A Message From the President: August 2019
Since our last Ring meeting in June, we’ve been swept up in a whirlwind of magical traveling and activity. June was a busy month in preparing for the Magic Collectors Expo in Minneapolis (Bill Smith, Lance and I produced this convention). It was great to see Ring members Shaun & Zee Rivera, Roger & Sheila Miller, and Duane & Jane Fields in attendance (see photos). Everyone had a great time and it was a lot of fun. As you can imagine, Lance and I were exhausted at the end of it!
In July, we flew to Phoenix, AZ for the IBM Convention in Scottsdale. As always, it’s so wonderful to see friends at these gatherings. Andre Kole and his family were there… so we got to spend more time with them. And most importantly, our very own Lance Rich was officially installed as a new member of the IBM Executive Committee (board member). Lance brings some much-needed youth to the leadership of the IBM.
Later in July, Tom Burgoon, Lance Rich and I flew to Los Angeles to perform for a week at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. This was Lance’s first time performing at the Magic Castle and he did a wonderful job! Entertainment Director Jack Goldfinger was very complimentary… so we expect to see Lance performing at the world-famous venue again in the future. The three of us shared the Magic Castle’s Palace of Mystery stage with the incomparable Dale Salwak. Other friends performing at the Castle the same week included Jonathan Levit (originally from St. Louis) and Asi Wind (one of the huge “hits” of the WORKSHOP convention a few years ago). One of the best things about performing at the Magic Castle is the opportunity to hang out with our magic buddies for a full week!
While in Los Angeles, Greg Wilson (son of Mark and Nani Wilson) invited us to spend a day at their offices and magic warehouse in Valencia, California. Lance, Tom and I drove up and were greeted with our very own parking spot in front of the complex (see photo… and note the “Timmy Toilet Paper” reference in Tom’s name). We spent the day looking at old photos, posters, promotional materials and props from the Mark Wilson & Nani Darnell legacy. One of Mark’s signature props from the Magic Land of Allakazam television series was the “Allakazam Hat” production box (essentially it’s a Square Circle uniquely designed to be a magic hat). This prop itself is a real piece of history. We all got to play with the prop and have a photo taken.
In addition to “playing” in the magic warehouse, we sat in the office lobby and shared magic stories and reminisced with Mark and Nani. Mark is now 90 years old, but as sharp as ever! It was so wonderful to hear story after story about his long and illustrious career as a pioneer in magic on television. In addition to having his own magic television shows on for many years, Mark created many well-known magic-themed promotions for companies and products, including magic for the Pillsbury Poppin Fresh Doughboy, the Marvelous Magical Burger King (we looked at several of the Burger King costumes), and many others. He also created many magic-themed shows for amusement parks and resorts, in addition to authoring many magic books, including the Mark Wilson Course in Magic, and creating many various magic kits that inspired countless kids to take up magic as a hobby.
If you’ve already read Lance’s article in this newsletter, you know that Mark & Nani are honorary members of our very own Sorcerer’s Circle. It was so awesome to see that they have been proudly displaying their medallions prominently in Mark’s office since 2002!
All in all, the travel as been wonderful… but pretty exhausting at the same time! We had planned on attending Magic LIVE in Las Vegas next week, but we’ve had to bow out in order to catch up on things. This will be the first Magic Live that I’ve missed since its inception.
On another subject… I am very excited about the upcoming IBM Ring 129 August Day of Magic on August 24! It’ll be like a mini one-day magic convention plus magic auction… and I hope you’ll plan to attend. One of my favorite performers in the world, Chad Long, will be presenting a new lecture that will blow you away! This lecture alone is worth the price of the entire day!
Hope to see you all at the August Ring meeting on August 1! As in the past, we’ll do our informal mentoring beginning at 6:00pm.
That’s it for now… and as Mark Wilson would say, “HAPPY MAGIC!”.
Ring 129 President
Sorcerer’s Circle Corner by Lance Rich
I’ve spoken before about how nice our Sorcerer’s Circle medallion is. (Seriously, I can’t think of another Ring who has something designed by a Hallmark artist!) I’ve also mentioned that I am not the only person to find these medallions pretty spectacular; Johnny Thompson actually wore his as part of his costume. That brings me to my version of the events David spoke about in his column…
My Mark Wilson experience began when, as a kid, I saw the Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic at K-Mart. I did not have enough money to buy it then. But I did peruse it in the store where a few things stood out to me. In addition to the cards, coins, and money magic the book touched on grand illusion; and that’s what I loved. When I had enough money, I went back to K-Mart but it was gone. It was a year or so before I finally picked up the book at a magic shop on vacation. This was a pre-Amazon world!
The first illusion I built was the Victory Cartons production of a woman. It was for my nephew’s birthday party and I was under the impression that a 5 year-old’s party needed a huge backdrop, two assistants, grand illusion, and a dancer in a sparkly dress. I was 15.
At 16, I adapted a principle from the Mark Wilson course into a large illusion (constructed with my dad) for my high school band concert. My band director was wrapped up in a large sheet, and he turned into me. He eventually reappeared in a large shadow box.
The Mark Wilson video course was at my public library and was another resource in my magical evolution. At 17, I attended my first magic convention (the 2001 IBM Convention in Orlando). Mark and Nani Darnell were there (as was Greg who closed the final night’s stage show). This is when I met Mark and Nani for the first time. I was a kid with a big goofy smile, shaking nervously as I looked into the camera. This was THE GUY from the book. THE GUY from the videos. THE GUY who had at that time done more magic on TV than anyone else. This was magic.
The first magic convention for a magician is like diving into Wonderland. Awestruck barely describes that feeling of being surrounded by your heroes, icons and stars – and being surrounded by people who are as much in love with magic as you are. As we are further removed from the newness and excitement of those types of first experiences, it’s easy for the feeling to start slipping. That’s why I always enjoy (at an IBM Convention at least) seeing those ‘First Convention’ ribbons on attendees young and old and hoping that they are experiencing what I felt on my first journey to Wonderland.
And speaking of Wonderland…I’ve been to Valencia, California. Okay – so it’s not exactly how Lewis Carroll made it out to be. But it is wonder-filled. The Mark Wilson offices and warehouse feels exactly as it should. It’s stacked with mementos and history and filled with decades of memories. But this is no time capsule. It’s a working office; Greg works on his own projects there but he is also extremely busy chronicling and preserving his parents legacy through the Allakazam Archives (www.allakazamarchives.com).
And I say all of this in this column, why? Because as I was in the heart of the operation (Mark Wilson’s office) I saw a number of awards, plaques and certificates given to him by all sorts of organizations, and lo and behold – hanging on the wall above the sofa (a prime piece of real estate) were the ‘Honorary Member Sorcerer’s Circle Medallions‘ which were presented to Mark and Nani at The Workshop in 2002. How special is it that for nearly two decades these mementos of our Kansas City magic community have hung directly across from Mark Wilson’s desk? I love these moments. I was thrilled to see this!
It was nice to see several people in their Sorcerer’s Circle medallions at the May and June meetings. Those who wore their medallions in May were entered to win a prize and congrats go to Roger Miller! He won posters from the last two IBM-SAM Combined Conventions and a Starbucks gift card.
I hope to continue to see the Sorcerer’s Circle medallions being worn en masse at club functions. As I explained in last month’s column, it is my belief that by wearing these medals, we elevate the prestige of not only the Sorcerer’s Circle – but of the Ring as a whole. If Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell are proudly displaying theirs, you should too!
Following my announcement in June of our Sorcerer’s Circle outing on the Gangster Tour – I decided July was too busy to try to work this in. We have a number of Ring functions in August as well. Sorcerer’s Circle members should look to do something the second weekend of September. I’ll have more details at the meeting!
At the Mark Wilson offices the ‘guest book’ is a copy of the Mark Wilson course. It’s been signed over the last decade by a who’s who of visitors. It made me smile, in that big goofy 17-year-old way, when I left my name on the Victory Cartons illusion page. The Wilson book left an indelible mark on my life, and now in a very small way, I’ve reciprocated by leaving my mark in his book.
On January 25th, Laird Wilcox, the writer of our monthly column, “The Card Corner” passed away at his home in Kansas City.
Laird was actually known by his family as Anthony or “Tony”. You see, Laird was the fourth of five “Laird” Wilcox’s!
In an interview with Laird’s father, now living in Olathe, Kansas, I was able to piece together some interesting facts about Laird. Though we mostly knew him through his involvement with the local I.B.M and S.A.M. magic clubs, Laird had several other interests and hobbies.
Laird was a trained Army Combat Medic Paratrooper. He spent two years in Germany and worked in several army hospitals during his military career. Following his term in the army, he worked as a nurse at various veteran hospitals including the VA Hospital in Kansas City.
During his life he was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt, fish and camp. He also grew up with and loved guns and weapons and was an active member of the National Rifle Association. He was in line to be one of the official local representatives of the NRA.
Laird spent time traveling throughout Europe and became a very good amateur photographer.
Laird always liked messing around with cards. But, it was when he discovered the local magic clubs and card tricks that changed his life. Magic soon became an important part of his life. He became friends with many members of the local magic clubs and found a niche as a card guru. According to Laird’s father, “It was a natural fit.”
Laird’s death is still somewhat of a mystery. The actual cause of death is still undetermined and no death certificate has yet been issued. It is estimated that he had been dead for two days before he was found in his home in Kansas City. He had been
going through some serious physical issues which were only known to a handful of people.
Laird willed most all of his magic to fellow ring member, Shawn Rivera.
Below is a copy of an obituary which Laird’s father had prepared for the Kansas City Star:
Laird Anthony Wilcox, 55, passed away at the age of 55 on 25 January 2018 in Kansas City, MO. He leaves two sons, Laird J. Wilcox, 21, and Theodore A. Wilcox, 19, of Tulsa, OK; his father, Laird M. Wilcox of Olathe, KS; his mother, Eileen Maddocks, of Burlington, VT; two sisters, Elizabeth Carrier of Middletown, CT; Carrie Wilcox of Dry Ridge, KY; a niece, Christine Franklin of East Hartford, CT, and a large extended family. He was interred at Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Laird “Tony” Wilcox was born in Topeka, KS on 18 November 1962. He lived with his parents in Lawrence, KS, until 1966 when he moved with his mother and sister to Clinton, IA, and then to Houston, TX in 1967. From there they moved to Middletown, CT in 1979 where he graduated from high school. While in Middletown he accompanied his mother who was a tour leader on two trips to Egypt to visit the Pyramids at Giza in 1982 and 1983.
In 1983 he joined the U.S. Army where following basic training at Ft. Hood, TX, after which he took training as a qualified combat medic paratrooper at Fort Jackson, SC, and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in Fulda, Germany on the East German border. He traveled widely when on leave in Europe, spending time in Germany, France, the Netherlands, England, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece. He was an accomplished photographer and had photos of his travels published in a number of collections.
He returned to the United States in 1987 and was stationed at Ft. Riley, KS where he was assigned to Irwin Army Hospital, promoted to the rank of Sergeant and was subsequently assigned to the last remaining MASH unit held in reserve during Desert Storm in Iraq, ready to ship out at a moment’s notice. He left the Army after 8 years of service in 1991 and moved to Skaneatles, NY, where he went to work for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and remained for a year before transferring to the VA Hospital in Kansas City, MO in 1992.
In 1995 he married Ruth Ann Mason, daughter of Theodore and Ruth Mason of Tulsa, OK. They had two boys mentioned above. After their second son was born in 1998 Ruth Ann left for Tulsa, OK, to be near her parents and Tony moved to Olathe, KS, where he lived until he moved to Kansas City, MO in 2004. He stayed at the VA Hospital for 12 years and then moved into private nursing until he retired in 2012.
Laird Anthony Wilcox was a member of Sons of the American Revolution, a hereditary organization of descendants of Revolutionary War veterans, and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, a hereditary organization of descendants of Civil War Union Army officers. He was a member of Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and an Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association.
He was an accomplished amateur magician and was active in both the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) and the Society of American Magicians (SAM). He performed for veterans at the VA Hospital and in the early 2000’s could be seen performing on the Country Club Plaza and other locations in Kansas City. He was a regular attendant at conventions of both organizations and was well-regarded in both groups and good friends with a number of performing magicians.
He will be deeply missed by his many friends and family members.