiday to Las Vegas and whilst there I went to see my old friend Lance Burton where he is appearing in his own show at the Monte Carlo Hotel. It only seems five minutes since I was chatting to him in my dressing room at the Las Vegas Hilton, and he was appearing as a speciality act in the 'Folies Bergere' at the Tropicana Hotel. And now here he is in a multi-million dollar production of his own. He deserves it; he is a great magician, and a genuinely nice guy. In fact I would go so far as to say that he is the best all round magician in the world today!
Joe flew out to Las Vegas a few days after we got there, but he had no idea that I was there, so Marianne and I gave him a massive shock when I sneaked up behind him and called out his name. He looked at me in total disbelief and said "What the fuck are you doing here?" Eventually reality sunk in, and we all had a great time.
Also whilst in Las Vegas one of the funniest things happened to Joe and I. It was whilst in the Mirage hotel, I decided I needed to go to the toilet. Joe thought it would be quicker to go to his room. I agreed, so Joe and I went to his room on the 15th floor. When we got there, the door was already open due to the fact that the maid was cleaning the room. We went straight into the room and explained to the maid that we needed to use the bathroom.
I shall now try to explain in words, without getting too graphic, the way Joe and I tackle the toilet. I undo the buttons and unzip my trousers, Joe lifts me upright, I stand face to face with Joe, and he drops my trousers, spins me around and sits me upon the toilet. All went well until he stood me upright, and I noticed a large mirror to my left, and all I could see was Joe, cheek to cheek against my face and him trying to drop my trousers. I started laughing, which in turn started Joe laughing. When you laugh you seem to lose your strength, which meant that Joe just let me crash down upon the toilet seat, which cracked and sheared off its fixings. It also cracked the flush system, and water was leaking onto the bathroom floor. I decided I no longer needed to go to the toilet, due to laughing so much. Joe now lifted me off the toilet, but the broken seat was stuck to my arse. We eventually got ourselves back into the room where Joe explained to the maid what had happened and that maintenance should be called to fix the problem. The funniest is yet to come. We then left and realised that it wasn't our room!!!!
I will now let you into a little secret about a very childish and funny game that Joe and I play when we are at magic conventions. I have noticed that when I am being pushed in my wheelchair and you accidentally clip somebody's ankles, even though it is our fault, 9 times out of 10, the innocent pedestrian will turn around and say sorry. Well sometimes we purposely bump into people and try to guess how many times we can get people to say sorry in a given time. Our record was at Blackpool Convention, where we got 22 sorrys on a return trip to the toilet.
November 2002. Joe invited Marianne and I to the Grand Order of Water Rats Christmas Ball. It was held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London. It was a great night and
I met up with some old friends, Shane Ritchie, Roy Walker, and Brian Conley. What wasn't so good was that on the way into the ballroom there was a choice of 1500 people to be in front of me, but it happened to be Paul Daniels. I wouldn't have minded but he had already expressed to a fellow Water Rat an objection about me being there. Upon leaving the function the dreaded Bentley was parked next to my car. Once again I stuck my publicity over his windscreen. Well actually I got Marianne to do it, as I couldn't reach. I was a bit worried about what I had done because the doormen from the hotel saw me, but they said to carry on. So I did.
Christmas 2003, I got engaged to Marianne and we got married later the following year. I never thought that I would ever get married again, as the first time really put me off.
November 2004, The Magic Circle awarded me the Maskelyne. A gorgeous bronze head of Maskelyne. I suggested that Paul Daniels presented me this award, not a good idea as the magical press would have reported, 'Paul Daniels gives Wayne Dobson Head!'
December 2004, Joe became King of the Jungle, in ITV's programme, 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.' And now his career and public appeal have gone through the roof. He deserves it; he works so hard and is one of life's 'Good Guys'.
March 7th 2005, Marianne and I got married in Orlando, Florida. We had a great time, and what made it even better was the fact that my very good friend Mark Mason ("another great magician") and his wife Trish were there, plus all the gang from JB Magic, so everybody helped contribute to making the wedding run smoothly. Big Bob Kimmel from the American branch of JB Magic helped me onto various rides at the theme parks. And do you know what? Five magicians spent ten days together, and not one magic trick was seen.
Little Joe has been training at the Drama college 'Italia Conte'. I saw him perform in his Dad's show and he was singing the song Mr. Bojangles (yes he was singing and dancing). He was superb, and no magic tricks he doesn't need them.
Just back from FISM in Stockholm where Marianne, I and her two boys Jonathan and Julian had a great time witnessing some of the finest magic I have ever seen. The gala show, the Close Up Show and the Final contest were all absolutely superb. Congratulations to all concerned! There were lots of events that I missed, but reports were all glowing.
Jonathan and Julian have caught the magic bug (which is really good news for me, as they both now demonstrate a couple of my effects); Jonathan is constantly improving his technique for 'back palming' cards, whilst Julian practises a 'matrix' that my good friend Mark Mason taught him. It's great to see, as it is very reminiscent of when I was young. What a fantastic hobby we have!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention a person who was a massive influence on me. The other day I did a TV interview and I was asked if I had a comedy hero? It was the late and always great, Bob Monkhouse. His slick and sophisticated style was pure genius, he was and always will be an inspiration to my work. In fact the first time that I was offered a scriptwriter for a TV show, I chose Colin Edmunds, purely because I knew that he was the main scriptwriter for Bob Monkhouse. I thought if he's good enough for him, he's good enough for me.
I just got a nice surprise visitor. About 25 years ago whilst working on the SS Canberra, and cruising in and out of Sydney, Australia, I used to meet up with an English magician by the name of Steve Walker (we have stayed in touch and I occasionally see him at FISM). He used to bring along a few other magicians, one of whom was a very young guy by the name of Raymond Crowe. Well last weekend I was at the International Convention in London and who was on the Gala Show? Yes you guessed it Raymond Crow, and he was absolutely superb. Anyway the reason I am telling you this is Noel Britten was taking him back to the airport, but on their way to the airport, they dropped in to see me. It was fantastic chatting away for the little time that they could spare, what a great surprise!
Well I am just about up to date and everything is tickety-boo. I am still creating magic tricks, still lecturing, and still performing shows all over the world, and for the past eleven years I have been on a gluten and dairy free diet and also medication free, all of which seems to help my condition. I am still not smoking, and Paul Daniels is still avoiding me. I suppose I'm glad he ignores me because if he said 'hello' to me, I would have to say 'hello' in return!
I'm still battling with MS; however I don't try and beat it, as it will always win, I just try and treat it with a little respect, in that way I don't think it will spring any nasty surprises on me.
And now in this new millennium, we are experiencing a new breed of magicians. Lance Burton, Mac King, Jeff Hobson, Rick Thomas and Penn and Teller all headline their own magic shows in the entertainment capital of the world - Las Vegas, and on this side of the pond we have Joe Pasquale, and Derren Brown, who both headline their own shows. (And so they should! They are both world class performers!)
It's difficult to predict how magic will progress in the future. Top hats and rabbits may be disappearing. But as long as there are women, (or men in this sex equality world) who are prepared to be sawn in half, and there are performers like those mentioned earlier, magic will survive. Not only survive, but will keep its head well and truly above water.
Finally, if I ever happen to bump into you, and Joe Pasquale is pushing me; for God's sake don't say 'Sorry!'
Wayne Dobson 2007
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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.