Friday, July 20, 2007

Our Magical Heroes

We all have them. That certain person or persons that inspired us to take up the art of magic. As a kid growing up in Fresno, we had no magic shop, the library had no magic books, so consequently, I knew nothing about magic. Until one special day. It was a Saturday afternoon and my mother called me in to watch a TV show called the Magic Land of Alakazam! At 6 years old, I had never seen anything like this before, and I was instantly hooked! The show was hosted by a gentleman we all know as Mark Wilson and his lovely wife and assistant, Nani Darnell. Even the advertisements for that show were exciting to watch. After my first viewing, I remember asking my mother how to learn how to be a magician. She had no idea, and so we began to search out our local area for anything magic-related. Nothing came up, unfortunately.

The next Saturday, however, I was glued to the TV set again as the next episode of the Magic Land of Alakazam aired. This became my standard Saturday routine regardless of what I was doing or where I was; I immediately went home to tune it in. As I began sending away for magic catalogs, I would pour through them at the end of each episode hoping to find those exact tricks Mark and Nani had just performed. I was able to purchase some of the magic tricks by mowing lawns and delivering newspapers in my area. We all have heroes, mentors, or those we look up to. It is rare when you actually get to meet them in person. Even rarer is it when you get to call them your friend. I can't even begin to imagine the thousands of magicians that were first inspired by them as I was.

Just the other day, Mark called me on the phone just to see how things were going and to tell me one of his funny jokes. If somebody were to have told me when I was a kid watching his TV show that Mark and Nani Wilson would be in my life as they are now, I would have absolutely died and gone to magic heaven. I'm sure that as many of you read this, you are inspired by the Wilsons as well. They are responsible for all the magic you see on TV to this day! Mark and Nani were pioneers of the art, bringing it to the public's attention and helping to garner the respect it deserves.

Whether it was one of their several TV shows, technical advisors to TV and movies, amusement park shows, trade shows, theaters, and even helping to bring the Chinese Acrobats to America, their enthusiasm for magic has never, ever wained.

In January, when Hocus Pocus hosted its first Swap Meet & Get-Together, Mark and Nani were our honored guests. They spent their entire day signing autographs, taking pictures, lecturing, and answering questions about all their many projects. It's easy for me to say that, had it not been for Mark and Nani, I may have never gotten into magic at all. I can't thank Mark and Nani enough for what they've done for me and the art of magic. Their friendship is one that I treasure and still find it hard to believe possible to this day.

Mark and Nani Wilson are and will forever be my magical heroes.

Until next time,


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