Thank you for taking time out of your busy holiday schedule to grant us
DB: Let's start at the beginning. When did the magic bug get you -- in your adolescent
days or later in life?
PM: I'm probably like about 75 per cent of magicians, in that I got bitten by the
magic bug when I was about eight or 10 years old. I think the first trick my parents
got me was the old ball and vase; more than 50 years later, I still have that original
ball and vase (no, I don't still use it!) and the amazing thing (to my mind, at least)
is that it is still made the same way today as back then; the only difference is
that ball is plastic now and it was wooden back then.
DB: In the beginning did you have a mentor or did you go it the lone road to
PM: Being relatively isolated, I had to "go it alone" for a long time. I was into
magic for about three or four years before I discovered there were things like magic
shops and magic clubs.
I used to order every magic catalog I heard about, usually from the Classified sections
of magazines like Popular Science and the like. I guess I was about 12 when my parents
took me to Buffalo and I found Gene Gordon's magic shop; it was like a whole new
world opened up to me!
DB: In the beginning who were your inspirations?
PM: Since the only "contact" I had with magic at first was from books in our local
library (which had a good selection, by the way) and performers who appeared on television,
I wanted - at that age - to emulate Jay Marshall and John Mulholland. Fifty years
later, I think one would still be hard pressed to come up with two better examples!
I guess I was just lucky.
DB: I assume from all the straight and comedy work you've got out that you
started your life in magic the regular way. When did the road twist and
leave you standing at the cross roads on a moonless night waiting for
the stranger with the contract?
PM: In the comedy field, I guess I was just a natural comic; it came very easily
to me and just slipped into my magic. But in the bizarre-magic area, a stranger appeared
in a puff of smoke, holding a pen dripping blood and asked . . . no, no, that's not
it! Actually, bizarre is not that far removed from comedy: They both need a theatrical
setting, both require good verbal skills on the part of the performer, and both rely
on a good sense of timing. I suspect the thing that really got me fascinated with
bizarre magic was reading material by Brother Shadow and, of course, the late Gene
DB: Did you have any mentors in this undertaking to help develop your style
or did you again got it alone and do it yourself?
PM: The work of Gene Poinc, of course, was a great help - even though my style is
considerably different. But, for the most part, it was a case of "going it alone",
since bizarre is (or was) a small, sub-group in magic.
DB: Who did you read or watch during these days that inspired you?
PM: Once again, the late Gene Poinc. And watching Eugene Burger perform pointed out
to me the important of the story line in any magic, but especially the bizarre. And
that's a good thing, I suppose, because I believe that's where my strength lies.
DB: Who do you like today in the bizarre field and why?
PM: Probably my favorite today, although I have only read his material and have never
seen him perform, would be Ed Solomon (DeNomolos). He crafts a story with all the
care and skill that he crafts his absolutely beautiful props.
DB: What qualities do you think are minimum for getting in this field?
PM: Verbal, or language, skills are, of course, absolutely essential. And a vivid
imagination. And a positive thirst for reading everything - from magic books to soup
The magic, as such, is fairly low on the list of necessities. For example, the late
Gene Poinc could (and did) take the simplest, most obvious "tricks" from a kid's
magic set and weave a story around them so that the audience didn't even notice the
simple props and, if they did, they didn't care; the whole atmosphere was the important
DB: What advice might you give to anyone thinking along the lines of getting
into bizarre magick or someone just newly started?
PM: In the bizarre area (or any area), verbal and language skills are essential,
as I said above. So spend more time on reading anything, because you never know when
an idea is going to connect with something else and lend itself to a full-fledged
Two things, each on its own, may be unimportant; but together, they can be of huge
significance. It's called "synchronicity".
DB: You are a very busy guy; you write a monthly column in the Linking Ring,