By Ralph Hood
There was a time when I was—believe it or not—a magician, traveling the Eastern Seaboard from Pennsylvania to Florida with The Children’s Magic Circus.
I wore a tuxedo, made things disappear, and—as the emcee announced—floated “…a young lady in midair above the stage, passing a completely solid hoop over, under and around her entire body, thus proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the complete absence of any wires or other supportive devices. Watch closely, for you may never see the likes of this again!”
It was one heck of an act, even if I do say so myself (and I do)!
I must point out that before I was a magician I was a salesman. I didn’t do magic at all. So, how did I get hired as a magician? Well, therein lies a story…
Wife Gail was a schoolteacher, and she also sang beautifully. We and another young couple formed The Children’s Magic Circus. It was agreed that Gail would sing Mary Poppins songs (my sister claimed that Gail was the only one on the show with real talent) and I would learn to be a magician, and how to do a fire-eating act.
Jim, the male half of the other couple, had performed many acts on numerous circuses. He—our ace in the hole—spent a lot of time backstage changing clothes between his several acts.
I bought a lot of magic tricks and learned to perform them, but not very well at first. I practiced by doing free magic shows for small groups.
The fire-eating act? I learned it. It was easy to do and popular with audiences of all ages, but it was not enjoyable and left a vile taste of gasoline in my mouth.
There is an old showbiz statement that performers often “double in brass.” Originally, that meant they played in the band when not performing their own act. In our show everybody doubled in brass—not by playing in a band, but by doing other jobs.
I booked our dates, Jim ran the show, and we all pitched in unpacking and repacking the show equipment.
All in all, the show was fun. We took our toddler daughter with us and, every now and then, introduced her to the audience; they loved her impromptu appearances on the stage.
When Gail and I were expecting our second child, we cashed in our (few) chips and returned to a more normal life.
But it’s still fun to remember when we were superstars!
By the way—did I ever tell y’all about the time I was on the Oprah Winfrey show?
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