Thanks for taking a moment out of your busy Halloween schedule to talk
to me today. I guess the first question is how did the idea for The
Final Houdini Seance come about?
The idea was Damian's from the start. Damian has been a full time performer for
over twenty-five years. As a magician, he was always fascinated by the great escapologist. I
didn't come on board until much later. When Damian approached me to work with him
on the project I jumped at the chance.
I see this is a two person act. When did you team up with Damian?
Damian had planed to do the show with his good friend and fellow magician Lou Plotkin. Unfortunately,
Lou died suddenly and unexpectedly before the project could ever get off the ground. Damian
saw my performance at a magic convention in the Poconos and felt that he and I could
work well together. Since then, the project has been a collaborative effort.
Besides playing the butler are you the tech man behind the scenes? ( I
understand if you don't want to answer that question)
Since this is a collaborative effort, we both do tech. More than that, I won't say.
I gotta ask. Since doing the show have you ever had anything happen that wasn't
suppose to and felt it was more than just a "technical" glich?
Oh how I wish! I desperately want to see or hear something that might say I'm heeere! Things,
however, have been spectacularly uneventful which in itself might be a sign.
How long have you been a performer? Did you do anything before becoming
a performer? Do you still do anything else to help supplement the old
I've only been performing for a few years. (It's a long story that I can get into
if you like.) I have a varied background. I studied photography and photo-lab management
at the Rochester Institute of Technology and for years I managed a camera shop/photo
lab here in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Along the way I began studying Reflexology and in
1990 I began doing Reflexology full time. Oddly enough, my office is across the
street from where the camera shop used to be. (They have since gone out of business.) I
am still a full time Reflexologist with a private practice here in Wilkes-Barre.
You say you just became a magician when you turned 40. How old are you now? Did
you ever dabble before or did you JUST one day decide, "Hey this is cool, I think
I'll start doing some magic"? Most times when you here a magician talk about his
start in the art he says, "Oh it started when I was 8 years old and I got a cheesey
magic set for Christmas. Then I wound up doing paid parties by the time I was 10
and I've never worked any other job since" (I gotta say I hate these people). What
was the impetus that gave you your start?
OK OK here's the story in all it's glory. First of all, I was actually about 43
when I first started doing magic. I'm 49 now I ALWAYS had a fascination and love
of magic. Without going into the gory details; an authority figure from my youth
told me that I couldn't do magic because I lacked the manual dexterity that was needed
to perform correctly. In fact I was told that I was clumsy. Because I was young,
and this was an authority figure speaking, I took it to heart and believed not only
that I couldn't do magic but that I was indeed clumsy.
Fast forward a few decades. I'm a successful Reflexologist in a professional office
with a much better self image. One day I notice some activity in one of the vacant
offices down the hall from mine. As it turned out, a magic shop was moving in. The
old feelings started to emerge and I asked the owner if he had a novel method for
handing out my business cards. Of course he had the business card printer and proceeded
to show me the mechanics of its operation. He then showed me how I could show both
sides of my business card as being blank via the paddle move which I was able to
master rather quickly. I can't say that every childhood hurt melted away at that
moment but had the authority figure not been dead at that point I would have performed
the business card paddle move for them with a resounding HA!
Have you always been a bizarrist or was there a turning point in your
I don't consider myself strictly a bizarrist. I went from close up to mentalism
very quickly. I have always loved the way the mind works and how words and subtleties
can color how we think. For a long time I thought bizarre was only concerned with
blood, gore, and mayhem with the occasional ritualistic magick thrown in. When I
discovered that there are many facets to bizarre as there are in any other branch
of the conjuring arts, I began to incorporate themes and stories into my mentalism
and then some strictly bizarre themes. I guess the turning point was when I noticed
the effect that straight mentalism had on the audience. Whether they suspend their
disbelief or actually believe that what you're doing is real, the emotional impact,
I feel, is greater than silks and flowers.
(NOTE: You should try it with Black Roses and Bloody Silks.)
Who would you say were your major influences in becoming a bizarrist and
Certainly Andruzzi, although my style is quite different from what his was. His
thought process of what makes something bizarre rather than a long boring story with
some effects thrown in was probably what influenced me the most. Some people believe
that if they walk out wearing a gothic outfit and tell a story while performing magic(k)
that they are doing bizarre. Nothing could be further from the truth. They're missing
You say Andruzzi was an influence for you. Who are your role models now? Who do
you like in the field? Who's works do you read for ideas?
There are three that come to mind right away but I'm sure I'm missing some. Docc
Hilford for having his tongue firmly planted in his cheek and showing that you can
perform an entirely believable routine while still having fun. Kenton Knepper for
his way with words and his total commitment to his craft. For sheer practicality,
Rick Maue. Rick's ideas are solid and with a good story premise.
What do you see for your bizarre future? Anything in the works that our
readers might like to know about?
There's a possibility that we will be taking "The Final Houdini Seance" on the road. We
will have to adapt to our environment and scale things back quite a bit. We figured
out just the other day that we have over 750 pieces of equipment and props that make
the show work. This would have to be reduced considerably. Personally, I'm working
on a one man bizarre/psi party concept. Marketing will be my biggest hurdle but
I believe that I can over come that.
Where does The Final Houdini Seance happen and when are the dates (from
The Final Houdini Seance takes place in the library of the Scranton Cultural Center
at the Masonic Temple in Scranton, PA. The Masonic Temple was built in the grand
style of the late 20's and early 30's. It is a four story building with a very definite
gothic flavor. There is a full theater in the lower level and the library is on
the second floor. When the guests arrive for the seance, I lead them up a winding
stone staircase to a lobby next to the library.
We opened this season on September 20, the remaining dates are October 24, 25, 26,
27, 28, 29, 30, 31 November 2,19 and December 5, 19.