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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Flavors from the past... » » Alan Alan's Magic Spot (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MrCyNic
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When I was a kid, and really just starting to get interested in magic, my father took me to London to check out the magic shops. The one that really grabbed me was Alan Alan's Magic Spot. It was a small shop and the owner was a funny little man with an arrow through his head, but the half hour I spent in that place cemented my love of magic for life.

I walked out of the Magic Spot with a set of ten palming coins (£1), a Zombie kit (£15) and a box of beautifully made close-up linking rings (£7), all of which I still own and use today. I decided on my purchases quickly; the rest of the time was spent listening to Alan Alan, learning handling tips and being loaded up with extra instruction booklets for free. My parents had to physically drag me away.

It was only years later that I discovered who that funny little man had been and what his importance to the world of magic was.

I always take a close interest in any small magic shops I find these days. Perhaps it's just age and sentiment, but I'm often surprised by the items and people I find there. Also, like the Alan Alan's Magic Spot and the Magic Box (on the Isle of Wight), they often close down silently and permanently while I'm not looking.

Cheers,

Cy.
Dave Le Fevre
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I went to Alan Alan's shop two or three times. He did a few effects for me, simple effects, but so entertainingly performed.

Whenever I've read anything by him, I've got the impression that he put a huge amount of time and effort into getting all the little details spot on, even with the simplest of effects.

When I asked about buying some small trick box that he had there, he recommended that I didn't buy it, since it was only for vanishing a coin and he knew that I could do that anyway. It's fairly rare, in any sort of shop, conjuring or otherwise, that the proprietor turns away a sale.

Wish I'd discovered his shop earlier and gone there more often.

Dave
The Ozzy Osbourne of the 34x27
Kondini
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There is an Alan Alan poster on view in Davenports' window right now !
Steve Pellegrino
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Is Alan still living? I haven't heard anything about him in years. I was fortunate to have met Alan in 1982 at the Desert Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. We sat and talked for almost 3 hours. Later that night he invited me and my friend Randy Sager to have a late dinner with him, Bobby Benard and Slydini. Our "dinner" lasted 5 hours at the hotel restaurant and in that time we got some private lessons from all three of them! Add to that, that Slydini also performed for us - what a night. That never would have happened if it wasn't for Alan. He was a very generous man!
philblackmore
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I practically lived at Davenports when I was a kid.
My only memories of Alan Alan's was the filth and dirt all over the shop and being told to "look in the window" whenever I built up the nerve to ask a question about anything. And also all the different bang items set on the table to make sure you didn't touch anything. Not a pleasant shopping experience for me.
Randy Sager
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Quote:
On 2004-01-27 08:32, Steve Pellegrino wrote:Is Alan still living? I haven't heard anything about him in years...Our "dinner" lasted 5 hours at the hotel restaurant and in that time we got some private lessons from all three of them! Add to that, that Slydini also performed for us - what a night. That never would have happened if it wasn't for Alan. He was a very generous man!
That is something I most certainly won't forget either! I know you and I will always remember the bit Slydini did with Alan's Tie!
From what I hear he is still amongst the living.
minster
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Indeed Alan is still alive and can be seen from time to time around the London magic scene.

I too remember the shop, in Southampton Row: everything was covered in cigarette ash, and Alan could be more than a little brusque with nervous young customers like me.
magic patagonia
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I think this is from Alan Alan's:

http://www.youtube.com/user/cormatches?f......Vk5HM4EY
jay kirwan
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I can relate to minsters experiences!!
Martin at International told me it was a common occurence
with younger magicians!! Over the years though, Alan
became more approachable and I finished up enjoying
my visits, partly because of the knowledge he was
more than willing to share and the entertainment value
of his eccentric mannerisms!!
Quentin
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Alan Alan passed away on July 4th in hospital.

Alan had toured the world with his escape act, headlining shows, circuses and arenas. After retiring he opened his magic shop with Joe Elman, Alan Alan's Magic Spot in Southampton Row, London. He did come out of performing retirement a few times, once to appear on a David Copperfield TV special, as far as I know the only guest magical performer ever to appear on one of David's TV shows.

Alan helped and mentored many magicians including Michael Vincent, Noel Britten and Richard McDougall. His advice, stories and insight helped many others. I spent many happy afternoons in the shop on my visits to London.

Alan's feedback was penetrating and often hurt, but you knew he was right. He could hone in on the weakness of the effect or the presentation with the precision of a surgeon. If you listened, you benefitted.

Rest in peace Alan. You would not want us to mourn but we will miss you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQsUxIiD6ZU
george1953
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I too remember the shop, and I also remember being told when asking if they had a certain effect ,,look in the window, there are over 2000 items there,,. Nor will I ever forget my wife's response to him, she said '' you arrogant little weasel'' and she and I just walked out of the shop and lnever went there again. Years later we met him at a function and my wife refused to speak to him, he asked why, and when I told him the story his reply was'' we get so many idiots coming in and asking stupid questions'' .
I never did go back and to think we only went there in the first place on the recommendation of another dealer. I am afraid in my mind he will always be remembered as an ignorant little man.
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
RS1963
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The ones that are complaining about Alan don't get it and never will. They should but they are too ego consumed to understand much of anything. What we want isn't always what we need. I only was around Alan for one very short weekend in the early 80's when he was in the U.S. and attending the Desert Magic Seminar. Yes Alan could be gruff. As well as telling customer's "you can't do that trick" etc.. But he had a keen ability of detecting what it was most were capable of doing. He only wanted to set them on the right path. Those that understood that seeked Alan's input further.
george1953
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How can you detect what anyone wanted or needed if your first words to them is ''look in the window'' ?
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
Merc Man
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Couldn't just read this thread without adding a few comments.

Alan Alan - wow what can you say about this man.......and his shop. First and foremost, as a magical demonstrator, I'd actually put him on par with Ken Brooke.

These links will (hopefully!) inspire some fond memories:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=alan+a......_ge7M%3A

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=alan+a......TfxRM%3A

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=alan+a......FU_vM%3A

I must have got on his good side pretty early on - as he was always polite and exceptionally helpful even when I was young. He'd be willing to discuss magic for hours and, as pointed out above, any non-magicians/tourists were abruptly told "look in the window, everything's in there" if he was engrossed in magic-related conversation.

His demo's put a lot of other dealers to shame. His handling of small items such as various routines with a shell 2p, the 'Dual Control' gimmick and an Okito Box were truly magical. Two other items I remember him demming so well were the 'Baffler Box' and 'Coin Thru Glass'(Ching Ling Coin Box?). The multiple coin pull, known the 'Go Come Pull' if memory serves me correctly - was much better (and silent!) than the current plastic Universal Pull by Vernet, was handled brilliantly....a handful of coins just silently melted away. He also made the Cigarette Pull look so convincing - his timing was immaculate and the lit cig just appeared to evaporate.

Of course Alan had learnt to dem magic correctly over many years; I believe that he once worked in a magic shop owned by Dick Chavel in London's Oxford Street; before opening his own shop. Prior to that of course, Alan was an escapologist as seen in this old British Pathe footage:

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/escapo......lan+alan

Getting back to Alan Alan's shop. Being located in London's West End he was quite near theatre land. Sometimes, he'd be visited by a theatre's prop buyer that wanted to buy magic tricks - such as a set of Chinese Linking Rings. Do you think he ever sold these (despite being offered more money than they were on sale for)? Not a chance. Alan was from the old school that believed in protecting the secrets of our art form. If only the same could be said for magic today - with the plethora of internet 'magic shops' that sell props to anyone; coupled with dire exposures on YouTube.

Alan was always immaculately dressed - usually in a three piece suit. In complete contrast, he'd usually have a punk-rock safety pin through his nose and theatrical fake blood over the back of his hand. Then when he next turned around, he'd have fake snot dripping from his nostril and a knife through his head. Then he'd sit on his stool; throwing a never-ending stream of those little paper exploding bangs at people as they walked in. It was worth being in the shop just to witness the unbelievable looks he'd get from customers that just couldn't make out exactly what they'd walked into; and how this guy that looked just like a bank manager, had not been certified, and dragged off by men in white coats.

The shop itself - never seen anywhere like it. I don't think that there was a single space left untapped in his shop window; all sorts of items from fake body-parts, masks, jokes and in the side window next to the door, magic tricks (many of which were Tenyo items). Upon entering the shop, there were massive wall cabinets on the left absolutely crammed with all types of magical props. Straight ahead was a display of books and booklets and a long counter on the right. On the counter itself, it personified the expression 'utter chaos' - complete with a rubber bell (actually a rubber female breast) with the sign 'Tush Pit For Service'. Could you get away with this in today's politically correct World without complaint? I would guess not.

Alan was the guy that got me hooked on Harry Lorayne and Harry's material. And here is the reason why I put him on par with Brookie. Alan Alan was the ONLY magical demonstrator that wouldn't only recommend a book, he would actually show you material from it. How refreshing that was. Other London magic shops at the time (two of which are still operating) would hype a particular title without having the first idea of it's true content. Alan was different. I remember him going into great detail about Harry Lorayne's Ultra Move; and spending ages showing me the technique once I'd purchased 'Afterthoughts' from him. I adore magic books even to this day yet, as previously mentioned, have never known any magic dealer to possess such an in-depth knowledge of each title's content. Alan was also an admirer of the author Lewis Ganson, and I bought a copy of every title on Alan's bookshelf over the years. I also remember, I must have been about 17 at the time, asking for a copy of Corinda's 13 Steps. Alan (possibly correctly) stated that not only was I too young but also that I didn't look like a mentalist. However, he recommended the book for some of the techniques and methods within. 30 years down the line and I still don't look like a mentalist but do you know what? The Centre Tear and a Swami have both come in useful on more than one occasion. Sound advice from a guy that truly knew this business inside out.

I think I first went into Alan's shop around 1979 when I was 15 and then throughout the early to mid 1980's. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that nowhere since has had the same appeal. A counter in such a mess with jokes, novelties and magic scattered all over the place; a magical demmer using a square carpet tile instead of a close-up mat; a magic demmer constantly chain smoking Dunhill Internationals as he showed you the latest miracles (as well as miracles from years gone by).

No magic shop that I've visited since has ever held a light to Alan Alan's - and do you know what? I don't think that any EVER will.
Barry Allen

"The rules of a sleight of hand artist, are three and all others are vain. The first and second are PRACTICE and the third one is PRACTICE AGAIN.
Edward Victor 1937 (Magic Of The Hands).
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