(Close Window)
Topic: Vernon Stories...
Message: Posted by: eugenio (Feb 13, 2009 02:12PM)

I'd like to ask a question. A lot of the best people in different fields, someway or another, attained an incredible amount of fame, (eg. Einstein, Muhammad Ali, Zidane, Jordan, Chip Reese, Bobby Fischer, Michael Jackson... you get the picture..). I've read a lot of stories of Vernon and watched Revelations and am truly impressed with the man.

However, I would say that I haven't really seen the extent of his performance. My question is, why didn't/hasn't Dai Vernon achieved his counterparts' (in other fields) fame...?
Message: Posted by: Jimeh (Feb 13, 2009 03:25PM)
Clearly within the magic community he achieved celebrity status as a result of his accomplishments but in Vernon's case it wasn't about fame.
He just wanted to further magic and spent a lifetime improving it. Some are in love with their craft, want to make a name for themselves and persue fame in the mainstream. Others just love their craft and want to excel at it period.

Even if he had taken the route of wanting to be famous he might not of achieved it. Not because he wasn't talented but magic is seen as somewhat of a novelty and fame can be fickle. You have to consider that there's really only a handful or so of magicians that are a household name to mainstream audiences.

I've always told my laymen friends some of the best magicians around are ones they'll never see or hear about. Fortunately I show them clips and 'school' them on the wealth of talent out there (past and present) because I think it's a shame all this great magic and history goes under the radar.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Smith (Feb 14, 2009 02:56AM)
The majority of Vernon's career was spent performing for other magicians , not the public.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Feb 15, 2009 07:31PM)
All I can attribute your concept of Vernon's fame to, Eugenio, is that you probably aren't old enough to have any recollection of him when he was famous. He was never as famous as, for example, Dunninger, who worked for some of the same agents and clients.

However, in his latter years, he did achieve enough fame that people I knew from Houston who had gone to the Magic Castle on business trips knew him from their visits there.

He was better known to New York society people in the 1940's and 1950's than he was in the 1980's.

How famous was Ken Brooke? I mean, outside of the magic community. As magicians, our idea of fame is not the same as the layman's.
Message: Posted by: eugenio (Feb 21, 2009 06:39AM)
I understand that Vernon was undoubtedly famous within the Magic World. I'm sure of that even though I'm young, only 24. I guess my question is why didn't Dai Vernon get the kind of International fame that he deserved, for all his work, skill and dedidication to perfecting his magic. The kind of fame Houdini got.

Is it because he didn't want that kind of fame? If that is the case, why didn't he want it? Afterall global fame = money right? Or is that just nowadays?

Did he only perform for magicians? I ask this because I notice that I tend to be more enthusiastic performing for magicians than laymen.

All I know about Vernon, since I never met him, comes from his DVDs 'Revelations' and a few other documentaries. I was hoping the older generation could tell me more about him.
Message: Posted by: jcards01 (Feb 23, 2009 03:14PM)
Vernon had a nightclub act. Wan not solely a 'magician' performer.
Message: Posted by: Terry Veckey (Feb 25, 2009 12:37AM)
Heelllloooo Jimmy "Cards"
It's been too long.

The Professor was also very good withe the coin work too.

But I'm gonna repeat my Vernon story 'cause, I like it, it's true, and too good to lose.
Any way I hope all is well with you and yours.
Terry V.

Here's my story if anyone missed it.
On 2009-02-03 03:00, Terry Veckey wrote:
Okidoki. Part 1
It was 1976 I was 29 and had been into magic for only 6 or 7 years. (Maybe 8).
I had been working at the New York Lounge (Chicago) for a year or two on weekends.
On Sat. afternoon I'd stop by Magic Inc. for lunch with our club (Association of Serious Sorceres) Founder and Pres. (My chief mentor) Ben Martin was always present. Other founding members (including myself) were Al James, Tim Felix, John Castaldo, Steve Sodaro, Ken Mate and Jasper Marshall (one of my other mentors). There was another group of wannabees that met down the street at the Three Bears Restaurant.
(Actually some of them were pretty good. So some Saturdays I would sneak over and join them (This is true.) because they always made me feel welcome.)
But this one Sat. was amazing. I got there early because the Professor was giving a lecture later in the afternoon and he asked me to come in early so he could better answer some questions I had brought up the night before. (Jay had brought him in to N.Y.L. to see me.) We worked on seconds, double lifts but the big one I wanted was "Diagonal Palm Shift". I've done embarassing things to myself before and continue to do so but this has to be among the top. You would have thought Jesus or Barack Himself was sitting at the table showing Sodaro and I card tricks. We fought over him like two kids in line to see Santa Clause. I tell ya, he held back nothing he repeated everything every time we asked. He was getting older and sometimes couldn't lift his arms up to get the angle we could see so we were crawling on the floor under the table to look-up. It was great. we worked on the wand spin. I can do it now and I'd fool you with it too but I still can't do it like him.(sigh)
His lecture was fantastic of course.
2b continued next post.
On 2009-02-03 03:01, Terry Veckey wrote:
Part 2.

The next Sat. after Steve and I had both arrived. Ben walks over and sits in THE Chair Al James walks over sits on one of Ben's knees and Tim Felix comes from behind the counter and sits on the other. One says "Hello, I'm Terry!" the other says "And I'm Steve!" then in unison they say "Gee, Mr. Vernon Professor Sir, Would YOU Please, PPlease show us your palms one more time?" Ben answers "Why, Of course, because I see that you are each A Serious Sorcerer in your own ways."

P.S. I Did learn that shift pretty well though. (Heh, heh.)
Sorry for the length of this story. It's all true though.
Message: Posted by: jfquackenbush (Apr 26, 2009 04:44AM)
I was just watching Eugene Burger's Magical Voyages tape and he told a vernon story that I thought was really great. He was talking about his first performance at the magic castle and how he peaked through the curtain and there is vernon and a bunch of the other heavies sitting right there in the front row. This is told in relation to his sponge ball routine, and the point of his story is that as he was walking off stage he hears vernon announce in that sort of clarion voice that I unfortunately only know from the revelations videos that "He was pretty good but he RUINED the sponge ball trick!"

Burger then says he faced up to Vernon like a man and took his licks from the professor, and I thought it was just an absolutely charming story told with Burger's typical aplomb and I wanted to share it with folks at the Café who haven't seen the tape and was happy to find this thread to relate it. I won't tip what Vernon told Burger he did wrong, because it's not my secret to share, but I do think it's a very good story of the "Things I Learned from the Professor" genre.

Someday some enterprising magic historian ought to go around and collect all the stories from the lucky magicians who got such contact and put them all together in a book. You could charge 200 bucks for that book and I'd buy it. I love to hear stories about him. He must have really been quite a character.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 26, 2009 10:59PM)
There are a lot of Vernon stories on the Café. Just do a search on Vernon and check the title and the body of the posts as an option.

I've given a lot of thought to the original question, though. Vernon pursued magic for the love of the art. That was the most important thing to him, not any monetary rewards he was going to get from magic. His more famous contemporaries were more eager to make money that Vernon was. One good example of that was the time that he worked across the street from a place that Frances Rockefeller King had booked him into. He was not paid for the free show in the bar, but he did enjoy doing the free show. Frances did not like for him to work for nothing.

However, he was fully open to selling expensive manuscripts of his secrets. He just didn't seem to be as motivated by money as some other people.
Message: Posted by: NexusMagicShop (May 3, 2009 01:53PM)
On 2009-02-13 16:25, agent61 wrote:
He just wanted to further magic and spent a lifetime improving it. Some are in love with their craft, want to make a name for themselves and persue fame in the mainstream. Others just love their craft and want to excel at it period.
Great point: He was no different then a Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee put beauty in motion and cleaned up the sloppiness in Martial Arts. When Vernon performed it was beautiful. The Bruce Lee of Magic. Though I should say Bruce Lee was the Dai Vernon of Martial Arts! :o)
Message: Posted by: msmaster (May 3, 2009 02:16PM)
Vernon's love and everlasting quest to improve and refine is evident in a book everyone should read, "The Magician and the Cardsharp" by Karl Johnson, available at bookstores everywhere.
Message: Posted by: Eric Fry (May 3, 2009 08:27PM)
Going back to the original question, I think the answer has to do with the categories of achievement you're comparing magic to. It has little to do with Vernon.

Major sports and the music world attract more attention than magic by far. Einstein is a special case of a scientist who became enormously famous because he changed our understanding of the universe. Sorry, a great cups and balls routine doesn't compare.

Millions of people attend sports events every year, tens of millions watch on TV. Many millions of Americans listen to music every day. Magic doesn't come remotely close to that level of popularity.

There are people who have only a casual interest in music, yet they'll tune it in for an hour every day on their car radio just to pass the time. How many people watch magic every day? No comparison.

Even within the field of magic, the most famous performers of the past were those who appeared before the largest audiences -- the vaudeville headliners, the illusionists who toured with a full-evening show. The very definition of fame is to be known by a lot of people.

Of course Dante and Blackstone were better known than a sleight of hand artist who performed mainly for private parties or tableside in night clubs, when he performed at all. Dunninger reached a large audience on the radio. (Vernon's harlequin act wasn't performed year after year to large audiences.)

And because magic isn't an important art to laymen, even the great magicians of the past are largely forgotten. Houdini's continued fame is very much an exception.

Today, the best known magicians are those who are on TV or who have long-standing engagements in Las Vegas, or both. Why? They are the ones who reach the largest audiences.

There are many equally good magicians who aren't famous among laymen simply because of the venues they perform in -- restaurants, bars, private parties, trade shows, amusement parks, and so on.
Message: Posted by: mtpascoe (May 5, 2009 02:28PM)
On 2009-05-03 15:16, msmaster wrote:
Vernon's love and everlasting quest to improve and refine is evident in a book everyone should read, "The Magician and the Cardsharp" by Karl Johnson, available at bookstores everywhere.

Great book. This will answer most of these questions.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (May 5, 2009 10:28PM)
It's not really a matter of major sports and music attracting a larger group of people. It's a matter of how these things are promoted vis-a-vis magic.

Why do you think major recording artists attract big crowds? It's primarily because the major media sources sell their songs. Until the advent of magic DVD's there really wasn't anything for the major networks to sell. After all, who owns the recording labels? They are primarily owned by the same people who own the radio and television networks. Why do you think that most of the contestants on these contest shows are singers? It's because they sell products.

Read Bev Bergeron's comments about this in his [i]Willard the Wizard[/i] book. It will really open your eyes.

The same thing is basically true of the major sports franchises. They are owned by big conglomerates. Even among the local franchises, there is almost without exception a major corporate structure that is selling tickets, souvenirs, high priced junk food and overpriced parking. One of the few football franchises that is owned by a city is the Green Bay Packers. The city of Green Bay shouldn't have ANY kind of property tax, due to the amount of money these guys bring in for them.