On Saturday, November 1, Ring 211 — The June Horowitz/John deVries Magic Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan — held its 28th Annual Earl Ray Wilcox Memorial Hocus Pocus Party. Members sold tickets to a crowd of nearly 225 people. Attendees came from all over West Michigan. Members, their friends and family members enjoyed a fun-filled evening of magical wonderment which included a delicious buffet dinner and cash bar, a strolling close-up magic period, sponsored raffle giveaway prizes such as a fifty/fifty cash drawing, pizza coupons from Russo’s, magic kits with wands from Hippity Hop Magic, and a fabulous cabaret show. Tim Carlson (who resided in Las Vegas) now resides in Bay City just had to come to the party. He brought his family. John and Tamara Sterlini visited from Colon (the magic capital of the world) with fellow friend Carl Thorton . . . wait a minute, they were last year’s headliners. They came again because of so much magic and fun. Sunny Johnson drove up from Carmel, Indiana to see her dear friend PIP June Horowitz, and yes, enjoyed the party.
Again the event was held at The Knights of Columbus Hall on the south end of town. Magically, attractive designed table décor invited the guests to their tables. Magic-themed posters, streamers, and other party related décor were placed on the side walls to add to the festive appeal. This event was also advertised on local newspaper and TV station web site calendars, Facebook, Twitter, GRNow.com, and and on MLive.com. Brad Lancaster and Randy Vander Wal also had a short spot on the local FOX 17 TV station’s Morning Show to highlight the event.
Prior to the full dinner buffet and until the cabaret show, there was fortune telling by Bogga Kahn (Dave Bogdan) and assisted by his son, Kellen. Also there was face painting by SuZie Zoerman and Cassandra Heimbecker as Whimsey T. Clown. Jerry Herdegen, who has always done so, provided many balloon creations to not only any kids, but to adults too. Raven Keckler as Harvee The Rabbit was also a favorite attraction.
The strolling close-up magic began during the food buffet period and continued for about an hour after the dinner. Magicians began by going to tables waiting to go through the buffet line. The following Ring 211 magi amused, amazed, and dazzled our guests: MagicBob Zoerman, Bill Rasmussen accompanied by his son Christian, Gil Scott, Ron Carnell, Charles Bennett, John Dykstra, Peter Stobie, Jesse Shira, Jim Parkes, Nicholas Watkins, Wayne Ramsdell, Bob Panlener, P. J. Weber, Gary Oisten, Dennis Favreau, Dr. Jack Vander Wal, Randy Vander Wal, Vince Rosso, Bruce Wehr, Steven Elkowitz, Noah Cranson, Patrick Riley, Brad Lancaster, and Tom Coverly.
Ring 211 President Michele Parkes thanked the close-up performers prior to the evening show and then recognized PIP June Horowitz (still “magic-partying” now at 101!). At this time, a lucky winner received $136.50 from the fifty/fifty raffle and other winners received the giveaway prizes. The evening concluded with an extremely entertaining cabaret show featuring Rick Merrill as the emcee, Dave Bogdan, Jeff Veley, and headliner Stephen Bargatze.
Rick Merrill opened the show with a few of his “home schooled” experiences and gags. Dave Bogdan was our first performer. He welcomed a few gentlemen onto the stage for a balloon twisting competition. One gentleman could actually match up to Dave in blowing air into the balloon. Then he was able to make somewhat of an animal. This whole episode was more of a gag, but Dave wanted to acknowledge the other artists in the room tonight besides the magicians. He had the audience give a round of an applause to Jerry Herdegen for his balloon creations and to Cassandra Heimbecker and SuZie Zoerman for their face painting. Next, Dave had a lady let him borrow her finger ring just to polish it in a small polishing mechanism. Instead the ring was grinded. But good thing we have magic as the ring appeared inside an Oriental tea bag.
Jeff Veley captivated the audience with his Suffocation Escape Routine. Jeff, not just an illusionist, but also a speaker to many youth as he educates students, teachers, and parents on anti-bullying was shackled within an neck brace and handcuffed with regulation handcuffs which were also locked to the neck brace and then secured into a regulation mail bag which was covered and sealed inside a plastic trash bag, hence the meaning of a possible “suffocation.” A metal detector was used to erase any suspicion of keys or lock picks. A timer was set for two minutes with music to add to the intensity. Yet, with two seconds to spare, Jeff broke through the plastic bag completely out of all the restraints.
Next, Rick Merrill had a segment of his unique blend of comic and wit, and of course, magic. He presented an appealing cut and restored rope routine, including a “no ends” and a Professor’s Nightmare, with the finish being the three ropes into one and two being knotted together, magically, becoming one piece. A card routine followed which included the chosen card to be signed and found “ambitiously.” Then the chosen card appeared in his suit coat pocket a few times, out of his mouth, with the climax being the card left in his hand while the whole deck appeared from the suit coat pocket. A few balloon animal creation gags followed. He welcomed a young married couple to the stage and enthralled them with a “Cards Across” routine. Rick closed his segment with his renowned Coin and Sharpie Pen Routine.
Our headliner, Stephen Bargatze, encompassed us with his comedy and awesome magic. This included his by play of having small kids come up to clean the stage full of cards left from Rick, a rope cut up gag, and his Three Purse Trick challenging a kid in his “I Hate Kids Persona.” More followed which included a couple up to witness his multiplying sponge ball inside a net routine, a magical changing of a fifty dollar bill into the mis-made one dollar bill, his wallet and “crime scene” knife gag, four guys on stage as he challenged their “poker faces” (a bank night routine), and a chosen card being retrieved from not just his pant’s fly but from one of the spectator’s fly. It just become funnier as two gentlemen joined him on stage for his Mental Card Plunger Routine and then he fell in love with an elderly lady and failed at a selected card trick only to lead into a ring vanish or ring flying out and being lost off stage. He gave her quarters to win the ring back out of a candy prize dispensing machine. First, a fifty dollar bill was in a prize capsule with the signed previous gentleman’s name and the bill’s serial number, next an adjustable ring, then the Two of Hearts (her chosen card from the failed attempt), and last her shining ring. He closed the show with his hilarious Eleven Dollar Bill Routine with a husband and wife team. Awesome!
What another astounding Hocus Pocus Party! There are many to thank: the entire membership for selling tickets, Jim and Michele Parkes for obtaining the place and managing all ticket sales, Gil Scott and Dave Bogdan for putting the show together, our stage, close-up performers, and other artists, Bill Rasmussen for heading the sound and lighting, Brooks Alder for operating the sound, Charles Bennett with Jim & Michele Parkes for heading the prize drawings and raffle, Dr. Jack Vander Wal with supplying the jet sets, Jeff Veley for use of his attractive backdrop, Jerry and Kathy Herdegen for decorating each table to magic affair, and to my Derek Lieverdink for photos and videotaping. A thanks to Tina Weber, Tim Carlson, Melissa Rabidoux, James Merrills, Robert Ramsdell, Peter Stobie, and Jennifer Elkowitz for their photos. A final thanks to any other member who helped out in any way and to The Knights of Columbus’ staff for their pleasant hospitality. An event such as this allows Ring 211 to host many lectures throughout the year to its club members.
The following day, Stephen Bargatze, continued the blast of magic by presenting a lecture to our club at our regular meeting place. Rick Merrill had the pleasure of introducing him. He is one of Rick’s best friends in magic. They have worked events and conventions together. The two combined make a super comic-duo.
Highlights of the lecture were:
- his way of inserting a bill into a lemon
- described his lined shirts with it pockets and toppit, including his ATA case, and his two pound table (actually made for computers, an ISN table)
- his early performing career at Opryland in the 1980s and how his “I Hate Kids” persona developed
- Three Purse Trick which included how he explained and educates teens on anti-bullying
- his version of Dick Stoner’s Sponge Ball and Net Routine, use of more balls, the Senada gimmick, and large ball finish
- his Mental Card Plunger Routine
- “A Boring Card Trick,” his blank deck routine
- A Chicago Opener Card Trick with the “This Card,” “That,” “It,” “Something,” and “Nothing”
- his Poker Face Routine and his “peeks”
- his Eleven Dollar Bill Trick with credits to Fred Kaps (Ten Dollar Bill Trick) and Fred Victer’s (Ten Card Trick). Stephen uses eleven bills and finishes the trick with nine bills.
- more on his life story with his takes on “what” and “hows” of magicians. What ideas, tricks, and gags to steal (use) but “when” and “where.” Learn to be respectful. Do not use at the wrong place.
Stephen had lecture notes available and his “I Hate Kids” and “I Hate Card Tricks” DVDs which are from Palmer Magic. We recommend Stephen to any club. It was a sure magical delight to have Stephen at Hocus Pocus Party and to lecture. Visit Stephen at his web site, www.magicofstephen.com.