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Topic: Ricki Dunn
Message: Posted by: Paul Romhany (Jan 22, 2006 07:55PM)
Pete Biro mentioned Ricki Dunn as a performer to watch when it comes to Pickpocketing. If you can get hold of a video of Ricki then I highly recommend it, you will see an act that was the best in the world hands down!

I had the pleasure of working with Ricki for many years on the Chuck Jones Tour in Australia and New Zealand, and my wife and I stayed with Ricki in Las Vegas before he passed away. Ricki became my mentor and his act was the best I've seen. Over the years I have seen pickpockets, both on land and on cruise ships but nobody has ever come close to what Ricki could do.

Everybody has their own Ricki Dunn story to tell as he was certainly a character, but underneath his 'roughness' was a man with a heart of gold. The producer of the Chuck Jones tour has been collecting Ricki stories for many years and maybe one day will publish something.

Before Ricki passed away he wrote the most incredible book on pickpocketing and his career. The book covered everything you would ever want to know on the subject and more. I have read all available books that have come out but nothing comes close to what Ricki wrote. There was also a chapter in there on the 'overnight' pickpocket, a full act for those who don't want to put the time in to pickpocketing but want to come off as an expert. It really is incredible. He even has some killer close-up routines using pickpocketing ... and not just stealing watches. It is an art form all unto itself and there are only a small handful of people who can perform a 'real' solid act. Ricki's book has never been published and as far as I am aware only three people have it. While I was in Las Vegas I transcribed the entire book from Ricki's old typewriter to a computer. This is perhaps the most valuable and treasured book in my posession. There was talk of it being published but I don't know where that lies.

I also ended up with several of Ricki's original pieces of magic after he passed away including his signature 'drink' trick which has become a 'classic' in my own Chaplin Show.

I also have managed to collect a series of Ricki's performances on Tape and have transferred them to DVD including 'putpocketing' routine using baby chicks. Ricki was the master and I was honered to know him and call him a friend. Before he passed away we spent several weeks going over his act and he taught me many of his methods and the reasoning behind his act and all his moves. The lessons I learnt from this master will never leave me and every time I perform (the act I perform is not pickpocketing but as Charlie Chaplin) Ricki is always there with me.

Paul Romhany
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 23, 2006 01:33PM)

I, too, knew Ricki. He used to perform here at Magic Island, and we would get together and swap yarns.

I always enjoyed watching his act, and I got a real charge out of his work.

He was a real gentleman and a wonderful performer.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jan 26, 2006 02:43PM)
Ricki was a dear friend. I believe that Norm Nielson was supposed to publish his book. I edited Ricki's promo video that contained a clip of his whole act. I am thinking of putting it up on Scoundrels Photos eventually.
Message: Posted by: chappy (Jan 27, 2006 02:58AM)
I was fortunate to recently watch Ricki Dunns entire act on a promo video for his Australia/New Zealand tour and he is without a doubt the best pickpocket I have ever seen. His watch steals when selecting volunteers are hilarious as is his "stare them in the eyes" belt steal. Talk about light fingers.
The elements most noticably missing from most pickpocket teaching resources are routining and timing and his act is the best lesson in both that one could hope for.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jan 27, 2006 01:07PM)
The best thing about Ricki, was that he could pull off a decent show even under the toughest conditions. When no one in the audience had on a coat, no one looked like an appropriate foil and almost everyone was in casual clothes, Ricki could still pull off an entertaining show.

At Wizards in Universal Studios, this was the kind of crowd he always had--people dressed for a day at a theme park.

I worked with him on a ship--he hated working with magicians--and saw him many times in performance. He was truly great.

And of course, he never, ever used any stooges, even for the shirt pull... ;)
Message: Posted by: chappy (Jan 27, 2006 01:45PM)
I never saw him do the shirt pull. Paur, Whit, did he use many pieces of magic in his act over ther years? The act I have seen was based entirely around the Bill in Lemon with the Drink Trick as a finishing bit with the last volunteer to leave the stage. I didn't know that the drink trick was original to him, it is a great piece of visual comedy.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jan 27, 2006 09:32PM)
He knew a lot of magic, and was an expert with bits like the Electric Chair, but he usually only did the two tricks you mentioned, and--on the cruise ships--the shirt pull.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Jan 27, 2006 11:28PM)
Ricki Dunn was a Chicago act for a long time before he was booked in Las Vegas and other places. He was an old family friend. He also did my Dads rope tie and at the time was the only other performer that it was OK to use it.

I remember him doing the bill in the lemon. He had a rapid fire patter and worked fast. Another pick pocket that we knew was Vic Perry who did the misers dream as a way to lift stuff from the audience.
Message: Posted by: chappy (Jan 27, 2006 11:43PM)
The electric chair would be a good routine for a pickpocket act, Whit, did you see him perform this with pickpocketing?
Glenn, his Bill in Lemon was great, as long as you weren't the poor guy chosen to hold the handkerchief;D
Message: Posted by: Paul Romhany (Feb 5, 2006 08:13AM)
I ended inferiting Ricki´s Drink routine and his version was different than the marketed effect. Actually he broke his when he was in New Zealand and my father made one up for him because he had a workshop with the necessary equipment. I use this in every show I perform on the ships and it´s one of the funniest pieces of magic out there. Ricki also invented the Dover Streamer ... see Tannens catalogue.

A good friend of mine just purchased the webname http://www.rickidunn.com so I will be setting up a tribute website for Ricki. If anybody has any stories I would love to get a collection.

Ricki was fascinated with mentalism and cups and balls. One of the books we were working on before he passed on was a book using baby chicks as he did a routine using baby chicks. His egg bag was by far the best I have ever seen in the world anywhere!! You won´t believe me if I told you but I actually have him on tape performing it. It is one of those things that maybe one day someone might think about marketing under Rickis name. It was a killer routine!

In the book that I have he also talks in detail about closeup routines using pickpocketing and has some amazing routines. None of this stuff has been published and I don't know how Norm is getting on with the book.

Message: Posted by: stine (May 16, 2006 06:44PM)
I saw Ricki live years ago at the Magic Island Newport Beach CA. I remember the "drink trick" especially because the method was revealed believe it or not in "Dunningers Enyclopedia of Magic".I didn't realize its potential and was blown away by its response.Does anyone know if he was the only magician to actually use this effect and where did he get it from?
Message: Posted by: David Charvet (Jun 6, 2006 02:22AM)
I believe that Ricki's glass routine was originally built around an old Abbott prop, the "Gizmo Glass." I too worked with Ricki several times and we spent time together on a couple of Magic Cruises. We hit it off and were good friends. He was the greatest pickpocket around, but always somewhat insecure and self-deprecating regarding his talent. And at times he was temperamental because of this insecurity. Yes, he hated working for other magicians. Even on shows where he KILLED 'em, he'd come off stage saying "I could barely get anything form them!" (the volunteers), or complaining about what a lousy show he'd done. Amazing! He could handle the roughest audience and come out on top and in-charge. Nothing and no one got by him. On the cruises, he spent many of his off-hours in his cabin, working on "the book." Am looking forward to finally seeing it when published by Norm Nielsen. Ricki was the definition of a true PRO.
Message: Posted by: James Harrison (Jun 9, 2006 04:45PM)
I honestly thought someone sent me the email as a bad joke.

I can not wait to get that book. It is sure to have a lot of excellent material inside.
Message: Posted by: Bursky (Jul 6, 2006 11:44AM)
Is the book out yet?

Alan Bursky
Message: Posted by: James Harrison (Jul 7, 2006 03:17PM)
August I believe is the due date for the release.
Message: Posted by: Bursky (Jul 10, 2006 05:24AM)
I was the one who booked Ricki at Magic Island.
Message: Posted by: Tom Jorgenson (Jul 16, 2006 07:25PM)
I’ve just finished reading Nielsen Magic’s The Professional Stage Pickpocket by Ricki Dunn. What an exceptional book to leave to the magic community as a legacy. What struck me so clearly, early on, was the attitude of Mr. Dunn. You can tell that, within the book, he isn’t an egoist, and it’s clear that he wants you to learn this craft. He’s on your side. He is ‘user friendly’ in the sense that the instructions are clear, the illustrations concise and clean, the moves well described, and it is clear that he wants you to be good at it if you are going to learn it. Very pleasant.

I don’t want to do a review of the book, there are others more qualified who can do a better job...but everything you want to know about professonal stage pickpocketing is in the book, along with the why’s and wherefore’s of building an act. And, at the end, you get to open a little pocket yourself and watch Ricki Dunn do his act at the Castle. The DVD is included in the book. Very considerate and very nice.

This one is first class, Accolades from all of Ricki’s friends will be given Norm and Lupe Nielsen for taking his unfinished manuscript and turning it into this most valuable addition to the field; his legacy. Truly a work of love.
Message: Posted by: chappy (Jul 17, 2006 04:25AM)
Hi Tom
I am really looking forward to this book. I ordered this a few weeks ago.
Is it shipping already? I was not expecting it until August.
Message: Posted by: Tom Jorgenson (Jul 17, 2006 05:28AM)
Hi Chappy- I don't know the details on when it will ship, etc...I received a courtesy copy...so it should be ready soon, I'd think. Lupe did a great job on the book, and I know Norm has been wanting to do this for many years.

I didn't know Ricki, and only met him several times. Once years ago when he came to see if I could do the drawings for the book (I couldn't, can't draw bodies worth a diddly) and another more memorable time when I spent an evening with him going to a show. Saw him in all his Ricki-ness, full bloom. Enthusiastic, bombastic and certainly 'in the moment'...wish I'd known him for years. He made being with him very exciting.

The book is full of anecdotes from him, from others, and has a nice long article from David Avadon at the rear. Plus, all those instructions on stage pickpocketing. I know if I could have had a thorough book like this when I was young, I could have and would have gone into it. Excellent instructions.
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Jul 17, 2006 12:46PM)
Please provide a link for ordering Ricki Dunn's book.

Many thanks.

Message: Posted by: Tom Jorgenson (Jul 17, 2006 01:27PM)
Message: Posted by: chappy (Jul 18, 2006 12:36AM)
Thanks Tom. It sounds great.
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Jul 18, 2006 11:48AM)
Thanks Tom... I've just sent Mr. Neilsen my purchase order and look forward to receiving my copy.

And thanks to "Comedy" (Paul R.) too, who started this thread in the first place.

Message: Posted by: Diavo (Jul 19, 2006 01:25PM)
I had preordered it a while ago and received it in the mail yesterday (not expecting to get it until Aug). Good stuff at first glance; I don't have time to read it through yet!
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Jul 26, 2006 12:10PM)
Received the book today.
Started to skim the contents.
Beautiful design, and contents are packed with very valuable information and "inside" stories by masterful showman Ricki Dunn.

Can't wait to view the DVD of Ricki's performance.

The magic community is very fortunate to have such a resource available.

Thank you to all who have contributed to making this book a reality.
Message: Posted by: chappy (Jul 27, 2006 07:03AM)
Received my copy this week. The book is superbly produced and the material doesn't get any better than this. The stories are great too give a great sense of what a character Ricki was.
The dvd performance I have seen before, although this version has been edited.
I will be kept busy for some time reading and re-reading this book.
Message: Posted by: magic_man204 (Jul 27, 2006 06:50PM)
I just ordered this book and look forward to delving into it.