(Vampire) Ltd. 10/11 ARCHER STREET, LONDON, W.l.
THE MAGIC CIRCLE JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS St. Pancras Town Hall, London, W.l. APRIL 27th. to 30th.
The preliminary advertising given to this unusual event aroused World wide interest, and a number of foreign visitors arrived in London to be present at the proceedings. The venue was central and very imposing, and was splendidly equipped to enable any and all the functions to take place in the same building.
The informal get-together was at 10 a.m. and onwards on Wednesday morning at the Magic Circle's own Clubroom premises, and it gradually worked up to a very large crowd, and registrations were fast and furious. Old and new friends greeted each other and it was easily apparent at this very early stage, that it was to be a huge success.
After lunch, for those who wished to go, was arranged a Sight Seeing Tour of London, and several coachloads of enthusiasts departed under the direction of Sid Swaine.
In the evening a Television Show had been arranged, and the Telecast took place in the centre of the Assembly Rooms, at the Town Hall. This was one enormous hall, almost round in shape, with a very large and beautifully equipped stage on the far side. The background had Been draped with suitable cloths and the performers worked on the floor, in much the same style as the well known Cafe Continental Programme. Tables surrounded the floor, and here it was at the appointed time, that the conventioneers packed themselves in, after having been welcomed by a committee dressed in the familiar cap and gown of a Schoolmaster, and headed by the official hosts Rowland T. Smith and Sid Emons.
It was gay and informal right from the start and we knew we were in for a good time. Television Cameras and banks of brilliant lights were in position, and there was an air of suppressed excitement, aided and abetted by the miniature bottles of cocktails presented to everyone as they entered. To provide the entertainment during the interim period came a small army of table-top artistes, some of whom I remember seeing perform being Percy Press, Len Wallis, David Berglas, Brian McCarthy, Michael Bailey, Victor Earl.
When silence was requested we were on the air, and as the show was internationally arranged, it was more than usually interesting. The show was introduced by Peter Newcombe, and handed over to that well known personality and now King of Komperes . . . David Nixon! There is only space to give you a brief idea of what happened, but Rezvani, the Trenchman who does his act in genuine 17th Century Persian robes gave his well known presentation of the Cups and Wafers, in true Persian style. Henk Vermeyden presented the Mysterious Scissors, and after showing a strip of black cloth, this was put into a container. The scissors, standing on a plinthe, points uppermost, were then commanded to move, and this they did three times, without visible aid. On disclosing the cloth strip this was found to be similarly severed, but was duly restored. Very original and entertaining. Fred Kaps performed a delightful routine of a Card Stab effect, using an ornamental dagger, and after a free choice, without covering the pack in anyway, the knife was casually inserted through the pack and when the rest of the pack dropped away the chosen card was seen impaled on the card. Readers will remember seeing the advertisement for this in the April issue.
Francis White coolly progressed through a Card in Orange Routine, Gus Southall showed card tricks at a table watched by P. C. Sorcar and other personalities, and Horace and Betty King performed an entertaining magical cameo. Milbourne
Christopher (U.S.A.), gave his whole time to rope effects, several of which had never been seen here before. Anne Hardy from Belgium closed the bill, and very delightfully too. I have seen her act on the Continent before, and I wish I could give her marvellous production routine away with every production box I sell. It is so fast it has to be seen to be believed!
After the show there was dancing, with spot prizes, stunt prizes and in fact prizes for almost everything. Many dozens of things were given away, including fur coats !
On Thursday came the official opening by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London and Sheriffs, attended by the Trumpeters of H.M. Irish Guards. They were received by the Mayor of St. Pancras and the President of the Magic Circle, Herbert J. Collings Esq., and the Vice-President Francis White Esq. The stage in the vast hall was hung with flags and the ceremony was opened by the reading of an Address of Welcome by the Honorary Secretary of the Magic Circle, Peter Newcombe Esq. This was particularly interesting, and quite brief, and for the benefit of those unable to be present, we quote it as follows:
"My Lord Mayor,
The Officers and Members of The Magic Circle are honoured by your presence as the Civic Head of the City of London at the opening of our Golden Jubilee Celebrations.
To greet you in this Hall to-day are assembled members of this Society, many of whom have made long journeys to participate in the demonstrations, competitions and festivities associated with the celebrations.
They are representative of the 1,400 members, among whom are professional magicians and men in every walk of life who practise our fascinating art for the amusement of their friends and their own bewilderment.
Every profession and branch of commerce is embraced in the membership and it may be of personal interest to you. My Lord Mayor, to know that we have Stockbrokers who practise magic in their quieter moments.
Fifty years ago a small group of magicians laid the foundations of this Society of conjurers with Headquarters in this great City of London. Today, although our representatives may be found in every part of the world, we are proud that our centre is still in London.
It is appropriate, therefore, that you My Lord Mayor, supported by your Sheriffs should be
Photo by courtesy of Fox Photos
The Sandwich Man touches the boys cap . . . and produces the rabbit! A typical siunt we pulled for the press.
Photo by courtesy of Fox Photos
The Sandwich Man touches the boys cap . . . and produces the rabbit! A typical siunt we pulled for the press.
asked to perform the first magical experiment of the day by graciously declaring these proceedings open.
We welcome you with warmth and sincerity and hope our happiness is shared by you".
After the ceremony was over and the civic dignitaries had left, Francis White called upon notable visitors to come to the platform and say a few words. Representatives from a number of other magical societies came to make presentations of gifts to the Circle, notable amongst which were a pair of Silver Plated Coffee Vases previously the property of the Wizard of the North, and presented by Goodliffe on behalf of the British Magical Society. Herbert Collings was presented with a very large and fine Table Lamp as a token of esteem from the members.
In the afternoon the Dealer's Demonstration took place, and those taking part were Gil Leaney, George Davenport, Harry Stanley, George Jenness, Jack Hughes and Len Allen (Lenz) on behalf of Max Andrews' Vampire Organisation. There was later a lecture on "Customs and Costumes of Old China" by Herbert J, Collings, and another called "New Ways to Deceive" by Mil-bourne Christopher.
The general standard of publicity in the press was very poor, and this aspect seemed to have received very little attention. In spite of the invitation, to the press, no good stories seemed to have been 'cooked up' and the press boys were flogging away in an endeavour to get a good angle. The biggest, and in fact, only real stunt was pulled by ourselves. We had a sandwich board man parading up and down, at times outside the Circle H.Q. and later by the Town Hall. He had large brown Rabbits popping out of Top Hats, on the upper boards, and beneath in striking lettering the announcement of our New Studio and its whereabouts! It was said by more than one person that if nothing else was achieved, we certainly made it easy for people to spot their venue, but in fact it caused a great deal of amusement and comment The fact that "Steve" . . . the big man with the big laugh, decided to borrow the boards and parade round the hall with them during a lull in the competitions on Friday, was certainly nothing to do with me ... I was not even there, but I understand it certainly enlivened the monotony of the proceedings with more than a little hilarity, and was taken in good part by the sporting panel of judges. These were presided over, incidentally, by Victor Peacock, and included British and foreign representatives.
In the evening of Thursday was a show entitled "Invitation to a Seance". The title was misleading, since it was purely of mental type presentations by Maurice Fogel, Robert Harbin, Jack and Frances Salvin and Peter Warlock. It would have been better if only professional artistes had taken part. This was followed by another short show by the Ladies, and entitled "Witchcraft". Those taking part were Paula Baird, Marjorie Fletcher, Shan, Elizabeth and Elizabeth Warlock.
The Competitions on Friday, for the Magic Circle Golden Jubilee Grand Prix, went on during the whole of the day, and as I did not see them I can tell you little, except to say that it was a very mixed offering, with some very high standard magic being shown. The winner was Elizabeth Warlock, daughter of Peter Warlock.
In the evening came the 'piece de resistance', the Gala Performance. This was certainly proved to be the Show of Shows. Your humble writer has never seen, or ever expects to see a show to beat it, and indeed, since all the artistes are at the top of their profession, it is unlikely it will ever be beaten. Those taking part were Jimmy Rogers
London's favourite Cabaret Magician, Elizabeth Warlock, Ade and True Duval (U.S.A.) presenting Silken Sorcery, Fred Kaps, famous Dutch manipulator, Milbourne Christopher, the Marco Polo of Magic, The Two Voltaires, presenting "Visitors from Space". This was the first half of the programme and it was compered by David Nixon.
Next came Holden, "the man who wants watching" presenting his Card Act. He was followed by a man who has certainly made history by flying over from Germany especially for this show, arriving only three hours before it was due to commence, bringing his leading lady and a dozen chorus girls with him, and half a ton at least, of baggage. I refer of course, to the fabulous K ALAN AG. He staged several illusions; Gloria performed her amazing Telephone Directory Memory Trick, using books from all the famous European Capitals and then Kalanag went into his "Magic Bar" Act. This he performed with such speed, verve, skilful routining and tremendous showmanship that the audience were literally limp at the finish. Not however, too weak to applaud . . . and the 'hand' they gave him was indicative of their appreciation of the man who is today the world's greatest magical showman.
Jay Marshall had a tough spot in following such an Act, but in his own delightful intimate manner he charmed the hearts as well as the eyes of the audience, with his Glove Hand Rabbit. It has such a whimsical expression, that the fact that this is a vent, act soon becomes entirely forgotten, as the two argue, fight, whisper and sing in this fanciful pantomime. A great artiste and a popular personality, who has won the esteem and friendship of all British Magicians who have met him.
And so to Li King Si, with his partner in Tibetan Sorcery. This is a superb act, seen here once before from the Continent. Extremely fast moving, colourful. Eastern magic, that is really exciting to watch. Nothing finer could have been chosen to finish a bill of fare that was already studded with gems. The organisers are to be congratulated on providing us with such a programme and it must be obvious that they were determined that 'only the best would be good enough'.
On Saturday was another lecture in the morning, by Cy Endfield, and also much visiting of the London Magic Dealers. We had already seen many old friends and had the pleasure of entertaining many more who came to see us, prominent amongst whom were, (and we quote mostly the foreign visitors as we particularly noted them). Maurice Sardina, the famous French writer, and L. Camus and Roger Lucas, two professionals also from France. Victor Peacock, P. C. Sorcar, Wiifred Johnson, Milton Woodward, Willi Foster,
(from Germany), Abbé Brehamet (France), Mil-bourne Christopher and Jerry Lukins (U.S.A.), John Ramsay (Scotland), Percy Press, Henk Ver-meyden (Amsterdam), Dr. Duployen (International), etc., etc.
The last of the shows was on Saturday afternoon entitled "Abracadaborough". A Magical Revue. This is the first time that anything like this has ever been attempted at the Circle, and possibly elsewhere. The whole thing from start to finish had been left in the hands of the younger element, and it is now known to have been an experiment that more than justified itself. The Production was by Michael Bailey and Alex Elmsley, who also wrote the lyrics. Original music composed by Norman Christmas, Scenery by Neil Hobson, Continuity by John Napier, Stage Manager Ray Norman. The artistes taking part were Derrick Speight, Bill Norman, Michael Bailey, Valerie Bailey, Rosemary White, April Ducksbury, John Napier, Larry Barnes, Alex Elmsley, Jack Delvin, John Salisse, Claude Perry, John Hayward, John Peake, the whole aided and abetted by that veteran magical actor Horace King.
They tickled the fancy of the audience right from the start and finally took them by storm. The show was fast running, colourful, varied, and many novelty acts were seen, including Donald Cooper, who is one of the Ace Yo-Yo demonstrators of Great Britain. There were several entertaining sketches and the two main continuity themes which held the whole together were excellent. Altogether a big hit and worth repeating if it were possible.
The two final events were the Banquet at the Park Lane Hotel and the Informal Supper at
Empire Restaurant. Of the former I can tell you nothing as I did not attend, having been before, so this time for a change went to the supper. This was so well attended it was hard to believe that the Banquet Tickets were all sold out. There must have been over 200 there, and the difference between the two functions was at once apparent. Usually the Banquet is attended by a small minority of members with many guests, but here at the Supper were predominantly members and magicians. Great fun was had at the informal arrangements and our chief organiser Douglas Francis had many surprises, the biggest one for me, when I was asked to propose the Toast of the Visitors.
Eric de La Mare, chief organiser of the Convention proposed the Loyal Toast to the Queen, and Will Dexter the toast to the Ladies, which was responded to by Irene Paul.
Later in the evening we were invaded by Francis White . . . direct from the Banquet to say a few words. Later also arrived the Lord Mayor and Sheriff for a brief visit, and afterwards Herbert Collings and Mrs. Collings, and Arthur Ivey, These Officers, with Francis, were presented with 7 inch inscribed Silver Wands with Gold Tips, as a memento from the assembled company. Eric de la Mare was presented with a Magic Circle Silver Presentation Wand in Case, in recognition of his wonderful organising work.
Herbert Collings started the ball rolling with a short entertainment, and from then until midnight there was not a dull moment. We had a few magical friends to drink a nightcap with us at the Regent Palace Hotel and where Helen and I had been staying, and we were entertained enormously by the Italian Professional "Moroso", who had been to the Convention. His card magic was very fast and unusual.
The VAMPIRE CLUB
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