Volume 2, Number 6
February 1997

Notice: This special Valentine's Day edition of The Little Egypt Gazette is for magicians only. If you click on a piece of candy and are not a magician, the M-chip in your computer will let us know, and a man named John Gaughan will come to your door to demonstrate the latest model of Owen Brothers' Lester Lake Guillotine. It's completely ungimmicked and examinable! You have been warned.

Welcome to this special Valentine's Day issue of The Little Egypt Gazette. As you may have already noted, one of the things that makes this issue special is that it is also a Paul Harris issue, with a complete review of and sample material from Paul's new books, The Art of Astonishment. But first, the news . . .

LANCE BURTON, MASTER MAGICIAN: THE ENCOUNTER -- The hottest news right now is that Lance Burton's second special will air on NBC on February 24 at 8 P.M. In what sounds like an episode of The X-Files, Lance will feature a UFO illusion in Nevada's famed Area 51. Additional material from the Monte Carlo show will of course appear. Last year's special brought Lance sufficient exposure that most of my lay friends now know who he is. This year should further cement that household name relationship.

THE CRIMP UNFOLDS? -- For the past 42 issues, Jerry Sadowitz has been painstakingly hand-lettering and drawing a ribald magic newsletter called The Crimp. In addition to a large body of performance material, the journal has featured humor that is racist, sexist, nationalistic, and offensive in most other categories you can think of, but at the same time, I confess, screamingly funny. Its terminology has been infectious. I began to think of certain individuals as "wankers," of all spectators as "speky bastards," and of one or two individuals as "ye daft [insert gross female anatomical term]." Numerous magical celebrities are direct targets of Sadowitz's humor, many of them British. (The magazine is now produced in London.) U.S. personalities have not been spared. When Richard Kaufman defended Gene Maze, following Sadowitz's insanely paranoiac assertion that Maze had stolen and published material, Richard became a favorite target and remains so to this day. In the current issue, for example, a four-panel comic strip featuring Toss Cedrik ("fat bastard magic dealer") mentions that the "latest Kaufman book" sold 200 copies sight unseen to the club down the road ("the Govanhill Syphilis Society for the Advanced Blind and Insane"). [Perhaps this explains why I so enjoyed the new Harry Riser book last month.] If it's any consolation to Richard, L & L Publishing is also routinely panned. Whatever, it appears that the magazine has all but run its course. Citing low subscriptions because most of the magic world consists of "morons and social misfits (wankers)" or "egotistical and unethical bastards [insert that anatomical term again]" Sadowitz has once again jacked up the subscription rate, to $60 for the U.S. for six issues. You must sign the following : "I understand that your magazine will be published on an erratic basis, and it may be many months, possibly years, before I receive any or all of them. Not only do I understand this, I am happy about it an all. Further, I understand that if I so much as ask you "whens the next issue coming out?" . . . then my subscription will be immediately terminated, and no money will be refunded to me. Finally, and just for the record, I think you're a [gross female anatomical term]." Ah, if Busby had only used such wording in his Braue Notebooks subscription form, we wouldn't have all this dissension.

THE HOUDINI CHAMBER -- Milt Larsen's monthly newsletter describes recent renovations to the Houdini Seance Room at the Magic Castle. Castle member Glenn Evans is restoring a museum piece Lalique chandelier and is also creating a new 13-faceted Tiffany style dome that will raise the center of the ceiling that supports the chandelier. Although the Houdini seance has been scaring the bejabbers out of 12 guests for as long as I can remember, the number will drop to 10 to better accommodate the carved Victorian wooden chairs that are wider than the original chairs. This enhanced ghostly theater will now be called the Houdini Chamber, and the changes go into effect this month. If you are a Castle member and have not yet enjoyed this entertainment experience, I urge you to do so. It's unforgettable.

BRAD'S LATEST -- It's always delightful to receive the latest "Shopper" from Brad Burt's Magic Shop, a fun place to visit if you're in the San Diego area. If you've been looking for a source for Dean Dill's "Blizzard" deck that Mike Close recently reviewed, Brad has them at $25. If you aren't on Brad's mailing list, you can contact him at bburt@magicshop.com.

LANCE ON LENO -- Lance Burton appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on February 6. Lance opened the show as he and two alien space babes produced Jay. Following entertaining spots by guests Dennis Rodman and Tracey Ullman, Lance returned for a lengthy spot featuring part of his candle/dove manipulation act and the sword fight segment. In a brief commercial intro, Lance's juggler Michael Goudeau could be seen juggling bean bag chairs out front.

Post-publication item 2/20/97 THE LINEUP -- Richard Kaufman has released his list of 1997 titles. Look for The Annotated Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields by Jon Racherbaumer, Swami/mantra by Sam Dalal, The Stone Age by Stephen Hobbs, The Professional Now You See It, Now You Don't! by Bill Tarr, Jennings '67 by Richard Kaufman, Folding Money Fooling Vol.1 by Robert Neale, Hauntics! by Christian Chelman, The Effortless Card Book by Peter Duffie, Charles Bertram, The Court Conjurer by Edwin A. Dawes, Vis a Vis, The Magic of Jack Avis by Jack Avis and John Derris, and Arcade Dreams: Marlo Without Cards by Jon Racherbaumer. A most impressive list!

Post-publication item 2/20/97 SECRETS OF THE GODS -- David Blaine speculates on the conjuring secrets behind biblical miracles in a feature article in February's Detour magazine. This is the stuff that would have banned the Beatles from the airwaves years ago.

DESERT MAGIC SEMINAR -- It's that time of year again, kids! Joe Stevens is about to present the twentieth edition of his Desert Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. This year's outing, from March 2-5 at the Tropicana, will feature lectures and magic by Paul Gertner, Juan Mayoral, Lennart Green, Juan Tamariz, Hans Moretti, Bob Green, and Ascanio, truly some of the best of the best of the past 20 years. Add to this all the other DMS features, a lecture by Dan Harlan, "townie" magic shows such as Siegfried and Roy, Lance Burton, Caesar's Magical Empire, Spellbound, Showgirls of Magic, EFX, and Cirque du Soleil, and you have a convention no one else can top. A built-in feature of the DMS is its high stakes contest, with $5000 to the winner. This year's contest is a World Challenge 97 Invitational Stage Competition, and will include James Dimmare of the U.S., Yuka from Japan, Vikj from Italy (musical comedy magic), Junge and Junge from Germany (a shoeshine act), Yusuda from North Korea (a costume change act), and Enric Magoo from Spain with a comedy Frankenstein act. And if all this isn't enough, and you just want to come to Las Vegas and hang out, the WAC basketball tournament will be taking place. Tyrone Nesby, from my home town of Cairo, Illinois, is starting for UNLV this year, and we wish him and his teammates the best.

"Ever since Joe came up with this alternative prize to the Gold Lion's Head Award, the level of the competition has skyrocketed."

GHOULS RUSH IN -- Speaking of comedy Frankenstein acts, take a look at the Valentine's Day issue of The New Yorker (February 17), which features a happy Frankenstein monster, flowers and candy in hand, about to receive a new partner off the laboratory table. The drawing is titled "Ghouls Rush In" and it's by Edward Sorel.

A-1 PROJECTS -- In working out the details of this month's Paul Harris issue, I had the pleasure of dealing with Mike Maxwell of A-1 Multimedia. Mike is working on a 12-part Advanced Card Control series by Allan Ackerman. The first three installments, on Palming, Controls, and False Deals, will be out in March. Additional videos in the works include new material from Rafael Benatar, Juan Tamariz, and Darwin Ortiz. Books in the works include titles by Carl Cloutier and Tabary.

Paul Harris is one of the few brand names in magical literature who promises innovative, performable, and sometimes wonderfully strange material, and has been doing so ever since he came out of the chute as a very young man. A crack team of deprogammers recently broke into the Transcendental Meditation headquarters in Canada and liberated him -- or was that the other guy from that era? -- and magic is glad to have him back. This month we feature an in-depth look at Paul's new books from A-1 Multimedia, The Art of Astonishment. In addition, our trick section this month features two potent Paul Harris routines, "The Anything Deck" from his new material and "The Perfectionist," an overlooked gem from his earlier work. Take your time and stick your finger into all three (either click the titles in this paragraph or the appropriate chocolates above). You'll be glad you did.

The past year in print has seen yet another lode of wonderful sleight-of-hand material, often from new names. Unfortunately, the rush to press seems to have bypassed proofreaders with a sense of English style, the failure especially evidencing itself in the form of pronoun abuse. But the rules ain't that hard! Enroll with us briefly as we take an entertaining trip back to pronoun school, or "Rules of the Game II." Warning: Please don't let the nudity offend you.

When it became clear around here that we were going to do a Paul Harris issue, our resident nymphet and all-around girl Friday Columbine begged me for Paul's phone number, which I reluctantly provided. She never actually spoke to Paul, but she did receive this message on his answering machine:

I was enjoying life as a semi-retired trick boy, living nowhere in particular, shuffling around a beach that I'd been told was somewhere in Northern California. It was a fairly carefree existence except for having to flick an occasional stray bit of sea foam off my pack . . . when big-time magic publisher Mike Maxwell's personal helicopter dropped in.

Mike wanted me to put together the super-jumbo-you-only-live-once complete set of Paul Harris Books. The three volumes would be jampacked with all my best pieces of strange, annotated and updated, plus sixty or seventy new unpublished pieces. This project was to be even more exciting than the time I paid a quarter to see myself naked. A prospect I found hard to believe. But Mike had a vision.

He explained that this was my big chance to create the kind of magic books I would personally like to own if, in fact, I were inclined to one day actually own a set of my own books.

Now there are those who could argue that this was sort of a good idea. But it was also in direct conflict with my current long-term project of having no long-term projects. My backpack was completely paid for and I had close to seventeen bucks spendable cash in my pocket, so I certainly had no financial motivation.

And so I told Mike what I've told other publisher buddies who had the same idea. "Sure, I'd love to do it, as soon as you obtain the rights to all of my twenty or so books, manuscripts and videos currently owned by everyone else." This impossible request was just another way of saying no. The massive expense and risk required for this feat was way beyond the safety-zone of any reasonable magic-book publisher.

So it's two weeks later and I'm deeply engrossed in testing out a stray dog as a beach blanket while calculating the optimum depth to burrow my big toe into the sand . . . when Maxwell wades over from the company submarine:

"I did it."

"Did what?"

"I negotiated the rights to everything."

"Everything what?"

"Everything as in all-of-your-previously-published-material everything."

"You're kidding? What'd you do . . . sell your Grandmother's sock collection?"

Mike wasn't kidding. He'd put his A-1 cookies on the line to make this impossible deal come true.

So I rolled up the dog, pulled my big toe out of the sand, stood up, sat back down to take another nap, stood up again, paid myself a quarter, and thus began the infinitely expanding process of creating the kind of magical books that I would personally like to own . . . assuming that one day I'd actually like to own a set of my own books . . . which thanks to Mike's astonishing faith was now splashing around the edge of becoming a real possibility.

*His Grandmother's socks were never heard from again.

If you want to give yourself a Valentine's Day treat, you can do no better than picking up a copy of Little Egypt Card Tricks or The Little Egypt Gazette: The Lecture 96, which contains the best of the personal card tricks from Volume 1 of this periodical. Included are "Let George Do It" (a presentation for Paul Harris's "Night Shades"), "Everywhere and Nowhere Goes Hollywood," "From the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes," "Ranch Hand," "Red and Blue Cannibals," "The Great Al Baker Three-Card Mental Test," "Satan's Monte," and "Celebrities." The notes are $15 and the book is $22, postage free in the U.S. Order in February and we'll toss some Valentine candy into the package. Forward remuneration to Steve Bryant, 1639 Sycamore Court, Bloomington, IN 47401. No passwords, no hassles. Add $6 for overseas addresses for the lecture notes, $9 for the book.

Don't miss this month's installment of "Stirring the Tana Leaves," in which we explore what really went on behind the scenes of this special Valentine tribute to Paul Harris. (Golem had a far different issue in mind.) Important technical notes and significant thanks are also featured.

As always, our Favorite Links page contains links to some of the best magic sites on the web. Check this month's edition for a new "Links" puzzler.

"Phone Sex" text is from the dust cover of The Art of Astonishment, by Paul Harris, courtesy of Mike Maxwell.

A JSB Creations product
"Phone Sex" text copyright© 1996 by Paul Harris and Michael Maxwell
All else copyright© 1997 by Steve Bryant
Send your Valentine cards and candy to sbryant@kiva.net.