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Monday, December 15, 2008


Yes I have many questions and lets just begin at the beginning, a very good place to start..You were born where and when,
Westminster, Maryland - Nov. 1962

Tell me about your studying vent and your practice sessions...
Started studying vent seriously in 2004 - early 2005. I'd pratice multiple times daily as recommended by the Maher Course - also rehearsed chunks of the act with figures in front of mirror and video camera. Its important to say that while I liked vent earlier - I had not practiced since I was a kid, (and then a very limited time) and had never performed it on-stage BEFORE I decided to switch my career from full time magic to full time ventriloquist.

who actually inspired you was it more magic then vent, and if so who were you burning to imulate? I believe you mentioned Paul Henning, was he the person you most wanted to be like?
As a kid, I wanted to be a professional magician. Doug Henning (not Paul) inspired me, but David Copperfield's grand illusions made me want to become an illusionist. My early magic shows were poor attempts at copying him. I look back now and cringe...

Did you incorporate the ventriloqism into the magic?
Not when I was working as a pro. I was strictly a magician/comedian.

Did you do any shows when you were in school, whether elementary middle or high school?
Yes, I started doing shows around the age of 11 for my church. I watched other magicians who were great at promoting themselves and learned their techniques, so I was able to get some newspaper articles which led to more shows. I was fairly active, performing for groups and events all through my school years.

Were you in the military and did you do magic or vent while serving the country?
Never in the military.

How young were you when you had your first performance and who was it for?
First performances for my magic were entertaining my family. My first paid show, I was 11 years old and the show was for a group at my church. Think I made $10.

When and where did you meet the Mrs. How did she get involved in your act?
I was contracted as a strolling magician at the Baltimore Fishmarket Nightclub. She was a waitress in one of the bars there. We met at after-hours hangouts and ended up getting married. At the time I was doing illusions and needed an assistant. She volunteered to help and we worked out an incredible dynamic on stage. Instead of being an assistant, she became a partner. We considered ourselves the "Sonny & Cher" of magic. The show developed to the point it was more about the comedy than the magic.

Where you traveling the circuit at this time?
I'm not really certain there are "circuits" any more. Maybe in some of the comedy clubs. No, I was working civic groups, some corporate events, festivals, fairs and the occasional cruise ship. (VERY occasional.) Back then shopping malls paid very well - but that fell out from under us in the mid-90's when they started doing Kids Clubs. At that time they started hiring less expensive acts. It was always a struggle to keep working as a magician since there was so much competition - but we did okay.

Who were some of the big names you opened for?
Country Singer Rodney Atkins, America, Chubber Checker, The Drifters (multiple times), The Diamonds, The Marvelettes and a few others that I can't remember off the top of my head. I also performed on-stage with Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo in 1990.

You see everyone has a story, but when you think of it, because its yours, you don't think its as big as you might think, but guess again my magical friend. Do you like doing kid shows, shows for adults or mixed audiences?
As a magician, I perferred working family audiences, although I also had a successful school assembly program to help balance out my weekdays. As a ventriloquist, I prefer adult audiences, but also do family audiences.

Tell me about your Vent Figures by name and what they mean to you.
I have too many figures. My main figure is Dangerous Dudley Duck, a Pavlov's Puppet. He is my "say anything" guy and because he is a duck, and cute as heck, he can get away with it. He knows what he's doing, but if he crosses a boundary, its easy for the audience to forgive him. I enjoy working with Dudley and because I do so much with him, I am most comfortable ad-libbing with him.

Deeder is my Robert McRay Basswood Bighead figure. Deeder is a country boy who swims in a very shallow gene pool. Not exactly the brightest guy, but you get the feeling that while he's good natured, you don't want to cross him.

In my shows I also use an Axtell Drawing Board. Those characters are currently working - but I have a bunch that I am playing with and hope to develop into the act. Among those are:
Rauol - A spanish monkey (Pavlov's)
Sammy - A Monster Puppet (Puppets By Cher)
K.J. - A Kem Poyner/Bill Nelson creation who is a drunk
Sin-Gin - A customized Axtell Dragon
Percival - A Pirate Poet that gets seasick
Clair-Voy-Ant - A Psychic French Ant (Pavlov's)
Maurice - A grumpy old nursing home escapee (Dan Payes)

When did you start traveling the world and with who?
I contracted my first Cruise Ship with an agent in Florida. Most of my work had been self-booked to that point and I still do most of my own contracting. The cruise opened some possibilities for international work - but because I was doing illusions and un-experienced with freighting equipment I limited that end of my business. When I switched to vent, the show became easier to transport and I started working internationally again.

How did Ken Groves come into the picture?
I met Ken Groves at a fair in Western Pennsylvania. He was working ventriloquism on one stage and I was doing comedy magic on another. He happened to be staying at the same hotel and we started talking. Because our shows overlapped, I was only able to see his first show, and he repaid the visit and came to see my last show. We liked each others acts and became friends.

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