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Topic: Jolly Roger will not allow you to buy his products!
Message: Posted by: Jolly Roger (Dec 1, 2006 11:45PM)
Not everyone will know the name Ken Brooke. Ken was, in my opinion, the greatest magic dealer ever. He was British........a Yorkshireman. I first got to know him when he worked with Harry Stanley at their premises at 14, Frith Street in Soho, London. Later he moved to Wardour Street in Soho, where he ran his own magic studio. I visited him on many occasions, and we built up a good relationship. After Ken died, my very good friend Paul Stone, who actually lived in Phoenix for a couple of years, bought the rights to his products. So, why am I telling you all this?

Ken died before the internet came into existance. I wonder what he would have thought of all these internet dealers! The thing about Ken was that he was honest. If he thought there was a product he had, which he did not think would be good for you in your show, he would tell you. What is more, he would actually refuse to sell it to you!! Seriously! There was more than one product I wanted to buy from him as a young man, and he refused to sell it to me!

Today, it seems, anyone can buy anything from anyone off the internet.....as long as they have the money to do so. Is the right? Should all magic be available to anyone at any cost? I personally think not.

Is it possible that there are some of you out there who are doing tricks you have bought from various dealers, and not doing the tricks justice? If this is the case, I think it is very sad. I wonder if there are other dealers who might feel as I do.

Some of you may think I am bluffing, but I truly am far more interested in kids all over the world having a good time than making a lot of money out of selling stuff. I make more than enough money doing shows, so the green stuff is not that important. I am wondering, in this technological day and age, if it would be feasable for myself and other dealers to ask to see a DVD of the purchasers ability as a performer to determine whether or not you sell them a product? I believe, if Ken Brooke were still alive, he may well have taken that route. Your thoughts please. This could prove interesting!
Message: Posted by: ThePartyMagician (Dec 2, 2006 12:38AM)

If you had an actual shop, it would be easier to 'enforce', via Internet shopping I just can't see it happening.

It's a good idea in principle, we all know magic is TOO accessible nowadays via online shopping. I just don't see anyone sending you a demo video in order to buy something from you.
Best regards
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 2, 2006 02:12AM)
Roger, I still recall the days as a child when I would visit Ron MacMillan's International Magic Studio on Baker Street. The showroom was tiered, like an amphitheatre, and there were hundreds of colourful props on display. Of course, I wanted to buy EVERYTHING! But Ron would patiently ask about my shows, and suggest the best buys for my shows. Neptune's chest was one of my favourites, very decpetive, seems to be unavailable these days. And the "Four Ices", an awesome trick that would play just as well today, again not available.....anyway, the point is, that Ron wouldn't refuse to sell me stuff, he'd just recommend a bunch of stuff and leave it to me to decide. Of course, I always took his advice.
More recently, I have bought a lot of products from Hocus Pocus (in the USA). As there is no way to see the goods and try them out, Paul Gross is very patient in explaining the tricks, and finding out exactly what I need.
This is what I consider good customer service - firstly, don't sell tricks that are not suitable for professional use, and secondly, talk to your customers to find out if the effect they are considering is REALLY what they want. If neccessary, a good dealer should be able to say: "My product X isn't really what you need, but if you call dealer Y, he has product Z that would suit you much better". Dealers like that are the ones who get most of my cash.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Dec 2, 2006 06:11AM)
I too bought from Ken Brooke. The only problem was, I lived in Jamaica at the time Ken was a dealer.
I remembered ordering a escape item that he was selling, he wrote back to say that it wouldn't suite my style if I'm not an escape artist. He knew what kind of a performer I was from the items I've bought in the past.
One thing that Ken provided was the after service. Most of the tricks would have a follow up with extra advice or improvement on the handling or presentation.
True as you said Roger, Ken was an honest dealer, he didn't make any money and died broke.
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Dec 2, 2006 08:47AM)
The DVD approach to weeding out customers will not work because you eliminate those who either don't have the equipment to produce a DVD, or don't have the money or the technical knowledge... and that has nothing to do with magic. However, as the Internet keeps evolving, video instant messaging becomes more and more feasible for this purpose. The new Macintosh laptops come with a built-in camera (see Derek Merdinyan's MagiComic #1 on my site - it was made using the Macintosh camera) that could be used for this purpose. Also, small cameras to attach to a PC via USB cable are coming down in price. So it might become common practice in a virtual magic store for you to "enter" with the camera on yourself so you can be seen and can see the dealer and other customers as you "wander about" and look at magic. Then we run into the problem of global time. What dealer wants to (or can possibly) stay up 24/7/365 to be there when some customer wants to drop in at 3:00 AM (of course in the customer's time zone, it might be noon).

I guess my point is, the Internet is making this more and more possible, but when it is available, will we want it? Will it do any good? Will it solve any problems?
Message: Posted by: Jolly Roger (Dec 2, 2006 09:50AM)
I absolutely agree with you Spellbinder, but I think it is an important question as the technologies are moving forward so rapidly.

We have some wonderful dealers available. Chance Wolfe, Steve Axtell, and Creative magic and Hocus-Pocus, to name a few, are all superb with excellent after sales service.

But I miss the old magic shops! Until the technology gets to where I need it, maybe a possibility is to email clients who are interested in a product a detailed questionaire to establish their credentials to purchase the product. What do you think?
Message: Posted by: John Bowlin (Dec 2, 2006 10:24AM)
In most cases I would find the idea of auditioning to spend my money either laughable or insulting. And if It were feasible I would just have to say...who are YOU to judge my level of performance?...next dealer please. In defense of your idea I could possibly see it being reasonable for a really original signature effect. A good example might be Mr. Harbin having required anyone that purchased a zig-zag to meet certain performance requirements. Effects as revolutionary as the zig-zag come around very rarely.

What works for you may not work for me. We sometimes have no idea what effect we will meld with until we perform it. Today's hack may be become tomorrows superstar. Ask people how well the Amazing Jonathon pulled off serious magic when he attempted it. He's laughing with those that used to laugh at him...all the way to the bank. From mistakes..we learn.

I know...I could just have the last 500 people I performed for call you individually as my testimoinal. :) And if I'm a consumate professional worthy of your effects why should I send you a performance DVD for free anyway? For $29.99 plus shipping I'd be happy to have you evaluate me. :)

Denny Haney is one of those dealers that doesn't sell for the sake of selling. I have actually seen him direct people(casual hobbists) to the "clown shop down the road" because they don't listen to reason. He'd rather sell you a book on performing than sell an effect to perform. You won't find too many sup-pro items lying around his shops. What you WILL notice in his shops are hundreds and hundreds of books. I believe his total collection exceeds 5,000. He is responsible for helping me assemble one heck of a magic library and a very empty junk magic closet. I totally respect him for trying to help me best educate myself rather than have me demonstrate my performance prowess.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 2, 2006 12:52PM)
I realised I got it wrong, International Magic was on Brewer Street, not Baker Street. Yes, in some ways, those were the days.....but I will be honest, I think magic, and especially children's magic, is coming of age at last. I put up a post that didn't attract any interest about museum pieces. When I look at some of Chance Wolf's products, and compare them with (for instance) items from Supreme Magic, U.F.Grant, and the like, I know the new Wolf products will take their place alongside the great manufacturers in good time. We are all lucky, so very lucky, to be working in a trade that has barely been in existence for 100 years (dedicated kid's magicians), and our trade is at last turning a corner. Awesome new routines and props available pretty much every day, thousands of great minds working on ideas to make our craft even better. I don't so much worry about those supposed legions of amateurish performers, who allegedly ruin things for the "pros", I simply see the art of entertaining children finally being taken seriously.
More important to dwell on the positives of our chosen career, and give what we can, as much as we can, before we reach our twilight years. And then to reflect on the joy that we've brought to the children in our World, and to be contented with that.
Message: Posted by: Jolly Roger (Dec 2, 2006 01:50PM)
From memory, it was 30, Brewer Street. Ron took the business over from Harry Stanley, who had moved out of Frith Street. He put in Hugh Caddy and David Lait as managers there for a while. Then he sold out to the Fahn brothers, and from there it went down hill. But he kept Clerkenwell Road, and his son Martin runs the business there to this day. Teresa, Ron's widow and Martin's mother, has moved to live in Ireland. Just a brief history lesson.....but I am sure we are boring the Americans........so here is a little story for them.

I was working on the cruise ship Amerikanis, cruising New York to Bermuda for seven months in 1974. My friend, the comedian Charlie Lea and I called into the Hornmann Magic shop in NYC. We met Al Flosso for the first time. The shop was full of people, and we could not believe it when Al told them all to leave, as he wanted us to join him for coffee, and talk about the business( show business). He closed up shop I believe for the rest of the afternoon, and talked non stop to me and Charlie at a local coffee shop. Al Flosso.... Truly one of the greats! JR
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 2, 2006 01:57PM)
What a wonderful story, Roger. Yes, when I first visited Ron's showroom, I was only five years old! He loved the fact that I considered myself a "magician", and was only too happy to treat me like any of the other customers he had. My Dad who had brought me, was the "outsider", who wasn't entitled to understand what we were all about. It was quite lovely and enchanting for a child at that age, you can imagine. Later on, I was one of the lucky ones who as a teenager visited the basement at Clerkenwell Road. There was (and still is I believe) a "joke shop" aournd the corner, but the basement was where all the cool magic stuff was. Like Brewer Street, it had a solitary black door, with nothing but the Street Number showing (99 Leather Lane). I met some great magicians there when I was younger, at the time I was still such a country lad....
All these years down the line, I now know what real magic is, and I have been shown so many real mysteries. And still there is so much to learn.....
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Dec 2, 2006 03:18PM)
Jim Gerrish has been trying to discourage magicians from buying his "Passing Through" rope penetration effect (Wizards' Journal #11), but it doesn't seem to be working. In fact, the more he tries to argue them out of it, the more magicians want to give it a try. He is certain that some of them are going to mess it up when they perform it, but when you sell on the Internet, you can't really do anything more than warn magicians that this is a routine you will have to work at, not something you can just read and perform the next day.
Message: Posted by: SeaDawg (Dec 2, 2006 04:29PM)
I think that as a magi matures and develops as a performer, they graduate from getting a new effect, how quick can I get the basics, who can I show it too... to a more reasoned, approach that includes getting the performance and patter down to fit your style.

I have things I have been working on in the privacy of my office that my kids are itching to see... but I am not ready.

But in todays day of instant gratification, patience is a requirement that is lost on many...
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Dec 2, 2006 05:33PM)
I don't think it matters what any magician thinks but the guy selling the product. If he wants to audition magicians, let him. I suspect he wouldn't sell much.
Message: Posted by: Jolly Roger (Dec 3, 2006 12:36AM)
Starrpower, I am a little confused by your statement. The reason I put this topic out was to find out what other magicians think! I hate to see magic performed badly, and if I sell a product it is important to me that the buyer is going to perform it well. If I felt that it was not the right product for the byer, or that they believe that they can make a good job performing it, but I have my doubts because I have seen the performer showcase their talents, and in my opinion they have no idea how to entertain chidren, then I would rather not sell them the item. Ken Brooke may have ended up broke, but at least the products that he sold to wonderful performers, made many audiences happy. To my way of looking at life, that is not a bad legacy!
Message: Posted by: Payne (Dec 3, 2006 01:57AM)
On 2006-12-02 00:45, jolly roger wrote:

If he thought there was a product he had, which he did not think would be good for you in your show, he would tell you. What is more, he would actually refuse to sell it to you!! Seriously! There was more than one product I wanted to buy from him as a young man, and he refused to sell it to me!


How would they know if the product would work for me or not? How do they know what I'm going to do with it? Perhaps I have a new and novel approach to using a certain prop that they themselves haven't thought of. Why should my creativity be denied just because a dealer has yet to see the full potential of their product?
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Dec 3, 2006 03:48AM)
Payne: I think in Ken Booke's case it was more about giving his customers good advice and not misleading them about what his products could do. When I was working for Supreme and taking telephone orders I often had to 'bring people back down to earth' when I heard their expectations of the tricks. I well remember the crushing disappointment of my first purchases from a magic dealer. I ordered a vanishing lit torch and a mentalism trick called Voodoo Dolls. The catalogue descriptions made them sound like miracles and I was too young and inexperienced to 'read between the lines'. They are both great tricks but were of little use to someone who wanted to do kids shows and didn't wear a jacket. Buying these two items was a massive investment for a 14 year old and I'm just glad it didn't put me off magic for good. I wonder how many promising young magicians have blown all their savings on Criss Angel's levitation only to find out that they can't perform it for their friends unless they can persuade them to stand 20 yards behind them and squint with their head on one side. Perhaps that is why so many young guys are posting exposure videos on youtube!

Rather than demanding customers should send in demo tapes, I think dealers should be a little more open in discussing the performing conditions required to present an effect.
Message: Posted by: SeaDawg (Dec 3, 2006 06:29AM)
I think that a point that is rising to the surface and is well noted by Kimmo is that some dealers " will sell anything for a buck" under the guise of buyer beware. Because the knowledge is the most valuable part, they will not refund. Therefore they got your money and could care less.

But the quality dealers, who care about their reputations and the furtherance of our great craft, will spend the time if you ask ensuring that something fits your needs if you ask the right questions. I think back to discussions I had with Peter Loughran. I wound up buying one of his effects, but he told me to take a pass on another since it wouldnt work in the conditions I laid out. There are many other quality purveyors of magic effects, props and books who care about their reputations. And sadly there are many who will ship you a truck load of crap at a moments notice.

These forums do provide a valuable source of info since many will "expose" crap for what it is and praise quality and service to the hilt. Some research and well thought out purchases and I now buy quality that I am pleased with.

To those who wish to dump schlock on the unsuspecting newbies under the guise of initation to the fraternity.... a Pox on you.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Dec 3, 2006 11:33AM)
One of the dangers of doing this, is that it can be perceived that you are doing it because of you, and not truly because of the customer.

For example, in Richard Lyn's case, it was clear the dealer was trying to protect him from harming himself (Richard) and his reputation (Richard) by performing something that wasn't his style. It was all about Richard.

In the case of not selling, without seeing a DVD, it can be perceived that you are concerned about harming you (Roger) and your (Roger's) reputation. It can be taken that you want to protect yourself from having your tricks exposed unnecessarily. I say this because of some of the ways you phrased certain things in posts above:


Roger: "...But is it possible that there are some of you out there who are doing this and other tricks you have bought from various dealers, and not doing the tricks justice? If this is the case, I think it is very sad. I wonder if there are other dealers who might feel as I do... "

Roger: "...But I miss the old magic shops! Until the technology gets to where I need it, maybe a possibility is to email clients who are interested in a product a detailed questionaire to establish their credentials to purchase the product. What do you think?..."

Roger: "...I hate to see magic performed badly, and if I sell a product it is important to me that the buyer is going to perform it well..."


Again, maybe you didn't mean it that way, Roger. But it seems to be about protecting you and your product, and not about protecting your customers from harming themselves. Your focus seems to be on the wrong person.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Dec 3, 2006 11:59AM)
Hello Jolly Roger:

I think most folks would look at such a requirement as being quite arrogant. Most folks would look at the DVD requirement and say, "Who does he think he is making such a requirement." I'm not saying that's how you are, but I believe you'd be perceived that way.

On the other hand, if your name recognition was up there with someone like David Ginn or Barry Mitchell, things might be different since most kid show performers are familiar with them. But, I could see it back-firing on them too.

In any case, I think it would not be a very good thing to make such a requirement before your items are sold. Giving helpful hints and advice will be appreciated, but making requirements will be resented.

Ron Reid
Message: Posted by: flimnar (Dec 3, 2006 12:09PM)
I agree with Ron's assessment--I believe you would lose more than you would gain with such a requirement. That said, I can understand why some performers refuse to part with their favorite effects, regardless of the money, for fear of these effects being ruined in wide release. Fair enough.

Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Dec 3, 2006 12:39PM)
On 2006-12-03 01:36, jolly roger wrote:
"I don't think it matters what any magician thinks but the guy selling the product."

Starrpower, I am a little confused by your statement.[/quote]

Well, what I meant was, if you (the creator and seller) feel the need to audition magicians before agreeing to sell them a product, do so. Who cares what the magicians think? If you sell nothing due to no "auditions," it's a pretty good indication that it's a flawed process. If you sell a few but they do a great job with it, maybe your scheme can be deemed a success. If you get a bunch of hack performances, you have a decision to make.

Personally, for all the reasons already posted, I wouldn't go through such a process. But you may think I'm all wet. Hence my statement, "I don't think it matters what any magician thinks." If it's YOUR products, and YOUR process, YOUR opinion is the only one that counts on this one.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 3, 2006 12:42PM)
Roger, you're a great stimulus here at the Magic Café, you have some good products, and you don't take yourself to seriously. On the other hand, you sometimes manage to phrase things in a slightly self-orineted and contoversial way; your books, if you have them, aren't regarded as "Bibles" of kids entertainment like "Kidbiz" and Ginn's other books. And you set yourself up for a ribbing, so don't worry or be upset when folks offer criticism.
What you exude, Roger, is the excitement of a five-year old, and good on ya mate, if you can still behave like that at your age (58 I belive you admitted?)
Through all of the banter, I think those of us who are looking to stimulate our grey matter, somehow amplify the particular train of childish thought that we require to be good at entertaining kids.
As a dealer, I think you should worry far less about the possibility that some folks might not use your products as well as they might. I think it would be more practical and worthy, to take a personal interest in your customers, and keep track of how they are using your props, perhaps a follow-up call a few weeks down the line. You could listen to how they are using the routine, then make a couple of suggestions to improve what they're offering. No dealer has ever done this as far as I know, though probably years ago, that would have been more likely. If someone wants to be a kids' entertainer badly enough, they most likely could do it. It's 10% natural ability, and 90% hard graft, practise, study, and consideration. Why not share what you can, while you can?
Message: Posted by: John Bowlin (Dec 3, 2006 03:51PM)
I was surprised that Ron's comment struck such a nerve with Jolly Roger. In all fairness, few of us here if any ever heard of Jolly Roger before his coming to this forum. Fame is often as much(if not more) luck than talent. Ron's comment was not perceived by me as any sort of a "personal attack" on Jolly Roger. It was just a perception that I tended to agree with.

There are some nationally known entertainers that do not impress me as performers but to me are famous through constant self promotion. If self promotion is a way to fame, Jolly Roger may well be on his way! That was not a dig on how I see you as a performer Jolly Roger, just an observation of your ability to self promote. :)

Fame is often a by-product of high level insecurity or other other psycho-social issues amongst celebrities and performers. Is Paris Hilton famous(or infamous?) for her beauty, marketing prowess or acting ability? Me thinks not. And if any of you say "because she is a rich Hilton", what's her sisters name?

I read the above posts and wonder whether Jolly Roger more values the smile he puts on the faces of others or to have his name emboldened to the likes of David Ginn. Anyone that is truly "great" or "famous" need not tell so to those that might challenge. Those that are not, yet desire it, see anything less than high praise as a challenge. To the humble, fame means little.
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Dec 3, 2006 05:39PM)
Hi Jolly Roger:

My comments weren't meant to be a personal attack on you. I'm sorry if they seemed to be.

I didn't know you were that well known in the U.K. - Again, I apologize.

Ron Reid
Message: Posted by: Magicshore (Dec 3, 2006 08:14PM)
" I'm sorry son. I just can't let you have a baseball and a bat unless I know you'll be a great baseball player ".

Food for thought

Message: Posted by: Canvey Card Sharp (Dec 4, 2006 08:24AM)
I find it hard to believe that Ken Brooke and International Magic share the same post - other than for the historical content.

Both dealers were/are miles apart when it comes to ethics.

Ken Brooke was the greatest dealer and demonstrator in the history of magic. His morals were faultless and to answer a point above, if you didn't like his style of operation then he couldn't give a 'tuppney toss' if you went elsewhere; in fact, he'd prefer that you did.

His range of magic was commercial and made to the highest standards; a fact proven by the many items I now have of his from the 1970's still in excellent condition.

If Ken thought an effect was beyond the capability of the purchaser he simply would rather not sell it than see it murdered. As a 15yo I had to prove I could perform a decent top palm before he sold my Dad a Fred Kaps Card in Wallet (my eagerly awaited Chrsitmas present)! He then spent 20 minutes of his time, unpaid, teaching me aspects of misdirection so that I could perform it even better. To me, the man was God!

Turning to International Magic. Let's just say that a guy that once asked "have you got one of those folding coins that go inside a bottle" led to an immediate sale with no questions asked. I also find it laughable that they carry effects that they cannot even demonstrate, and reccommend books that when queried, don't even know the content! In contrast, EVERY demonstration given by Ken was performed as if he was working at the Savoy Hotel.

If Ken Brooke was still trading, I doubt whether he'd even have an internet site for his Magic Studio. He much preferred teaching you personally to perform an effect well; or with simply a few stamps, would hand write tutorials if you were stuck on a particular part of an effect. His instruction sheets were second to none and provide so many performance tips and humourous patter that they make modern day attempts of written instructions worthy only for keeping the fire going.

How I would love to go back in time to see Ken performing at his Magic Place again.
Message: Posted by: Derek Rutt Creations (Dec 4, 2006 11:30PM)
When I was very young I used to go to Davenports Magic shop in Holborn and was befriended by the wonderful man behind the counter......namely the wonderful original Gilly Gilly man Mr Gilly Davenport who helped me so much in deciding what to buy. He knew what was good fo me because we talked for many hours and I used to visit the shop so often ......so he knew my personality. I alo used to go to see Harry Stanley and Ken Brook and many others at that time.
When Supreme came along they did not have a shop but only a warehouse which I once saw in Bideford Devon which was stocked to overflowing and of course it was just a postal ordering service.......but they achieved the good reputation and generally the products were excellent. They also of course would never dream of asking for your particulars etc.
Today with internet selling yes there are some not so good dealers who give wrong descriptions or fake videos .....so the answer I believe is to create trust with your customers by telling the truth in giving accurate descriptions and totally true video clips. The video clips are very important as this allows you to show the customer exactly what he is getting.
There was a thread on another forum which said that they were thinking of buying one of my products......but ....could it do what it said ???..I can understand this feeling as in the past ther have been many who have been duped by the dishonest person.
So I think that to ask my customers for a DVD or what they do in their show is utterly impossible and they would think that I was crazy and buy elsewhere. Also of course who am I to decide what they should buy......it is not the same as in a bricks and mortar shop .
Message: Posted by: Phil J. (Jun 17, 2007 07:59AM)
On 2006-12-02 14:57, Potty the Pirate wrote:
Later on, I was one of the lucky ones who as a teenager visited the basement at Clerkenwell Road. There was (and still is I believe) a "joke shop" aournd the corner, but the basement was where all the cool magic stuff was. Like Brewer Street, it had a solitary black door, with nothing but the Street Number showing (99 Leather Lane).
[/quote]The basement studio closed down years ago and everything was moved around the corner into the joke shop. Unfortunately, the shop now attracts a lot more members of the public wanting to buy the latest David Blaine effect.