Friday, September 05, 2008

Pics from Pollywood

A few nights go we attended a nominee party. If you didn't know, my girl Polly was nominated for an Emmy (for her work on ABC's hit show Dirty, Sexy, Money starring Peter Krausse, Donald Sutherland & Jill Clayborn). It was a lovely affair, serving among other things and endless stream of Cosmopolitans. Hair and Make-Up Artists from the Local 706 all excited about their nominations and looking fabulous. The party was at the Academy in NOHO (North Hollywood. . . minutes from where we live).

Industry chit chat about the benefits of "day checking" over the grueling 80 hour (5 day) week of episodic shooting. I love being in the middle of all this. They get to do all the hard work and I just get to show up when I want and eat good catering and see how TV shows are made. After schmooze/cocktail hour there was a short ceremony where certificates were presented to the nominees.

I love Polly so much. . . I wish I had words. She just finished up 5 weeks on "Merry Christmas Drake & Josh" for Nickelodeon and with barely a break is getting put back into heavy rotation day checking on "Big Love". She's off today so that means lots of hugging and kissing. What have I got to complain bout?

For whom the bell tolls . . .

With much sadness, I found out that Roger Klause passed away on Aug. 30th after battling cancer for the last year. Roger was a great guy with a lot of love in his heart and killer chops. I met him as a young man, I must have been 18. He was always so nice to me and coordinated a couple of my most memorable performances. The first time was at the "35 Years Later" Convention where Ed Marlo gave his final lecture. For whatever reason, Roger wanted me to do my act for Marlo. What a rush! Another time a few years later, at the Castle, Roger arranged for me to give a private performance for Dai Vernon and a few other select guests. It always puzzled me that Roger gave me the time of day, let alone, want me to perform for his good friends (my hero's).

Roger's generosity was legendary, he gave of his time, energy and knowledge freely and was a gentleman of the highest order. I will miss his friendship, his kindness and his love.

I posted this pic last week when I found out that Geoff Latta had died (he's the one on the left), I post it again for Roger (on the right). What does this mean. . . I'm next? Hope not. This picture was taken in February of 2006 at the World Magic Seminar. I had wisely blown off most of the convention to hang with these two guys. With Geoff we tried to kill our pain with booze, with Roger, he told me to watch my drinking. With both of them we shared tricks, stories and our shared love of the art of magic.

Steve Ameden and I spent countless hours at the bar with Roger as he lavished us with his time, magic and great stories of his adventures in the art. I will always remember Roger Klause and how nice he was to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More on the Billy McComb Legacy Auction

Spending 4 afternoons with Annabel Gray (Billy McCombs' partner for the last 20 years or so of his life) proved to be quite an unexpected treat. She was in a bind and needed help taking pics, cropping and uploading, so I offered to help her out. I shot hundreds of pictures all which can be seen on the online auction The Billy McComb Legacy. I arrived at their condo in Hollywood, not too far from where the Magic Castle is located. She invited me in, and after we made proper introductions, asked me if I knew Billy. I said that we had met 20 years ago and left it at that. I actually had a funny story about me threatening Billy at the Castle bar, but I had just met the woman and didn't feel it appropriate introductory dialog.

We got to work and started to take pictures of the various lots. I love playing with old magic props,looking through old magic books and studying old magic pictures. The next few days would would give me great insight into the man who was Billy McComb.

Although he graduated from medical school as a doctor, he blew off medical notions and pursued a career as a magician (I'm sure his parents must have loved that choice). I guess he got the last laugh though, as he had a hit TV show in that aired in the UK in the early 60's and worked right up till the end of his life. He had wonderful adventures as an entertainer.

Years ago, I purchased an estate of magic, vent props, books and pictures. I had the depressing notion at the time, that when you die, you are reduced to a pile of shit that someone else has to deal with. I had no such feeling this time, as I took picture after picture of what billy had collected in his 84 years on this planet. The difference was Annabel. She was there, sharing stories about this prop or that. Most interesting however, were the stories of their life together. I think it's safe to say, that Billy knew everyone who was anybody in magic. He was a magic junkie. . . like many of us.

After several afternoons with Annabel and some tasty meals that we ordered in, I felt comfortable enough to tell her the story about my one memorable confrontation with Billy. The year was 1987. Danny Sylvester and I could be found at the Castle almost every weekend for over a year. On the night in question, I had brought my then girlfriend a lovely woman named Mary Crawford who was 15 years my senior. I was having a dandy time throwing back cocktails and doing tricks. At some point Mary informed me that she just had an indecent and lewd proposal from that man over there (Billy McComb in all his glory sporting a pretty good buzz himself). I'm not sure what made me do it, but I took out this GIANT switchblade from my jacket, popped it open directly below his nose and threatened him with bodily harm. . . but not with such nice words. Ahhhhh the many memories. . . the people. . . and the art.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Billy McComb Collection Auction

On Sunday, September 7, 2008 you are invited to the live auction of the estate of Billy McComb at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California.

This unique event will celebrate Billy’s extraordinary life in magic by offering selections of his personal property spanning several decades -- including photographs, letters, manuscripts, ephemera, magic tricks, awards, rare magic books, inscribed photographs from top magicians and personal effects.

The sale will contain a stunning collection of photographs, notebooks and records from McComb’s early career. Highlights include a set of The Tarbell Course in Magic books -- the six volumes published in Tarbell’s lifetime, each individually signed to McComb, embellished with hand-drawn cartoons. Another highlight is a hand-cut silhouette of Billy from longtime friend and colleague Dai Vernon. Other treasures include original Houdini magazines, first edition Goldston tomes (three-volume set), a Victorian Vent Doll and an antique shadow puppet.

Billy McComb’s longtime affiliation with the Academy of Magical Arts (Magic Castle) is also represented with an important group of awards and correspondence during his tenure as Vice President and member of the Board of Directors. Similarly, his association with London’s Magic Circle is featured, as well as conjuring and variety clubs and societies worldwide.

It is with understandable excitement this auction will be a wonderful opportunity for McComb devotees to obtain a wide variety of magical history, which carries a powerful and direct connection to Ireland’s Largest Leprechaun. Each object will undoubtedly trigger a McCombical memory for the admirer, collector and student of his work.

The sale will preview at the Magic Castle on September 6 and 7. As more information becomes available, it will be posted on the web.