In just over two weeks, a new season of the Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club will be starting. [Edit: after a weird scheduling snag which forced us to push our opening lecture back a week... sorry for that] Sid Lorraine, was a prominent figure among Toronto magicians. The Club was half-renamed after him (It was always the Hat & Rabbit Club) after he passed away. I was four years old when he passed away, and had never met him, but I had the odd chance to get to know him as I had to transcribe his handwritten memoirs (assembled from taped interviews with another past-president, Peter Isaacs) for a memorial blog. The blog, or "ChatterBox" as it's properly called, is a fun read and paints a fascinating picture from the early part of the Twentieth Century of magicians in particular and Canada and England in general.
The size of the club fluctuates slightly year-to-year, but I believe we are the largest local magic organization in the country. Membership is open to magicians and magic enthusiasts. We assemble a diverse group of members; including amateurs, professionals, beginners, collectors and hobbyists. We have members ranging from 14 years old to... well, one of the events is a certain member's 90th birthday party, just to give you an idea.
And I have the distinct honour of being president of this motley crew - for the third year running. It's actually a very fun and rewarding job. The best part, by far, is spending the year with the executive daydreaming about what next year will look like. So this season's lineup of events (which includes guest speakers from Canada, the US, France and Spain!) was assembled bit by bit gradually over several months.
It's traditional to start the year with a Canadian lecture (except last year, when Canadian Magician of the Year, Bill Abbott, lost a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to Eugene Burger and had to wait a month). This year's kick-off lecture is a freshly minted Canadian, with a shiny brand-new permanent resident card, Michael Close (with special thanks to real-Canadian Lisa Close for luring him across the border.) Michael is an internationally known creator, performer, lecturer, and consultant.
Surprisingly, it's not that difficult to put a line-up like this together. While magicians outwardly project a veil of secrecy and mystery, when the public's not looking they can't wait to share their secrets. The community has developed an incredible sense of community through organizations like the IBM, the SAM, the Magic Castle, the Magic Circle and more. For all of the invitations we've sent, I can count the number of people who declined the chance to visit on the fingers of one hand. On reflection it's not that surprising. In any field everyone interested in raising the quality of the work within that field. More talent results in more positive word of mouth - a rising tide lifts all boats.
On a historical note, with the help of one of the club's past presidents, Trevor Hamilton, I've unearthed a brief history of the club and we'll be attempting this year to convert this charming comb-bound package into something which is informative and web-friendly. Flipping through the list of past presidents, I see a rather daunting list of names to live up to including David Ben, Ross Bertram, John Giordmaine, Sid Lorraine and Herb Morrissey. (Names that certainly don't mean much to most people, but leave some rather large shoes to fill.)
So I hope to see lots of new faces, and old, as we come back for another season - either the seventy first or seventy second, depending on how you count. More information about joining the club is available on its website.