Monday, December 8, 2014

History Of The Magic Mike Likey Trunk

I was "inspired" to switch from a red suitcase and decorated folding TV-dinner trays to a trunk one day in the early eighties, when I was booked to perform at the Brandon Fair, two hours west of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
It was one of those situations where I was one of several stage acts, introduced by m.c. Len Andree: almost immediately after one act finished, Len would kill some time on stage with a game or contest, to allow the next act to clamber up and set up their show.
Famed Vancouver television celebrity and ventriloquist Peter Rolston was on before myself, so I was able to enjoy this seasoned professional's show.
One thing I noticed was the ease with which he switched from one vent dummy to another: he was using a steamer-trunk, or a trunk which stood upright, which housed his ventriloquist figures! As soon as he was done, he merely closed the trunk and exited the stage to resounding laughter and applause, wheeling off the trunk with ease, as opposed to fumbling, zipping, stuffing, and folding!
After my show, I gave it some thought, and remembered there was an old army footlocker (metal trunk) resting unused upstairs in the unfinished attic of my Lanark home in Winnipeg.
Feverishly I brought it down, insulation falling on me as I gingerly stepped off the wooden retractable ladder which led up to the space, discreetly hidden by a small trap-door in the ceiling.
At that time, my first TV-show, "Kiddie Cabaret" was in it's second or third season, and one of the writers/clowns on the show, Darrell Scarrett, arrived at my home, offering to help me to transform the old army relic into a thing of beauty, worthy of my audience's adoration.
We attached four wheels to the underside, I lined the trunk with a furry blue fabric, and he installed a shelf in one half of it. I later installed pockets made of the same black, faux-leather chesterfield-style material that I covered the entire thing with. To finish it, I glued a gold bunny-in-the-hat on the front, just in case people couldn't identify this as a magician's prop. In those days, I was relatively fresh from a larger city, so the compulsory glitz-and-glamor "tinsley" backdrop and yes, even waistcoat, had to dominate the look of my typical eighties show. The trunk was relatively understated in comparison to the rest of my gaudy show, which consisted of glittery, brightly-painted props and boxes and silk handkerchiefs; after all, I believed that more was, well...more. Check out the pic (labeled "1983") of me and that trunk.
Several years later (1985 pic) on one of my vacations to Miami, Florida, (a hub-bub of magic action!) I came across a brand new trunk at a local Sears. This trunk subsequently went through hundreds and hundreds of shows, reincarnating and re-inventing itself (as I did) with a red-furry covering, (not pictured) even a grey, black-and-mylar motif which (pardon the pun) reflected the then-popular "Industrial"-look/feel that David Copperfield made popular in the nineties. (pic labelled 1994) This pic was taken, by-the-way, at my very last appearance in Winnipeg, just before I relocated to Vancouver, Canada.
Recently, after using an oversized leather doctor's bag, sometimes alternating it with a stand-up fabric suitcase on wheels (depending on the venue/size of the show) for my shows, I've gone back to the "magic" trunk: I was given for Christmas a brand-new black trunk purchased from Sears, and delivered in more than enough time for me to install pockets, etc. in time for this years Christmas show! It's identical to the one I used for years but which was long gone...full-circle, baby! I've added my "Magic Mike's Castle" logo, laminated, and hung from the handle to update/customize my current "incarnation" (Check out the pic labelled 2014)
I'll continue to alternate (again depending on the size/location of the show) between my beautiful new trunk and my leather doctor's bag, hopefully honoring the "Magic Mike Likey" tradition of trunks and carpet-bags, hoods, knee-high boots, poet's shirts, and all things medieval/period-themed.
Check out current and nostalgic pics and vids here:

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