Thursday, January 16, 2020

I Knew I Made It When...

I Knew I Made It When...

It was a typical post-show coffee, meaning that I had just finished taping a few weeks of my TV-show at the VPW-TV studio, and then Darrell Scarrett, (the voice-talent behind "Desmond the Dragon" and "Forgetful Lion", two puppets on the show) and the rest of the technical crew accompanied me to either Grapes Restaurant, or Kelsey's for a coffee and a decadent dessert! The year was 1991 or thereabouts.
   I scanned the menu, full-well knowing I wasn't going to have something actually healthy, like the soup-bar; instead, and most likely by accident, I glanced at the booze-menu, and 'lo-and-behold, there it was: "Mike's Magic Elixir"! I was sure I was reading that wrong. I took another, longer, closer look: "Mike's Magic Elixir". As plain as day.
   I was a regular at this Grapes location at Grant and Kenasten for many years, having been befriended by managers and staff alike. They knew me well for "breaking in" the newer servers by "magically" bending and breaking spoons in front of them, and then hiding the remains in the sugar-packet holders once they were out of sight, so that the next customer might discover the two spoon halves. Even worse, I was infamous for burying the spoon remains in-between the seat-cushions and back-cushions of the booth we had inhabited, for the same purpose. The managers also knew me for flustering any and all novice greeters behind the reception-desk/podium by, upon our arrival, announcing straight-faced, "Table for forty, please, we called ahead and we're up from Fargo!" For some reason at the time, I thought the ensuing panic and chaos was funny. I no longer do. My, how the mighty have fallen! But I digress.
   "Mike's Magic Elixir" was without doubt named for me, since I was somewhat of a local (albeit minor) celebrity. Back then, if you couldn't find me on local television, then most likely I was performing at your kid's birthday party, hired by a mall to do a series of shows, or rural appearances for sponsors of any one (or all) of the agricultural fairs throughout Manitoba. Corporate shows and sponsors, medieval shows, you name it, and any one of my three agents had me booked there. It was a very active time for most variety entertainers throughout Manitoba, Canada back then, with magicians like Copperfield and Henning all over television. Every special event enlisted the services of clowns, magicians, and/or jugglers, or all of the above. So it wasn't just me; I was just lucky enough to have been around in Winnipeg in the '80's and part of the '90's, and have a TV-show and regular appearances on a very popular daily children's show on broadcast television as well!
   Another indicator (at least in my eyes) that I had "made it" actually initially came as a shock to me, almost resulting in me filing a law suit!
   One morning, just before driving to Charleswood Centre Mall for a look around, I had a chat with one of my agents, who wholeheartedly was encouraging me to copyright my name, "Magic Mike". I full-well knew that I couldn't really do that, as other magicians throughout North America were already cropping up with similar names, like "Magic George", or magic-something. Toronto now had a "Magic Mike", as did Seattle; even Winnipeg had a young performer by the name of "Magic Joey", a fan of mine whose dad brought him regularly to my magic-shop back then. Even within the last ten years, a very famous fictional male dancer of the same name cropped up in a couple of huge movie releases. This prompted me to add my surname to my stage-name, thus "Magic Mike Likey" was born! I play on this when introducing myself onstage, saying, "I'm the ORIGINAL Magic Mike, the MAGICIAN, not the...DANCER!" this usually gets a laugh. I digressed again! 
   A couple of weeks previously, I had designed a large, red fluorescent sign for myself with a sign company; it was the words "Magic Mike" stacked one on top of the other, in a fancy script/handwriting-style. I was to go to the Main Street location of the shop to pick it up right after having lunch at the mall. I made my way through the mall on my way to the fast-food place, and on my left was a high-end (very beautiful and shiny) amusement centre called, "Magic Mike's"! I kid you not! The upshot: the sign was identical to the one I had designed previously in conjunction with the sign company! This is absolutely true! Imagine my horror as I looked up at the beautiful, red-fluorescent sign with script-lettering spelling out, "Magic Mike's"! My head reeled. I rushed to the administrative-office at the mall to speak with administration, a wonderful woman who booked me for the occasional series of shows at the mall, and whose daughter worked at the same restaurant/bar that I did walk-around magic for Sunday brunch at, "Bombay Bicycle Club". The coincidences that morning were outstanding: I had just spoken with my agent who cautioned me about this very same thing happening! It was too late, I thought; I almost phoned him to tell him, but I thought why encourage an "I warned you so!"
   Luckily, the administrator of the mall was in, and I explained the situation, even showing her my new card, with the same logo! She informed me that there was nothing she could do, that she was only responsible for leasing property/retail space, and that I should take it up with the amusement centre's owners. I did. One of the owners happened to be in "Magic Mike's Amusement Centre", and yes, there was yet another coincidence: we both knew each other! He was a fan, and a fellow magician, belonging to one of Winnipeg's local magic clubs! It was because he was a fan, he explained to me, that he named it "Magic Mike's"! He didn't think that I would take issue with it. He was younger than I, and quite sincere and inexperienced. I had a feeling that we could work together, so the natural sales-person/marketer within me saw dollar-signs: I offered to do free promotional shows for him and his establishment, (it was the most "classy" and beautiful amusement centre I had ever seen, worthy of my endorsing it) and even arranged with the administration of the mall to do so! I could feel both parties breathing a sigh of relief. That year, I organized (for Halloween week, also the anniversary of Houdini's passing) a series of daily shows in the mall, with the stage set up in front of "Magic Mike's"! I m.c.'d, did shows, and had some members of the Society of Young Magicians do stage-shows there as well!

   All's well that ends well I suppose, and I could now say all these years later, that having a drink and an amusement centre named for me meant that I had truly made it!,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

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