Dec 22, 2008

Ring 32


When I was growing up in the mid-50's, stage magic was still popular. Famous magicians of the day would occasionally appear at the Lyric Theater (Symphony Hall). Local magicians were popular for entertainment at parties. Allentown always had at least one magic shop, back then Bierley's on N. 9th St. was the local favorite. The valley chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 32, dates back to the early 1930's. The Brotherhood now numbers over 300 chapters worldwide. Up till about 15 years ago, the local chapter would have a show and dealer convention each year in May. As special effects in movies and television evolved, the wonder of performing illusions, and it's popularity diminished; For a while, until Las Vegas once again put magic center stage. I've always been in awe of the performer posters from the early 1920's, lithography at it's best. They were meant to be exotic, to mystify, to be magic.

3 comments:

Glenn said...

Magic can be dangerous!

I assume you saw the article about Copperfield's assistant getting maimed? "Blood was everywhere". It appears the 12 foot blades on his fans aren't fake! And that's why this guy >WAS< the assistant and not the star, eh?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,470028,00.html

Anonymous said...

I think A-town is a ripe area for conventions and seminars. We just need a consensus on who we would like to attract and the businesses that would like to get involved. Any takers ?

Alfonso Todd

michael molovinsky said...

the following is excerpted from an email from a former allentownian and authority on magic;

I remember Arthur Neimeyer's Fun shop on 9th Street. It was on the corner, below ground level. Ken Huthmaker took me there when I was still in grade school. Neimeyer completely fooled me with the blue plastic S. S. Adam's version of the "Color Vision Box." Said I could take it home with me for a week, and still I would never figure it out. It sold for one dollar, and it was the trick that started it (magic) all out for me.
As I got older, into jr. high school, I rarely went to Neimeyer's, because he really didn't carry club or stage props, no apparatus actually, just the little S.S. Adams & the Robbins' E-Z Magic line, of basically packet magic and/or gag items.
So, for magic, there was only one shop at that time (the 1950's) and that was Harry Beehrle's Magic shop, downtown on Hamilton, just up from the train station....... and Archie Federman's jukebox/vending store ..... shoe material supply store were along side Beehrle's shop. Harry was a gruff curmudgeon type, not kid friendly at all. In his youth he had been an escape artist, Allentown's "Houdini" and there were photos in the shop of him as a young man hanging upside down doing the straitjacket escape, etc., etc. That was where I purchased all my U.F. Grant magic and such. By the time I was in high school, Harry was either ill or had died, ........ I can't remember which, and his daughter was running the shop.

There was no jr. category at that time in the IBM and so I never could go to any of the Ring 32 meetings...... but I did get to go to some M.A.E.S. conventions (Middle Atlantic States Magic) when held in Allentown and some of the Ring 32 Annual Magic Day Conventions, usually held in Northampton. From eBay & Ken Huthmaker I have acquired many program & banquet booklets of those yearly events.
....... Frank Scalzo was often one of the headliners; .....said he used to drive around in a truck that had painted on the sides, "Scalzo the Tailor and Magician." He made all his own performing suits, which were stone ugly in garish bright colors. Years later, ca. 1980, he ordered one of my levis, and insisted I finish it off in bright bordello red.
..... The Lyric theater is where I saw Harry Blackstone Sr. and Williard the Wizard; Ken Huthmaker took me and I have the signed program sheets from those shows that day...