Hofzinser Lives!

After ninety years of entrenched knowledge, it is no easy task to shake and overturn facts that have been spread as seeming gospel in countless articles, periodicals, books, and other publications. Given this state of affairs, I hope the reader will forgive me the many citations in the following chapters and the notes necessary to support my revision of this history.

Hofzinser was a man who, in his time, did not have any great card conjurers to follow as role models, like his successors did around the turn of the twentieth century; such figures as the mysterious S.W. Erdnase, “The Professor” Dai Vernon, Nate Leipzig, Max Malini, or Chicagoan Edward Marlo (of whom it was said, with tongue in cheek, that he happily acted as if he had invented practically everything in card magic except the cards themselves). Hofzinser was a man who did not have an abundance of relevant literature to draw upon, but he was a visionary, far ahead of his time, who became and remains to this day a model for all parlor magicians who came after him, including today’s close-up performers. His significance to card magic in general, as well as to parlor magic in particular, is indisputable.

Jolly Roger

Dec13 coverFrom palaces to prisons and bomb shelters, for royalty and for those who have been outcast, Roger Blakiston has traveled across the world’s oceans and walked over minefields to perform his magic. His ancestors were famous explorers, pirates, and even royalty. He was born into a family of writers and travelers with a deep sense of imagination. He has walked in the steps of both great leaders and prophets, and over lands that have witnessed terrible wars.

His inexhaustible energy and individuality makes him a one-of-a-kind phenomenon. It would be laborious to try to copy his style and enthusiasm in a performance. His interest in magic started when he was nine years old, and he gave his first public performance at the age of fourteen. After leaving school, he trained for the stage at The Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art and the Webber-Douglas Academy in London. After college, he worked for a short time as an actor in repertory theater before branching out into variety in his early twenties.

Magic Saved My Life

Nov13 coverA magician stands at a fork in the road. One path leads to magic; the other path leads to dangerous behavior, possible incarceration, and possible death. (So, let the reader be warned.) Chris Westfall is a remarkable magician in more ways than one. On the surface, he seems fairly ordinary; an arsenal of card tricks, rubber bands around his wrist, a mildly goofy, slightly off-Sankey sense of humor. None of that seems to explain how busy he is. He currently juggles four restaurant gigs in Toronto in addition to professional close-up gigs. In the summer he adds a series of kids’ day-camp workshops that fuels weekends full of children’s shows. Of course, he’s not organized enough to give me an exact figure, but a back-of-an-envelope estimate has him doing about six hundred dates a year.

The Most Interesting Man in the Room

Oct13 coverDoc Swan is truly a one-man variety show. He does magic, mentalism, and escapes. He performs a wide variety of sideshow stunts, including fire eating, glass-walking, Blockhead, the hand trap, and sword-swallowing. He does chapeaugraphy, hand shadows, stilt-walking, lariat-spinning, and plays the musical saw. Doc is also a painter, a former drummer in a rock band and traveling shows, and he even does balloon animals. He is also one of the funniest performers around. He has an original presentation for everything he does, presentations that have grown out of the character, or characters, he has become. But let’s go back to the beginning.