sid lorraine

Magicians and Hats and Rabbits... Oh My!

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.

Seventeen Secrets Volume 2

I've just seen the first copies of the second volume of Seventeen Secrets. The booklet was produced by the Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club in Toronto. It was intended as a way to create something unique for our members by leveraging the talent of the amazing magicians that the club brings to the city. Editing Volume 1 was a tremendous experience. It was a collaboration with eight other people from three different countries. It was also a valuable growth experience for me as I was working with other people's material covering a wide range of fields from close up magic to stage magic to mentalism to gambling demonstrations.

The format was inspired by an earlier Toronto publication, Ibidem, which was a magazine published irregularly by P. Howard Lyons from 1955-1979. I never met Howard Lyons, so I suppose it is more accurate to say I was inspired by his legend. The cover of Seventeen Secrets was an image that reminded me of the artwork of Pat Lyons, which filled the original Ibidems inside and out. It struck me as suitably unusual for this project.

That volume was very well received and the executive asked me if I would work on another so here we are. I am even more impressed with the final product this time than I was with Volume 1. We were able to obtain more contributions (probably because the first book turned out so well). We were also able to do some rather unusual things. Chris Mayhew contributed his flourish, "Trinado" which took a huge amount of work to describe in print. Denis Behr, from Germany, contributed a card trick that comes with its own smartphone app and is so intricately constructed, I'm not even sure Denis himself knows how it works.  The only one we missed as Shane Cobalt who lectured for the club in November, but I suspect thad had something to do with our print deadlines conflicting with his wedding... next time perhaps.

The new booklet is available from the Hat & Rabbit Club here. I believe there are also a handful of copies of Volume 1 left if you act quickly.

Seventeen Secrets Vol 2