When Preperation Meets Opportunity

Jun16 cover

Goodsell: I’ve heard it said, “Stan Allen is one lucky guy.”

Stan: You must have been talking to Rhonda [Stan’s wife].

Goodsell: Of course, that’s a given! But usually it has to do with the success of MAGIC magazine. How did MAGIC come to be? Luck? Entrepreneurs define luck as: when preparation meets opportunity. But that is not enough, because opportunity requires timing and place. So, let’s begin with Time and Place. The time was the late ‘60s in southern California. The Magic Castle had recently opened and quickly became the Mecca for magicians everywhere. But perhaps the place we should start is with the Long Beach Mystics, that unique magic club for youth that spawned you, Mike Caveney, Mark Kalin, Michael Weber, and so many others. The Mystics story has been well told elsewhere, Stan, but how did it shape you?

Stan: From the time my sister bought me the S.S. Adams Nickels to Dimes trick at Disneyland’s Magic Shop when I was ten, I was hooked. But I was never one to just hole up alone with my magic. If I had been the kid from a small town with a couple of books and no other magicians, I’m not sure I would have stayed with it. A magic buddy and I read in the newspaper about a magic club for kids called the Long Beach Mystics. We went to it and discovered they were planning to put on a show. Kids! Like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland! They needed some guys backstage; before I knew it we were pushing around a Super-X and didn’t know what it was. I thought, “This is fun. I want to do this!”

Before long Les Arnold, one of the older guys, was carting me around. I watched him do a Blue and Gold dinner. Thirty bucks for twenty minutes. At the time I was a bus boy in St. Mary’s Hospital cafeteria for $1.30 an hour. Les was a kind of unofficial mentor. He would never tell us what to do; he would just let us tag along. When hired to do a Blue and Gold, he would pull out the Cut and Restored Rope, Spot Card, Die Box – stuff like that. I thought, “I can do that.” It wasn’t a driving force; it was more like, “I would rather do that than bus dishes.” Thirty bucks verses a buck-thirty an hour. I didn’t have to be a math whiz to figure out the message.

Les took me along with him to the Hollywood Assembly 22 of the S.A.M. It was a large assembly and had a fair share of professional magicians: Marvyn Roy, Bill Chaudet, Chuck Jones, probably Kirk Kirkham, Bill and Milt Larsen, and even Harry Blackstone Sr. Les was The Great Leon’s grandson and nephew to Leon Leon, so he was “adopted” into that group. He appeared on assembly shows and I would help. Some of those same professionals, like Marvyn, Dick Zimmerman, and Bev Bergeron, took an interest in us, dropped by Mystic meetings, and gave us advice. From the beginning, we were encouraged to be bold. You have an idea? Go with it. You might fall down and skin your knees, or you might hit a home run. That is how the Mystics worked, and that is what stayed with me more than anything else. We weren’t afraid to fail.

Read the full article here.

 Jun16 toc